This seaside resort town has grown up immensely in the last 30 years, and is especially popular with package holiday-makers from Europe. From a population of 6000 in the 1970s, it is now closer to 50,000, although a high proportion of this are part of the tourist industry and here only for the summer.Many cruising ships travelling around the Aegean Islands stop here, especially because of its close proximity (20km) to Selcuk. Kusadasi is a good base to explore this and other ancient cities like Priene and Didyma.
The area has been a centre of art and culture since the earliest times and has been settled by many civilizations since being founded by the Leleges people in 3000 BC. Later settlers include the Aeolians in the 11th century BC and Ionians in the 9th century. Originally seamen and traders the Ionians built a number of settlements on this coast including Neopolis.An outpost of Ephesus in ancient Ionia, known as Pygela, the area between the Büyük Menderes and Gediz rivers, the original Neopolis is thought to have been founded on the nearby point of Yılancı Burnu. Later settlements were probably built on the hillside of Pilavtepe, in the district called Andızkulesi today. Kuşadası was a minor port frequented by vessels trading along the Aegean coast. In antiquity it was overshadowed by Ephesus until Ephesus´ harbor silted up. From the 7th century BC onwards the coast was ruled by Lydians from their capital at Sardis, then from 546 BC the Persians, and from 334 BC along with all of Anatolia the coast was conquered by Alexander the Great. From then onwards the coastal cities were the centre of the mixed Greek and Anatolian culture called Hellenistic.
Although there is a little historical interest in Kusadasi itself, the town is popular predominantly because of its many hotels, restaurants, souvenir and carpet shops, and lively nightlife. The Kale district has some old traditional houses and narrow streets, and gives some indication of what the town used to be like. The most famous beach is Kadinlar Plaji, 2.5km south of the town, dominated by huge hotels and can get very crowded in summer. There are several small beaches further south, and closer to town is Yilanci Burnu, the peninsula.
For most long-distance bus journeys, it is necessary to change at Izmir, 90 minutes away, which has many more choices. Smaller buses make regular trips to Bodrum (2 hours), Pamukkale (3 hours) and Selcuk (30 mins), and dolmuses run a shuttle service to the beaches to the south of Kusadasi. There is a bus service that stops near Izmir’s airport. Buses either depart from the bus station, or from the town centre.The nearest airport is Izmir Adnan Menderes, 90 minutes by car. There are many domestic flights to Istanbul and Ankara, as well as European charter flightsThere are two main harbours in the town. Cruise ships arrive throughout the year, and there are sailings to the Greek island of Sisam (Samos) with daily departures between April 1 and October 20. In the new yacht harbour – the largest and best-equipped northwest of Marmaris with a capacity of 650 – the Blue Voyage boats organise regular excursions.