The Carnival Vista wasn’t supposed to call on Kuşadasi (pronounced ‘Kushadasi’) during its 2nd ever voyage in mid-May 2016 but after a state department advisory regarding Izmir, the Vista’s original Turkish port of call, our visit to Turkey was canceled and quickly replaced by a sea day, before we were rerouted back to Asia Minor via Kusadasi at the last minute. While the prospect of an unexpected extra day exploring the fun and food on board the Vista was exciting in its own right, the chance to step foot on Turkey was once again greeted with cheers in my house.
Kuşadasi is Turkey’s busiest port but that’s a relative concept. We found the Aeagean Sea resort port town pleasant for exploring the bazaars on foot and also convenient for tours of Ephesus, Miletus and the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. There’s also a waterpark reachable by tour bus or rental car if that’s really how you want to experience Turkey.
Unlike some European ports (I’m looking at you, Livorno Italy) Kuşadasi is easily reachable by foot from your cruise ship’s gangway. Within minutes you will be among numerous sit-down restaurants, juice and sweets stands, and plenty of carpet, textile and souvenir shops extending in a colorful spiderweb of kaleidoscope streets heading away from the cruise port. Kuşadasi is a fun and comfortable port to explore, with kind and courteous residents waiting to feed you and sell you their wares, but the famous sites are each about an hour away. Let’s travel there now!
Three Major Sites To Visit From Kuşadasi:
#1 Must See Site in Kuşadasi: Miletus
Miletus is a marvelous ancient city located about an hour from Kuşadasi by tour bus. Miletus is home to the well-perserved ruins of an amphitheater, Roman bath house, a temple, and Miletus was the origin of the grid street design making it an important stop for urban planners or anyone who finds the twisting roads of Rome or Athens the most confusing thing ever to navigate on foot or in a vehicle! There is a small ‘roadside’ stand with some food, drinks and souvenirs located just to the right of the amphitheater.
#2 Must See Site in Kuşadasi: Didyma and the Temple of Apollo
Didyma is the site of a grand Temple of Apollo. The photographic opportunities in Didyma are immense as the Temple is gorgeous and the ruins around the perimeter also offer a striking landscape in which to photograph kids and family. The walk from the parking lot to the ‘town’ of Didyma and site of the Temple of Apollo offers a few souvenir shops and sit-down restaurants.
#3 Must See Site in Kuşadasi: Ephesus
Ephesus is one of the ancient wonders of the world and is located close to Kuşadasi. For many visitors to western Turkey, Ephesus will be the #1 destination and as such, your cruise will likely offer a number of different excursion options with which visit Ephesus. You could say that no visit to the cruise port of Kuşadasi would be complete without a stop in Ephesus although, ahem, we skipped it in favor of the other two must see sites above because we knew there would be fewer tourists and therefore a more enjoyable and relaxing day docked in Kuşadasi. We were correct 🙂
Finally, there’s an imposing fort located out into the water on Pigeon Island that’s an easy walk along a causeway in case you and your family decide to stick close to the port of Kusadasi during your cruise.