No cruise to the stunning land of Turkey would be complete without taking Ephesus shore excursions. This ancient city, located just south of Izmir, Turkey, is renowned for its impressive archeological sites and rich history. Each year millions of visitors flock to the culturally rich town that sits just six miles from the Aegean Sea. Most tourists travel to the area via cruise ships, which is why there is an abundance of shore excursion opportunities.
Reasons to Take an Ephesus Shore Excursion
While it may be tempting to remain on the ship's deck to soak up Ephesus' gorgeous climate or spend the day shopping for souvenirs, you would better off utilizing your time at port by taking a cruise shore excursion that introduces you to all the depth and beauty this city has to offer.
Ephesus is regarded as the best-preserved ancient city in Turkey. It is teeming with breathtaking historic venues and a guided tour will help you make the most out of your time on land. Most shore excursions of Ephesus spotlight the city's most popular sites, including temples, churches, fountains, and more.
House of the Virgin Mary
The drive to the House of the Virgin Mary includes awe-inspiring views of the peaceful countryside. The historic site is where the Blessed Virgin is reputed to have spent the last years of her life. Depending on which tour you sign up for, your trip could feature mass at the holy shrine and a chance to meet with the resident priest to learn more about the mystic stone structure and the last moments Mary spent there.
Temple of Artemis
Ephesus was dedicated to the goddess Artemis centuries ago and her temple was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The magnificent structure once featured some 127 columns, each rising 60 feet high. Today all that remains of the architectural wonder is a single column and marble remnants. Still, millions of tourists continue to visit the temple each year to take snapshots of the historic site.
Basilica of St. John
The Basilica of St. John is a must-see stop on your tour of Ephesus. The great church stands over the believed burial site of St. John the apostle. The structure was first constructed in the 6th century. Over time the building suffered serious damage and large parts of it are gone. Some of the Basilica's brick foundations and marble walls have been partially reconstructed; if they were fully restored, the cathedral would be the seventh largest in the world.
Temple of Hadrian
The Temple of Hadrian is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was built before 138 A.D and was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian when he came to visit the city from Athens in 128 A.D The facade of the massive structure features four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory. The temple is highly revered and is considered an architectural masterpiece.
Depending on which tour company you register with you may also have the opportunity to visit the following sites in Ephesus:
- The Library of Celsus
- The Scholastic Baths
- The Odeon
- The Lower Agora
- Fountain of Trajan
Some shore excursions also offer stops at Turkish villages to learn about local art and to see how famous Turkish carpets are made.
Shore Excursion Options
Ephesus offers a plethora of shore excursion options, most of which cater to cruise line passengers. You can choose your tour based on price, length of time at port, and sites covered. In addition, most shore excursion companies offer transportation to and from piers in both Kusadasi and Izmir as well as other major ports in Turkey.
In addition to tours offered through the cruise line, the following independent tour companies offer some of the most popular Ephesus shore excursions:
Shore Excursion Reminders
Before choosing a tour company it's important to review the details of each excursion. If your mobility is limited you might opt for a tour that features transportation via a vehicle rather than on foot. In addition, if you are signing up for an all-day tour, check to see if your meals and entrance fees to sites are included in the package price. Finally, if you are traveling from North America ensure that your tour features an English-speaking guide.
Ephesus is an amazing city with much to offer visitors. By choosing a shore excursion, you can dip into the wonder and richness of this city when visiting it on your next cruise to Turkey.