The main reason for my travel to Turkey in summer 2019 was to spend several weeks on the beach. But, that was not the only reason. I also wanted to explore the Ottoman heritage. I have really only been to Istanbul in the past and with my Italian friends I also went to Bodrum and Fethiye in June 2007. But, that was a short trip with an accent on being by the sea, as it was in the summer. So, after Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir, it was time for me to move to my next destination – Kusadasi.
I was in Turkey already for two weeks and I was ready to go to the beach. The weather became progressively hotter, especially in Izmir. There are several famous summer resorts near Izmir, such as Çeşme. But in the end, I decided to go just to Kusadasi. I made my travel plan and booked all hotels several months before the trip, because I wanted to stay in reasonably good places, at good prices. It turned out that it was good thinking. After two intensive weeks in Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir, I was ripe for the beach. Plus, it was a peak of the summer season, the best time to be by the sea.
The journey from Izmir to Kusadasi was easy. It took an hour by bus. So, I was in my hotel already by 2pm.
WHERE TO STAY IN KUSADASI?
Kusadasi is a very popular international summer resort. I’ve seen a lot of foreign tourists, from England and Germany, but also from Serbia. Overall, Turkey is cheaper than Greece and other European summer destinations and that’s probably one important reason why people choose to go there. At the same time, you eat excellent food in Turkey, tourist infrastructure is well developed and sunny weather is guaranteed. But Kusadasi, together with the adjacent area, is a big place.
1. MY HOTEL IN KUSADASI
So, when I was checking where to stay in Kusadasi, I had a bit of a dilemma. I had to consider that I would be there for one week and I did not want to spend too much money. My hotel in Kusadasi was more expensive than much better hotels in which I stayed in other Turkish cities. But, that was understandable, it was the peak season in one of the most popular summer resorts on the Aegean Sea.
I chose a small, family run Hotel Sezgin. It was one of the cheapest that I could find in the Old Town and it also had one very important feature – a swimming pool. I think it’s important to stay in accommodation with the swimming pool. That way, we have a choice whether to go to the beach or to stay by the pool. In 6 days, I stayed by the pool twice and went to the beach four times. I slightly burnt the first time when I went to the beach, so the following day I thought it would be better to stay in the shadow. It was perfectly fine and I enjoyed spending all day on a sun-lounger, next to the swimming pool. When I felt hot, I went for a swim.
The Hotel Sezgin, where I stayed, is in a perfect location. Admittedly, the place is slightly tired around the edges, especially the rooms, but you can’t really demand a lot if you pay little money. It was perfect for what I wanted.
2. WHERE TO STAY IN KUSADASI?
Therefore, you can either choose to stay in a hotel in the Old Town and travel to the beach every day or the other option is to stay in one of many hotels along the Long Beach. It really depends on what you want from your holiday.
For me, it wasn’t a problem to travel to the beach, as I preferred to be in the Old Town, because that’s where everything happens in the evening. Otherwise, you have to travel to the Old Town every evening if you want to go out for dinner and for a walk, unless you decide to remain in your hotel. I guess, for some people that’s perfectly fine, especially if they have small kids or if they choose full board for their holiday. In that case, there is no need to go out for dinner.
WHAT TO SEE IN KUSADASI?
1. OLD TOWN
Although small, Kusadasi Old Town is very interesting. That’s where you will find shops and restaurants. It is a typical old area that remained almost intact from the Ottoman times.
There are some historical structures.
You will also find some mosques, although they are much smaller than imperial mosques that you can see in Istanbul and Bursa. I visited only one mosque in Kusadasi, that I will mention in this post. I primarily wanted to go to the beach, to rest and not to have the pressure of visiting historical sites during my stay in Kusadasi.
The Old Town is an area centered around several main and a lot of smaller, narrower streets that go in all directions. One of the main streets is Barbaros Boulevard.
As you can see in these photos, this street is full of shops and restaurants that mainly offer Turkish cuisine.
2. KALEIÇI MOSQUE (1618)
One of the entrances to the Kaleiçi Mosque is in Barbaros Boulevard. So, it’s very easy to visit this mosque if you in the Old Town.
It is one of the oldest historical structures that you can see in Kusadasi, built by the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire – Öküz Mehmed Pasha, in 1618.
It is a nice mosque, perhaps not as opulent as mosques in Istanbul or Bursa, but it certainly has great historical importance.
I like the choice of colours and its subdued interior decoration. In this respect, the Kaleiçi Mosque is rather unique and it reminds me of the Seljuk era mosques that I’ve seen in Konya.
3. KARAVANSERAI (1613)
The most monumental historical building that you can see in Kusadasi is the Karavanserai.
The same as the Kaleiçi Mosque, it was built by the Grand Vizier – Öküz Mehmed Pasha, in 1613.
The objective for building the Karavanserai was to prevent enemy ships from disturbing travellers and pilgrims. It was originally called the Kurşunlu Han.
There was the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition when I visited the Karavanserai, but I was more interested in the building itself. It reminded me of hans that I saw in Bursa, although this han was not as lively, as there were no shops or coffee shops inside.
If you are in Kusadasi, make sure that you visit this historical building, it’s beautiful and anyhow you will not be able to see much more in this city.
4. KUSADASI SEAFRONT
The same as Izmir, Kusadasi also has a very pleasant seafront. It is much smaller than the seafront in Izmir, but Kusadasi is also a much smaller place.
I was in Kusadasi for 6 days and every day before dinner I went for a walk around the historical centre and the seafront. A lot of people were doing the same.
