Ephesus is the most spectacular ruins of Turkey. Our review, pictures and tips

Ancient Ephesus in Turkey: useful information, photos, review

Ancient Ephesus is one of the popular attractions in Turkey. The ruins of Ephesus every year visits a huge number of tourists from different countries. And we were no exception: we visited the ancient city in May, during a small independent travel in Turkey. Unfortunately we got to Ephesus on a rainy day, so the impression of the visit is a little blurred. Be warned right away: in this article I will not tell you the history of Ephesus, any scientific and historical facts, but I will share with you practical information and our photos from our walk in the rainy gray city

ancient ephesus turkey

Walking through the rainy city of Ephesus

Ancient Ephesus Turkey: some information

  • Ephesus is the biggest antique city in modern Turkey.
  • It was founded in the 10th century BC
  • It belonged to the Greeks and then to the Romans.
  • The city developed quickly as a port and trade center.
  • For a long time, it remained one of the most important cities of the Byzantine Empire
  • There was a temple of the goddess Artemis on its campus, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World (the ruins are currently located outside the complex)
  • Ancient Ephesus was located on the shore of the Aegean Sea, but as a result of earthquakes and other natural disasters the bay shallowed, the area became marshy, the sea moved 7 km from the city and Ephesus gradually began to lose its strategic importance and fell into decay, and by the 15th century was completely abandoned
  • Now it is an open-air museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • At the moment about 15% of the territory of the ancient city is open for tourists, the restoration is in full swing

Where is Ephesus

Ephesus is near Selcuk; the nearest resort Kusadasi is 17 km away; big city Izmir is 83 km away; Bodrum Ephesus 172 km; Marmaris Ephesus 202 km; Istanbul Ephesus 534 km Ancient Ephesus on the map at the bottom of the article.

How to get to Ephesus

With an Organized Tour

Many tourists come to ancient Ephesus with a tour. Tours to Ephesus are offered at all nearby resorts, and you can also buy online, for example, here. Distant from Ephesus resorts such as Kemer, and in Marmaris, offer a two-day excursion Ephesus – Pamukkale.

How to reach Ephesus by yourself

How to get to Ephesus from Kusadasi

  • By dolmusha (shuttle bus) from the city center. The stop for the dolmus is here: 37.856811, 27.263720. The ticket is 7 liras and the ride takes about 30 minutes. Take the exit at the corner to Ephesus ruins and walk about 1 km.
  • By cab: the price ~ 20 euros one way. You can get a cab for 50 Euros round-trip with a stop at Ephesus and the cabin of Virgin Mary on the mountain.

Izmir Ephesus how to get there

  • Take a bus from the Izmir Bus Station to Selcuk and then take the dolmush to Kusadasi / Pamucak (4 lira) to the Ephesus turn or a cab to the entrance of the complex for about 20 to 30 lira. It only takes about 10 minutes. If you prefer you can walk, the distance is about 3 km.
  • By train from Izmir to Selcuk. Izmir Selcuk train leaves from the central train station in the center of Izmir (Basmane Gar). By the way, you can take the train immediately after arrival to Izmir – the station is next to the exit of the airport. You will get there in an hour and a half. You may either take a cab till the entrance of ancient Ephesus or go to the bus station and from there take a dolmush.
  • Book a transfer in advance on this site
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From Istanbul to Ephesus

  • The best way to get from Istanbul to Ephesus is by plane via Izmir
  • Or by night bus Istanbul Kusadasi

From Marmaris, Bodrum to Ephesus

  • By yourself by bus to Selcuk
  • As part of an organized tour

By rented car

Of course, the most convenient way to move around Turkey by rented car. We have repeatedly rented a car in Turkey, I wrote in detail about the rental car in this article. And this time was no exception: we booked a car online here, picked it up at Izmir airport immediately upon arrival and drove along the coast, including a stop at Ephesus.

How much does it cost to enter Ephesus

  • The tickets to Ephesus cost 200 liras, children under 6 are free.
  • The entrance to the closed terraces is charged at 85 liras
  • You can take an audio guide (available in Russian) for 70 lira
  • Parking by the lower entrance- 25 liras

Entrance to the terraces and our tickets There is an extra charge for entrance to the terraces. Right after you enter there is a box with a short description in three languages and the number of the button on the audio guide

Opening Hours

  • 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from April to October (ticket offices close one hour earlier)
  • 8:30 am to 5:30 pm November to March

Entrance to the museum complex

You can enter the ruins of Ephesus from two sides:

  • From the north lower entrance
  • The southern upper entrance

Next to the lower entrance is a large paid parking lot where many buses with tourists mostly come. Nearby are many cafes, market stalls. The upper entrance is not as popular with tour buses, there are fewer cars and infrastructure, and parking along the road is free.

If you go from the lower entrance, you go up, if you go from the upper one, you go down. Of course, going down is a lot easier than going up If you came in your car, then obviously you should go in and out through the same entrance, if you got there by cab, it’s better to go in through the south entrance and out through the north entrance. You can take a cab here for 25 to 30 liras or a horse-drawn carriage here for 50-60 liras between the two entrances.

