Ankara Halal Travel Guide
Ankara is Turkey’s capital, and its second city in size after Istanbul. Literally and figuratively, it is located at the heart of both Turkey and Central Anatolia, the surrounding region. The population is around 4.5 million.
Ankara is the administrative hub of Turkey and a huge university town, so it has a large population of government workers and university students. As the national capital Ankara is home to a large population of foreign diplomats and embassy staff, it offers goods and services that might be more difficult to find in other Turkish cities — for example you will have no problem ordering a cappuccino or a hamburger.
Ankara is a sprawling, modern city which can appear as little more than a dull, concrete jungle at first glance — most non-local Turks view Ankara as a depressive and grey city with nothing in offer other than the boring world of politics. Consequently, many visitors tend to use it merely as a transit point for getting to places like Konya or Cappadocia, however Ankara does have a lot to offer for those prepared to look a bit deeper — as the proud capital of the Turkish Republic, it is easy to trace the steps of the early republican years here, whether it be in the shape of the fine buildings of the first national architecture movement or the 1940s monuments following the totalitarian aesthetics of the era. Local museums abound with some of the best pieces of art in the country, ancient and modern. And since it originally lies on the mostly barren Central Anatolian steppelands, Ankara vigorously pursued a policy of tree planting, which resulted in many parks and forestlands around the town, which add to its charms.
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. Having said that, 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 in the last five decades, 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.
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 National Parliament. The area morphes into exurbs several tens of kilometres out of the city, which eventually give way to the wide open steppe.
Weather in Ankara
As any other part of the Anatolian highland, the winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is regularly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15°C. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Average daily temperatures in midsummer are around 30°C. Daily temperatures can reach 35°C and above, but is not common and usually last no more than a few days. Summer nights are cool, though, so be sure to bring at least a cardigan with you to wear outdoors. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, but with an annual precipitation of 415 mm (i.e. a semi-arid climate), you are unlikely to get much wet during your trip to Ankara, anyway.
Travel to Ankara
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Travel by plane to Ankara
- Ankara Esenboğa Airport. Is the only civilian airport in Ankara. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope – apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), only Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs. Iran Air also has two weekly flights to Tehran. For other carriers flying into Turkey, a flight into Istanbul is necessary, followed by an air transfer to Ankara by Turkish Airlines or Anadolu Jet (a low cost brand of Turkish Airlines). – EasyJet also offers discount flights to and from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in the summer months (until October 25) and to and from Istanbul and London Luton airport all year round for fares as low as £22.
The only means of public transport are public busses numbered 442 (4 TL with one pass cards). It starts from the airport and follows a main artery to Ankara, passing through almost all central points, including train station, Kızılay, AŞTİ (intercity bus terminal). You can expect it to be rather crowded and as they don’t have separate sections for luggage, you might get exhausted at the end of the journey. One common way to travel to and from airports in Turkey is HAVAS but recently their services were temporarily suspended due to some legal issues with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. Until the issues are solved, there won’t be any HAVAS service. Until then Ankara Metropolitan Municipality started their own shuttle service called Belko Air. They follow a similar route to the public transport, from airport it takes you to train station, Kizilay, and AŞTİ. You can put your luggage in luggage compartment. It costs you 11 TL. You can take a taxi as well but that would cost you around 100-140 TL one way, metered.
Travel by train to Ankara
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).
Destinations east of Ankara are served by slow overnight trains. The main services are to Diyarbakır 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 in Iran, with onward trains to Tehran.
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 currently only carries freight, but passenger trains are expected to start in autumn 2019. International trains to Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely.
- Ankara Central railway station (Ankara Garı), Eti Mahallesi, Celal Bayar Blv. No:73 (Southwest of the old quarter. Nearest metro station is Ulus, 700 m northwest. Many public buses and dolmuşes stop right in front of the station).
If you are travelling from places other than Istanbul, you will find buses fast, inexpensive, and modern. Watch out for the drivers spraying your hands with lemon cologne if you do not like it.
- Ankara Intercity Terminal (Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmeleri AŞTİ (pronounced ush-tee), Beştepeler Mh. (connected to the Kızılay Square- Metro ‘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.), , fax: +90 312 207 1010. 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 rates 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.
Transportation in Ankara
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, mainly on Mondays and Fridays.
