So, What For The Future Of Marmaris?

In 2010, you may remember we were showcasing what we loved about Southwest coastal Turkey in winter when we visited places like Sarıgerme and Akyaka. We usually hired a car and stopped off in these areas en route to Dalaman Airport or Milas-Bodrum Airport to pick up our winter visitors. Flight diversions meant we had to get a car to rescue stranded friends in Bodrum and if you’ve ever driven from Fethiye to Bodrum, you’ll know that 4 hours on a winding road is a bit of trek.

On one particular occasion, having done the Bodrum Airport run a couple of times before, we decided to have a whole day out en-route. Our first stop was Marmaris. Why Marmaris? Because we’ve never wanted to go there! This is British package-holiday-heaven and it was time we dared to tread where millions of others had dared to tread before us. Time to leave the comfort zone.

This was in the hope that we would be pleasantly surprised. We’d been to Marmaris in the past to get catch the ferry or catamaran to Rhodes and we’d passed through town en route to the Datça Peninsula. All looked pretty and peaceful on those occasions – but then in a summer party town, things tend to look this way at 7am. This time, it was December, storms were brewing, it was cold.

It wasn’t pretty! Obviously, the grey weather didn’t help matters but, if you know this blog, you’ll know the sunshine is not an important part of our life in Turkey. We love Fethiye after a storm so what was the problem with Marmaris? Why haven’t we written about it till now, 13 months later? Truthfully, because we always want to be positive on this blog and we were struggling for positive things to write.

Marmaris Meal

Bargain lokanta food in Marmaris

After parking the car, we wandered around a semi-deserted town where most of the shops in the centre were closed. We enjoy the tranquillity of closed-up tourist resorts – but Marmaris should have been different. We all used to laugh in Fethiye when we got money-off vouchers for particular stores at the supermarkets: our nearest store was always Marmaris. Not a lot of use to us.

And so, out of season, we expected Marmaris to be a typical, coastal West Turkish town. But that wasn’t the case. Thankfully – and a plug for this place if they are still in business – we found Star Lokanta, close to the ‘Bar Street’ entrance; one of the only places that was open. It was lunchtime and the chef was just placing all the food into the trays of the bain marie. Presumably, people were going to appear from wherever they worked to eat all this fabulous food. There was a lot of it!

‘You can have a bit of everything if you want,’ the chef said, nonchalantly. Fed up and feeling a bit sad, we went for that comfort option. Wise choice and cheap! Along with the Old Town, it was a definite highlight.

Marmaris Old Town

Marmaris old town is very pretty

Marmaris has a huge marina and a beautifully maintained, inhabited old town – but we think there’s even more to come for future visitors. When we were on the Datça Peninsula at the end of November we stopped off in Marmaris on the way back to Fethiye and we were expecting the same scene of closed-up shops and bars.

Granted, the sky was a pristine, clear blue and the sunshine always puts a different slant on things, but Marmaris is definitely changing. We’d heard that Marmaris wanted to improve its holiday image, but we were wondering what would actually be done about it. How do you go about changing the image of a town in a short time?

Explore Marmaris Old Town

Wandering the streets of Marmaris old town

Well, a large, popular supermarket with a couple of floors and an underground carpark is currently being demolished. What will appear in its place we have no idea, but all this is really close to the seaside and the old town. Previously-closed shops on the street opposite are now patisseries, coffee shops and clothes shops. It was open for business and, most importantly, it was busy with locals.

We’re intrigued. So intrigued, we might have to venture back to Marmaris over summer to check it out. Will it be an all-new Marmaris? We’ll see…

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  1. Well, something needs to be done. This might pee off some of my readers but Marmaris is awful. Gumbet is bad enough but it’s tiny by comparison. It’s a shame. As you say the old town is lovely, the vista out to sea is stunning and the surrounding countryside is lovely.

  2. @ Jack Scott: We thought that when we wrote the post but Marmaris has such a bad reputation. It’s so pretty and something needs to change. Looks like there’s a lot happening. Let’s see.

  3. We went to Marmaris about 10 years ago and thought we were put off Turkey for life. “Never again”, I said even if it was a free holiday. Thankfully, 2 years ago, we decided to give Calis Beach a go and found the Turkey we’d hoped for 10 years previously. We also incorporated a day visit again to Marmaris as my brother was holidaying there at the same time. I shouldn’t have bothered. It was worse than I’d remembered!!!

