Kusadasi is not a fishing town with wonderful nature as it used to be in my childhood. Kusadasi is more like a holiday city now.
Kusadasi has everything…. History, wonderful beaches, places to discover, top quality hotels and much more.
Many of the wonderful moments of my life happened in Kusadasi. Let me tell you all the things I love to do in Kusadasi so that you can enjoy Kusadasi better.
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1. Enjoy Kusadasi Beaches
Enjoy the sea of Kusadasi in the morning before thermal winds and waves start to form. In the early hours of the day, the sea is very clear.
There are many beaches in Kusadasi that you can enjoy, but if you feel lazier and want to be spoiled, you can also try the beach clubs of Kusadasi.
Jade Club is an excellent venue. It provides luxury service and an ideal spot to enjoy the sea. If you have children, it is better because there are many activities for children in Jade.
The Miracle Beach Club is a good alternative but not family-friendly as Jade.
If you want to know all details of Kusadasi beaches that only locals would know, please check my guide about beaches and beach clubs of Kusadasi.
2. Boat Trip
Taking boat trips from Guzelcamli is by far my favorite family activity in Kusadasi.
Whenever you feel lazy and even going to the beach is a burden and you should hop on a tour boat and let the beaches come to you.
There are many types of tour boats for every style. Be sure to ask what kind of entertainment that they provide.
If you are in a relaxing mood, just want to sleep and sunbathe, you would not want to wake in the middle of a foam party with loud disco music.
There are party boats as well as silent boats where you can enjoy the sound of the sea and your book. As a family, we go for more silent boats.
There are boat tours in Kusadasi and Guzelcamli. Guzelcamli boat tours are the best because the beaches that they travel to are far superior.
Some boat tours from Guzelcamli also stop at the Greece Island Samos. Ask boat tours if they are stopping at Samos Poseidon Beach because stopping at Samos usually depends on the politics of the day.
You can learn more about the boat tours in my Kusadasi’s beaches guide.
3. Sirince Village – Ephesus on the Hills
Sirince is also called Ephesus on the Hills, and this village is a perfect stop in the summer heat. The town is hidden within the hills, and it is cooler and windier than the sea level.
This village is also visited by millions each year. There are many things to enjoy in Sirince, culture, nature, history, Turkish coffee, and local wines.
Despite being a major travel destination, the town is not that crowded. We enjoy shopping for gifts and eating Turkish breakfast here. The food is very good. If you stay for the night, it is a romantic venue to have dinner with your loved one.
If you want to learn more details about this lovely town please check my travel guide to Sirince.
4. Shopping in Kusadasi
Shopping in Kusadasi may be very chaotic for tourists. Everybody, including your tour guides, tries to make you believe that bargaining is the norm in Turkey. It is not the norm. Like the rest of the liberal world, price tags rule Turkey, and Turkish locals shop like Europeans.
Bartering can be fun, but it is tiring, even for Turkish people. There are many shopping centers in Kusadasi, but the biggest ones are Kusadası Shopping Center and Soke Novada Outlet.
Soke Novada Outlet is a bit far but the cheapest one. We go there to buy our seasonal clothing needs.
Soke is a town near Kusadasi and Soke is famous for its cotton and textile. Now the outlets have grown more than a local shopping place to a nationally known spot for shopping. The outlets are on the road to Bodrum, and it is a major stop for local Turkish tourists.
There are many textile factories in the area. Many fashion items are sold at a discount in the factory outlets in the mall.
In Kusadasi Marina, Kusadası Shopping Center and Soke Novada malls, you can find high-quality Turkish and international brands at reasonable prices.
If you want to learn more about Turkish fashion and designs, please check my Turkish Fashion brands guide. You will be surprised by the quality of Turkish Designs.
Kusadasi is also famous for not-so-good quality genuine original fake watches, and clothing of every kind.
You can check my guide on shopping in Kusadasi to learn where to buy fake items, quality fashion brands, vegetables, souvenirs, and much more.
5. Explore Guzelcamli, Zeus Cave, and Guzelcamli National Park
Guzelcamli is what Kusadasi used to be. Lovely untouched nature, many historical sites, and high service quality. Guzelcamli is a cheaper and more tranquil place than Kusadasi.
We usually go to Guzelcamli for 4 reasons.
- Enjoying Boat Tours which travels to beaches of Guzelcamli National Park.
- Dining out in Guzelcamli Beaches
- Swimming in Zeus Cave
- Enjoying the Thermal Baths
Zeus Cave is a must-see, and the cave’s cold waters are a refreshing stop in the summer heat. The cave is also a mythological place with many legends. Check my Zeus Cave Guide to learn more.
