Because the city has been a crossroads for centuries, the local culture is a medley of civilizations. Mersin has a State Opera and Ballet, the fourth in Turkey after Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. Mersin International Music Festivalwas established in 2001 and takes place every October. The photography association Mersin Fotoğraf Derneği (MFD), is one of the most popular and active cultural organizations in the city. Some cultural activities are sponsored by the İçel sanat kulübü (i.e., Art club of Mersin) and Mediterranean Opera and Ballet Club. There are three museums: Mersin Museum, Atatürk Museum and Mersin Naval Museum (Deniz Müzesi) .
Some of the largest mosques include the Muğdat Mosque, built in the name of a companion of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, Miqdad ibn Aswad, and the central Mersin Grand Mosque. The Old Mosque was built by SultanAbdul Aziz in 1865 next to a foundation (vakıf).
The Mersin Interfaith Cemetery, sometimes also called Tolerance, is renowned for being a common cemetery of all religions. It includes graves of Muslims, Christians and Jews.
The City hosts the Roman Catholic Co-Cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua.
In order to swim in clean water you need to get out of town, perhaps an hour along the coast. The beaches at Kızkalesi, Ayaş, Susanoğlu (app. 50–70 km west) are popular with families while young people prefer Akyar,Yapraklı koy, Narlıkuyu or quieter bays along the coast, some of which are very attractive indeed.