What and where to eat and drink in Adana?
I would like to provide some information for visitors that have never been in Adana before, such as what and where to eat and drink in Adana so that they have a good time when they come. Of course it’s not possible for me to list each and every restaurant and attraction in Adana here. That’s why I hope the places and food that I haven’t been able to mention will sympathise with me. I would like to remind you once again that our main objective is to promote Adana.
When we talk about Adana, one of the first foods that comes to mind is undoubtedly kebab. There are tens of thousands of people in Adana that eat at least one course of kebab a day. That’s the kind of food Adana Kebab is. You would never get sick of it even if you were to eat it every day. I’ve generally witnessed visitors coming to Adana eating kebab every day throughout their stay.
It’s possible to eat kebab in Adana around the clock. There are kebab restaurants open 24/7 in several points across the city.
My personal preference and recommendation is that you eat authentic Adana kebab in a ‘dürüm’ (wrap). The best way to eat kebab is the Adana Kebab style, wrapped in a special kebab dürüm unique to Adana. Beware of Adana kebabs wrapped in pita bread! Make sure that your kebab is wrapped in the authentic dürüm bread used in Adana. Another tip, the best part of the dürüm is the end. It’s where all the sauce is collected and that’s what makes it the best bite. Ask an Adanalı for anything except for the end part of the dürüm!
When we talk about Adana we think of the classic kebab made from minced meat. So, if you want to have kebab made from meat cut into tiny chunks you have to specifically order that. If you just order ‘kebab’, you’ll get the minced meat version.
Grilled tomatoes and green peppers, pickled ornamental peppers, water cress, fresh mint, radish, onion salad seasoned with sumac, and ezme salad are side dishes served with kebab. Fear not! You don’t have to pay an extra money for these. For an Adanalı, these are must-haves on a kebab table.
So, where can you eat good kebab in Adana? In fact, there are so many places that need to be tried out but I’m going to mention the ones that first come to my mind and that are indispensible for me. The first places that come to my mind to eat the real deal kebab in dürüm bread are Birbiçer on Turgut Özal Boulevard, Mas Kebap on Mücahitler Street, and Kling Usta on Vali Yolu Street.
If you’re going to eat kebab without a dürüm wrap, then the top restaurants are Gazipaşa Kebap, Park Zirve, Onbaşılar, Kebap 52, Onur Kebap, Beşocak and Elem. Mesut on the Eski Pazarlar road is a very old and famous restaurant. It’s still operating in its original location.
There are lots and lots good places, all of which I’m unable to list here. My greatest tip for eating kebab is that you follow the smell. It’s sure to take you to the closest kebab place.
Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza):
Adana’s lahmacun is different than the lahmacun in other cities. It’s neither large nor pea-sized. It’s exactly middle-sized and round. You get five lahmacuns in one serving. Many kebab restaurants also make lahmacun. However, I suggest that you eat lahmacun at noon or in the evening. Lahmacun made when the kebab ovens are cold don’t really qualify as good.
I must also mention the very famous and historic street lahmacun unique to Adana. I always go there whenever I’m in Adana.
Everywhere in Adana is within a 10-15 minute walking distance. I would like to recommend another place that you can easily walk to… Going to Bankalar Street from the Grand Post Office. When you take the street to the right there’s a place that sells lahmacun right on the corner. This place used to belong to a man who we called Uncle Ferit. I think his son runs the business now. The distinct characteristic of these lahmacuns is that they are as thin as paper and are kept hot and soft in glass cabinets. When you try to take one from the top, you get at least five lahmacuns stuck to each other. You definitely should try them out if you have time.
Anyone whose not an Adanalı thinks that this food is like gözleme (Turkish pancake) but, in fact, it has nothing to do with it. Sıkma is made from homemade dough, which is filled with ingredients such as cheese and/or potatoes. It’s absolutely delicious. Adana has a culture of having ayran (yoghurt drink) with sıkma. It’s eaten as a snack on the street or in the evening. It’s also great to have as breakfast. There are lots of places by the lake where you can eat sıkma. I recommend Hazalım, located on the other side of the bridge as you cross the lake… Don’t leave Adana without trying it out.
Kazan Simidi (bagel):
This is a type of bagel unique to Çukurova. This braided bagel is sugarless and is cooked in a stone oven. The best simit is found at Kardeşler Pastanesi on Ziyapaşa Boulevard and Fırat Ayran on Gazipaşa Boulevard.
