Adana is a city on the Cilician Plains of central Turkey, on the Seyhan River about 50 km from the Mediterranean coast. It's industrial and mostly modern but with several places of interest in its historic centre. In 2021 the metropolis had a population of 2,263,373.
Adana has been inhabited for over 8000 years. The name may drive from a proto-European word danu, "on the river", making it an unlikely cousin of the Danube, Dnieper and Doncaster. People known to settle here include the Luwians, Hittites, Sea People, Assyrians, Cilicians, Persians, Selucids, Armenians and Romans - these built the stone bridge (Taşköprü) over the river. Adana changed hands many times after the break-up of the Roman-Byzantine Empire but came under Ottoman control from 1517. In early modern times it developed a cotton industry and had a polyglot population of Muslims, Armenians, Greeks, Syrians and Arabs. But inter-ethnic tensions played into resentment of industrial labour conditions, and the Armenians suffered a massacre in 1908 then genocide in 1915.
The cotton trade has slumped but the economy of Adana remains based on agriculture, plus mixed industries including automobiles, and banking. It nowadays has four districts: Seyhan is the historic core, with the sites of traveller interest. Çukurova, often called "New Adana", is a residential area north along the lake shore. Yüreğir east of the river is industrial and low-rent residential. Sarıçam lies northeast and has the university. A fifth, nominally part of Sarıçam, is İncirlik, where the NATO air base is springboard for operations deeper into Asia.. This effort has brought an influx of westerners into Adana, and the town has business hotels and other western-style amenities out of proportion to its size.
1 Adana Şakirpaşa Airport (ADA IATA), Barış Blv, ☏ . There are few international flights, but frequent flights from Istanbul (both IST and SAW), Ankara and Izmir. Other Turkish cities with a daily flight are Antalya, Trabzon and Van. There's car hire in the terminal from a couple of companies.
The airport is only 4 km west of town, with taxis and dolmuşes to the centre. Bus 135 runs every 30 min to the old centre (15 min), railway station and northwest suburbs. Bus 125 runs hourly past old centre (get off at Sefa Ölzer Cd) to the hospital campus. Buy tickets on board for both. The direct bus to Tarsus and Mersin is axed.
Buses from Istanbul run every couple of hours and take 13 hours via Ankara and Niğde, for a fare in 2023 of 350 TL.
Bus operators on these routes are Metro Turizm and Flixbus.
2 Adana Otogarı the bus terminal is 4 km west of town on D-400; it's average-tatty. Taxis and minibuses will take you downtown.
You can reach Adana same day from Istanbul or Ankara by taking the YHT high-speed train to Konya. Change there for the daily Toros Ekspresi, taking six hours via Karaman to reach Adana for 22:00. The return train leaves Adana before 08:00 and likewise connects at Konya with YHT trains to Istanbul and Ankara. The Karaman-Adana line is being upgraded for high-speed trains so disruptions may occur until this is complete (maybe by 2025) but in 2023 it's running normally.
Other routes are a tale of woe. Cukurova Express sleeper from Ankara has been suspended for years for construction works. The lines to Aleppo and to Gaziantep, thence across Syria and Iraq, are closed indefinitely.
3 Adana garı the railway station is 1 km north of city centre on Atatürk Cd (that visionary figure who took one look at his country's railways and declared that Turkey needed modern air services). The station is dingy and in poor repair. It was built in 1912 as a hub along the Berlin-Baghdad railway, an Ottoman-German collaboration which in its heyday carried Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and the sort of louche characters that were forever getting murdered on the Orient Express.
From Ankara it's 500 km, say 5 hours, following O-21 motorway south then O-51 east. In 2022 the tolls totalled 163 TL.
O-52 runs east to Osmaniye, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Mardin by the Syrian border. West is a good highway past Mersin but then a narrow twisty road over the coastal mountains to reach the Med resort strip at Alanya.
- Walk: the city sprawls but the area of interest in the old town is compact.
- City buses — Extensive bus network including city buses and dolmuş.
- Adana Metro is a single line running 14 km southeast to northwest across city centre: Vilayet is the stop for the railway station. Most visitors are unlikely to use it. An extension to the university main campus is in planning.
- Taxi prices are comparable to the rest of the country.
- Tepebağ is the core of Old Town. Most sights are here.
- 1 Sabancı Central Mosque (Sabancı Merkez Camii). Built in 1998, this huge mosque dominates the skyline with its six minarets, the four inner minarets being 99 m. The interior is richly decorated with calligraphy and Iznik tiles. The mosque was built over a confiscated Armenian cemetery.
