Photo Essay & Guide – Visiting the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey

4 Jan

A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) was once one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and one of the grandest cities of the ancient world. While it was at its peak grandeur under the Romans, it has a much longer history with many great civilizations i.e. Greek, Persian, Roman and Christian. Though in ruins today, it is still a must visit to see the beautiful temples, baths, palaces, homes, markets, streets and imagine the everyday lives of the ancient Romans.

Ancient ruins of Ephesus, Turkey

We visited Ephesus in October 2019 and based on our experiences, sharing some tips and guidelines with you to make the most of your trip here.

The State Agora, Ephesus, Turkey

1. Check the most recent travel advisory for Turkey – Turkey is one of those countries that is somehow always in the news for its political situation and general safety concerns. From our personal experience, we felt that Turkey is (at least for now) safe for tourists and we did not face any issues whatsoever. We had read of minor scams, pickpocketing etc. but thankfully didn’t face anything. That said you should always be aware and cautious, just as you would be no matter where you are – at home or abroad. Also, if you are considering visiting Ephesus or anywhere in Turkey, do check online for the most recent travel warnings and follow the advice of local authorities before deciding whether to go.

The Temple of Hadrian, Ephesus, Turkey

2. Weather / Months for Visit – Being a vast country Turkey has a varied weather across different parts of the country, though largely it’s pleasant all year round with hot summers and cold winters. The ideal time to visit depends more on the places you want to visit and the activities you have planned. April-May and September-early November are cooler months and considered as the best time for outdoor activities and exploring archaeological sites. June-September are normally hot and dry and from November-March, the weather is cold especially in the interiors with snow in many parts. Ephesus is an open air site and thus recommend to visit in the cooler months.

Carving in the Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

3. Stay in Selcuk – During our research for Ephesus, we saw that many people visited Ephesus as a day trip. However we decided to stay in Selcuk and visit Ephesus and other sites around here and totally recommend this to everyone. Selcuk is a nice small town with a very relaxed vibe and quite a few things to see, do and places to eat. Additionally, you can also visit Ephesus from here by yourself and at your own pace, without any tours.

Trajan’s Fountain, Ephesus, Turkey

4. Prepare for your visit – Ephesus is a large open air historic site with a lot of walking around. Our recommendation is to be prepared for it as follows –

a. Read before your visit – Ephesus is an ancient historic site with a lot to see and do. Hence it’s advisable to read up a bit on its history – to be able to better appreciate and understand the sites. Additionally decide on what you really want to see – there is so much to see that you can easily miss something.

b. Travel Guides – Ephesus is pretty easy to visit as DIY and at your own pace. We downloaded the Rick Steves podcast in advance and brought our headphones for an audio tour through the site. The podcast is very good and best of all, it’s absolutely free. You can also check out the Lonely Planet travel guide for this visit.

c. Dress for the trip – It gets quite sunny in the day, so wear a hat / scarf and comfortable clothing and shoes. It’s advisable to wear shoes (and not sandals, flip flops etc) as the walk here is long, at times on uneven surfaces and the stones are slippery in places (especially when wet). Also do keep sunglasses and use sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

d. Carry Water & Snacks – Carry plenty of water and some snacks. There is a small kiosk inside but it’s quite expensive. We also saw small cafes and juice bars at the lower entrance along with toilets, shops and a tourist center.

e. Photography – If possible, keep a wide angle lens for photographing some of the landscape pics, sites such as the Great Theater, etc. We didn’t have a wide angle lens for the camera so we carried a wide angle lens for my cell phone camera instead.

The Great Theatre, Ephesus, Turkey

5. Time your visit – Ephesus is a popular destination for tour groups, so it is advisable to either visit it first thing or last thing in the day. Ephesus’s timings are – 8 am – 19.00 pm (April-October), 8 am – 17.00 pm (November-March) and you need at least 2-3 hours to visit this entire place at an easy pace. So plan your visit accordingly.  We reached here around 8.30am and had the entire place pretty much to ourselves.  

