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A car is a plus for exploring this region, since it allows you to stop at picturesque towns and track down lesser-known ruins and less-crowded beaches. Except around Izmir, where heavy and hectic traffic requires serious concentration to keep you from getting lost, the highways are generally in good condition, the traffic fairly light, and the main attractions relatively close together. Distances are: Çanakkale to Bergama, 245 km (152 mi); Bergama to Izmir, 98 km (61 mi); Izmir to Ephesus, 79 km (49 mi); Ephesus to Bodrum, 172 km (107 mi).
Portions of the highway that runs down the Aegean coast can be beautiful, especially as you're approaching Çesme and Bodrum. Sometimes driving within the cities themselves can be tricky, especially in Bodrum, where many important turnoffs are unmarked and many winding roads are still undeveloped. There is a long stretch of multilane highway as you head south toward Bodrum, including the toll highway from Izmir to Çesme, but by the time you're within 100 mi of the city, single lanes going in every direction take over. Unfortunately, many people still drive as if this weren't the case, and it's common for drivers to pass, even during risky moments and around blind curves.
You're best off picking up a car once you get to the region. It's a long haul from Istanbul to Izmir—565 km (350 mi), an exhausting eight- or nine-hour drive. To make this trip, pick up Route 200 heading west toward Çanakkale. From there the E87 follows the coast south all the way to Kusadasi, where it turns inland toward Antalya. Route 525 continues along the coast, past Priene and Miletus; Route 330 branches off in Bodrum and connects with the main Mediterranean highways.
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