As a relatively small city in Southern Turkey, Adana has gone under the radar of most guidebooks. But Adana’s lush parks, historic marketplaces, and delicious Turkish food make the city an ideal retreat for anyone seeking a relaxing getaway. Situated on the banks of the Seyhan River, Adana is city steeped in natural, historical and architectural beauty.
Lebanese travelers will feel immediately at home in this city that is saturated with an undeniably Middle Eastern flavor. You can spend afternoons exploring the city’s parks and tree-lined streets, unwind in one of the new luxury hotels and spas, or indulge in the delicious local food.
What to See
1. Merkez Camii Mosque and Park
The city’s most prominent feature is the beautiful Merkez Camii Mosque, which sits along the water’s edge and serves as the backdrop to the cityscape. The mosque is breathtaking in both its size and beauty and the enormous park surrounding it only adds to its grandeur. Spend an afternoon walking down the river’s edge, taking pictures of this incredible mosque from every angle.
2. Tas Kopru Bridge
The Tas Kopru Bridge is an ancient Roman bridge that remains fully intact and in use by Adana locals today. Built in the early second century, the bridge has been central to Adana for hundreds of years, and is a unique piece of history that visitors can enjoy by foot or bicycle. Along the bridge are vendors selling trinkets, souvenirs and traditional Turkish sweets.
3. Varda Koprusu Bridge
Commonly known as “James Bond Bridge,” Varda Koprusu received its claim to fame when Mr. Bond famously dove off the bridge in the opening scene for “Skyfall (2013).” You don’t need to be a James Bond fan to appreciate the beauty of the Varda Koprusu Bridge. The bridge is an hour drive outside of Adana and tucked into the green Turkish mountains.
A trip to the bridge would not be complete without a stop to the nearby restaurant, where local women prepare handmade sandwiches filled with spiced potatoes, cheese and spinach.
4. Old Adana Souk and Clock Tower
Walking through the narrow and winding streets of Old Adana, visitors can get a sense of the layers of history the city holds. Men sip tea in rickety chairs, playing backgammon, while vendors sell sweets and fruits to local children out of wooden carts.
What to Eat
Adana is best known for its kebabs, and rightfully so. Their spiced kebabs are made of ground lamb, and served in a sandwich or on a platter, accompanied by pita bread, roasted tomatoes and parsley. You can find the kebabs in up-scale restaurants or as a cheap street-food option. The kebabs, and Adana food in general, use spices and ingredients similar to those in Lebanese cooking, including thyme, allspice, cinnamon and generous amounts of garlic—like the Turkish Lahmacun, dough topped with herbs and meat, which is reminiscent of Lebanese Lahambiajin, both in name and flavor. For desert, Adana serves up a delish fried dough, topped with spiced called Karakush, as well as local fruits, and of course, Turkish delight.
Where to Stay
Adana has a great offering of luxury hotels. The Sheraton (sheratonadanahotel.com, +90 322 2371717)and the Hilton (hiltonadana.com, +90 322 355 50 00) are both great choices that sit directly on the river’s edge and overlook the Merkez Camii Mosque and Taskorpu Bridge. Of the two, The Sheraton has better rooms while the Hilton has a more picturesque view. Nonetheless, both offer first-class restaurants and are fully equipped with fitness centers, tennis courts, pools, saunas, and spas. The Divan Adana (divanadana.com.tr,+90 3223421700) is another 5-star hotel in the area that stands apart with its ultra-modern style.
Who To Go With
Nevatur (nevatur.com, +90 3224595060)s a great tour company that organizes a selection of day trips both within Adana and to nearby sites. They offer private transportation, cultural and gastronomy excursions, and week-long cultural packages. Chamber of Adana Tourist Guides is another established tour group that has a wide variety of tours, and offers trained tour guides in both English and Arabic.