Ephesus is the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region (map), and one of Turkey's top sights along with Istanbul and Cappadocia, but the Ephesus archeological siteis not the only reason to visit this region.
What to See & Do
Selçuk, the town 3 km (2 miles) east of the Ephesus archeological site, lies at the foot of Ayasoluk Hill, topped by a Byzantine-Ottomanfortress. On the slope are the St John Basilicaand İsa Bey Mosque, both worth a visit, and below them the scant remains of the renowned Artemision, the famous Roman Temple of Artemis. The fine Ephesus Museum holds the excavation treasures. More...
Selçuk has a big weekly market on Saturday, rivaling the famous weekly market at Tire (TEE-reh), a town 42 km (26 miles) northeast of Selçuk.
Good beaches are at Pamucak, Kuşadası and Altınkum, or you can take a day-trip for beach and windsurfing to charming Alaçatı.
You can see the Ephesus archeological site on a flying day-trip from Istanbul, but you could easily fill two, three or four days in this area, visiting the ancient cities of Priene, Miletus and Didyma on a day excursion, and Aphrodisias, the Belevi Monumental Tomb, the hot mineral water spa of Pamukkale, and taking a day-trip or overnight excursion via Euromos to Bodrum.
Hotels & Guest Houses
Three area towns have plenty of hotel choices:
The town next to Ephesus has a good collection of small, charming boutique hotels and thrifty guest houses. Selçuk has the best transport, and you can walk to many of the sights when you stay here. More... The guest house pictured on the right is the Ionia House of Ephesus Vacation Rentals. It is a lovely guest house with an incredible outdoor patio, pool, and a beautiful view of the city.
This beautiful, historic Ottoman village a few kilometers east of Selçuk in the hills reminds me of Tuscany—Ottoman-style. Historic houses and mansions have been restored as atmospheric inns, with the bonus of panoramic views over vineyards and olive orchards. Transport is by hire/rental car or minibus. More...
A seaside resort and cruise ship port, Kuşadası has grown almost to city size (pop. 95,000), giving it bustle and traffic, but its seaside promenade and beaches still draw visitors. Large resort hotels line the beaches, but the town has smaller, less expensive modern hotels, and even a few boutique hotels. More...
Here's transport information, for the Ephesus region, my İzmir Region Transport Map, and distances and travel times to/from other Turkish towns and cities.
Here's how to drive between İzmir's Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB) and Selçuk, Şirince, Ephesus and Kuşadası.
You can drive from Istanbul to Ephesus (770km/478 miles), seeing the Dardanelles(Hellespont), Gallipoli battlefields, ancient Troyand Pergamum (Pergamon, Bergama) and other sights along the way. Argeus Travel & Eventscan set you up with a 6-day self-drive tourcovering Troy, the Gallipoli battlefields, Pergamum and Ephesus. More...
A Bit of History
If you want to visit a place where you can really get a feel for what life was like 2000 years ago during the glory-days of Greece and Rome, Ephesus is the place. In terms of ruins, it's better than Rome itself.
St Paul's New Testament Epistle to the Ephesians was written to the citizens of Ephesus. St John is believed to have written his Gospel here, and to have been buried in the St John Basilica. More...
The Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last days on earth here, and you can visit the reconstructed House of the Virgin Mary (Meryemana) on a mountaintop to the south of the Ephesus archeological site. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan