A place where the most intensely natural colors are real, where jagged hill formations seemingly driven to crystal clear swimming waters, surrounded by sweet gum and pine trees and perfumed by the sea, giving its distinct Turkish feel. The town is crowned by a castle and lined with wood-hulled yachts.
Located on Turkey’s south-western coast, this seaside pearl was once a fishing and sponge diving village that transformed into a modern-day touristic destination over the last 40 years, and today Marmaris draws visitors from all over the world.
The visitors of this trendy town are captivated by its natural beauty, warm and friendly locals, and hospitable culture. They keep coming back year after year, and they pass their passion for this town on to the next generations.
While some of the visitors are enjoying the sunshine on small yet charming beaches with warm shallow waters or a daily excursion exploring the region and visiting the ancient sites, the other half are on a treasure hunt and drawn to the local bazaar which is brimming with souvenirs, "genuine fake" designer duds, bags and shoes perfect for gifts, experiencing the soft buzzing sound of haggling on the streets as they walk by.
Marmaris has a lot more to offer as it is also possible to see a different lifestyle. By taking a stroll along the harbor and you can admire the million-dollar yachts that undulate in their moorings.
Having the biggest harbor in the region makes Marmaris also famous for its yacht marinas, which is a major center for blue cruise and gulet holidays, as well as luxury yacht charters. As the town has a perfect location for the yachts to access easily to secluded coves, bays, and beaches, which makes it a starting point for weekly Blue Cruise Holidays.
Written history of Marmaris dates back to ancient times when it all began with the arrival of a tribe in to the region, whose leader was called Kar. After the settlement of the tribe, the region was called ‘Karia’ or ‘Caria’ named after its leader, meaning the land of ‘Kar’.
In the 6th century BC the region was known as Physkos (Ancient Greek), and was in a part of Caria that belonged to Rhodes, contained a magnificent harbour and a grove sacred to Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis.
According to the historian Herodotus, there had been a castle on the site since 3000 BC.
Marmaris was on the trade road between Rhodes and Egypt passing through Anatolia. Therefore, the location of Marmaris has always been appealing to the invaders. The city was conquered by Lydians, Persians, Helens, Seleucids, Romans and Byzantines and was taken by Turks in the 13th century.
In 334 BC, Caria was invaded by Alexander the Great and the castle of Physkos was besieged.
In the 13th century, the city became known as Marmaris during the period of a member of the Anatolian Union, the Beylic of Mentese. The name derives from Greek màrmaron (marble), in Turkish mermer, in reference to the rich deposits of marble in the region, and the prominent role of the city's port in the marble trade.
In 1522, when Ottoman Sultan ‘Suleyman the Magnificent’ set out for the conquest of Rhodes and assembled a force of 200,000 men, Marmaris served as a base for the Ottoman Navy and Marmaris Castle was rebuilt from scratch in the same year, making the city more powerful whilst launching the siege of the Knights of St John’s base in Rhodes.
An Ottoman caravanserai was built after the conquest in the name of Suleyman's mother Ayşe Hafsa Sultan.
In 1798, Britain's Admiral Horatio Nelson and his entire fleet sheltered in the harbor, en route to northern Egypt to defeat Napoleon’s French armada at the Battle of Aboukir.
In 1801 a British force of 120 ships under Admiral Keith and 14,000 troops under General Abercrombie anchored in the bay for eight weeks, training and resupplying for their mission to end the French campaign in Egypt and Syria.
In 1957 Fethiye earthquakes almost completely destroyed the city. Only the Marmaris Castle and the historic buildings surrounding the fortress were left undamaged.
Marmaris therefore became a place where different civilizations reigned over time, and there is architectural and historical evidence of Egyptian, Assyrian, Ion, Dor, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantium, Seljuk and Ottoman presence.
1. Explore the Marinas in Marmaris
The sailing community in Marmaris and its surroundings are huge. Boat owners and sailors can locate plenty of marinas for all shapes and sizes of boats and yachts.
The prices for both buying and renting moorings, and either for a long or short term, depended on the size of your boat or yacht, the time of the year, the particular Marina’s location, and the services included. Therefore, it would be misleading to state an estimated mooring cost. Especially during the high season, the prices increase dramatically. Yacht Rentals are offered in different periods like daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Three of the Marinas are situated in Marmaris borders and two other marinas are located in Orhaniye and Karacasöğüt villages.
