Mersin, also known as Icel, is one of the most modern provinces of the palm lined avenues, city park and modern hotels and a good base for visiting the nearby historical sites and beaches in the southeastern part of Turkey. Mersin is the largest port on the Turkish Mediterranean region, and one of the most crowded cities of Turkey with approximately 1,8 million population. There is also a Free Trade Zone here and it is a business center. In Mersin you may find all the comforts of a modern city and all the characteristics of the Mediterranean cities. Fish is abundant as well as most delicious in this region and in the Mersin fish market you will find inexpensive fish restaurants which are really enjoyable for those who love fish and "Raki" or wine. Although Mersin dates only from the 19th century, it occupies an extremely ancient site. At Mount Yumuktepe the excavations proved that there had been twelve successive settlements beginning from the Neolithic Period.
Icel has also hunting, fishing, picnicking, mountaineering and caving attractions for sports fans. In June 2013, the 17th edition of the Mediterranean Games, known as the Olympics of the countries sitting around the Mediterranean Sea, is organized in Mersin.
Two hours west of Mersin, Anamur is a lovely town situated in the mountains and surrounded by banana plantations thanks to its climate. There are the ruins of ancient Anemorium, 10 kilometers to the west of the town on a fine beach. Anamur Castle is well preserved and provides a fascinating views of the landscape. The road between Anamur and Silifke passes through the pine clad mountains which descend to the sea offering splendid views of cliffs, coves and the brilliant turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
Aydincik is a cute village with pleasant beaches. After Aydincik, to the east, is the most beautiful coastline in Turkey.
Silifke, 90 kilometers from Mersin, is a little bit inland, on the site of the acropolis of ancient Seleucia and Colycadnos. The old bridge crossing the Göksu River, the theater and the temple from Roman times are of interest.
To the north of Silifke there is an excellent excursion opportunity, to Uzuncaburc, ancient Diocaeserea. The road up to the magnificent ancient site of Olba - Diocaeserea is lined with large tombs. In the ancient city there are the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, Olbius and the Temple of Tychaion, and numerous arches, theater, Byzantine church and tower. Also Elaiussa Sebaste is one of the most interesting archaeological sites between Silifke and Erdemli.
Outside Silifke, on the road to Tasucu is the archaeological museum, while further on AyaTekla is the tomb and church of St. Thecla who was the first female martyr.
Tasucu is a pleasant resort town with good accommodations and fine sandy beaches, especially the Aphrodite Beach. The harbor includes regular sea bus services to Girne in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Between Silifke and Mersin there is the little fishing village Narlikuyu which you should not pass by without trying the delicious fish by the turquoise bay. In Narlikuyu you can see a Roman mosaic depicting the Three Graces.
Around Narlikuyu an exciting excursion is to Cennet - Cehennem (Heaven and Hell), and the Astim Dilek Caves which are deep chasms, one of which has a chapel. They are really fascinating and you will understand why they carry these names once you visit.
60 kilometers west of Mersin there is the ancient city Korykos, which is now the resort town of Kizkalesi, with sandy beaches and camping sites. There are important remains which are symbols of that region like The Castle of Korykos on the beach faces the Kizkalesi (Maiden's Castle) which stands on an islet 200 meters offshore. The two castles once used to be joined by a sea wall but now they are separated as the wall submerged. The road from Silifke to Mersin is very enjoyable along the coast; the ancient basilicas, tombs and ruins are on one side of the road and beautiful coves with sandy beaches on the other side.
Ancient Pompeiopolis, founded by Rhodians in 700 BC, provides many remarkable ruins. The modern name of the city is Viransehir and it is 13 kilometers west of Mersin. At Kanlidivane you will see the ruins of the ancient city Kanytelis clinging on the sides of a deep chasm.
Tarsus is the birthplace of St. Paul. Situated on the edge of the fertile Cukurova plain in the city is middle of cedar groves. The city is also the meeting place of legendary loves Antony and Cleopatra, and there is the commemorative Cleopatra Gate. To reach St. Paul's Cistern you pass through narrow streets of the city; the old houses on the sides will prepare for the things you will see . Then you may head for a rest to the Tarsus waterfalls and shady trees. The tombs of Prophet Daniel, Lokman Hekim, a famous legendary medical doctor, are here. There are also many historical places to visit such as Cleopatra's Gate, the Gozlukule, Justinians Bridge, and the Tarsus Museum.