Last Updated August, 2020
Three weeks ago we left Istanbul to move to Bodrum for the summer. But instead of flying, we decided to rent a car and have a mini road trip, making stops along the way and spending a couple of nights in a few lesser-visited destinations on the Aegean coast of Turkey. One of those destinations was Sirince village, a small cute settlement built away in the mountains and surrounded by olive and tangerine trees.
Those who have heard about Sirince know that it is famous for fruit wines (which are pretty unique in its nature), Greek-style architecture, hospitable Aegean people, and panoramic views. But to be honest, there is much more about it.
If I had to give my own description of Sirince in a few words, I’d say that besides wine cellars, views and pretty houses, this village has amazing spices, knitted clothes, charming bed & breakfasts, incredible olive oil soap, good old-fashioned Turkish food, beautiful locally made hand-made souvenirs and much, much more. Below, I include my own list of things to do in Sirince to give you an idea of what exactly to expect there.
Getting to Sirince Village From Kuşadası and Izmir – Quick Overview & Tips
We reached Sirince by car but you don’t really need to drive in order to get there.
The village of Sirince is located 12 kilometers from Ephesus (which is modern Selcuk), 30 kilometers from Kusadasi, and 82 km from Izmir at an altitude of about 400 meters above sea level. Arriving here by public transportation is quite easy. And, you can visit not only from Kuşadası but all the way from Izmir.
In Selcuk, right in the center of the town, there is the only bus station. From there you can leave to (and arrive from) Sirince, Ephesus, and Kusadasi. The first 2 destinations are within a 20-minute dolmus (share taxi) ride while getting to Kuşadası takes a bit longer. Dolmuses in any direction run frequently. The road From Selçuk to Sirince is very picturesque. It winds along the river up into the mountains offering fantastic views.
If you are thinking to visit Sirince from Izmir using public transportation, be ready that it will take more time. But it’s also not that difficult to do. So, from Izmir, you need to take a bus or train to Selçuk. Taking a train is a much better option since you avoid being stuck in traffic and it actually costs less. Trains from Izmir to Selcuk depart from Basmane train station. See the schedule and prices here.
What to Do in Sirince?
When we were approaching Sirince, we planned to spend there a couple of hours only, knowing precisely that we wanted to see St. John the Baptist Church, try and buy wine, stop for lunch and of course take a dozen Instagram worthy photos.
But then surprisingly, instead of a couple of hours, we spent almost the entire day and left because we had to be in Bodrum before the night.
I guess the reason we slowed down in Sirince was its atmosphere and amount of things to do. Being a small village with only 600 inhabitants and one main narrow street that goes in a loop, Sirince offers much more than the majority of other villages of this size.
Once you arrive, a delicious scent of homemade wine welcomes you in. Old Greek houses where Greeks once lived mixed with Turkish elements, give an excellent example of Greek-Turkish architecture. A lot of these pretty homes operate as B&B and if you wish, you can rent a cozy room with all the amenities for a comfortable stay.
With a high number of cool restaurants and family-owned cafes, you should plan a stop for a meal even if visiting Sirince for a few hours only. After the meal, get lost among the colorful streets of the village and big market selling olive oil soap and creams (of excellent quality), spices, clothes, souvenirs, and various treats. It’s so easy to spend the whole day on walks around this tiny village.
When we arrived, one of the locals directed us towards the dilapidated Aziz Dimitrios church which is standing on the edge of a cliff and patiently awaiting restoration. And we were so glad we didn’t miss this place. I highly recommend you visit it too and pay attention to a couple of things.
First, this magnificent church, built by Greeks in the 17th century was dedicated to Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki, a martyr and a saint of the Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, and Armenian churches. Until this day, its walls have icons and religious paintings, murals of the apostles, and fine wood carvings. For many centuries the church was a starting point of a yearly pilgrimage to the House of Mary not far from the Ephesus.
Second, visit this place for the view and for a lovely outdoor cafe. Since the church was built on the edge of the hill, there is a gorgeous view of one part of the village and olive groves. Right next to the church, on the courtyard, you’ll see a pretty setting with carved chairs and tables. It’s a perfect spot for an early Turkish coffee, tea or lemonade, and some snacks. At the same time, the church’s vestibule serves as a fabulous spot to watch the sunset.
Some of the Coolest Sirince Village Tours
Sirince Wine Tasting
But the main goal of why the majority is visiting Sirince is wine shops. Sirince is famous for its fruit wine, which seems to be made from all the fruits and berries growing in local gardens. Apples, strawberries, tangerines, apricots, pomegranates, mulberry, currants… anything you can think of. Our favorite ones were melon, peach, and cherry wines. And in total, we tried around 15 different types.
You can pop in one of many stores for a free tasting and choose what you like the most. The alcohol percentage in this wine is small, from 6 to 10%, and tastes like very sweet juice. And by the way, compared to fruit wine sold in stores in big cities, wine in Sirince is cheaper. We paid 40 TL per bottle.
Some people say that the Greek Christians who once lived here were masters in the production of this wine. Others say that the Turkish Muslims who arrived here began this wine-making tradition themselves. No matter what the truth is, Sirince is truly a place where you can enjoy white, pink, red, dry, and sweet fruit wines.
Best Places for Tasting and Buying Fruit Wine in Sirince
There are quite a few stores in Sirince that sell wine. You can literally walk into any of them and receive a nice service and choose one of many wines. Owners of all places try to go above and beyond and wines are good everywhere. Yet, I’d like to highlight those shops that sit high on my list:
– KAPLANKAYA SARAP EVI
– HERA WINES
– PAPAZIN MAHZENI SARAP
– KILISE SARAP MAHNESI
– DEGIRMEN BOGAZI (right by the Ocakbasi restaurant where we took these 2 photos above. And where they also sell very good homemade pomegranate sauce).
