Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Kusadasi
The ancient Greek city of Miletus in modern-day Turkey was once an important port city. When the river’s location changed, the city was eventually abandoned.
The settlement at Miletus dates back to 1400 B.C.E., and the city grew to be one of Greece’s wealthiest cities - thanks in large part to its position at the mouth of the Maeander River. Over the centuries, the river changed course, leaving Miletus behind. The city was later destroyed by the Persians in 499 B.C.E. and then rebuilt on a new grid plan that was to become the model for Roman cities. Excavations at the site began in the late 1800s, and today you can see the remains of a theater, a stadium, a Temple to Apollo, a Byzantine-era castle and church, and Roman baths.
The ancient Greek city of Priene is in modern-day Turkey, but its Greek roots are clearly visible in the excavations you can visit. The remains of the city of Priene we can see today date back to the 4th century B.C.E., but it’s widely known among archaeologists that the original Priene settlement is much older. How much older, they can’t say - those remains are likely still buried - but it’s possible the original city was established before 1000 B.C.E.
One of the main attractions at Priene is the Temple to Athena, situated at the highest point of the old city. Other sights in the excavations include a theater, the agora, a city council building called a “bouleuterion,” a gymnasium with Roman baths, and a Temple of Demeter.
Capping the green peninsula south of Kusadasi, Dilek National Park (known locally as Milli Park) protects a lovely stretch of coastline and forest. Kusadasi locals come here to escape the crowds and stretch out on the park’s acclaimed white sand and pebble beaches, and splash in the pristine water.
Make your way to the park’s lovely bays, including Icmeler, Kavakli and Karapinar, and pack a picnic to enjoy as there are tables, benches and facilities. Keep your eyes peeled for wild pigs, and colorful wildflowers in spring and summer. Mountain trails thread through the park, and the park’s trees come right down to the water’s edge to create a verdant backdrop to the beaches lined with striped shade umbrellas.
The centuries roll back when you step inside Kusadasi’s Caravanserai, rich with Ottoman and Seljuk architectural details.
With its Venetian-style swallow-tail battlements and red stone walls, the Ottoman castle dates back to 1618 and the days of Vizier Öküz Mehmed Pasha. In the Ottoman era, the castle acted as a trading house and meeting place for merchants, and was fortified to protect the valuable goods stored there.
Entering the Caravanserai, you walk through a marble arched gateway into a double-story courtyard filled with lush palm trees, Turkish rugs (for sale), marble pools and fountains. These days the former stronghold is a welcoming boutique hotel with a well-known restaurant. The hotel combines Ottoman history and modern-day conveniences, with bathrooms and fireplaces providing plenty of 21st-century comforts.
Kusadasi is a resort town located on Turkey’s Aegean Coast that is best known as a jumping off point for visits to Ephesus, the best preserved classical city in eastern Turkey. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t much more than a small seaside village, but the growth of the local tourism industry has brought modernization and commercialization.
It is an easy walk from the cruise ship terminal to downtown Kusadasi.
Chances are you won’t be spending much time in Kusadasi itself as most cruise passengers join half or full day excursions to nearby Ephesus. If you do stick around, think of it as a chance to kick back and relax for a day. Try a Turkish bath, head to the beach to soak up some sun or cool off at the wave pools and water slides at one of the city’s aqua parks. You may also like to take a walk out to the small hilltop fortress on Pigeon Island, accessible by a footbridge just across from the port.
Adaland Aquapark is a water park in Kusadasi, Turkey on the country's west coast. In the past it has been named one of the best water parks in the world. The park has a wide variety of water slides including a head first slide, a freefall slide, loop slides, body slides, tube slides, speedy slides, slope slides, dark tunnel slides, and the world's longest family slide with tubes for two to six people. There's also a big fountain with water shooting out of the ground set to music in an area called Rain Dance where you can dance and enjoy the water. The water park has an elliptical shaped track for rafting and is the only place in Kusadasi where you can go rafting.
Adaland Aquapark also has a jacuzzi with warm bubbly water, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a pool for children. There's an activity pool where you can go swimming or sunbathing. When you're ready to take a break, there are several restaurants and bars offering food and drinks.
Modern-day sun lovers worship Didyma’s golden beaches, but in classical Ionian times this was the legendary site of the Temple of Apollo.
In its heyday, Didyma’s famous temple was the home of the oracle of Apollo, who provided the Hellenic world with divine predictions from the gods. The sanctuary at Didyma was the most significant temple in the territory of the legendary city of Miletus, approached via the Sacred Way. It was renowned for its wealth and sacred spring, a revered site predating the era of the Greeks.
The symbol of Didyma is the beautiful stone heads of the Medusa that crown the temple’s Ionic columns. Monumental steps lead to the remains of more than 100 equally huge pillars, two of which are linked by a sole surviving architrave.
Recent excavations have unearthed other temples, including one dedicated to Artemis, destroyed by fire and earthquake over the millennium.
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