Library of Celsius, Ephesus, Selcuk, Turkey

6. Lower Gate (“LG”) Vs Upper Gate (“UG”) – There is a lot written online about which gate to start at and every website provides the advantages and disadvantages of each gate; the main factor being the incline / climb from LG to UG . For us however the choice was very simple – we decided to take the public bus, reached the LG and first saw the main sites, which are all near the LG. The Rick Steves podcast tour starts at the UG, so we then walked to UG and re-started the trip from there. We think LG is the best way to start as it is closer to Selçuk and therefore easier to reach if you want to walk in from town or cheaper if you take public transport. Additionally, the main sites are near the LG and the incline from the Lower Gate to the Upper Gate isn’t much and very easily doable by everyone.

Carvings in Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

7. How to reach Ephesus from Selcuk – Ephesus is about 4kms from Selçuk, and there are multiple travel options available. For the LG you can walk, take a hotel shuttle or take a public minibus. For the UG you can hire a taxi. We walked to the bus station and took a dolmus (the minibus) to the LG. The bus ride was comfortable and the ticket was very cheap.

Public Toilets, Ephesus, Selcuk, Turkey

8. Ticket for Ephesus – Before your visit do check with your hotel or Ephesus Travel guide for updated information on ticket prices, offers and site timings. The cost for just the Ephesus ticket is 72 TL with 36 TL to visit the Terraced Houses. However, if you want to visit more sites in Selcuk, there is an option of buying a combination ticket for access to Ephesus, the Terraced Houses, Ephesus Archaeological museum and Basilica of St John for 132TL. Individually this would have costed us 144TL. If you intend to visit all these sites, then do check for this ticket before purchasing any other ticket. Additionally, do carry TL for the tickets as the ticket office does not accept USD or Euro.

Curetes Road, Ephesus, Turkey

Harbor Road, Ephesus, Turkey

9. Visit the Main Sites first or last – No matter which gate you enter from, first head to the main site here i.e. Library of Celsus, the Ephesus amphitheatre and the main Curetes street. By heading straight to the main sights, you can take all the pictures you want without the crowds.  If you are visiting late evening, then visit the main sites last once the big groups have left.

Notice the terracotta pipe in the wall? that’s ancient plumbing. Ephesus, Selcuk, Turkey

10. Take your time at each site – There is a lot to see around here and the best way to visit is to walk around at leisure, spend adequate time at each site, notice the smaller details in design and carvings and frame your photographic shots. Apart from all the main highlights here, there are many small design elements to notice all around – there are metal rings on the road to hold lamp poles in the night, street stones are hatched for better grip for sandals on wet streets, separate routes for chariots and pedestrians, carvings on stone all around as directional aid and shop signage and many such unique things. Each feature is unique and worth noticing.

The Nike frieze, Ephesus, Turkey

Mosaic floors, Ephesus, Turkey

11. Pay extra to visit the Terraced Houses, it’s totally worth it – Entrance to the Terraced Houses is not included in the Ephesus entry ticket and for some reason, most organized tours and visitors do not visit them. However we felt that this is a definite must visit in Ephesus for an insight into what life was like for the rich residents of this city. These houses were built during the Roman Period, with the oldest one dating back to the 1C BC and  were used as residences until the 7C AD. Many sections of the houses are still under excavation but you can see rooms with columns, basilicas, and walls and floors richly decorated with frescoes and mosaics. However the highlight for me was the ancient plumbing system with clay pipes.

Terraced Houses, Ephesus, Turkey

12.    Don’t buy the Roman coins on sale – Outside Ephesus and in many places in Selcuk, you come across many merchants selling Roman coins and claiming they are originals. We read online on multiple sites that these coins are not originals and even if they are, they are national treasures and can’t be taken out of Turkey.

Ancient Ephesus, Turkey

Have you been to Ephesus and have any additional tips / comments from your visit? Do share the same in comments section below.

37 Responses to “Photo Essay & Guide – Visiting the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey”

  1. Maverick January 4, 2020 at 17:37 #

    Good details 🙂

    Like

  2. Bon Repos Gites January 4, 2020 at 17:51 #

    A most interesting post!