Sour Cherry Juice:
The famous Kuruköprü sour cherry juice drunk ice cold on hot summer days is the perfect thing to quench your thirst. Drop by at the kiosk next to the old Set Cinema at Kuruköprü to feel the tangy taste of sour cherry in your mouth, or throat even. I have never ever tasted sour cherry juice like this before… Don’t miss out on it!
Bici bici is something that you’ll only find in Adana. It’s made from grated ice, starch and syrup. Lots of bici bici shops have opened recently in Adana but I recommend Patlıcan on Turgut Özal Boulevard. Their service is excellent.
It’s a rather light and refreshing sweet. Once sold on the street when we were kids, it’s a great delight to be able to find this refreshing summer treat in bici bici shops across the city.
In Adana, liquorice syrup is called aşlama. It’s an ideal refreshment. You can see street sellers carrying ewers on their backs everywhere you go in Adana. They might not be easy to find in April but if you do, give it a shot. It tastes a bit like iced tea. In addition to its refreshing effect, aşlama is said to be very good for the kidneys. It’s a must-try.
Şalgam (Turnip Juice):
Never add spice to good turnip juice. Turnip juice is a fermented drink that is consumed after it gains its unique soda-like tangy taste following fermentation. That’s why you shouldn’t add any spice to a good cup of turnip juice.
Turnip juice is available across all restaurants in Adana. At the same time, its sold in turnip juice shops that are commonly found across the city. When you drink turnip juice at a turnip juice shop you get to taste the ‘grains’. I recommend you to drink the ‘grained’ version.
One of the best turnip juice in Adana is İçenbilir Hacı's turnip juice. We strongly recommend you to taste it before leaving Adana.
Şırdan (Stuffed Sheep Stomach):
This is one of Adana’s oldest and local dishes. Although it’s referred to shortly as Şırdan, the proper name is Şırdan Dolması. The best şırdan is made from a lamb’s stomach. Whether it’s winter or summer, it’s always possible to someone selling şırdan on each corner of Adana. It tastes like mumbar dolması (stuffed intestines). In Adana, people do one of these three things when they hit back home after a night out: go to a kebab restaurant (it’s not weird to do this even if you’re coming back home from dinner, it’s very normal to everyone!), go to a soup shop or go to a şırdan restaurant. I strongly recommend you to add plenty of cumin to your şırdan.
Adana has a totally unique type of börek. Some versions come with cheese but you must try the one with minced meat. Its pastry, rolled out as thin as baklava pastry, is filled with minced meat and then oven-baked. It’s cut into thin slices when served. It’s always served with fresh tomato slices and pickles. Ayran (yoghurt drink) goes great with it. There are pastry shops open 24/7 in Adana.
The first places that come to my mind and that I would recommend to you are the pastry shop on the right corner of the turn to the Business College from Toros Street, Bizim Börekçi at the Hastaneler junction, and Sular Börek on Atatürk Street.
Indian figs, otherwise known as prickly pears, are a genus in the cactus family. It grows in summer in Adana as it’s located close to tropical regions. In summer, street sellers line them up on huge ice cubes. You pick whichever one you want to eat and the seller, wearing gloves, personally cuts and prepares the fig for you to eat. You won’t be able to find it in April but if you happen to come to Adana in summer, keep it in mind.
The liver shops, also available on nearly every street in Adana, are open from early hours of the day to late into the night. Birbiçer is a kebab restaurant, renowned internationally, that proves the claim that people of Adana eat liver at breakfast. The skewered livers, made from fresh lamb liver and never frozen, are an important source of energy. Liver and lard are lined up on skewers and then cooked, with the option of hot pepper flakes. The liver is cooked very slowly over wood fire. If you like cumin, I strongly recommend you to add plenty of it and wrap your liver in pita bread. I also recommend you to try out Ciğergah Restaurant on Turgut Özal Boulevard, which has the same food quality.
Would you like to eat a very special hamburger that’s only found in Adana? Then I recommend you to go to Hamburgerci Mükerrem on Turgut Özal Boulevard and Volkan Büfe located on the back street of Yeni Kuyumcular Çarşısı (New Jeweller’s Bazaar).
