Ancient city of Ephesus

You'll discover the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey, less than 30 minutes from Kusadasi. Located 3km outside the small town of Selçuk, this was once a thriving city and a busy trading post in the centre of the Mediterranean.

This fascinating place is important in Turkish history, as not only was this a major trading centre, but it was also the centre of early Christianity. Today, it's arguably one of the best archaeological sites in the region. It's also one of the most popular tourist attractions anywhere in Turkey.

History around every corner

Ephesus is a fantastic example of a Roman port city, complete with its own sea channel and harbour basin. It's believed that it once had a population of up to 56,000 people during the Roman period, making it one of the largest and most important ports on the Turkish coast.

Today, only 20% of the city has been excavated. Even so, it's home to one of the biggest collections of Roman ruins in the world, so it's well worth finding some time to visit while you're on holiday in Kusadasi.

Take a wander around the spectacular archaeological site and you'll see the hand-crafted foundations, buildings and sculpted stone columns dating from the Hellenistic Age. You can also pay a visit to the remains of what was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis.

Make sure you don't miss the Hercules Gate, located towards the end of Curetes Street, and the Basilica of St John, a church that was constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century.

Nearby, you can see the House of the Virgin Mary, which dates back to the 4th century AD. It's said to be where Mary spent her remaining days after the death of Jesus. Step into the small stone structure and you'll find a small but beautiful little church, a tiny house, and a fountain whose waters are supposed to be able to cure the sick.

Our top tips

  • If you want to beat the crowds, the best time to arrive at Ephesus is in the morning. Alternatively, you could get here for mid-afternoon, as this is when people start to leave. You should still have plenty of time to have a good look around, as long as you've planned your route in advance. Arriving earlier or later in the day also means you miss the hottest part of the day (between 12pm and 3pm).
  • If you're catching a minibus to Ephesus from Selçuk, ask to get off at the lower gate rather than the upper gate. This is because the lower gate is much easier to reach from the town, and it's also nearer to other sites located outside the walled ruins. These include Ephesus Archaeological Museum, the Temple of Artemis, Isa Bey Mosque, and Ayasoluk Castle.
  • Keep in mind that it tends to be very hot and dry at Ephesus, Turkey, and there isn't much shade here. The heat from the sun reflects up off the white stone, which makes it feel even hotter. It's important to bring plenty of drinking water with you, and we recommend you bring a sun hat too. If you run out of water, there are cafés and juice bars inside the complex where you can buy a drink.


How to get there

Kusadasi is around 18km from the ruins of Ephesus. The most convenient way to get there is by hire car, which takes around half an hour.

You can also catch a dolmus (minibus) to Selçuk from the bus station, or you can catch one from your hotel. They run every half an hour or so, and when you get to Selçuk you can take another dolmus from Ephesus.

Turkey has an excellent bus network, and this part of the country is no exception. From Selçuk, the trip takes just 10 minutes or so.  

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