2. Visit Marmaris Castle and Archaeology Museum
Being a port town in ancient times meant only one thing. Being always open for raids by the pirates. As a result, the fortification of this town and its surroundings date back to 3000BC, but the origins of the castle on the harbor between the main beach and marina are 16th-century.
Marmaris Castle was rebuilt from scratch by Suleyman the Magnificent (1494-1566) during his Rhodes campaign.
The castle took heavy damage from French and British warships in the First World War and went through a ten-year restoration period in the 1980s.
The exceptional archaeology museum offers a repository for artifacts unearthed at excavations all around Marmaris and Muğla areas.
The pottery, glassware, architectural fragments, coins, amphorae, armor plates, and much more, from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine periods.
The museum also has an ethnographic section, displaying the local crafts and ways of life during the Ottoman era.
3. Swim and Sunbathe on Icmeler Beach
Even though Marmaris has a perfectly active beach, visiting Icmeler Beach can be rewarding in many ways. It takes approximately 15 minutes by local busses to get to Icmeler from Marmaris.
This relatively smaller resort has a fabulous 500-meter beach, tucked into a cove and with sea cushioned by an Island a little way offshore and surrounded by pine-clad hills.
The beach was rewarded a Blue Flag for its hygiene and facilities and has mostly soft sand, a light shade of brown color.
The water is shallow, clear, and calm as the island acts as a breakwater.
4. Visit Sedir Island (Cleopatra Island)
This gorgeous uninhabited island is located on the north side of the peninsula and only accessible by the sea and the boats leave from the little harbor of Camli village.
The island is named after the famous Egyptian ruler, Cleopatra.
Legend has it, Cleopatra and Mark Antony bathed here nearly 2000 years ago.
The island can be traversed by a wooden bridge in a few minutes on foot, and in a cove on the north side is the idyllic Cleopatra Beach, with a big sweep of glimmering turquoise water that stays shallow for meters.
Sedir Island is also home to the ancient settlement of Cedrae, the remnants of which are spread throughout the island and include an agora and theatre.
5. Take a Photo Break At Eucalyptus Alley
The 3 km long Eucalyptus trail is located 30 km east of Marmaris and it is one of the most picturesque spots in the area.
The Eucalyptus trees in the alley were planted on both sides of the road in search of a remedy for malaria in the 1930s to dry the marshy soil that acted as an incubator for mosquitos.
The trail in the alley once was the main road to Marmaris, however, the new road was built around the mid-1990s. The trail is also a highly favored location by Turkish filmmakers as many Turkish movies have been filmed over the decades.
6. Visit Dalyan - Sun, Fun, and Culture All in One
Famous Caretta Caretta Turtle Beach, Natural Sulphur Springs and Mud Baths, and Marvelous Carian Rock Tombs meet in Dalyan Town.
Dalyan Delta is about 90 kilometers east of Marmaris by bus or by boat and it takes nearly an hour and a half to get there and definitely worth the trip. The marshy environment here feels like a world away from the craggy coves of Marmaris.
After arriving in Dalyan, Riverboats take an exciting trip along the delta’s tangle of channels.
The first stop is at the natural springs. After a short swim in the Sulphur pool and covering yourself head to toe in mud rejuvenate the skin. The trick is letting the mud dry under the sun for a few minutes.
The second stop is at the impressive view of the rock tombs carved into the cliff, looking over the ancient Carian city of Kaunos.
Finally, the trip makes a pause at Turtle Beach at the mouth of the river, where you can while away an hour or two sunbathing and swimming.
Iztuzu Beach is a 1,5 km long narrow spit of land and one of the main breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean and is therefore often referred to as Turtle Beach. The loggerhead turtles are endangered species and come to nest in the sandy beach and can be often spotted swimming in the water.
7. Marmaris National Park
A perfect picnic spot for forest bathing and one of the places treasured by the locals with its tall trees and green surrounding.
The landscape is pebbly, sandy, silty, and with an abundance of good views of the bay, under a blanket of pine, sweetgum, and eucalyptus trees.
