Library of Celsus at Ephesus Selcuk Turkey

Visiting Ephesus – Everything you need to know

Visiting Ephesus – Everything you need to know

Ephesus was at the top of our list of things to see when visiting Turkey. We’re history buffs and visiting Ephesus was like taking a walk back in time. Once the main commercial centre of the Mediterranean, Ephesus is steeped in history from the Classical Greek to the Roman Empire. Ephesus even features prominently in the New Testament. Wandering among the ruins gives you the sense of roaming a giant, open air museum, with something spectacular around every corner.

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How to get to Selçuk

The nearest place to stay near Ephesus is the quaint town of Selçuk. Selçuk is home to many other noteworthy historical sites. You may want to plan to stay at least one night to take in the sights of Selçuk outside of Ephesus. The Temple of Artemis, the Basilica of St. John, the House of the Virgin Mary and the Isa Bey Mosque are all popular sites to visit in the town.

The nearest airport to Ephesus is Izmir Adnan Menderes airport which is about an hour drive away. We took a train from Izmir airport to Selçuk (changing trains once in Tepekoy) and the journey took us just under 2 hours. The town of Selçuk isn’t very large and the train station is very central so we think it was a great option over taking a taxi.

Where To Stay in Selcuk

  • Luxury AccommodationsNisanyan Hotel – Nisanyan Hotel offers views of the historical village of Sirince, near Selçuk and the archaeological treasures of Ephesus. It features a marble swimming pool with water from Nisanyan’s own spring.
  • Mid Range Accommodations – Akanthus Hotel Ephesus – Akanthus Hotel Ephesus features express check-in and check-out, allergy-free rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, free WiFi throughout the property and a bar.
  • Budget Accommodations Ena Serenity Boutique Hotel Centrally located family run boutique hotel. Comfortable private rooms and great food on request from te ownership group.

For more places to stay in Selcuk, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com

How to get to Ephesus

Once you’re in Selçuk, you have several options for transport to the site of the ruins of Ephesus. Depending on where in Selcuk you’re staying, it will be a 5-15 minute drive. Many hotels offer mini-bus rides or you can take a quick taxi ride. Our hotel was a 40 minute walk to the site, so we decided to get to Ephesus on foot. We’re so glad we walked as the quiet journey there was an unpaved rugged path lined with olive, fig, pomegranate and citrus trees. We arrived early at the quieter South Gate and when we arrived we had that end of the Ephesus site almost entirely to ourselves.

Visiting Ephesus – Important Considerations

To start, be prepared for a long day of walking. Ephesus is a large site, with so many things to see, so put aside at least 3-4 hours to explore once you’re inside. There isn’t a lot of shade so be sure to bring water, sunscreen or a hat. We started at the south gate and made our way to the north gate. We had read that taking this direction through the site would be an uphill walk the whole way, but we didn’t even notice an incline (and we’re usually very aware of walking uphill!) The entrance fee is ₺120 per person ($13.40 USD) when we visited in September 2021. There is an additional fee of₺55 ($6.15 USD) to enter the ‘terrace houses’ area (more on that below.)

Inside Ephesus

Make sure to wear sturdy and comfortable shoes because Ephesus is huge (and rocky!) I recommend giving yourself at least 3-4 hours to explore the site. There are several highlights and you won’t want to feel like you rushed to fit them all in.

The Grand Amphitheatre

First built in the 3rd century BC by the Greeks, The Grand amphitheatre was enlarged by the Romans and held up to 25,000 people! Climbing to the top provides a sweeping view of the whole site and gives you some perspective as to how big a city Ephesus was!

Many people think of Roman era amphitheatres as being used only for gladiator games. The Ephesus theatre was also used for concerts, plays and political and philosophical discussions. The acoustics are so good that they actually still hold events in this venue. Acts like Elton John, Sting & Ray Charles have played at the Ephesus Theatre.

The Library of Celsus

Probably the most photographed structure in Ephesus, and for good reason. The intricately carved marble facade is well preserved and spectacularly beautiful. Built in the early second century CE it was one of the largest libraries in the Roman world and one of the only ones remaining standing.

Curetes Street

One of the main streets of Ephesus, Curetes street was once filled with shops and homes. The street is paved with white marble matching the marble columns that line the road. Strolling along Curetes street from the Library of Celsus to the Hercules gate you can imagine what it would have been like to be an Ephesian.

The Terrace Houses

As mentioned above, there is an additional fee to enter the Terrace Houses. We were apprehensive, but paid the money and we’re glad we did. The Terrace houses were homes of the upper class citizens of Ephesus. Here you can see the remnants of their opulent lifestyles. The homes feature large basilica style ceilings, ornately tiled floors and walls lined with beautiful stone. There is also a roof over this portion of the site, so it is a welcome respite from the hot sun outside.

Visiting Ephesus – Is it Worth the Trip?
One of the most complete and comprehensive sites of it’s kind, Ephesus is a must-see for anyone interested in Greek and Roman history. Prepare to walk around in wonder at the sheer size and variety of sites in this beautiful ancient city.

Want to to learn a bit more of the history of Ephesus? Try one of these guided tours.

  • Private Highlights of Ephesus Tour – This is a private tour you can customize the itinerary to suit your interests, and go at your own pace.
  • Ephesus Walking Tour – Discover the ancient city of Ephesus on a guided 2-hour walking tour of the well-preserved Roman ruins. Budget friendly option
  • Small Group Tour of Ephesus and Sirinice – Includes a tour of Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis which is one of 7 wonders of the ancient world, lunch and a visit to the traditional village of Serinice. Wine tasting at an extra cost

Featured Image by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

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