Ankara, the Capital of Turkey: Everything You Need to Know

Ankara has been the capital of the Republic of Turkey since 1923. With a population of more than 5 and a half million is the second most populous city in Turkey concerning 2020. Ankara is a metropolis that has a deep-seated history of since BC 2000 years by hosting tens of civilizations due to located in the center of Anatolia. Ankara is hosting foreign embassies because it is the center of the Republic of Turkey. 

Ankara has developed rapidly after being declared the capital city, is a complete city of trade and industry in terms of economic efficiency. This situation caused a large number of immigrants from the surrounding and distant provinces. Ankara, which is the most populous city of the Central Anatolia Region, is also the third-largest city in terms of surface area.

See also: Why isn’t İstanbul the Capital of Turkey?

See also: Ankara vs. Istanbul: Which one to go for Cultural Vacation?

Ankara was known for its famous cats, rabbits, and goats once before the declaration as to the capital of the Republic of Turkey whereas it became the geographical, political, and administrative center of Turkey. In this way, Ankara gained a new striking identity by leaving its stereotypical features behind as a modest, little Anatolian small town. Nowadays, Ankara is a big city that hosts government officials, politicians, and foreign diplomats.

Where is Ankara Located on the Map of Turkey?

Ankara is located in the Central Anatolia Region. Ankara’s neighboring provinces are Kırıkkale and Kirsehir in the east; Cankiri to the north, Bolu to the northwest and Eskisehir to the west, Konya, and Aksaray to the south.

Learning more about a city is crucial earlier than your visit. The more you have knowledge about the climate, the population, and other geographic properties of the city, the more your holiday would go smooth and entertaining. The following is some information about Ankara that you might need to know.

About the City

Population

Ankara’s population rapidly grows after the declaration as the capital of Turkey thereby now It is the second-most populous city in Turkey. Ankara’s employment opportunities increased with the concentration of private and public sector investments in the capital and its surroundings, as a result, Ankara became an available city for workers and also students. While Ankara is Turkey’s top city that produces graduates, its population reached 5.732.540 according to estimating data.

The reasons may be Ankara’s population increased twice rapidly more than Turkey’s general population throughout the history of the republic are the development level of the economy, health, and education substructures. In addition, a low crime rate can be an option for one’s preference to live in Ankara.

Ankara’s population cannot be calculated in an exact way due to the population’s density of officers and students. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI), Ankara’s unofficial population may reach 8 million.

Geography

While the Kızılırmak River is found in Ankara’s east, one of the biggest rivers of Turkey which is Sakarya; placed in Ankara’s west. Meanwhile, Turkey’s second-largest which is Lake Tuz is present in the south of Ankara. In addition, Lake Tuz is the second saltiest lake in the world.

Since the lands in which Ankara is located are a lowland area, approximately 50% of the area of the province consists of agricultural areas. Of the remaining 50%, 28% consists of forest areas, 12% meadows and pastures, and 10% non-agricultural areas. There are 14 natural lakes, 136 irrigation ponds, and 11 dams in general in Ankara province.

Climate

Generally, the continental climate is dominant in Ankara, however regionally different climate varieties are also seen. In the south of Ankara the steppe-moor climate which generally pertains to the Central Anatolia Region is seen whereas in the north of Ankara mild and rainy climate which pertains to the Black Sea Region is seen. While in Ankara the winter months are generally extremely cold and snowy the summer is arid and warm. 

Ankara’s annual temperature ranges from 40 ° C (104 ℉) to -24.9 ° C (-12 ℉). Average precipitation differs by the district. The amount of humidity in the air varies between 40% and 79% depending on the amount of precipitation. Due to the terrestrial climate, the temperature difference between day and night is high.

In the large parts of Ankara, the steppe plants are seen mostly and the area that is lush in spring eventually turns into dried and yellowed grass in summer. The area is surrounded by extensive forest due to the influence of the marine climate of Ankara’s north and northwest. The forest that pulls toward itself the rain clouds prevents the rain clouds from going south. Most forests consist of woods and coppice forests. Also, the grain is the vegetation covering the largest land.

Rainfall is most common in December and the fewest in July or August. The average number of snowy days is usually a month or less than a month.