Adana’s most popular döner restaurant is Şadırvan at the Sular junction. You must try out its Iskender döner with butter.
Güney Marina, Albatros Balık, Altın Balık, Dost Balık, and Mesut in Yumurtalık are places where you can enjoy fish against the backdrop of the lake’s exquisite view. Adana’s coastal district Karataş also offers a great view to enjoy fish.
Another historic line of business still in place in Adana is the dessert shops. Help yourself to as much dessert as you want like halka, tulumba, and taş kadayıf, all lined up in the windows of these shops. When you’re done eating, you’ll see that they only charge you for as much as you say you ate. This shopping manner, which is totally built on trust and unique to ‘shopkeepers’, still survives. The dessert shops that best fit this description are Selim Usta on the Karataş road and Tatlıcı Kerim Baba.
I also strongly recommend Seç Baklava, Tatlıcı Zeki, Ikizler, Gönül Kardeşler and Köse (it’s warm baklava is amazing), which are among Adana’s best dessert shops.
Adana’s most famous köfte restaurant Köfteci Bomba on Kıyıboyu Street. I strongly recommend it. You will absolutely love their unique grilled köfte.
While going to Tarsus from the motorway, it takes you half-an-hour the most from downtown Adana to get to Kanal Restaurant. Located amid eucalyptus trees, seat yourselves at the wooden tables and start your meal with the delicious homemade sucuk (Turkish pepperoni). Continue with köfte and have the finale with unforgettably tasty lamb chops. This is a must-try.
You must try authentic Adana soups like Yüksük Çorbası, Dul Avrat Çorbası, Analı Kızlı Çorba, Adana Çorbası before a dish of yummy Adana Kebab. Plus, to name a few famous trotter soup restaurants, I recommend that you go to Kuruköprü Paçacısı on the Dam road, Veysel Usta at the Hastaneler junction, and Sular Paça at the junction leads down from Kasım Gülek Gazipaşa.
If you can find time to visit a sauna in Adana then you must taste fizzy ayran (ayran with mineral water).
Where to Have Fun?
It’s no challenge to have fun in Adana. You can even have fun on the street. That is, if you can truly experience the Adana spirit…
However, there are a few places that I would like to recommend:
Tarihi Kazancılar Çarşısı (Historic Kazancılar Bazaar):
Since 1908, Kazancılar Kebap has been operating in Adana’s best spot, without compromising its quality and maintaining its clean and hygienic production. For five generations the Kazancılar family has chosen to hand over the brazier from master to apprentice, rather than from father to son. Kazancılar Kebab is among the handful that have managed to carry this success all the way from Adana to Istanbul. You’re sure to have a good time eating kebab and listening to music.
The type of entertainment at Kazancılar Bazaar is similar to that of Kumkapı in Istanbul.
If you go to Kazancılar, you’re guaranteed to have fun.
Park Zirve is one of the ideal places to fully enjoy the view overlooking the lake… At Park Zirve, every detail has been meticulously considered and it offers an exquisite view of the Seyhan River. Park Zirve gives you the opportunity to look at Adana from a totally different perspective.
You can also try out the bars on Turgut Özal Boulevard and Ziyapaşa Boulevard.
Must-See Places in Adana
Vali Yolu (Governor’s Road)
Indulge in the smell of orange blossom as you walk along the Governor’s Road in April in the evening.
Amerikan Pazarı (American Bazaar)
You can find originals of virtually anything at the American Bazaar. I strongly recommend you to visit the American Bazaar located in downtown Adana.
Gazipaşa, Ziyapaşa, Metro Street, Turgut Özal Boulevard
Taking a walk between 5 to 7 p.m., the time when the smell of orange blossoms is at its peak, and having a cup of coffee at one of the cafés on Metro Street, Ziyapaşa – the equivalent of Nişantaşı – will make you think that it was well worth coming to Adana.
One cannot come to Adana and go back without taking a tour on the lakeside. In particular, you must salute Sevgi Adası (Love Island). I recommend you to make a love wish.
Best Locations to Indulge in the Smell of Orange Blossoms:
We recommend that you take a walk especially in the evening in downtown areas such as Governor’s Road, Gazipaşa Boulevard, Toros Street, Metro Sineması Street, and Turgut Özal Boulevard… Apart from these locations, you can go to places like Çetinel Tesisleri, a 5-6 minute drive from the city centre, to get an intense feel of the orange blossom. Or, you can go and visit the orange orchards located 20-30 minutes from the downtown area.