If you know the city well, public transportation, mainly the metro, is an ideal, easy, quick and cheap way to get around particularly for longer distances. For shorter distances taxis are an easy, quick and cheap way to get around.
There are two types of public buses in Ankara; those run by the Ankara Municipality named Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri (EGO) and those run by a private corporation named Ankara Özel Halk Otobüsleri (ÖHO). You can differentiate these two types by their colours. EGO-run buses are white and blue while ÖHO-run buses are blue. Both types of these public buses use the same bus network and bus stops.
Ankara Municipal 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.
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.
Ankara Non-Municipal Public Buses
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 2.75 TL.
Unfortunately, no stops and maps are displayed in the buses and bus stops nor announced by voice in the buses.
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 km long (8.0 km underground and 0.7 km surface railway) and has 11 stations
The Ankara Metro line, runs between Kızılay, the town center, to Batıkent in the northwest. The line is 14.7 km long (6.5 km underground, 4.5 km surface, and 3.7 km 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 Suburban Railway
Ankara Suburban Railway (Ankara Banliyö Treni) consists of a single line, between Sincan and Eryaman in the west, through the town center, to Kayaş in the east. Trains run every 15 mins between about 06:00 and 22:00 . The line is 37.0 km long, all of it above ground, and has 24 stations. There’s nothing of visitor interest near the outlying stations, but Eryaman is an interchange with YHT trains to Konya, Eskişehir and Istanbul Pendik.
Buy tickets in cash at any station. A one-way ticket costs 1.70 TL and a return ticket costs 3.00 TL.
The entire line was closed for over a year due to construction at Ankara station and surrounding tracks, but it re-opened in April 2018. It’s owned and operated by Turkish State Railways.
Taxis are numerous in Ankara and are recognizable by their yellow color and word Taksi on top of the car. All licensed taxis have the letter T in their license plates.
The fare shown on the meter reads according to distance traveled. The ride will start from 2.20 TL, and the rate is 1.90 TL per kilometre. The rates for day and night are same. Tipping is not done other than rounding the fare to the next 50 kurus or 1 TL.
Occasionally, some taxi drivers will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed price, mainly with tourists. But most taxi drivers will start taximeters at all times. You should avoid these cabs and simply take another one as you will almost certainly end paying too much. Many taxi drivers, even though very few of them speak a foreign language, will understand your requested destination and instructions. Tell them then to put the taximeter on. Taxi drivers do normally work with the taximeter, so they will not be surprised at all when you ask them to put it on. Emphasize to the taxi driver that you will pay for the meter price before getting in.
Always try to stop a taxi that is passing by on the road or find a legitimate taxi stop.
If you are not familiar with the city and see that you are a tourist, the taxi driver may drive a detour in order to charge you more. Insist on going to the destination that you want, and have a map to show them your destination, to avoid a detour.
Also beware that all taxis are required to have the designated license plate with the letter T apart from their yellow colouring.
Be careful about what notes you hand them for payment; some taxi drivers have tried to pretend that the 50 TL note that was handed was just a 5 TL note. Occasionally taxi drivers may actually also rip notes you give them, and tell you it is no good, in order to make you hand them a 50 TL note. So, make sure the notes are not ripped, and is actually the right one before you hand them over. Do not buy their quick-sell tricks and also do not allow them to round the price up to the higher denomination.
What to see in Ankara =
- Kocatepe Mosque (Kocatepe Camii), Olgunlar Cd, Kızılay ( Kizilay N 1km). built between 1967 and 1987 Completed in 1987, this project is built in a neoclassical Ottoman architecture style, and is an eclectic building
- Hacı Bayram Mosque (Hacı Bayram Veli Cami), Sarıbağ Sk (near the Temple of Augustus – 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.
- Arslanhane Mosque (Arslanhane (Ahi Şerafeddin) Camii), Can Sk ( Kurtuluş S 1km). A 13th-century Seljuk mosque near the citadel, and quite worth the effort to climb up the steep hill leading there. Has a finely carved wooden ceiling supported by a “forest” of stately wooden columns, following the style of a few such mosques dispersed throughout Anatolia.
