7 Things to do in Kusadasi
Kusadasi is one of the most popular resort towns on the Turkish Aegean coast because of the large cruise ships that dock in daily to take passengers to the nearby historical wonder of Ephesus. However, it has many more bonuses up its sleeve when it comes to activities and events. Families, couples, and groups of friends will be pleasantly surprised with what is on offer.
Ephesus and The Virgin Mary’s House
Being the third most popular attraction in Turkey, Ephesus sits about an hour from Kusadasi. Known as the second most influential city of the Roman Empire, extensive excavations over many years have restored much of the city’s ancient landmarks to their former glory. Including the Celsus Library, Roman terrace houses, and large gladiator theatre, the vibes and atmosphere of these ancient ruins impress even the most cynical of travellers.
Touring the city is ideally followed up with a visit to the house of the Virgin Mary, high in the green hills of Selcuk. Said to be her last resting place, features also include the three taps of magical spring water and the wishing wall.
Aqua Fantasy and Adaland
A dedicated thrill ride for water lovers, this is the place to do water rafting on a 600-metre stretch. There are umpteen rides to enjoy during a day out at Aqua Fantasy Park, on the outskirts of Kusadasi. Also billed as one of the biggest on the Aegean Coast, neighbouring Adaland offers not only scary water rides but a dolphin park as well.
Dilek National Park
Dilek Peninsula National Park, known locally as Milli Park, is about an hour south of Kusadasi, just outside the town of Guzelcamli. Here the National Park covers 28,000 hectares and hiking in the mountains or simply strolling its many beaches are favoured activities. One of the highlights is feeding the water hogs that come down from the mountains to feed. Some are quite tame but keep your distance when the mums and dads come down to play.
Wine Tasting in Sirince
For those looking for great wines and great views, then try out the mountain town of Sirince where they grow their own fruits and mix them up for some delightful wines to sample and buy. The small village high in the hills above Selcuk working town has a fascinating Greek history that is evident in the old houses so wander the cobbled paths and drop into the old ruined church of Saint John with its cute and quaint courtyard fountain.
The Working town of Selcuk
A short drive from Kusadasi, the working town of Selcuk and its famous resident storks holds historical delights such as the Basilica of Saint John, the Roman water aqueduct, the Isabey Mosque and the Artemis temple, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, albeit now only one column still stands. The long and sandy Pamuk Beach also makes the perfect end to a day exploring the local landmarks.
Kusadasi’s landmarks: Pigeon Island and the Caravansary
Pigeon Island is Kusadasi's most famous landmark. Translating into Bird Island, its location jutting out into the Aegean is reached by a short pier. Views from within the old castle walls are all encompassing and it is an ideal place for a family picnic.
Sitting near the port of Kusadasi and built in 1616, the Caravansary with its charming courtyard is now a renovated hotel but at nighttime, they hold Turkish night shows that are worth going along to for the exquisite belly dancers, traditional folklore shows, live music, and delicious buffet.
Water sports, Scuba Diving and Boat Trips
Look at Guzelcamli, Long Beach, Silver Beach, Ladies Beach or the inlets and coves heading north of Kusadasi and you will always find plenty of water sports pursuits to break up the long days of summer. From a lazy paddle boat ride to a more vigorous workout on a jet ski, paragliding along Ladies Beach or hiring a boat for a spot of fishing for a couple of quiet hours, Kusadasi can really spoil you for choice.
Local scuba divers are very excited this summer as the local council plans to sink an aeroplane off the Gulf of Kusadasi, near Davutlar, to begin to create a natural barrier reef and encourage scuba diving enthusiasts internationally to try out the Aegean underworld. Check out local clubs for PADI-related activities and training courses, for beginners and experienced divers.
However, one of the best highlights of a holiday in Kusadasi is a lazy day's boat trip messing on the Aegean. Boats depart from the pier on Pigeon Island for a lazy day cruise along the coastline that includes a freshly cooked BBQ lunch.
Further Afield: Kusadasi is a short drive away from the coastal town of Altinkum that is also worth visiting. Check out this article for a short summary and area guide to the town that is well known for its golden beaches.