Once a small fishing village, Kusadasi is now one of the most popular holiday resort towns on the southern Aegean Coast. Is situated amid splendid coastal scenery and several significant archaeological sites, including the ruins of the ancient city Ephesus, which are just half an hour from the town. The beaches are the main pull during the day, and after dark the town comes to life, with vibrant bars and clubs setting an upbeat pace. If travellers are in search of old Turkey, they've got cobbled streets, mosques, old-school tavernas and bustling bazaars. Kusadasi is a popular stop on Mediterranean cruises from Venice, Piraeus, or the Greek island of Samos. Ferries link the town with the nearby Greek islands of Samos and Mykonos.
The Grand Bazaar in Kusadasi, near the harbour, is one of Turkey's largest shopping treasure troves for holidaymakers to rummage through, crammed with 1,000 or more stores and stalls open seven days a week from 9am until midnight. Bargaining for a variety of attractive items, such as leather jackets, sandals, carpets, and hand-made jewellery, is a fun experience, usually accompanied by a glass of tea. Despite the traditional trading atmosphere, most merchants accept credit cards, travellers cheques, and even some foreign currency for purchases. Visitors should be prepared to bargain their way to a good price, however.
All holidaymakers' budgets and tastes are amply catered for among Kusadasi's dozens of restaurants, cafes, and lokantas (local bars). Most visitors opt for sampling Turkish cuisine or enjoying the sumptuous seafood on offer, but there are numerous alternatives, which range from curry and Chinese to burgers. For top-class Turkish specialities, the Konyali Restaurant, opposite the marina, and the Erzincan, near the post office, are hard to beat, while the Avlu Restaurant and Cafe is also decent and well-priced. Kalyon is popular with expats for their western menu, which includes full English breakfasts.
Nights in Kusadasi throb with action, particularly along the town's pulsating Bar Street in the old town centre, lined with pubs and clubs. One of the hottest spots is the huge open air club, Ecstasy Bar, featuring top European DJs. Jimmy's Irish Bar at the start of Bar Street is a favourite gathering place for young British holidaymakers. Those looking for something more sedate will find cabaret bars, Turkish folk taverns, or cosy jazz clubs tucked away.
Kusadasi's clean, sandy beaches are the main attraction for holidaymakers, whether simply for sunbathing and swimming, or for indulging in a myriad of watersports that are on offer through local operators at the numerous beach clubs. Ladies Beach has a long stretch of golden sand that's backed by a bustling promenade lined with restaurants and cafes. Long Beach and Kustar Beach are further from the centre of Kusadasi and are a little quieter.
The turquoise Aegean waters are particularly popular for scuba diving and snorkelling. A variety of boat trips are also available, as well as Kusadasi's three thrilling aqua parks: Aquafantasy, Adaland and Longbeach Aquaresort.
Away from the water, active holidaymakers can indulge in a horseback trip, or head off on a jeep safari to get down and dirty on muddy nature trails in nearby Dilek Peninsula National Park. The surrounding region of Anatolia is crammed with interesting historical and archaeological sites and dozens of excursions are available for visitors to explore these, most famously the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus.
Kusadasi's beaches become extremely crowded during the height of the summer season. Touts outside restaurants and bars can be annoying.