Welcome to one of the great kingpins of the Turquoise Coast. This town of bobbing yachts and shimmering beaches is up there with the most popular hotspots on the Turkish shore, offering hedonistic party streets and hotels that gaze over a teal-blue Aegean. But why’s it so popular? And is Marmaris worth visiting for you this year?
That’s what we’re here to answer. This guide will delve right into the heart of the destination to give seven reasons why Marmaris is 100% worth having on the travel itinerary.
We’ll take a look at the famous sands and snorkelling spots, but also make a nod towards that lively after-dark scene down Bar Street and the café-rimmed promenade. We’ve also got information on some of the more practical things about Marmaris, like why it’s a doozy of a budget destination and a top base for exploring the surrounding region.
The heavenly beaches
The beaches are probably the main reason so many people flock to Marmaris every year. Boasting dazzling waters, golden sands, amenities galore, and an abundance of water sport options, there is never a dull moment soaking in the sun around these parts.
The two main beaches of Marmaris are Urban Beach and Long Beach (also known as Uzunyali Beach). Urban Beach runs through central Marmaris and boasts a palm tree-lined promenade and gorgeous clear waters surrounded by breathtaking mountains. However, Long Beach, hence its name, is the longer of the two and blessed with an abundance of restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. It’s the one to visit if you’re an adrenaline junky since it has a wide variety of water sports, including jet skiing, windsurfing, parasailing and wakeboarding.
There are far more divine sandy treasures on the outskirts of central Marmaris, including the popular blue-flag beach, Icmeler, which can be reached at the end of Long Beach. This beautiful stretch of warm golden sand looking out onto shimmering azure waters is the perfect spot to hire a parasol and laze the day away. Or, if you’re looking for a bit of historical significance for your beach day out, why not head just off the coast of Marmaris to Cleopatra Beach? It is said to have been a favorite swimming spot of Anthony and Cleopatra!
Although there is much to see in Marmaris itself, the town is also surrounded by oodles of interesting spots that would make a fantastic day trip. With Marmaris Bay perfectly positioned at the meeting point of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, yachting excursions and cruises are very popular indeed. For the more authentic experience, why not explore the many caves and islands nearby in one of the traditional wooden yachts, known locally as a gulet?
In around a 2.5-hour boat trip you can reach Turtle Beach (Iztuzu Beach), one of the main breeding grounds in the Mediterranean for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles (caretta caretta). If thermal pools are more up your street, Pamukkale is not to be missed. Just over 200 kilometers from Marmaris, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly a sight to behold, with mineral baths, warm water pools, stalactites, and streams cascading down a huge white hill, known as “The Cotton Castle.”
You could also consider a day trip to:
- Bozburun Peninsula – Rugged, wild, and quiet, the Bozburun Peninsula is the place to go to escape the hubbub of Marmaris proper. Come here to hike pine-clad peaks and find empty lagoons washed by clear Aegean waters.
- Cleopatra Island – Also known as Sedir island, this speck on the map to the north of town hosts an ancient theater.
- Akyaka – Quaint Akyaka is a lovely pitstop, offering traditional Turkish buildings and lovely beaches to boot.
Is Marmaris worth visiting for the food? You bet it is! What’s a trip to Turkey without tasting the best of Turkish cuisine? This town showcases that and then some…
A popular menu item this side of the Mediterranean is kofte – meatballs made with an exotic blend of spices. To eat kofte like a local, head to the long-established restaurant chain, Kofteci Ramiz, where you can enjoy an abundance of succulent dishes on the side. Or perhaps just indulge in the many street food opportunities in Marmaris, including kebabs, gozleme (freshly cooked pancakes with a variety of fillings) or kokorec (lamb intestine wrapped around sweetbreads).
And for those with a sweet tooth, you simply must try the Turkish dessert staple, baklava, a layered pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup. Or perhaps a little Turkish delight might be what you’re after? These flavorsome jelly-like squares are the perfect after-dinner treat with a strong coffee on the side.