For detailed information about the general prevailing weather and average temperatures in Ankara you can look at the table prepared by the Turkish State Meteorological Service is contingent upon the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) which depends on the seasonal normals in years between 1991 and 2020:

ANKARAJanFebMarAprMayJuneJulyAugSepOctNovDecYearly
Mean Temperature0.9℃= 33.62℉2.7℃= 36.86℉6.7℃= 44.06℉11.5℃= 52.7℉16.5℃= 61.7℉20.6℃= 69.08℉24.2℃= 75.56℉24.3℃= 75.74℉19.6℃= 67.28℉13.9℃= 57.02℉7.3℃= 45.14℉2.8℃= 37.04℉12.6℃= 54.68℉
Average High T.4.7℃= 40.46℉7.4℃= 45.32℉12.2℃= 53.96℉17.5℃= 63.5℉22.8℃= 73.04℉27.3℃= 81.14℉31.0℃= 87.8℉31.0℃= 87.8℉26.5℃= 79.7℉20.3℃= 68.54℉13.0℃= 55.4℉6.7℃= 44.06℉18.4℃= 65.12℉
Average Minimum T.-2.2℃= 28.04℉-1.2℃= 29.84℉1.9℃= 35.42℉6.0℃= 42.8℉10.5℃= 50.9℉14.1℃= 57.38℉17.2℃= 62.96℉17.4℃= 63.32℉13.1℃= 55.58℉8.4℃= 47.12℉2.7℃= 36.86℉-0.3℃= 31.46℉7.3℃= 45.14℉
Average Sunbathing Time (hours)2.23.64.86.37.79.310.610.28.86.34.32.46.4
Average Number of Rainy Days13.6012.6713.8713.4014.5311.474.605.105.509.238.9314.0126.9
Average Monthly Total Precipitation38.636.646.944.551.040.214.814.617.933.431.943.2413.6

For the monthly distribution of the highest and lowest temperatures in Ankara between 1927 and 2020, see:

ANKARAJanFebMarAprMayJuneJulyAugSepOctNovDecYearly
MaximumTemperature16.6= 61.8821.3= 70.3427.8= 82.0431.6= 88.8834.4= 93.9237.0= 98.641.0= 105.840.4= 104.7239.1= 102.3833.3= 91.9424.7= 76.4620.4= 68.7241.0= 105.8
Minimum Temperature-24.9= -12.82-24.2= -11.56-19.2= -2.56-7.2= 19.04-1.6= 29.123.8= 38.844.5= 40.15.5= 41.9-1.5= 29.3-9.8= 14.36-17.5= 0.5-24.2= -11.56-24.9= -12.82

Economy

It is known that three-quarters of the population of Ankara works in the service sector and the service sector has the largest share in the gross product of the province. The reason why the service sector has developed and become widespread so much is that, as mentioned before in the population section, after Ankara was declared as the capital city the internal migration increased extremely and that is why there is not a sufficient industry and industrial business line to provide employment.

Before the declaration as to the capital city, Ankara was a city with a 30.000 population. The essential means of existence were only husbandry and agricultural activities in the city throughout the period the trade was limited only by husbandry and agricultural goods’ purchase and sale. The stagnant situation of Ankara was slackened through the first years of the republic. The compulsory infrastructure and superstructure services regenerate the trade life. In addition, small factories were established to provide building materials.

Moreover, the establishment of public industrial establishments such as Etibank and their affiliated factories in Ankara stimulated the establishment of small-sized private enterprises operating as sub-industries in these factories, stimulating the economy. Considering the ongoing production activities in Ankara, it is seen that it is a leading province with woodworking. Craftsmen who actively maintain this branch of production make production in more than 13,000 workplaces.

After the proclamation of the Republic, a brewery was established in Ankara in 1925, and a cement factory and gunpowder factory in 1926. Although there were a small number of industrial establishments in Ankara in the past, it is likely to take its place among the industry-dominated provinces today. It is now possible to see an industrial enterprise in Ankara that produces in many areas. For example, the production of the food industry is seen in pasta, flour, vegetable oil, milk and dairy products, sugar, and alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. In addition to this, there are also industrial establishments in Ankara that produce and serve in the fields of cement, tractors, agricultural tools and machines, engine, paint, brick, tile, forestry products, furniture, metal goods, and weaving.