- Sultan Alaeddin Mosque (Sultan Alaeddin Cami), Altındağ (: ‘Ulus’ W 1 km). It has a carved walnutmimber, the inscription on which records that the mosque was completed in early AH 574 (which corresponds to the summer of 1178 AD) by the Seljuk Sultan. Ankara’s first mosque was built in former Kaleici district.
- Ahi Elvan Mosque (Ahi Elvan Camii), Koyunpazari Sk. (: ‘Ulus’ NW 1.7 km). was constructed during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. The finely carved walnut member (pulpic) is of particular interest.
- Yeni Mosque (Cenab Ahmet Mosque, Ulucanlar Yeni Cami), Ulucanlar Avenue (Ulucanlar Caddesi) (Cebeci Tren İstanbul 600m SE, or Dikimevi). Built by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th century. The mimber (pulpit) and mihrap (prayer niche) are of white marble, and the mosque itself is of Ankara stone, an example of very fine workmanship..
- Ankara Ethnography Museum (Etnoğrafya Müzesi), Türk Ocağı Cad./Talat Paşa Bulv, Ulus (opposite the Opera House Sıhhiye 0.5km). Tu-Su 08:30-17:00.
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Gözcü Sokak 2 (on the way to the citadel from AkköprüUlus 1.0 km W), , fax: +90 312 3112839. Apr-Oct 8:30-19:00, Nov-Mar 8:30-17:15. Display of the artefacts remained from the pre-Greek and -Roman Asia Minor/Anatolian civilizations — the best bits of sculptures and reliefs of the ancient Near East are all here. The oldest artefacts in display date back to the Paleolithic. This museum is one of the best in Turkey and by itself makes Ankara certainly worthwhile to visit. 15 TL.
- State Art and Sculpture Museum (Resim-Heykel Müzesi), Türkocağı Sokak, Altındağ (near the Ethnography Museum – Sıhhiye). Hosts galleries with temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent display of Turkish art from late 1800s to today.
- Cer Modern, Altınsoy Cad. No:3 06101 Sıhhıye, ( Maltepe or Sıhhiye 0.5 km). Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The m10) modern art museum of the city, Cer Modern is housed in the historic power plant building of Turkish Railways. Contemporary art. – P: +90 312 3100000 F: +90 312 3101000
- Rahmi M. Koc Museum (Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum), Koyunpazarı Sk 64-76 ( Ulus 1.3 km West), . Similar to Istanbul’s industrial museum (of which Çengelhan is actually 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
- Ankara Aviation Museum (Türk Hava Kurumu Müzesi), Etimesgut, Doğanbey Mh. or Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bulvarı (İstanbul Yolu) (near highway to Istanbul – Subayevleri Tren İstanbul Stn.), . W-Su 09:00-16:30. Various aircraft, aviation items, missiles, and whatnot are in the exhibition, as are MiGs from the other side of Iron Curtain.
- METU Science and Technology Museum (Odtu Bilim Ve Teknoloji Müzesi), ODTÜ Kampüsü A-8 Kapısı (ODTÜ Teknokent Kapısı), Dumlupınar Bulvarı No:1 (on Middle East Technical University campus, on the highway to Eskişehir, 7 km away from the town center. – Nearest Metro Stn. Aşti ~3 km), . Monday to Friday 09:30-15:30.
- Stamps Museum at Turkish Telecom, Aydinlikevler district, Çağdaş Sk No:57 (From : ‘Kültür Merkezi’ 2.5 km NE). daily 08:30-17:00.
- Mehmet Akif Ersoy Old House & Museum, Hacettepe University Campus, Sıhhiye (: Akköprü 0.7 km east), .
- Mehmet Akif Ersoy Literature Museum Library (Mehmet Akif Ersoy Edebiyat Müze Kütüphanesi), Hacettepe Mah. Sarıkadı sok. No: 47 Hamamönü, Altındağ ( Kurtuluş 0.4 km S), , fax: +90 312 3122864. Tu-Su 10:00-19:00.
- Liberation War Museum (War of Independence Museum, Kurtuluş Savaşı Müzesi), Karşıyaka Mh., Cumhuriyet Cd No:14/22 (: Ulus 0.3 km southwest), . This was the first building that hosted the Turkish Republican Parliament. The 1921-22 War of Independence was directed from here, as evidenced by photographs and other items in the display. Waxworks of former Turkish presidents are also on display.
