Daytrips from Selcuk

4 Day trips from Selçuk by dolmuş

When it comes to planning my travel itinerary, having a variety of experiences is on top of my list. I can only take so many days at the beach before I need to do something cultural. Just as I can only be in the city so long before I need some slow paced village time. And vice versa.

That’s why Selçuk makes a great base to stay for a few days. The day trip possibilities are varied and you won’t have the same type of experience twice! (Unless you choose to do so)

 

What type of experience do you want to have?

Visiting a sleepy, scenic wine-producing village? Go to Şirince.
Shopping in a glitzy marina town? Check out Kuşadası.
Enjoying a quiet beach day close to town? Try Pamucak.
Feeling the buzz of a modern city on the coast with ancient ruins and an authentic Turkish bazaar? Take a trip to Izmir.

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Şirince (the Village experience)

A stay in Selçuk is not complete without taking a day trip to the scenic mountain village of Şirince (pronounced sher-een-jay). Şirince is a traditional village located on top of mountains dotted by peach trees and olive groves, known for producing its famous fruit wines.

The village’s name has an interesting story behind it. It is said that after Ephesus was abandoned, some remaining Greeks inhabited the town and named it “Çirkince” which means “ugly” in Turkish. In doing so, they hoped to keep others from coming there. This plan worked for a while, until, in 1926 the governor if Izmir changed its name to the more fitting “Şirince”, which means “pretty”.

A different view of Şirince

THINGS TO DO

1. Immerse yourself in village life by walking around the pretty cobbled streets

Explore the cute, narrow streets and take lots of photos! Around every corner there is something calling for your camera’s attention – natural landscapes, hidden courtyards, gorgeous flower gardens, crumbling buildings and picturesque corners. You’ll have lots of shots to share with your friends.

Sirince
Indie Tip: The scenic streets mostly involve uphill walks. Make sure you wear good walking shoes as some of the cobbles are cracked or loose.

Village street in Şirince

2. Buy some local herbs and handicrafts

In the numerous shops that run along the main street you can buy souvenirs like handmade soaps, traditional lace, olive oils, mastic paste (the only place in Turkey that produces it) and pomegranate syrups made by the locals.

If you need some spice in your life, you’ll also find fresh herb and spice shops along the main drag. The friendly vendors will also let you sample before you buy.

Şirince herb shop

Herb dealer in Şirince

Looking for something even more authentic? Local village women line the streets selling traditional handicrafts such as lace, felt items and headbands made of fresh flowers, which are a big hit with visitors.

Şirince village crafts

Felt crafts

Sirince

Beautiful handmade flower headbands for sale

3.  Have a traditional Köy Kahvaltısı experience

Eating Köy Kahvaltısı, or a village breakfast, is something not to be missed! A village breakfast is comprised of many small plates of a variety of foods that seem to go on for days! Omelets, hot and cold dips, stuff grape leaves, salads, marmalades and deserts make up the spread. When all was said and done, I believe I counted 25 plates!

Şirince village breakfast

A very tasty Village Breakfast

The meal is shared family style and is accompanied with unlimited pots of tea and fresh bread. Served up until early afternoon, this is a great way to spend a few hours, relaxing, eating great food and enjoying beautiful scenery while experiencing village culture through food.

You can find Köy Kahvaltısı at almost every restaurant in Şirince. Be choosy with where you go – ask if they have rooftop seating so you can enjoy your meal surrounded by sweeping mountain and village views.

4. Taste a variety of the villages famous fruit wines

The town is famous for making fruit wines in flavors such as cherry, pomegranate, mulberry, raspberry, and quince. You can walk into any of the wine shops on the main street in town and sample as many flavors as you want for free. Some of the cheaper brands taste grossly reminiscent of the artificial cough syrup from my childhood, but the more expensive brands taste a bit better.

Try a few different places until you find the wine you like, as the shops sell different brands. 

Şirince Wine Shop

But don’t over sample the wines or you may end up like this guy!

HOW TO GET HERE: The ride is about 40 minutes up through hills carpeted with peach trees and olive groves. The dolmuş will leave you at the beginning of the village on the main street. (Stay on the dolmuş until the final stop.) Dolmuşes leave Şirince frequently as well. Check the schedule in the dolmuş or at the Şirince bus stop.

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Kuşadası (the glitzy marina town)

Kuşadası is a fun little place with a city beach and a bar street (if you like to party). It’s the 4th busiest cruise port in the Mediterranean and known for it’s glitzy marina and expensive shopping. In the shops near the marina you can buy high quality leather goods, Turkish carpets and lots of jewelry.