Important investments in the defense industry have also been made in Ankara. For example, a manufacturer of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) of Turkey’s largest defense industry project was established in Ankara with Turkish-American cooperation. Turkish Aerospace Industrie’s tasks are authorizing a modern aerospace industry in Turkey, conduct and develop the high technologies that needed to continue F-16 aircraft to produce mutually, and ensure the renewal for the Turkish Aeronautical Association.

In addition, some production activities are being conducted which are the ones that only carried out in Ankara. ​For example, the production of bearings and gears in series is carried out only in Ankara. In addition, the production of morphine and dialysis machine, which is used as pharmaceutical raw material, is also among the production activities carried out only in Ankara. Due to the fact that Ankara is the capital city, foreign delegations come to Ankara frequently and significant developments in foreign trade are achieved as a result of mutual contacts. Furthermore, the occupational mobility of the workforce is increasing because features of Ankara that having wider opportunities in education.

Tourism

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is highly recommended for guests who are interested in archaeological findings and Ankara’s thousands of years of history. Also, tourist destinations such as the Museum of Ethnography, Temple of Augustus and Rome, and Ankara Castle are also found in the district of Ulus. Over and above, for the ones who are interested in the history of modern Turkey the old building of the Turkish Grand National Assembly is also highly suggested. The tourist destinations beside the capital can be counted as Gordion and the traditional houses of Beypazarı.

Furthermore, there are lots of choices for entertainment. For instance, for the ones who are interested in mountain and winter tourism Elmadag is a preferable place. The thermal spring in Kızılcahamam and Haymana can be an exceptional prime for tourists that want to relax with warm waters and saunas, it is also healthy for one’s bones. Also, speleological tourism is the best option for the ones who want to experience the unknown for themselves. Tulumtas Cave is available for this service.

History of Ankara

The word Ankara comes from the word “Ancyra”, which means “ship anchor” in the Phrygian language. Many archaeological excavations in Ankara support this argument. So much so that the anchor symbol was found on the coins belonging to the Roman Empire, which was dominant in Ankara lands at that time. For this reason, the name of Ankara has always remained Ankara throughout Turkish history. In an earlier period, while western states insisted that commemorate Ankara as “Angora”, according to the decision made by the Republic of Turkey, letters referred to Ankara as Angora that sending from abroad do not be transmitted where they should go. In this way, Ankara is officially known as Ankara in an international area officially.

Although data on the pre-Christ period are limited, it is known that the Lydians, who ruled Anatolia in the 7th century BC, were engaged in grain production and animal husbandry in Ankara. Later, it is known that from 25 BC until 395 AD, the Romans and immediately afterward the Eastern Roman Empire ruled in Ankara. It is also known that Phrygians, Hittites, Lydians, Persians, Romans, and Byzantines lived in Ankara, which has hosted many civilizations.

Due to the location of Ankara in the center of Anatolia, it has been a region where many major trade routes pass and therefore it is located on migration routes. The birthplace of the Hittite civilization, known as “super power” in ancient times, is known as Ankara. The Hittites are known not only for the civilization they founded but also for their understanding of state structure beyond age, tolerance, and respect for human rights.

The lands of Ankara were an important center of culture, trade, and arts while under the rule of the Roman Empire whereas Ankara was included in the Seljuk lands with the expansion of the Seljuk Empire in 1071, became a developing trade center for two centuries. The lands of Ankara were located on the Royal Road from Lydia to Mesopotamia, so it has always been an important settlement. In addition, Ankara’s location on the Silk Road has placed itself in an important place in the field of trade. Many old inns that can be seen today in the city hosted people who used these important trade routes in ancient times.

With the Ottoman annexation of Ankara in 1302, Ankara’s 700-year Ottoman history begins, excluding the stagnation of the interregnum. During the Ottoman period, more mosques and baths than ever before were built in Ankara under the name of public service. In addition, Ankara became one of the important trade cities of the empire due to its prominence thanks to the mohair obtained from Angora goats during the Ottoman Empire, and its already located on the Silk Road.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk started the war of independence in Anatolia with the path of the Ottoman Empire to collapse step by step, chose Ankara as the center where he would lead the national struggle, and subsequently established the assembly here. Ankara was the illegitimate capital, Ataturk has legitimately introduced the assembly to the international community with the Treaty of Ankara in 1921. Then Turkey has declared its independence with the Treaty of Lausanne that signed in 1923 and subsequently in October Ankara adopted as the capital by the Turkish National Grand Assembly. Ankara overall though the Ottoman Empire’s collapse has entered a stable period today as the capital of Turkey with the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, as Turkey’s second-largest city has developed rapidly.

