Read what other Viator.com travelers think about the Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary Day Trip from Istanbul. What they loved, what they liked and what they think could be improved, it's all here to help you make the most of your next trip.
Even with a 5.30 start and a 9.00pm return this was one of the best days of my life! The mechanics of pick up/flight/drop offs etc went like clockwork. Our guide at the Izmir end was fantastic - his knowledge was great, his English was perfect, he gave us the right amount of time at every point. There was only one other couple on the tour, so it felt very personal service.
First we visited the House of the Virgin Mary, surprisingly peaceful and moving. Ephesus, I have no words for, except 'WOW' - go there. Unparalleled, and a lifetime's ambition realised! Then we went to St John's Basilica - in really good condition, followed by a quick stop to what remains of the Temple of Artemis - my classics and mythology courses come flooding back!
Lunch was after all the sightseeing - a lovely meal at a Carpet weaving co-operative. That, of course, was the only downside - the attempt at hard sell - luckily, the Americans bough a carpet, so everyone came away happy. I just wish these tour companies wouldn;t try with these factory visits - how many people really want to spend a lot of money when on a day out - unless they are actively looking for the diamond, the pearl, the carpet, the piece of furniture.... we never have and find these interludes annoying.
However, this particular day, nothing could spoil my enjoyment and appreciation of onw of the most amazing places on the planet.
It was nice to get out of the city and see some of the countryside. The guide was great. The bus was great. The meal was great. Even the carpet weaving stop was great, very low pressure.
Excellent, our guide was wonderful, she likes what she was doing, and she live what she said, her name Cigdem Goktas, in Turkish. Kudos for that lady who transmit her passion for the history and her knowledge to us.
I was disappointed with the service for this tour. The Driver was 40 minutes late to pick me up in the hotel, we had to wait one hour and a half at Izmir airport because of the delay of other people´s flight, the van broke and we have to change cars, the Guide had a very difficult English to understand (I thought it was only me but I asked the others and they felt the same), lunch was in a place (very simple by the way) where they sell rugs and they were very pushy and when I got back in Istanbul they said my name was not on the list to take me back to the hotel.
There was also a lady who got sick and never made it to visit Ephesus (spent all time in the car) and when it was asked to drop her off first in her hotel they said they couldn´t because they had an itinerary to follow.
So Ephesus is great only the service has to get much much better.
Long day but worth every effort. I have seen many ruins throughout Greece, but none compare to Ephesus. Amazing place. Highly recommend this tour. Everything was executeled beautifully. Go!!
Fabulous guide. Knowledgable and friendly, made our tour a real learning experience.
It was good and our guide was good trying to explain the history of ephesus.
The Tour of Ephesus interesting. So much to see. You could spend an entire day there walking through the ruins. Amazing. The performance later in the day was short but cute. Get your camera ready.
House of Virgin Mary was very small. Some folks were praying and it prevented easy access to the small area. Wait for awhile to get inside and look around and feel the environment. Beautiful secret place in the mountains. Nice people run the exhibit on site.
It was a great day getting a taste of Turkey outside of Istanbul but a very long day.
While everything was very smooth with transfers etc I would have appreciated a little more information about the format of the day, for example, explaining that I would be picked up at the airport and then transferred to another bus etc.
This trip could be organized better. First I called the tour company for confirmation of my booking a few days before the trip. Nobody was taking the call. I had to call Viator to sort things out. Second, when a non-English speaking driver picked me up at my residence, he did not/could not tell me that nobody would met me at the Istanbul airport; I was suppose to just go in and take the plane myself to Ephesus. I would not mind that if somebody had informed me. Nobody did, and I was wondering during my entire plane journey if I was doing the right thing.
Ephesus itself is great. However the trip is actually too short; we got back to the airport at about 4:00 p.m., waiting for a scheduled plane back at after 6:00 p.m. The tour guide should have strongly recommended us to visit the Terraced Houses in Ephesus if she knew that was going to happen.
Ephesus itself was amazing a must see! BUT... Too long of a trip, says 11 hours but it took us 13 total hours. Tour ended with a sales pitch for leather and fur jackets, tour guide wasn't the best we've had. Too expensive could have done this ourselves for less than half easily...
Although we ejoyed seeing Ephesus, we were not happy with this tour. First of all, the gentleman who picked us up at our hotel had no idea what flight we were taking to Izmir. We were not given anything but a Viator voucher, so we didn't know either. He was annoyed that we didn't have detailed information and I suggested to him that it was his job to know. Since he didn't know which airline or flight number we were on, he had us stand in a long line at one airline check-in, only to learn we weren't booked with that airline. Then he hauled us to another airline and thankfully, they had us in our system and gave us boarding passes for the departure and return flight. When we arrived in Izmir, we were met at the airport, then put on a bus and waited about 30 minutes in the parking lot, in the heat and without air conditioning, until two other people got on the bus. Once underway to Ephesus, we stopped after awhile at the side of the road and the bus driver got out and walked away. Five minutes later another driver took over. When we thought we finally arrived, we were greeted by somebody who put us in a small van to take us to our tour meeting point. The tour itself was very good and we have no complains about that or the tour driver. When we returned to Istanbul, we were greeted by a representative who told us to sit in the waiting area while he waited for other passengers. We waited about 45 minutes and finally were gathered up, put in a van and returned to our hotel. It was a long day, made longer by ineffiency. My husband and I decided we will never take another Viator tour again.