Ankara Travel Guide: Turkey’s Young Capital
I have described this great city as the young capital, even though its been Turkey’s capital for nearly a hundred years!
After the declaration of the republic, Ankara became the country’s new capital (taking over from Istanbul), and this barren city in the middle of Anatolia grows bigger and bigger every year.
Landing in Ankara
Ankara Esenboga Aiport, standing far from the city center at around twenty miles, is the only international airport.
There are three options to reach the city center from this airport, Bus, Havas or by Taxi.
If you want to get to your hotel by taxi, you will have to pay about $30. Due to the high cost, I do not recommend this method to you, unless you’re in a hurry!
Public transport buses are very cheap, the ticket fare is only $ 2! Join me and travel as we do on these crowded bus and enjoy the atmosphere whilst you travel the twenty miles, usually taking around an hour to reach the city.
That been said, for an easier ride and if you’re not ready for public transport I would recommend using Havas. Havas is a kind of private airport pick-up bus and is the quickest way (and easiest!) to the city center, and with the fee only around $5 its well worth it!
Where to Stay in Ankara
This city is not all that large so any area is good to access tourist spots.
I recommend Kızılay, the most central region of Ankara, with most of the hotels on Eskisehir road. This is one of the safest places to stay in the city, however it is an area for the higher budget traveler, the cheapest is Ulus region but its not advised for tourists as its not the safest area to say.
There are three alternatives for urban transport in Ankara: Taxi, Bus and Subway.
The metro network in the city is not very wide and it only reaches the central places.
However, local buses travel all over the city. For boarding the buses, you can buy the Ankara Card which is sold at the stations.
You do have the option to travel around by taxi as another alternative but only recommended for travelers with higher budgets as this can get expensive!
Places to See in Ankara
Istanbul was the capital city of Turks for almost five hundred years. Ankara was a city where few people lived in the middle of Anatolia. But in 1923, with being the new capital city, the population of the city grew rapidly and the city now home to about five million people.
For this reason, don’t expect too much historical culture in the city. That been said you have many places to visit such as:
The founder of the Republic and modern Turkey’s architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s grave is at Anitkabir. This is a monument that is often visited by people rather than a grave site.
Entrance is free and it’s located in Tandogan district. There is also a Gallipoli war museum in this monumental grave which gets very crowded during the national holidays.
If you are looking for a panoramic view of Ankara, then the place you need to be is Atakule!
Located on the top floor of this 125 metre tower is a restaurant selling local food for you to taste. The view is breathtaking as you can see all of the city whilst dining in the amazing 360-degree rotating restaurant!
In the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations located in Altindag region, archeological artifacts found in these lands are exhibited.
The Ethnography Museum is also located in Altındag and various examples of Turkish art can be seen here.
The War of Independence museum is also the first parliament building in the country. It is possible to get detailed information about the modern Turkish state in this building, where the Republic was proclaimed.
Castle of Ankara
This castle, presumably built by Hittites, is the oldest structure in the city. You can go for a stunning view of Ankara and if you come across one of the occasional festivals, you will be in for a treat!
Located in the center of Ankara the “Kizilay”, which consists of small streets and a giant square is the intersection of the main roads of the city. From street vendors to bookstores, this is the right place for those who want to taste the city’s atmosphere!
If you are visiting for more than a couple of days, I recommend you also visit the following places:
- Atatürk Forest Farm
- Kugulu Park
- Youth Park
- Roman Bath
- HaciBayram Mosque
- Botanical Park
- Ulucanlar Prison Museum
- Kecioren Waterfall
Local Food in Ankara
The city doesn’t really have its own dish, however I recommend you try the kebabs and other meat dishes that are common in the rest of the country.
However, the most famous food you will find in the city is simit. Simit sold here is very crisp and looks like a kind of pastry, known locally as Ankara Simit, which is available at nearly every street corner!
Addition Ankara Tips
- Although the city is not too big, it is not possible to walk everywhere
- It gets very cold in winter so summer is more recommended time to visit
- Traffic is very heavy in the city so always give yourself more time than you think to reach somewhere!
- Turkish people are very helpful, however as with anywhere, use common sense and don’t overly trust people
- Where to next? Try visiting the old capital Istanbul!
Have you visited Ankara? Comments are welcome below!