Marmaris is one of Turkey’s top tourist destinations. As well as being a holiday resort on the Mediterranean coast, it is also a port. Situated in the Muğla province, surrounded by hills covered in pine forests, and with a host of places to explore locally, Marmaris, at the start of the Turkish Riviera, has pretty much everything you will ever need for a great holiday.
Marmaris, once a small fishing village, is now totally committed to tourism. The main revenue is tourism. Tourism is everything to Marmaris. Located 60 km from Muğla city, 110 km from Bodrum and 71 km from Datça, the resort is 95 km from Dalaman Airport, with a travel time of around an hour and 20 minutes.
This is where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. The large natural harbour and the small islands and coves nearby provide for a host of gulet cruises, pleasure boats and tour guides. Sailing and diving is popular here too. Marmaris has two large marinas as well as some smaller ones.
Ancient history about Marmaris is a bit sketchy but it is known to have been called Physkos in the 6th century. It was part of Caria, essentially the Carians from Miletus and Halicarnassus. Originally they were mercenaries of the Egyptian King Pasmtik. They would have been based in Rhodes too.
Herodotus the historian stated that a castle had been on the site since 3000 BC. What is known is that Physkos was invaded by Alexander the Great in 334 BC when he captured the castle. Marmaris served as a base for the Ottomans in 1522 when the castle was rebuilt. It served as a staging post from which to attack Rhodes which had been a thorn in the side of Marmaris for years. The castle is now a museum.
Marmaris became the name of the city when it was under the Beyliks of Menteşe. Marmaron is marble in Greek and Mermer in Turkish. The region around Marmaris has lots of good quality marble deposits. There are quite a few marble workshops and souvenir shops in and around the town.
The large water bay of Marmaris also become useful as a secure place for Lord Nelson and his fleet when in 1798 he was on his way to Egypt to engage with Napoleon’s fleet as part of the Mediterranean campaign. The Battle of the Nile that followed on August 1st 1798 was a decisive victory for Nelson.
Most of the tourists in Marmaris arrive on package holidays. They provide for most of the bookings for the hotels locally. Marmaris has a long palm lined waterfront, its own sandy beach, and a massive choice of bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to choose from. You can find everything here. Be sure to visit the Grand Bazaar too. It has lots of souvenirs in the way of rugs, lamps, Turkish lokum, local honey and good and bad quality products of which all might not be as authentic as they seem.
Marmaris is very close to the Greek Island of Rhodes. There is a ferry service that operates a busy schedule several times a day for those that want to go on a day trip or sample the delights of Rhodes for a few days. The hustle and bustle of Marmaris is not for everyone. It can be too busy and lively at times. People often prefer to move away from the centre to İçmeler or Datça where the pace of life is a little slower.
So the best things to do in Marmaris would include a visit to the castle and the Archaeology Museum. You could explore the Marmaris National Park which surrounds Marmaris and which provides some stunning views and scenery with an amazing natural habitat to explore. There is Sedir Island ( Cleopatra Island ) with the ruins from the ancient settlement of Cedrae which include an Agora, and a theatre, in a pretty sorry state of repair.
The Marmaris Marina and the Dancing Fountain at night should be on your list of places to visit. For beaches, the İçmeler, Turunç, İncekum, and of course Marmaris Beach, will provide all you need to soak up the sun. Further out of town, about 30 km away, you have the Dalyan River and the Lycian tombs.