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 banana plantations and mammoth polytunnels hiding strawberry crops, Anamur is a prosperous farming town with a laid-back resort as an adjunct. The waterfront İskele district, with its pleasant 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 swathe of beach bookended by two perfect castles: one on the mainland, the other perching photogenically on an island just offshore. 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.
Lovely little Narlıkuyu, on a cove 5km southwest of Kızkalesi, is renowned for its fish restaurants, but the other-worldly mountain caves nearby also can't be overlooked. There's a more-than-worthwhile mosaic museum here, and the town is wrapped around a delightful Mediterranean cove that's a favourite of loggerhead turtles.
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 birdwatchers who want to combine some swimming and sunbathing with visits to the nearby wetlands of the Göksu Delta.
Just southeast of Silifke are the lush salt marshes, lakes and sand dunes of the Göksu Delta, an important wetland area that's home to around 330 bird species. To the north and northeast, the slopes of the maquis-covered Olba Plateau stretch along the coast for about 60km before the Cilician plain opens into an ever-widening swathe of fertile land.
Adana is the natural base for forays to some of the Eastern Med's most fascinating ancient sites. Inland from the Bay of İskenderun (İskenderun Körfezi) are the little-visited remains of castles and settlements connected with the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, including its capital, Sis, at Kozan. Some, such as Anazarbus, date back to Roman times or earlier.