Marmaris & Around
The best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus (892 6010; admission/parking €5.50/1.65; 8am-5pm Oct-Apr, 8am-7pm May-Sep) is the place to get a feel for what life was like in Roman times. Ancient Ephesus was a great trading city and a centre for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess.
Bodrum may be just as much of a hyperresort as Kuşadası and Marmaris, but with its sugar-cube houses, draped in bougainvillea, and the palm-lined streets it has been more successful at clinging to its original charm.
The once-sleepy fishing village of Marmaris sits on the marvellous natural harbour where Lord Nelson organised his fleet for the attack on the French at Abukir in 1798. The setting may still be glorious but the picturesque old part of town around the harbour and castle is now all but lost in the concrete sprawl trailing off to the west.
An excellent museum, a fine old basilica and mosque, a stork nest–studded aqueduct, dozens of pleasant, small pensions and the ruins of Ephesus on its doorstep – Selçuk really does seem to have it all. These days the town more or less lives on the proceeds of tourism, albeit of the smaller-scale, independent-traveller kind.
About 22km southwest of Selçuk lies Kuşadası, which suffers from the double indignity of being a cruise-ship port and a major package-holiday resort. English-style pubs and karaoke bars are filled with football strips signed ‘Elaine and Gary from Tredegar, South Wales’, ‘The Essex Police’ and ‘The Catholic Girls’. Then there are the tattoo parlours and shopping centres.