From Selçuk and Ephesus, you can tour the three fascinating archeological sites of Priene, Miletus and Didyma in a long morning or afternoon or, more comfortably, make it a full day (map).
You’ll need your own transport, either a rental car or a taxi hired for a half-day. You can easily rent a car from Anker Travel.
If a taxi, ask at your hotel for a driver recommendation, or go to the Selçuk otogar(bus station) and haggle with a driver or two for a four- or five-hour rate taking you to Priene, Miletus and Didyma, with about an hour waiting time at each site, more time if you like taking your time and looking at every feature and building of a site.
In summer, minibus tours of these three sites run from the Selçuk otogar, departing at 09:00 am, spending an hour at Priene, an hour and a half at Miletus, 2-1/2 hours at Didyma (you only need an hour to see the temple, but you can also have lunch), then 1-1/2 hours at Altınkum Beach, just south of Didyma, for a swim, before returning to Selçuk by 18:00 (6 pm).
If you do it on your own, allow at least four hours (five is better) for this tour, not counting meals. There are simple restaurants available near all three archeological sites, but you might want to pack your own snacks and picnic lunch instead.
Also bring water in the summer months to avoid dehydration. You can buy drinks along the way, but you should also have your own water bottle.
Drive south 35 km (22 miles) from Selçuk or southeast 20 km (12.5 miles) from Kuşadası to Söke, then follow signs for Güllübahçe (10 km, 6 miles) and Priene, one km farther along. If you need services (drinks, restaurant, shops, simple lodgings), you can find them in Güllübahçe.
After your visit to Priene, drive 22 km (14 miles) to Miletus (Milet, Balat), west along the northern edge of the Meander River(Menderes Nehri) flood plain, then south to cross the broad, level flood plain, planted mostly in cotton. At this point, near where it empties into the Aegean Sea, the once-mighty river is a mere trickle of its former mighty self, constrained in a few narrow channels, its precious liquid already spread over the vast expanse of fertile land along the Meander’s course.
The huge theater at Miletus rises to greet you as you reach the southern edge of the flood plain. Turn left to reach the theater and, in front of it, a copse of trees with a parking lot, restaurant, drinks and snack shop, and toilets. The Miletus Museum is about one km south along the side road to Akköy.
From Miletus, go 4.5 km (3 miles) south to Akköy, on either the old road (passing the Miletus Museum) or the newer highway to the west.
South of Akköy, follow signs for Yenihisar(Didim/Didyma), driving 14 km (9 miles) to its gigantic oracular Temple of Apollo. There are restaurants, drinks and snack stands, and lodgings right around the temple.
Altınkum Beach, 4 km (2.5 miles) south of Didyma, is very busy in summer, with a significant population of British and European seasonal residents.
Retrace your route from Didyma to return to Selçuk (86 km, 54 miles) or Kuşadası (71 km, 44 miles).
If you’re heading onward to Bodrum, you can drive eastward from Yenihisar or Akköy to join the highway to Milas, south of which you turn right and climb into the mountains on your way to Bodrum.
—by Tom Brosnahan