A cultural hub since its earliest beginnings, Kusadasi is one of Turkey’s most popular holiday resort towns. Here, sightseers discover a gateway to the historical landmarks of nearby ancient Ephesus, which once stood as the capital of Roman Asia Minor. Visitors can comb the excavated city’s Greco-Roman and Christian ruins, including the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, or pay a visit to St. Mary’s House, where the mother of Jesus lived out her final days.
The name means "pure Urfa" (Urfa is a city famed for its sizzling grilled meats), and the focus at this causal, 50-year-old spot is on kebabs and other meaty Turkish dishes, at slightly high but still reasonable prices. The comfortable surroundings, including a pleasant terrace, are just off Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi, the main thoroughfare (though there are no views). Alcohol is not served.
There aren't many sights in Kuşadası proper, but the causeway off Kadınlar Plajı (Women's Beach), just south of the harbor, connects the town to an old Genoese castle on Güvercin Adası (Pigeon Island). The fortress was once home to three Turkish brothers in the 16th century. These infamous pirates—Barbarossa, Oruc, and Hayrettin—pillaged the coasts of Spain and Italy and sold passengers and crews from captured ships into slavery in Algiers and Constantinople. Rather than fight them, Süleyman the Magnificent (ruled 1520–66) hired Hayrettin as his grand admiral and set him loose on enemies in the Mediterranean. The strategy worked: Hayrettin won victory after victory and was heaped with honors and riches. The castle is currently closed for restorations, though you can still have a nice stroll along the causeway.
Kuşadası's 300-year-old kervansaray, a short stroll from the cruise ship dock, is now the Hotel Club Kervansaray, It's loaded with Ottoman atmosphere and its (rather over-restored) public areas are worth a peek even if you're not staying here.