Marmaris is a port and beach resort in Lycia, along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. (The boundary of the Mediterranean with the Aegean is generally taken as the Datça peninsula just west.) The town straggles south to run into İçmeler, then the road crosses the mountains to Turunç. This extended township had a population of 95,851 in 2020; this more than doubles in tourist season.
Marmaris is part of the administrative province of Muğla. Public services such as local buses may be listed as if based in Muğla, and if your bag is stolen or you have an accident, that is where the police report will site the incident.
Two large peninsulas extend beyond Marmaris, like the claws of a lobster trying to grab a starfish:
- - Bozburun is south, the stubby bifurcated "crusher claw" of the lobster.
- - Datça is the 70 km-long narrow peninsula extending west, the "scissor claw".
- - Symi between the claws is a Greek island.
In antiquity this place was known as Physkos (Φύσκος to its Hellenistic inhabitants). It has a good natural harbour but is hemmed in by mountains, lacking a hinterland, so it never became a major port. Its hills were quarried for marble, hence "Marmaris", though never on the scale of the Marmara Islands closer to wealthy customers in Constantinople. Its invaders (Persians, Alexander the Great, Crusaders then Ottomans) made sure to keep the castle in good repair, but it was the port where you assembled your fleet and sailed on, rather than storming inland. Süleyman the Magnificent did so in preparation for his 1522 assault on Rhodes, a victory which ensured Ottoman control of the East Mediterranean. Horatio Nelson likewise was here in 1798, and Keith and Abercromby in 1801, before sailing on to eject Napoleon Bonaparte's troops from Egypt and the Levant, and tighten Britain's grip on that region.
In peacetime the town remained a small, sleepy commercial and fishing port. It was flattened by the double earthquake of 1957, with only the castle left standing. From the 1980s tourism developed along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey, and in 1989 Dalaman airport was upgraded. That put Marmaris within a 90 minute coach transfer, hotels were built over every available space, and the present sprawling resort appeared.
Dalaman airport is 100 km east of Marmaris. Most arrivals are holidaymakers on West European package flights, and are bussed straight to their hotels. Havaş shuttle bus meets domestic flights, which are every couple of hours from Istanbul IST / SAW and from Ankara. This bus takes 90 min from the airport via Dalaman town, Ortaca, Köyceğiz and Gökova, for a fare in 2023 of 110 TL. The airport also has taxis, private transfer companies and car rental.
Buses from Istanbul take 10-12 hours via Gebze, Izmir and Muğla for a fare in 2023 of 900 TL. Both Pamukkale and Flixbus have buses every two or three hours round the clock, and Metro Turizm run twice a day. At Istanbul, don't be getting aboard that surprisingly cheap quick bus to Marmara Ereğlisi, which will take you to a beach resort but not the one you expected. Buses from Ankara to Marmaris take 12 hours, from Antalya seven, and from Izmir three.
1 Marmaris Otogarı the bus terminal is north edge of town, 3 km from the beachfront. It's reasonably clean and efficient. You need a dolmuş or taxi to get downtown.
From Istanbul follow O-5 and O-7 (toll) south to Izmir, then Highway E87 / D550 through Aydın and Muğla to Akyaka. The last stretch is on D400 into Marmaris.
Foot-passenger ferries from Rhodes sail April-Oct, taking an hour. Two companies compete on the route, Feribot Lines and Yeşil Marmaris Lines, with similar fares - in 2023 an adult single is €40. They each have a morning and afternoon sailing so a day trip either way is possible most days, giving you six hours on the other side. There's no car ferry or winter service. Travel via Rhodes for Symi, which has no direct ferry from Turkey.
2 Marmaris ferry terminal is east side of the marina. Taxis await ferries, but it's only 1 km to walk to the castle and downtown via the harbour footbridge. Vehicles have to go around a much longer route, so the taxi driver will wax lyrical about the hike he's spared you.
With your own boat, Marmaris is a Port of Entry into Turkey, so if you arrive from Greek waters you can clear immigration and customs here.
