Getting from Istanbul to Ephesus
Ephesus (Turkish: Efes) is one of Turkey’s major tourist attractions. It was a Greek town, later conquered by the Romans and which gained its popularity thanks to being home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is one of the best preserved Roman Mediterranean cities in Turkey.
Ephesus is located near present-day Selcuk in the Izmir Province. The closest airport to Ephesus is İzmir Adnan Menderes International Airport (ADB). The closest railway station and bus terminal are also in Izmir.
The hassle-free and affordable way to get from Istanbul to Ephesus is by bus to Selcuk and then on foot to the ruins. But the travel time is long (11h) and in case you are in a hurry there’s always the plane. The flight time is 1h and from Izmir airport there’s a train service all the way to Selcuk. And it’s not that expensive to fly, either.
Flights from Istanbul (airport code: IST) to Ephesus
The closest airport to Ephesus is İzmir Adnan Menderes International Airport (ADB), located about 18 km from the city center of Izmir and 60 km from the archeological site of Ephesus. The airport is hub for IZair, SunExpress and Onur Air.
Istanbul is served by two airports, both handling flights to/from Izmir:
- Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST): it is the main airport serving Istanbul and is located 20 km from the city center on the European side of the city. It is Europe’s eighth busiest airport and a hub for: Atlasjet, Onur Air and Turkish Airlines. Flights to/from Izmir are operated by AtlasJet, Onur Air, IZAir and Turkish Airlines.
- Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) : it is the second airport serving Istanbul, located on the Asian side, much further from the city center. It is the airport preferred by the low cost carriers. Flights to/from Izmir are operated by Pegasus Airlines, IZAir, Sky Airlines, SunExpress and Turkish Airlines (AnadoluJet).
It is slightly cheaper to fly to Izmir from SAW (€22 one way on Pegasus) than from Ataturk (€25 one way on Onur Air) in mid-April 2012. The flight time is about the same , though (1h to 1h 5 min). By mid-June 2012, the prices are about the same (€28 one way on AtlasJet from IST; €30 one way on AnadoluJet from SAW).
Once in Izmir, you can either rent a car and drive to Ephesus or take the train to Selçuk. There are six trains per day, departing from Izmir train station and from the Airport train station. The travel time to Selçuk is 1 h (from the airport).
Buses from Istanbul to Ephesus
Metro Turzim is one of the companies operating buses from Istanbul’s Büyük Otogar (main bus terminal) to Selcuk’s bus terminal, the closest bus terminal to Ephesus. There are two buses per day departing Istanbul at 9:30 p.m and 11:30 p.m. The travel time is 11 h. The fare is either 58 Turkish Lira / €24.50 or 65 Turkish Lira / €27.40, depending on the type of ticket.
Once in Selcuk you can walk the 4 km to the ruins.
>>read more about Bus Travel in Turkey
Trains from Istanbul to Ephesus
The train station for Ephesus is Selcuk. The ruins are within walking distance of Selcuk (about 4 km). But there isn’t a direct link from Istanbul to Selcuk and you need to change trains in Izmir.
1) Istanbul to Izmir by train, with a stop in Eskisehir: the express trains depart Istanbul at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and the total travel time is 19 hours. From Istanbul to Eskisehir the fare is 20 Turkish Lira (€8.40) and from Eskisehir to Izmir it’s another 21 Turkish Lira (€9).
2) Izmir to Selcuk by train: there are six trains departing Izmir each day (first at 8:09 a.m. and the last at 7:10 p.m.). The travel time is about 1h 20 min. You can check the timetable and fares here (requires a username/password).
>>read more about Train Travel in Turkey
Driving from Istanbul to Ephesus
You can rent a car and drive from Istanbul to Selcuk, but plan to walk from the city to the ruins. The driving distance is 629 km on D565 and can be covered in about 8 ½ h. But make sure to plan some stops along the way.