The Guzelcamli National Park is full of life, with native animals roaming freely.
Guzelcamli is an excellent place looking for a silent place and a place for a family vacation. Outside the National Park area nature still dominates the landscape and there are many camping sites.
If you wish to know more about Guzelcamli, please check my Guzelcamli Travel Guide.
6. Davutlar Thermal Baths
Turkish baths, but better.
Davutlar has thermal baths that have been used for centuries. Davutlar thermal springs have 5-gram minerals per liter.
Thermal water in Davutlar is the most mineralized and salty thermal water in Turkey, and for this reason, thermal waters here are believed to have significant healing properties.
There are few hotels with thermal water in the area. Radon Thermal is the best one.
The pool areas are covered with yellow limestone which is very smooth and relaxing to walk on. The thermal smells at first but you get used to it very quickly.
My last tip would be to reward yourself with a massage. Radon has a massager who practices Central Asian Turkic style massages.
7. Visit Ancient City of Ephesus
Ephesus well deserves the title of being a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. Ephesus was an ancient metropolis only Rome could rival its Glory.
Ephesus was abandoned in time, yet it still provides a gorgeous destination to visit.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis, is in Ephesus.
SUGGESTED READING: Temple of Artemis, Most Beautiful of the 7 Wonders of the World
Ephesus has played a pivotal role in the spread of Christianity. You should visit St John Basilica, where Apostle John wrote his Gospel.
Another place to visit is the House of the Virgin Mary. Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was given sanctuary in Ephesus and spent the rest of her life in Ephesus.
When you visit the House of Mary, do not forget to bring a clean bottle with you. It is believed the water of the spring that passes under the Virgin Mary House is holy.
For more information, please check my guide on Ephesus.
8. Discover Long Beach
Long Beach is where I spent nearly most of the summers of my childhood. You can all walk all day on the endless sandy beach and enjoy different stops.
There are many good locations along this 15 km (10 miles) Long Beach. Long Beach is an excellent place to go on a trekking adventure. It is easy to walk and each section is slightly different from others.
Many safari tours also visit various sections of this beach.
There is a free public campsite in Love Beach with all utilities if you are into seaside camping.
My favorite places are located near the Atlantique Hotel. The Hotel has a beautiful seaside restaurant. If you are eating at the restaurant, you can use their sunbeds and umbrellas freely. The sunset is lovely in this location.
Click to read my guide about the best places to stay in Kusadasi.
9. Try Skydiving over Ephesus or Enjoy a Gyrocopter Ride over Kusadasi
Want to do something different?
Skydiving over Ephesus can be an extraordinary experience, or you can fly with a Gyrocopter over Ephesus and Kusadasi.
These are on my top to-do list. I am looking to the day that I will update this part of my guide with my own experience.
The Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) organizes skydiving activities and Gyropter Flights. THK is one of the most reliable organizations in Turkey. THK is a government organization, and its mission is to develop Turkish aviation.
The association provides training as well as tandem skydiving for complete beginners.
You make a reservation or learn more by visiting their website.
10. Enjoy the Nightlife in Kusadasi
There are also many options to enjoy Kusadasi nights. You can enjoy Bar Street with pub disco hybrids places. You can watch live shows in Kusadasi Bars inside the Castle or party till dawn in world-class beach clubs.
There are also romantic and family spots where you can enjoy good food near the sea.
For more details, please check my guide on Kusadasi nightlife.
11. Go on Safari Horse, Jeep Or ATVs
Kusadasi has many safari routes. My favorite is the ATV safari in Pamucak Beach, which is an 8 km long sand beach. Because it is an environmentally protected area, there are limited buildings, and the beach is mostly empty (especially on weekdays, not weekends).
It is fascinating to ride your ATV among sand dunes near the sea. Jeep Safaris going to the Guzelcamli area are another excellent choice.
There are many safari options in Kusadasi. You can easily spend a week in Kusadasi by trying different safari routes each time.
12. Aqua Parks
Aqua Parks may be one of the best choices in Kusadasi. All the aqua parks are family-friendly, and they are also entertaining for adults.
I am in my late thirties, but I still enjoy these aquaparks. Even my mom still enjoys aquaparks.
There are lots of aqua parks in Kusadasi, but two of them stand out. These are Adaland, Aqua Fantasy.
Adaland is one of the biggest aqua parks in Europe. There are many activities every hour of the day. Adaland is suitable for all ages, including grandmas.
Adaland aquapark also has a show center called Seapark, where you enter with an additional fee and swim with dolphins and watch other animal shows.
