Mersin Province is in the eastern part of Mediterranean Turkey, which was formerly known as Cilicia. Mersin Province is bordered by Antalya Province in the west, Karaman Province in the north, Adana Province in the east, and is bounded by Mediterranean Sea to the south. It also shares short borders with Konya Province and Nigde Province in the northeast. Mersin Province was named İçel Province prior to early 2000s. Since then, it was renamed after its provincial capital, which is the norm in Turkey (with a few exceptions).
Although not as widely visited as its western neighbour, Antalya Province, Mersin Province has a lot to offer to every taste. For history lovers, it offers hundreds of castles, city ruins, temples, inns, and artifacts dating back to Roman, Biblical, Crusade, Seljuq, and Ottoman times. For nature lovers, it may mean mountains, mountains, and again mountains covered with pine forests. For green warriors, it holds the last shelters for endangered Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) and Mediterranean sea turtles (Caretta caretta). For sea&sun seekers, it has hundreds of miles of beaches, both sandy and pebbled, spared from pollution, lying under perhaps one of the sunniest skies of Turkey and also of Europe.
Despite its close proximity to Turkey’s main touristic areas, still “travelling” (i.e., being a “traveller”) is the norm in much of the province (as opposed to “tourism”, i.e., being a “tourist”). If you want to have a cup of tea, then you should head for local coffeehouse, not a touristical/fancy/European-looking café. If you’ll sleep in somewhere, then it would (most likely) be a guesthouse where other regional guests are staying at, not an “all-inclusive” holiday resort as a part of a package tour. This situation has its advantages: people are more friendly, and prices are lower.
Eastern parts of the province are portions of huge Çukurova plain, the biggest lowland of Turkey. Rugged and wooded western and southern parts are dominated by Taurus Mountains with very little (or no) flatland between mountain slopes and the shoreline. Quite surprisingly, this mountainous area—one of the remotest and most beautiful along Turkish Mediterranean coast—has one of the least population densities anywhere in maritime Turkey and distances between towns are huge.
In ancient times, most of what is now Mersin Province was called Cilicia Trachea, i.e. "rough" or more precisely "mountanious Cilicia", as opposed to Cilicia Pedias, i.e. "flat Cilicia" lying to the east of the province.
The province is Turkey’s main citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit…) and banana growing region. Almost always sunny climate also allows intensive greenhouse operations, which cater Turkey’s central and northern regions (and also parts of Europe) with fresh vegetables in winter.
Typical Mediterranean climate: Hot and dry/sunny summers (April to early November), mild and rainy winters (the rest of the year). In Anamur, on only 1 day out of 365 days a year, the temperature is lower than +5° C (+41° F) on the average.
In eastern part of the province, you would probably be fine with a little bit of English, especially in tourism-oriented businesses. Some German can also be useful as Germans are the largest number of foreigners visiting Turkey. In more remote places, such as those in the western and southern parts of the province, you will need at least a few Turkish words. However, Turkish spoken in parts of the province is a bit far away from standard Turkish (i.e, that is spoken in Istanbul), lying in a medium between Konya dialect and Cypriot Turkish (closer to the latter). So, it may be best to ask for written answers as the pronounciations in the phrasebooks are not exactly how the people of the province pronounce the words. They all understand standard Turkish, though.
Only Mersin and Tarsus are served by a rail line in the province. There are no long-distance trains calling at either of these stations, only regional expresses coming from nearby Adana. The station of Yenice town is the nearest place where long-distance trains from many places around Turkey call at (transfer to regional expresses is possible there).
Mersin, being one of the biggest cities in Turkey, should have bus services from almost any city in Turkey. Other towns are usually served from regional centres.
D400 highway between Adana and Antalya enters the province from its one extreme and follows (or at least tries to follow as long as rugged geography permits) the coastline until the other extreme in the NE-SW axis of the province. It traverses all the towns located along the shoreline. D715 from Konya in the north also joins D400 in Silifke after passing through a pass on Taurus Mountains (Sertavul Pass) and Mut.
As mentioned in get in section, rail network is very limited in the province.
The main highway of the province, D400, is wide (mostly 4-lane), smooth and straight in the section between Tarsus and Tasucu, 15 km west of Silifke. All other roads in the province are narrow (only wide enough for two cars passing side by side) and very (in some cases, extremely) winding because of the very rugged landscape. But the situation may change rapidly, as there were new road constructions in April, 2008.
People are friendly towards hitchhikers. Despite its favourable climate and proximity to Turkey’s main touristic areas (e.g., Antalya Province), there are not as many travelers as you may assume, therefore people treat you like guests (but don’t expect them to do more than giving you a lift and may be offering a fruit). The general problem is that there are not many vehicles in much of the province, and therefore waiting for a lift can take up to 2 hours, under the cruel sun between April and October. Don’t forget to take lots of water and sunblock lotion! The drivers that offer a lift also are mostly driving town-to-town, so there is little chance to find a long-haul lift, but that is not such a bad thing as you will experince more of rural/real spirit of Mediterranean Turkey.
In the western and southern parts of the province, always carry an extra amount of cash with you. Most of the settlements you’ll come across are far in-between, rural and doesn’t have enough population to justify setting up an ATM. Also, supermarkets are rare as well, and the smaller the place you are in, the less chance that your (or any) credit card will be accepted.
Being located at the same latitude with the Mediterranean African cities such as Algiers or Tangier, sun is very strong in this part of Turkey. Even non-local Turkish people (those from more northerly locations, such as Istanbul) can have hard time. Don’t forget to drink lots of water to stay hydrated, to have more salt in your diet than you are used to for balancing your sodium loss by sweating (or better drink at least one cup of salty ayran evey day), and to use sunblock lotion.
Respect the nature:
The telephone code for Mersin Province is 324.