Cruise Port Atlas | Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey Day Trips | Attractions

Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Kusadasi: Voyages to Antiquity, Windstar, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Viking River Cruises

Recommended Attractions: Ephesus (Terrace Houses, Celsus Library, Amphitheater, Basilica of St. John), Ladies Beach, Aquafantasy, Adaland, House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Dilek National Park, Priene, Miletus, Didyma, Sirince

Ephesus LibraryEphesus

Port to Ephesus - 19 KM, 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Beginning in the Bronze Age, Ephesus was an important harbor for the region, but through a slow silting process the remains of the city are now several kilometers from the Aegean.  The original Greek settlement was east of the main ruins that we visit today, nearer the city of Selcuk.  In this area you can visit the spot where the Temple of Artemis once stood.  Though virtually nothing remains this was once the world's largest temple which was built, destroyed and rebuilt over many centuries.  About 15% of the Ephesus site has been excavated thus far, but in this area are some of the Mediterranean's most impressive ruins.  The most important attractions in the main site are the Celsus Library (built during the 2nd century AD), the theater (once the largest in the world) which still hosts concerts, the baths (including a public toilet), the terrace houses (where the wealthy lived) with their mosaics, the Odeon theater and the Temples of Hadrian and Domitian. Another important attraction from the 6th century AD is the Basilica of St. John near the center of Selcuk and the museum.

Many of the smaller sculptures and many architectural features from the excavations are housed in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selcuk (see below).

Greek and Roman Ruins   Early Christian History   Sea views and Mountain views  

Uneven surfaces and hills    No Wheelchair Accessibility

Photo of the Celsus Library by CruisePortAtlas

Local Beaches and Water Parks

Port to Ladies Beach - 3.1 KM, 8 minutes
Port to Kustur Beach - 5.4 KM, 13 minutes
Port to Adaland Waterpark - 8 KM, 17 minutes
Port to Aquafantasy Waterpark - 11 KM, 19 minutes
Port to Ephesus Beach - 12 KM, 20 minutes
Port to Dilek National Park Beaches- 29 KM, 50 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The Kusadasi region is northwestern end of what is known as the Turkish Riviera. The area has a highly developed and varied resort culture. The most popular (and crowded) beach area is just south of the city at what is called Ladies Beach, because it was once a segregated area for women. Most of the major beaches are further south, though there are a few adjacent to resorts north of the port. At the point where the main beach road turns inland toward the airport and Ephesus, there are two of Europe's largest water parks, Aquafantasy and Adaland. For a more rustic and natural beach setting visit the beaches of Dilek National Park about 25-30 kilometers south (depending on which beach are want to go to). These beaches are mostly pebble and rock beaches, but the scenery and setting are stunning.

Full service beach areas and resorts   Sea views   Watersports  

Strenuous Walking    No Wheelchair Accessibility


House of the Virgin MaryHouse of the Virgin Mary

Port to Mary's House - 27 Km, 40 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Many Christian and Muslim pilgrims visit this mystical site. Numerous Popes have also visited starting in the late 19th century. Whether or not this is the actual last home of Mary is a point of debate, but it certainly a lovely spot with great views and an air of mystery. The story behind the house is fascinating. Jesus is reputed to have asked Paul to take care of Mary and around 50 AD he probably lived in Ephesus. In the early 19th century a German Roman Catholic nun was visited with visions which she narrated to an author who published his transcriptions of the visions after her death. She said that Mary had lived in a small stone house on a hill above Ephesus. About 50 years later a French priest went searching for the house and found a stone building fitting the description and declared it to be the real thing. Over the years more and more people have come to regard the legend as true. Interestingly, the foundation of the house has been dated to the 1st century AD. The area is beautiful and really worth a short visit even if you are not religious.

Views from hillside of the harbor   For children who like being outside   Formal English Garden   Unique Plants  

    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of the House by Mfryc

Ephesus Archaeological MuseumPagan Goddess from Ephesus

Port to the museum in Selcuk - 21 KM, 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Though a good number of the artifacts from Ephesus were moved to the Ephesus Museum in Vienna early in the 20th century, more recent discoveries are housed in nearby Selcuk in a small but impressive exhibit. The most famous items in the collection are two statues portraying a many breasted Artemis (sister of Apollo and named Diana in Rome). Outside in a courtyard are more monumental items including a reconstruction of the Temple of Augustus built with the original sculptures from the frieze. When we visited, there was a special display of gladiator artifacts and explanations of the sporting events (some very sporting by today's standards) in which they participated.

Sculptures from Greek and Roman eras   Architectural details   Displays about the history of Ephesus and its culture  

Flat Walking    Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Lady of Ephesus (Artemis) by CruisePortAtlas

Other Kusadasi Area AttractionsPagan Goddess from Ephesus

Port to Dilek National Park - 25-36 KM, 25-50 minutes
Port to Priene - 41 KM, 50 minutes
Port to Miletus - 66 KM, 75 minutes
Port to Didyma - 76 KM, 90 minutes
Port to Şirince - 29 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

If you are more interested in getting close to nature, the large National Park on the Dilek Peninsula offers mountain trails, rocky beaches, and great views of the Greek island of Samos. There is a museum with taxidermic specimens of local animals.

The three sites of Didyma, Miletus, and Priene are commonly offered together as a tour. These are some of the most impressive Ionian Greek sites. Priene was a small settlement that is situated on an escarpment with a massive Acropolis. Miletus was once one of the wealthiest of Greek cities. Didyma was the second most famous of oracles after Delphi. It features a temple to Apollo. For those who interested in history, but have already seen Ephesus, these sites are an excellent option.

The old Greek town of Şirince features rustic tavernas, locally produced wine and a lovely hillside setting.

Sculptures from Greek and Roman eras   Local wildlife and a museum with taxedermic specimins   Natural pebbled beaches   Greek and Roman Ruins   Ancient Ionian cities  

Loose pebbles, hills and hiking    Not Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Dilek Park town by Natalie of Turkish Travel Blog

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible