Kusadasi Guide

Cosmopolitan Kusadasi

With a solid reputation for tourism and expat living, Kusadasi on the Aegean coast of Turkey attracts many nationalities. Popular as a cruise-ship port, tourists also enjoy a high standard of summer fun, because of sandy beaches, an array of shopping opportunities and a pleasant blend of modern development mixed with traditional Turkish charm.

The History of Kusadasi

The start of Kusadasi’s timeline is historically unsure, but for many centuries, it operated as a harbour point for traders traveling by sea. Success was limited though because the nearby and larger Greek / Roman city of Ephesus overshadowed it. Eventually, water at the ship harbour of the international trading port of Ephesus dried up and attention turned to neighbouring Kusadasi.

Under various empires, the region adopted many names but at the beginning of the 20th century, the name “Kusadasi” become official. Translating into “Bird Island,” this refers to the small island lying a short distance off its coastline and now reached by a man-made walkway.

In history, ruling empires of the region included Alexander the Great, the Lycians, Persians and the Romans. Under Roman rule, Kusadasi along with neighbouring Ephesus entered into a prominent stage as a centre of Christianity.

At first facing persecution, worshippers practised in secret but over the years, Emperors slowly accepted the idea and locals practised their new religion without fear. In the nearby town of Selcuk, sits the house of the Virgin Mary (supposed scene of her last resting place) and John’s Basilica that also holds his tomb.

Under Ottoman rule, a newly built caravansary (Ottoman style hotel accommodation) accommodated passing traders but once again, income suffered when a new railway route bypassed Kusadasi in favour of the cities of Aydin and Izmir.

The beginning years of the 20th century were a turbulent time for locals as news of the Ottoman Empire’s demise spread. They were known as the “sick man of Europe” and during the Turkish War of Independence in 1922, Kusadasi was a focal point of attack for Greek forces, who gained control for many months.

After winning the war, locals adopted more sustainable forms of income such as fishing and farming but prosperity was on the horizon. In the 1980’s a new form of trade made its way into Turkey and Kusadasi fully embraced tourism. This wise decision made the resort into a popular holiday coastal town of the Aegean coast of Turkey.

About Kusadasi Today

Kusadasi has a respected reputation on the cruise-liner scene, because every month large cruise-ships dock in, specifically for guests to visit the neighbouring ancient ruins of Ephesus that in 2014 was the 2nd most visited attraction in Turkey

Otherwise, it still accommodates every type of tourist because unlike neighbouring Altinkum that shuts in the winter due to the lack of tourism, bars, restaurants, and hotels in Kusadasi stay open all year round. The main town does not have a beach, although just a five-minute bus drive away is the long, sandy Ladies Beach with water sports centres.

Kusadasi also has attracted a strong expat community because of excellent public amenities like hospitals, banks, post offices. Language barriers rarely become problems because many locals speak English as a second language.

Kusadasi town centre has a few historical attractions but there is an extremely good bus network to all neighbouring districts that holidaymakers and expats love to explore. During summer, a daily ferry service also operates to the Greek island of Samos and getting to the resort from airports is easy because Izmir is an hour away while Bodrum is just 2 hours away.

Neighbouring Districts of Kusadasi

Selcuk is a working and rural town with the added advantage of being home to many ancient ruins. They include the ancient city of Ephesus, and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, as featured in the Bible.

As a previous Seljuk town, other attractions especially luring backpackers on a round trip of Turkey include Artemis temple; one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Selcuk castle, Isa Bey Mosque, Pamuk beach and the wine making village of Sirince. Home to a small community of expats who prefer to live in a more traditional town, Selcuk enjoys a laid-back lifestyle.

Davutlar is an extremely large national park, where various species of flora and fauna thrive including wild boar. Tourists enjoy natural landscapes, the laid-out walking paths, 3 beaches and boat trips of the crystal blue waters of the Aegean. Near the entrance to the park is the cave of Zeus, a popular stopping spot on Jeep safaris.

Guzelcamli gained popularity with retiring Turks or Turks from the big cities who buy holiday homes there. It borders Dilek National Park and has a large, pristine beach called Sevgi Plaj (Love Beach) Guzelcamli is often credited in mainstream press because despite the popularity in tourism, a strong emphasis on culture and traditions still exists. Locals are often welcoming to foreigners and interest from potential buyers is growing.

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