Must Do’s in Kuşadası
Kuşadası is a lively resort that has something to offer everyone. Whether you like exploring, relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches or snapping up a bargain, Kuşadası has it all. Here are 40 must-do’s when on holiday in Kuşadası…
1 – Visit the ancient city of Ephesus and the Virgin Mary’s House
A holiday to Kuşadası is not complete without going on a tour to the ruins of the spectacular ancient city of Ephesus and the peaceful Virgin Mary's House.
2 – Sit at the port and watch the cruise ships come and go
Sip a frappuccino in Starbucks located in the shopping center of Scala Nuova and watch the cruise ships come and go.
3 – Eat in a Turkish restaurant to get a true idea of the delicious Turkish cuisine
Visit Bul Bul, Avlu, Alo24 or one of the many other Turkish restaurants and eat like a local − great food and great prices.
4 – Spend the day at one of Kuşadası’s many beaches
Ladies Beach, Long Beach, Silver Sands Beach or Love Beach... each one offers different activities for a perfect day of relaxation.
5 – Have a drink in the rooftop bar at Dejazar Wine Bar
Chill out with an ice cold Efes or a glass of wine on Dejazar’s fabulous roof terrace and watch a beautiful sunset over Kuşadası Marina.
6 – Explore Pigeon Island and visit the museum
Pigeon Island, also known as Bird Island, is the symbol of Kuşadası and where the name Kuşadası (meaning Bird Island) originated from. Visit the Museum inside the old Byzantine Castle or simply sit down and enjoy the panoramic view of Kuşadası.
7 – Go on a Jeep safari and explore the surrounding areas of Kuşadası
Spend the day exploring the mountains of the National Park or the hills behind Şirince in an off-road jeep. It’s a fun, dirty day out with constant water fights between the jeeps going on.
8 – Spend the day whizzing down the slides at Adaland or Aqua Fantasy
Adaland and Aqua Fantasy are the two main waterparks in Kuşadası. Race down slides with names such as Black Thunder and Kamikaze, join in with the rain dance or simply take the relaxing option and float around the Lazy River on a rubber ring.
9 – Visit the town of Selçuk
Selçuk, a small town 20 minutes away from Kuşadası, is is one of the most visited tourist destinations within Turkey because of its closeness to Ephesus. Places of interest in Selçuk include The Castle, The Basilica of St John and the Isa Bey mosque. You should also try the famous (and very delicious) ‘çöp şiş’ (small chunks of grilled lamb and fat) in one of the many restaurants.
10 – Spend Saturday morning at Selçuk Market
Selcuk Market is held every Saturday from early in the morning until late at night. Browse around the many stalls where you can pick up bargains. The dolmuş (minibus) departs from Kuşadası to Selçuk regularly and costs 4 lira per person each way.
11 – Pay a visit to the old Greek Village of Şirince
Located 30 km from Kuşadası, this picturesque village with small cafés and wine houses with a magnificent view over fields, orchards, vineyards and olive groves is worth a visit. Eat traditional Turkish pancakes known as ‘gozleme’ in one of the many cafés and try the fruit wines which Şirince has become famous for producing. Take the dolmuş to Selçuk and then another to Şirince from the Selçuk bus station.
12 – Go on a horse safari and swim with the horses
If you’re into horses this is an excursion for you. Trek through forests and over mountains until you reach the rural beach of Pamucak where you have the chance to swim with the horses and gallop along the sandy beach.
13 – Take a day trip to Izmir
Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and 85 km away from Kuşadası. It has palm-lined promenades full of bars, restaurants, cafés and shops. Old fashioned ferries, the best way to travel around the city, take you over the beautiful bay and are a great way to experience one of Turkey’s most cosmopolitan and lively cities. In June/July Izmir is host to an International Arts Festival and in August/September the International Fair is held in the Alsancak district.
14 – Visit The National Park for clean crystal clear beaches
Located 30 km south of Kuşadası towards Guzelcamli, you’ll find the beautifully preserved National Park, known in Turkish as the Millipark. Whether you like hiking in the mountain trails or lying on a beach relaxing, the national park is a little piece of paradise. It’s a great place to snorkel or enjoy a picnic on one of the four main beaches.
15 – Take a dip in the Cave of Zeus
Hidden away by trees and flowers before the entrance to the National Park you’ll find the secret and mystical Cave of Zeus. It’s often one of the last stops on a jeep safari as the sparkling clear and deep mineral water inside the cave makes it a perfect place to swim. It’s very very cold during the summer and is a welcome relief from the searing heat.
16 – Enjoy a delicious meal on Ladies Beach whilst watching the beautiful sunset
The Ladies Beach promenade full of shops, bars and restaurants is a perfect place to end the day. One of the most popular restaurants ‘Somewhere Else’ offers great meals and a lovely seating area outside where you can eat a delicious meal and watch the Sunset over Samos.
17 – Take a boat trip around the bays near Kuşadası
A trip to Kuşadası isn’t complete without going on a boat trip. Discovering the nearby areas only accessible by boat makes for a wonderful day out. Stop off to swim in the crystal clear water followed by a lunch at sea which usually consists of fish, hamburgers, rice, pasta, salad and bread.
