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Should I stay in Izmir for 2 nights or Kusadasi instead?

I’m planning on travelling to Turkey mid-July for 9 days. I’m hoping to see Ephesus and surrounding historical areas on one day, then probably relax and chill and go to the beach the next day. I know Kusadasi is closer to Ephesus but it seems like Izmir is less of of a tourist trap from my brief reading (I could be wrong tho). Do yall recommend I stay in Izmir even if the drive is a bit longer to Ephesus, or are Izmir and Kusadasi fairly similar? For nice beaches I do know that you can also ferry from Kusadasi to Samos Island, or you can go from Izmir to Cesme.
I have no interest in partying or going to bars.
This is my first time traveling to Turkey, so I’m a bit overwhelmed. I appreciate any insight

Posted by
690 posts

I stayed in Izmir once and wasn't particularly impressed.Of course, it didn't help that we arrived at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon, and traffic was horrendous. It's a big, gray, modern, busy city of 4 million people. I think of it kind of like staying in Dallas (no offense to Dallas) -- lots of freeways and high-rise buildings. The nice thing about Izmir is that it's fairly convenient to both Ephesus and Pergamon.

Posted by
1386 posts

Izmir is a sprawling metropolis of 4 million residents. Sadly, much of its history was wiped out by earthquakes in the 20th century. And the character of Kusadasi was altered after it became a cruise port on the Mediterranean which is why many say it’s a “tourist ghetto.”
Try Cesme for a beach 🏖 respite of a couple days.
It’s less than an hour by taxi from Izmir-about 90 minutes by bus.

Posted by
85 posts

When I was in Turkey about 5 years ago, I flew to Izmir from Istanbul (about$100 round trip) and then rented a car. We stayed in Selcuk, which is about 1-2 miles from Ephesus. We loved Selcuk. Even though it is only 5 minutes to Ephesus, it has a small town Turkish vibe. There's plenty to do if you're staying for 1 or 2 nights. Some things to do in the area. Visit Tire. Visit the Virgin Mary's House. We visited a Turkish Bath in Selcuk which was a wonderful experience. Probably around half the price you'd pay in Istanbul. Not as fancy, but had the personal small town atmosphere. If you'd like to experience small town Turkey, do Selcuk. Do a search up above and see what others have to say about Selcuk. What I saw of Izmir did not impress me that much. Seemed more industrial. I would not use it as a base to see Ephesus, I think it's too far. I did not go to Kusadasi. It's where the cruise ships dock to visit Ephesus. If you want to be on the water, I guess I'd go there. A lot of nice hotels and restaurants in Selcuk too. Ephesus will knock your socks off. It's great. I've been to Europe over a dozen times. The Turkey trip is my favorite. When I think about Turkey, my mind drifts to Selcuk and to visuals of seeing everyday Turkish life.

Posted by
1386 posts

I agree Selcuk is a good place to hang your hat on its own. Ephesus is the bonus. I figured the OP would already be staying in Selcuk while seeing Ephesus.
With two more nights on the coast, Cesme makes sense

Posted by
5 posts

I prefer Selcuk or Sirince the most, then Kusadasi, then Izmir (fka ancient Smyrna), in that order.

If you prefer more nightlife or will want to be on the water a bit, Kusadasi would be the better choice, but it is very geared for tourists — but still lovely.

Selcuk is laid back and authentic, but accessible to tourists. It’s easy to hire a driver (taxi or otherwise) to visit Efes and the other local sites.

Samos doesn’t have much of a beach that I recall, but it may have been the wrong time of year, and I didn’t visit the entire island, either.