The other one that I like is Aqua Fantasy. This one is smaller than Adaland but it is still very big. Aqua Fantasy is more oriented toward children and has a more family-friendly atmosphere.
Adaland and Aqua Fantasy are the best choices. If I were to choose between them, I would select Adaland.
The smaller aqua parks may not be the best choice. For example, Tortuga is also a child-oriented theme park, but I strongly advise taking your child here. It is a well-advertised but disorganized place.
The flooring of the Tortuga aquapark is filled with sharp grain-sized rocks and you cannot even step on the floor with your bare feet.
Our daughter Lidya fell down on the ground, she was injured. Safety is important, for these reasons stick with the oldest and well-known aquaparks.
13. Visit Selcuk Town
Yet, tourists miss Selcuk town because most of them arrive here on daily tours and spend all their day sightseeing historical places.
Selcuk is a classical Turkish town with very open-minded and hospitable people. Even if you do not have much time, It is worth it to stop by Selcuk and eat Turkish food.
One of my favorite road stops is the restaurant called Omur. You should definitely try Turkish breakfast and çöp şiş. Çöp şiş is a kebab and barbecue fusion. A small wooden stick with small meat pieces is cooked in a wood fire.
There is also a good ceramics store adjacent to the Omur restaurant to wander. It has a good collection of ceramics, and I bought several sculptures from there for my law office. I am still using them, and I am happy with my purchases.
14. Discover History of Kusadasi
There are at least 15 historical sites in Kusadasi, and most of them are hidden in plain sight. The region is revealing new historical secrets every year.
The latest ancient city was discovered in the 1990s by a shepherd in Kusadasi Guzelcamli National Park.
You may enjoy the sandy beaches of Pigela, yet you may not notice old shrines and ancient city ruins hidden on the sandy beach. This beach is the first city in the world founded to be a medical center.
A few years ago, another late discovery shocked me personally. I found out that my childhood playground was an ancient city. We knew that there were some ruins, but local gossip was that the ruins were a small pirate castle.
We now know that the castle was just a tiny part of the settlement, and a fully developed ancient city is hiding underground, waiting to be recovered.
If you wish to go explore historical sites, Kusadasi is full of them. You can check my article on the History of Kusadasi and 15 Ancient Sites to Discover to learn more.
15. Pigeon Island and Kusadasi Castle Museum
Kusadasi means “bird island” in Turkish. The name of Kusadasi comes from Pigeon Island, and it is the symbol of Kusadasi.
Kusadasi Castle is originally a Genoese Castle designed to be an outpost to protect Italian Trade Routes from the Black Sea. The Castle was renovated in Ottoman Times, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage candidate. There is a small museum inside the castle with interesting relics like a whole whale skeleton.
The entrance is free, and it is within walking distance from the Kusadasi town center.
16. Turkish Breakfast
One thing you should not leave Turkey without doing is eating Turkish breakfast. Turkish food differs from region to region.
In Kusadasi, you will chance to try many varieties of olives, fresh vegetables, fried pastries, local cheese and fruit In Kusadasi, you will have the chance to try many varieties of olives, fresh vegetables, fried pastries, local cheese and fruit marmalades.
SUGGESTED READING: Turkish Food and Turkish Cuisine – 23 Things to Know
17. Discover Degirmen and Olive Oil Museum
Degirmen is an excellent place to spend your day and experience Kusadasi.
Degirmen, which started as a traditional restaurant and a farm, grew into something more significant in years.
Degirmen is a complex with a la carte restaurant, a lakeside breakfast place, another traditional cuisine restaurant, a grocery store, a horse riding park, and an olive oil museum.
This location is mainly visited by locals and is not known by international travelers, yet it is one of the best places in Kusadasi to spend your day.
The Olive Museum is one of the first olive oil museums in Turkey. Just the Museum covers an area of 3000 m2 (32300 ft²), and it has 11 exhibition halls.
The exhibitions start from the ancient era to modern olive oil technologies.
Check my article on Turkish food museums, if you wish to discover more Turkish museums like this.
“There are two liquids required for humans. Olive oil for the outside and wine for the inside.”Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (AD 23- 79)
18. Visit a Mosque
A mosque is a praying place for Muslims. Tourists and non-muslims are also welcomed. The only thing that you should be careful about when entering a mosque is the dress code.
Long shorts for men and a t-shirt are acceptable for men. For women, long jeans or long skirts and a scarf to cover their hair are okay.
Muslim religious practice is very tolerant and relaxed in Turkey, especially in western Turkey.
19. Try to Learn Turkish Chat with locals or Read Turkish
When Turkey adopted the Latin alphabet, we also adopted the pronunciation. For this reason, reading and speaking Turkish is actually very easy if you know how to read Italian or Spanish. Here is how to read Turkish writing.
