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Introducing Marmaris

The once-sleepy fishing village of Marmaris sits on the marvellous natural harbour where Lord Nelson organised his fleet for the attack on the French at Abukir in 1798. The setting may still be glorious but the picturesque old part of town around the harbour and castle is now all but lost in the concrete sprawl trailing off to the west.

In the summer the town’s population swells to around 200, 000, mostly package holiday-makers. The bazaar is full of expensive souvenirs and budget tourists, the streets are full of traffic, and the restaurant scene is based on fish and chips with beer by the gallon. But, to its credit, the town council has woken up and the harbourside promenade now boasts some handsome albeit modern stone buildings. The town also has a disarmingly liberal attitude – there aren’t many other places in Turkey where a bikini-clad, tattooed tourist draining a can of beer on the main street at noon doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

If it’s a last night out, a boat cruise or a ferry to Greece you’re after, this is the place. Marmaris still has Turkey’s largest and most modern yacht marina and is consequently the country’s busiest yacht-charter port; and the bar district and harbour have a great range of places to drink.

The rugged coastline around Marmaris is an undiscovered gem – only 10km from Marmaris’ bright lights, the deeply indented coastline holds bays of azure sea backed by pine-covered mountains. When you need to escape, hire a car or motorcycle and cruise around the rugged Reşadiye and Hisarönü Peninsulas.