Kuşadası, Poseidon statue

If overpriced goods aren’t your thing (they’re not mine either) there are some other cool things to do in town. 

1. Have a coffee at the harbor front café 

Kuşadası harbor front cafe

Kuşadası harbor front cafe

2. Enjoy a stroll in the waterfront park

Kuşadası park

3. Check out the city beach

But swim at your own risk – I’ve heard from locals that it’s not so clean here because the hotels that line the waterfront sometimes have sewage issues which affect the water here.

Kusadasi city beach

4. Talk a sea side stroll around the marina

Kusadasi

Kuşadası

Kuşadası Marina Walk

Cool walking paths 

5. Check out the Wednesday market

There is a big Pazar on Wednesdays right where the dolmuş from Selçuk will leave you. Here you will find cheap clothing, knock off products, cheaper leather goods and fresh fruit and vegetables.

HOW TO GET HERE: The dolmuşes for Kuşadası wait at Selçuk’s bus station on the right hand side (facing the ticket desks) and they depart about every 30 minutes.

Indie Tip: On the way back to Selçuk sit on the right side of the dolmuş to get a view of the Efes Theater.

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Pamucak (the beach getaway)

Looking for a quick beach getaway? Pamucak beach is just 15 minutes away by dolmuş.

There is a tourist resort hotel on the beach that has it’s own private beach, but the rest of the beach is public and free to use. The public part is big enough where I’ve never seen it crowded. Pamucak’s close proximity to Selçuk makes it the perfect place for some relaxation time, especially if that time is limited.

Get some sun, have a swim or spread out on its glittering gold sands and have a picnic lunch! Drinks can be bought at the hotel or, if you want to do as Indie Chick does, save money and bring your own!

Pamucak beach

Pamucak Beach

HOW TO GET HERE: The dolmuşes for Pamucak leave from the left side (if you are facing the ticket desks) of Selçuk’s bus station. The ride is about 15-20 minutes and they leave very frequently – about every 15 minutes in high season. The bus stop is in a parking lot with a bunch of trees. This is a parking lot for a tourist resort that you have to walk through to get to the beach.

Indie Tip: On the way back to Selçuk sit on the right side of the dolmuş to get a view of the Efes Theater.

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Izmir (the city experience)

If the quiet, slow pace of small town life is leaving you jonesing for some big city movement, take a trip to Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey. 

THINGS TO DO

1. Konak Square

Most of your time will be spent in and around Konak Meydan (square), the heart of the  buzzing city. 

Konak Meydan, Izmir

Konak Meydan

This square houses historic and government buildings and is a main transportation hub.

Izmir
In the middle of the square sits Izmir’s famous Ottoman clock tower, saat kulesi. It was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sultan Abdülhamit II’s coronation and has grown to become the symbol of the city.

Izmir

Across from the clock tower is Yalı Camii, also known as the Konak Mosque and is another Izmir landmark.  

Izmir

2. Visit Smyrna’s ancient agora

Smyrna is Izmir’s ancient name. It was originally founded by the Greeks and went on to become one of the three most important cities in the ancient Eastern Roman Empire.  

Evidence of this can be seen in the ruins of the ancient Agora. It was built for Alexander the Great and destroyed by an earthquake in 178 AD. It was then subsequently rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor.  

Izmir Agora

Photo by Carole Raddato from Frankfurt, Germany, [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Get lost in the labyrinth of the lively Kemeraltı market

Similar to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul but without the touristy kitsch, the 17th century bazaar runs from Konak Square all the way to the Agora.

The buzzing narrow streets are crowded with restaurants, shops, mosques, artisans and vendors selling a variety of things from food, water pipes, wedding dresses, musical instruments, jewelry and cheap clothing.

4. Stroll along the seafront to the Alsancak neighborhood

Alsancak, Konak’s pretty little neighbor, was made for strolling. This area is great for modern shopping and has a variety of restaurants, bars, Starbucks and is the focus of Izmir’s nightlife.

Izmir pier

Hanging out at Izmir pier

HOW TO GET HERE: As mentioned in my last post, I recommend taking the train here instead of the dolmuş. I’ve included it in this post because you can take a dolmuş to Izmir as well but it will leave you at Izmir’s otogar (bus station), which is far from the center. You will then have to take a taxi or a city bus to the center.

BY TRAIN: I prefer to take the train because it will leave you close enough to walk to Konak and the main sights. Basmane is the name of the train station you will be getting off at. You can take the Metro from here to Konak, or walk. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the Konak area. If you’re not short on time, I would recommend walking, this way you get to experience more of the city.

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