If you find yourself with a day in Adana, Turkey, and are not sure where to start, this is the guide for you!
This itinerary will give you a perfect overall view of Adana, starting the day off with a must-try breakfast spot, taking you through Adana’s most popular historical places, presenting you with the best kebab you’ll ever eat, and finally finishing it off with a sweet mouth-watering treat.
What I love about this itinerary is that it gives you the possibility to experience Adana to its fullest, even if you are here for a single day, without tiring you too much. You will not only have visited historical places, but also tasted some local food, and have the opportunity to buy souvenirs from authentic shops.
1. Breakfast at Kazım Büfe
First things first, breakfast! Start your day with Adana’s most popular sandwich and juice buffet. With its natural fresh juices, banana smoothie, and delicious sandwiches, Kazım Büfe must not be missed. Usually, people order a banana smoothie, the star drink of Kazım Büfe, along with a delicious yengen toast, filled with cheese, sucuk (Turkish sausage), and a slice of tomato. You can either eat it there or order it as a takeaway, which is my go-to for this day trip.
2. Have a Walk in Merkez Park
With breakfast in hand, it's time to find the perfect place to have it. If you keep walking towards the end of Toros Street, where Kazım Büfe is located, you will reach Merkez Park (Central Park) after passing through the underpass. Now that you are in the park, enjoy your delicious breakfast while walking through, or sitting on a bank peacefully in the park. With the river passing through it, along with a beautiful passage, Merkez Park is Adana’s biggest and most beautiful park.
3. Visit Sabancı Merkez Camii (Mosque)
At the end of Merkez Park lies Sabancı Merkez Camii, Adana’s largest mosque. With its eye-catching size and 6 minarets, this mosque is definitely one of the foremost places to visit in Adana. The inside of the mosque is as incredible as its outside, so don’t even think of passing by the mosque without going in.
4. Taş Köprü
Next stop, the Old Stone Bridge, Taş Köprü. If you keep following the river, you will reach the bridge, which is 1700 years old. In the past, it was open to vehicles but now it's only used by pedestrians. You can stroll down the bridge and take nice shots of the beautiful scenery of the river and mosque.
5. Visit Ulu Camii (Mosque)
After Taş Köprü, it is time to dive into the small streets of the Old Town. Once you reach the old Adana Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi (Adana Culture and Art Center), an old restored 2-floor building, you have to cross the car way and take Kızılay Street to reach the Ulu Camii. A 16th-century mosque, Ulu Camii has a very authentic atmosphere and a beautiful exterior. Also known as the Ramazanoğlu Mosque, it is located next to the Ramazanoğlu Madrasa, which is your next stop.
6. Visit Ramazanoğlu Medresesi (Madrasa)
Ramazanoğlu Medresesi served as an old school in the past. Built in the form of a han, this madrasa has an incredibly peaceful atmosphere, with its small fountain in the middle. You can visit the inside, the classrooms, and even drink coffee or tea in the inner garden. Near this madrasa, there is the Ramazanoğlu Konağı (Mansion), which you can add to your list as well.
7. Büyük Saat (The Great Clock Tower)
Once you come to the end of the small street, there it is, the Great Clock Tower stretching to the sky. Built in 1879, Büyük Saat, is 32 meters (105 ft.) high and is one of the most symbolic monuments of Adana. The surrounding of the tower is magical, and authentic and feels out of the era. The small shops on Ali Münif Yeğenağa Streets, are perfect to buy souvenirs and are fun to visit.
8. Walkthrough Kazancılar Çarşısı
Once you turn onto the small streets you can explore Kazancılar Çarşısı, which can be translated as the Coppersmiths Bazaar. The small streets are filled with coppersmiths, blacksmiths, knife sharpeners, and a variety of other things. It has a very nice atmosphere that encapsulates you from the moment you enter so I would highly recommend you to pay a visit there.
9. Shop at Hacı Helvacı Ahmet Veli
In those small streets, there is a very popular, and ancient Halva (helva) maker, called Hacı Helvacı Ahmet Veli. Built in 1884, here you can find different kinds of Turkish Delights, freshly made tahini, and other nutty goods. They have remained popular due to being 100% natural and having consistent quality. You can find Adana’s specialty delight called Cezerye, and purchase endless boxes filled with different delights, as a gift or for yourself.
Where to Eat
For lunch, I recommend you two options, and it's totally up to you which one to go for. Both are Kebap Places, as no tour would be complete without trying some real Adana Kebap. One is Ciğerci Memet and the other İştah Kebap, both are my two personal favorites.
Ciğerci Memet is one of the most popular kebap (kebab) and ciğer (liver) place in Adana. People from all around Turkey come to Adana to have a taste of Memet’s Ciğer skewers. The place is surrounded by coppersmiths, which adds a very authentic and real Adana atmosphere. The table is adorned with delicious salads, all included in the price. If you like to eat ciğer this place is a definite go-to. Although their kebap is tasty, I prefer İştah Kebap’s Adana Kebap.
The best of the best, İştah Kebap. They have been serving customers with the same great quality since 1950. Before entering the first İştah Kebap labeled place, keep an eye on the map, because there are some counterfeits. The real İştah Kebap is in a small, thin, 3-story building hidden on a small side street.
Now, let's talk about their kebap that I can’t get enough of. Their kebap is juicy, tender, and falls apart once you touch it with your fork, which is proof of a good Adana kebap. The salads they serve are all mouth-watering, and the homemade şalgam (turnip) they serve elevates this place to a whole other level. Apart from that, if you aren’t a kebap lover, you can also go for other options such as chicken.
Tatlıcı Gönül Kardeşler
You had your lunch and fed yourself, but why not finish with something sweet, and make a perfect and complete tour of Adana? Here I present you with one of Adana’s most-known dessert bars. I say bar, cause it functions a bit in a different way. There are no places to sit inside and have your treat.
All desserts are daily made and lined up on the counter. You pick whichever sweet you like with a piece of paper, and eat it right away while still standing. After you have satiated yourself, you go to the cashier and tell the cashier what you ate, and pay. This may sound like a strange system, but it functions on trust, which is a nice touch.
If you want to have something specific from Adana, go for a Halka Tatlısı, round-shaped churros formed sweet, or Taş Kadayıfı, a crunchy dough filled with walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar.
The dessert place is located on the Çakmak Caddesi (Street), which is at the very end of Atatürk Street leading to the city center. You can keep walking straight (north) and you will reach the new city center in less than 20 minutes.
Here we come to the end of our daily Old Town Tour. If you want to continue, you can shop, have a coffee or walk around the new city center, which has a nice atmosphere especially when the night lights appear.
Enjoy your stay in Adana!
Written by: Julide Koca