Souvenir Tents, Shops, and Cafes at the Ephesus Entrance Souvenir Tents, Shops, and Cafes at the Ephesus Entrance You can get a horse-drawn carriage ride from one Ephesus Entrance to the other, or even to Selçuk

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Ancient Ephesus. Our walk in the rain. Photo

We entered the ancient city through the lower entrance, walked down a wide avenue under the crowns of conifers and came out to the big theater.

From the entrance to the antique city the wide shady alley leads to the layout of ancient Ephesus.

The Great Amphitheater was built on a hillside in the 3rd century BC and had a seating capacity of 24 thousand spectators, plays, gladiatorial fights, religious events and political debates took place there.

The large amphitheater in Ephesus on the hillside The theater used to have a seating capacity of 25,000 spectators! It used to be taller than the Grand Theatre of Ephesus

Nearby Agora is a market square where there used to be rows of shops, but now there are beautiful poppies blooming among the ruins.

Agora – market square The gate in the market square

From the large theater a marble street leads to one of the main attractions of Ephesus – Celsus library. It is one of the most beautiful buildings of the ancient city and the richest library where manuscripts and scrolls were kept. It also served as Celsus’ tomb.

A very beautiful building Celsus library Near the library are always huge crowds of tourists Statues in the columns next to the library

Temple of Hadrian, built in honor of the emperor in 138 B.C.

ancient hilted hilted temple of adrian

Temple of Hadrian

The Odeon, a small amphitheater that was home to meetings of the Senate, as well as performances and concerts.

odeon hilt

The Odeon Small Amphitheater

More pictures of Ephesus

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The Ancient Ephesus of Turkey: Tips for visiting it

  • Allocate two – three hours to visit the antique city of Ephesus, we were in the rain, which then subsided, then increased, at the end of the walk had just run to the exit in the pouring rain, but still on the inspection it took us about two hours
  • The territory of the complex is large, you will have to walk a lot, the stones are slippery, wear comfortable shoes: no flip-flops or high-heeled shoes .
  • The area is open, there is almost no shade, in summer will be very hot. Do not forget a hat, sunscreen, you can take an umbrella.
  • There are a lot of people. Even in low season, even in the rain. That would not get lost in the crowd of tourists, it is better to come either to the opening or a couple of hours before closing. During the day there are a lot of tour groups.
  • Toilets are only at the entrance to the complex and there are long lines.
  • Bring water and a snack if you want. There are no cafes on Ephesus territory, there are only stalls with water, juices, and ice-cream near the entrances.
  • Take a good guide, an audioguide, or a guide – it’s not very interesting to just stroll around looking at the stones.
  • If you want to see the antique city slowly and feel the atmosphere, it is better to visit Ephesus on your own.
  • Ephesus is often accompanied by a visit to Pamukkale, another of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions.
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What else to see near Ephesus and Selcuk

  • Temple of Artemis (or rather what is left of it). Located 2.5 km from the lower entrance to the museum, almost in the town of Selcuk itself. Free of charge. Read more about the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus in this article.
  • House of the Virgin Mary (House of the Virgin Mary), which is located in a shady forest on a mountain 5 km from the south entrance of Ephesus. It can be reached only by rented car or cab. A cab from the entrance costs about 60-80 liras. Parking is 10 lira , visiting the House of the Virgin Mary is 35 lira.
  • Ephesus Archaeological Museum (not to be confused with the ruins of Ephesus!). A small museum in Selcuk itself across the road from the bus station. Presented exhibits that were found during the excavations of the ancient city. The ticket costs 10 liras.
  • Cave of the Seven Sleepers
  • The charming village of Sirince is a center of winemaking. It is situated 8 km away from Selcuk city. I really wanted to go there, but heavy rain interfered with our plans

Ephesus Hotels

There are no hotels in Ephesus itself, of course, but you can stay in hotels in Selcuk. Most of the hotels have excellent ratings, have good service and a delicious breakfast, and some have a pool:

Ephesus – Turkey’s most spectacular ruins

I invite you on a photo walk through the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus – the most well restored city in Turkey. I tell you why you should visit it and what you can see there.

If you have to choose just one ruin to discover Turkey’s ancient heritage, don’t hesitate to go to Ephesus. There you’ll get the most complete picture of the ancient cities and you’ll be impressed! You might even be tempted to visit some of the other ruins.

The secret of such an immersion in antiquity is not only in good preservation of the ruins, but also in the excellent reconstruction. Turks – well done, they did not just restore some of the ruins, but tried to recreate the center of the city in a complex. For example Laodicea and Afrodisias are very beautiful cities, but their ruins can hardly be brought to life without imagination and at least minimal knowledge of the history and structure of ancient cities. In most Turkish ancient cities you walk from the ruins of one building to the ruins of another through wasteland, or even fields of weeds. It’s not like that in Ephesus. There you go straight into the restored center of the city, almost entirely covered in marble. And that’s what makes it so impressive! For entertainment and immersion effect only Perge – another antique city in Turkey – can be compared with Ephesus.