- Old Turkish joke: "How many can you fit in a dolmuş?" - "Mmm, maybe another two . . . "
Dolmuş minibuses are the main way to get around: they ply the city main streets and link the outlying suburbs and villages. You pay a flat fare, which in 2022 within Marmaris was 5 TL (these dolmuşes have a green band across them), and to İçmeler (orange band) was 7 TL.
- 1 Marmaris Castle, 30th Sk 54. Daily 09:00-20:30. This site has been fortified for thousands of years but the castle you see now was built by Suleiman the Magnificent in preparation for his 1522 assault on Rhodes. It was shelled by a French warship during World War 1, nevertheless it was one of the few structures in town to withstand the double earthquake of 1957. It was restored from 1979 and opened as a museum in 1991. Adult 75 TL.
- The lighthouse south of the castle is just a harbour light, atop a dinky tower that looks like a sentry box.
- Hafsa Sultan Kervansaray just north of the castle dates from 1545, but it's closed and tumbledown.
- 2 Atatürk's Statue is the focal point of town, junction of Atatürk Cd along the beachfront with Ulusal Egemenlik Cd through downtown. He looks like he's clinging on to his cap lest the breeze whips it away.
- 3 Günnücek is the easiest entry point to Marmaris National Park, a rugged tract of pine forests with hiking trails.
- 4 Nimara Cave, Adaköy. The principal attraction of Cennet Island. You can drive or cycle most of the way, then it's a 400 m trail to enter the cave, believed to have been inhabited since 10,000 BC.
- 5 Phosphorus Cave is Marmaris' equivalent to the Blue Grotto of Capri, a sea cave flooded by ethereal blue light. It's too narrow for boats to enter; you may be able to swim in, but beware sharp rocks above, alongside and below. It's on the south tip of Cennet Island, with no land access. That hasn't prevented idiots from spray-painting the interior.
- 6 Sedir Island or Cleopatra Island is in the Gulf of Gökova, reached by boat from Çamlı (off D-400 north of Marmaris) or from Akyaka. Here are the overgrown ruins of Kedrai, with an amphitheatre, sanctuary to Apollo, cistern and city walls. A boardwalk leads through the site and past a small and a large church from the Byzantine era. The cove on the northwest shore is Cleopatra Beach, a gleaming golden strand. This beach is made of ooids, tiny pearl-like limestone spheres, and the Cleopatra legend got started because similar beaches are found in Egypt - Marcus Antonius supposedly imported one such to keep her sweet. But there are several such beaches around Turkey, as well as in the Persian Gulf, Bahamas and elsewhere. The beach material is under strict protection.
- Orata is the smaller island just north with a few similar ruins.
- The beach is sandy though narrow. The strip west of downtown has free public access.
- Water parks are Aqua Dream on Fatih Sultan Mehmet Cd, and Marmaris Atlantis on 203rd Sk. Star has closed down.
- Boat trips circle the bay, usually anti-clockwise via Turunç, Phosphorous Cave, and Cennet island beach.
- Scuba diving centres include Marmaris, Professional Diving Centre and Deep Diving School, all clustered round the harbour.
- The amphitheatre is a modern reconstruction. It remains closed in 2023.
- Jeep safaris explore the Bozburun and Datça peninsulas.
- Hamams - traditional Turkish baths - are in half-a-dozen locations in town, plus the spa hotels offer their own.
- Grand Bazaar is a covered market along 59th Sk, starting 50 m inland from Atatürk's Statue. It's a modern alley, practical rather than scenic, with most vendors open daily 08:00-01:00.
- Supermarkets: lots of little convenience stores, Migros is the main chain. Somewhat larger is Carrefour on 142nd Sk, open daily 08:00-22:00.
- Pharmacies cluster along Ulusal Egemenlik Cd the main downtown street, and are dotted along the beach strip.
- Reptiles is a fitting name for those who try to sell tortoises and other animals to tourists. The poor creatures will die on your way home of course, but that won't spare you a hefty fine for importing endangered species.
- Pine honey (çam balı) is a local specialty, from the forests around Marmaris. It's darker and more viscous than regular flower honeys, and has woody, resinous undertones. Check your country's import rules before taking any food product home - many prohibit fresh food including honey.