    Like

  3. kagould17 January 4, 2020 at 19:00 #

    We toured Ephesus as part of a short cruise from Athens in 1984. It was likely far less crowded then. We really enjoyed the site. Afterwards, we were taken for tea to a carpet shop and walked the bazaar. This was a bit more in your face as everyone was trying to sell you something. Thanks for the memories. Allan

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 4, 2020 at 19:35 #

      Hi Allan, thankfully we didn’t get stuck with tea and carpet shops but would have liked to have seen the place when it was not so touristy and crowded..

      Like

  4. Dusty Roads January 4, 2020 at 19:54 #

    Wonderful Post! It makes me want to pack up and go

    Like

  5. hinds2526 January 4, 2020 at 21:56 #

    Wow thanks for sharing I would love to visit there for sure… 😍

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 4, 2020 at 22:30 #

      Thanks and I hope you can make it there soon 🙂

      Like

  6. Helleren Gregory January 5, 2020 at 05:00 #

    My daughter in law is from Turkey, her grandparents are leaving the U.S. today to go back after visiting. I’ve only been to Istanbul a few months ago & found it as safe as any other city, we had no problems & I felt safe. It was also very clean & modern, even more so than Paris. We’ll have to explore more, thanks for writing!

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 5, 2020 at 08:40 #

      Hi, I agree with you on Turkey. We traveled within Turkey for a week and loved everything about the country and it’s people.. In fact we were there when Turkey invaded Syria but didn’t face any issues at all.. I hope you can visit again soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jakey B January 5, 2020 at 15:56 #

    This place looks incredible! Turkey is on my list of places to go, so I will definitely have to add Ephesus to my list!

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 5, 2020 at 18:54 #

      Ephesus is amazing and if you have the time there are more such sites all over Turkey.. You can check them out too..

      Like

  8. Prabhjot Seth January 5, 2020 at 20:26 #

    Highly mesmerising dear.

    Like

  9. ourlittleredhouseblog January 7, 2020 at 02:52 #

    Such a fun post and so much detail. I would love to see the mosaics in person and also their plumbing system. I am weird about that, always wondered where everyone took baths and did their business, makes my husband laugh when I ask about that part of history. How did they keep their lives clean and organized, we are still a bunch of animals. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed this.

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 7, 2020 at 10:36 #

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and the kind words.. You will love the Roman public toilet systems here and the public baths.. I was amazed at the level of sophistication there was in the 17th century..

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sirri Rimppi January 7, 2020 at 14:32 #

    Your photos brought back memories from a trip to Ephesus many years ago, I had forgotten I’d even been there!

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 7, 2020 at 17:20 #

      Hi, how was your trip then? Was Ephesus as touristy then too?

      Like

  11. bernardbarbour January 7, 2020 at 18:42 #

    Fantastic, I love Turkey. I have been there several times. The people are gracious.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. onebusybeeent January 9, 2020 at 11:37 #

    Well done. I’ve been there as well. It was amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. andidreatravels January 11, 2020 at 22:34 #

    I like your writing style

    Like

  14. jaylittleadventure January 12, 2020 at 10:17 #

    Always want to visit turkey one day already in the bucket list. It is very good details and make us want to go right now 😁

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 12, 2020 at 10:33 #

      Thanks so much for the kind words.. Turkey is amazing and I hope you can make it there soon 🙂

      Like

  15. Reflections of a Swamper January 15, 2020 at 01:12 #

    Some beautiful photos, thanks for sharing as I don’t know that much about Turkey.

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 15, 2020 at 18:46 #

      Thanks so much. It’s a beautiful country and a definite must visit 🙂

      Like

  16. trekking cottage apartment January 19, 2020 at 00:02 #

    Interesting..

    Liked by 1 person

    • ninazee78 January 22, 2020 at 03:38 #

      This is a great blog with so many great tips! Thank you so much for all of the information (including little stuff like wide angle lens)!

      Like

      • getsetandgo January 22, 2020 at 12:47 #

        Thanks a ton and words like this make all the effort worthwhile 🙂

        Like

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