Ephesus (Turkish: Efes) contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city’s original splendor, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. The theater dominates the view down Harbor Street, which leads to the silted-up harbor.
The walk from the theater (at Lower gate) to the brothel (at Magnesia gate) is uphill, but definitely not strenuous. You can use either gates to enter the ruins, but entering through Magnesia gate will make it easier to walk downhill.
Hours: 8am-5pm Oct-Apr, 8am-7pm May-Sep
Cost: Admission TL 25, Terrace houses TL 15 extra
Most dolmuşes that run between Kuşadası and Selçuk will drop you at an intersection on the main road from where the Lower gate is less than 1km away. You may find taxis at this intersection to drive to Magnesia gate that costs TL 20-25. Your best option of getting to Magnesia gate is to go all the way to Selçuk otogar (bus station) and take a dolmuş from there going to Magnesia gate. Or just walk 4km from the town to the gate.
Dolmuş runs every 30 minutes from the “Ephesus dolmuş stop” in Kuşadası. Note that this is bus stop is nowhere close to the main bus station, nor is it close to the Ephesus taxi stand. Ask your hotel reception for directions or just walk in to the Tourist Information center right next to the pier and ask for directions. It’s a 15 minute walk to the bus station from the TI office.
The dolmuş take about 30 minutes to reach Selçuk and about 20 minutes to reach the intersection from where you can walk to the Lower gate, and costs TL 5.
If you decide to walk by yourself or join a tour, the maximum time it will take you to cover the entire ruins area is two hours. A lot of travel guides and online resources mentions the details of the ruins with explanation to all the sites, so I will not in depth with that here.
To avoid the heat of the day, come early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when it’s less crowded with tour groups. If you can, avoid public holidays altogether. Bring water with you as drinks at the site are expensive. There are no toilet facilities inside the ruins so make sure to go before you enter.
Try and borrow an illustrated guide from your pension or hotel; it will really enhance the experience. Or you can hire one of the 15 Ephesus guides (two hours for two to 20 people for €39) that hang around the ticket barriers. Between them, they speak six European languages. The audio tour guides are a waste of money, invest in a tour guide instead.
There are chances that if you’re traveling from Kuşadası to Ephesus, you will end up visiting Selçuk, which can also be your base to visit Ephesus, Şirince, Pamukkale and Aphrodisias. Also, all the buses reaching Kuşadası from Izmir will stop at Selçuk. This small town has many hotels that may be more expensive than Kuşadası.
Being a small, lazy town, all the sights to see in Selçuk can be walked to – Cave of the Seven Sleepers, Basilica of St. John, İsa Bey Mosque and Museum of Ephesus. The only sight to visit that is 10km away from Selçuk is House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi). The Byzantine citadel of St. John Basilica was close for renovation at the time of publishing this article.
St. John Basilica (Wikipedia) and its Byzantine citadel can be seen from anywhere in Selçuk and marked by signs that takes you uphill to the entrance. Constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century, it stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. Except for the reconstructed columns in the center and the ruins of a room, nothing else stands that will awe you.
Right next to the Basilica, downhill is İsa Bey Mosque, constructed in 1374-1375, this is one of the oldest and most impressive works of architectural art remaining from the Anatolian beyliks. The mosque has two main entrances, to the east and to the west, and a minaret which is destroyed now. There is an octagonal Seljuk türbe made of stone and bricks, with a pyramid shaped roof, right next to the mosque.
The last stop in Selçuk was Museum of Ephesus that just houses finds from the Ephesus excavation site. Its best-known exhibit is the statue of Artemis retrieved from the temple of the goddess in Ephesus. Admission fee costs TL 8.
A trip to Şirince (pronounced shi-rin-ce), residing on top of the hills and 8km out of Selçuk, is a great way of experiencing rural Turkey. This really small village has narrow winding streets, white-washed houses with rusty rooftops & windows, and is famous for the great wines and lots of small cozy wine bars. Note that most of the wines are overpriced and not made in the region.
You can catch the dolmuş from the Selçuk otogar (bus station) that takes 20 minutes and costs TL 3.
Travel guides mention this village as a photographer’s paradise because of the houses stacked on the hill tops, but you an get this view only if you are ready to hike the bylanes and hills around Şirince. By just walking along the streets will not give you any views of this gorgeous, little village.
This means that if you’re not ready to spend a few hours or hike around, there’s no reason to visit Şirince. There are no sights-to-see in Şirince.
After a full day of visiting Ephesus and the towns of Selçuk and Şirince, I took the bus back to Kuşadası’s Hotel Stella, absolutely tired and drained, yet content from visiting all the sights.
Looking forward to visiting the cotton travertines of Pamukkale tomorrow.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TRY 1.80.
|Bus from Kuşadası to Ephesus & back||TL 10 or $5.60||One way is TL 5.|
|Taxi from main road to Magnesia Gate||TL 20 or $11.10||Lower gate to Magnesia gate. Standard rate.|
|Ephesus||TL 25 or $13.90||Admission fees.|
|Coffee at Ephesus (Lower gate)||TL 6.50 or $3.60|
|Bus from Ephesus to Selçuk||TL 2.50 or $1.40||One way is TL 2.50|
|Bus from Selçuk to Şirince & back||TL 6 or $3.30||One way is TL 3.|
|Basilica of St. John||TL 8 or $4.40||Entrance fees.|
|Ephesus Museum||TL 8 or $4.40||Entrance fees.|
|Souvenirs & postal stamp||TL 5 or $2.80||Fridge magnet & postal stamp.|
|Snacks & water||TL 8.50 or $4.70|
|Toilets||TL 2 or $1.10|
|Total Costs||$56.30||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,976.70||Per person|
« PREVIOUS – Day 5
Traveling from İzmir to Kuşadası & spending day there.
Ephesus, Selçuk, Şirince
Visiting Efes & towns of Selçuk & Şirince.
Day 7 – NEXT »
Visiting cotton travertines and Hierapolis.