Where to Eat in Sirince
The number of cafes in Sirince is unreal. Such a tiny village has so many places to eat. There are bigger restaurants with tables for more people and smaller street food like cafes near the bazaar. You definitely won’t be hungry here and you can find a place for your taste and budget.
I personally would love to recommend you a few places that sit high on my list. Things I considered when deciding on Sirince restaurant were reviews about the quality of food, location (I definitely didn’t want it to be the most obvious place where all tourists go), and the view.
Yes, the view.
We wanted to dine somewhere from where we could overlook snow-white houses with tiled roofs, perfectly inscribed in the mountain landscape.
You may stumble upon another place to eat in Sirince but take a look at the list of my recommended options:
Shiraz Hotel & Restaurant
I’ll start with my favorite one. It deserves 6 stars out of 5. It’s a family-owned bed & breakfast which also has a gorgeous big dining area from where you get that Sirince postcard view. Everything on their menu is fresh, homemade, and very delicious.
We ordered a few different dishes and my friends who recommended this place to us ate many times here and convinced us that this place alone was worth traveling here for.
By the way, a very friendly owner who speaks excellent English also showed us a few of his rooms for rent. If you are considering to stay overnight in Sirince, Shiraz hotel with traditional terrace houses that look Greek outside and Turkish inside has all you need. See my photos below and check here the availability and rates if you are interested.
Sirince Can Restaurant
Another beautiful restaurant with homemade Turkish food. While it’s not as fancy as the Shiraz restaurant mentioned above, you can expect a variety of well-cooked dishes here. There are two floors and the upper floor has a view of the village. But this view is very similar to the panorama you can get from the nearby church.
Here you can try pretty good zucchini dolma and Turkish coffee made in the sand. Turkish breakfast comes with unlimited tea.
Sirince Mustiyan Kahvecisi
What a nicely decorated cafe where you can try a well-made Turkish coffee! This place is really small and many people often miss it, although the location is very central. This is why even in the most touristy season you won’t find too many people here.
Do not come for the view because there is none. But come for the experience (where the coffee is made in front of you on the table), for friendly people and relaxation.
Keyfince Cafe Restoran
On the opposite side of the village, you’ll find one more family-owned restaurant with good food and ambiance. Turkish breakfast is served all day long and on weekends there is live music.
The main reason I added this restaurant to my list is the area where it is located and an extensive menu you’ll find here. There is a big choice of appetizers, salads, various olive based dishes, and grilled foods along with huge Turkish breakfasts.
Do not expect many views of the village but the location is still very scenic.
The main feature of this restaurant is a view. We tried the food here and it was average. The service was nice but nothing extraordinary. What is particularly delicious here is dolma, wrapped in delicate zucchini flowers and sweet pepper baked with feta cheese.
Many tour companies that bring group tours to Sirince often recommend this restaurant to their customers, so it may be busy. At any other time, if you don’t have much time in the village and want to try the best zucchini dolma with a nice view in the background, why not stop here!
What is the Best Sirince Village Tour?
There are many ways how to visit Sirince. You can go on your own, using public transportation, rent a car, buy a tour online in advance, or on spot in a hotel where you are staying in Kusadasi. A few companies also sell tours directly on the streets of Kusadasi and Selcuk.
We felt pretty happy reaching Sirince by car and then exploring it at our own pace. However, I did prior research and read lots of facts about this village and history. It was definitely helpful to understand where we were, not just look at pretty houses and take photos. So if you plan to go without a tour, I really want to encourage you to learn the historical part.
For the tour companies, most of them are pretty good since everyone is trying his best to get stellar reviews. Booking online in advance through a trusted company though like getyourguide or viator means that your money is safe and you can get it back in case of a change of plans.
GetYourGuide, for example, has more options with departure points from Kusadasi and Izmir. They also offer to combine a visit to Ephesus and Sirince. Viator offers a tour from the cruise ship but there are no decent options that would include a visit to Sirince Village.
The only tip I would like to give is to look for tours that offer at least a few hours in Sirince. Some companies offer a combined tour to Ephesus and Sirince with only an hour or so in the village. That’s not enough time.
As with the places to eat, Sirince also has a wide selection of hotels for any budget. But I’d like to share only 3 hotels with you where we considered staying. I saw photos of these hotels on Instagram a long time ago and put a checkmark on my google map for the future stay. They are all simply gorgeous, look very authentic, and offer the best quality and views.
Sihirbazin Evi – a fantastic budget-friendly hotel in the old building which was restored and today offers beautiful comfortable rooms, a lovely design, and a patio with panoramic views. The building is a traditional Greek mansion with an Ottoman-style interior. Breakfast is included in the price which is around $50 per night for a room for 2 people. Check prices and availability here.
Nisanyan Evleri Hotel – another midrange old-style hotel with incredibly beautiful cottage rooms, private and shared terraces, shared kitchen, free breakfast, and also wonderful views. It is located on the top of the hill facing the West, so it’s definitely an amazing sunset location. Check excellent reviews and photos of this cute B&B.
Shiraz Hotel – the one I mentioned above with the restaurant. The price is also very good and can even fit budget travelers. And the atmosphere and level of service here exceed all expectations. Rooms are very authentic and transfer you back in old times. Breakfast is also free. Check these reviews and photos to see for yourself.