Great Clock Tower:
The best spot to start your tour around the city is the Great Clock Tower. As one of the city’s oldest landmarks, the tower was built in 1882 by the Governor of Adana. Located on Ali Münif Street, to the south of Ulucami Mosque built in 1507, the tower measures 32 metres in height. This 32-metre tower is the tallest clock tower in Turkey. It was damaged during the French occupation and rebuilt in 1935.
Ulucami Mosque is the biggest and most famous mosque built by the Ramadanids (Ramazanoğulları). It still stands strong today. It was repaired during the Ottoman era. The mosque’s construction began in 1513 and was completed by Piri Mehmed Pasha in 1541. The mosque is built in the Seljuk, Mamluk and Ottoman architectural style.
Taşköprü (Stone Bridge):
Taşköprü, bridging both sides of the city built on the Seyhan River is a remnant from the Romans. It measures 3.10 metres in height and 13 metres in width. It is built from stone and has 21 arches. It underwent a comprehensive restoration in the 17th century. Sultan Ahmed the Third (1713) issued an edict to the Governor of Adana for the restoration of Taşköprü. Sultan Abdülmecid had the bridge repaired in 1847. Only 14 of the original 21 arches remain today.
Sabancı Merkez Mosque:
Today, this mosque has become one of the city’s symbols.
Other landmarks that survive the city’s historic texture include: the Ramazanoğlu Madrasah built in 1540, Ramazanoğlu Mansion, one of the oldest houses standing in Turkey, Ramazanoğlu Bazaar, Yağ Mosque, originally a Crusader church that was converted into a mosque in 1501 by Ramazanoğlu Halil Bey, and Hasanağa Mosque. There are about one hundred historic Adana houses that can be seen in the city centre.
Other attractions worth visiting are the Adana Museum of Archaeology, exhibiting a collection of archaeological artefacts from Adana and its surroundings, the Adana Museum of Ethnography, which hosts a rich collection of items belonging to the villages of Çukurova and Yörüks living in the Taurus Mountains, the Atatürk Museum and House, also known as the Suphi Paşa Mansion where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed when he came to Adana in 1923, the Adana Cinema Museum, Bebekli Church, Akana Bazaar, and Akkapı Şeyhcemil Nardalı Mansion.
The orange orchards at Çukurova University are also worth seeing.
Sightseeing around Adana
Anavarza (Anazarbus) Castle
Anavarza Castle, located around 70 kilometres from Adana, lies within the borders of Kozan at the intersection of the Kozan, Ceyhan and Kadirli districts. According to some sources, the city of Anavarza was built by the Hittites. The city and castle have played an important role in intercultural interaction. Part of the famous novelist Yaşar Kemal’s novel Ince Memed (Memed, My Hawk) takes place in Anavarza. When you visit this ancient castle and city, you’ll feel like you’ve been teleported to a totally different time in history.
Varda Bridge, referred to as the ‘Big Bridge’ by its locals, is located in the village of Hacıkırı (Kıralan) in Karaisalı, Adana. It is also known as the Hacıkırı Railway Bridge or the German Bridge, as it was built by the Germans in 1912. By road, it’s 64 kilometres from Adana through the Karaisalı route. By train, it’s 63 kilometres from the Adana Station. This bridge was constructed by the Germans as a stone bridge using a steel truss structure. It lies within the borders of the 6th Region. The bridge went into service in 1912. The bridge was built to complete the Istanbul-Baghdad-Hejaz Railway. It gained fame with the James Bond movie Skyfall.
The Seven Sleepers located in the village of Dedeler, northwest to Tarsus in Mersin, is considered to be sacred for both Muslims and Christians. It takes 15-20 flights of stairs to get down to this cave, mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf in the Qur’an. In times when belief in mythological gods lost power, seven Christian youths - Yemliha, Mekseline, Mislina, Memuş, Sarehuş, Tebernuş and Kafestetayuş – who escaped torture because they believed in a single god and rejected returning to paganism, were brought to the presence of the Roman Emperor Decius. The emperor ordered them to remain faithful to paganism and allowed them a few days, commanding that failure to do so would result in their death. They made use of this time to escape death and found shelter in this cave together with their dog Kıtmir. God put them to a 300-year sleep. The first one of them to wake up went to the city to buy food but got caught because of the obsolete money he possessed. The person who caught him asked where he found the money and to take him there. He told the man that he’s not alone and that he’s staying in a cave with seven friends. Arriving at the cave, the man saw nothing but a nest with seven young birds in it. That’s why this cave is called the ‘Seven Sleepers Cave’. Known to the public as the visit mountain, this mountain has a natural look with its cone shape and topographic appearance. The cave measures 300 square metres and 10 metres in height. There are three tunnels in the cave. The Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz built a masjid in 1873 next to the Eshab-ı Kehf Cave.