Ankara, which gained the title of metropolitan in 1984 with the immigration it received from Anatolia after 1950, accelerated and increased its infrastructure works in order to meet the needs of the population. As a livable metropolitan city of Ankara with its deep-rooted historical and geographical richness is today having the most literate city status over 15 years old in Turkey. Rapidly developing and growing, Ankara is one of the must-see places with its inns and baths that have witnessed history. In addition, a special type of plant known as the “flower of love” has been taken under protection as it grows only in Ankara in the world.

Getting to Ankara

In this part of the travel guide, how to go to Ankara by air transportation and buses will be explained and information about urban transportation will be given.

By Plane

Esenboga Airport is an international airport that has been serving Ankara since 1955. Esenboga Airport, located 28 km north of the city center, is within the boundaries of the Akyurt and Cubuk districts. Esenboga Airport is the first airport in Turkey’s internal and external lines containing a combination. Considering the passenger traffic, it is the fourth largest airport in the country. In 2009, it was chosen the best airport in the “5-10 million passengers” category by ACI Europe.

Direct Flights Abroad from Esenboga Airport: 

  1. Paris
  2. Vienna
  3. Frankfurt
  4. Cidde
  5. Moscow
  6. London
  7. Rome
  8. Medine

There is no transfer when going to or returning from the cities mentioned above, the road route is only one. For direct domestic flights, it is possible to go to Ankara without transferring from most cities that have an airport.

There are many options to reach the city center from Esenboga Airport, people can choose according to their budget. It is possible to rent a car suitable for demand and budget from the rent-a-car offices located on the arrival floor of the domestic and international terminals of Esenboga Airport. In addition, it is possible to rent a vehicle with a driver from transfer companies known as transfer shuttle. Belkoair Airport Buses, the departure point of which is Bestepeler Neighborhood and the arrival point of Esenboga Airport, are also another option for passengers who want to go to Kizilay, Ulus, and the train station. In addition, it is possible to reach Esenboga Airport by EGO buses with line number 442. HAVAS and Belkoair are an option for passengers who want to reach ASTİ(bus terminal) from Esenboga Airport. In addition to all these options, there are taxis available 24/7 at the airport. 

The airport metro that will connect the Esenboga Airport to the city center, which is expected to be completed in 2022 will provide a separate option for passengers, but it is currently out of service.

By Bus

As mentioned before included with the provinces that have not an airport, there are interurban buses from all over Turkey to Ankara. Although the ticket prices are generally more expensive than normal due to the pandemic, they vary according to the provinces. It is usually more appropriate at night.

Urban Transportation

EGO and Private Public Buses

Ankara is almost always a crowded city due to the working opportunities and large business areas it provides. The traffic situation is affected by this, while the traffic is sluggish and calm during normal hours during the day, there is heavy traffic in the morning and in the evening hours after work. The versatility of Ankara’s transportation network and the fact that private-public transportation vehicles as well as busses, minibusses, metro, and Ankaray are in service provide advantages for both city residents and tourists. Generally, buses and minibuses are preferred more in the afternoon and mid-afternoon hours, while trains and metro are preferred more in the early hours of the morning and in the evening.

The routes of EGO and private public buses, which provide service in all districts of Ankara, are the same. Transport charges are the same, and the same public transport card is valid for both. There are four different Ankarakart options: Full Ankarakart, Discount Ankarakart, Free Ankarakart, and Single-Use Ankarakart. While the card used for students and teachers is generally the Discount Ankarakart; Free Ankarakarts are given to adults above a certain age, veterans’ spouses and families of martyrs, yellow press card holders, police officers, and municipal police. The single-use card is used for one pass. It is generally suitable for tourists.

