Ephesus, the ancient historic ruins near to Izmir are one of the main attractions in Turkey, seeing more than 2 million visitors some years.
It’s taken more than 150 years of evacuation (and currently, only 20% has been excavated!), but Ephesus is Europe’s most complete ancient city. It sure is a sight to behold!
The great city of Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC during the Classical Greek Era and at one point, an estimated 225,000 people lived there.
Some of its main features, including the marble Temple of Artemis, the Basilica and the Library of Celcus are considered some of finest archeological sites in the world.
The archaeological site is an absolute must-see in Turkey yet there’s a real issue with crowds and tourists, particularly from the daily cruise ships that dock in nearby Kusadasi.
Having visited just a couple of weeks ago in the height of the summer season, I managed a completely tourist-free day and enjoyed one of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Here are my top tips for a successful visit to Ephesus:
1. Arrive early
I mean like 8am early when the gates open. Because the other day trippers and cruise ship tourists won’t get there until 10/11am or even later. I enjoyed the whole area to myself for around 2 hours before there were many other tourists.
Alternatively, you could go late in the day as the crowds begin to thin out.
In the summer months (April to October), Ephesus is open from 8am – 7pm and in the winter, from 8am to 5pm.
Aside from avoiding crowds, it also helps to avoid the sizzling midday temperatures. The heat just reflects off the light-coloured rock and makes for quite the toasty experience.
2. Stay the night before
A stay in Selçuk, or perhaps Kusadasi makes for an ideal base to visit from. Selçuk is a simple 5 minute dolmuş journey and means a less early start, ideal!
3. Make a beeline for the main sites
Seeing these first means that once the crowds do start to arrive, you’ll have already seen the main sites and can focus on the lesser visited spots. You can take the photos you want, enjoy the sites probably to yourselves and not have to jostle for space with the tourists with their selfie sticks! UGH!
Oh, and you have time to make friends with the resident cats!
4. Start at the lower gate
This is the gate you come to first if coming via dolmus from Selçuk. It is very close to the Library of Celsus and the bigger of the two amphitheatres. The other gate is where the coaches park up and the hordes of tourists arrive.
5. Dress suitably
If you visit Ephesus in the summer months, it’s gonna be hot. There’s not a lot of shade and I’m sure it’s a few degrees steamier inside. You don’t need to be covered up for religious reasons or anything, but I highly recommend a hat!
Also, for footwear, the rocks are very smooth and a quite slippy so wear some grippy shoes. I wore flip flops and was sliding everywhere!
6. Take water and snacks
Of course you need ample water for any day out in Turkey but there’s really no stalls inside or anywhere to buy water at all, except for by the gates where there are two cafes. So once you walk inside, you’re just walking away from all amenities (there are also toilets there).
So there you have it – some essential tips that could hopefully lead to a more successful day visiting a tourist hotspot that can really draw the crowds!
Where to stay
If you’re thinking of visiting soon then I’d love to share where I stayed – the beautiful Saint John Boutique hotel.
I found it through hotels.com and absolutely loved it. It was a little further from the centre of town than some of the options, but was right next to St John’s Basilica.
The beautiful building is family-owned and run, and I had the pleasure to meet the father, the mother, the daughters, the sons, the in-laws.. basically everyone! It was an amazingly friendly environment and they made me feel really at home.
My room was beautifully appointed with air con and a TV. I ate both breakfast and dinner downstairs around the pool which was rather romantic for one!
After my morning exploring Ephesus, I came back to swim and relax around the pool. Even though they weren’t officially serving food, the family were more than happy to rustle up a delicious lunch for me and we relaxed together as the hotel was quite quiet while everyone was out sightseeing.
Ömer, one of the sons, spoke great English and was SO kind and helpful. Especially with helping me decide my onwards travel!
So these are my top tips for a successful visit to this incredible site!
Have you been to Ephesus? Do you have any other tips for visitors to this amazing place? I’d love to hear if so – drop a comment below!
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