Kuşadası is a resort town on Turkey’s Aegean coast, and the center of the seaside district of the same name within Aydın Province. Kuşadası is 95 km (59 mi) south of İzmir, and 71 km (44 mi) from Aydın. The municipality’s primary industry is tourism. It is also a major cruise ship destination on the western Aegean coast. Kusadasi is reputed for being one of the most attractive cities of the Aegean and it is a jumping-off point as it is close to the important historical sites including Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, Goddess Artemis, House of Virgin Mary, Seven Sleepers, Didyma, Priene, Miletos. Kusadasi has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters, providing a long tourism season.
The city is situated along a gulf of the same name in the Aegean, with the island of Güvercin Ada connected to the mainland by a narrow passage on one end, and the mountain of Kese Dağı behind.
Kuşadası has a residential population of 64,359, which can rise to over half a million in the summer as a result of the large resort filling with tourists. This also includes the hotel and bar staff, construction workers, and drivers who are required to work in/for the restaurants and other services accommodating these visitors. In addition to tourists from overseas, there is also a significant community of foreigners residing in the area.
The early settlements in Kusadasi is by the Lelegians and Carians who moved from the central Anatolia around the year of 3000BC. They were the establishers of a colony on the skirts of Pilav Mountain in Kusadasi, and founded the cities Ania and Melia. Mild climate allowed the inhabitants to grow essential products such as olive, grape and figs for extracting oil or making wine and sweets on the fertile lands around the city.
In the 10th century BC “12 Ionian Cities” Samos, Khios, Miletos, Priene, Ephesus, Teos, Erythrai, Priena, Klazonemi, Lebedos, Phokaia, Colophon, Smyrna, were established and reputed for the most developed cities of that age. Asthe annual meeting place of the Ionian League, Panionian, was founded around Kusadasi; the cities of Phygale, Marathesion and Neopolis were established within the borders of the city. During the period, the ports of Phygale and Neopolis were not busy and necessary, as they were close to the famous trading centers and ports, Miletos and Ephesus.
The city was invaded by Persians around the year of 546BC. In 200BC Kusadasi and its environs were dominated by the Roman Empire, and with the division of the Roman Empire, became a state of Byzantine. As the changes in climate caused serious earthquakes and changed the route of Caystros River, Ephesus was mostly destroyed and lost its prior importance and prosperity. The result had forced Byzantines to search for a new port and a new road that would be suitable for trading. The area around Neopolis was found convenient by the Greek, Jewish, and Armenian merchants as a port in place of the port of Ephesus. “Scala Nova” was the name of this new port which added a new trading center to the prior historical cities such as Ania, Melia, Phygale and Neopolis, that have created the early foundations of today’s Kusadasi. By the coming of the 15th century, “Scala Nova” was under the domination of the Venetian and Genoese sailors and traders who established consulates here.The Turkish domination in the area entered upon the invasion of Seljukian Kilic Arslan the 2nd. The advantageous position of Kusadasi as its being at the end of the important trade roads such as Silk Road -once held by Ephesus, influenced the development of the city in trading, positively.
Kusadasi began to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire after the invasion of Sultan Mehmet Celebi in the year of 1413. During the reign of Ottomans, Kusadasi was introduced to glorious structures, giving a new look to its former spectacular view. Okuz Mehmet Pasa Caravanserai is the principal of Ottoman architecture in the city, was built by the man of the same name, who was the vizier during the reigns of Sultan Ahmet1 and Osman2. The fortress gates, walls and many mosques in the center of Kusadasi, as well as the citadel of the castle in Pigeon Island, were built in the Ottoman period, reflecting the architectural style of the era. “Kusadasi” that means “bird island” took its name from the Pigeon Island.
After the First World War, Kusadasi was invaded by the Greeks (1919). The fishing village won a long struggle for in 1922 and became a part of Turkish Republic. Izmir was the capital of Kusadasi until 1954. Then the capital was changed to Aydin and the city of Kusadasi has shown a good deal of development, especially in tourism.
Today, Kusadasi is one of Turkey’s most sophisticated holiday centers; a perfect place for vacation with its sandy beaches and glassy water. The contrast of the lively holiday life with the quietness of ancient ruins create the special atmosphere of the city.
One is certainly spoilt for choice for beaches in Kusadasi. Whether you are a sun-loving holiday maker or a resident enjoying a day off, you can choose between intimate tranquil bays or long sandy beaches, either secluded by nature or bustling with activities and watersports.
The beaches in Kusadasi are at their best from May-Oct, though the water is still a little chilly up to June. August and July are the busiest times of the year so beware of crowds. Kusadasi’s most popular beach Ladies Beach is bordered by an attractive promenade lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants making it ideal for a wonderful beach holiday. Long Beach, with it’s soft sand and variety of watersports is also very popular but due to being 18 km’s long it never feels too crowded.
