The once-sleepy fishing village of Marmaris sits on the marvelous natural harbour where Lord Nelson organised his fleet for the attack on the French at Abukir in 1798. The setting may still be glorious but the picturesque old part of town around the harbour and castle is now all but lost in the concrete sprawl trailing off to the west.
In the summer the town’s population swells to around 200,000, mostly package holiday-makers. The bazaar is full of expensive souvenirs and budget tourists, the streets are full of traffic, and the restaurant scene is based on fish and chips with beer by the gallon. But, to its credit, the town council has woken up and the harbour-side promenade now boasts some handsome albeit modern stone buildings. The town also has a disarmingly liberal attitude – there aren’t many other places in Turkey where a bikini-clad, tattooed tourist draining a can of beer on the main street at noon doesn’t raise an eyebrow.
If it’s a last night out, a boat cruise or a ferry to Greece you’re after, this is the place. Marmaris still has Turkey’s largest and most modern yacht marina and is consequently the country’s busiest yacht-charter port; and the bar district and harbour have a great range of places to drink.
The rugged coastline around Marmaris is an undiscovered gem – only 10km from Marmaris’ bright lights, the deeply indented coastline holds bays of azure sea backed by pine-covered mountains. When you need to escape, hire a car or motorcycle and cruise around the ruggedşadiye and Hisarönü Peninsulas.
Restaurants: Whether you want to go international, or try local fare at a ‘lokanta’ (Turkish restaurant), Marmaris’ hundreds of dining establishments will have something to suit any holidaymakers’ appetite and any pocket. You’ll find fish ‘n chips if that’s your bag, good Chinese, satisfying German or the ubiquitous Italian. Visitors should not balk at sampling Turkish delights, however, particularly popular doner kebabs and seafood meze platters.
Nightlife: Marmaris’ wild nights are centered on Bar Street around the waterfront, packed with nearly one hundred nightclubs and bars that rock until about 4am, attracting hundreds of holidaymakers. Although the atmosphere is fun, be aware that the price of drinks in Bar Street is significantly higher than other parts of town. Many restaurants stay open all night to cater for early morning revelers.
There are many water sports centres in Marmaris or at the coves, ready to assist you in surface or underwater sports adventures – including extreme sports. Akvaryum (Aquarium) Cove, Baca (Chimney) Sea Cave and reef area are the fascinating diving spots for domestic and foreign visitors. Nature and adventure sports such as rafting on Dalaman Stream, and trekking tours are organised by travel agencies. Jeep Safari is yet another alternative.
Activities:Holidaymakers who prefer to spend their beach time being active will be spoilt for choice at Marmaris where dozens of watersports operators service the sea front, offering everything from banana boat rides and paragliding to jet-skiing and scuba diving, all at very reasonable prices (which can usually be bargained down even more). The local Atlantis waterpark is a must for families. Those who want to sightsee or explore can choose from a variety of excursions, including guided horse safaris through the countryside or jeep safaris to visit nearby country villages, with visits to verdant untouched forests where crystal waterfalls beckon one to have a dip. The ancient site of Ephesus and the spring waters of Pamukkale are also popular outings, as are a variety of boat trips, including the nearby Greek island of Rhodes.