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Turkey: Troy, Ephesus and Pamukkale

A 2,500 km tour to discover ancient Greek ruins, cities, and natural hot springs.

Canakkale and the Battle of Gallipoli

Canakkale is the perfect stop to visit the nearby archaeological excavations of Troy (less than 30 minutes away). The town center is lively with many small restaurants and cafes. On the waterfront is the Trojan horse used in the 2004 film Troy, and you can take the ferry across the Dardanelles strait to visit the many cemeteries and war memorials. Indeed, this is where the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was held where the Ottoman troops led by Atatürk, though outnumbered, managed to hold out against the Allied troops. Even today the Turks celebrate this battle with great national pride and on the hillside chapters a large drawing of a soldier. Visit the "Anadolu Hamidiye Tabyası-Çanakkale Savaşları Tarih Müzesi" museum park with bunkers by the sea and a nice walk.

🍴 Usta Adanalılar Çanakkale

🛌 Dort Mevsim Suit Hotel

The Troy of Omero and the IIliad

The discovery of Troy is linked to the figure of Schliemann, an improvised archaeologist who loved Greece and the Homeric poems. It was he who in 1870 began excavations on Hissarlik Hill on a hunch and without permission from the Turkish government. Fortune smiled on him and in a short time he discovered the remains of Cyclopean walls, a large gate and a coin inscribed Hector of Troy. In subsequent excavations with Turkish permission he uncovers a large ramp and the famous Treasury of Priam, questioned by many for its mysterious find. Schliemann, however, does not realize that the city was built on several overlapping historical periods: from the Bronze Age to the Greco-Roman period. It will be archaeologist Blegen who will study in detail the 9 layers and 46 overlapping settlements. Among them, layer VII is believed to be that of the real Homeric Troy, because of the traces found of a large fire. Today's excavations show the acropolis, but archaeologists have also found Lower Troy and the old harbor with Achilles' burial monument nearby, which was also visited by Alexander the Great in his time.

🎫 Entrance is about 200 Turkish Lira - 10 euro

Smirne or Izmir

Izmir resembles a small Dubai with modern skyscrapers silhouetted against miles of waterfront. Turkey's third largest city and main port for exports. The name means "myrrh" in ancient Greek because such a shrub was very common in the area.

The city is immense and very busy, best to park your car and get around on foot or by metro. Among the things to visit absolutely: Konak Square with the mosque and the beautiful Clock Tower from 1901, the Kemeraltı Çarşısı Grand Bazaar similar to the one in Istanbul where you can do incredible bargains and see the most beautiful fish market ever, the archaeological excavations of the ancient Agora (we saw them from outside), the waterfront and the Kulturpark for a day or evening stroll. Near our hotel, on the other hand, many tobacco vendors.

🍴 Birinci Kordon Balik Restoran

🥂 Many nice locals in Dr. Mustafa Enver Bey St.

🛌 Tempo Residence Comfort

🚗 Perfect parking space position 20 Turkish lira all day long

Pamukkale and Hierapolis

Don't expect to see Instagram-like blue natural pools or Saturnia-style spas. You won't find any of that, but it will still be a beautiful experience.

Pamukkale is a white wall called Count's Castle, about 2.7 km long and 160 meters high, which can be seen even from a distance. We entered through the entrance near the little village at the foot of the hill, and immediately after entering you have to take off your shoes to walk on the cold, white rocks (best to bring a backpack for shoes or enter from the south entrance because you can leave your shoes and then take them back to see the rest). Currently, only a few pools are filled with water arbitrarily by the site managers and it is difficult to enjoy them because of the flood of tourists who assault them to take pictures, even with angel wings. The majority of the pools are without water and left in the sun to turn them white again; these had darkened due to construction abuse in previous years. Even without water, they are beautiful to contemplate.