Access to cards is possible from many points in Ankara. According to the decision dated 29.08.2019 and numbered 2019/71, the current boarding prices for public transportation are as follows: One boarding fee for Full Ankarakart is 3.25 TL; A boarding fee for Discounted Ankarakart is 1.75 TL, and a Single-use Ankarakart is 4.00 TL. The fees applied for districts that are far from Ankara’s city center differ. Boarding fees range from 3.25 to 15.00 for full cards, and 1.75 to 5.25 for discounted passes.

According to information gained from the EGO official website, full Ankarakart offers a maximum of 2 transfers within 75 minutes, the transfer fee is 1.60 TL. Valid at EGO Bus, Ankaray, Metro, Teleferik, Baskentray, city center ELV and OHO. Likewise, the transfer fee is 0.75 TL for Discounted Ankarakart.

Subway Train / Metro

The most preferred means of transportation in Ankara is the metro. The first stop of all routes has been determined as Kizilay Square. The route known as M1 is between Kizilay and Batikent, between Kizilay and Cayyolu known as M2, the M3 route between Batikent and Sincan and finally M4 between Tandogan and Kecioren. The Ankarakart metro used to board the EGO buses is also valid in the metro and the fare tariff is the same as the prices mentioned above.

Train / Başkentray

Başkentray provides two-way train services to passengers between Sincan-Kayaş and Kayaş-Sincan. Citizens traveling with Başkentray can reach the High-Speed Train by getting off at the Eryaman YHT station, can achieve Ankara Terminal and central districts such as Ulus and Sihhiye by getting off at the Ankara station, can achieve Kizilay by getting off at Yenisehir station and can reach Hamamonu easily by getting off at the Kurtulus station. For Baskentray you can board with Ankarakart, the fare tariff is the same as EGO and metro.

Blue Minibusses (Dolmuş)

Blue minibusses serve in all districts of Ankara. They do not serve at a certain time interval, but they depart from the main stops approximately every 15 minutes. It is frequently preferred in the districts. The price tariff changes as a stopover, near, middle, and long-distance. It is not the first preferred means of transportation for local and foreign tourists who do not dominate Ankara.

Lift / Cable car

The cable car in Ankara’s Kecioren district consists of a total of 16 cars and each car has a maximum carrying capacity of 8 people. It has the distinction that having the total largest distance in an intracity cable car in Turkey with 3303 meters. The journey, which takes about 20 minutes, provides a pleasant journey by allowing you to see Ankara from a bird’s eye view. The ropeway is free for 0-6 ages, 2,5 TL for 7-12 ages, and 5 TL for adults. To reach the cable car, it is enough to take the Kecioren buses and get off at the Ataturk Garden.

Taxis

In Ankara, a taxi is often preferred for close distances. All taxis have an electronic taximeter system. The opening fee is 5 TL, and 3.70 TL is added per kilometer. The average between ASTI and Kizilay Square is 65 – 70 TL, between ASTI and Ulus approximately 72 – 78 TL, between Esenboga Airport and Kizilay is around 125 – 137 TL, and between ASTI and Esenboga Airport is 110 – 115 TL. Prices are estimated and may vary depending on traffic, road and infrastructure works, and distance traveled.

Top Things to Do in Ankara

Under this title, the recommended places that have an importance on historical and archaeological are going to be listed when you come to visit Ankara.

Ataturk’s Mausoleum / Anitkabir

Ataturk’s Mausoleum (Anitkabir) is a memorial tomb that prepared for the Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that the founder of the Republic of Turkey of as a symbol of loyalty to the Great Leader by the Turkish nation. Ataturk’s Mausoleum consists of Monument Block and Peace Park. Peace Park is a symbolic League of Nations formed by the combination of sent approximately 48,500 plants and trees to represent the various countries of the world and from different regions of Turkey. Ataturk’s “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. It is a park that brings its principle to life. 

There are 24 lion statues representing the 24 Oghuz clans on both sides of the road leading to the Monument Tomb. In addition, Ataturk’s Address to Turkish Youth and The Speech, written by Ataturk, can be found on the walls of the Monument Tomb. There are 10 symmetrically placed towers in Anıtkabir, each of which covers different subjects. In addition, there are geometric ornaments taken from old Turkish rug patterns on the towers.

