Aphrodisias, about two hours east of Selçuk (Ephesus) and 2.5 hours west of Pamukkale (map), is a bit off the beaten path, and somewhat tricky to get to by public transport.
It is best visited on the way to or from Pamukkale. For example, you might drive from Selçuk (Ephesus) or Kuşadası eastward up the Meander valley for about two hours, turn south at Nazilli, and proceed via Karacasu to Geyre, the village next to the site.
(It’s not quite as difficult to get to Aphrodisias today as it was in 1968 when I first went there by oil tanker, an adventure described in my humorous travel memoir Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong Tea.)
You may want to take a tour—contact Anker Travel for that.
If you have your own car, there’s no problem: go to Nazilli (NAH-zee-lee), a town east of Aydın, and turn south for Karacasu(KAH-rah-jah-soo, 42 km/26 miles). From Karacasu it’s another 13 km (8 miles) onward to Aphrodisias.
To go by public transport, catch a bus or train to Nazilli to arrive as early in the morning as possible. There’s plenty of bus traffic along the highway between İzmir, Aydın and Denizli all day long. From Nazilli, catch a minibus to Karacasu—they leave about every 30 minutes, and are especially reliable in the morning.
From Karacasu there are several minibuses a day to Aphrodisias, leaving about every 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Return minibuses from Aphrodisias to Karacasu supposedly leave in the afternoon at 15:30 (3:30 pm), 17:00 (5 pm) and 19:30 (7:30 pm), but you must confirm these times in Karacasu when you first arrive there.
Two hours is the minimum time to spend in the ruins and museum at Aphrodisias, and you’ll be rushed. A decent visit takes 3 or 4 hours. There’s lots to see, and it’s a beautiful spot.
Aphrodisias has a few small hotels and places to eat, but I’d suggest you take at least some snacks and drinks with you(or buy them in Karacasu), and perhaps a full picnic, if possible. Karacasu has more restaurants, and Nazilli has a good selection of all travel services.
Distances & Travel Times
Aydın: 95 km (59 miles), 2 hours
Denizli: 110 km (68 miles) E via Sarayköy, 2.25 hours (the mountain road via Tavas is slower)
Ephesus (Selçuk): 133 km (83 miles) W, 2 hours
Istanbul: 788 km (490 miles) N, 12 hours
Karacasu: 13 km (8 miles) NW, 15 minutes
Kuşadası: 140 km (87 miles) W, 2 hours
İzmir: 222 km (138 miles) N, 3.5 hours
Nazilli: 55 km (34 miles), 1 hour
Pamukkale: 129 km (80 miles) NE, 2.5 hours
Selçuk (Ephesus): 130 km (81 miles) E, 2 hours
—by Tom Brosnahan