Situated halfway between the towns of Izmir and Bodrum, Kusadasi is a large coastal resort enjoying some of the best that Turkey has to offer its tourist trade. With magnificent views across the sparkling Aegean Sea and set amidst lush rolling hillsides lined with olive and fig trees, the resort is a bustling town with a large port for European cruise ships. Indeed, this is the second biggest such port in Turkey.
It’s come a long way since tourists first discovered it, and is now a lot livelier with a selection of bars, discos and local tavernas that entertain guests throughout the summer. This contrasts sharply with the amount of history and culture there is to take in around the surrounding areas.
Can you believe that there are 8 beaches in the resort of Kusadasi? The most popular are Ladies Beach, Long Beach and Kustur Beach. Kustur beach is the quieter out of the three with Ladies Beach boasting a long promenade behind a long 1km stretch of white sand. There are pedalos here for rent along with banana boats and jet-skis. Head to Long Beach though if you want to snorkel in the clear blue waters or Kusadasi.
Kusadasi means ‘bird island’ and is so-called because of a small peninsula linked to the mainland via a short causeway. It’s worth a visit to explore the Byzantine castle and additional beaches, but is also a lovely way to see across the bay to the resort itself.
The history of Kusadasi dates back over 5,000 years and, despite its redevelopments in the 1980s, the surrounding area is rich with interesting architecture and ancient sites. Of particular interest are the 17th Century mosque Kaleici Camii, the strong house by the docks and the old townhouses along the seafront (now mostly converted to bars and restaurants). In addition, the ancient city of Ephesus is situated beside the town and, attracting thousands of visitors per year, is an interesting way to spend exploring the vicinity.
The town hosts markets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday selling everything from local produce to artisan crafts, souvenirs and gifts. Open from dawn until dusk, the markets boast a lively atmosphere. There is also a fish market, the location of which is enjoyed by many locals because of the views, atmosphere, and prices.
If you can grow tired of the activities that can be enjoyed in Kusadasi including micro lighting, scuba diving, paintballing and quad/jeep safari, then a reasonable commute by public transport will take you to several water parks, such as Aqua Fantasy, Adaland and Aqua Fantasy.
Ferries to the Greek islands can cater to those on a bigger budget, but there are many ways to enjoy cheap Kusadasi holidays.
Kusadasi has an abundance of good restaurants and, whether you want to dine with ocean views, amid the bustling street life or in a more secluded area, there are places to suit your palate and budget. From oven-baked pizzas to lamb moussaka, the restaurants in Kusadasi offer a fine selection of local cuisine. Dishes are often served with griddled bread or flavoured with spinach and feta cheese and most restaurants are found along the waterfront.
Kusadasi has a reputation for its nighttime revelry and can be split into two famous areas – Kaleici, situated inside the city walls, and the beach bars. The former has two streets packed with bars, all offering an energetic atmosphere and a mixture of live music, techno, and Turkish and English language music. There are a number of Irish bars in the old town, all of which are popular for their friendly vibe.