Independent transportation to Ephesus from Izmir wasn’t very clear when I first researched my trip. This is likely because many Izmir trains and routes are brand new (so no help from Google maps). And also because many who visit Ephesus, arrive by tour buses or car rentals. So if you’re a solo and/or more budget-conscious traveler, you’re probably scratching your head wondering exactly how to get to Ephesus by train or bus. Moreover, since English isn’t as widely spoken throughout Turkey, it can be difficult to communicate with train attendees or fellow passengers to figure out exactly which train to take and where to take the dolmus (bus) transfer. The good news is that I JUST came back from a successful and easy train + bus solo trip to Ephesus. And since I didn’t find anything on Google, I’ve decided to put together a quick step-by-step guide to help others travel to Ephesus from Izmir.
Oh, and the best part? It costs 11 liras each way! Which is less than $2 USD.
How to Travel from Izmir to Ephesus
Step 1: Train to Ephesus / Selcuk
First, head to the Basmane train railway station located in central downtown Izmir. Here, you’re going to take the Basmane-Denizili train to the town of Selcuk, which is just 4 km (2.5 miles) from Ephesus. You’ll see different trains (including the underground metro) but the one to Selcuk is the railway trains that are above ground. Don’t go down any steps and you’ll easily find it.
Approach the main wooden booth and ask the representative for “train to Selcuk” (pronounced sell-chook). They likely will not speak much English but will understand “sell-chook” and will tell you next time it departs.
2021 UPDATED Schedule: When I went in 2019, the trains departed from Izmir to Ephesus approximately every hour; and I was not able to find an exact schedule posted anywhere. However, our reader Will Hooton was kind enough to send us an updated 2021 schedule (thank you)! It is now much more limited and could change again due to the pandemic restrictions. So try to get there early to be sure you’re getting on the right train and to snag a good seat! If you have to wait a while for the next train, you can always grab some orange juice, baklava, or even a nice plate of food. Prices are very reasonable in the many establishments located just seconds away.
- Cost: 7.50 lira – They accept cash and credit cards.
- Which Train: Since these trains are new, they are not on Google Maps yet. There is also no sign that says which of the 3-ish trains sitting outside goes where. So what I did was ask about 7 different people beforehand to be certain. I pointed to the train and asked “sell-chook?” to which everyone nodded and repeated “sell-chook!”
- Important Turkish words to know: Evet = yes; Yok hayir = no
Step 2: Enjoy the Beautiful & Local Train Ride
The train stops maybe 5 times before arriving at Selcuk. It’s relatively express and skips over many train stations. The views are stunning, reminiscent of Tuscany or the wine country in the south of France. You can grab a seat with a table and enjoy the gorgeous sights of olive-green rolling hills and valleys.
Culture: You’ll have the opportunity to people watch and take in the local culture. Turkish families and friends hop on and off. People were very friendly and helpful. You’ll even get the chance to try a Turkish bagel or yogurt from a local vendor who passes through selling each for less than 20 US cents (1.5 lira each).
Duration: The train took about 80 minutes to arrive. It left at exactly 1:42 PM and arrived close to 2:00 PM.
Bathroom: There is a bathroom on board between carts. It was clean and had TP!
Quality: The train is spotlessly clean, modern, and efficient.
Step 3: Walk to the Selcuk Bus Station
A dolmus in Turkey is a shared minivan or minibus taxi that picks up and drops off people along a certain route. The dolmus/bus station in Selcuk is located about 5 minutes walking from the train station. Download maps.me to have an offline map of Selcuk, so that you can easily walk there. Or ask someone to point you towards the Ephesus (or Efes) dolmus/bus. If they don’t speak English ask: “Efes dolmus?” They refer to Ephesus as “Efes” here.
Related Blog Post: Top 9 Istanbul Highlight Experiences & 2 Things to Skip.
Step 4: Take the Bus from Selcuk to Ephesus aka Efes
Once you arrive at the bus station, pay the attendee 3.5 liras and wait for your bus to arrive/fill up to leave. The bus ride is less than 5 minutes long. You’ll know it’s your stop because the bus driver should yell “EFES”. Otherwise, look out for the first stop at a big parking lot full of tourists.
Et voila, just like that you’re at the entrance of Ephesus!
