Built on the site of ancient Antiocheia ad Orontem, Antakya, officially known as Hatay, is a prosperous and modern city near the Syrian border. Under the Romans, Antioch's important Christian community developed out of the already large Jewish population that was at one time led by St Paul.
Silifke is a riverside country town with a long history. A striking castle towers above the mineral-rich blue-green Göksu River, dubbed the Calycadnus in ancient times. In the vicinity are other archaeological and natural sights that deserve a visit. Seleucia ad Calycadnum, as Silifke was once known, was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the 3rd century BC.
Surrounded by fertile fields of banana plantations and mammoth polytunnels hiding strawberry crops, Anamur is a prosperous farming town and laidback resort. The waterfront İskele district with its decent strip of sand springs into action on summer weekends when locals head to the coast to cool off.
The coastal village of Kızkalesi boasts a lovely swath of beach capped by a castle and another island castle just offshore that seems to be floating on the sea. Unfortunately the town itself is a grid of rather grim-looking concrete slab apartment blocks that look like they were slapped up in five minutes.
İskenderun (Alexandretta in ancient times), a modern industrial city with a working port, is the gateway to the Hatay province. Strategically located, the town has changed hands more than once. Alexander the Great took charge in 333 BC, and it was occupied by the British in 1918. The following year the French took charge until 1938.
On a cove 5km southwest of Kızkalesi, Narlıkuyu has popular fish restaurants, a mosaic of singular beauty and other-worldly mountain caves nearby. Inside the village's Mosaic Museum, in a compact 4th-century Roman bath on the waterfront, is a wonderful mosaic of the Three Graces – Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne – the daughters of Zeus.
It may be the working port of nearby Silifke, but a lovely strip of beach and well-maintained seafront promenade make Taşucu (tah-shoo-joo) a destination in its own right. This is an extremely low-key holiday resort that's a favourite stop for bird watchers who want to combine some swimming and sunbathing with visits to the nearby wetlands of the Göksu Delta.
There are several notable attractions on or just north of the D400 as you travel east from Alanya, including the seldom-visited ancient sites of Laertes and Syedra. A turn-off near the 11km marker leads northward for 6km to Dim Cave, a subterranean fairyland of spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations with a crystal clear pool at the deepest depth.