Marmaris is a port town and tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast, located in Muğla Province, southwest Turkey, along the shoreline of the Turkish Riviera.
It was a small fishing village in a great natural harbor 50 years ago, an obvious location for development. At the height of summer there can be 250,000 people staying in the many hotels, apartments and private villas, all there for the hot climate, busy nightlife and the obligatory suntan. It has become one of the top tourist towns in Turkey.
The name Marmaris comes from the Turkish word ‘mermer’ which means ‘marble. The region is famous for marble and the port played an important role in trade. There was settlement here long before the name Marmaris was adopted. The historian Herodotus states that there was a castle here in 3000 BC while in 334 BC Alexander the Great took it and housed soldiers there due to its obvious strategic value.
It is also a centre for sailing and diving, possessing two major and several smaller marinas. It is a popular wintering location for hundreds of cruising boaters, being also served by the nearby Dalaman Airport.
Marmaris has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) characterised by a hot dry summer and mild rainy winter. Showers and rain are very unlikely between May and October.
Summers are hot and dry, and temperatures are especially high during the heatwaves in July and August. October is still warm and bright, though with spells of rain, and many tourists prefer to visit in the early autumn, especially in September, because the temperatures are not as hot.
Winters are mild and wet. Winter is the rainy season, with major precipitation falling after November. The annual rainfall can reach to 1,232.7 milimetres (48.531 in); the rainfall is concentrated during scattered days in winter falling in heavy cloudbursts which cause flash floods sometimes in flood prone areas.
Although it is not certain when Marmaris was founded, in the 6th century BC the site was known as Physkos (Ancient Greek: Φύσκος) and considered part of Caria.
According to the historian Herodotus, there had been a castle on the site since 3000 BC. In 334 BC, Caria was invaded by Alexander the Great and the castle of Physkos was besieged. The 600 inhabitants of the town realised that they had no chance against the invading army and burned their valuables in the castle before escaping to the hills with their women and children. The invaders, well aware of the strategic value of the castle, repaired the destroyed sections to house a few hundred soldiers before the main army returned home.
The town became known as Marmaris during the period of the Beylik of Menteşe; the name derives from the Turkish word mermer, Greek màrmaron (marble) in reference to the rich deposits of marble in the region, and the prominent role of the town’s port in the marble trade.
In the mid-fifteenth century, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror conquered and united the various tribes and kingdoms of Anatolia and the Balkans, and acquired Constantinople. The Knights of St. John, based in Rhodes had fought the Ottoman Turks for many years; they also withstood the onslaughts of Mehmed II. When sultan Suleiman the Magnificent set out for the conquest of Rhodes, Marmaris served as a base for the Ottoman Navy and Marmaris Castle was rebuilt from scratch in 1522.
Lord Nelson and his entire fleet sheltered in the harbour of Marmaris in 1798, en route to Egypt to defeat Napoleon’s armada during the Mediterranean campaign.
In 1958, Marmaris was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. Only the Marmaris Castle, and the historic buildings surrounding the fortress were left undamaged.
Since 1979, renovation work has been continuing at the castle. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, the castle was converted into a museum. There are seven galleries. The largest is used as an exhibition hall, the courtyard is decorated with seasonal flowers. Built at the same time as the castle in the bazaar, there is also a small Ottoman caravanserai built by Suleiman’s mother Ayşe Hafsa Sultan.
Nimara Cave is a cave on Heaven Island near Marmaris. Since ancient times, the cave was used as a place of worship. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, human presence in the cave (as well as the old city of Physkos, today called Marmaris), dates back to 3,000 BC. However, excavations carried out by the Municipality of Marmaris in 2007 extended this period to almost 12,000 years back. The research conducted in the cave has revealed the existence of a cult of Mother Goddess Leto, believed to be the mother of God Apollo and Goddess Artemis, in the ancient city of Physkos. The cave is located at the highest point of Heaven Island and was used as a place of worship by the ancient residents of the town of Nimara. The worshipping took place around the main rock that exists even today. This main rock is surrounded by stone altars in a semi-circle raised at about 30 cm from the ground. Offerings to the Mother Goddess Leto were placed on these elevated stones. The offerings were made in the form of cremations, glass beads, terracotta, and sculptures of Leto. The cave was also in use during the Roman period. Nimara Cave has been declared a protected area in 1999. It shelters trogloxene butterflies, identical to those living in Fethiye’s Butterfly Valley (Turkish: Kelebekler Vadisi).
