Mersin – what to see in 3 days

Sharing is caring!

Local author Jane Gundogan shares the best of what to see and do

Jane and I covering up before entering the lion's den in Tarsus.
Jane and me going local in Mersin

This month’s guest post, Mersin what to see in 3 days comes to you from Jane Gundogan. Jane and I are both from Sydney, Australia. Although I didn’t grow up in Manly like Jane did, I have a lot of connections to the suburb. My Dad was born there and you can see his big ears and smiling face beaming out from a cricket team photo in the bar of the bowling club. I took my first breath in the local hospital, learned to swim at Manly beach where I spent every summer the first 15 or so years of my life and then later on worked at an English language school there for a number of years.

Despite all this, Jane and I never crossed paths in Sydney, a city of 5 million in a country of only 26 million people. Yet drop us both in Turkey, a country bulging at the seams with around 85 million, and now we’re friends, thanks to the power of the internet. She’s a Mersin girl and an expert on the city and surrounding areas. So much so she’s penned the only English language guide to area, Mersin: All Over – The Ultimate Guide of Where to Visit in and around Mersin. Luckily for us I was able to convince her to share some of her knowledge on my website.

Jane out in Field

Why Mersin – Here’s what Jane had to say

When you travel to Türkiye your travel radar is usually tuned to the classics—Sultanahmet Mosque, check; Cappadocia, check; the beautiful beaches, check—then the mention of Mersin might have you scratching your head. But for those of you who are looking for something a little different then Mersin is the offbeat indie film of travel destinations—quirky, unexpected, and entirely captivating.

Recently I hosted Lisa and her brave husband Kim, here in Mersin. They graced the scorching land of Mersin in the heart of summer, leaving them to contemplate whether they had embarked on a holiday or accidentally landed on the sun itself. Nevertheless, armed with just three days, I was determined to unveil the full spectrum of Mersin’s splendours. Although our destination bingo card wasn’t completely stamped, you, my fellow explorer, might just have the prowess to conquer it all.

So, here are my suggestions for Mersin – what to see in 3 days.

Sunrise at Kiz Kalesi
Sunrise at Kiz Kalesi, Mersin

Day 1: Casting a Spell with Castles and Ancient Delights

Mersin doesn’t mess around, and we start your adventure off with a literal castle on an island—Kizkalesi. Because why build sandcastles when you can explore a real one?

From there, get your inner Indiana Jones ready as you unearth the mysteries of Kanlıdivane and Uzuncaburç. They might sound like secret code words, but they’re actually ancient archaeological sites that have seen more history than your grandpa’s stories.

If you’re still craving more, consider visiting the recently restored Cennet ve Cehennem, where an elevator can now effortlessly transport you back to ground level, sparing you the climb up hundreds of stairs.

Feeling like a modern-day explorer is bound to work up an appetite. Fear not, for Narlıkuyu has your back with a fish dinner that’s so fresh that they’re likely caught from the bay you’re sitting beside.

Day 2: Tarsus – Where History Meets Your Appetite

Tarsus on the Water

Ready for day two? Tarsus is on the menu, and it’s serving up more history than your high school textbook.

As you arrive in Tarsus, you’ll notice Cleopatra Gate. No, Cleopatra didn’t moonlight as a gatekeeper; it’s just named after her because, well, ancient branding. And while we’re on the topic of Cleopatra, did you know you can actually sample a concoction rumoured to be Cleopatra’s secret youth elixir while you’re in Tarsus? It’s like a sip of history and a dash of ancient glam all in one.

However, Tarsus is more than just a Cleopatra cameo. The city offers a captivating journey into Christian history, inviting you to explore the birthplace of St. Paul (Saul), a significant figure throughout the Bible. And let’s not forget the purported resting place of Daniel, the biblical icon known for his daring encounter in a lion’s den. But that’s not all. Tarsus has an extra dose of history waiting for you at the Eshab-i Kehf Cave, where legends whisper of a group of righteous youths who sought refuge. And to round out your historical expedition, the Grand Mosque of Tarsus stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of the region’s past, ensuring you leave with a well-rounded appreciation for its history.

Before you leave Tarsus, you don’t want to miss the chance of trying their famous findik lahmacun as well as a serving of creamy pastrami hummus, both delicacies a testament to the region’s culinary artistry.

Day 3: Çarşı – Walking the Beating Heart of Mersin

You'll find spices and more in downtown Mersin.
Mersin old town centre

Last day, and we head to Çarşı, the old part of Mersin city. It’s a bit like stepping into a time machine, where the streets are narrow, the architecture is charming, and the sun is… let’s just say enthusiastic.

Word of advice: if you’re not looking to fry like a kofte on a grill, a hat and a water bottle are your new best friends. But the bustling markets and vibrant atmosphere make it all worth it. There are also Catholic and Orthodox churches to explore, along with a vibrant Arabic community where trying their falafel is highly recommended.

But before your last day is over a visit to Soli Pompeiopolis (once a stronghold town against pirates) and taking a stroll along the sahil as the sun sets is a must. Afterward, treat yourself to dinner and drinks at Mersin Marina. You’ve earned it!

But wait, there’s more!

If you find yourself with a few extra days to spare, or perhaps you’re cruising along the Mediterranean coastline, there are a handful of other enchanting places that might just pique your interest.

Venture to the picturesque Alahan Monastery in Mut, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time capsule. This ancient site holds an air of mystique, with its weathered stones and intricate architectural details. It’s as if the whispers of the past still echo there, waiting to be heard by those who seek its secrets.

Have you been to Silifke?

The town of Silifke is a blend of history and myth, offering a journey through time that’s as captivating as it is enlightening. Its castle, famous or perhaps infamous, depending on the tales you hear, stands as a silent witness to the stories that have unfolded within its walls. And speaking of stories, the Aya Tekla Church adds to the intrigue, transporting you to an era where faith and architecture intertwined to create enduring stories of wonder. Don’t forget to explore the nearby wetlands, where nature’s serenity provides a serene contrast to the town’s rich history.

And for those seeking the sun and sand, there are so many pristine, and often secluded beaches along the coastline to explore. Fun fact: rumour has it that Tisan Koyu was a favoured retreat for Ms Cleopatra and her Mark Antony. So, while you bask in the Mediterranean sun and swim in its refreshing waters, you’re in good company, historically speaking.

So there you have it, Mersin what to see in 3 days.


Have you been all over Mersin yet? What are you waiting for?

And what a three days they were! We came back with our heads stuffed full of picture-perfect images capturing history through the ages, and our bodies and senses overloaded on delicious food. If you’re looking for a new destination for your next midterm break or big city escape, grab a copy of Jane’s handy guidebook, Mersin: All Over and get planning.

You can find out more about Jane on her website. Also, I recommend you pick up one of Jane’s other books. You know the ones, set in Turkey? If you like a bit of heat, something a bit naughty, you’ll love her Spicy Ginger Martini series. These books will get your temperature soaring but not from the sun! They’re great fun and perfect for reading on the plane, by the pool or on the beach.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.