- Central Park is the relaxing riverside area north of Sabancı Central Mosque.
- 2 Atatürk Museum, 26009th Sk (corner of Seyhan Cd), ☏ . Daily 08:30-17:00. Traditional 19th century mansion where Atatürk stayed in 1923, and restored as a museum in 1981. Signage is only in Turkish.
- Cinema Museum, Seyhan Cd (next to Atatürk Museum), ☏ . Tu-Sa 08:00-17:00, Su M 10:00-17:00. Exhibits and screenings from Turkish cinema history. Best known in the west is Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984) for Yol.
- 3 Taşköprü is a Roman bridge over the Seyhan River, probably built around 120-135 AD, on the trade routes from Persia and Anatolia to the Mediterranean. Until 2007 it carried motor traffic but is now a footbridge and popular hanging-out spot. Its names have included Saros Bridge, the Bridge of Justinian and al-Walid Bridge; the present Taşköprü (stone bridge) says what it is.
- 4 Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami), Kızılay Cd. Daily 08:00-21:00. Also known as Ramazanoğlu Mosque, this was built 1513-1541 and extended in a mix of styles. It's the nucleus of a külliye - religious complex - that includes a madrasah and mausoleums, all well-preserved. It was damaged in the earthquake of 1998 but restored by 2004.
- Ramazanoğlu Mansion, 25009th Sk (next to Grand Mosque). Built in 1495, this was a government mansion, which is a polite way of saying it's where the sultans kept their harem. Earlier parts of the building have fallen down. Since 2009 it's been run by the university as a cultural centre.
- 5 Great Clock Tower (Büyük Saat), Ali Münif Yeğenağa Cd. This was built 1879-82 and is 32 m high, a sturdy brick tower that looks more like a campanile.
- 6 Oil Mosque (Yağ Cami). Built around 1250 AD as the Surp Hagop (St Jacob) Armenian Church, it became a mosque circa 1380, when the Ottomans wrested the city from the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. From 1501 it acquired a külliye - the medrese survives. "Hagop" morphed into Yağup then in the time-poor 19th century got shortened to Yağ, "oil".
- 7 Saint Paul Church (Bebekli Kilise), 27046th Sk. This was built in Italianate style as an Armenian Apostolic Church in 1870. After the Armenians were slaughtered or deported in 1915 it was handed over to the Roman Catholics.
- 8 New Mosque (Yeni Cami) was built in 1724 in Mamluk style.
- Kuruköprü Monumental Church, Ziyapaşa Blv 118 (100 m north of New Mosque). This was the Greek church of Agios Nikolaos, built in 1845. The adjacent house is a small museum, but in 2015 the church was re-consecrated.
- 9 Archaeology Museum, 42nd Sk 11, ☏ . Tu-Su 08:30-17:00. This relocated from the riverside in 2019. It's now in a former textile mill, with space to display the extensive high-quality collection - you need 2 or 3 hours to see it. Free.
- Seyhan Barajı is the lake created north of the city in 1955 by the Seyhan Dam. There are several recreation areas around it, and beneath its waters lies the Roman city of Augusta.
- 10 Cukurova Süleyman Demirel Arboretum is managed by the university. The public are free to stroll here - no barbecues or picnics, though the amount of trash suggests otherwise.
- 11 Çatalan Bridge is the 1575 m bridge across the west arm of the barrage lake. It carries traffic but it's a relaxing spot with restaurants both sides.
- Hamams, traditional Turkish baths, are at over a dozen central locations.
- Lunapark is a funfair by the Seyhan lake dam, north edge of town.
- Football: Adana Demirspor play soccer in Süper Lig, Turkey's top tier. Their home ground New Adana Stadium (Yeni Adana Stadyumu, capacity 33,500 all seated) opened in 2021. It's in Balcalı district 15 km northeast of city centre. Adanaspor share the stadium and play in TFF 1. Lig, the second tier. Demirspor women's team play in the Women's Super League, their top tier, at Muharrem Gülergin Stadium north by the O-50 motorway bridge.
- Beach: Karataş is the closest, 55 km south, but Mersin is better. Karataş also has the ruins of the ancient city of Magarus: the amphitheatre is the best of these but they're not worth a special trip.
- Optimum is the biggest central shopping mall, east across the bridge from Sabancı Mosque.
- Galleria is on the riverbank east of the railway station.
- M1 mall is at the west edge of the city and has a Carrefour, open daily 10:00-22:00.