Behind Pamukkale is the ancient city of Hierapolis, which really surprised us with its beauty. It is an open-air archaeological excavation maintained thanks to the Italian mission with some ruins encompassed by the white rocks. We really immerse ourselves in the ancient city, walking on the wide street inside the agora, sitting in the most beautiful amphitheater in the ancient world with a view of the snow-capped mountains, watching the water boil in front of the Hades-Pluto Gate that led to the underworld. The very latter is situated on a cave that emits deadly toxic gases and was used for rituals by priests-who by surviving became miraculous-and to seek directions from the oracle. Finally in Hierapolis is the tomb of St. Philip, the fifth apostle of Jesus.

To see Pamukkale and Hierapolis one must consider about 3 hours. For those who wish there is also the swimming pool in the former hotel where one can swim among the ancient columns in the warm water for about 8 euros.

🛌 Pamukkale Termal Ece Otel

🎫 Entrance from 400 Turkish Lira - 20 euro


Ephesus is the queen of archaeological excavations, not only because it is one of the largest in Europe, but also because of its majesty and scenic beauty.

It was the capital of the Roman province in Asia Minor, and the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was located here.

The first thing that amazes are the marvelous marble avenues adorned with columns and temples that branch out between the main sites of the city such as the agora, the library and the harbor.

The symbol of Ephesus is the Library of Celsus, with its facade decorated with beautiful statues. It was the third largest library in the ancient world with more than 10,000 scrolls. It was erected in memory of and as the burial place of Caius Julius Celsus, a very learned and influential senator of Ephesus, one of the few Greeks to enjoy great prestige with the Romans and to be allowed to be buried within the city.

Also beautiful are the huge amphitheater (it held up to 24,000 spectators), agora and terraced domus (noble residences with perfectly preserved frescoes and mosaics).

Ephesus was also an important site for Christianity. Here St. Paul is said to have passed, Mary and St. John lived and died, and it was among the 7 churches of Revelation. Inside the excavations is the Basilica of Mary, where the council was held in which the role of Mary and Jesus Christ was decided. While just outside are the Basilica of St. John, built on the ancient tomb, the House of Mary where she lived until she was 101 years old and now a place of pilgrimage (we did not go inside, the cost is about 500 Turkish liras), the Grotto of the Sleeping Sevens related to the miracle of the resurrection and a famous place of pilgrimage in ancient times.

🎫 Entrance in Ephesus is about 500 Turkish Lira - 23 euro

Nearby we have also suggested the village of Sirince, famous for its wines.


This little village is a real gem, a mix of narrow stone streets and white Greek-style houses, flowers and Provençal restaurants, and Ottoman decorations and colors. A romantic destination and very popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers. We recommend sleeping a night here or seeing it both during the day for its colors and windmills and at night with the lively clubs and illuminated alleys. The covered bazaar with souvenir stores is also not to be missed.

🥂 Bars in Zeplin Alaçatıand Restaurants on Alaçatı Çarşı.

Turkish coast near Cesme

Between Aliçati and Cesme is a beautiful stretch of coastline with crystal clear, green water. We relaxed in a wonderful sea-view hotel, located next to the beach, the Yacth-view dock walk and with a typical tavern below where the very friendly owner cooked us typical appetizers (meze) and delicious fresh fish. From Cesme, it is also possible to take the ferry to the nearby island of Chios (which can be reached in an hour or so).

🍴 Mai S'ema Bar Food

🛌 Mai S'ema Boutique Dalyan


On this trip, we spent about 650 euros for two, but this area of Turkey is more expensive than others for food and monuments, plus we got caught up with shopping at the Izmir bazaar 🙂

Useful tips:

  • Money: In this area of Turkey they accept all euros (giving back the exchange rate in Turkish lira) and credit card payments even at the grand bazaar. It is useful to have local cash for parking, bakeries and small purchases.

  • Documents: Italian ID card is sufficient.

  • Arrival by flight over Izmir and then car rental, or you can connect to Istanbul (also by bus) and Cappadocia.

  • Highway pay by credit card and be careful to obey limits and traffic lights.

Itinerary in Map

Click here to see the Map and using it during the trip:



Do you want some advice?

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