The region between Alanya and Adana formed ancient Cilicia, and was settled by refugees from Troy at the same time as Pamphylia further west. Its remoteness and rugged, densely wooded coastline made it a haven for pirates, which eventually spurred the Romans into absorbing Cilicia into the empire in the first century BC. Today, the region retains a wild appearance, and travel involves frighteningly daring drives along winding mountain roads that hug the craggy coastline. All this is to the good if you’re trying to escape the crowds further west, as far fewer people make it here.
Immediately east of Alanya, roads scallop the coastal cliffs, occasionally dipping inland through verdant banana plantations and passing little wayside restaurants, sheltered but hard-to-reach sandy bays, and the odd camping ground. Decent stretches of beach around Anamur are overlooked by an Armenian castle and a partially excavated Greek site, while in the mountains above Silifke the abandoned city of Uzuncaburç is perhaps the most extensive of the region’s ancient remains. The up-and-coming seaside resort of Kızkalesi is intent on earning its stripes as a summer holiday destination, with its impressive castles breaking up the shoreline and a mixed bag of historical sites and day hikes on its doorstep.
A miscellany of marginally interesting ruins and lesser-frequented beaches runs down the coast until the outskirts of Mersin, where ferries run to Northern Cyprus. A little further on, Tarsus, birthplace of St Paul, plays host to some significant Christian sites, although its modern aspect does little to betray its former historical importance. Adana, Turkey’s fourth-largest city, contains few remains of any era despite its venerable history, but does have excellent market shopping.