- Hacettepe University Arts Museum, Sihhiye district, inside the university’s cultural center. evher Nesibe Cd. (: ‘Sihhiye’). Monday to Friday 10:00-17:00. You can see over 250 works of many Turkish painters and artists from the early ages of the Republic until our times.
- Roman Road of Ankara (Cardo Maximus). This is an ancient Roman road
- Artifacts of Pious Foundations (Vakif) Museum, Ataturk Boulevard in Ulus (: ‘Ulus’). There are Turkish carpets from 15th and 16th centuries, historic candle holders and Korans, old watches, woodworks from 13th century, traditional tiles, and many other ethnographic objects.
- Citadel (: ‘Ulus’ 1.3 km West). There were laid by the Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and the rest was completed by the Romans. Walk through the cobbled streets lined by old houses to climb up to one of the towers, which offers a good view of the sprawling city below and the surrounding mountains.
- Roman Theatre (Antik Roma Tiyatrosu), Hisar Parkı Cd No:~18/Çankırı Cad. Dışkapı ( Ulus 1.0 km West), . The remains, the stage, and the backstage of the Roman theatre can be seen outside the castle.
- Temple of Augustus and Rome (Monumentum Ancyranum), Sarıbağ Sk. The remains of a temple constructed between 25 BC – 20 BC after the Roman conquest of central Anatolia. and created the formation of the Roman province of Galatia, with Ancyra (modern Ankara) as its administrative capital. The temple, on the ancient Acropolis of Ancyra, was enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century. In the 5th century it was converted into a church by the Byzantines. Its remains, some sturdy rock-cut walls decorated by ancient motifs, lie just next to the mosque and tomb of Hacı Bayram Veli, marking this site as a sacred one.
- Column of Julian (Julian Sütunu, Belkıs Minaresi) (at a small square behind the İş Bankası building, Ulus). A Roman column erected in 362 CE to commemorate the visit of Emperor Julian (r. 355–363) to Ancyra.
- Roman Bath (Roma Hamami), Çankırı Cd (walk up the street north from Ulus Square, 15 min). Excavated ruins accessible to the public. Typical features of a classical Roman bath complex: a frigidarium (cold room), a tepidarium (warm room) and a caldarium (hot room). The baths were built during the reign of the Roman emperor Caracallain the early 3rd century AD to honor Asclepios, the God of Medicine. Today, only the basement and first floors remain.
- Anıtkabir, Mareşal Fevzi Çakmak Cd 55-71 (20 min walk from the Tandoğan/Anadolu station, along a road that smoothly climbs uphill through the forest that surrounds the mausoleum grounds). Daily. Completed in 1953 and situated on an imposing hill in the Anittepe quarter of the city is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. The mausoleum and its adjacent buildings make an especial effort to combine the elements of both ancient Anatolian and ancient Turkish art. A museum underneath displays a large collection of Atatürk memorabilia and provides an excellent overview of modern Turkey’s history, and the wars led to the proclaimation of the republic. Australians and New Zealanders will find it interesting to hear the story of Gallipoli presented entirely from the Turkish point of view.
- Atatürk’s Tomb (Mausoleum) and Museum, Anıt Caddesi Tandoğan, . Tu-Su. There is a museum housing a superior wax statue of Atatürk; writings, letters and items belonging to Atatürk, as well as an exhibition of photographs recordings of important moments of his life
- Atakule Tower. A 125 m-high communications and observation tower in the Çankaya district. The highest structure of the city, with a shopping mall located under the tower. (Note: Atakule shopping mall itself, where very few shops are left open, will close in autumn as it will be transformed to a hotel.)
- Victory Monument (Zafer Anıtı), Ulus square. Erected in 1927, the monument is made of marble and bronze, and features an equestrian statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Since it was erected a year before the “alphabet reform”, it is one of the very few republican monuments in Turkey that has an inscription written in Ottoman Turkish, using the Arabic script.
- Monument to a Secure, Confident Future, Güven Park (near Kızılay Square). Built in 1935 and bears Atatürk’s advice to his people: “Turk! Be proud, work hard, and believe in yourself.” Features the statues of two gun-holding men with a rough look, presumably representing the Turkish police and the Turkish army, all perfectly fitting the totalitarian art style fashionable during the years the monument was erected.
