The ancient beauty of Ephesus

Transport in Turkey was surprisingly pleasant. Form most places in Turkey (tourist centres anyway) buses left frequently and went to basically everywhere we could possibly want to go. We caught our first bus from Bodrum to Selçuk and enjoyed the cheap fare, the air conditioning and certainly the free ice cream didn’t go amiss either!

Selçuk was our base for visiting Ephesus, an ancient city of ruins that’s surprisingly in incredibly good nick. Boomerang Hostel was a perfect base (minus the fact we had to share our room with bora) as it had a yummy restaurant attached and also extremely helpful owners. The town itself is laid back and beautiful: we only stayed one night but it would have been a relaxing village to spend another.

The town of Selçuk is located about 3km from the lower gate of Ephesus. After an early breakfast, we went to the bus station and caught a dolmus (Turkish minivan) for just 4 lira each. It was so much cheaper than taking a taxi, which would have taken us to the upper gate – more expensive, and the same place as where the tourist buses arrive.

We opted not to walk there despite it being a pleasant pathway, mainly because we wanted to beat the crowds but also to save our legs as we weren’t sure how much walking would be required. We walked home afterwards however, stopping in at the Temple of Artemis – our second wonder of the ancient world in three short days.

We’d read numerous blogs that advised us we should plan exactly where we wanted to go within the Ephesus site and head straight there before the buses start arriving. The blogs aren’t wrong, but most of Ephesus can be seen along one main path – so it didn’t really make much sense to us to do anything other than walk the path from start to finish. The library is by far the biggest attraction, and it lies about halfway between the upper and lower gate. We got there before the zombie tour groups arrived and it was pretty unreal.

Aside from the library, I thought the theatre and the boulevard winding down from the upper gate to the library were also pretty special. We walked from the lower gate to the upper gate and then looped back down around, so we got to see everything twice. It took us a couple of hours at most: a probable combination of being relatively fast walkers and of course, beating the masses. For a mere 72 lira, it was a highly recommendable visit.

Ephesus is just one small part of what is a huge culturally rich area in and around Selçuk. There is Saint John’s Basilica, Isa Bey Mosque, Cave of the Seven Sleepers and Virgin Mary House, as well as a magnificent castle. A lovely spot for Turkish coffee is at Ayasoluk Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, where we got to overlook both the castle and stretching valley beyond.

From Selçuk we travelled to Denizli. We had a few buses forecast in the coming days, so we took the opportunity to move on from Selçuk by train. The fare to Denizli was about half the fare of the bus and was definitely a comfortable journey, even though we had to sit on our bags in between carriages. Riding with the locals was an interesting experience and the scenic landscape was more than enough to keep us occupied.

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