The Misis Ruins located near Yakapınar, Adana, is named after the Cilician warrior Mapsos. As an important stop on the Silk Road, it was used as a settlement from the Hittite era to the Ottomans. Among the mosaics exhibited in the single-floor museum at the village’s entrance is the floor mosaic from the 6th century depicting salvation from Noah’s Ark.
Yılankale is situated at a 13 kilometre distance from Ceyhan. This castle is located on a very steep hill overlooking the Ceyhan Plain. It is believed to be built during the Byzantine era.
Ancient City of Şar
The ancient city of Şar, in Tufanbeyli, Adana, continues to attract scores of visitors to its historic remnants.
Surviving until the present day, the ancient city of Şar has remnants mainly from the Roman era. Among the most important of these remnants is the amphitheatre dating back to the Roman period. The remnants of a church are one of the most important artefacts of the Byzantine era. You might want to visit the ancient city of Şar, witness to the city’s history, while touring Adana.
The Belemedik Plateau, 9 kilometres away from Pozantı, Adana, is a top attraction for tourists and is very easy to access. Situated near the Çakıt Creek, the plateau runs for 3 kilometres.
The ancient houses are abandoned and no new constructions are allowed in this region. Permission is only granted to those who wish to build a wooden house. With its magnificent nature, the Belemedik Plateau becomes inundated with the smell of flowers in spring. The region also has wildlife. If you wish to camp in the plateau, you need to bring along all the materials you need with you because there aren’t any facilities or stores to shop from. The Belemedik Plateau awaits you to spend tranquil time in the middle of nature and shoot nature photos.
With its wooden houses, lush flora, and people living in the plateau the Horzum Plateau reflects the geography and traditional lifestyle of Adana. It nature is a must-see for all tourists that come to Adana.
The Horzum Plateau is located in the district of Kozan. Kozan is 25 kilometres away from the road that runs through Feke-Saimbeyli-Tufanbeyli, all the way to Kayseri. A stabilised road goes all the way up to the plateau. The plateau can also be accessed by bus or minibus, both which operate throughout summer and winter. There are local coffee shops and grocery stores in the plateau. You camp in the Horzum Plateau if you wish. It’s up to you to enjoy nature either for hours or days amid the plateau’s pine trees, vineyards and fruit orchards.
Adana Theatre Festival
The ‘State Theatres – Sabancı International Adana Theatre Festival’, now a tradition, takes place every year in April. In the past 14 years, the festival has brought together international theatre companies as well as private theatre companies, city theatre groups and State Theatre groups, performing 243 plays in front of more 300 thousands lovers of theatre. I strongly recommend you to watch one of these wonderful plays when you come to Adana in April.
Adana Water, Underwater and Rowing Events
Adana, is an important destination for water sports, offering all types of facilities. Adana has hosted numerous competitions and athletes from Adana have won scores of championships. In addition, the Seyhan Dam Lake contributes significantly to tourism owing to its year-round wind and climate conditions. You may wish to visit the water, underwater and rowing clubs in Adana and take part in their activities.
In recent years, top-notch hotels have started to go into service in Adana. Hotels of all stars, from big 5-star hotels to smaller boutique hotels, are available in downtown Adana.
To name some of these hotels:
Sheraton Adana Hotel
Adana Seyhan Hotel
How to get to Adana?
There are direct flights from the Istanbul Atatürk, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, Ankara Esenboğa, Izmir Adnan Menderes, Nicosia Ercan, Antalya, Trabzon and Van Airports to the Adana Şakirpaşa Airport. In addition, you can go to Adana by bus or train.
Getting Around in Adana
Public transportation is available across Adana. In addition, there are car rental companies that also offer services.