Wild boars and wild goats are common while Eurasian lynxes have been recorded in the national park, and a variety of kestrels, falcons, eagles, and hawks have their territory here.
The panoramas in the park’s hills are sensational and the terrain attracts walkers, bikers, and horseback riders.
Sweetgum Tree and Sweetgum Oil
Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, pure stands mainly exist in the floodplains of southwestern Turkey and on the Greek island of Rhodes.
Liquidambar Orientalis, commonly known as oriental sweetgum or Turkish sweetgum, is a deciduous tree species in the Liquidambar family.
The name in Turkish for the distinct species is Günlük Ağacı, while the trees of the family as a whole are called Sığala Trees, a name also used in sole reference to oriental sweetgum itself. Günlük Ağacı means "a frankincense/myrrh tree " whereas sığala refers to "a boggy place".
The sweetgum tree is an endemic tree species and has a long lifespan of 300 years. It can reach 15-20 meters in length and 35-40 meters under suitable climate and conditions. It sheds its leaves in the winter. Sweetgum grows naturally in certain places in the world. The sweetgum oil obtained from the sweetgum tree and has been produced and put to good use since ancient times in various ways as an important product.
It was considered an important trade item in the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age, in the Iron Age. At that time, frankincense oil was traded in the Mediterranean by merchant ships from Phoenicians.
In Marmaris region, you’ll see many pine tree forests. They are much loved by the local people for creating a great panorama, giving shade, and for their part in the production of the famous local honey!
Pine honey is produced by honey bees that collect honeydew from a certain species that lives on some pine tree species.
Native to Iran and surrounding countries, the southwest of the Aegean Türkiye has the perfect climate and fertile soil for almond trees. The almond tree gives us two beautiful things. The first thing is its flowers. In February and March, the white flowers of the almond tree dance in the wind on the streets. The second thing is its delicious almond nuts. Marmaris and its surroundings are home to the most delicious and fresh almonds.
Native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia, it has been cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world. The fig tree grows wild in dry and sunny locations with deep and fresh soil, and rocky locations. Figs can be eaten fresh or dried and used in jam-making. The villages of Marmaris are home to the most flavorful and fresh figs in different tastes and colors. The villagers start picking the figs by August and the harvest continues until early October. Drying the figs takes a highly diligent and detailed process. Before leaving the figs under the sun on the terraces or in the gardens, the figs are sunk in the boiling water that herbal oiled with the leaves of myrtle, daphne, sweetgum and thymes like it has been done for ages. Then the dried figs are consumed mostly with almonds.
Olive and Olive Oil
Found traditionally in the Mediterranean Basin, the species is cultivated in all the countries of the Mediterranean, as well as South America, South Africa, China, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the United States.
Olives are an essential element of Aegean Cuisine. Whether as the centerpiece of the breakfast table or the base of olive oil, olives are an ever-present delicacy!
The surrounding villages of Marmaris are the repositories for Olive trees.
Olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean Sea are centuries old, with some dated up to 3500 years. The olive tree of Mouriscas, Abrantes, Portugal, (Oliveira do Mouchão) is one of the oldest known olive trees still alive to this day, with an estimated age of 3,350 years, approximately at the beginning of the Atlantic Bronze Age.
Goat milk products
Goats love hilly slopes and the Marmaris region has plenty so there are lots of goats in this area. These goats give the local people milk. And this milk is used to produce delicious yoghurts, cheeses and other dairy products.
Marmaris has several family friendly festivals happening throughout the year, so you may find your holiday is full of traditional celebration.
Visit in May to experience the Marmaris Maritime and Spring Festival. The streets will be lined with entertainment and competitions like beach volley tournaments, live concerts, and folkdance shows. Every year on July 1st, locals celebrate maritime and cabotage day. Head down to the harbour for extravagant oiled mast climbing competition and join in with the traditional communal picnic with the other visitors.
October is racing month in Marmaris with the biggest sailing event in the region, International Race Week. Watch as over a 100 yachts race across the water for a chance to be crowned champion.
Continuing with Marmaris’ upbeat atmosphere, during both festivals, the beach comes alive with live music and discos playing late into the night.