Ankara

Travel Guide Europe Turkey Central Anatolia Ankara

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Introduction

Anıtkabir

Anıtkabir

© ilyushin

Ankara, Turkey's capital and second largest city, has a long history. It was first made a capital by the Galatians in the 3rd century BC, before being conquered by various armies through the ages. Kemal Atatürk made it the base for the War of Liberation and as a consequence of that role and its strategic location, it was made capital of the new Turkish Republic in 1923. Visitors to the city can learn all about Atatürk at his mausoleum, Anitkabir. The various Roman and Galatian ruins in Ankara offer further evidence of the importance this city has had through the ages.

Like most Turks, the locals are generally friendly and helpful to tourists. Ankara has a large university student population and many young people can communicate in English, but it's still a good idea to have a Turkish phrasebook or dictionary on hand. Apart from the old town in and around the citadel near Ulus, and unplanned shanty town neighbourhoods here and there built hastily by new immigrants from countryside since the 1960s, most of Ankara, which was a provincial town of 20,000 people in the early days of the Republic, is a purpose-built capital due to its strategic location at the heart of the country, although the history of settlement in the vicinity is millennia old. While the biggest claim to fame of the town used to be the long-haired local breed of goats named after the former name of the city (Angora), out of which high quality mohair textiles were produced, today the few places where you can spot them in the city is the lawns in some parks or at the sides of clover-leaf interchanges on the highways - in the form of cute sculptures.

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Neighbourhoods

The "downtown" area of this large city is around Kızılay Square (Kızılay Meydanı, named after the headquarters of the Red Crescent, the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross, now replaced by a modern shopping mall) which has a fair number of transportation links to almost anywhere in the city. To the north, Kızılay Square is connected by a wide avenue, Atatürk Boulevard, to the squares of Sıhhiye (Ottoman Turkish for "sanitary works" as this has been the site of the building of the Ministry of Health since the foundation of the republic), marked by an unmissable Hittite monument in the middle of its roundabout, and Ulus ("nation", the site of the major institutions of the early years of the republic, such as the old parliament), which has a large equestrian monument of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, at its side. Ulus, the adjoining Hisar district around the hilltop citadel, and Hamamönü just south of it down the hill form the old town of Ankara.

To the immediate south of Kızılay lies the upmarket districts of Kavaklıdere, Gaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya. The city's most expensive hotels and restaurants are found in this region, as are most of the embassies and consular services.

Southwest of Kızılay, past the aptly named Bakanlıklar ("ministries") district, İsmet İnönü Boulevard (named after the second Turkish president) leads into the area collectively known as Eskişehir Yolu (literally "the road to Eskişehir"), which is lined by most of Ankara's large and afforested university campuses and the buildings of the administrative institutions, including the current National Parliament. The area morphes into exurbs several tens of kilometres out of the city, which eventually give way to the wide open steppe.

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Sights and Activities

  • Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum.
  • The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations houses a collection of Neolithic, Paleolithic, Chalcolithic, Lydian, Hatti, Phrygian, Hittite, Urartian and Roman works.
  • The Ethnographical Museum has a good collection of folkloric artifacts. (Open Tue-Sun).
  • The Ankara Citadel lies in the oldest part of Ankara. Its foundations were laid by the Galatians, before the Romans completed it.
  • The Temple of Augustus is a Corinthian style temple, dating to the 1st century BC. It was dedicated to Emperor Augustus at the start of the 1st century AD.
  • The Roman Bath, in Ulus on Cankiri Av, dates back to the 3rd century.
  • The Column of Julian dates to the 4th century, most likely commemorating a visit by Emperor Julian the Apostate.
  • Haci Bayram Mosque (Hacı Bayram Veli Cami), Sarıbağ Sk (near the Temple of Augustus - AnkaraMetroLogo.png Ulus SW 0.7 km). Restored by architect Mimar Sinan in the 16th century, with Kütahya tiles being added in the 18th century. Just next door is the small tomb of Hacı Bayram Veli, a poet and Sufi, who settled in Ankara in the 15th century to spread his teachings. This is considered to be the holiest shrine in the city by pious Muslims, who can be found praying in and outside the tomb in large numbers regardless of the time of the day. Take a look inside to see the colourful dome topping the structure.
  • Rahmi Koc Industrial Museum (Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum), Koyunpazarı Sk 64-76 (AnkaraMetroLogo.png Ulus 1.3 km West), ☏ +90 312 309 6800. Similar to Istanbul's industrial museum (of which Çengelhan is a part), the technological progress since the 1850s is on display in this museum housed in an old Ottoman caravanserai, what was the former Çengel Han, an Ottoman era caravanserai (han) which was completed in 1523, during the early years of the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The lower floor is reserved for a carpet gallery, agricultural machinery and pharmaceutical exhibits. Various machines, medicine, everyday life tools and road transport vehicles are exhibited in the ground floor. A brasserie is also at the ground floor. The upper floor hosts sections of rail transport items, toys, communications, scientific instruments, maritime and navigation. There are also sections about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey; Vehbi Koç, Rahmi Koç's father and one of the first industrialists of Turkey, and Ankara city

