Once a sleepy fishing village, Marmaris is one of the largest resorts on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Little of its history remains, as the town is now a modern development with tourism at its heart and soul. The population swells to a massive 200,000 in the summer, with most hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shops catering to low-cost package holidays, although there are facilities for all budgets.
Despite the development which reaches around 10km along the west of the bay, Marmaris is also well-known for its expanse of green, present the whole year round thanks to the pine-covered hills which surround the town. There are many beaches around the bay, and there are ancient cities and seaside villages close by for day trips. The yacht harbour is the biggest and newest in Turkey, and therefore the busiest charter port especially for trips along the Turquoise Coast.
In addition to the climate, beaches and facilities of the town, the transportation infrastructure is a definite plus for attracting visitors. It has easy connections to the nearby airport Dalaman, ferries to Rhodes, and on the road to Datca and Fethiye.
The harbour has attracted by private boats from around the world, with yacht maintenance and production in the workshops on the Yalanci Strait. With the climate being comfortable even in winter, and the nearby impressive mountains and pine forests, Marmaris is likely to remain a popular and practical holiday spot for a long time.
Embroidery is one of the best local handicrafts in the area, made by the women and widely available. Copper and wooden decorations, jewellery and regionally designed clothes are sold in the shops along the harbour and inside the castle. One of the best places to buy the famous jam and honey, is at the Friday Market, on the west side of town near the waterfront.
What to see in Marmaris
Thought to have been constructed by the Ionians, this small castle on the hill was repaired during the time of Alexander the Great. It was widened and repaired again by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1522, during which time his 200,000 troops attacked and seized the island of Rhodes.
The castle opened as a museum in 1991, after restorations that took ten years. It has seven galleries, and has a collection of archaeological, historical, ethnographic and nautical exhibits. The views of the city are wonderful, with a wonderful panorama day and night.
Marmaris Castle is nationalized in 1979, and restored between 1980 and 1990. Marmaris Museum, is facilitated within Marmaris Castle, and opened to visitors officially on 18 May 1991. There are seven galleries within castle, two of these are used as warehouses. One gallery is Archeological pieces of arts hall. Third gallery, which is ethnographic hall is organized as Turk house. Fourth gallery is organized as the room of Castle Commander. There is also an exhibition hall within the museum.
Yachting in Marmaris
A natural harbour, Marmaris Bay has three marinas with 1100 capacity, and nine yacht yards with 1200 capacity. Various festivals are organised in order to develop yacht tourism in the region, and the town is the focal point of Blue Voyages. The main activities are the International Yacht Festival during the second week of May, and the week-long International Marmaris Yacht Races at the end of October.
Excursions around Marmaris
Taşhan and Kemerli Bridge
The bridge, is 10km along the Mugla road in the Iskelebasi region, was constructed by Suleyman the Magnificent, And Has Arched Bridges Built From Stone And Brick.
It is possible to see the ruins at Physkos, an important harbour city of the ancient Caria region, on the Asar hill north of Marmaris. The old city walls dating back to the Hellenistic period are still fairly intact.
The ruins at Loryma, once part of the foundations of Rhodes, was founded originally in the region known as Oplosica (artillery smith), the waterside thicket on the southwest of the Bozburun peninsula 40km from Marmaris. The most impressive structure in the settlement area is the well-preserved reinforcement at the entrance of the bay at Burunbasi. Nine rectangular towers, made from smooth rock-cut masonry, are built at the edge of Rhodes (Rodos) island. Today, only the balcony tower at the northern end can still be seen.
The ancient ruins of Amos are accessible from the Asarcik hill, northwest of Kumlubuk bay. Amos dates back to the Hellenistic period, and is composed of a hillside amphitheatre, a temple and statue pedestals. Surrounded by ramparts dating back to the same time, this amphitheatre is in good condition, with its seating area, side walls and stage with three chambers. Excavations in 1948 by Prof. Bean revealed four inscriptions, which mentioned three rental contracts, thought to date back to around 200BC. There is a minibus running from Turunc to Kumlubuku which passes through Amos.
Cedrae (Cleopatra or City Islands)
The ancient ruins of Cedrae in the island of Saray, date back to the Hellenistic Roman era. What is known as the City Islands is comprised of Orta Island and Kucuk Island. The remains of the ramparts can be easily seen from the distance.
The island took its name from the rumour that Cleopatra swam with the locals in a small bay at the northwest of the island. Furthermore, she was supposed to have entered the sea with Mark Anthony, the sands of which were transferred from Northern Africa via ships by Anthony – which may be true as this type of sand is only seen in Egypt.
The remains of buildings surrounded by ramparts on the east of Saray island date back from the Roman and Hellenistic period, and the small amphitheatre is in the best condition. The Christian Basilica was constructed over the pedestals of the Apollo Temple, belonging to Dors. There is an Agora on the west of Saray with inscriptions suggesting that athletics festivals devoted to Apollo were organised in the region. There are Necropolis ruins at Kucuk Island, as well as column reliefs.
