Top 5 Turkish Ports for Shore Excursions

Ephesus, Cappadocia, Istanbul… the names rise up from the tongue as if smoke from an ancient scroll. For centuries the allure of Turkey’s unique blend of east and west has drawn travelers to its shores. Surrounded on three sides by water, one of the best ways to explore the subcontinent is by sea. Azamara Club Cruises, among others, offers shore excursions that highlight the old world beauty of Turkey. Read on for some of the more popular ports:


Of course there is no city quite like Istanbul, an enchanting landscape of ancient and modern, old and new, brief and long-lasting. Sailings often begin or end in Istanbul, allowing for extra 2-3 days spent in the city. Use your time to enjoy a traditional Turkish Dinner & Show, see the Whirling Dervishes, explore the Blue Mosque or take a guided Jewish walking tour.


flickr creative commons (c) nic trott

Izmir & Kusadasi

Cruise ships visit Izmir or Kusadasi all year long, the main attraction being the proximity to Ephesus, an ancient pilgrimage site. Here travelers can visit the House of Virgin Mary, the Basilica of St. John and the Temple of Artemis. Most ships will dock for up to 9 hours, allowing ample time to see the sights. With a population of more than 250,000 Ephesus was the second largest city of the ancient world, and you can feel the immense history wandering around Odeon, Celsus Library, Fountain of Trajan, and Great Theater.


The port of Mamaris is surrounded by ancient sites that date back thousands of years. Tour the ruins of Caunos and Knidos, the white, cascading pools of Pamukkale or the golden sands and transparent waters of Cleopatra’s Island.


The port of Bodrum is the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, famed as the birthplace of Herodotus, the “Father of History.” You can explore the 4th century Mausoleum or St. Peter’s Castle, an old fortress that is slowly transforming in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

flickr creative commons (c) ylimaz oevuenc

flickr creative commons (c) ylimaz oevuenc


Fethiye is most popular for its exquisite beaches and blue waters, but there are also sites for history-buffs to enjoy. Walk through downtown Fethiye, stop for souvenirs at the Fethiye Market, or if you have time visit Karmylassos, the neighboring ghost town.

Our agents carefully match clients to the cruise line, cruise ship, and itinerary best suited to them. And we don’t stop there.  We can counsel on shore excursions, activities before and after your cruise; every facet of your wonderful adventure.  Cruise lines are not the only source for port excursions. We give you tools to compare options from independent excursion companies like Shore Trips (find their link on our website) with the ship’s offerings. 

Wish to explore Turkey by land instead? Willamette Intl Travel works closely with our on-the-ground experts in Melitour. Meli is from Turkey but currently lives in Seattle, and her team of professional and qualified guides come highly recommended. Please call us for more details on her tours: 503-224-0180 or email 

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