The Marmaris peninsula is the westernmost habitat for Tulipa armena, which normally grows in Eastern Turkey, Iran and Transcaucasia at much higher altitudes.The plants may have been introduced during the Ottoman period.
Dalyan is a small town in the Mugla Province located near the district of Marmaris on the south west coast of Turkey. The town sits by the picturesque river Dalyan after which it is named. It is one of the most prominent resort towns on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Established in an environmentally protected area, the town is filled with intriguing restaurants and bars in a charming riverside setting. The magnificent ruins of the ancient city of Caunos stand majestically by the river banks along the nearby Iztuzu Beach. Over the years, it has become quite a popular tourist destination filled with natural beauty and historic chops.
The luminous natural beauty and archaeological heritage of Dalyan creates some unique opportunities for travellers to experience. The ancient city of Caunus, also known as Kaunos, is quite charming and intriguing. This city is believed to date back as far as 3000BC. This city was home to two harbours, a theatre, four temples, an agora, stoa, baths, churches and a cistern. On the banks of Dalyan, carved in the cliffs are the famous Lycian tombs of the Kings. The tombs stand majestically along the riverside and boat trip will provide quite the satisfying view. The Lycian Rock Tombs overlooking the Dalyan Delta are the last resting place of the King of Caunos. To see the tombs looming in the cliffs all you need to do is arrange a two hour guided boat trip at a surprisingly low cost.
If archaeology is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of fascinating natural sights in Dalyan to gaze upon. Iztuzu beach, also known as the turtle beach, is just 13 kilometers away from the center of Dalyan. It is a nesting site for the rare turtle species, the loggerhead turtle. Many projects have been set up in the area to preserve these wonderful creatures. The nesting grounds are indicated by the wooden stacks on the beach. Observing these endangered creatures can be intriguing. You can also check out the headquarters of this turtle rescue center which lies at the southern end of the beach.
For those wanting to have some good (and dirty) fun, head to the Sultaniye Hot Springs situated on the southeast shore of Lake Koycegiz. The hot springs though slightly smelly are believed to provide healing powers and were used for this very reason in ancient times.
Located between Marmaris and Dalyan is the small village of Ekincik. Though it can be accessed by road and sea, the most regular mode of travel here is by gulet. Throughout summer, more than 50 yachts can be harboured here at one time. Ekincik harbour is found on the western cape of the inlet which is covered in pine forest and quite close to the ancient city of Kaunos.
Though many yachts travel to this village in the peak summer months it is still a relatively secluded bay, which is why it has attracted many celebrities over the years including Pamela Anderson, Sting, Dustin Hoffman and even Prince Charles.
Ekincik may be small but this doesn’t mean it lacks in activity. Ekincik has a beautiful stretch of beach with a beautiful backdrop of lush green pine trees and home to many caverns and caves. These can be accessed by boat or by swimming. The mountains located behind the beach prove to be great for trekking as well.
The Ekincik inlet is a stunning and safe spot for yachts to drop anchor however this is not the main reason so many yachts are pulled towards this area. For many years now, the locals of Ekincik have offered a motorboat service to the Ancient City of Kaunos for those in the town and those travelling through on a cabin charter either from Fethiye or Marmaris. This service takes you up the Dalyan River through the tall reeds to witness the magical site of Kaunos. Afterwards, guests on these tours can visit Iztuzu Beach, mud baths and the town center of Dalyan. The mud baths, called Sultaniye Kaplıcaları, are just 12km from Ekincik and believed to have healing powers.
Not far from Ekincik are the small bays of Karaçay and Semisce for more swimming time or east of Ekincik is Delikliburun which is known for its underwater scenes and great diving.
With nearly 250 days of sunshine a year, Icmeler is the perfect place to drink in a mixture of the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas. Icmeler is just 8km from Marmaris city center and 100km from Dalaman airport. Surrounded by pine forests, Icmeler is popular during the winter months due to its mild climate. The city centre reflects the stunning natural beauty surrounding it – flowers adorns the town and there are numerous parks to relax in. Icmeler provides a quiet alternative to the nearby party town of Marmaris.