There are some monuments along the seafront, such as the “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” statue that you can see in a photo below. These were the Atatürk’s words from his speech in 1931, that were later integrated in Turkey’s foreign policy. There are also coffee shops and restaurants where you can have something to eat and drink.
But, the best was that I continued my sunset watching tradition, that started in Izmir. Kusadasi is also west facing, so every evening before dinner I watched a sunset. Those were very special moments at the end of the day and before the excitement of the night.
WHICH BEACH TO GO TO IN KUSADASI?
I was a bit apprehensive about beaches in Kusadasi. Basically, my main worry was which beach to go to and how to get there. I was not planning to rent a car, while I knew that beaches were far from the city centre, where I was staying. Also, as I was in Kusadasi for a week, I wanted to spend my time on a beach that I would like. I read various comments, but the same as everything else in life, you really have to experience it personally to be able to decide what’s best for you. As you will see, what was good for some people, may have not been good for you and it definitely wasn’t good for me.
1. LADIES BEACH
The first day when I arrived to Kusadasi, it was already the mid afternoon when I reached my hotel, but I didn’t want to stay by the pool, I wanted to go for a swim in the sea. The Ladies Beach is Kusadasi’s city beach, although it’s not really in the city centre and you have to use some transport to get there. It’s also possible to walk, but it’s a long walk and I wouldn’t suggest it, especially if it’s hot.
It is called the Ladies Beach because only women could use it in the past. Obviously, everyone can use it now.
It was around 4pm when I arrived to this beach. It’s impossible for me to convey the shock I had when I saw a beach so packed with people that it took half an hour for me to find space for my towel. At one point I wanted to give up and return to the hotel, but I felt so hot and I needed to go for a swim, to cool down. In the end, I somehow managed to find a bit of a space and as the time was passing by, people started to leave. Towards the end of the day, the beach was much more pleasant. I even managed to find space under one of the beach umbrellas.
In fact, it is a nice beach, the sea is very shallow and warm. Had it not been for so many people, it would have been a perfect experience. But, I suspect that the Ladies Beach is always very busy, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. In fact, that was the only time I went there.
Dolmuş (minibus) no. 5 goes to the Ladies Beach, there is a D stop opposite the Karavanserai. It’s very easy to find it, you pay the driver when you enter the minibus and in less than 10 minutes you arrive to the start of the beach.
2. LONG BEACH
A much better option is the Long Beach. But, this beach is far from Kusadasi and the only way to get there is either by dolmuş or by car.
This beach is approximately 6km south of Kusadasi and it’s a 18km long. But, it’s a narrow beach, although that’s not really a problem because it is so long. I went there four times and it was never as busy as the Ladies Beach. I enjoyed every day I spent there.
The good thing about this beach was that there were free beach umbrellas. It was very hot and umbrellas provided very precious protection from the scorching sun. But, their number is limited, so you should try to get to the beach as early as you can, to get one for yourself. Usually, I was there between 11h and 12h and at that time there were not many people on the beach. They would start arriving in the early afternoon.
The sea is also shallow in this part of Kusadasi and water was warm. I spent a lot of time swimming, especially during the hottest hours, it was so enjoyable.
There are other beaches in Kusadasi, but I only went to two beaches that I mention in this post. It’s also very easy to get to the Long Beach, you need to take dolmuş no. 6. Look for the the D (for Dolmuş) stop in the city centre. Minibuses are frequent and they will take you right to the beginning of the Long Beach. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes, it’s fast and well organised. In a photo below, you can see dolmuş no. 7, which arrived before my dolmuş, so I took a photo of this one. It’s just for you to see how they look. Also, make sure that you wave at the driver, so that he stops for you.
EVENINGS AND FOOD IN KUSADASI
1. EVENINGS IN KUSADASI
I mentioned earlier that I purposefully chose to stay in the Old Town because that’s where everything happens. Indeed, after the day on the beach, you would want some entertainment in the evening. I suspect that big hotel complexes along the Ladies Beach and the Long Beach, although very comfortable, do not offer many possibilities for evening activities. In other words, there is not very much that you can do there, so if you want to have some fun, you have to come to the Kusadasi Old Town.
Shops are open until midnight and even if you do not intend to buy anything, it’s very interesting to have a look at the abundance of goods on offer.
2. FOOD IN KUSADASI
In my previous posts I mentioned that, while in Turkey, I avoided touristic restaurants and I only went to places visited by Turks. In my opinion, food is much better in such places, plus they are usually cheaper. So, the first evening I ventured outside the historical area in search of a place where I could have my dinner. The Old Town is full of restaurants, but they are all very touristy and pricey.
I found the Lezzet Durağı Restaurant literally 5 minutes walk from the Old Town, in 50 Yil Street. It’s amazing that with just a bit of an effort, you can find an excellent place where you can eat well and very cheaply. The cost of my dinner in this place was the same as the cost of a starter in touristic restaurants in the Old Town.
But, the best place in which I had my dinner almost every evening, and probably the best place of all places where I ate in Turkey, was the Damak Kasap & Et Pişiricisi Restaurant in Candan Tarhan Boulevard. This is a butcher shop that is at the same time a restaurant. The way it works is you choose meat that you want and they grill it for you. It was really, by far, the best place and also very cheap.
I tremendously enjoyed the week that I spent in Kusadasi, because I needed to rest and spend some time on the beach, especially as it was right in the middle of the summer.
I understand why so many people choose to go there. It’s nice, good weather is guaranteed and it’s very affordable. Also, food is excellent and all that, combined with the Turkish hospitality, made my stay very nice.
It was a perfect stop in the context of my travel across Turkey, although that was not the only place where I went to the beach. I also went to Antalya, but that is a subject for one of my future posts.