Adana in southern Turkey is somewhat a pleasant surprise of a city to visit. It was never on my travel radar, nor had I ever heard of it, nor did I know where it was. That was until three weeks ago. Travel and backpacking journeys are unpredictable and I ended up in Adana. Thanks entirely to the fact that Turkey and Northern Ireland decided to play each other in an international football friendly in the city, last Friday night. Oh and coupled with the mere fact that I was conveniently backpacking in the region at the time!
Not one to pass up the opportunity to see Northern Ireland again while I’m randomly already in Turkey, it also gave us the chance to backpack our way down there from Goreme in Cappadocia and do the main sights over a few days.
What was even better was I could meet up with a few friends, explore a city I’d never heard of, watch live football and visit a place which isn’t even mentioned (except for dot on the map) in my Lonely Planet book. This meant there weren’t even any hostels in the city!! So we ended up living it up in luxury for once at the excellent Otel Senbayrak. In terms of getting to Adana, it has an airport with regular flights to Istanbul, Ankara and Trabzon. It also has a bus station on the edge of the city which connects to most major bus hubs in Turkey. Train is also an option.
Unbiased, fresh and completely not obvious, here are my top 5 things to see and do in Adana, Turkey.
1. Sabanci Central Mosque
No city visit in Turkey is ever complete without seeing a Mosque and Adana is blessed with dozens of them. However, perhaps more impressively and spectacularly is the fact that the massive Sabanci Central Mosque is actually the largest Mosque in Turkey and rumoured to be the biggest Mosque in the entire Middle East. That’s saying something!
It towers over the river and city, we could see it from our hotel room and it’s a magnificent structure worth a peek.
Head inside and admire the mosaics and stained glass windows. It’s not full of tourists like the Mosques in Istanbul, entry is free, fast and easy. All you need to do is take your shoes off.
2. Tas Kopru (Stone Bridge)
Not content with only having the biggest Mosque in the Middle East, Adana goes one step further with this bridge. The Tas Kopru is the oldest continuously used bridge in the world! Phenomenal really and worth a walk across.
It also offers decent views of the river and there are some street vendors on the bridge itself.
3. Adana City Walls
These ruined city walls are barely noticeable as they were destroyed in the 1800s but if you’re into archaeology and ancient architecture they’re worth a look. They are off a side street near the river.
4. Adana Central Park
More of a pretty garden area by the river, the Adana Central Park offers relaxation and decent views. In a city of skyscrapers, motorbikes and rubbish, it’s nice to see some greenery to escape the madness.
5. Adana 5 Ocak Football Stadium
Well I was there in Adana for the football and it was my first visit to a stadium in Turkey, so the 5 Ocak Stadium has to make the list!
Turkish fans are well known for being crazy about football and if you know the rivalry between Galatasaray, Fenerbache and Besiktas then you’ll be aware of how important football is to the culture here. The Adana 5 Ocak Stadium holds 14,000 and recently hosted the Turkey v. Northern Ireland international (Turkey won 1-0).
Locally, Adana has two teams, Adanaspor and Adana Demirspor. Sadly neither play in the top Turkish division any longer, but Adanaspor once held their own there for 21 years, even coming second once. The reason the stadium hosted the recent international is because Turkish national team manager Fatih Terim is from Adana.
This is just a quick top 5, but there are of course loads of other things to see and do in Adana. Food wise, Adana Kebabs are excellent and the Bici Bici special dessert is recommended. There are some decent bars in the city too. Aside from that a few museums, markets and yet more Mosques prove that you can go backpacking anywhere in the world and always find something to do. Backpacking in Adana is defintely one for the aimless wanderer out there!
I loved Adana, here are a few of my videos of the city: