Ephesus (Efeze) is one of the greatest ancient sites in the Mediterranean. During its heyday in the first century BC, it was the second-largest city in the world, with only Rome commanding more power. Many reconstructed structures and ruins, including the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, can be seen here.
This ancient city is home to an incredible number of ruins in varying states. The site is best explored with a guide who can help shed light on the function and significance of the various structures. Guided tours of the site depart from Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Selçuk, and Kuşadasi.
Travelers who want to avoid the stress of making travel arrangements to Ephesus can take tours from Istanbul, which typically include air transport from Istanbul to Izmir, and ground transfers from Izmir to Ephesus. Many tours combine a visit to Ephesus with a trip to the Virgin Mary's House (Meryemana), a former house turned shrine where it is believed the Virgin Mary spent her last days.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Ephesus is a must for history and archaeology buffs.
- Bring a hat, sunscreen, and ample water as there is little shade at the site.
- Much of Ephesus has uneven, stone surfaces that can make wheelchair access difficult. It is possible to enter the site via the lower gate and to see some of the ruins, including the Library of Celsus.
How to Get There
Ephesus is situated in Selçuk in the Izmir province of Turkey, about 46 miles (75 kilometers) south of the city of Izmir. Several airlines, including Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, AtlasGlobal, and Pegasus, operate direct flights between Istanbul and Izmir. Izmir is about an hour’s drive from Ephesus. The easiest way to get there is by guided tour.
When to Get There
The best time of the year to visit Ephesus is during April, May, October, and November when the milder temperatures are ideal for exploring. The heat and crowds can be intense in July and August, especially in the middle of the day, so try coming in early morning or late afternoon.
Highlights of Ephesus
Perhaps the most emblematic and oft-photographed ruin in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus. Built between AD 110 and AD 135, the library was originally three stories tall. Much of the structure was destroyed during a 10th-century earthquake, though the spectacular facade has been reconstructed. Though the Temple of Artemis is probably Ephesus’ most fabled structure—this colossal marble construction is said to have been more than four times the size of the Parthenon—only a lone column remains standing.