This big, brash resort city has two faces, and they're hard to reconcile. From the sea, a line of hotels stretches around the northern edge of a great bay, the whole encircled by a magical necklace of pine-clad mountains. Behind those same hotels, however, the city has been overwhelmed by boxy concrete development and streets lined with a hundred generically named eateries. An annual horde of European tourists descends on these workaday establishments, but for the international traveler, there is little about Marmaris that can’t be savored elsewhere in Turkey. Although it is a pretty spot, there isn’t much reason to linger unless you are meeting a yacht, traveling on to the Greek island of Rhodes, or perhaps snapping up an unbeatable deal at one of the top resorts, some of which are spectacular worlds unto themselves.
This restaurant in the Netsel marina has a lot more style and dignity than you would guess from the name, and it's a great escape from the mass tourism of Marmaris. The house specialty is tender Anatolian oven-cooked lamb; however, the chef also prepares octopus, pasta, pizza, steak, Turkish grills, and divine desserts. Above Pineapple is its sister restaurant, My Marina English, which has quite nice balcony views.
Yat Marina Restaurant
Far from Marmaris's madding crowds, this is where to go for a taste of international yachting life. The chefs don't go in for the omnibus menus common in town, preferring to concentrate their considerable talents on getting favorite Turkish dishes just right. Dishes include pasta, steak, and, not surprisingly, a lot of seafood. It's fun to walk around the busy marina where huge rigs pull millionaires' luxury motor cruisers from the water as European pensioners scrub the hulls of their much smaller "pocket" yachts. Patrons can use the pool beside the restaurant.
Marmaris comes alive at night with a wide selection of bars and dance clubs. European charter tourists practice the art of serious drinking on Bar Street in the old town and its four solid blocks of drinking establishments. The major clubs here offer seething dance floors, and it's generally an opportunity for excess.
At İçmeler Beach itself are dance clubs and karaoke bars with raucous crowds partying into the night.
Back Street Garden Bar
The largest open-air club on Bar Street is Back Street Garden Bar.
The party goes on farther west, toward İçmeler, at the restaurant-bar Malibu Beach.
There are few historic sites in what was until a few decades ago a small, sleepy fishing port. One is a modest 16th-century citadel: first built by Süleyman the Magnificent, then shelled to bits by the French in the First World War, and rebuilt in the 1980s. There is a small museum inside (both are closed on Monday).
The city's best achievement is a 10-km (7-mile) seafront promenade that stretches all the way from the easternmost marina known as Netsal, past the old fortress, along the palm-lined main boulevard of town, and then out between the beach and the fancy hotels that line the coast, all the way west to the outlying resort of Içmeler. Along the way there are any number of cafés at which to pause for refreshment or to take in fine views of sea and mountains. For 10 TL, you can ride back on one of the shared water taxis that run up and down the coast in season (usually April–November).