Marmaris or Antalya: Which Is Better?

Marmaris or Antalya: Which Is Better?

Thinking about a vacation on the Turkish Riviera? It's a great idea! The blue waters of the Mediterranean are beautiful, and the historic towns are lovely.

But which one to choose, Antalya or Marmaris? Both are popular and have their own good and bad points.

This guide will give you information about both Antalya and Marmaris to help you decide. We'll look at beaches, history, food, attractions, nightlife, and how easy it is to get around.

Marmaris or Antalya for Beach

One of the main reasons people choose Antalya or Marmaris is to enjoy the beautiful turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the warm weather. Both cities in Turkey are on the Turkish Riviera, giving them access to stunning waters.

The beaches in the city centers of both places are often crowded.

In Antalya, there are more beaches around the province that can be easily reached by public transport. Some of the nicest beaches include Lara Beach, Mermerli Beach, Konyaalti Beach, Çıralı Beach, and Kaputas Beach. Antalya is also close to Alanya, which has lovely beaches like Cleopatra Beach, known for its connection to Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.

In Marmaris, the main beach in town is often crowded. However, there are quieter and nicer beaches nearby. Icmeler Beach is close to Marmaris and is beautiful with sunbeds, drinks, and music. Icon Beach and Amos Beach are also nice and located in sheltered bays. Marmaris beaches are generally more sheltered, making them good for kids to play in the gentler waves.

Marmaris or Antalya for History

Antalya has a long history and is full of historical sites. It was built around 200 BCE by the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon. The port dates back even further to 150 BCE, when it was used as a base for King Attalus II’s naval fleet.

The city was later conquered by the Romans who made Antalya thrive. They built Hadrian’s Gate and many neighboring cities. In 1319, it fell into Ottoman hands who ruled for five hundred years.

After WWI, the city was occupied by Italy for three years but was taken back by the newly independent Turkey after the Turkish War of Independence.

In Antalya, visitors can see many historical attractions including the Old Town, which has well-preserved ancient buildings. Other historical attractions in the area are the old Roman Harbor, Hidirlik Tower, and the Termessos Ruins. It's also close to the Ancient City of Perge and Aspendos, known for their ancient ruins. Antalya is also a day trip away from Demre, the gateway to the Myra Ancient City and Lycian Rock Tombs.

Marmaris’s earliest history is unknown, but it is thought to have been founded in the 8th century BCE and known as Physkos, where a castle was built.

In 334 BC, Marmaris was invaded by Alexander the Great and the castle was besieged. The invaders saw value in the castle and repaired it to house a few hundred soldiers.

The city became known as Marmaris in 1260-1290 during the Beylik of Menteşe period. It became a port city and was considered part of Rhodes, Greece until it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1425. The Ottomans rebuilt the Marmaris Castle in 1521 AD to serve as a fortress against any assaults from Rhodes.

The oldest landmark resides just outside Marmaris. Archeologists uncovered a rock tomb that they believe dates back to 2300 BC and is said to belong to an Ancient Greek boxer known as Diagoras.

Marmaris or Antalya for Attractions

No matter which place you prefer, both Antalya and Marmaris have great attractions worth seeing. They both have lots of beaches, but each city has its own unique sights.

In Antalya, you can visit the historic center called Kaleici, which has many old landmarks. There’s also the Roman harbor, Turkish Bazaar, and several interesting museums. For families, there are many fun water parks. Antalya is also a good base to visit other places in Turkey, like the Lycian Rock Tombs, the Taurus Mountains, and the Ancient city of Perge, all within a day trip.

Marmaris is a beautiful seaside town with many water activities. You can enjoy boat trips, snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports like jet skiing and parasailing, or just relax on the beach. There’s also a castle and some natural sites surrounded by pine forests, great for hiking in mild winters. For kids, there are a few water parks.

However, you might find that after a few days in Marmaris, you have seen most of the main attractions. In Antalya, you could stay a whole week and still have more to see.

Marmaris or Antalya for Food

Eating out is very important, and we know it can be hard to find places to eat. But in Antalya or Marmaris, you won't have any problems finding good food.

Antalya has its own special dishes, often with Tahini. You can try Tahini Piyaz Salad or Tahini Pumpkin Dessert. This creamy sauce is very popular here. Being by the beach, Antalya is also known for its ice cream. You can even try unique flavors like burnt ice cream and lentil ice cream. These are special to Antalya and worth tasting.

Marmaris offers many different types of food. You can find international restaurants serving European and Asian dishes, in case you want something familiar. There are also Turkish food options, but many places cater to tourists with international cuisine.

If you like trying new foods, you'll find more restaurants in Antalya that suit your taste. Both places have great seafood, but we especially love the stuffed mussels in Antalya.

Marmaris or Antalya for Families

Antalya has many family attractions, so you’ll never be bored. There’s the Toy Museum, Sandland, and waterparks like Aktur Park, Karaalioglu Park, and Waterhill. You can also visit waterfalls and beaches.

Marmaris is very safe with low crime and a calm vibe. The waves are gentle for swimming, making it great for families with young kids. There are family-friendly places like the waterpark and beaches.

Marmaris or Antalya for Hotels and Resorts

When it comes to resorts, both Antalya and Marmaris have great places to stay. Antalya is larger than Marmaris, so it has more choices for vacation rentals, luxury resorts, all-inclusive resorts, and high-end hotels.

In the summer, both places are very popular, and the best hotels get booked quickly. But Marmaris's top hotels tend to fill up faster because of the sailboats that come this time of year. To avoid missing out, book your stay early.

In Antalya, it's easier to find last-minute bookings. You'll also find some of the best high-end resorts in all of Turkey, like the seven-star Saturn Palace Resort Hotel.

Marmaris or Antalya for Nightlife

In Marmaris, there are a few bars by the marina and the beach, but only a couple of nightclubs. Marmaris attracts luxury vacationers and boat lovers, so you will find fancy beach bars serving tasty cocktails.

You can party all night in both Antalya and Marmaris, but Antalya has more bars and clubs to choose from.

Nightlife in Antalya is described as 'colorful' because of the many options. You can relax in a beach bar, have drinks at a cocktail bar, dance in a nightclub, or enjoy live music downtown.

Antalya has a street near the harbor called Bar Street, which is full of bars and clubs. Unlike Marmaris, Antalya has a strong nightlife culture and draws a younger crowd.

Marmaris or Antalya for Modern Conveniences

When we talk about modern conveniences, we mean how easy it is to get around, buy groceries, and access everything you need daily. Vacationing should be stress-free, so getting from place to place needs to be easy.

The closest airport to Marmaris is in Dalaman. There is a direct bus from Dalaman Airport to Marmaris, so you don't need to worry about transfers or taxis. The city is also easy to navigate; you can take taxis, taxi boats, or rent cars and bikes.

Most things to do in Marmaris are within walking distance, and there are minibusses (called dolmus locally) to take you to popular beaches and nearby areas.

Antalya is much larger, so getting around requires more planning, but it has its own airport with a tram connecting to the city center.

The city has a good bus network that goes to many nearby cities and beaches. However, you need to plan for day trips more than in Marmaris.

Both cities have plenty of supermarkets, pharmacies, and a hospital. Marmaris has a few pharmacies, all close to each other.


Both Marmaris and Antalya give travelers unique experiences. Marmaris is easy to explore, with many attractions close by and simple public transport, making it great for a hassle-free vacation. Antalya is larger and needs more planning, but it has good transport and many amenities throughout the city. Whether you like easy access and a relaxed vibe or a bigger city with more facilities, both places offer different travel experiences. In the end, choosing between Marmaris and Antalya depends on the type of trip you want.


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