- Tatlıses Çiğ Köfte, 49th Sk (corner with 44th Sk, north of castle), ☏ . Daily 10:00-00:00. Chain outlet serving raw meatballs, if you're sure you're ready for this.
- 1 Tasarkasi Kofte Salonu, 61st Sk 6, ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-22:30. Good koftas in a leafy piazza. Note Google map continues to locate this cafe incorrectly at Kubilay Alpugan Sk 14.
- 2 Anadolu yemek evi şube 2, Eski Datça Yolu 17, ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:30. Simple fresh trad food.
- 3 Sarah Restoran Fun&Pub, Şehit Ahmet Benler Cd 42, ☏ . Definitely a fun place, one to escape to when your "inclusive" hotel serves dull stuff in a dull way.
- Sweet Corner Restaurant, Kemal Seyfettin Elgin Blv (opposite Blue Bay Platinum). Daily 08:00-00:30. Good menu selection for main meals, it's not primarily desserts as the name might suggest.
- O`yes Restaurant, Barbaros Cd 9 (quay west of castle), ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:00. Great reviews and inexpensive.
- Mama Restaurant, Barbaros Cd 83 (yacht harbour below castle), ☏ . Daily 16:00-02:00. Good steaks and pizza plus vegan options overlooking the harbour.
- Deniz Halil's Place, Barbaros Cd 99 (yacht harbour), ☏ . Daily 09:00-01:00. Good sea food and harbour views.
- Jan De Wit Restaurant, Barbaros Cd 123 (east of castle), ☏ . Daily 09:00-01:00. Inexpensive rooftop restaurant, great reviews.
- Purple Rain Restoran Bar, 35th Sk 14 (50 m north of Jan de Wit). Daily 08:00-14:00. Lively bar with music most nights.
- Taj Mahal is in Karacan Plaza midway along the beachfront, open daily 13:00-23:00. Just to ensure the Brits feel at home, there's also a couple of Chinese restaurants here.
The hotels with the best all-round guest ratings usually offer the best dining and can serve non-residents, see Sleep.
- Beachfront, or rather the main street a block back, has a string of pubs, including two Irish. They also stock the standard Turkish and European beers.
- Bar street is the nickname for Barbaros Cd along the waterfront in the old town. You'll soon figure out why.
- Vineyard: Asarcık is on the Bozburun Peninsula. Most Turkish wine comes from further north.
Rates given here are those quoted for independent travellers, but most visitors are on package deals, effectively paying the same room rate but getting a free return flight from Europe. There are some remarkable bargains but you get what you pay for. Rooms with air-con carry a price premium so consider the season when you'll be visiting. Other common gripes are stiff charges to use the room safe, and for Wifi that is ponderously slow, and samey "all-inclusive" meals that impel you out to the town restaurants.
In theory there are by-laws against playing loud music, but they don't apply to hotels, which crank up the volume to ensure every guest enjoys the thumping beat at 1 am. The thinness of the walls also indicates why earthquakes are so destructive in Turkey.
- 1 Paşabey Hotel, 83rd Sk 15, ☏ . Simple hotel 1 km north of town centre, overpriced for what you get. B&B double 4000 TL.
- 2 Costa Mare Suites, Yeni Datça Yol, ☏ . Value-for-money hotel 2 km from beach. B&B double 2000 TL.
- 3 Julian Club Hotel, Mareşal Fevzi Çakmak Cd 8, ☏ . Good mid-price hotel, but too many silly additional charges, e.g. to use the room safe. B&B double 2500 TL.
- Club Viva Hotel, Adnan Menderes Cd 21 (100 m east of Julian Club), ☏ . Basic hotel, acceptable for the price. B&B double 1000 TL.
- 4 Asdamaris Hotel, 178th Sk 2, ☏ . Mixed reviews for comfort and service, and extra charges to use a/c or room safe.
- Mehtap Family Hotel is a cheap and cheerful place near the beach strip at 167th Sk 10.