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Events and Festivals

Ankara International Film Festival

The Ankara Film Festival is a wonderful event held in Turkey’s capital. Each year during the month of March, travelers, film-buffs, directors, and acclaimed actors from across the globe come to Ankara for screenings at venues around the city.

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Weather

Ankara, like most areas in the higher central parts of the country, experiences a continental climate similar to that of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, though slightly less extreme in winter and drier in summer compared to the eastern part of Turkey.
Winters are cold and snowy and last from December to March with around 0 °C during the day and around -5 °C at night, though -31 °C has been recorded in winter. Summers are hot and dry and last from June to September with around 26 °C to 30 °C during the day and 12 °C at night, though it can reach 35 °C. Precipitation is low, but precipitation can be observed throughout the year, with around 50 mm of precipitation (as snow in winter) on average in April, May and December which are twice that of June, July and August, which have only few days with rain. Due to Ankara's high altitude and dry climate, daily temperatures in the summer are quite pleasant and nightly temperatures are cool.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max4.1 °C5.9 °C11.1 °C17.3 °C22.2 °C26.4 °C29.9 °C30 °C25.8 °C20 °C12.9 °C6.3 °C
Avg Min-3.5 °C-2.8 °C0.2 °C5.1 °C9.4 °C12.6 °C15.4 °C15.4 °C11.3 °C6.8 °C2.4 °C-0.9 °C
Rainfall38.8 mm35.1 mm36.7 mm41.8 mm51.1 mm33.8 mm14.6 mm10.9 mm16.8 mm25.8 mm31.4 mm45.7 mm
Rain Days12.311.310.811.112.38.63.72.43.96.78.112.1

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Getting There

By Plane

Ankara's Esenboğa International Airport (ESB) is located 28 kilometres from the centre of Ankara. Turkish Airlines has a secondary hub at the airport and is the dominant airline. Condor Airlines, BMI, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa are among a handful of international airlines that serve the airport.

To/from the airport
The airport is connected with the city centre and Ankara Intercity Bus Terminal by EGO city bus number 442 (from 6:00am to 11:00pm). Transportation to the city center is also by taxi. A taxi ride to the city's centre costs 80 YTL or more one way. Alternatively, Havaş airport buses cost 10 YTL (US$8/€6) and take about 45 minutes to make the journey. Many consider the buses more comfortable than the taxis!

By Train

Ankara is the eastern terminus of the Turkish high-speed rail system (YHT), with frequent fast trains to Konya, and via Eskişehir to Istanbul. Trains to Eskişehir and Konya take 90 minutes and those stations are within 3-5 km of their town centres, so they are easy day trips. Trains to Istanbul take 4½ hours; they also stop at Pendik, 25 km east of city centre and convenient for Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport (10 km, taxi or bus).

Since July 2019 there's also an overnight service between Istanbul and Ankara. The train leaves Istanbul Halkali nightly at 22:00, picking up at Söğütlüçeşme, Bostanci and Pendik plus nine other intermediate stations, reaching Sincan then Ankara before 07:00. The return service has similar times, taking about nine hours altogether, and there are both seats and sleepers plus a dining car.

To Izmir, the Izmir Mavi leaves Ankara at 19:00 and takes 14 hrs overnight via Eskişehir and Kütahya; the return departs Izmir Basmane station at 18:00.

Destinations east of Ankara are served by slow overnight trains. The main services are to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (the Guney Kurtalan Express), to Erzurum and Kars (the Dogu Express), and to Tatvan (the Vangölü Express), thence by dolmus to Van. From Van a train runs once a week to Tabriz and Tehran in Iran.

