Kusadasi, a quiet seaside town popular as a holiday destination was a stop during our Turkey travels as it was the perfect location to set up base to visit sights and places easily accessible from this beautiful town.
One of the world famous sites that we were highly anticipating during our Turkey holiday was the ruined city of Ephesus which was on our bucket list for the longest time.
Fun fact: Ephesus at its peak was the 2nd largest city of the Roman empire and what you see when you visit today is only a small portion of the city that has been excavated (roughly 15%) and that is already relatively extensive so you can only imagine how big the original city was!
We initially were only going to get an audio guide but luckily we were convinced by a tour guide outside the entrance. He was amazing and definitely worth looking out for him when you visit Ephesus; he's a teacher when he's not a guide and he showed us great things in the stone - arrows, swords etc; told us where people bathed; bar street / entertainment quarters of the city (of the parts that have been excavated) which really helped give us a view into what life in Ephesus would have been like back in the day. You can only infer so much from listening to an audio guide so I definitely recommend a licensed tour guide!
We were awed by the Library of Celsus which is the first image you'll generally see when you search "Ephesus", the amphitheatre and the resounding history that you could feel through all the ruins.
Not far away from the ancient city of Ephesus is the town of Selcuk and here you can visit the last resting place of the Virgin Mary, whether or not everyone actually believes this is up to you!
While around Selcuk, a visit to the the ruins of the temple of Artemis is close by, although be prepared to look at some rubble on the ground as there isn't much left of this temple!
If ruins are your thing, head a little further south to Didyma to check out the temple of Apollo, there's so much history to visit and experience while in Turkey so I say definitely try and make it your thing while there.
Day 2 was spent travelling to Pammukale, a 2-3 hour one way journey however better & easier than trying to fit it as a day trip from Istanbul!
Pammukale, a Unesco World Heritage site, when translated from Turkish is literally "cotton castle" is definitely a bucket list sight that can't be missed while in Turkey and we were so glad we made the effort to get there.
It is said that these waters have healing power and people are known to have a dip to cure their skin of any ailments! I can't say we had any skin ailments but warm waters during the winter months was more than I could ask for. I would refrain from wearing a new bikini into the water as the natural elements of the water may stain it! Footwear is also not permitted to be worn around the travertines, so be sure to remember to bring a bag to carry your footwear & clothing should you choose to dip into these pools.
We were quite lucky as we got dropped off at the north entrance of Pammukale so we didn't have to walk up from all the way at the bottom, but if you want to experience the whole thing, why not go for a stroll up the travertines!
After dipping your toes in these waters be sure to check out the ruins of Hierpolis, which is just off to the side of where the travertines are located. This was once upon a time a spa city, which totally makes sense with the waters from the travertines a stone throw away. There is a museum close by you can visit if you have time or the antique pools where some ruins still rest in the waters. We walked through and grabbed a snack from here, however there's a small fee if you would like to swim in the pools.
If you want to extend your weekend in Kusadasi, a short 2 hour drive away is the seaside town of Bodrum. Here you'll find white washed houses upon the cliffs, just what you would expect in the Greek Islands and not surprisingly as it's right opposite the Greek island of Kos. We spent our last couple of days in Turkey in Bodrum as a breather from all the hustle and bustle of racing around ruins, however I imagine during the summertime it to be a move lively and bustling place.
As in Kusadasi, there are plenty of ancient sites and ruins in Bodrum. One notable ruins is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.
Not only did we enjoy the historic sites, we also enjoyed checking out the old abandoned windmills on top of the hill (search in google for Bodrum değirmen) and where you can also get a pretty cool view of the city!
Our time on the West Coast of Turkey was relatively short lived but we thoroughly enjoyed learning about all the history of the area and exploring the cute and quaint seaside towns and aim to be back in the summer one day!