Kuşadası is a beach resort town on Turkey’s western Aegean coast. A jumping-off point for visiting the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus (or Efes), it’s also a major cruise ship destination. Its seafront promenade, marina, and harbor are lined with hotels and restaurants. Just offshore on Pigeon Island is a walled Byzantine castle that once guarded the town, connected to the mainland via causeway.
The traces of Old Kuşadası can be seen in its seafront houses, a surviving city gate and in the Ottoman architecture of the town’s Kaleiçi Mosque. The fortress-style, 17th-century Öküz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai is now a hotel. There are modern water parks and lively nightlife on Bar Street. Local bazaars sell leather, carpets and jewelry. South of town, Dilek Peninsula National Park has secluded beaches and hiking trails through forested mountains. Aside from Ephesus, popular day trips include visits to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, and Miletus with its ancient Hellenistic theater. KUSADASI EXCURSIONS
Ephesus is an ancient city in Turkey’s Central Aegean region, near modern-day Selçuk. Its excavated remains reflect centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire – when it was the Mediterranean’s main commercial center – to the spread of Christianity. Southwest of Selçuk stands the House of the Virgin Mary, a pilgrimage site believed to be where Mary spent the last years of her life.
The ruins of the 6th-century Basilica of St. John mark the supposed burial site of the biblical apostle John. The Ephesus Museum exhibits classical art, notably mythological statues. At the Ephesus Archaeological Site itself, paved streets wind past squares, baths and monumental ruins. The massive Great Theatre, with 25,000 seats, was built in the 3rd century B.C. and later altered by the Romans. The hillside Terraced Houses were inhabited by the wealthy from the 1st century B.C. to 7th century A.D. The 2-tiered Library of Celsus dates from 117 A.D. The Temple of Hadrian was built before 138 A.D. for Emperor Hadrian’s visit.
Pamukkale is a town in western Turkey known for the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. It neighbors Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 B.C. Ruins there include a well-preserved theater and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km. The Antique Pool is famous for its submerged Roman columns, the result of an earthquake.
Didim is a small town, popular seaside holiday resort, and district of Aydın Province on the Aegean coast of western Turkey, 123 km from the provincial capital city of Aydın. Didim is the site of the antique city of Didyma with its ruined Temple of Apollo. DIDYMA EXCURSIONS
Marmaris is a Mediterranean resort town along the Turkish Riviera (also known as the Turquoise Coast) with a busy, pebbly beach and long seafront promenade. It’s known for nightlife on Bar Street, which is home to open-air clubs and music venues. Marmaris sits in a valley between pine-forested mountains and clear waters, which are popular sailing and diving destinations.
Marmaris Castle, a stone stronghold of Suleiman the Magnificent that’s now a museum of archaeological artifacts, offers views over the city and marina. The surrounding lanes of the old town are narrow, hilly and lined with old buildings, including an Ottoman inn turned market. Beyond the city are bays and coves, some on islands best reached by boat, so gulet (schooner) cruises are common. One such spot is the beach at Sedir Island, which is also called Cleopatra’s Isle because Cleopatra and Mark Antony are said to have swum there. MARMARIS EXCURSIONS
Bodrum is a city on the Bodrum Peninsula, stretching from Turkey's southwest coast into the Aegean Sea. The city features twin bays with views of Bodrum Castle. This medieval fortress was built partly with stones from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, completed in the 4th century B.C. The city is also a gateway for nearby beach towns and resorts.
Inside Bodrum Castle is the Underwater Archaeology Museum, exhibiting collections of shipwrecks and artifacts from antiquity. Built on the site of the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus, Bodrum features architectural remains including Myndos Gate, once an entry point into the ancient city, and the restored 4th-century amphitheater, a functioning concert venue with sea views from its hilltop perch. The city’s busy Cumhuriyet Street, lined with nightclubs, is nicknamed Bar Street. Elsewhere on the Bodrum Peninsula are wide beaches and seaside towns, from popular Gümbet to upscale yachting destination Türkbükü. BODRUM EXCURSIONS
Fethiye is a port city, and district, on Turkey's southwestern Turquoise Coast. It's known for its natural harbor, blue waters and numerous rock tombs that are remainders from the ancient Lycian city of Telmessos. The 4th-century B.C. Tomb of Amyntas is carved into a bluff overlooking the city. Near-shore islands are popular for day trips by boat. In the south, the beach at Ölüdeniz is sheltered by a lagoon. FETHIYE EXCURSIONS