For times and reservations (strongly recommended) see TCDD Turkish Republic State Railways website.

A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards, and the first section to Kayseri and Sivas might open by 2020. The railway from Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan only carries freight, but passenger trains are expected to start early in 2020. International trains to Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely.

By Bus

Varan and Ulusoy are just a few of dozens of companies offering bus travel to and from Ankara to numerous destinations throughout Turkey. On Otogar, you can check national bus companies and tickets online.

Ankara Intercity Terminal (Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmeleri AŞTİ (pronounced ush-tee), Beştepeler Mh. (connected to the Kızılay Square- Metro AnkarayLogo.png 'AŞTİ' . There are also free of charge shuttle buses to Kızılay (and a number of other locations) run by the AŞTİ administration. They depart from behind the main building.), ☏ +90 312 207 1000, fax: +90 312 207 1010, ✉ info@asti.com.tr. The buses terminate at this bus station (otogar), a huge, two-storey building with extended wings on sides. Most of the cities in Turkey have direct buses to the capital of Turkey. From Istanbul to Ankara, the bus trip takes around 6 hours and one way fare is between 55 and 85 TL. The fare varies by bus companies. Usually big companies like Pamukkale, Kamil Koç, Metro and Ulusoy have higher fares when other regional bus companies have lower prices. However, the trip takes around 8 hours when you prefer these cheap regional bus companies. There are a lot of online services for buying tickets, but most of the time, companies' own websites offer lower prices.

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Getting Around

By Car

Not recommended for travellers in Ankara; take a taxi instead.

By Public Transport

The city has a dense public bus network, a two-line subway called Ankara Metrosu and a single line suburban railway called Ankara Banliyö Treni.
For tourists, Ankara’s public transit system, particularly the public bus network, can be difficult to figure out, because maps are rare and all information is in Turkish. Nor is there any access provided for disabled travellers in any form of public transport. Buses and metros tend to be very crowded during rush hours, especially on Mondays and Fridays. If you know the city well, public transportation, especially the metro, is an ideal, easy, quick and cheap way to get around particularly for longer distances.

Buses
The Ankara Municipal Buses, named Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri (EGO), consists of an extensive and dense bus network, and is owned and operated by the Ankara Municipality. Payment system for municipal buses is based on multi-use magnetic cards which are also used for the metro; starting from the smallest available which is the 1-unit card which costs 1.65 TL, 2-unit cards which cost 3.30 TL, 3-unit cards which cost 4.95 TL, 5-unit cards which cost 8.25 TL, 10-unit cards which cost 16.50 TL and 20-unit cards which cost 33.00 TL. A free transfer with the magnetic cards is possible within a duration of 45 minutes between the bus lines and metro lines. The magnetic cards cannot be purchased in buses and have to be purchased beforehand at kiosks and metro stations. Unfortunately, no stops and maps are displayed in the buses and bus stops nor announced by voice in the buses. However all current bus information is available online at the EGO English website. In addition, apps for smartphones are available with the same functionality.

The Ankara Non-Municipal Public Buses, Ankara Özel Halk Otobüsleri (ÖHO), consists of an extensive and dense bus network, operated by a private corporation. Payment system for non-municipal buses is with cash. The ticket, which is only a one-way ticket, is purchased in buses at a cost of 2.25 TL. Unfortunately, no stops and maps are displayed in the buses and bus stops nor announced by voice in the buses.

Metro
The Ankara Metro, named Ankara Metrosu, consists of two metro lines, which are called Ankaray and Ankara Metro which is owned and operated by the Ankara Municipality .

The west-east light-rail line named Ankaray and the north-south heavy-rail Ankara Metro line are both mostly underground lines and intersect at Kızılay station.

The Ankaray line runs between AŞTİ (Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmesi - Ankara Intercity Bus Terminal) and Dikimevi. The line is 8.7 kilometres long (8.0 underground and 0.7 surface railway) and has 11 stations.

The Ankara Metro line, runs between Kızılay, the city center, to Batıkent in the northwest. The line is 14.7 km long (6.5 kilometres underground, 4.5 kilometres surface, and 3.7 kilometres elevated railway) and has 12 stations.

Payment for the subway is based on multi-use magnetic cards which is also used for the municipal buses; starting from the smallest available which is the 1-unit card which costs 1.65 TL, 2-unit cards which cost 3.30 TL, 3-unit cards which cost 4.95 TL, 5-unit cards which cost 8.25 TL, 10-unit cards which cost 16.50 TL and 20-unit cards which cost 33.00 TL. A free transfer with the magnetic cards is possible within a duration of 45 minutes between the bus lines and metro lines. The magnetic cards can be purchased at kiosks and metro stations.