Ataturk and the War of Independence Museum, which is entered through the gate of the National Pact tower, consists of 4 sections. In the first part, Ataturk’s own belongings, gifts are given to him by foreign statesmen, and Ataturk’s belongings donated to the museum from his foster children are found. The second part is equipped with oil paintings depicting the epic Canakkale War, Sakarya Pitched War, and the Great Attack War. In this section, the difficulty on the road to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey is trying to be explained. In the third part, there are galleries where the National Struggle and revolutions are explained and Ataturk’s grave room. The section explains the events that took place between 1919, which started with Ataturk’s arrival in Samsun, and 1938, which ended with his passing away, in Turkish and English. The last section includes the Ataturk Private Library, which contains 312 books in Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s library.

Address: Yucetepe, Akdeniz Street No:31, 06570 Cankaya/Ankara

Independence War Museum (I.Turkish Grand National Assembly Building)

The building was used as the Turkish Grand National Assembly building between 23 April 1920 – 15 October 1924, and it was decided to be converted into a museum in 1957. Within the museum collection, there are personal belongings of Ataturk and some of the deputies, ethnographic materials, Independence Medals, war tools and equipment, the sketches of the Turkish Constitution of 1921, communication tools such as telephone and walrus printer and oil paintings.

Address: Doganbey Neighborhood Cumhuriyet Boulevard No: 14- Ulus-ANK.

Ankara Castle

Ankara Castle

The first construction date of Ankara Castle, which overlooks Ankara and has become the symbol of the city in time, is unknown. However, the castle, whose existence was known during the Galatians in the 2nd century BC, was repaired by the Romans. The castle consists of two parts, inner and outer. It is known that its interior was built by the Byzantine Empire. The tower, which was under the protection of the Seljuks in 1073, was repaired again in the Ottoman period. There is a Persian inscription dated 1330, belonging to the Ilkhanians period, on the Hisar Gate. You should definitely see this masterpiece that has witnessed an enormous history.

Address: Kale, 06240 Altindag/Ankara

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations which contains archaeological findings remains, and ancient stones belonging to dozens of civilizations from the Hittites to today’s Ankara, was established at the request of Ataturk. It is one of the few museums in the world with its unique collections. Anatolian archeology is displayed chronologically in the place that has witnessed this history of the Ottoman period from the Paleolithic Age to the present day.

Address: Kale, Gozcu Street No:2, 06240 Ulus/Altindag/Ankara

Hacı Bayram Mosque

Panoramic view of the interior of Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara

Located right next to the Augustus Temple in Ankara’s Ulus district, Hacı Bayram Mosque was built by Hacı Bayram Veli in years between 1427 and 1428. The mosque, which was repaired by Mimar Sinan, is impressive with its fine workmanship. It has a structure with a stone base, brick walls, and tile roof; It was built according to Seljuq Dynasty architecture. The mosque’s tomb has a square plan, a stone base, and a cylindrical brick body. Its interior walls are decorated with Kutahya tiles up to the lower windows.

Address: Hacı Bayram, Sarıbag Street No:13, 06050 Altindag/Ankara

Augustus Temple

Haci Bayram Mosque and Augustus Temple

Augustus Temple is located in Ulus, next to Hacı Bayram Mosque. It is thought to have been made by Pylamenes, the son of the Galatian King Amintos, in 25 AD to celebrate the Roman Emperor Augustus and the accession of the state of Galatia to Rome. It is known from an inscription in the temple that the temple was dedicated to Agustus and the Goddess Rome. The door part with its two side walls and edges embroidered still stands in its old form. The interior of the sacred building and a covered passage called the pronaos are accessed through this large and magnificent door.

Ulus

Ulus is a district that you cannot leave without seeing it when you visit Ankara due to its historical and archaeological sites and its lively and crowded bazaars and passages. For example, the Roman Bath with its 1800-year history; erected to commemorate Emperor Julian that Column of Julian, taken very important decisions for the development of the Republic of Turkey that 2. Turkish National Grand Assembly building, and with many museums, Ulus is a neighborhood where you will lose yourself in the dusty pages of history.

