Located on Turkey’s Aegean shore, Kusadasi is one of the country’s major seaside resorts, mostly attracting Northern European crowds on all-inclusive vacation packages.
Although the historical and cultural sights in the town are limited, tourists come to Kusadasi to enjoy and sun and the sea, along with the town’s vigorous nightlife.
Evolving into the fourth busiest cruise port in the Mediterranean Sea, it also serves as a gateway to nearby famous ancient Ephesus.
Many of Kusadasi’s points of interest are within walking distance from one another. Frequent minibus services cover most corners of the town, while taxi cabs are also widely available. No direct buses are available anymore from Kusadasi to Adnan Menderes Airport. Passengers would have to change buses at Izmir.
Things to see and do in Kusadasi
Connected to mainland by a causeway, Pigeon Island lies opposite of the Monument of Kemal Ataturk. The island features a couple of beaches, which are decent enough for a quick refreshing dip. A fortress takes up the largest part of the island, but it is sadly not open to the public. However, locals come here to stroll around the castle before dusk or enjoy a drink at the nearby café.
Mingle with the locals by visiting one of Kusadasi’s food or open colourful markets. Close to the port, Fish Market is where local fishermen bring their daily catch. Walk around loud merchants who advertise their products yelling and joking. Charming fish taverns and tea houses are scattered around the market. A large open market is set around the main minibus station every Wednesday. One side of the market focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables, while the other side mostly hosts clothing and kitchenware stalls.
Although Kusadasi is relatively poor in sights, it can be an excellent base for exploring the fascinating sites and villages of the surrounding area. Local travel agencies organise all kinds of trips and excursions at competitive prices. Nearby Ancient Ephesus is the most popular tour from Kusadasi. The birthplace of Heraclitus, Ephesus was under the rule of many civilizations during the centuries, including the Greeks, the Lydians and the Romans. The archaeological site is one of the most impressive and well-preserved in Turkey.
Leave the loud town behind, to enjoy a daytrip at peaceful local villages, where time stands still. Kirazli Village is a picturesque parish, with scenic alleys, friendly locals and delicious food. If you visit during June don’t miss the Cherry Festival, when the village livens up with traditional shows and dozens of stalls selling juicy red cherries. Located 30 kilometers away from Kusadasi, Sirince Village is another lovely choice for exploring local life. Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, it features old traditional houses and scenic views of the downhill.
Only 23 kilometres away from Kusadasi, spreads Dilek National Park. Covering an area of 110 square kilometres, the park is a sanctuary for local species and a fine choice for spending a day in nature. The diverse landscape of the park includes remote beaches, small gorges, caves and green woods. A vast variety of activities, from trekking to bird watching to botanical tours, is available.
In the rare case you find yourself around the area during wintertime, don’t miss Camel Wrestling Festival in nearby Selcuk. Organised during camel mating season, the festival presents the wrestle between male camels in order to impress the females in heat, which is quite a dynamic sight to watch. Since the event is held outdoors, locals come equipped with umbrellas and raincoats, so bring remember to bring your own.