18 – Visit a Hamam and have a Turkish bath
A Turkish Bath, known as a Hamam, is an experience that should not be missed when visiting Turkey. Relax in the steam room on a heated stone table called a goebektasas while the tellak (member of staff) massages and exfoliates your skin with a coarse mitt. You should visit the hamam during the first few days of your holiday, as it prepares your skin for the sun and makes your tan last longer.
19 – Go on a day trip to Pamukkale
Pamukkale is one of the most extraordinary natural wonders in Turkey. The big attraction is a vast white cliff side with scallop-shaped basins of water and frozen waterfalls. It looks as if it’s made out of snow or cloud or balls of cotton − and it’s a weird and wonderful experience to walk along the top of the cliff, where centuries of mineral-filled water spilling over the edge has left snowy white cascades. Take a dip in the enchanting thermal spring known as Cleopatra’s pool. With collapsed Roman columns at the bottom and surrounded by beautiful blossoming flowers, it’s a very relaxing experience.
20 – Discover the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias
The ancient city of Aphrodisias was once a small city in Caria, Asia Minor. It is located near the modern village of Geyre which is roughly 170 km from Izmir. Wander around the archaeological zone, and have a look at the theatre and the ruins of the Baths of Hadrian. A visit to the Museum, which has a collection of sculptural treasures, Greco-Roman statues and ceramics dating from Bronze Age, is a must.
21 – Climb to the top of Ataturk Hill for a truly spectacular view over Kuşadası
High on the hill overlooking Pigeon Island you will notice a statue of the famous Ataturk, who was the founder of the Republic of Turkey. The views from the top are arguably the best in Kuşadası with a panoramic view over the entire bay. The road leading to the top is fairly steep, so getting a taxi is the best way to travel there.
22 Spend the day and/or night at one of Kuşadası’s Beach Clubs
Kuşadası has four main beach clubs: Eleven’s, Jade, Miracle and Elias. By day you can lounge around on the big cushions and hammocks soaking up the sun and by night as the music gets louder and the drinks start to flow you can dance until the early hours of the morning. A small entrance fee is charged; the price is usually higher at the weekends.
23 – Go on a quad safari − a guaranteed fun, dirty day out
Much like the jeep safari, the quad safari is for those that like an action-packed day out. Take the quads along the dirt tracks before quadding to the beach for more exciting driving over the sand dunes and a dip in the sea.
24 – Go to the Degirmen Restaurant
Located on the road between Kuşadası and Davutlar you’ll find the Degirmen Restaurant. Set in luscious green grounds with a large pond with lots of ducks and an Indiana Jones rope bridge, a petting zoo, a café, a bakery and lots of animals including horses, peacocks, donkeys, chickens, goats and even camels, The Degirmen Restaurant is a favourite for families with children. Open all year round the restaurant, with its old Turkish decor and log fire, offers a fine menu. There is also a small café which serves gozleme and other Turkish snacks.
25 – Step back in time in Kirazli Village
Kirazli Village, known in English as Cherry Village, is worth a visit if only to see the real, peaceful Turkey that still exists. This picturesque village which can be reached by dolmuş or car, makes you feel like you’re in a different world after the hustle and bustle of Kuşadası. Kirazli is a nice place to wander around, and there are some lovely restaurants serving meals from organic local produce − Kirazli is big on organic farming − where you can enjoy a slow meal and the peace. There is a weekend cherry festival in June and it’s then that the village is at its busiest. There are displays of traditional dancing and handicrafts and stalls everywhere selling fruit.
26 – Visit a mosque
Visiting a mosque is a profound experience and one that will leave you feeling very calm and serene. Be sure to follow the rules such as do not aim your camera at anyone who may be praying, dress appropriately as to not disrespect worshipers and take off your shoes before entering the mosque.
27 – Mingle with the Turkish people as much as you can
Turkish people welcome you to their country with open arms and warm smiles. Learn a few simple phrases in Turkish − they will not go unappreciated. The Turkish people truly go out of their way to make your holiday the best that it can be and the Turkish hospitality is often something that brings tourists back year after year.
28 – Visit one of the Kuşadası markets
There are three markets held in Kuşadası: a fruit and veg market is held on Tuesdays and Fridays, while the Wednesday market is for clothes and textiles, with stalls full of spices, souvenirs, bags, jeans and other clothes. The Wednesday market is the most popular − it’s very busy with lots of hustling and bustling going on, and bargains aplenty with all the latest genuine fake designer goods. Haggling there is a must and if you feel like you are getting ripped off, walk away.
29 – The old Village of Doganbey
On the edge of the National Park, you’ll find the Old Village of Doganbey, which dates back from ancient times. The village is like an open air museum, demonstrating the most beautiful examples of Turkish and Greek architecture carrying the traces of pass civilizations. The visitor and information centre is housed in a historical building, alongside a chapel and a church. The village, previously know as Domatia, was populated by Greeks until the population exchange in 1923 when it became a Turkish village. Some of the buildings where restored in 2001. The site is open 8.30–18.00, 7 days a week, and is close to Priene.
