South of Izmir and just east of the coastal town of Kuşadası, Selçuk is visited mostly because of its close proximity to the ruins of the Roman city of Ephesus—some of the best preserved in the country—and the services the town has to offer, although the town centre itself has some historical sights to spend some time at.
Although there is a small airport in Selçuk, it is only open for private planes. So the nearest option for commercial flights is Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir, which lies 55 km north of Selçuk.
From the airport, you have two options for getting to Selçuk: you can take trains which call at the station directly on the airport grounds (4 TL), and which connect airport with Selçuk and points south four times daily. Be warned that the train can be very packed, though, so be ready for the possibility of not being able to get on.
A quicker but more expensive option is to take a dolmuş, which is more like a big van rather than a bus. They depart from Selçuk – Ephesus Otogar, which lies 2 km away from the airport (a taxi ride from the airport there costs 10 TL). This otogar is not of the bus station type found in the rest of the country—it's just a bus stop with some benches. Take the mini van signed Selçk – Ephesus on its front. Ask around if someone in charge is nearby. From here, a ride to Selçuk costs 7 TL, and takes around an hour. The van will stop in many stops along the way, including some remote areas, and just stay on till the very end.
There are also dolmuşes from the city of Izmir itself, as well as buses from Pamukkale, which cost 20 TL and serve drinks and snacks along the way.
The local otogar of Selçuk is located in the center of the village.
There are mini-buses (dolmus) to Şirince and Ephesus. To go to the House of Mary you may need to take a taxi .
Rented motorbikes or scooters can be a fun way to discover the surroundings of Selçuk. If you rent a bike note that both Şirince and the House of Mary are up in the hills.
Legend of the Seven Sleepers
The outline of the story is that during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Decius, around 250 AD, seven young men were accused of Christianity. They were given some time to recant their faith, but instead gave their worldly goods to the poor and retired to a mountain to pray, where they fell asleep. The emperor, seeing that their attitude towards paganism had not improved, ordered the mouth of the cave to be sealed.
Decius died in 251 and many years passed during which Christianity went from being persecuted to being the major religion of the Roman Empire. At some later time — usually, during the reign of Theodosius II (408 - 450) — the landowner decided to open up the sealed mouth of the cave, thinking to use it as a cattle pen. He opened it and found the sleepers inside. They awoke, imagining that they had slept but one day. One of their number returned to Ephesus. He was astounded to find buildings with crosses attached; the townspeople were astounded to find a man trying to spend old coins from the reign of Decius. The bishop was summoned to interview the sleepers; they told him their miracle story, and died praising God.
Selcuk is a good starting place for many excursions and visits in the area.
A major attraction is the Roman city of Ephesus which is located only 4km away from the center of the village. Entrance fee cost 20 TL per person.
The promenade will also take you to the The Temple of Artemis (Artemision). Although it was one of the "Seven Wonders" of the Ancient world, nowadays only a column is left.
On the way there one can also visit the Cave of the Seven Sleepers (see the infobox at right).
The picturesque village of Şirince is located 9km east to Selcuk up in the hills. It offers wonderful views among olive and peach trees.
House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi), 10 km south on the hills is claimed to have been the house where Virgin Mary spend her last days in Ephesus. The Vatican declared this place as an official Catholic pilgrimage site.
A nice day-tour can take one to the three archeological sites of Priene, Miletus and Dydima, all Roman cities located a little bit south in the coast. Several hotels and pensions offer this tour or you can also rent a van, with driver or not, on your own.
In the city center there are other very interesting spots:
The Byzantine citadel and the remains of St. John Basilica.
The Museum of Ephesus. Contains objects found in the Ephesus excavation at the site.
A day trip to Şirince (8km out of Selçuk). Nestled in the hills, small little village, narrow winding streets, great wines and lots of small cosy wine bars to try them all out in. Beware staying there though as accommodation is very expensive (90euro)??
Double Knot Carpets, Corner of Cangiz Topel Cad and Namik Kemal Cad. Run by 20-something locals, this carpet shop is a great place to find a carpet for cheap (prices start under 100 Euro) or just to have a cup of tea. Unlike the shops of Istanbul, the shopkeepers won't pressure you into buying anything, and are glad to offer recommendations on local restaurants and bars or just have a chat.
Amazon Cafe Bistro
Ejder Restaurant, Cengiz Topel Cad. no.9 E PTT Karsisi (in the centre of the town), ☎ +90 232 8923296 (email@example.com). Very friendly place with homemade vegetarian food. Delicious.
Nomadic Art Gallery, (Next door to Rumeli), ☎ +90 537 469 47 04, . Speak to the honest and knowledgable Enis about getting a high quality rug at real prices- not like over inflated Istanbul. They boys are really friendly and there is never any pressure to buy a rug - just sit and chat if you want!
Dolphin Bar. This is a really cool place. Talip is a great guy & the beer is good.
Pink Bistro Cafe. Ask Mesut the bartender to show you some magic tricks and you'll be entertained for hours. And try some of Simone's famous çay!
Rumeli, 25 Ataturk Mah Cengiz Topel Cadessi., ☎ 0 232 892 16 93. 24. A fantastic 24 hour restaurant serving traditional Turkish food, normally for Turkish people. It isn't in any guide books as the owner relies on a heavy after midnight trade of locals - but it is a must see. Different corners are assigned different specialities, soup corner, vegeterian corner, etc. The mushroom pide is especially good!cheap!.
Urkmez hotel Namik Kemal Cad. 20 +90 0232 892 6312. The Ürkmez Hotel is run by the multi-lingual Ozkan Brothers (English, German, Spanish). All rooms are newly decorated and comes with orthopaedic mattresses and most have A/C and private balconies. Starting from 11€p.p incl. breakfast buffet on the roof terrace.
Amazon Pension. Ataturk Mah 1054 +90 0232 892 3215. Breakfast in the garden, free daily shuttle rides to Ephesus, Internet and book exchange. Free use of bicycle.
The Australia New Zealand (Turkish) Guesthouse has clean rooms with private bathrooms. Great atmosphere, drinks and dinner on the roof-top terrace. Twin room €8.50. Offers complimentary pick-up from Kusadasi and rides to Ephesus.
Homeros Pension is a old house converted into a pension which has been richly decorated by the owner, who is a carpenter. The rooms are full of charm and the meals, prepared by the sister and mother of the owner, are very good. They also provide free transportation to Ephesus and back. Phone: 892 3995 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bella Hotel, Ataturk Mah. St. John Street No:7 Selcuk (200m from Otogar), ☎ +90 232 892 3944, . Small family run hotel with wonderful ceramic and carpet / textile decorations. Very convenient location. Excellent dinner on the roof terrace. Free transport to and from Ephesus. Fax: 0090 232 892 0344 Email: email@example.com
Atilla’s Getaway, firstname.lastname@example.org (2km from Selcuk centre in the village of Acarlar), ☎ +90 (232) 892 3847, . Has a spring water swimming pool surrounded by fruit trees and gardens. Free shuttle buses to Selçuk/Ephesus, as well as free pick up from Kuşadasi Ferry Port.12 Euro.
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