Daily boat trips also depart from Kusadasi and take guests to various protected bays, where swimming conditions are ideal. There are also a handful of beach clubs in Kusadasi set in beautiful grass gardens with hammocks, sun beds and cushions scattered around to make your time a relaxing one. Admission is charged and you can spend the day enjoying the facilities.
As the day comes to an end, you can enjoy one of Kusadasi’s remarkable sunsets overlooking the glistening sea and the view of the Greek Island of Samos as a backdrop.
Below we list brief descriptions with pictures and maps of the well loved spots which are all easily reached by dolmus, which run from the bus station in the center of Kusadasi and are very cheap.
Kusadasi, located along Turkey’s West Coast, has a typical Mediterranean climate year round with mild winters and long, hot summers For 300 days of the year, Kusadasi is bathed in sunshine and peak season temperatures average a scorching 30 to 35 degrees Celsius. The hottest months in Kusadasi are July and August with temperatures reaching up to 42 degrees Celsius. During the months of May and June the temperature can drop at night so it’s advisable to bring some long sleeved clothes with you just in case. During the Summer the humidity is around %40 and the average water temperature is 20 degrees Celsius.
A large percentage of the annual rainfall in Kusadasi occurs during the months of December and January, so you can be sure that whenever you go on holidays to Kusadasi, you’ll be in for some sun-filled fun! The tourism season starts towards the end of April and continues right through until October but is slowly becoming more popular during the Winter, especially at New Year which is a big celebration in Turkey.
The Nightlife in Kusadasi is one of the best in Turkey, with holiday makers coming to have a good time and the Turks making sure they do so. The best known place is “Bar Street” where you can find many awesome bars and clubs.
Kusadasi bay is a volcanic one, which means that the sea bed is covered in cracks and fissures which emit hot water (fumaroles). Divers swimming into one of these hot water outpourings for the first time are generally quite surprised at how hot the water is.
There are three main locations for diving in Kusadasi bay, Shore dive, Barabaros Reef and Adabanko Reef.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced diver, you can discover the beauty of Kusadasi and the Aegean Sea with one of many dive centers around the town, who will provide equipment, advice and guided tours to ensure that your diving experience is extremely enjoyable!
One of the great things about Kusadasi is it’s close proximity to Greece. On a clear day you can see the Greek Island of Samos far off in the distance making it the perfect backdrop for a beautiful Kusadasi sunset. If you like the idea of being able to go from Turkey to Greece in just an hour, then a day trip to Samos is for you.
The ferry leaves daily during the Summer season, at 08:30 hrs from Kusadasi to Samos and at 17:00 hrs from Samos to Kusadasi. Spend the day exploring the Greek Island’s picturesque villages, pure white sand beaches, fishing harbours or one of the many historical sites.
There are also daily ferries from nearby Cesme that sail to Chios in Greece.
The National Park located 30km (19 miles) from Kusadasi, is extremely beautiful and quiet. There are several beaches to choose from in the national park, most of which are quite stony. However the water is extremely clean and you can find some sandy areas along the way.
There are lots of beautiful types of flowers and wild animals around. The most common being the wild pig, so do not be bewildered when you see a wild pig family wandering around the National Park.
It is an ideal place for a picnic here as it’s quiet, romantic and clean. There are lavatories, cafes and picnic tables available. It’s a perfect way to spend the day swimming in the crystal clear water, sunbathing on the shore or if you fancy something more energetic you can always hike the Canyon walk which has a set walking route for those that want to see the true beauty of the area.
Its very easy to reach the National Park by a dolmus which you can get from the town centre of Kusadasi. Whether you like hiking in the mountain trails or lying on a beach relaxing, the national park is a little piece of paradise.
The city walls – There were once three gates; one remains.
Kaleiçi Camii – The mosque built in 1618 for Grand Vizier Öküz Kara Mehmed Pasha.
The Öküz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai is near the docks. It was built in 1618 as a strong-room for the goods of seamen.
Güvercin Adası (“Pigeon Island” in English) – The peninsula/island at the end of the bay, which has a castle and swimming beaches, including a private beach and cafe with a view back across the bay to the harbour of Kuşadası. Public beaches are located at the back of the peninsula, towards the open sea.
Kirazli – Traditional Turkish village 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from Kuşadası.
Yılancı Burnu – A second peninsula beyond Güvercin Ada. Possibly the location of the original settlement of Neopolis. Some walls are visible. There are beaches and beach clubs here.
Several aqua-parks with wave-pools and white-water slides are located near the town.
Ladies Beach – Very close to the town center, one of the primary tourist attractions.
Kadıkalesi – Venetian/Byzantine castle, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) along the Kuşadası-Davutlar road.
Panionium – 25 km (16 mi) south of Kuşadası, situated along the Davutlar-Güzelçamlı road. Once the central meeting place of the Ionian League. The ruins are in poor condition and their authenticity is disputed.
Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park – About 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the city centre, the national park is adjacent to the town of Güzelçamlı. It has several coves, beaches, canyons, and a sink cave. It is one of the most diverse and protected national parks in Turkey.