We flew from London to Istanbul and got straight into another plane to Izmir. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, but our main objective was visit nearby Ephesus.
Getting there was a bit tricky, but Ephesus was really amazing. This ancient Roman city is a Unesco Heritage site, and it’s right up there with Petra and Pompeii.
It was a lovely day in November, and mild temperatures made it perfect for exploring. There are many impressive buildings around, but the massive theatre with capacity for 25,000 people, and Celsius Library were the most impressive.
Among marble roads and Corinthian columns, you can easily spend hours walking around. When we visited there was hardly anyone there, which was just perfect!
After seeing all the sights we had a light meal at a cafe by the entrance and left just in time to get the last bus pack to the station.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Go: It was quite tricky getting the bus from Izmir to Ephesus. You can but a ticket (10TL each way) from a travel agent in the city centre (we used Pamukkale which was good). You are then directed to a free shuttle service which takes you to the bus station (these are also available on the way back to the city centre, from the platform with local buses). The bus station was massive, but there were no clear signs anywhere and people didn’t speak more than a few words in English. We asked around a few times and were pointed to all different places, but eventually managed to find the right bus to take us to Selçuk (the city next to Ephesus). This ended up taking longer than expected, but once we found the right bus it was okay. Although Izmir is only one hour from Selçuk, you need the whole day to allow plenty of time for travelling.
- Selçuk to Ephesus: Ephesus is about 3kn from the city centre. You can take a taxi, walk or take a local bus (2.5TL) from the centre. We walked there and took the bus back, both of which were fine.
- Tickets: We bought the ticket which included entrance to both the main site and the terraced houses (40TL). The terraced houses are a great highlight so it’s definitely worth paying a bit more to see them.
There isn’t that much to do in Izmir itself, but the promenade by the bay is a great place to go for dinner.
We found Kosebasi, a nice Turkish restaurant with the kind of hospitality you only find in places tourists haven’t colonised yet. The food was really good, and we also tried the local spirit (raki, which is similar to ouzo although you should not say that to any locals), which I regretted straight away. Dinner for two including drinks and tip for 150TL (a bit expensive for local prices but definitely worth it).
HOW TO DO IT:
- Go: We flew from Istanbul to Izmir with local budget airline Pegasus. Tickets start from only £13 and the flight takes about 1h.
- Stay: We found a good deal and stayed at the Movenpick, which was located right by the bay. We had Swedish massages at the spa (175TL for 1h, but we got 1/3 off) which were really great. The spa also includes a gym and swimming pool, free to use. We paid £50 per night including a yummy breakfast. Bargain!