There are many towns and villages within easy traveling distance of Kusadasi, and all have their own identity and charm. If you have a car or have hired one, traveling round the smaller roads to the different villages is a great way to discover more about the less touristy side of Turkey.
Most of these villages have remained virtually unchanged over the years – except for the advent of mobile phones and satellite dishes which seem to be everywhere in the world. You can also go on the dolmus as there is a dolmus to every location, but a car is probably easier unless you want to visit just one specific village.
The style of the houses, the warm and friendly welcome of the people, and the slower pace of life act as a reminder to savour daily life, not rush through it like it’s a race. ..
Soke is a busy market town and is close to Priene (an ancient site) on the road to Bodrum. Soke market is a big one, and the town is not especially touristy so there are not as many people here who speak English, but it is a great place to soak up atmosphere and snap up a bargain.
There are also outlet shops for well known textile brands such as Lee Cooper along the road leading out of Soke, and trip companies in Kusadasi have regular trips which can take you “outlet shopping” These are big, big shops full of all types of clothing and textiles.
The plains around Soke are covered in cotton fields, hence the location of the outlets. It only takes about 30 minutes to travel to Soke so a trip there can be as little as half a day if you haven’t much time.
Selcuk is very close to Ephesus, and together with its sister town Tire, boasts a very big Saturday market. Not only will you see normal market goods on sale here but also lots of handmade craft items and some unusual souvenirs, as villagers from the surrounding area sell their wares at this large market. You can easily catch a Selcuk dolmus to go and explore the town which also has a castle high on the hill.
The name Kirazli Koy means “Cherry Village” and that is exactly what Kirazli is most famous for, its cherry production. The land around the village is said to be so fertile that if you drop a seed, a plant will grow untended. The village is nestled in a valley between the mountain ranges which lead to Soke on the one side, and Selcuk and Ephesus on the other. Because of its protected location, the village has slightly cooler temperatures even in the heat of the summer, making it easier to walk around and enjoy the superb scenery. The area is popular with local climbers and hikers, who prize the area for its un-spoilt and natural views and vistas.
The village itself is quite small and the people very friendly. There are cafes, tea houses and a few restaurants which open in the summer months. On Sundays the village hosts an “eco market” where villagers sell locally produced products such as olive oil, olive oil soaps, (very good for soft skin) handicrafts, hand-made lace made on small triangular hand bobbins, fruit, vegetables and of course – their famous cherries.
If you want to visit Kirazli by dolmus, catch a dolmus which has “Aydin” and “Kirazli” written on the side. There are regular dolmus throughout the year, and the landscape you will see on the way is enthralling too.
Caferli is a small village located up a winding road just before you reach Davutlar. It is said that two brothers – Cafer and David – came and settled in this area hundreds of years ago and that David started the village which became Davutlar, while Cafer founded Caferli. Caferli remains pretty much the same as it would have been back then when its first houses were constructed. It is a pretty, elevated village with beautiful views across pastureland and orchards and the distant sea. It is incredibly peaceful and green. You can reach Caferli on the Davutlar dolmus, where you will have to walk from the turn off to the small road, but it’s worth the climb for the view alone.
This village is known as “Green Village” and just one visit will show you why. It is tucked away in the hills to the left of Davutlar town, on a road which eventually brings you down into the market town of Soke. We found it quite by accident one day, and instantly fell in love. The village itself is small and has very traditional houses.
The road is excellent and well cared for, and after the village you drive along the mountain overlooking a gorge and the mountains to the opposite side with scarcely a house in sight. Those which are there are tiny little places tucked away among a forest of trees. When you get to the end of the road you join the main arterial road to Soke. If you turn round and return to Davutlar, first you will see the magnificent forested mountains and gorge , and as you crest the mountain, you will have a panoramic view of Davutlar, all of Long Beach and the beautiful Aegean sparkling in the distance.
You can catch a Soke dolmus from Davutlar centre that will take you on this route, but you may prefer to go by car so you can stop and take pictures of this wonderfully unspoilt secret hideaway.
Camlik – on the old Aydin road heading out of Kusadasi – has something to delight children who are fans of Thomas the Tank Engine, and any train mad dads for that matter! Camlik has a train museum where visitors can not only admire the trains, but are actually allowed to clamber on board and use their imaginations. As well as trains and other railway paraphernalia there is a special railway carriage which was used by Ataturk on his travels across Turkey. For Camlik, get an Aydin dolmus which also has Camlik written on the side.
There are lots of other villages and towns to explore; this is just a few to get you started.