The buzzing nightlife
If you’re a bit of a night owl, Marmaris is definitely worth visiting. Known just as much for its vibrant nightlife scene as it is for its spectacular beaches, there is no shortage of places to party the darker hours away here. The suitably named Bar Street (Barlar Sokağı) is the epicenter of it all, housing all sorts of late-night fun, from live music to laser shows and even all-night foam parties. Some of the more popular spots include Club Areena, Joy Club, Crazy Daisy Bar & Nightclub, and Back Garden Club.
However, if you don’t want to go full party animal but like a little after-dark entertainment, why not enjoy one of the famous Turkish nights? They’re held in many of the local hotels. These nights are an authentic slice of Turkish tradition, offering live Turkish music and folklore, belly dancing, fire shows and a buffet of the best in Turkish cuisine.
The natural surroundings
For those that get a little antsy just lounging on the beach all day, Marmaris has plenty on offer for the outdoorsy type. Marmaris National Park is one of the most visited nature spots in Turkey and is home to a wide selection of flora and fauna, many of which is endemic to the region. Here, you can hike through enchanting pine forests or explore ancient remains, including that of Marmaris Castle, Amos Ruins, and even old monasteries and villages.
But if you’re looking to get that adrenaline pumping, you may want to opt for a little quad biking, mountain biking, horse riding, or 4×4 off-road safari, all of which are readily available amongst the lush landscapes of Marmaris.
We’ve also already mentioned the Bozburun Yarimadasi (the Bozburun Peninsula). That rock-ribbed arm of land juts into the Med from the south side of the city, complete with lonely mountain summits and hidden lagoons. You could also head west to the longer Datça Peninsula, which has more in the way of snorkeling spots, especially along its stunning southern shore.
If you’ve come over with a little extra spending money, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding ways to part with your cash here. No trip to Marmaris would be complete without venturing into the town’s biggest shopping center, The Grand Bazaar. With a maze of shops and stalls, you can find everything here, from traditional Turkish carpets and embroidery to jewelry and sweet treats. Bargaining and bartering is the shopping etiquette, though – so be ready with those haggling skills!
There are also several markets held throughout the week, with the most central being the Thursday market, serving a variety of fruit and veg, along with food stalls where artisan bakers make flatbreads and coffee shops that issue the scents of real Turkish brews. For souvenirs, beachside shopping is the go-to, with several opportunities to grab some Marmaris merchandise along the promenade.
Great value for money
Is Marmaris worth visiting if you’re on a tight budget? Yep – this town gives great bang for your buck. Whether you’re a backpacker on a shoestring or simply looking to cut down costs this year, this town often comes in as a cheaper option than many similar European resorts, especially the ones just across the Aegean in Greece.
Eating out over here will certainly not put much of a dent on the bank account, with a three-course meal costing as little as 60 Turkish Lira ($7). If you’re dining with little ones, some places even offer free or half-price meals for them. Marmaris is also a haven for fast food and street eats which bring prices down even more, while one of the top activities – hitting the beach – is totally free. Just be warned that beverages are on the pricier side.
And when it comes to accommodation, you can find hostels from as little as 93 Turkish Lira ($11) and average hotel prices for around 346 – 464 Turkish Lira ($41 -55). However, even some 5-star hotels go for the inexpensive price of 582 Turkish Lira ($69) a night – how’s that for luxury on a budget?
Is Marmaris worth visiting? Our conclusion
So, is Marmaris worth visiting? Totally! There are some cracking reasons that you’d want to visit this town on the Turkish coast. The beaches usually hit the headlines and they truly are fantastic, going from buzzy Urban Beach to the quieter coves that string along the Turkish Riviera to the east and west. On top of that, the town is a yachting mecca and a top place to shop and party, especially during the summer months. Oh, and we think you should find that it’s great value for money.