Kuşadası is a beach resort in the Central Aegean region of Turkey, 95 km south of Izmir. It has a resident population of 113,580 (as of 2018), which doubles in summer with tourists and seasonal workers.
"Kuş adası" means "bird island", refering to the shape of Pigeon Island, and in antiquity this was a small port, overshadowed by Ephesus inland. Fortified and garrisoned, it was never an important town but grew on the mainland, until the name came to apply to the mainland conurbation. The big development was from the 1970s when the Turkish Aegean coast came within non-stop flying distance from the cities of North Europe, and the region became a budget to mid-price destination for package tours. Kuşadası nowadays sprawls over 25 km of coastline. Its has few antiquities but is close to must-see Ephesus and other sights.
By road from Istanbul follow O-5 (toll) to Izmir, and from Ankara follow E96, to join E87 south then D550 and D515 into town.
Direct buses from Istanbul take 9-10 hours via Bursa, Izmir and Selçuk, for a single fare in 2022 of around 500 TL. Operators are Metro Turizm, Pamukkale and Flixbus. Altogether it's a hourly service (with some overnight), otherwise take one of the frequent buses to Izmir and change.
1 Otogar the inter-city bus station is by D515 highway at the east edge of this sprawling town. You'll need a taxi or a dolmuş to reach your accommodation.
Selçuk 20 km northeast is the nearest railway station, with IZBAN suburban trains every hour or two from Izmir via Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB IATA). Regional trains run from Denizli (for Pamukkale) via Aydın and Çamlık to Selçuk and Izmir.
2 Kuşadası harbour is a frequent port of call for cruise ships to bus their passengers to Ephesus and the other antiquities.
There are foot-passenger ferries daily Apr-Oct to Samos operated by Meander Travel. These leave Kuşadası around 09:00 for a one-hour sailing to Vathi the main settlement, returning around 17:00, so a day-trip is possible from Kuşadası to Samos but not reverse. In 2022 a day-trip is €36 adult and an open return is €47. Hellenic Seaways and Dodekanisos Seaways no longer longer sail this route. See Greece#Get in for entry requirements, as Samos is part of the EU.
Transport up and down the lengthy coast strip is best done by dolmuş. Join any group along the road who look as if they're trying to flag one down in the direction you're going.
Taxis are a welcome sight as their appearance means the dolmuş is only a minute behind, and they're tring to scoop the trade. The drivers are mostly a decent lot but beware of fake taxis and scammers: the taxi number plate must start with "09 T".
Taxis cluster by the sea port and bus station touting for trips to Ephesus. The advantage is a quick journey to the south gate of the complex, then they pick you up on exit from the north gate, but Ephesus is easily reached by dolmuş. Where taxis help most is in exploring the ruins of Priene and Miletus away south, awkward by public transport. Negotiate a hire for say four hours and they'll take you to as many classical stumps as you can stomach.
- 1 Pigeon Island (Güvercinada) is reached from town by a 200 m causeway. The castle has been restored as a museum, open daylight hours.
- Öküz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai is by the harbour entrance. It's a restored Ottoman Kervansaray built 1615/18 - a secure place for merchants to lodge with their goods. It has been a hotel but is abandoned in 2022.
- Kaleiçi Mosque 100 m south down Barbaros Bvd was built along with the Kervansaray by Öküz Mehmet paşa.
- Micro Miniature Museum (Mikro Minyatür Müzesi), Sağlık Cd (corner of Barbaros Bvd). Opening erratic. An oddity, an old turret housing an exhibition of miniature art, which you squint at through microscopes. Adult 20 TL.
- Muvaffak "Maffy" Falay (1930-2022) was a famous jazz trumpeter from Kuşadası, commemorated by the statue next to the Miniature Museum.
- 2 Kadı Kalesi is a Byzantine / Venetian fortress. In 2022 the area is closed to the public.
- 3 Olive Oil Museum (Oleatrium Zeytin ve Zeytinyağı Tarihi Müzesi), off Davutlar Rd, ☏ +90 256 681 2148. Daily 09:00-18:00. 2500 years of olive oil manufacturing techniques. Adult 35 TL.
- 4 Zeus Cave (Zeus Mağarası), Milli Park Cd, Güzelçamlı (just outside park entrance). 24 hours. This is a cavern with a 10 m deep brackish pool, where a karstic spring channel mingles with sea water, and the minerals stain it deep blue. You skitter down a rocky slope to reach the pool. Officially bathing is not allowed but lots of visitors ignore this - it's cold, so you won't linger long. The name derives from a legend that Zeus hid here from Posiedon god of the sea. Free.
- 5 Dilek Peninsula National Park (Dilek Yarımadası Milli Parkı). 08:30-16:30. This peninsula is perhaps the wildest stretch of land on the Turkish Aegean coast. Encompassing Mount Samsun (Samsun Dağı, ancient Mt Mycale) which juts out towards the island of Samos, the area is covered with dense forests. You might see wild boar or wild horses but the Anatolian leopard is now extinct locally. There are many hiking trails and secluded beaches, plus crumbling monastic ruins. Boat trips sometimes visit from Güzelçamlı. Since 1994 the park extends south into the Büyük Menderes Delta - this side is easier to approach from Didim. On foot or bicycle 13 TL, car 39 TL.
