The popular resort town of Marmaris effortlessly combines old and new: from the pretty harbour overlooked by the 16th century Ottoman castle, to the stylish marina area. The traditional fishing harbour is lined with bars and restaurants, the twisting alleyways in the old town reveal bazaars and Turkish traders and the powdery beaches are popular with couples and families alike. Marmaris is also one of the cheapest world destinations!
Explore Marmaris Harbour
The town of Marmaris grew from a traditional fishing village, like many other destinations in Turkey. A stroll down to the harbour today reveals authentic wooden-hulled yachts, sail boats and traditional fishing boats, alongside ocean going yachts worth around 10 million USD! It’s a real town of contrasts where the new and old rub along quite nicely.
Wander the ancient Castle
Marmaris is overlooked by the small, but very well preserved castle. It was built initially by the Ionians (1044 BC) but the majority of the structure today dates from the Alexander the Great era. This is the site where the attack on Rhodes was lead by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1522 by some 200,000 amassed troops. Today the castle is home to a small museum, mainly focussed on local history with seven galleries featuring nautical, archaeology and ethnography exhibits and a small art gallery. Extensive renovation work wince 1979 has returned the castle to its former glory and the gardens are planted with seasonal flowers such as bougainvillea. The castle offers superb views out over the town below, the marina and the glistening sea along the Turkish Riviera.
Hike the Marmaris Mountains
The town itself is located within two transecting mountains which provides an excellent opportunity for hiking. The best way to explore the local area is to take a jeep safari along the narrow meandering roads, up into the pine forested mountains. Strap on your hiking boots and follow the trails passing small villages, serene lakes and spotting the local wildlife and birdlife. Stop and admire the views of the rolling Turkish hills below.
Try the watersports on offer
As you’d expect, Marmaris offers an exciting array of watersports from its two major marinas, as well as several smaller marinas dotted along the coast. Due to its location at the meeting point of the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea, surfing, kayaking and kitesurfing are popular here. You can also try your hand at parasailing, scuba diving and jet skiing.
Explore beautiful Cleopatra Island
Marmaris has more than its fair share of superb beaches, such as Uzunyali Beach, aka Long Beach, which is located beside the Marmaris Folk and which stretch for a very impressive 10km, until it meets with Icmeler along the coast. But for a change of scene, take a day boat trip onboard a traditional gulet (Turkish wooden sailing boat) over to the beautiful Cleopatra Island, aka Sedir Island which has stunning golden sandy beaches and remains of the ancient city of Cedrae. Explore the remains of the city walls, the ancient theatre ruins and the Roman ruins in the east. Here there is also an agora (assembly) with carefully preserved epigraphs. The island takes its name from the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, who according to legend, swam here.
As well as swimming, snorkelling and lazing in the sun, Cleopatra Island is also the only location within the Mediterranean to observe Sandbar sharks, where they congregate to breed each May to June. Watch the YouTube video below for a taster of Cleopatra Island:
Cool off at the water parks
Take time to chill out at one of the two aqua and water parks, which is definately one of the cooler thigs to do in Marmaris. Kids and adults alike will appreciated the water chutes, bumper boats and exciting water-based rides. The biggest and most popular park is the Aqua Dream Water Park and the smaller is the Atlantis Water Park. The Aqua Dream Water Park has a rafting slide, kamikaze slide and wave pool. Atlantis has a wild river, black hole and space bowl.
Haggle your heart out at the Marmaris Grand Bazaar
If you fancy a spot of shopping, then prepare to get into full-on haggling mode at the Grand Bazaar, located in the heart of Marmaris’ Old Town. Thousands of shoppers pack the narrow lanes which are lined with traders selling jewellery, Turkish rugs, spices, fashions and accessories, souvenirs and some authentic Turkish foods and sweets, such as the ubiquitous Turkish delight.
Image Credit; Mstyslav Chernov