- Hatti Monument, Sıhhiye Square (Sıhhiye). Built in the 1970s, this impressive monument symbolizes the Hatti gods and commemorates Anatolia. It features the statues of a deer and two oxen, similar to those found in innumerable archaeological sites throughout Central Anatolia, all surrounded by a stylized Hittite sun disc.
- Akköprü (in the northwestern suburbs, : Akköprü). A 13th-century stone bridge (the oldest in Ankara) built by the Seljuk Turks spanning the Çubuk River. Despite its name (Turkish for “white bridge”), it is made of local reddish stones that are so ubiquitously used in Ankara’s other major old buildings. Once on the trade route between Istanbul and Baghdad through Ankara, it is now engulfed by suburban development on all sides, and may not worth the effort of heading there just for the sake of it unless you are really enthusiastic about old stone bridges, but drop by if you are around for nearby Ankamall or the Etlik bus station, where minibuses for nearby towns depart from.
What to do in Ankara
Ankara offers a good selection of cinemas both in Kavaklıdere and Çankaya and several concert halls for classical music and opera. Many universities promote concerts and spring festivals but these are sometimes open to their students only. Folk and traditional music is very alive, from small bars and restaurants to big concert halls where you can find local stars like Musa Eroğlu.
Parks and Gardens
Depending on your interests, you can find trekking in local parks and in the surroundings, visiting the museums or hunting for the Ottoman or Selçuk remains in the ancient castle. Upscale shopping centers like Armada along the Eskisehir road also offer cinemas and quality restaurants.
- Abdi Ipekci Park (Abdi İpekçi Parkı), Sağlık Mh. ( Sıhhiye 200 m). See here the ‘Hands’ statue
- Adile Nasit Park (Adile Naşit Park), Kuzgun Sokak, Ayrancı.
- Ankara Botanic Park (Botanik Parkı), Çankaya Street,Cinnah Street, Çankaya Mh. (, Kizilay).
- Atatürk Forest Farm and Zoo (Atatürk Orman Çiftliği ve Hayvanat Bahçesi), Alparslan Türkeş Caddesi (Çiftlik Cd.) No:150 (Train stop ‘Gazi Mh. Tren İstasyonu’ ~one km). This is an expansive recreational farming area, which houses a zoo, several small agricultural farms, greenhouses, restaurants, a dairy farm and a brewery. It was started by Kemal Atatürk, who wanted to prove that the neglected steppes around Ankara could be converted into a lush, fertile agricultural land.
- Genclik Park (Gençlik Parki), Doğanbey Mh., Ulus Dolmuşları ( Ulus 100 m). The earliest park of the city, which features a large lake in the middle with cafes and restaurants along its sides, and an amusement park complete with a rollercoaster.
- Goksu Park (Göksu Parki), Etimesgut suburb (Etimesgut Train Station 2 km South or nearest Metro Stn Batikent SE 3 km). Enjoy the scenic Susuz Lake (Gölu)
- Guvenpark (Güvenpark), Kizilay square (, Kizilay 100 m). A small park surrounding the Security Monument
- Korea Park (Kore Parkı, Kore Şehitleri Anıtı), Hipodrum Street ( Tandoğan 700 m SW). A stylized Korean pagoda in this park commemorates the Turkish soldiers who lost their lives in the Korean War.
- Kugulu Park (Kuğulu Park), Atatürk Boulevard, Polonniya Street, Kavaklıdere (, Kizilay 2 km North – Near to Egyptian Embassy). Fountains and contemporary sculptures. Famous for, and named after, the swans (Turkish: kuğu) inhabiting the small pond in the middle of the park.
Shopping in Ankara
Ankara’s Castle (Kale) has been a trade Centre for centuries, and its sellers of carpets, leather and antiquities are slowly moving upmarket hoping to attract the tourist trade. It’s still a delicious place for walking and browsing, and there are family firms where you can buy, for a price, excellent carpets and kilims. Walking down from the castle you can walk through the covered market, an iron structure reminiscent of places like Les Halles in Paris, where you can buy very cheap and excellent produce. Ankara has a number of large shopping malls each of them offering fashion stores (including Zara, Mango, Harvey Nichols, Marks and Spencer, etc.), technology retailers (like Media Markt and Electro World) supermarkets (like Carrefoursa and Tesco/Kipa). Many of the new malls are located on the Eskişehir Yolu, including Armada, Cepa, Kentpark and Gordion.
