he lively town of Kusadasi on Turkey’s west coast is dominated by package tourists from all across Europe and offers plenty to do for all ages. As I wrote in my earlier post, my first impression of Kusadasi was not the best ever, as the town is too touristy and busy for my taste, but on a positive note there are however lots of interesting things to see and do hidden behind the scenes so you just have to go out there and explore!Furthermore, Kusadasi is conveniently located close to important historical sites such as Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis and Pamukkale. The attractive small towns of Selcuk and Sirince in the vicinity also make great day trips from Kusadasi. Izmir and Cesme are not that far away either. So all in all, there are plenty to see and do both in Kusadasi and surroundings so you will surely keep busy if exploring is your thing.
What to see and do in Kusadasi?
Explore Pigeon Island
Right off Kusadasi harbour, a 350 meters long causeway leads out to the attractive Pigeon Island, which is the symbol of Kusadasi and where the name Kusadasi (Bird Island) originates from. The remnants of a 13th century Byzantine fortress sit on a cliff with a panoramic view of Kusadasi.
Enjoy sunny days at Kusadasi’s many beaches
In Kusadasi there are several sandy beaches to choose from, all very pretty. They do get quite crowded during the hot summer months. You can find empty stretches of sand only early in the morning or after sundown. The most popular beach in Kusadasi is Ladies Beach (Kadinlar Denizi), which is located 2 km southbound from the town centre, but is easily reachable by dolmus (minibus) number 5. The longest strip of sand in the area is Long Beach further south along the coast (dolmus number 6). In Kusadasi town centre there are also a few small artificial sandy beaches along the seafront promenade.
Go on an evening stroll along Kusadasi’s seaside promenade
One of my favourite things to do in Kusadasi is people watching at Kusadasi’s seaside promenade, which comes alive at sundown when locals and visitors flock to the waterfront for an evening stroll. There are plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants to choose from by the seaside whether you fancy a western dinner or a traditional Turkish feast or just a refreshing cocktail or a cup of traditional Turkish tea.
Visit a mosque
Visiting a mosque should be on your list when in Kusadasi. There are several impressive mosques with very decorative interiors and stunning chandeliers. Mosques are a haven of peace and quiet away from the hustle, and also a cool and calming place to escape the summer heat, in most mosques there are fans or air conditioning to cool you down.
Shop in Kusadasi Bazaar
Kusadasi Bazaar in the heart of town right in front of the harbour dock offers affordable shopping, fake designer goods such as bags, jeans, watches and sunglasses as well as cheap jewellery, souvenirs, leather goods etc. There are no fixed prices in the bazaar, so haggling is always needed otherwise you will end up overpaying.
Take a boat trip around the bays near Kusadasi
A boat trip in Kusadasi is a must. This gives you a chance to see Kusadasi from a completely new perspective and discover the nearby areas and bays of Kusadasi only accessible by boat. I went on a relaxing boat trip for 40 liras and spent a wonderful day out at the sea. We stopped several times to swim and snorkel in the turquoise waters and to explore caves. Our boat even had a water slide which was a lot of fun.
Admire a Roman aqueduct
Remains of an ancient Roman aqueduct that was the primary water provider for Constantinople lies just outside Kusadasi town centre.
Visit a hamam for a traditional Turkish bath
One of the first things to do on any visit to Turkey should be taking a Turkish bath, which prepares your skin for the sun and makes your tan last longer. A traditional Turkish bath with a scrub and foam massage in a hamam is a nice way to relax and get to know local culture and customs.
Climb Atatürk Hill to admire stunning views over Kusadasi
West of Kusadasi town centre high on top of Atatürk Hill stands Atatürk Monument, a statue of the founder of the Republic of Turkey. From here the panoramic views over Kusadasi Bay and Pigeon Island are the best in town.
Visit Kusadasi markets
Open air markets are a must in Kusadasi. There are three market days: Tuesday (fruit and vegetable), Wednesday (clothes, textiles, bags, souvenirs, spices) and Friday (fruit and vegetable). These open air markets stay open from early in the morning until sundown. Haggling is the key at the markets. If you are not happy with the price, just walk away.
Kusadasi Yacht Marina at sunset
There are lovely views over Kusadasi marina from the outdoor cafes and restaurants at Scala Nuova Shopping Centre. This is a wonderful place to chill out, enjoy a drink and witness the sun go down painting the sky in beautiful pastel colours.
Day trips from Kusadasi
Discover the ancient city of Ephesus
Ephesus or Efes makes a perfect day trip from Kusadasi as it is located only 18 km away, by dolmus it only takes 30 minutes to get there. Ephesus is one of the best preserved ancient cities of the world, an important Unesco World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus truly is an amazing and interesting site that should not be missed when in Kusadasi. Even if you are not that much into history, I can still warmly recommend visiting Ephesus.
Spend a day in the old Greek village of Sirince
One of my favourite day trips from Kusadasi was exploring Sirince, which is an old Greek village in the mountains not too far from Selcuk. This small picturesque village is very laid back and a perfect place to spend an easy day strolling the narrow lanes, browsing handicraft shops and enjoying lunch with gorgeous mountain views. Sirince is famous for fruit wines, so wine tasting is a must thing to do in here. Sirince is located 30 km from Kusadasi. To get there I took a dolmus to Selcuk and then another dolmus to Sirince from Selcuk bus station.
Take a day trip to Selcuk
Selcuk is a small town 30 minutes away from Kusadasi and can easily be combined with a visit to Ephesus or Sirince. Saturday is market day in Selcuk so bargains are granted. Places of interest in Selcuk include Selcuk Castle, Basilica of St. John, Ephesus Museum, and Isa Bey Mosque.
Explore Turkey’s third city Izmir
Turkey’s third largest city Izmir is only 85 km away from Kusadasi. Izmir is an interesting melting pot of old and new, east and west, traditional Turkey and modern Mediterranean Europe. Some areas of Izmir are very traditional with old mosques, bazaars and ghettos, while just around the corner wide Mediterranean style palm lined avenues and modern shopping streets are dotted with designer boutiques and luxury shops. Izmir can easily be explored in one day or why not spend a night or two in Izmir, hotels in Izmir are very affordable.