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Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Singapore, Singapore
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Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Hi all,

Wanted to gather some thoughts from locals/ experts on this. I'll be picking up my rented car from Izmir airport at 2:30pm coming May and would be driving to Denizli to stay overnight before visiting Pamukkale in next morning.

I know that I can only squeeze in time to visit one ancient ruin. Many have mentioned how Aphrodisias is underrated and I like how it's a possibly less crowded tourist location. However, for a tourist travelling all the was from Asia and would only visit Turkey once or twice in my lifetime...should I pick Ephesus instead?

Some advice would be appreciated. :)

13 replies to this topic
Mugla, Turkey
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1. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Ephesus every time

Singapore, Singapore
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2. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Okay, only gotten one reply but guess i'll brave the crowd at Ephesus then. :) Thanks for the answer.

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Sorry just another question if anyone sees this. Since we're renting a car, I heard that Ephesus is huge and if we were to park at one end, we would need to do a huge roundabout walk back to the carpark.

I read somewhere where someone suggested to pay a local to drive the car to the other end and meet us. However, as travellers that don't speak the language, it sounds a little scary to do that especially with all our belongings in the car. What other options do we have? Take a taxi back to the carpark? Let me know. Thanks!

Selcuk, Turkey
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4. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Firstly - sorry I missed your post the other day. Second, there are no crowds this year, so that's not a factor.

Ephesus isn't vast. It's easy to leave your car - perfectly safe! - at either car park and walk back to it. Tour buses from the cruise ships would deposit visitors at the "top" end (South) so that they could waddle down-hill to the lower car park. Both car parks are currently almost empty and have stringent security controls operated by the military.

Having lived here at Ephesus for many years now, I'd far prefer a visit to Aphrodisias, but the Ephesus option is much easier for you to navigate.

While here, I'd also suggest a quick visit to the Museum in Selcuk, and if you have kids with you, definitely go up into the castle on the hill above St John's Basilica.

[[If you want my honest advice - skip Pamukkale.]]

Columbia, Maryland
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5. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Why skip Pamukkale? Why is Aphrodisias so much better, just fewer tourists?

Selcuk, Turkey
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6. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Hello o2251227 - I was replying to a specific question. But If you have enough time, then by all means visit all of these places. There are no tourists now, but Ephesus and Aphrodisias have about equal merit. The new museum at Aphrodisias is fabulous, but then so are the "covered houses" at Ephesus. Pamukkale is usually visited by people who've seen the pictures of the "cotton castles". There's a lot more to see there, but as a place to stay it offers little now that western visitors are absent. Aphrodisias is a bit off the beaten track and needs a 2 hour trip minimum from wherever you choose to stay.

Having been here many years, I far prefer the little-known sites near Selcuk such as Claros, Magnesia, Metropolis, Alinda, Alabanda, Tripolis - and the strangest of all - Gerga.

Columbia, Maryland
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7. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

No tourists due to terrorism-related bad press? Not even buses of Chinese visitors?

Which of those little known sites would you recommend most? I will only be staying 5 full days.

Selcuk, Turkey
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8. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

Hello again o2251227 - No, the Chinese visitors all seem to arrive independently, it's the Koreans that come by bus. The site that interests me most at the moment is Magnesia, where the giant stadium has been under excavation for the last few years, so the on-going work is interesting for those of us around here.

The most charming site - also just 20 minutes drive from Selcuk - is Claros. That changes every month according to the level of water in the flooded temple ruins.

Unfortunately you won't find either site mentioned in the main Guide Books. Well, maybe that's a good thing.

Edited: 11 April 2017, 19:48
Columbia, Maryland
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9. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

What do you think of the "Priene / Miletus / Didyma" circuit?

Selcuk, Turkey
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10. Re: Ephesus or Aphrodisias if I could only pick one?

The "PMD" circuit has been in the guide books for 50 years. I first did it back in 1968 and frankly found it rather tiring even then. For me, it's one site too many, though they are all very different.

When I have visitors here myself, I take them to Priene and I have a tea at "base camp" while they climb up the hill. It's a very charming site, but hard work for some.

Then we drive on to Miletus which is only 20 minutes further. The view of the Theatre from the tea-house is splendid. The new museum is also worth a visit, as well as the newly-restored pre-Ottoman mosque.

I then take them back, and along the peninsula to the lone fish restaurant at Karine. That is always a hit.

On the way back to Selcuk the road passes right through Magnesia ad Maeandrum, where you can drive along a dusty side track all the way up to the newly-excavated Stadium. And that is always the highlight of the day.

The Temple at Didyma is well worth a visit, but it's a long drive and I'd keep it for another day, perhaps combined with a visit to Lake Bafa.

For these trips it's best to rent your own car and carry a competent guide book. Doing it by public transport is very difficult.

A tour organised by your hotel - with competent guide(?) would have to cost about $200 I'd think. I have no experience of that - I've always been an independent traveller (apart from that first time, when my family was taken in two company Chevrolets.)

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