- Adana Kebab the town specialty is a skewer of minced lamb.
- Old town places are round its rim rather than central. Try Kebapçı Şeyhmus, Eyvan Kebap, Erciyes Kebap, Abidin Usta, Sirdanci Bedo, Kazancılar (below) or Oz Asmaalti Kebap Salonu.
- Kazancilar, 23002nd Sk 45/A (off Alidede Sk). Daily 10:30-02:00. Trad food near clock tower, vegetarian options.
- Station area has Eski Dostlar, Paşalimanı, Saki Meyhane, House of Kamer, Tokana, The Sopranos, Makarnos, Elem (below), Yüzevler and Zeynel Ocakbaşı.
- Elem Ziyapaşa Restaurant, Şinasi Efendi Cd 30/A (north side of DoubleTree by Hilton), ☏ . Daily 10:00-01:00. Standard Turkish fare close to the station.
- Lake shore has Dalyan Balik, Bigfish, Yeşilçam Meyhanesi and Sercan (below).
- Sercan, Süleyman Demirel Blv 40, ☏ . Daily 12:00-01:00. Good food but pricy.
- Mado's is a dessert chain with outlets on Cemal Paşa, Kurttepe, Toros St, Carrefour Mall, and M1 Mall.
- Far more pubs here than in most Turkish towns, mostly north towards the railway station.
- Newport Irish Bar, Şinasi Efendi Cd (by railway station). Su-Th 09:00-00:00, F Sa 09:00-01:30. Friendly relaxed place with good Guinness.
- Tiyatro Cafe, Şinasi Efendi Cd (by railway station), ☏ . Daily 10:00-02:00. Pleasant pub with darts.
- Sir Winston, Şinasi Efendi Cd 6 (by railway station). Daily 10:00-00:00. Friendly pub with food.
- The North Shield, Vali Yolu Cd, ☏ . Daily 10:00-00:00. Generally a quiet atmosphere, good place to bring friends.
- Pickup Bar, Vali Yolu Cd. Daily 10:00-00:00. Downstairs bar, at weekends with live Turkish bands covering American rock.
- 1 DoubleTree by Hilton, Mithat Saraçoğlu Cd 3, ☏ . This is the best of the hotels grouped around the station, a reliable chain. B&B double 2800 TL.
- ibis, Turhan Cemal Beriker Blv 49 (next to Divan hotel), ☏ . Great value budget chain hotel, clean and efficient. B&B double 1000 TL.
- 2 Ramada, İnönü Cd 40, ☏ . Reliable mid-price chain hotel. B&B double 2000 TL.
- Çukurova Park Otel, İnönü Cd 99 (opposite Ramada), ☏ . Comfy central place. B&B double 1000 TL.
- Taşköprü Hotel, Seyhan Cd 1 (west end of old bridge), ☏ . Decent value-for-money hotel, a bit run-down. B&B double 1200 TL.
- 3 Adana Şirin Park Otel, Turhan Cemal Beriker Blv 17, ☏ . Good value central hotel in city centre. B&B double 1500 TL.
- Otel Seyhan opposite Şirin Park gets poor reviews.
- 4 Divan Adana, Turhan Cemal Beriker Blv 33, ☏ . Slick business hotel in city centre. B&B double 2500 TL.
- 5 Adana Hilton, Hacı Sabancı Blv 1, ☏ . Smart business hotel, good reviews for comfort and service. The building towers over the riverside so it's easy to find. B&B double 2800 TL.
- 6 Sheraton Grand, Hacı Sabancı Blv 7 (east riverbank), ☏ . Marriott chain hotel, good comfort and service. B&B double 3000 TL.
Adana has 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Jan 2023, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Karataş is the closest beach resort, 55 km south. The ruins of Magaros are here, with a Roman amphitheatre.
- Yumurtalık is another resort east. It has an old castle.
- Tarsus has sites associated with St Paul and the Roman era.
- Mersin 65 km west is a large port with ferries to Cyprus.
- Karaisalı and Pozantı are small towns on the passes through the Taurus mountains with several historic sites.
- Ceyhan is a grubby oil town east, but Yılan Castle rears up from its plains. Anavarza 30 min north is the ruins of a small Roman town.
- Osmaniye is a modern town with historic sites nearby.
|Routes through Adana|
|Mersin ← Tarsus ←||W E||→ Osmaniye → Gaziantep|
|Ankara ← Pozantı ←||N E||→ (S) → Osmaniye → Gaziantep|