Mersin is a city by the sea, the main part of which is located on the E-5 coastal highway connecting Tarsus with Mersin and Antalya to the far west. From the local administrative point of view, Tarsus is a “district” of the “province” of Mersin and that is why it has Mersin’s area code (324). Most of the popular cafes, the business area, the cultural center, and the Hilton Hotel can be spotted when walking or driving from the train station into the city on a long boulevard called “Ismet Inonu.” The Hilton Hotel has facilities such as a swimming pool, a sauna and fitness room, restaurants, tennis courts and a disco, which can be used for a daily fee.
You can enjoy a late breakfast along the seafront road called Adnan Menderes Caddesi (road). On the two sides of this boluevard, there are cafes, very good restaurants, clubs and bars, a bowling alley, movie theaters, as well as parks with scenic bicycle and pedestrian routes.
In the downtown section, where business establishments and the chamber of commerce are located, there are quality fruit and fish markets, as well as herb stores. There is also a market, locally called the American Bazaar, where it is possible to find inexpensive electrical or battery operated appliances, and original U.S. brand name items most of which are toiletries.
Although Mersin is by the sea, due to pollution from cargo ships, it is not safe to swim until some 25-30 kilometres away from the downtown area where public and private beaches are located. The best beaches for swimming are Kızkalesi (Korykos ancient city), Akyar and Limonlu (Limos ancient city), which are around 60 kilometres away. There are frequent Silifke buses running to these places from the Mersin bus station.
Mersin has an international music festival during the month of May/June which many internationally celebrated musicians attend. Although the main genre is classical, some very good jazz, blues, and ethnic musicians also give stage performances. Most of the events take place in the Mersin Cultural Center, the Atatürk outdoor arena or in Tarsus at St. Paul’s Church. The highlight of the festival is held in a location called “Kanlıdivane,” which is a historic sinkhole offering marvellous acoustics. Once the festival program is finalized, it is sent out to all members of the school community and tickets are arranged. Mersin is also one of the cities where the international “Efes Pilsen Blues Festival” takes place each year during the month of December.
The Mersin Forum is a popular and well-visited shopping mall which is comprised of two large shopping complexes with an outdoor plaza between them. The Mersin Forum offers a wide variety of clothing, technology, home and maintenance equipment, sportswear and book stores, restaurants and a fast food court which features various local tastes in addition to worldwide chains such as McDonalds, Sbarro, Burger King, Popeyes and Starbucks.
Mersin Forum is located at the heart of the city in Pozcu. Any bus from the Mersin bus station or a blue Pozcu minibus from outside the train station will take you there. Opening hours are from 10:00 until 22:00 (23:00 in summer.)
Mersin Marina: Overlooking the marina, Mersin Marina Mall features trendy cafes, restaurants, shops, a sports center and an amphitheater. Cafes and restaurants are open until late hours.
Mersin CarrefourSA & Palm City Mall: Towards the north of the city. You can go there with the “minibuses” carrying a “Carrefour” sign, from the Mersin “Çarşı” (downtown shopping and business district). Phone: 329 10 13. Open until 22:00 (22:30 in summer.)
Kipa : Beside the CNR Exhibition Center in Mezitli. Any Mezitli bus will take you there from the train or bus station. The grocery section is open until 23:00 in summer.
METRO Grossmarket: A Costco-type store, with items sold in large quantities. Many exotic food items can also be found here. You can complete your purchase either with a day’s pass or a Metro membership card.
Mersin Cultural Center
Mersin boasts one of the oldest opera and theater ensembles in Turkey. There are drama, ballet and opera performances all year around with minimal ticket fees, as well as performances and concerts by touring emsembles from different cities and countries. You can obtain the monthly program from the cultural center, from Suat Hanım or Filiz Hanım or their English website.
The major movie theaters in Mersin are: Mersin Forum Cinemaximum, the Cinemess (which is very close to the Hilton Hotel) and the CSC which is on the seafront road.
It may be a good idea to check with the movie theaters in advance whether the movies are dubbed or subtitled in Turkish. Children’s films are usually dubbed, while others are shown in the original language with Turkish subtitles. “www.cinemaximum.com.tr” is a good resource which lists both the titles and times of movies being shown.
Cafés, Restaurants and Bars
Some of our personal favorites are:
Ginger Restaurant in Mersin Hilton – (Chinese)
Cafe Betül (Italian and local – no alcohol)
Gattini Bistro (gourmet food & wine)
İçel Arts Club (nice outdoor garden, local grills)
Big Chefs (in the Mersin Marina)
Blush (in the Mersin Marina - sushi)
Pasha (DJ & live music, Latin night on weekends)
I See Cafe - Bar
Karaduvar Erollar Fish Restaurant: (restaurant in the fishing village of Karaduvar, with delicous seafood and appetizers)