Things to do on the Aegean coast of Turkey

Visiting the Roman and Greek ruins of the Turkish Aegean coast are certainly some of the top things to do in the region since there are many ancient ruin cities to be seen such as the ruins of Priene, Euromos, Didyma and Ephesus, which are the most popular ruin sites in Turkey.
Things to do on the Aegean coast of Turkey

The ruins of Ephesus are located just a short drive from the town of Selcuk and they’re truly some of the most spectacular ruin sites of an ancient Roman city you’ll see anywhere in Europe (even better than the ruins of Pompeii!).

Ephesus is huge and you can easily spend a good 4-5 hours walking up the site along the stone-paved roads and taking photos of the ruins. The main sites in Ephesus are the Library of Celsus, Hadrian Temple, the Temple of Artemis, the Basilica of St. John, the Tomb of John the apostle, Odeon (The Great Theater), the beautiful Terrace Houses, and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

As far as tours of Ephesus, an organized tour is the best way to experience Ephesus since there’s a lot to be seen. If you’re based in Istanbul, Kusadasi or Imzir, you’ll be able to book private tours of Ephesus with companies such as “Ephesus Shuttle” and “Tours of Ephesus”, though you can also book tours of Ephesus locally from Selcuk with “No Frills Ephesus Tours”.

Aphrodisias Ruins

The ruins of Aphrodisias are located near the village of Geyre (about two hours drive east of Aydin) and it is another ruin site you cannot miss adding to your itinerary, especially if you’re looking to visit less crowded ruin sites than Ephesus.

The trip to Aphrodisias is certainly worth it because the site is huge and consists of many impressive structures such as the Temple of Aphrodite, the Monumental Gateway (Tetrapylon), the Odeon (Roman Theatre) and a huge Roman stadium capable of seating over 25,000 people. The Aphrodisias ruins also boast a magnificent museum on site where you can see the artifacts archeologists excavated such as ceramics, tombs, statues of emperors and queens, and other objects.

Ruins of Pergamon (Pergamum)

The ruins of Pergamon are located near the city of Bergama and they’re one of the best examples of an ancient Greek city on Turkish soil. Pergamon isn’t as extensive as other ruin sites in Turkey but you’re allowed to wander off freely through the site to explore the remnants of the Greek theater, library, temple, the Agora, and the Alter of Zeus.

Also, because the ruins of Pergamon are located on a promontory you get amazing panoramic views of the area around. Best thing about visiting the ruins of Pergamon though have to be the gorgeous views you get on the funicular ride to the top of the hill where the ruins are located…priceless!

See the sights along the Dalyan River

If you’re looking for more cool things to do on the Aegean Coast of Turkey you should definitely add to your itinerary a visit to the small town of Dalyan, which is just 90 mins drive from Marmaris. You can easily and expensively hire a boat with a locals there who offer boat rides to the famous Iztuzu Beach (Turtle Beach), the Dalyan Mud Bath and the Lucyan Tombs, which are carved on to the rocks.

The highlight of the boat ride is definitely being able to take great photos of the rock tombs, dolphins swimming, and seeing the loggerhead turtles breeding grounds (between May and September) in Turtle Beach.

Take a day trip to Pamukkale

Pamukkale is easily one of the most outstanding places to visit in Turkey and worth visiting during your travels along the Aegean Coast, particularly if you're planning to visit the Aphrodisias Ruins (about 2 hours drive).

Pamukkale is both a natural attraction and historic site all at the same time. In one hand, you have the dramatic limestone rock formations, the calcium spring pools and the stunning natural scenery; while in the other, you have the ruin sights of the former Roman city - Hierapolis - which include the necropolis, the Theatre, triumphal arch, gate, temples and thermal pools such as the Cleopatra’s bath where you can enjoy a swim.

Spend a day out in Aqua Fantasy Land

Visiting a water park is certainly one of the most popular things to do on the west coast of Turkey, and what better place to go in Turkey to get wet than the popular Aqua Fantasy Land? Aqua Fantasy is located in the popular beach resort town of Kusadasi (on Ephesus Beach) and it boasts pretty much everything you would expect in a water park such as a nice selection of slides and pools for young and old.

Best thing about Aqua Fantasy is probably the fact that it also boasts a hotel and a spa centre where you can enjoy a Turkish bath and massage, as well as a kids’ club, bar, restaurant and daily activities on offer such as water sports, tennis, archery and nightly entertainment suitable for families.

Take a ferry ride to the Greek Islands

During your travels along the Aegean coast of Turkey, you definitely want to visit one of the nearby Greek islands such as Kos (ferry from Bodrum), Rhodes (ferry from Marmaris), Samos, Chios (ferry from Cesme) and Lesvos (ferry from Dikili or Foca).

The most popular ferry ride is between Kusadasi and Samos, which takes around 2 hours and costs €60 for a round trip ticket. All Greek islands are beautiful and pleasant to explore but what makes Samos especial are the sights such as an underground aqueduct (Tunnel of Eupalinos) built in the 6th century, the Panagia Spiliani monastery, the Waterfalls of Potami, and the Temple of Hera ruins.

Visit the Museum of Underwater Archaeology at Bodrum Castle

The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is one of Turkey’s top museums and it’s housed inside the famous Bodrum Castle (Castle of St. Peter), which is a splendid crusader castle built in the 15ht century.

The castle has been restored slightly and you can tour the different rooms including the dungeons and towers, which offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. The museum itself is world class and it’s a perfect place to see interesting relics found in the shipwrecks of the Anatolian coastline.

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