- Ankamall (Ankamall alışveriş merkezi) (in the northwestern suburbs, : Akköprü). The largest one of Ankara’s shopping malls.
- Armada Tower Ankara Shopping Mall (Armada Alışveriş Merkezi.).
- Atakule Mall (At Atakule tower).
- Karum Shopping center (Karum Alışveriş Merkezinin), Iran Street (Caddesi).
Where to eat in Ankara
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 has been 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..
– Also there are plenty of cheaper restaurant options in Kızılay and Maltepe, selling fast food or kebaps, döner, lahmacun. In Cankaya, Tunali, GOP region you may find various types of Turkish cuisine and luxurious restaurants where prices go higher.
- Sushico. Japanese, and Thai food. Sushico’s GOP restaurant mainly has a very good garden.
- Quick China, Park caddesi. Good option for Chinese, Thai cookings. Quick China’s branch on the Park Avenue “Park caddesi” is also very good, particularly for a Sunday brunch.
Where to stay in Ankara
- Deeps Hostel, Çankaya, Ataç-2 Sokak (,: Kizilay). 25-40 TL.
- Cheap hotels?, 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). is a charming place in an Ottoman era house.
- Crowne Plaza Ankara Hotel, Mevlana Bulvarı No: 2, 06330, Akköprü. Located next door to the 30 ha shopping center Ankamall.
Stay safe and avoid Scams in Ankara
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, mainly 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.
- Tourism Police (Turizm Polisi), Emniyet Turizm Şube Müdürlüğü, İskitler, , fax: +90 312 342-2227.
Embassies & Consulates in Ankara
Ankara is the national capital and most countries have an embassy (or equivalent consular service). These are useful if you need consular assistance from your own country, or need to obtain visas to other countries. The embassies are generally located in the suburbs just to the south of the city Centre, such as Kavaklıdere, Gaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya.
- Algeria, Şehir Ersan Caddesi No. 42, Çankaya, , fax: +90 312 468 7593, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Th 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-1700, F 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00.
- Australia, 7 Büyükesat Mh., Uğur Mumcu Cadesi, MNG Binasi No.88, 06700 Ankara, , fax: +90 312 446 4827.
- Austria, Atatürk Bulvarı 189, 06680 Kavaklıdere, , fax: +90 312 418-9454, ✉ email@example.com. Mo–Th 08:15–16:30, F 09:00–16:00.
- Bangladesh, Birlik Mh., 391. Caddesi No. 16, 06560 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 495 2744, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00.
- Belgium, Mahatma Gandi Caddesi No. 55, 06700 Gaziosmanpaşa, Ankara, , fax: +90 532 684 4348, ✉ Ankara@diplobel.fed.be.
- Canada, Cinnah Caddesi No.58, 06690 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 409 2712, ✉ email@example.com.
- Chile, Resit Galip Caddesi, Hirfanli Sokak 14/13, 06700 Gaziosmanpaşa, , fax: +90 312 447 3582, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- China, Gölgeli Sokak 34, Gaziosmanpaşa, , fax: +90 312 446-4248.
- Cuba, Güzeltepe Mh., 06540 Çankaya, .
- Denmark, Mahatma Gandi Caddesi No. 74, 06700 Gaziosmanpașa, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 447 2498, ✉ email@example.com.
- Ecuador, Kelebek Sokak 21/1, Gaziosmanpaşa, 06700 Çankaya, , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 09:30-17:00.
- Egypt, Atatürk Bulvarı No. 126, Kavaklıdere, , fax: +90 312 427-0099. Monday to Friday 09:00-16:00.
- Finland, Kader sokak No. 44, Gaziosmanpasa, , fax: +90 312 426-7429. M-Th 08:30-16:30, F 08:30-15:15.
- France, Rimzi Oğuz Ank Mh., 06540 Çankaya, Ankara, .
- Germany, Remzi Oğuz Ank Mh., Atatürk Bulvarı No. 114, 06690 Ankara, .
- Greece, Kazım Özlap Mh., Ziaur Rahman Caddesi No. 9, 06700 Çankaya, Ankara, .