All stations are announced both on a display and by voice in the metros.

By Foot

The centre can be explored on foot.

By Bike

Not recommended in Ankara.

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Eat

Ankara is best known with its "döner kebap". In order to pick a good döner restaurant (there are many) you should take a look at the döner round. it should be rectangular and the cuts must be flat and separated.

Like many other capitals, Ankara is where you can eat the best and the freshest fish of the country all around the year (not the cheapest, though). Around Sakarya str., there are various types of fish restaurants, from fast food to stylish ones and it can be a good opportunity to also try rakı, which is known as a companion of fish. But fish restaurants abound in the city; in Cankaya there are at least two excellent ones, "Akdeniz Akdeniz" and "Lazoli" featuring the first Mediterranean and the second Black Sea cuisine. "Ege", located close to Tunali street, is another excellent choice for fish and raki. The restaurant has also a variety of wines. If you want to listen good Turkish classical music while you eat and drink raki, then "Sudem" should be seen. It is located on Olgunlar Street.

Besides many classic iskender kebab restaurants there are also many restaurant featuring the traditional cuisine of a specific city, catering to the community of more affluent immigrants: from the spicy Urfa to the variety of vegetables coming with Adana kebab. Uludag Kebabcisi on Denizciler Caddesi in Ulus has been around for about sixty years and is a top of the line restorant mainly serving Iskender kebap.

Finally, as the national capital, Ankara has a large population of diplomats, and hence there are a number of "international" restaurants in Kavaklıdere and Cankaya (also where the majority of diplomatic missions are located). Prices tend to be on the steep side.

Hacı Arif Bey, Güniz sokak 48/1. Kebaps and South Anatolian cuisine is a well managed and delicious restaurant for savoring Gaziantep cuisine. A wealth of options are available and prices are not very high. A person can eat well for around 30-40 TL.
Sushico. Japanese and Thai food. Sushico's GOP restaurant especially has a very good garden.
Quick China, Uğur Mumcu Cad. Good option for Chinese and Thai cookings. Quick China's branch on the Park Avenue "Park caddesi" is also very good, particularly for a Sunday brunch.

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Drink

There are many bars and places to drink on that street which is parallel to Bestekar. The Edge, Twister, Hayyami (wine bar) are nice places.

Sakal on Kennedy Street is a unique place with electronic, reggae or retro (offering different kinds of music). On the same street Mono is pleasant place to drink. Tunus Street, parallel to Bestekar is another street where you may find many pubs like Retrox, Flat, James Cook and Zodiac. If Performance Hall, Manhattan, Overall and Siyah-Beyaz are places where you can drink and dance till 4 am with live rock music. There normally are rock cover bands and a huge crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights in these places.

"Sakarya" is full of the cheapest solutions. Among the best places in Sakarya, one should note "Net", which is a good choice not only take a glass of beer or raki, but also to eat. "Buyuk Ekspres" is also a nice old bar of the town. Also Eski-Yeni, Pasaj and Telwe are nice bars where you may find rock or alternative live music styles with cheaper drink prices compared to Tunali, Çankaya region.

"Park Avenue" -in Konutkent district- is the new street for classy bars, cafes and night clubs. You may also find second branch of Kitir, Random & Crossroads in "Park Avenue". Istanbul's fashionable night club Sortie has also opened in this avenue and is a nice place to drink any kind of drinks and listen to latest club mixes. Narquilla is a great place to have your nargile while drinking beer and enjoying nice food.

Also, there are meyhanes (tavern) in which fixed menus are served with drinks and classic Turkish music played. There are bars and restaurants also in the historic core of Ankara, close to citadel. You definitely have to go and return by taxi though.

Don't expect a lively gay life of Istanbul in Ankara. No-one comes to Ankara for its amazing gay life, however you can still enjoy your time while you are here. It has only one gay bar-club (Sixties) and this is open only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. It gets pretty crowded after 00:00 and plays Turkish and Western pop music. In addition to that, though it is not a gay bar, Eski-Yeni Bar in Sakarya Caddesi (street) seems to attract a gay-lesbian crowd especially in its bottom floor. Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, the leading queer organizations in Ankara, hold activities throughout the year.

