Icmeler Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia at night © Moyan Brenn
Set on the southeast coast of Turkey where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, the purpose-built beach resort of Icmeler has a distinctly European flavour, with luxury yachts bobbing in the bay and a cosmopolitan crowd of holidaymakers sipping cocktails at the sea-front bars. Icmeler's package-holiday aura is, however, tempered by its scenic setting, with steep hills clad in pine forests plunging into the turquoise waters all around the town.
Unlike its close neighbour, the bustling resort of Marmaris just a few miles south, Icmeler has a relaxed village atmosphere, while lacking none of the modern amenities. The resort is scrupulously clean and well maintained, from its regularly raked shingly sand beaches to its litter-free promenade. The town is also resplendent with well-kept gardens, which soften the lines of the dozens of hotel and apartment blocks.
Icmeler does have a central shopping mall, which is adequate for acquiring essentials and holidaymakers can have a pleasant browse for souvenirs. For more local flavour, there is a market on Wednesdays where bargain hunters and hagglers can test their skills. Serious shoppers, though, would be better advised to take a short dolmus ride into nearby Marmaris where it is possible to shop for hours, especially in the fascinating covered bazaar of the old town.
Icmeler is well-supplied with restaurants of all sorts, but most holidaymakers particularly enjoy local specialities like Guvec, a clay-pot casserole, or tasty kebabs, washed down with some Turkish wine or raki, the traditional aniseed spirit. Good choice for Turkish cuisine is the Turkish House in Turunc Road where the food is served up to the tune of traditional music. For good steaks a favourite is the Love Boat at the Devamli Hotel. For variety the menu at the Majestic Restaurant is a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Italian. On Sundays the Kingsland Chinese Restaurant above the undercover market surprisingly serves up a top British lunch.
Icmeler is not a clubbing holiday resort, but there are plenty of pubs, which keep hopping with a lively atmosphere until the wee hours. The nightlife may be low key, but those who want something more frenetic have only to grab a dolmus and ride a short distance to Marmaris, where the pace is hotter. Icmeler's only true nightclub, Abone, provides for those who enjoy a dance, while some of the bars have discos, karaoke and live shows. Like many resorts, the more popular bars are clustered by the beachfront.
Having a magnificent beach, Icmeler is primarily a sun, sea, and sand holiday destination, with a wide variety of watersports on offer at the resort hotels and along the sea front, including sailing, scuba diving, and waterskiing. Those who feel inclined to make excursions will find plenty to be of interest. Favourites are boat trips to 'Cleopatra's Isle', the waterfalls of Pamukkale with their therapeutic spring waters, and the archaeological site of Ephesus.
The beach in Icemeler is shingle and travellers should be aware of this before booking their holiday.