- India, 77/A Cinnah Caddesi, 06680 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 440 3429, ✉ email@example.com. Monday to Friday 09:00-13:00 and 13;30-17;30.
- Indonesia, Abdullah Cevdet Sokak No. 10 Cankaya, , fax: +90 312 438-2193, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Iran, Tahra Caddessi No. 10, 06700 Kavaklıdere, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 468 2823, ✉ email@example.com.
- Ireland, 3 Büyükesat Mh., Uġur Mumcu Caddesi, MNG Binasi B Blok, No. 88, 06700 Ankara, . Monday to Friday 09:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:00.
- Japan, Kazım Özlap Mh., 06700 Çankaya, Ankara, .
- Luxembourg, Reşit Galip Caddesi No. 70/2, Gaziosmanpaşa, 06700 Ankara, , fax: +90 312 436 5055. Monday to Friday 09:00-12:30 and 14:00-17;30.
- Mexico, Aziziye, 06690 Çankaya, .
- Netherlands, Hilal Mh., Turan Güneş Bulvarı, Hollanda Caddesi No. 5, 06550, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 409 1898. Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00.
- New Zealand, Kızkulesi Sokak No. 11, Gaziosmanpaşa, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 446 3317, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 08:30-17:00.
- Norway, Kırpınar Sokak No. 18, 06540 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 408 4898, ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 08:30-16;30, F 08:30-14:00.
- Pakistan, Gaziosmanpaşa, İran Caddesi No. 37, 06700 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 467 1023, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00.
- Philippines, Mahatma Gandhi Caddesi No. 56, 06700 Gaziosmanpaşa, , fax: +90 312 446 5733, ✉ email@example.com.
- Russia, Kayağdi Sokak No. 5, P.K. 35 Kavaklıdere, 06692 Çankaya, Ankara, , fax: +90 312 438 3952, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- South Africa, Filestin Sokak No. 27, GOP 06700 Ankara, , fax: +90 312 446 6434, ✉ email@example.com.
- Spain, Abdullah Cevdet 8, 06680 Çankaya, .
- Sweden, B.P. 3, Kavaklıdere, 06692 Ankara, , fax: +90 312 455 4120, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10:30-12:00 and 14:00-15:00, F 10:30-13:30.
- Switzerland, Atatürk Bulvarı No. 247, Çankaya, Ankara, .
- Taiwan (de facto embassy), Resit Galip Caddesi, Rabat Sokak No. 16, Gaziosmanpaşa, 06700, , fax: +90 312 447 8465, ✉ email@example.com. Monday to Friday 09:00-12:00.
- United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Şehit Ersan Caddesi 46/A, Çankaya, , fax: +90 312 455 3352. Monday to Friday 08:45-17:00.
- United States of America, 110 Atatürk Bulvarı, Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara, , fax: +90 312 467 0019. Monday to Friday 09:30-17:30.
Where to go next
- Beypazarı (northwest). This is well known with its traditional houses, mineral water, bazaar, and of course bakery which is called Beypazari Kurusu. It is a quite a lot for a small Anatolian town which make them tourism attraction of the area. You must spare a weekend. You will not regret it.
- Gordion, Yassihoyuk, (96 km west. – near Polatlı off the highway to Eskişehir). This is one of the most important ancient cities in Turkey and is from Ankara in. The city had been home for Hittites, Phyrigians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans since 3000 B.C. The remnants of the city are displayed in Gordion Museum and Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ulus.
- Kızılcahamam (to north). This is a town with many thermal springs, surrounded by forests—a welcome retreat from the arid landscapes around Ankara.
- Boğazkale (to northeast). is the hub for visiting ancient Hattuşaş, the capital of Hittites.
- Gavurkale and Kulhoyuk, Haymana town (60 km south-west of Ankara). rock friezes and Hittite burial grounds
- Soguksu National Park.
- Ankara is a reasonably convenient place to base yourself if you want to travel around Anatolia, Cappadocia or the Black Sea coast and a growing number of tour operators and related service industries are catering to tourists. There is accommodation here at all levels, with prices pegged below those of Istanbul or the south coast, and the new bus station (AŞTİ) is probably the most useful transport hub in Turkey with services to just about anywhere that’s feasible (Lebanon is only 16 hours away, if you’re feeling adventurous).