For most Kuşadası visitors, a trip to Ephesus is the main reason to drag themselves away from the beach.
Only 18 kilometers northeast from town, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a favorite half-day trip, and thanks to regular minibus transport between Kuşadası and the town of Selçuk (next to the ancient city), the ruins are easily accessed independently if you don't want to take a tour.
The city's history stretches back to the 10th century BCE, though the grand building works you can see today date from its Greco-Roman classical era.
Don't miss admiring Ephesus' monumental Library of Celsus and the massive Great Theater. They are both among the country's most photographed monuments.
Stroll to Pigeon Island
Just off Kuşadası harbor, a 350-meter-long causeway leads out to tiny Pigeon Island (Güvercin Ada), where the remnants of a 13th-century Byzantine fortress sit on a cliff.
The fort became a lair for local pirates during the Ottoman era, and the rampart walls, which wrap partially around the island, are a young architectural addition – only dating to the early 19th century.
The island is a favorite spot for a seaside stroll. Inside the fort, a walkway winds its way between endemic trees and plants such as Turkish pine and the protected Kuşadası tülüşah flower, with signboards dotted along the way explaining this region's flora and fauna.
Afterwards, the island's café is a good spot to sit back and admire the harbor views.
Explore Kuşadası's Old Town
Most of Kusadasi's tourist attractions are found in the harbor area, in the kaleiçi (old town) neighborhood.
The Kervansaray building is an old, preserved caravanserai, built by Öküz Mehmet Paşa in 1618. Its battlemented facade was restored in the 1960s, and for a few decades, it served as a hotel, but now you can wander in to admire the interior.
Day Trip to Priene
Hemmed in by mountain vistas, the ruins of the Hellenistic city of Priene, about 40 kilometers south of Kuşadası, are a popular day trip from town and are often combined with a visit to the ruins of Miletus.
Priene was an ancient deepwater port that had its heyday between 300 BCE and 45 BCE, when its two harbors bustled with commerce. The silting-up of the Meander River caused the city's demise, and by the 2nd century CE, Priene was abandoned.
The star attraction of a visit here is the Temple of Athena with its classical Ionian design, while the 6,500-seat theater is exceptionally well-preserved.