The liveliest resort on the Turkey’s spectacular Turquoise Coast, Marmaris is beautifully set between pine-forested mountains and a breathtaking natural harbour. It boasts stunning beaches, non-stop nightlife, a castle-topped Old Town, and a marina where traditional gület sailing boats bob next to glossy yachts. Get the lowdown on what this vibrant and enchanting Turkish town has to offer with our unmissable guide to the top 10 things to do in Marmaris.
1. Beach life
The beaches in Marmaris are at the heart of the action. The main beach is Marmaris Urban Beach, which runs through the centre of town, and is packed with sun loungers and parasols, beach bars, and a huge range of facilities for water sports. Beyond it is Long Beach (Uzunyali), which stretches for another ten glorious kilometres. These shingle beaches are both perfect for swimming and soaking up the sun, but the best sandy beach in the area is along the coast at Icmeler. If you’re feeling energetic, you can stroll to Icmeler along the seafront promenade (about four miles), or take a dolmus (local bus) or water taxi.
2. Go back in time
Marmaris has a lovely, whitewashed old town, which is a delight to stroll around. Narrow lanes, overlooked by stone cottages draped in pink bougainvillea, lead up to the 16th-century castle, which is now an interesting museum full of archaeological finds and paintings. There are wonderful views from the castle’s parapets, and the little streets are filled with bakeries, traditional carpet shops, and lots of restaurants. It’s particularly lovely at sunset, when you can enjoy gorgeous views along the coast.
3. Hit the hammam
No trip to Turkey is complete without a visit to the hammam! There are several hammams in Marmaris, each of which offer different treatments, but generally, after relaxing in the steam room, you will be given a brisk scrub followed by a massage and oil treatment. This is an intrinsic part of traditional Turkish culture, and a unique experience.
4. Watch the fountains dance
The Marmaris 19 May Youth Square is the main social hub, surrounded by a huge variety of shops, bars and restaurants. Every evening, the fountains perform a stunning ballet set to music, which attracts huge crowds. It’s the perfect thing to do on balmy summer nights. A bronze statue of a mermaid, which has become the city’s best-loved symbol, guards the other fountain on the square.
5. Sail away
Marmaris boasts one of the world’s largest natural harbours and boats have long been a way of life here. There is a dizzying array of cruises and boat trips available, and no better way to explore this magnificent stretch of coastline. Whether you want to take the kids on the pirate’s galleon, want to find a secret beach on one of the nearby islands, hanker for a romantic sunset sail on a traditional gullet, fancy a day trip to Fethiye or even Rhodes Town (just don’t forget your passport), or want to spot loggerhead turtles and wallow in mud baths in Dalyan, you’ll find plenty of choice when it comes to boat trips.
6. Diving and snorkelling
Marmaris is a superb destination for scuba diving and snorkelling, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, and the pristine waters – some of the clearest in the Mediterranean – are full of colourful marine life. There are several dive centres in the town, which can arrange courses, equipment hire and excursions out to some outstanding dive sites.
7. Party on
The intense nightlife scene in Marmaris is one of the biggest reasons for visiting this exciting Turkish resort, where you can party all night long. The main nightlife hub is ‘Bar Street’, unsurprisingly, with its wall-to-wall bars and clubs, but you’ll find plenty more along Long Beach and around the marina.
8. Shop till you drop
Head to the Grand Bazaar for an authentically Turkish experience! The stalls are piled high with souvenirs, traditional foods, spices, clothing and everything else you can imagine. Plus, you can settle into one of the traditional cafés for some outstanding people-watching. Haggle to get the best prices – or, if you love a bargain, check the shops around the market which are often cheaper.
9. Spills and thrills
Marmaris is also a fantastic destination for a family holiday. Beaches and boat trips are among the biggest attractions for families, but there are also three water parks in town, where your kids will be able to mess about in wave pools and hurtle down slides.
Pamukkale, which means ‘cotton castle’, is a stunning sight: thermal springs spill down terraces and pools of dazzling white limestone in a breathtaking natural display. People have come to bathe in these mineral-rich waters for thousands of years, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a shlep from Marmaris – about three and a half hours by bus – but Pamukkale, and the neighbouring ancient site of Hierapolis, are deservedly one of the most popular excursions from the resort.