Now you know how to get from Izmir to Ephesus! When you arrive at Selcuk train station, ask the train station booth operator for the train times. She wrote down the rest of day’s the time schedule on a post-it note for me.
- Total time: about 2 hours to arrive. If you want to save about 20-30 minutes, you can always just grab a taxi directly from the train station.
- Note: There are two entrances to Ephesus. The one the dolmus/bus drops you off at is the one closest to the two major attractions: the library and the grand theatre.
Guided Tours & Transfers from Izmir
If you’d prefer to travel with a guide, then consider one of these private/group tours from Izmir to Ephesus. They include transfers from Izmir to Ephesus (and back), so you don’t have to worry about the trains or buses.
- You could opt for this guided tour that’ll pick you up from your hotel or the airport in Izmir. They will take you to the House of the Virgin Mary and then continue onto Ephesus. You’ll have two hours to explore the city on your own before grabbing lunch in Selcuk. After lunch, you’ll be driven back to Izmir, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel or the airport. You can book this tour here.
- If you’re visiting Turkey as part of a cruise trip, then you should consider this Ephesus tour for cruisers. The tour guides will pick you up from the dock, and drop you back at the times that work for your cruise’s schedule. You’ll get to enjoy half a day of exploring Ephesus with skip-the-line tickets. You can book this tour here.
Turkey Multiday Tour + Ephesus
If you’d like to visit Ephesus and then experience more of what Turkey has to offer, you could consider booking a multi-day tour that includes some of our favorite places in Turkey: Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia.
This tour takes place over 5 days and includes all ground transfers, domestic flights, 4 nights’ accommodation, and some meals. During the tour, you’ll spend a full day visiting Ephesus and also get to see The House of the Virgin Mary, and the Ephesus Terrace Houses. You can book this tour here.
If you liked this, subscribe to check out my future travel guides. Up next read: Planning the Perfect Turkey Itinerary.
Our turkey blog posts
- 22 Things to Know Before You Travel to Turkey
- 10 Day Turkey Itinerary
- 19 Gorgeous Places to Visit in Turkey
- Izmir: 30 Things to Do in Turkey’s Second Largest City
19 thoughts on “How to Get From Izmir to Ephesus for $2 in Four Easy Steps | Transportation Guide”
Thank you ! You made my trip actually happen ☺️?
You are very welcome!
Great information. Due to covid. Tcdd trains are not operating at the moment
Thank you for the update! Is TCDD the train he mentions above that takes you to Selcuk?
Thank you. I saved a lot of kn et because of your advice
Done! Thank you!
I’m about to leave on this service in the next hour. Timetables have changed slightly. My service is now the 12.30 train.
Thanks a lot for this! Made this trip so easy and worthwhile👍👍
On the train to Selçuk right now! This step by step guide was a lifesaver for me. Thank you so much!
Many many THANKS, Isabelle!
I’m just back in Izmir (: and very happy about your information.
Would anyone know if these trains are going to be working in June 2022? Thanks!
The trains are running now in July 2022. In fact, I’m sitting in Selçuk waiting for the afternoon train back to Ismir Basmane. The earliest leaves Basmane at 7:10 am, but the next doesn’t leave until 10:45, so getting the early one is definitely the best option. Pro Tip, riding back from the Ephesus site back to Selçuk, ask the driver to drop you off at the (free) Artemis Temple site just at the edge of town. Only one pillar left of this former member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! It’s just a short walk back to town from there.
What an amazing 2022 update! Thank you so much, Adam! I can’t wait to be back soon.
Just posted some photos on Twitter! Thanks again, Isabelle, for sharing this great travel tip to reach a site that is not obvious to get to for us solo travelers, your write-up was invaluable to get there on my own. https://twitter.com/adamlouisross/status/1545790004043161601?s=12
As of Dec 2022, the train departs at 0705 instead of 0710. Thanks for the guide 🙂 writing this otw to Selçuk
hi! thanks for the info.
note: where you say the time for the journey in the piece you show 1:42 -> 2.00 and say 80 minutes. i guess one of these is a typo?
Thanks a bunch! Went today and Efes was absolutely beautiful. Schedule is a bit tighter at the moment, and prices have gone up a bit(although the Lira has gone down, so for foreigners it will be about the same). The times and prices given on http://www.rome2rio.com matched the ones one the station!