Day trip to Efes and Şirince
If you are staying in İzmir and are considering taking a day trip to Efes (or Ephesus in Greek) the ancient Greek / Roman / Turkish city, here is what you can do:
Take the 9 o’clock train from Basmane to Selçuk. Tickets cost around 5TL (about 2.5€), so it is cheaper than by bus and you will get to see a beautiful landscape along the journey instead of just the motorway. It takes about one hour and twenty minutes to get to Selçuk. If you are there during the summer months, you may be lucky and spot a number of stork families up on the ancient pillars upon walking out of the small train station.
The bus station is just 10 minutes away by foot. If you need a toilet, you can use the one next to a nearby mosque. On Saturdays there is also a pazar where fresh fruit, vegetables and all other sorts of things are sold. It is right next to the mosque and not far from the bus station either.
Take the dolmuş (minibus) to Efes. No worries, if you are not familiar with the Turkish language. They will be shouting “Efes, Efes”, so you won’t miss it. The dolmuş costs 2.5TL.
When you get off the dolmuş at the Efes site, there will be a friendly old man welcoming you and eager to help you out if you have any questions. If you are there for a second time, he may not recognize you though. He sees thousands of tourists every day, especially during the summer months.
Buy your entry ticket (25TL but if you have a Museum Card, you don’t have to pay) and enjoy wandering around one of the Seven World Wonders. For the history have a look at Wikipedia or read the information signs on-location. You can also purchase an audio tour on the site, if you wish so.
Photography lovers will probably have a lot of motives to experiment with at this site.
While you are there, watch out for the ugliest cat I have ever seen.
When you are done with exploring the site or you have had enough of a history intake for the day, you can take the dolmuş back to Selçuk and from there take another one (3TL) to the village of Şirince up in the mountains. Şirin means sweet and this is a sweet little village indeed. It is famous for its fruit wines and soaps and gained particular importance on December 21, 2012, as it was said to be one of the few places on earth that would be spared the apocalypse. Thousands of people visited the village that day and hotel prices rose tremendously during that period. One of the locals told me even Rihanna was seen around.
Now the city has gone back to being just a sweet little touristic village. I recommend you take a walk around and find a nice spot for lunch. Make sure you find out about the prices before getting cozy. I noticed that most of the places do not announce them on the menu, so you need to pay attention in order to not be surprised when it comes to paying your bill at the end.
Şirince is also a great place for taking photographs. There are details in every little corner. Just explore and have fun. You may also taste all the different sorts of wine. Take your time and relax. This is a truly idyllic place, despite the increasing tourism.
Towards the evening, it is time to take the dolmuş back to Selçuk. There is one leaving every twenty minutes. During the winter season the last one leaves from Şirince at around 6pm but during the summer season there are more beyond that time. Make sure to find out about your options upon arrival.
The times I have done this day trip with my visitors, we returned from Şirince at around 6pm and then wandered around in Selçuk for a while before taking the train back to İzmir at 7:30pm. But there is also a later train option, if you wish to stay longer.
I hope you enjoy this day trip as much as I have so far and am looking forward to hearing about your experiences. İyi eğlenceler!