- 5 Club Alize, Yunus Nadi Cd 87, ☏ . Hotel rooms need redecorating, food so-so, but friendly service and good entertainment for kids. They also have self-catering apartments, sleeping 4 or 6.
- Blue Palace is basic budget rooms on 208th Sk behind Club Alize. Everything costs extra.
- 6 Premier Nergis Beach Hotel, 232nd Sk, ☏ . Clean efficient beachfront hotel.
- 7 Oasis Otel, Kemal Seyfettin Elgin Blv 69, ☏ . Value-for-money hotel 100 m from beach. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 8 Green Nature Diamond Hotel, Cumhuriyet Blv 9, ☏ . Swish hotel earning high scores for comfort and service. B&B double 3500 TL.
- Blue Bay Platinum Hotel, Cumhuriyet Blv 1 (100 m north of Green Nature Diamond), ☏ . Great reviews all round for this beachfront hotel. B&B double 4000 TL.
- Lalila Blue Suites, Kemal Seyfettin Elgin Blv 73/2 (within Kalemci Hotel next to Blue Bay Platinum), ☏ . Decent 4-star place 100 m from beach. B&B double 4500 TL.
- Forum Residence Hotel is a budget place at Kenan Evren Blv 42 opposite Green Nature Diamond Hotel. High charges for a/c, some street noise.
- Grand Ideal Premium Hotel, Cumhuriyet Blv 15 (100 m south of Green Nature Diamond), ☏ . Friendly comfy beachfront hotel, great service. B&B double 3500 TL.
- 9 TUI Blue Grand Azur, Cumhuriyet Blv 17, ☏ . Top scores all round for this upscale beachfront hotel. B&B double 8000 TL.
- Sunrise Hotel, Cumhuriyet Blv 21 (100 m south of Grand Azur), ☏ . Budget beachfront hotel, clean and helpful.
- Emre Hotel, Cumhuriyet Blv 60 (50 m south of Sunrise), ☏ . Good reviews for this inexpensive beachfront hotel. B&B double 3000 TL.
- 10 Green Nature Resort, 131st Sk 11, ☏ . Good service, comfort and catering at this large edge-of-town inclusive hotel. B&B double 7000 TL.
- Grand Paşa Hotel, 129th Sk (100 m southeast of Green Nature Resort), ☏ . Good hotel 500 m from beachfront. B&B double 2500 TL.
- 11 Hotel Ideal Prime Beach, Cumhuriyet Blv 35, ☏ . Welcoming mid-price inclusive hotel.
- 12 Casa de Maris, 100th Sk 2, Armutalan, ☏ . Rave reviews for this adults-only spa hotel south of town. B&B double 10,000 TL.
- 13 Grand Yazıcı Club Turban, 101st Sk 3, ☏ . Delightful resort hotel. B&B double 4000 TL.
- 14 Labranda, Atatürk Cd 64, İçmeler, ☏ . Large hotel complex on the beach, comfy enough.
- 15 Marmaris Park, Atatürk Cd 60, İçmeler, ☏ . Rooms a bit dated, but overall comfy and efficient. B&B double 2500 TL.
- 16 Marmaris Bay Resort, Marmaris Adaköy Yolu 46, ☏ . Mixed reviews for this resort hotel just north of Adaköy. B&B double 6000 TL.
- 17 Cook's Club, Kızılkum Mevkii 110, Yildiz Island, Adaköy, ☏ . Good all-inclusive resort hotel on Yildiz Island, reached by road. B&B double 4000 TL.
Marmaris and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers, but coverage is patchy further out on the peninsula. As of June 2023, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Datça is near the end of a long peninsula stretching west, a relaxed alternative to Marmaris.
- Bozburun is the peninsula south of Marmaris.
- Akyaka a 30 min drive north has a pebble yet beautiful beach, with pine woods growing right from the coastline, and attractive old buildings.
- Dalyan is also a popular seaside town close to Marmaris.
- Muğla the regional capital has an attractive old town.
- Rhodes the Greek island is reached by a short ferry ride.
|Routes through Marmaris|
|END ← Datça ←||W E||→ Akyaka → Antalya|