The famous passages of Ulus contain a unique sincerity and warmth. In Ulus, where the understanding of craftsmanship tries to be kept alive, artisans from all over the world cheered up the trade. It is possible to find almost anything with a wide range of product options. All kinds of needs from dowry to bridal gowns, gifts to glassware can be found here easily at the most affordable price. On the other hand, the modern venue of Ulus is known as Anafartalar. You can find many of your needs in Anafartalar, which has managed to survive despite all the troubles it has overcome. Sobacılar and Demirciler Bazaar symbolizes the nostalgic side of Ulus. In this bazaar consisting of narrow streets, you can find various products such as stoves, barbecues, and hoods in many shops, and you can achieve the variety you want. Master-apprentice relationship is still maintained in most of the shops. Welcoming you with their friendly and sincere attitudes, the craftsmen offer an enjoyable shopping opportunity as well as a variety of products.

Ulucanlar Prison Museum

Ulucanlar was actually a real prison built in 1925. But when Ulucanlar prison transferred to the Sincan prison in 2006, it was nothing more than a building. The old building sat where it is for five years until Altındağ Municipality decided to renovate it and transfer it into a museum. From then, the former prison started to serve as a prison museum.

Ulucanlar Prison Museum exhibits the belongings and pictures of those who spent their years there, especially writers, poets, journalists, politicians who got in there just because of their thoughts. The beds and figures of prisoners are exhibited there; it looks like a real prison.

Hamamönü

Hamamönü is one of the most crowded districts of Ankara, and it can be due to the beauty of Hamamönü. Different from other areas of Ankara, Hamamönü has a more historical and old atmosphere. It is pretty understandable why Hamamönü has such vibes and aesthetics since it is the oldest settlement area of Ankara.

You can almost feel like you are in a town from Ottoman Empire as you get into Hamamönü. Most of the structures in Hamamönü are examples of 17th, 18th, and 19th-century architecture. There are many museums, mosques, and other landmarks in Hamamönü to explore.

Additionally, Hamamönü is known for the breakfast cafes. If you want to have an excellent Turkish breakfast somewhere out in Ankara, then trying a place in Hamamönü is highly recommended. With the aesthetics of the 18th century, you will be feeling like a sultan in the Ottoman Empire.

Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Another museum to visit in Ankara is the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, which has the feature of being the first industry museum of Turkey. In Rahmi M. Koç Museum, you can observe the whole industrial developments that Turkey had been through. 

You can see the industrial vehicles and gadgets used in Turkey starting from the mid 19th century, including the first television, typewriter, and various industry tools. Besides, the Rahmi M. Koç Museum is only three minutes of walking away from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. You can do a mini museum tour while you are in the area.

Day Trips From Ankara

Beypazari Houses

Beypazarı Houses with their Anatolian architecture, appear as two or three-story wooden buildings built on stone structures from the Ottoman period. One of the things that makes Beypazarı Houses interesting and worth seeing is that they were built in a way that none of them could cover the light of the other.

The stories of the houses are as beautiful as themselves. Canti (a type of house made with sawn wood for building a house wall and without hammering nails), located in the upper parts of the houses, was deliberately left unfinished to emphasize that the local people had more to do in the world. There are two knockers of different sizes on the doors of the houses. The reason why there are two knockers is that it gives information about the gender of the gavel with the sound it makes when it is hit. In addition, the pomegranate motif symbolizing eternity is used on the mallets.

Kizilcahamam

In Kizilcahamam, which is known for its thermal tourism, there are generally two separate sections in the thermal springs as drinking and bathing cures. While drinking cures are good for the liver, stomach, and intestinal ailments, bath cures are effective on heart, circulatory, and rheumatic bone disorders.

In addition, Soguksu National Park located in the Kızılcahamam district is preferred for activities such as trekking, picnics, nature photography, and camping due to its proximity to the city center. In the park, known for more than 35 bird species, you can spend a calm and fresh day in touch with nature and fill your lungs with fresh air.

Lake Salt (Tuz Gölü)

Lake Salt, which hosts thousands of bird species, also draws attention to its endemic plants. Located on the migration route of wild birds in the region, the lake attracts birds as it is the only important wetland around it. Due to its high salt content, it can spend the winter without freezing and thus becomes a home for birds. For visitors who are interested in photography, the view that will emerge with the reflection of the redness formed at sunset on the lake can be a good choice.