- Read as you read Spanish or Italian.
- Foreign letters like Ş is “sh” and Ç is “ch”.
- Do not pronounce Ğ, and it is okay.
- The sounds you will have trouble with are vowels of Ö, Ü, and İ. It takes time to get familiar with these sounds; for now, pronounce these vowels as O, U, and I.
That’s it. Now you can read and speak Turkish at an understandable level.
Ask locals for advice, practice reading in Turkish, and order your food by reading the Turkish name. Locals fall in love with tourists trying to learn Turkish.
20. Didyma, Priene and Miletus
I would advise visiting these ancient cities by driving your car and stopping on the road to enjoy scenery and eat-outs.
There are many stops around these, and day tours limit your experiences in these three ancient cities. But if you must, you can take a daily tour to see three cities together.
Priene is one of the first planned cities in the world. Priene was using the rectangular zoning system that we use today.
Miletus is another city comparable to Ephesus in size. Miletus is the father of many cities. It is the city that established most colonies at the time. Some of the major Black Sea cities are formed by Miletus.
Miletus and Priene were both coastal cities, yet their sea access was closed by sands brought by the Meander River. Just like Ephesus but different rivers.
Didyma is an ancient city that is mostly buried under the modern buildings of Didim. Apollon Temple is a sight to see, but Priene and Miletus provide better experiences to witness history.
21. Camlik Train Museum
This place is the last resting place of railroad machines in Turkey. You can see many railroad machines and locomotives dating back to the 1800s.
The museum was a railroad station in the oldest railroad network of Turkey, but now it is an open-air museum with lots of green areas to wander.
You can freely hop on hop off old locomotives. It is an excellent place for all ages.
22. Karina Beach – Best Beach in Kusadasi
If you are going to Miletus or Priene for a day trip, you can slightly change your course to arrive at this miraculous beach. On the way there, you can make a stop to drink something in the beautiful village of Doganbey.
The road ends on the beach. There is a military post preventing you from entering the national park from this side of the mountain. The beach is usually empty, and locals come here for dining.
This sea is very shallow and does not get deep very quickly. You can walk a mile into the sea, and still, the water will be shallow. It is a very safe beach and a secluded area to spend with your family away from all the crowds.
There are many fish restaurants with good tapas, and Karina Beach is a lovely place to end a day.
Pamukkale is a magnificent natural wonder as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pamukkale means Cotton Castle in Turkish, which is a well-deserved name.
You will reach Pamukkale by walking through the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis.
You can take a lot of Instagram photos to amaze your friends in the Travertines of Pamukkale. Yet, I would spend my time in Museum or in the Cleopatra pool.
Cleopatra’s pool is an Antique Pool that was also favored by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. It is the source of the water that created Pamukkale.
It is an enchanting thermal spring with clear and warm water. Especially in the winter months, you feel as if you are in a gigantic hot tub with silk soft water. The pool entrance fee is more than 20 USD but worth every penny.
Pamukkale is 185 km (115 miles) from Kusadasi, so it will take a whole day to go and come back.
If you are a golf lover, you will enjoy Kusadasi International Golf Club. Tracks cover an area of 650 acres with many options for all levels of golf players.
25. Diving or Water Sports
Kusadasi has many diving spots with numerous diving schools.
Lately, an Airbus A300 was sunk off the coast of Kusadasi to create a diving area. The diving experience in Kusadasi is very colorful, and if you are lucky, you will encounter Mediterranean seals or dolphins.
There are also many water sports centers with many options in Kusadasi.
26. Take a day to enjoy Windsurfing or Kitesurfing
If you have time to take a day trip to Alacati, Urla, or even Bodrum for a day, enjoy kitesurfing or windsurfing. These locations are a 3-hour ride from Kusadasi.
Kusadasi winds are not as steady as Urla or Alacati, yet there is always the paragliding option in Kusadasi.
27. Try Turkish Barbers
Have you ever noticed in places like London, New York the most demanded barbers are Turkish barbers?
There are many reasons for it. Turkish barbers are definitely different.
As a Turkish local, I was thinking that Turkish barbers were the standard norm. I was so wrong! I remember the first time I was out in London looking for a barber.
Most of the barbers did not even have a washing sink. They did not have the standard equipment Turkish barbers had, and I was shocked.
In the end, I discovered there were many Turkish barbers in London, and all of them were sought after.
I can’t tell you much about Turkish barbers without sounding weird. If you are a man, you should definitely visit a Turkish barber, and you will find that they are a lot better than what you are used to at home.
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