An amazing tourist destination in the southeast coast of turkey where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, Icmeler, has a distinctive European touch to it. It is a resort town that has been purposefully built to be a top notch tourist attraction and has no shortage of sightseeing opportunities for travellers. With the magnificent view of luxury yachts bobbing in the bay, a boat trip might be the first thing on your list. There are taxi boats to Marmaris and Turunc or you can hire a boat or join a daily tour to nearby bays including Turgut, Semilye, Inuku, Chapel Islands and Cleopatra Islands. All tours are worthwhile taking in stunning secluded bays and coves in the area, as well as some of the major highlights. Icmeler is most famous for its day cruises and moonlight cruises however for those looking for a longer tour, it is best to travel up to Marmaris. Most visitors travelling to this area are either set to embark on a Marmaris blue cruise or have just finished one. These are the most popular cruises in the area.
The beach of Icmeler is often quite crowded but will offer no shortage of fun. Plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas are provided on the beach making it easy to let the whole day slip away relaxing and swimming. The beach is indeed the most prominent attraction in Icmeler as it is often considered a sun, sea and sand holiday destination. You will find plenty of watersports available on this beach as well.
Icmeler is endowed with many charming restaurants, hotels and cafes. Guvec, a clay-pot casserole, or tasty kebabs along with some Turkish wine or raki is very popular among the holiday makers. The Turkish House in Turunc Road is a very popular choice for a delightful Turkish cuisine and there the food is served with blissful Turkish traditional music. The Love Boat at the Devamli Hotel is also a popular place for quality stakes.
If you are travelling with your family, Atlantis Waterpark in Icmeler is a great way to entertain the kids. Throughout the summer season it is open every day from around 10:00am until 7:00pm. Though a smaller park than those found across Europe there are plenty of slides and water activities to keep both the locals and tourists entertained all day long.
The nightlife of Icmeler is certainly too good to miss out on. Most of the bars in Icmeler have good quality disco, karaoke and live shows. And many of these bars are adjacent to the beach and create a more sensational atmosphere. Among the most popular nightclubs is Abone which is great place to enjoy a bit of dancing, drinking and a few enchanting night hours.
Cennet Island is also commonly known as Paradise Island and located in the region Marmaris. The beautiful island is covered in pine forest and it has a pristine coastline for a perfect dip into the sea. There is a rocky outcrop that joins the island to the main land, which can be reached by car so attracts many visitors alike who enjoy coming to walk among the many trekking paths scattered across the whole island. It’s not too far from Marmaris and well worthy of a quick stop.
The name Cennet Island translates into Paradise Island and after seeing the translucent beauty of the island the name will not seem farfetched at all. Although it is thought of as an island, it is actually a peninsula (called Nimara Peninsula) and can be reached by car. It is covered in fascinating pine forests all around. It is a very popular boat trip destination for holiday makers and most boat tours make a stop at the island in travelling in this region. If you have come by land, you can also take an 8 kilometer car ride to Yalanci Bogaz and from there walk onwards to the beach to take a charming trek on the Island. Yalanci Bogaz, also known as fake straight due to a captain’s mistake where he thought he could moor here during a storm but actually ran aground. This is a rocky area that connects Paradise Island to the main land. The landscape of the island will offer much to appreciate and provide some fantastic opportunities for photos.
The island has some thrilling caves. One of them is the blue cave which has phosphorescent blue light coming out of its walls reflecting the water. The legend has it that if you throw a coin into the water in the cave, your wish will come true. You can also visit the other caves in the surrounding area which has some fascinating stalactites and stalagmites on their rocky surfaces.
Cennet Island is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the other surrounding tourist destinations. Those who come to the island love to spend a relaxed day of just swimming and sunbathing. There is a wide range of cafes and restaurants on the island. Most of them are located by the seafront or harbour. You can always fill up your food basket and arrange a peaceful picnic in the midst of the pine trees. There is also a working shipyard in the island and sight of men building yachts and repairing gulets can be quite sensational.