30 – Shop ’til you drop
Kuşadası is a shopper's paradise. There are lots of tourist shops that sell souvenirs, jewellery, carpets and leather as well as markets and shopping centres. You can find many fake brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein to name but a few. Jeans, handbags, sunglasses, belts and watches seem to be the most popular purchases and you have to haggle over the price. A tip would be to start with a ridiculously high number and gradually work your way down until you feel like you’re getting a good deal. Some shops have price tags on their goods − you don’t need to haggle in them.
31 – Indulge in a traditional Turkish breakfast
A typical Turkish breakfast consists of slices of beyaz peynir (white cheese), honey or jam, black olives, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, clotted water buffalo cream (kaymak), boiled eggs and piles of delicious fresh Turkish bread all accompanied by hot black tea in small tulip-shaped glasses. It’s a great way to set you up for the day. The most popular places to eat a Turkish breakfast are in the village of Şirince or the Hanimaga restaurant on the way to Kirazli Village.
32 – Try the Orient bar in the old town − always a top night out
Tucked away in the heart of Kaleici, the old part of Kuşadası, you’ll find The Orient Bar. With live music, grape vines hanging from the ceilings and old Turkish instruments and pictures on the walls you get a true feel of a Turkish tavern.
33 – Go white water rafting at Adaland
Adaland is one of the most popular waterparks in Kuşadası, and was voted by the New York Post as one of the best waterparks in the world. White water rafting is a must-do if you visit Adaland. It can be done daily at 14.45 until 15.45 and costs an extra 10 lira per person.
34 – Visit a Turkish hairdressers
With generations of harem ladies preceding them, Turkish women know all about looking after themselves. If they can afford to they will visit their local hairdresser on a weekly basis. If you forgot to wax before coming away, try the heated sugar and white linen strip method perfected in this part of the world and for the perfect eyebrow shape, all it needs is a twisted piece of cotton, a good eye and a steady hand. For the men a trip to the barber’s will be an unforgettable one. After an old fashioned shave with a sterile disposable blade attached to the razor. The face is then rinsed, patted dry, cologne is slapped on and cream massaged in before a dusting of powder completes the process. For those with a hairy nostril or ear lobes there is a treat in store! Brandishing a small, lit, poker type instrument they deftly burn the offending hairs away and then for the stubborn stray hairs remaining on the upper cheeks a tweezer is produced. An unforgettable experience and probably the best shave you will ever have.
35 – Enjoy an evening out at the Turkish Night
The Turkish Night, held in the beautiful old Caravanserai every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, is a night out you won’t forget. With traditional Turkish music, folk dancing and belly dancing it makes for a great evening of traditional Turkish entertainment. Beers and wine are included in the ticket price and you can watch the show whilst dining from a delicious buffet.
36 – Do a tandem sky dive at Selçuk and see the wonders of Ephesus from the air
The Ephesus airport in Selçuk gives holiday makers the chance to Sky Dive, parachute, go on airplane tours or take to the air with a microlight flying session. If you’re an adrenaline junkie then this is for you − with wonderful bird's eye views over Ephesus, the port, the beaches and the rest of Kuşadası, this will make an unforgettable holiday memory. Customized routes are available.
37 – Visit Adaland’s new Seapark
The latest addition to the Adaland Empire is the new Seapark, which makes a great day out for all the family. Start off in the Aquarium room with the big ship wreck and glass windows that allow you to discover the underwater worlds of dolphins, sharks and the tropical reef. There’s a Dolphin pool, Shark Tank, Tropical Reef, Stingray Pool and a manmade beach. It’s very nicely laid out with gardens and a lazy river where you can relax. For those of you that would like to get more hands on, there are opportunities to cage dive with the sharks, swim with the dolphins and feed the stingrays.
38 – Relax at Davutlar Thermal Baths
Enjoy a relaxing day at one of Davutlar's thermal resorts: the Natur Med Hotel and Radon Thermal. The Natur Med has a mineral content of 5 grams per litre and a temperature of 41ºC, and Radon Thermal has a mineral content of over 6 grams per litre and a temperature of 42ºC. Because they contain so many natural minerals, Turkey’s thermal baths are known to have healing properties and therapeutic effects.
39 – Scuba Diving
Discover the underwater world of Kuşadası on a scuba diving adventure. There are three main locations for diving in Kuşadası bay: the shore dive, Barabaros Reef and Adabanko Reef. There are many diving centers in Kuşadası, the most popular being Aqua Venture, where various scuba diving programmes and certificates are available. Uncertified divers will always be with a qualified and experienced diver so if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, now’s your chance.
40 – Soke Shopping Outlets
Soke factory outlet shops are located approximately 40 minutes from Kuşadası, along the main road on the way to Bodrum. There are four outlets next to each other where you will find a range of stores including Quiksilver, Adidas, Nike, Benetton, Billabong, Levis and Toys R Us. The outlets can be reached by dolmus from Kuşadası to Soke.