I flew on Pegasus Airlines. (I’ll digress for a minute with a sad story. Keanna and I naively booked a 1:25am flight because we thought it was in the afternoon. Turkey uses military time, so the fact that we converted 01:25 to 13:25 is comical in itself. We had to pay extra to change the flight time. The moral of the story? Know how to tell time when you book a flight.) Pegasus is a pretty clutch airline, so I’ll be using it a lot more in the future.
To Hierapolis and Pamukkale:
I took an 8am train from the station in Izmir to Denizli. It took about four hours to get there, so I wouldn’t recommend planning anything else for the day. Tickets were cheap, and the ride was comfortable. In Denizli, you walk across the street to the bus station and take a minibus (not a big tour bus) to the north end of the archaeological site. This site can help.
To go back to the train station, you can take a taxi or hang around the entrance for another minibus to come by. My roommate and I weren’t really too sure what to do, honestly… We missed the last train for Denizli to Izmir, so we took a Pamukkale bus back. The ride took about the same amount of time, and they also served free drinks and snacks. However, the bus station in Izmir isn’t as centrally-located as the train station.
To Mary’s House and Ephesus:
I honestly don’t recommend going to Mary’s house unless you’re very religious or with a tour group. The house is waaaaay up in the mountains, so walking is out of the question. Since we weren’t a part of a guided tour, the only option my roommate and I had was to go by taxi. It was so expensive. Overall, Mary’s house is underwhelming.
However, taking a taxi to Ephesus is worth it. It ended up being around 70 Turkish lira roundtrip, which seems like a lot but isn’t if you have American dollars and/or go with more than one person.
This was the most arduous part of the trip. From Izmir, take the metro to the Fahrettin Altay stop. There will be a small bus station with buses to Çeşme, a small town on the edge of Turkey. The bus ride was about an hour. From the bus station in Çeşme (make sure you let the bus driver know that’s where you want to get off), you can catch a ferry to Chios. The ferries only leave early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
I hope this helps a little bit!