The hectic port town of Kusadasi (pronounced cusha-daser) makes a popular base for visits to Ephesus, especially with those on package holidays for whom hundreds of identical high-rise hotels were built in the 1980s-90s.
Today the port plays host to numerous cruise ships throughout summer, which means that the shops in the center are often frantically busy for a few hours in the middle of the day. Their prices inevitably reflect the presence of a captive clientele with little time to compare.
Kusadasi is one of Turkey's megaresorts and is particularly popular with visitors from Northern Europe who throng its lively Bar Street in summer. At first glance, little remains of Scala Nuova, the town that stood there in the Middle Ages. However, near the port stands a massive 17th-century caravanserai that, today, plays host to "Turkish Night" entertainment.
Kusadasi will not appeal to everyone, mainly because it is so built up and dedicated to tourism. However, it does make a good base for exploring other nearby sites, including the ruins at Priene, Miletus and Didyma. Local travel agencies also sell tours to the Travertines at Pamukkale, although this makes for a very long day out.
Not far away, just offshore and connected by a causeway, is the small castle on Guvercin Adasi (Pigeon Island), after which the town was named (Kusadasi means bird island in Turkish). The Old Bazaar area also contains a 17th-century mosque and hammam (Turkish bath), as well as some old Ottoman houses. More can be found up the steep hills above the port in an area that is starting to be gentrified.
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