If you get fed up of Istanbul and want to head for the coast, then Kuṣadasi is the place to go. At the moment there are many rooms for rent and you mainly pay for the room and not per person. However, for the cheap (and I mean cheap) hotels you do pay per person- in the middle of July 20 Turkish lira per night per person (10 euros). These places are no frills and no air con or fan, but it’s OK. I am staying at the Tṻrgut hotel which is just off the main street in old Kuṣadasi, next door to a live music bar. It’s a family run hotel and the owners do their best to please their guests.
You can get from Istanbul to Kuṣadasi on a night bus from Aksaray bus station, but can book a seat on any of several buses doing the trip from any of the tour agencies in Istanbul. Go to the one nearest your hotel as you will be picked up from there and taken to the bus station by a shuttle service which is included in the price. You will also get free refreshments on board, and perhaps you can sleep, although the bus stops approximately every two hours, and there is the ferry journey across the Bosporus to enjoy too. For 70 Tu rkish liras each the trip is a bargain although a flight was only 183 Turkish lira to Izmir. The problem with this is that you then have to get to the main bus station in Izmir to take a bus to another destination. Because of this it ends up being more expensive than it first seems. The same bus will take you to Bodrum too, a coastal resort which has the reputation of being the most liberal town in Turkey, full of “Bohemian” types.
Kuṣadasi is different to the place I knew and lived in more than twenty years ago, but I am still happy being here. The whole sea front has changed and what is now the “Fisherman’s café’ is a huge steps up market to the original which even an intrepid tourist might baulk at entering. However, as it is above the new fish market, the fish is well-cooked and fresh.
There are several other fish restaurants on the main harbor area and one place to avoid is Ali Baba- they didn’t produce a menu and although by European standards the price was reasonable for fish, it was horrendous for Kuṣadasi. The white wine had been out in the sun and was not served chilled and I had to ask the price because it seemed to be the only bottle on offer; it was Majestic and not to be recommended. Viola and Dikmen are good however, but probably not in that particular establishment.
One good place is Kis Kulesi where the waiters are attentive, but not pushy and there is free Wi-Fi, as there is in other café/restaurants in the harbor area, Kutos for example and the Black and White cafe. The Kis Kulesi is recommended, but the drawback is that you are not sitting by the sea, although it is visible through the fish mosaic. My slight problem with it is that the fish, including the small sardines come minus head and boned, but I understand some people don’t like to see fish heads on their plate.
The China Garden in the main street in the old part of Kuṣadasi is a disappointment. To begin with there is one (Turkish) chef who produces what seems to pass for Chinese, Indian and “Persian” cuisine (in the form of dhansak dishes). If you live in a place with good authentic Asian cuisines then don’t consider eating there, unless you have a passion for thickly sliced onions of which one indeterminate buffet dish seemed to consist of. Stock cubes were very much to the fore and meat was sadly lacking in all the buffet dishes. The buffet was 29 Turkish lira per adult although on Saturdays men could eat freely for 19 Turkish lira as could women on a Wednesday.
If you want to explore the ancient, Greek city of Ephesus, then Kusadasi is very close and tours on minibuses and larger coaches make it easily accessible. The temple of Diana at Selḉuk and the supposed house of the Virgin Mary is also very near.
Kusadasi has a lot to offer everyone, young and old alike- a good beach holiday can be had at the local beach, Kadinlar Plaji (Ladies beach) and the nightlife is in Kuṣadasi town and along the beach road. There is definitely something for everyone here, and at the moment the US dollar is hovering around 1.75 Turkish lira. The euro is approximately one euro to two Turkish lira. So what are you waiting for? One of the cheapest holidays is awaiting you in Kuṣadasi.