How do you get to Ephesus from Istanbul?

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city in Asia Minor that attracts millions of people every year. Many travelers who visit Istanbul, also would like to visit Ephesus. In this post, I will talk about some different ways to get to Ephesus from Istanbul.

You can get to Ephesus from Istanbul easily by plane, by bus, by car, and by train.

As you can guess, all ways have some advantages and disadvantages. So, in order to make your travel more comfortable, you should check the ways and choose the one which is suitable for you. 

Where is Ephesus?

Ephesus is one of the twelve cities of Ionia in the classical Greek period. It is very close to a small city which is called Selcuk and it is located about 80 km south of the city of Izmir, which is on the coast of the Aegean Sea in the western region of Turkey.

If you want to be close to your accommodation preferences for your trip to Ephesus, you can choose the districts of Kusadasi or Sirince. But you can be sure that your transportation to many seaside districts in Izmir, such as Cesme, Alacati, will be short as well. 

Location of Ephesus on the map of Turkey

Click on the image to enlarge, Google Map Data 2020

How far is Ephesus from Istanbul?

The distance between Istanbul and Ephesus is 337 miles (560 km) by driving and getting to Ephesus takes 6-7 hours by car depending on the speed. 

Transportation options from Istanbul to Ephesus

You have four different transportation options to get Ephesus from Istanbul. You can go to Ephesus by plane, by bus, by car, and by train. Most travelers prefer the first two options to get Ephesus from Istanbul because of the fact that they are the most comfortable ones and because the speed is higher in these two options. 

Getting to Ephesus by plane 

The fastest and easiest route preferred by those who want to go to Ephesus is the airline.

The nearest airport to the ancient city of Ephesus is Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. But since the distance between Izmir Adnan Menders Airport and Ephesus is about 80 km, you can reach Ephesus after landing at the airport, taking into account many options.

Flights between Istanbul and Izmir take a minimum of 65 minutes and a maximum of 75 minutes. 

Istanbul has two airports which are called the Istanbul Airport and the Sabiha Gokcen Airport. The Istanbul Airport is located on the European side of Istanbul and the Sabiha Gokcen Airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul. Wherever you stayed in Istanbul whether on the European side or Asian side, you can use airports’ shuttles which directly take you to the airport.

Click on the image to enlarge, Google Map Data 2020

There are two different companies that have flights from Istanbul to Izmir. The first one is Turkish Airlines which has 3-4 flights every day both from the New Istanbul Airport and from the Sabiha Gokcen Airport. You can choose the closest airport to you in Istanbul. Also, Turkish Airlines both have direct flights and transferred flights which have to make transferred in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, Esenboga International Airport. However, most travelers prefer direct flights as they are cheaper, and they are faster. 

The second one is Pegasus Airlines, and it also has 3-4 direct flights to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport in a day. 

After landing at Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport, you can reach Ephesus with several options. You can choose the one that suits you best according to your preference. 62 km of road is waiting for those who want to go from the Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport to Ephesus. To go from the airport to Ephesus, you need to get to the Gaziemir District Bus Station by boarding the Izmir suburban system which is called IZBAN. IZBAN will only take one hour. From the Gaziemir District Bus Station, you can go to Selçuk with dolmuş, the little buses, which make an expedition every 40 minutes. Dolmus fee is 10 TL.

Another option which is more convenient, going from the airport to Selçuk with IZBAN and take the Ephesus dolmuş from there. 

You can also rent a car at Adnan Menderes Airport if you wish. In this option, you need to follow the Izmir-Aydın road and follow the Selcuk sign after passing Torbalı. When you arrive in Selcuk district, Ephesus signs will take you there. 

Getting to Ephesus by car from the airport
Click on the image to enlarge, Google Map Data 2020

Getting to Ephesus by bus

Traveling by bus is one of the most preferred ways by those who want to go to Ephesus. Selcuk Bus Terminal is preferred because of its proximity to Ephesus. More than 20 bus services go to Selcuk Bus Terminal in one day at various bus terminals in Istanbul. You can easily go from Istanbul to Selcuk district with a bus ride that takes approximately 8 hours.

There are multiple bus companies that operate several bus services during a day. There are not huge differences between the bus companies. For this reason, you can buy a ticket within that hour, whichever time is best and suitable for you. The most preferred companies are especially Kamil Koc and Pamukkale. Both of them have offices in different locations in Istanbul. If you are staying on the European side of Istanbul you can use Esenler Bus Terminal and if you are on the Asian side of Istanbul you can use Dudullu Bus Terminal or Samandıra Bus Terminal in order to go to Selcuk bus terminal. 

While you are getting your ticket from one of the offices of bus companies, you can available shuttles which will take you to the bus terminal. As the bus terminals are not close to the city center, bus companies have shuttle services to pick you in front of their offices and get you to the bus terminal. 

When you arrive at Selcuk bus terminal you can use dolmus or small buses and easily arrive at Ephesus. 

Getting to Ephesus by car

If you prefer to drive from Istanbul to Ephesus, you should also remember that there are many places to visit on the road. I have to say that the roads along the route are safe and sound, including at night. 

Click on the image to enlarge, Google Map Data 2020

Departing from Istanbul, it will take approximately 6-7 hours to reach Ephesus. There are two different route you can use to reach Ephesus from Istanbul. One of them takes approximately 6 hours depending on your speed and other one takes 9 hours as it will also depend on your speed. 

When you depart from Istanbul, you need to follow the road to Bursa, Balikesir, Akhisar, and then Izmir with the road signs. This will take 6 hours. Another way is following Bursa, Kutahya, Usak, and Izmir road and this will take more than the first option. While you are passing through Bursa, you need to stop at a restaurant and eat Iskender. You don’t want to miss this taste and you won’t be regret that you try it. When traveling between Bursa and Balıkesir, you should not neglect to stop in Susurluk. Susurluk is famous among travelers for its buttermilk and toast.

Getting to Ephesus by train

Although it is not much preferred in general, there are some railway stations that reach the closest areas of Ephesus. Unfortunately, there is no train from Istanbul directly to Ephesus or Izmir. From Izmir, Denizli, Eskisehir, or Konya you can use passenger trains to go to Selcuk railway station. If you will stay in the city center of Izmir you can use the railway to get to Ephesus. Otherwise, railway options will not be suitable for you.

Is Ephesus worth visiting?

Definitely it worths visiting Ephesus. The ancient city of Ephesus, which saw the most beautiful times of the Hellenistic and Roman periods and which was a port city of that time, had a population of two hundred thousand people.

Main Street at Ancient City of Ephesus
Main Street at Ancient City of Ephesus

All the valuable artifacts were collected on Kuretler Street, starting at the gate of Heracles, leading to the library of Celsus. You can visit the two marble fragments left over from the Temple of Artemis, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the world, in the ancient city of Ephesus. 

The ancient city of Ephesus is a place that has witnessed many civilizations and historical periods. In the city of Ephesus, which welcomes many tourists from all over the world, you can see structures that have witnessed many periods of history and still retain their traces. You can visit the ancient city of Ephesus between 08.00-17.00 in winter and 08.00-19.00 in summer. After giving an entrance fee, which is very convenient, there are many structures and remains of buildings that you can see in Ephesus.

Although it is preferred to be seen by visitors in the summer, we should say that your most beautiful and pleasant trip will be in the spring months. You must spend at least 3 hours touring this city. Remember that you are visiting a city that was once a metropolis. Especially if you want to visit important points such as the House of the Virgin Mary and the Temple of Artemis, your trip to the ancient city of Ephesus can find 4-5 hours.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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