The popular Turkish package holiday resort of Marmaris has been a favourite holiday destination for visitors from colder climes since the 1980’s. Formerly a small fishing village, the town now draws 200,000 tourists during the summer high season and a high number during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn for its varied attractions and famous yacht-racing events and festivals.
Its main draw is its selection of four attractive beaches, with Marmaris Beach set fronting the promenade and most of the Marmaris city centre hotels. Man-made, its stretch of golden sand is crowded with visitors every summer, relaxing on the lounges and sheltering from the hot sun under colourful umbrellas. Water sports are a favourite occupation and include parasailing, boat trips and jet skiing, with families enjoying the beach and its safe swimming for younger children.
Further along the coastline and located conveniently for the town’s shopping district is Icmelar Beach, also busy during the summer months, and nearby Gulmar beach is the quieter, less crowded option. For beach connoisseurs, a short journey outside town is the village of Dalyan with its superb Turtle Beach. Another watery attraction in town is the Atlantis Water Park, great fun for families with its slides, rides, wave pool, various swimming pools, games including mini-golf and bowling. A private beach, eateries and dedicated kids’ areas complete the picture.
The rugged coastline around the resort gives the perfect opportunity for yacht cruises along Marmaris Bay, taking in spectacular views of ruined historic cliff-top cities and watery caves. The trips are easy to arrange, with several companies offering all-day cruises with lunch and refreshments included. The region is famous for its upscale yacht-racing events, with Marmaris Marina crammed with expensive boats, especially ion April and May for two popular races, and the international yachting fraternity enjoys the resort as much as its budget visitors.
The first settlements here were made 4,000 years ago, and the charming Old Town is a heritage site in its own right, with 16th century Marmaris Castle the last of many set on the same site, protecting the inland areas from pirates and other raiders for thousands of years. Surrounding the castle are narrow, winding alleyways lined with ancient buildings now serving as shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, with the carefully-restored fortification itself now a fascinating archaeological museum holding artefacts from excavations in the region as well as traditional folk art and everyday items.
Many visitors choose to holiday here for the vibrant nightlife, with the town’s hi-tech music and dance clubs belting out the latest sounds till late. The appropriately-named Bar Street is given over to drinking in all its forms and another street holds nothing but dance clubs. For those who’ve overdone the night’s celebrations as well as for visitors wanting a genuine Turkish experience, the town’s Turkish Bath complex offers a Finnish sauna, hot room, body scrub, massages and a swimming pool, with the first floor home to a beauty centre with oil massages and other relaxing treatments.
Shopping in Marmaris is huge fun, with the daily street markets, bazaars and the open-all-hours Grand Bazaar competing for attention with shopping centres, malls and the shops in the Old Town and along the waterfront. Bargaining is an essential skill in the markets, soon learnt as there’s so much to see and buy. The famous Turkish wool carpets and rugs are a favourite souvenir, with olive-wood carvings a close second and many other handicrafts perfect for home décor. Jewellery is especially good here, as are leather goods, especially shoes and bags, and the eateries and food stalls give welcome refreshment during the day’s shopping expedition.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Marmaris City Centre Hotels content.