South of the majestic Taurus Mountains lie the shores of the Mediterranean Sea with beaches of fine sand, vistas of rare and rugged beauty, many ancient ruins, hidden coves and alluring vacation getaways. The region is bathed in sunshine 300 days a year and is a paradise for swimming, sunbathing and watersports. You can also explore important historical sites dating back thousands of years, set in a landscape of pine forests and citrus groves and learn about the mythology that is intertwined with the area.
The Mediterranean coast is as full of antique artifacts as the Aegean. In the ancient Lycian region, west of Antalya, you can experience the beauty of the mountain cities of Termessos and Arikand, as well as the coastal towns such as Olympos, Kale, Kekova and Kaş.
The ancient cities of Perge, Aspendos and Side are located on the coastal plane east of Antalya, originally called Pamphylia.
Antalya is one of the Mediterranean's most important cities and is Turkey's hottest vacation spot, with the beaches of Konyaaltı to the west and Lara to the east, lying at the foot of Antalya's massive mountain range. It is an attractive holiday getaway with palm-lined streets, beautiful parks, an abundance of accommodation, restaurants, bars and night clubs and a picturesque marina. The symbol of this city, founded in the 2nd century BC, is the Yivli Minaret, which dates back to the Selçuk area.
The Aşağı Düden Waterfall to the east flows over huge boulders into the sea. West of Antalya is the attractive little holiday town of Kemer, famous for its sandy beaches surrounded by pine forests and mountains. The next big town east of Antalya is Alanya, a panoramic ancient port city on the southern slopes of the majestic Taurus Mountains surrounded by orange, lemon and banana groves. Used by the Selçuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat as a winter residence, the Alanya shipyard dates back to the same era and was one of the most advanced in the world at that time.
It is also famous for its 9th century castle and its popular beaches. Near Anamur is a castle from the Middle Ages, situated between two beaches and one of the most spectacular castles along the coast. The road from Anamur to Silifke, with its endless curves and bends, follows a route studded with breathtaking coastal vistas.
The dilapidated caves near Narlıkuyu are called Heaven, which has a small church inside and Hell (Cennet ve Cehennem). The castle of Kızkalesi, which is situated in the water across the medieval castle of Korykos, seems to rise out of the sea itself.
Two surprises on the road to Mersin are the ancient Roman cities of Kanlıdivane and Viranşehir with its charming parks, beach promenades, commercial port and free trade zone, Mersin is one of the most modern cities on the Mediterranean. East of Tosos, the Çukurova plane is a fertile agricultural region known especially for its cotton fields. In the middle is the city of Adana with its rich textile industry and to the east is the Dörtyol (Issos) Plane, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian King Darius. As a result of his victory, a port city bearing his name was established which is now the modern day İskenderun.
The road leaves İskenderun on the southeast and goes through the Belen Pass to Antakya (Antioch). This first Christian community founded by St. Peter has given Antakya a special religious significance and the first sermons were preached in a nearby cave. It is considered a place of pilgrimage and the city also boasts a mosaic exhibition of rare beauty in its museum.
Kahramanmaraş is a relatively undiscovered province of the Mediterranean. One of its best-loved features is the cuisine, which has its own specialities like its special orchid drink (salep) and its world famous ice-cream made from goat and cow milk. The historical legacy of the Ottoman Empire in Kahramanmaraş is still relevant today with its gilded silver, leather and copper works.