Papsi bar, Tunalı Hilmi Cd. A good choice to take a cold beer in a friendly atmosphere for years.
"Kitir" and "Random" bars, Tunali (adjacent to Kugulu Park). Two other popular bars.
Corvus, Bestekar Street. offering rock music.
The Soul Pub, Kavaklıdere Mh., Olgunlar Cd No:18, 06420 Ankara, ☏ +90 312 424 0 144.

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Sleep

Deeps Hostel, Çankaya, Ataç-2 Sokak (AnkarayLogo.png,AnkaraMetroLogo.png: Kizilay). 25-40 TL.
Sanayi Caddesi (just north of Ulus Meydan). Dbl. (en suite) 40-80TL per night.
Ankara Palas. A historic hotel completed in 1927.
Sheraton Hotel (Kavaklıdere district). the most visible and glitzy hotel in Ankara.
Hilton (Next corner from the Sheraton).
Radisson (near the train station. - Metro Ulus).
Swissotel (an obscure back alley in Çankaya).
Ramada, Tunalı Hilmi street (Kavaklıdere). recent entrants, and offer very new-looking rooms.
King Hotel (behind the Parliament, near the American Embassy).
Hotel Midas, Tunus Caddesi (north of Kavaklidere).
Hotel Gold, Tunus Caddesi (north of Kavaklidere).
Angora House boutique hotel (Citadel district). A charming place in an Ottoman era house.
Crowne Plaza Ankara Hotel, Mevlana Bulvarı No: 2, 06330, Akköprü. Next door to the 30 ha shopping center Ankamall.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Safety

Ankara is probably one of the safest big cities you will ever visit. Most people, including single female travellers, would very rarely encounter problems walking along the streets alone at night. Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night. However, "little crime" does not mean "no crime", and common sense should still be applied as anywhere in the world. Petty crime such as pickpocketing can occur, however, especially in crowded areas. Therefore, one should always take care of their belongings and keep bags closed.

The biggest danger for travellers is the road traffic, because there is little respect for pedestrians. Every road should be crossed carefully and very quickly. Even if pedestrian traffic lights show green, it is absolutely essential to have a watchful eye. At crosswalks definitely look out before crossing the street.

Another danger for pedestrians, are the sidewalks because they are often in a very poor condition. Because of the poor or irregular renovation of sidewalks, many of them have loose paving stones and holes in the asphalt. The risk of tripping and hurting oneself should not be underestimated.

Ankara Police Department has a "tourism police" section with staff multilingual in English, German, French, and Arabic.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found everywhere except small rural villages. The cost of an hour use of internet ranges from 1 YTL to 1.5 YTL. Wireless internet is becoming popular in some cafes in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, and at airpots. But in many other places it's still not available, or sometimes at a very high cost.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Turkey's international country code is 90. Dial 112 for an ambulance anywhere, from any telephone, without a charge. In case of a fire, dial 110; for police, call 155. However, in rural areas there is not a police coverage, so dial 156 for gendarme, a military unit for rural security. All these numbers are free of charge and can be called from a telephone booth without inserting a calling card, or any phone including cell phones.

There are telephone booths owned by Turk Telekom in major parts of cities. public phones now operate with chip telekom cards which are available in 30, 60 or 120 units and can be obtained at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks.
It is estimated that approximately 98% of the population of Turkey lives within the coverage areas of Turkey’s three cell phone line providers. Line providers from most countries have roaming agreements with one or more of these companies. Pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards can be purchased for approximately TRY20-50. These can be purchased at the airport on arrival or from the many outlets in Istanbul and other large cities. Providers include Vodaphone.

Post

PTT is the national post service in Turkey. Services are generally moderately fast but quite reliable. There is an extended price list on the PTT website, where you can see the costs of sending items within Turkey, countries in Europe and further afield. For sending packages one might also use international companies such as DHL and UPS and local companies such as Yurtici Kargo. Post offices bear the distinctive yellow PTT sign and are generally open between 9:00am to 12:00 noon and 1:30pm to 5:00pm from Monday to Friday. Some might keep longer hours or be open during the weekend as well, but this mainly applies to the larger ones or those in central places and tourist areas.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 39.943873
  • Longitude: 32.856034

Accommodation in Ankara

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This is version 40. Last edited at 11:04 on Nov 29, 19 by Utrecht. 39 articles link to this page.

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