  4. Looks like it would be booming in summer. “A bit of everything” when it comes to food, is always a good option 🙂

  5. I don’t think Marmaris is that bad compared to other places I have seen. I worked there for nine months, some years ago and most of my time was spent at the Marina end.Every place has its plus points and embarrassing aspects. I do think in the case of Marmaris the plus points far outweigh the negatives

  6. Looking forward to coming updates on the development of Marmaris. Part of the Turkish coast went a bit head over heels into tourism, and it’s about time they landed back on their feet.

  7. @ Anonymous: Well let’s hope the changes that are being made will make people want to return. Glad you enjoyed your time in Çalış.

    @ Corinne: It’s most definitely booming in summer. Would love to have a night out there just to see what it’s like. That meal was spot on, by the way. 😉

    @ Natalie: Hope so. We’ve never spent time there in summer. We are curious, though. 🙂

    We were just sad to see a town in winter that looked so tired. Marmaris should be a working town with life beyond the tourist trade but it wasn’t like that last year when we were there. In November, it looked great, though.

    We’ve got friends staying in Içmeler in the summer so we’re going to go over to see them. Will be able to check out the summer scene, then! 🙂

    @ Italian Notes: Well, hopefully, we can update in the summer when we go back there. 🙂

  8. Interesting post! Sometimes I’ve had high expectations like when I went to Athens last summer and then was sorely disappointed. Sure it was great to see the parthenon and coliseum, but I just didn’t get the appeal of Athens esp. in dusty, sweltering August!

  9. @ Joy: Thanks. We really want to go to Athens – perhaps not in August 🙂 – but we’ve heard it’s love/hate thing. Wonder which group we would fall into.

  10. Nothing I have ever read has inspired me to go to Marmaris. It’s a shame though that, if the old town is as pretty as you say, that it is not given credance and visits encouraged. Poor old Marmaris seems to disappear down the list of places to visit very quickly!

  11. @ Jenny: You’re right. The old town is beautiful – as you can see in the photos – but as is the case with many places like this, bar street is in the old town too, so we’re guessing it must be noisy at night in summer. Let’s see what happens this summer because there are supposed to be some changes afoot. 🙂

  12. interesting post..
    chanced by your space while blog hopping…amazing space you have..
    love your presentation with stunning cliks..
    Am your happy follower now..;)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  13. @ Jay: Thanks for visiting and reading the post. Nice to know we can be found in that way. 🙂 Will drop by your blog soon.

  14. Your photos from the old town look very nice, Julia. I’ll be interested to see your report on any improvements in the future.

  15. @ Andrew Graeme Gould: We might find ourselves over that way during the upcoming summer season so we’ll see what, if anything, has changed then. The old town is lovely.

  16. We were in Marmaris in 2000 and while we’ve seen much prettier and more interesting towns in Turkey, I didn’t think it was that bad. Certainly much better than the Bulgarian resorts.

  17. @ Sophie: Yes, and the immediate surrounding areas are so unspoilt and beautiful. Marmaris should be a flagship town of this area. We’ve never seen the Bulgarian resorts in the flesh. Hope to change that one day.

  18. AboutMarmaris Turkiye says

    Hello. I was searching on the internet for something and came across your website. I know this may sound strange, but I was so curious to read about your unwanted to trip to Marmaris 🙂 Without making this comment long I just want to say that there is a lot going in Marmaris now. I am so pleased about it that I am actually following the developments everyday and sharing it on my site. You may not want to approve this comment, which is no problem with me, just wanted to tell you that any updates on Marmaris you can get them from either my blog aboutmarmaris(dot)org or my facebook profile [email protected] Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it. It is always nice to read what others have experienced good or bad. By the way Fethiye is a fantastic place too ! 🙂 Cheers

  19. @ AboutMarmarisTurkiye: Glad the changes are happening in Marmaris because it’s in such a beautiful part of Turkey. Look forward to seeing your posts about it. 🙂

  20. Well after visiting Marmaris 2 times already this year I can honestly say that this popular town is on the way up! The old Tansas is no longer there znd in its place a wonderful water themed light show that operates every day at 9 pm! The harbour has been given a makeover with new statues, lighting and statues. And made wider with great tiled flooring all the way. Something that was missing was litter bins that have now been attached to lamposts

  21. @ Anonymous: Yes, we heard about those water fountains. Thanks for the update and it looks like we’er going to have to head back to Marmaris soon, just to see for ourselves. we were there for a couple of hours last November and could see the Tansas had been pulled down. Interesting times. 🙂

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