The street of Koureti is the road to the library of Celsus. This is me admiring the sculpture on the facade of the Celsus Library. This is Lyosha rejoicing at the ancient ruins. The Agora.

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Photo walk through Ephesus.

So, I will tell you a little bit about Ephesus. It was founded in the 10th century BC. It is an ancient city, and even before Ionian Greeks and Romans, the Carians, Hittites and Mycenaeans lived there. Archaeologists have even unearthed Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements!

The city was rich and influential due to trade. Ephesus has preserved many sights: marble streets, an amphitheater for 25 thousand spectators, the Odeon, fountains, two agora, temples, terraced houses with beautiful frescoes and mosaics, a public house, thermae and the Latrine – a public toilet.

And how beautiful was the library of Celsus! It had an impressive status – it was considered the second in the world after the Library of Alexandria. Alas, only the facade, which was restored in the 1970s, has survived. The sculptures on the facade are not original either – they are copies, while the real ones, according to the tradition of that time to take all the most valuable things to Europe, are kept in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna.

The Celsus Library is a symbol and the most beautiful building in Ephesus. The inscriptions on the library of Celsus. The gate of Hercules. Commercial agora, market in our words. The columns.

I especially liked the decorations of the graceful temple of Hadrian on the street of Kuretes.

The goddess Fortuna on the arch of Hadrian’s temple. Medusa Gorgon on the arch of Hadrian’s Temple. The frieze of Hadrian’s temple.

The terraced houses of the wealthy townspeople, which have preserved frescoes, mosaics, and columns, are curious. There is a separate entrance fee of 55 liras, we had a combo ticket. The houses are built so that the roof of one house is partially the floor of the other. They are under a canopy that protects the frescoes and mosaics from the sun and rain. Inside, you walk on stairs and a glass floor above the houses. It’s not very convenient: the mosaics and frescoes are either very far away or hidden by cloudy glass, so you can only see something through a telephoto lens. It is impossible to get close to the frescoes.

Fresco. Floor mosaic of one of the rich houses.

Also in Ephesus was the famous temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burned by the same Herostratus who wanted fame. The temple after the fire was rebuilt, but now all that is left of it is a column with storks nesting on it.

This is what the temple of Artemis of Ephesus looked like. You can see this model at the archaeological museum in Selcuk. This is how the temple of Artemis looks like now. All that is left of the wonder of the world is the column where the storks are nesting.

The city has survived a great deal. It passed from the Greeks to the Persians and back again, was conquered by the Ottomans, but, like Miletus, gradually fell into decay because of the severe shallowing of the sea, as well as earthquakes and landslides. The sea is now about 20 kilometers from Ephesus, can you imagine?

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This street used to be a port, but now the sea has moved 20 kilometers away from Ephesus. Only the facade of the gorgeous library of Celsus has been preserved.

You can get to Ephesus either with a tour or by renting a car from Kusadasi, Izmir or Selcuk. I advise to look for excursions on our favorite service Tripster – there you can read reviews and choose the best one. And if you want to go on your own, read our article on how to rent a car in Turkey.

The city is not too big, and about three hours are enough to look around. Ephesus is an open-air museum, so be sure to bring a hat and water in summer. In general I advise you not to visit Ephesus in summer, because the heat at 45 ° C will ruin the whole experience. It is better to visit the ruins in the spring or fall. Learn about the best time to rest in Turkey.

A kitty found shade and fell asleep. The street next to the odeon.

And now about ticket prices . Entrance to Ephesus costs 120 liras, and with an audio guide it costs 190 liras. It is possible to buy a combined ticket for 200 liras: it includes Ephesus itself, the houses with the frescos, the Archaeological Museum in Selcuk and the Basilica of St. John in Selcuk. The ticket is valid for 2 days. Parking is chargeable, 20 liras.

Ephesus has two entrances, one upper and one lower. Some people think that it is more convenient to see the city from the top to the bottom. You don’t see the big difference because you have to go back to the car the same way or take a horse-drawn carriage for a fee.

Hepes Turkey


What else to see in Ephesus

After Ephesus, if you have energy, go to the archaeological museum in Selcuk. Especially impressive there are the model of the temple and the two statues of the many-breasted Artemis of Ephesus. The ruins of the temple themselves are not far from the museum.

The many-breasted Artemis of Ephesus. I century BC. head of Socrates. Figurine with a phallus.

Also in Selcuk there are ruins of a fortress and the basilica of St. John. They did not impress us. If the basilica is still remarkable for its size and the tomb of John the Theologian, the fortress is a waste of time. Not far from Ephesus there are the House of the Virgin Mary and the cave of the Seven Sleeping Children, but we did not visit them.

Ephesus is beautiful and I advise everyone who is interested in antiquity to visit it. One thing is bad – these are the top ruins in Turkey, so the crowds of tourists can’t be avoided. Even during the pandemic, there were quite a few people there.

It’s a must-see in Turkey:

St. John’s Basilica. Many pilgrims flocked here at one time. The tomb of St. John.

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