5 Tips for visiting the ancient city Ephesus in Turkey

Visiting Ehpesus should be on everybody’s bucket-list. For one because it’s Europe’s best preserved ancient city. But also because it enriches your view on history, on culture, on life, on humanity and on what is possible. I’m still in awe after seeing the remnants of this immense and spectacular built city. Ephesus was once the commercial center with a population of 33-56,000 people. Built in the 10th century BC in the Greek era, it really started flourishing under the Roman empire in 129 BC. Its grandeur and the many stories inherent in the site draw thousands tourists a year, making it one of Turkey’s top sights. Below a few tips for visiting Ephesus to get the most out of your trip.

library of Celsus built in 114-117 by consul Gaius Julius Aquila as a gift to his father. On the right the gateway to the Agora (=market)
details and ornaments of the library of Celsus

1. Yes it’s safe!

Despite all the negative media about Turkey, I can genuinely say that it is totally safe to visit. I can honestly say that during both trips I made to Turkey (now and in 2015) there hasn’t been a second that I felt I needed to be on my guard or felt any hostility. Turkish people are extremely friendly and hospitable. They love to share their culture with foreigners but also let you be. I would go back in a heartbeat, even to Istanbul if I had the chance.

Street of Curetes leading to the library of Celtus

2. Bring plenty of water and sun protection

Ephesus is huge and it should take you about 2-3 hours to visit. There are no trees or shady spots and the marble and rocky/sandy streets reflect the sun. Be prepared for a very hot and dry sight and dress accordingly. A sun hat or cap, sunglasses or an umbrella are highly recommended. There are only refreshment stalls at the two entrances so take enough inside with you to get you through the 2-3 hours. Also wear comfortable shoes. The stone and marble floor can be slippery at times so flipflops can be hazardous.

mosaic floors in the homes

3. Prepare your visit by reading up

Before visiting it is wise to read up a bit on the history of Ephesus and to decide on what you really would like to see. There is so much to see that you can easily miss something. Doing some reading beforehand also helps to put things in perspective and helps to visualize what it might have looked like.

source: Lonely Planet
Temple of Hadrianus dating back to the year 123
details of the Temple of Hadrianus dating back to the year 123. Mythical figures can be noted in the marble

4. Go very early or very late in the day

The best time to visit Ephesus is early in the morning before the crowds come and when the temperature is still bearable. Another option is to go late afternoon when the crowds are thinning out and the sun loses its strength. Epheseus open daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. (Apr-Oct). So if you arrive at 4 p.m. you have plenty of time to see all.

the theatre of Ephesus, built in 117 could hold 24,000 people
A bouleuterion/odeon also translated as council house, assembly house, and senate house, was a building which housed the council of citizens of a democratic city state. These representatives assembled at the bouleteurion to confer and decide about public affairs

5. Consider a guide or take the audio tour

Although a travel guide book can be a great companion for preparing your visit, once there it is much more interesting to hear anecdotes, background information and nice to know facts from a guide. A guide makes your visit extra special and informative whether it is a group guide or a private one. He or she connects the dots, can answer any questions you might have and can help you visualize it better than any book or map can. If you like to visit independently and in your own pace you could also make use of an audio tour that is provided at the gate.

Monument for centrurion Memnus
the Temple of Domitian


This blog post was created in collaboration with Visit Turkey via a sponsored trip. Regardless all of the opinions are my own.

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