- Priene, Miletus and Didyma: see Didim for these Grecian ruins south of the peninsula.
- 6 Ephesus: see the separate page for this magnificent Roman site 15 km northeast of town. It's an easy day trip by dolmuş or taxi.
- Selçuk a further 4 km east was the original site of Ephesus, and has a museum and ancient citadel. See this page also for antiquities outside the Ephesus ticketed area, such as the House of Mary.
- 7 Magnesia on the Maeander (Magnesia ad Maeandrum), south of Gümüşyeniköy (take a dolmuş to Söke, then bus towards Aydin and ask for Magnesia or Gümüşyeniköy). Daily 09:00-19:00. Ancient Greco-Roman city ruins with a large stadium with capacity for 30 thousand spectators — one of the largest in Asia Minor. Excavations continue, so this is a "live" site not yet prettified for the public. Adult 20 TL.
- The beaches are long and sandy. They're safe for kiddy-bathing as the drop-off is shallow, and this blunts the waves. They're heavily commercial; the beaches themselves are free to access but hotels jealously guard their own terrain. Watch out for pickpockets and other lowlife.
- Town beach between the port and the marina is one for viewing the sunset from rather than bathing. It's sandy but grubby.
- 1 Ladies Beach (Kadınlar Denizi Plajı) was for women only in Ottoman times, but has long been mixed. Being so close to town it gets very crowded. A couple of recliners and parasol for the afternoon might be 100 TL in 2022.
- 2 Long Beach is well named, stretching away for 10 km down to Güzelçamlı at the start of the peninsula. Multiple access points, and the southern portions have more specific names: Davutlar, Sevgi, Venus. Tortuga Pirate Island is a theme park in the northern section. The nearby Aqua Atlantis has closed down.
- 3 Pigale Beach is the first strip going north. It's quieter here.
- 4 Pamucak Beach is the end of the long northern beach.
- Skydive: see Selçuk#Do for Efes Skydiving Centre, next to the north gate of Ephesus.
- Football: Kuşadasıspor were promoted in 2021 so they now play soccer in TFF Third League, Turkey's fourth tier. Their home ground Özer Türk Stadium (capacity 8000) is mid-town on Yüksel Yalova Cd.
- Kuşadası Youth Festival (Gençlik Festivali) is held on Sevgi Beach. The next is probably 5-9 July 2023, tbc.
- Supermarkets are here and there, such as Migros on Öğe Sk near the harbour, open daily 08:30-22:00. A101 is the commonest chain store further out.
- Rug shops scrummage by the harbour.
- You are seldom far from a kebab or a dollop of fish & chips. There's a whole slew along the beaches, but the best are along the pedestrianised alleys inland from the port.
- Casablanca, Adnan Menderes Blv (behind Council offices), ☏ +90 532 695 3126. Daily 09:30-02:00. Great reviews for service and cuisine at this meat-oriented place, which also caters well to vegetarians.
- Murphys next to Casablanca also gets good reviews.
- The beach cafes mostly serve alcohol, but the free-standing pubs are in old town near the port.
- Efes beer is named for nearby Ephesus and is brewed in Izmir and elsewhere.
- No hostels in town, but plenty of budget hotels and pansiyons where you can get just as flea-bitten. Upper range places may be block-booked by package tours, who want to party, so rooms are clean but noisy.
- 1 Sözer Hotel, Atatürk Blv, ☏ +90 256 614 8936. Friendly 3-star hotel, tatty but usually clean. B&B double 700 TL.
- Hotel Panorama, Kıbrıs Cd 14, ☏ +90 256 614 66 19, email@example.com. Basic backpacker rooms just south of harbour.
- 2 Sezgin Hotel, Aslanlar Cd 44, ☏ +90 256 614 4225, firstname.lastname@example.org. A guesthouse in old town, rooms have en-suite bathrooms, balconies and air-con. Mostly clean and with good reviews. B&B double 600 TL.
- 3 Hotel Süer, 500th Sk 9 (off Kasım Yaman Cd), ☏ +90 553 090 0900. Placed on a hilltop, the hotel offers free pick-ups and has a nice view with great sunsets. Mostly clean and comfy.
- 4 Sealight Resort, Yavansu 46, ☏ +90 256 999 1719. Lively resort hotel, comfy but you may struggle to sleep.
- 5 Palm Wings Resort, Adnan Kaveci Cd, ☏ +90 256 681 3636. Smart resort hotel way down the south beach strip.
- 6 Kuştur Club Holiday Village, Kuştur Önü Yolu Cd, ☏ +90 256 618 1310. Inclusive resort hotel on north beach strip. B&B double 3000 TL.
Kuşadası and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers, extending to Ephesus and beyond; day-trippers arriving on cruises need to think about roaming charges. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Ephesus is a well preserved Greco-Roman site. The city formerly stood 4 km further east at Selçuk, which has a Byzantine church and citadel.
- Didim is a resort town close to ancient Didyma, Miletus and Priene.
- The Greek island of Samos is an easy day-trip.
|Routes through Kuşadası|
|Ends at ← Ephesus ←||N S||→ Söke → Becomes (S)|