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I first visited Marmaris back when I was 18. We were a group of 10 friends and set off from Gatwick with matching t-shirts and every intention to forget the gruelling final exams we’d just survived. Culture and adventure weren’t top of our priorities list – sun, sea and silly memories were.
It was your typical teenage holiday, and we weren’t the only ones who’d had the idea. Marmaris was packed with other holidaymakers – mostly Brits – who wanted beaches during the day and bars during the night. Even though it was fun at the time, it left me with the impression that Marmaris was nothing more than another ‘Brits abroad’ party town.
It’s safe to say that I was a little apprehensive to go back earlier this year. I went in fully prepared for the tacky gift shops, lobster red tourists and messy remnants of the night before that I remembered from last time…. but they weren’t there.
What happened to Marmaris?
Either Marmaris has grown up or my memory is even worse than I thought – and I couldn’t have been happier to discover it. It’s easy to write off a destination you think isn’t worth going back to, but Marmaris reminded me that places, just like people, can evolve. And on this trip to Marmaris, it was clear that the town isn’t what it used to be.
Who knew that there was so much hiding behind the tourist traps and English breakfasts that plastered every street back then? Marmaris has a lot to offer and I would have had no idea had I not gone back. Here are eight of the most magical excursions I took there – the ones that showed me a completely different side of popular Turkish town.
8 things to do in Marmaris
Just as you’d expect from a popular tourist destination, there’s plenty to do in Marmaris. The beaches are beautiful, seas are made for swimming and you won’t have to look far to find good food.
But if you want to do something a little different, Marmaris won’t disappoint you. Here are eight of the most unique Marmaris excursions to enjoy while you’re there. They combine local traditions with the region’s specialities, so it’ll be a trip to remember. Even if you’ve taken plenty of Turkey holidays before, you can be sure this one will be unique.
#1 Cover yourself in mud
Covering yourself in mud might not sound like a fun experience to have on holiday, but don’t knock it. The mud at the Dalyan mud baths do INCREDIBLE things for skin. Spend an hour or so enjoying the full experience, from letting the mud dry to enjoying a warm soak afterwards. You can also pick up a packet of mud to take home so you can enjoy the benefits long after you leave.
BOOK A TOUR: Full day Dalyan trip with mud baths
#2 Enjoy dinner with a view
If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have said the restaurants in Marmaris only serve British favourites. But on returning, there wasn’t a single pizza, burger or full English fry-up in sight.
Instead, we feasted on traditional Turkish food and mezze, and enjoyed some fantastic views while we did so. The Marmaris marina is lined with inviting restaurants, but head further back into the winding streets. If you’re climbing up, there’s a good chance you’ll find a restaurant with an even better view.
#3 Paddle board in clear blue seas
The Fethiye region of Turkey is most famous for its paragliding, but it’s far from the only sport to enjoy here. Water sports are particularly popular in and around Marmaris and, luckily, it’s surrounded by the kind of water you can’t wait to jump into. You can try everything from jet-skiing to paddle boarding in these calm blue waters.
If you’re a fan of diving, there’s plenty to see below the water too – and it’s surprisingly affordable. A full day of diving can cost as little as £10, so it’s a great place to try it for first-timers too!
#4 Visit a Turkish bath
Everybody should visit a Turkish bath – or hammam – at least once in their life, and where better to try it? The entire process takes around 1-2 hour(s) and includes sauna, scrubbing, washing and a massage. Being scrubbed down by a stranger might be out of your comfort zone, but I guarantee you’ll never have felt cleaner.
BOOK YOUR VISIT: 2-hour Turkish hammam experience
#5 Take a cruise down the Dalyan river
My favourite Marmaris excursion and the moment I fell a little bit in love was a trip down the Dalyan river. It’ll be unlike any other river cruise you’ve done before, with plenty to see on the way. The highlight of the trip was spotting turtles at Turtle Beach, but seeing the incredible Lycian rock tombs came in a close second.
#6 Swim under a waterfall
It might not be as impressive as the waterfalls in Mexico or other epic landscapes around the world, but Turgut Falls is special in its own way. Choose between swimming under the fall’s waters or climbing to its crest. Make sure you leave enough time to explore the other trails and falls around here – it’s much bigger than it seems!
The nearby village of Turgut will give you an insight into local life in the area. Book a full-day village tour to meet and chat with the local village residents.
#7 See the unique waters of the Azmak river
The transparent waters of the Azmak River mean it’s easy to see the impressive life below the surface. Take a 25-minute boat trip down the river and you’ll see a whole jungle of plants, fish and other marine life as you float above it. You’ll also probably spot locals enjoying picnics, photoshoots and the wonderful nature of the area.
#8 Try some honey
It might seem silly to spend time inside when you’re in such a beautiful place, but there’s one place you should visit. The Marmaris honey museum is a surprisingly interesting way to spend a couple of hours. I never knew bees were so interesting and I’d never tasted such amazing honey. Make sure you try the honey pollen yoghurt and pick up some of the famous honey to take home.
Spending more than a few days in Turkey? Why not visit the nearby area of Ölüdeniz, which also has plenty of new experiences to try.