The rampart ruins dating back to the Hellenistic era lie in Hydas, 35km from Marmaris along the Erine-Bybassios road, with a square planned monument to the south.
There are rampart ruins, remaining from Hellenistic Era in Hydas, 35 km. away from Marmaris on Erine – Bybassios road route, and a square planned monument, at south of these ruins. There are several tombs around a watchtower, 3 km from Hydas. The ancient region of Hydas was founded in the Selimiye bay (Kamisli Bay) north of the Bozburun peninsula.
The ruins of Erine is 3km from the Hisaronu village, 20km southwest of Marmaris, and date back to the Hellenistic and Roman period.
Near the village of Hisarlik are the ancient ruins of Pazarlik, a holy site which can be reached from Mount Eren with an hour’s climb from Hisaronu plains. The temple is on a purpose-built platform dating back to 4th century BC. Apart from the Temple, only the ruined amphitheatre in the south can be defined.
Near the village of Sogut, 45 km of Marmaris, Saranda still has the characteristics of being a continuous settlement during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantium periods, the latter of which clearly has remains today.
What remains of the ancient city of Bybassios can be seen in the village of Orhaniye, on the Erine road towards Bozburun, southwest of Marmaris. The ruins of the ramparts are found inside the forest.
The reinforced ramparts surrounding the settlement area, in the west part of the Cedrai-Marmaris line, are in very good condition. There is also the extension of an ancient wharf. The ruins can be reached along the Karacasogut road.
The peninsular island of Cennet, a 30 minute boat journey, is covered with forest and has accommodation and restaurants. It is a popular stop for cruise and tour boats throughout the season, as is suitable for swimming and eating.
This natural cavern is a popular stopping point for the sailing tours going on to Turunc and Kumlubuk, offering clean, green waters ideal for swimming.
Famed for its drinking water which used to be considered good for the digestive system, the Sultaniye Kaplicalari thermal springs and mud baths lie 10km away from the province, close to Dalyan. It is a popular area, with beach and facilities for tourists, and can be reached via boat or road from Koycegiz or Dalyan.
Once a tiny farming and fishing village, Turunc has developed since the late 1980s into an upmarket tourist resort, with hotels, villas and restaurants. The village, on the east coast of the Hisaronu peninsula, is 21km from Marmaris and accessible by road and sea. Its main attraction for Turkish and foreign tourists is its stunning location, and 500m beach of course sand with a backdrop of pine-tufted cliffs.
The village, 6km by road from Turunc, is also accessible by boat from Marmaris to the large beach which is one of the best in the area. The water is clean, and there are good facilities nearby.
The Ciftlik bay is accessible via a two hour boat journey from Icmeler. This once-isolated village and beach is now being developed for tourism, with a holiday village and hotels. It is especially favoured by sailors as a good spot for their yachts, and its course-grained sands and waterside restaurants are increasingly popular. The village has a small island within the bay, is also a favourite with jeep-faring safari tourists.
The 10-metre high waterfall is 35km from Marmaris and accessible from Turgut village via a 15-minute trek.
Best known and utilised for its yacht harbour, boat-building and repairs, the village of Bozburun has a stunning setting and is also famous for pine, flower and thyme honey. Its isolated location and peaceful atmosphere has attracted people escaping city life, and is especially popular with Turkish tourists. There are buses from Marmaris, 50km away, which makes a pleasant day trip, and there are many interesting walks in the surrounding countryside.
Although there are no proper beaches, it is possible to swim off the rocks. There is a revered 1000-year old tree, one of the oldest in the country. The village gets more crowded during the International Bozburun Gullet Festival, 26 – 28 October.
The Gunluk Forest, with rarely seen species of plants, is 2km from Marmaris. Sigla oil, which is collected from the trees, is used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industry. The area is a natural promenade, with shallow waters.
This land, which is 8 km. away from province, had gained its “Counterfeit Strait” name after a ship captain who supposed here the strait which goes to bay at a stormy weather, ground of his ship. You should absolutely see this region, where there are wooden built Gulet shipyards.
How to Get to Marmaris
Marmaris is well connected to most places in Turkey by bus, with many more services in the summer. There are buses in every hour to the closer resorts of Bodrum (3 hours), Fethiye 3 hours), Izmir (5 hours) and Datca (90 mins). Long distance direct services include Antalya (7hours), Istanbul (13 hours) and Ankara (10 hours). The bus station is 2km north of the city, and the dolmus stop is near Ulusal Egemenlik Bulvari.
Bus station Tel: (90 252) 412 3037.
The nearest airport is Dalaman, from which there are many international charter flights especially from Europe. It is over 100km and takes 2 hours by bus, and there are regular bus services between 07.30 – 22.00.
Dalaman Airport Tel: (90 252) 792 5291.
Hydrofoils leave daily for Rhodes at 0915 in the summer. There are motorboats three times a week in the summer, and Greek ferries, some of which can carry cars.