The Best Things to Do and See in Kusadasi

Whether you like to explore historical sites, shop the day away or relax on the beach, the lively coastal resort town of Kusadasi has something to offer everyone.

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Popular with couples, families and solo travellers, Kusadasi is a vibrant resort town on the Aegean coast of Turkey with no shortage of exciting activities, immaculate beaches and interesting landmarks. It’s the ideal destination for those in search of adventure, a relaxing seaside escape or cultural tours that are sure to impress. The unique offerings make Kusadasi attractive to locals and visitors alike, as does the all year round sunshine, bargain shopping, fantastic hospitality and lively nightlife scene.

 

If you’re about to embark on a journey to this major port city, take a look at our guide to the best things to do and see in Kusadasi.

1. Ancient City of Ephesus

Ephesus is the top tourist attraction in Kusadasi and one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. Once you set eyes on this mind-blowing place, you’ll quickly understand why it’s on every history fans bucket list. Ephesus is essentially an incredible open-air museum that features all kinds of fascinating architectural treasures from the Greek, Roman and Hellenistic periods. This ancient port city used to be a key center for Christianity and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean.

 

There is so much to discover and absorb when wandering through the ancient ruins and restored landmarks of Ephesus, such as the Odeon, Curates Street, Great Theater, Trajan Fountain, Temple of Hadrian, Library of Celsus, House of the Virgin Mary, Gymnasium of Vedius and Gate of Macaeus and Mithridates. Exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site where myth and legend meet is an experience that’s truly out of this world.

2. Fortress Mosque

One of the most impressive and prominent landmarks in Kusadasi is Fortress Mosque, also known as Kaleici Camil, which reflects classical Ottoman architecture and spans across an area of over 1800 square meters. The mosque was built by Okuz Mehmet Pasa in the 17th century and features stunning oil paintings and stained glass windows, as well as striking columns and a rather large dome. With its huge front door and decorative interior, Fortress Mosque can easily be mistaken for an opulent palace.

3. Pigeon Island

Located very close to the harbor, Pigeon Island is a colorful area of Kusadasi that offers panoramic views over the bay and across the town. It gets its name from the large number of pigeons that flock to the island, however, we should mention that it’s not actually an island but more of a place with an island feel. Locals and visitors go here to admire the pretty gardens, watch the yachts and cruise liners or explore the remains of the 13th- century Pirate Castle. Built during the Byzantine period to protect the town from being invaded by pirates, Pirate Castle even has its own museum. Pigeon Island is within easy walking distance to the center of town and is also a lovely place to go for a leisurely walk along the seafront to capture those beautiful Kusadasi sunsets.

4. Miletus

Kusadasi is near to the ancient city of Miletus, another major archaeological site that appeals to history buffs across the globe. Miletus boasted four harbors and was once a coastal city of philosophers and scientists. It was also the first city in the ancient world to mint coins and became one of the twelve most important cities of Ionia. Over the years, the city was destroyed, rebuilt and eventually abandoned in the 17th century after it fell into decline when the harbors silted up. Set on the mouth of the River Meander and situated between the ancient sites of Priene and Didyma, Miletus is now home to well-preserved ruins and magnificent monuments, including the impressive Theater that once hosted gladiatorial contests.

5. The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar in Kusadasi is a shopper’s paradise and one of the largest bazaars in all of Turkey. This huge bazaar is situated in the center of town just in front of the harbor dock and is open most days, usually from early in the morning until midnight. You can find a huge variety of treasures, from clothes, sunglasses, handbags and jewelry to rugs, furniture and even belly dancer outfits. Plus, you can haggle on pretty much anything you want for a better deal on your purchases. There’s also the Orient Bazaar, an open market located in the lanes next to Grand Bazaar, so be sure to take plenty of Lira with you when visiting this part of town.

6. Ladies Beach

There are lots of gorgeous beaches with crystal clear waters in Kusadasi but Ladies Beach is one not to be missed. Known in Turkish as Kadinlar Denizi, Ladies Beach was segregated for just females during the Ottoman period. Thankfully, it’s no longer a women-only beach, meaning everyone can enjoy its golden sand, shallow waters and water sports facilities. In addition to being a popular swimming and sunbathing spot, the beach area has a promenade lined with palm trees and plenty of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. What’s more, Ladies Beach is a fabulous place to catch spectacular sunsets.

 

We hope our blog helps you decide where to go and what to see when visiting Kusadasi. Oh, and don’t forget - Celestyal Cruises offers a range of guided Kusadasi excursions so that you can make the most of your time ashore.