Cappadocia

You can visit Uchisar Castle and Guvercinlik Valley, you can see the properties of stone practically in Onyx Workshops and get information. Additionally, you can see Goreme Open Air Museum and take a stroll in Derbent Valley. You can go to one of the various pottery workshops there, watch its production, and shop. And of course, you can see a natural miracle known as Fairy Chimneys that nature builds itself without human touch.

Konya

Whirling Dervishes in Galata Mevlevihane Museum, Istanbul

Konya is a big city that is located in the south of Ankara and it takes 3-4 hours by car or 75 minutes by high-speed train to get there from Ankara. It is famous for being the center of the Mevlevi order.

Each year many tourists visit the Mevlana Museum which is also located in Konya. This museum is dedicated to the famous philosopher, poet, and sufi Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi who lived in Konya. Watching whirling dervishes is also highly recommended.

Additionally Konya has a great cuisine that you should not miss.

Safranbolu

You can discover the miracles of nature in Bulak Mencilis Cave, which is known as the most interesting and fascinating place of Safranbolu by those who go and see it, which was opened to visitors only a few years ago. The cave, whose entrance consists of 150 steep steps, has a structure that fascinates people when you enter. Turkey’s fourth largest cave that Mencilis Bulak Cave consists of layers. In addition to its fascinating appearance, the air of the cave is said to be good for respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.

Hattusas Ancient City

Hattusas Ancient City is one of Turkey’s landmarks on the UNESCO World Heritage list, since 1986. It is a fantastic landmark that you need to see while you are in Turkey, and it is a great idea to spend your day trip from Ankara in Hattusas Ancient City.

You can get to Hattusas Ancient City with around 2 hours and 30 minutes of driving. The Hattusas Ancient City served as the capital city for the Hittite Civilization for many years, and it was and is one of the most important ancient cities. There are many things to see and learn in Hattusas Ancient City, and it is highly recommended to consider it while planning a day trip from Ankara.

What to Eat?

It is known that the guests who will finish their visit to Ankara and return to their hometown usually take Ankara pear, Ayas mulberry, Beypazarı baklava, Beypazarı walnut molasses sausage, and Beypazarı dry with them. In addition, it is possible to eat the Ankara dessert with walnut-filled sherbet, known as the most famous dessert of Ankara, in many restaurants.

See also: Top Fine Dining Restaurants in Ankara: Modern Cuisine Experience

Öllüğün Körü

Öllüğün Körü is a traditional dish of Ankara, with an interesting name. It is a delicious dish that includes noodles and minced meat. It is typically served with yogurt and can be eaten in lunch or dinner as the main dish. If you are a picky eater, there is a high chance that you will love Öllüğün Körü.

If we get to the name, there is a story behind it, but this story is probably hearsay. According to this story, while a woman was cooking, her neighbor asks what is she cooking. She gets angry and says ölüğün körü to her neighbor. Ölüğün körü is a derivation of “elinin körü” expression in Turkish, which has no direct translation. Still, it is an expression to say when you got sick of someone’s nonsense questions.

Beypazarı Güveç (Casserolle)

Beypazarı Güveç is one of the most popular traditional dishes of Ankara. This dish has a rich history, rooting back to approximately 500 years ago. Cooking Beypazarı Güveç is laborious, and it was made especially for the sultans in history. It includes cubed meat, rice, tomatoes, pepper, butter, and meat juice.

It takes a lot of time and effort to cook Beypazarı Güveç, but it is worth it. One of the most significant features of Beypazarı Güveç is that it is made by animal meat that finds its own food in nature instead of being fed. Besides, it is cooked in a stone oven and wood fire for 5 hours.

Ankara Simit (Bagel)

Perhaps the very first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Ankara and food in the same sentence is the Ankara Simit. You may see Ankara Simit in other cities of Turkey, but it is so much better when you eat it in Ankara.

Unlike other Turkish bagel types, Ankara Simit is crispy and has a darker color than other simit varieties. The darkness of the Ankara Simit comes from the grape molasses it was dipped to. If you ever walk in the streets of Ankara in the morning, the smell of Ankara Simit will invite you without you attempting to find it.

Şibit Dessert

If you are done with eating the main dishes of Ankara and want to try a traditional dessert, Şibit is one of the most popular traditional desserts of Ankara. Şibit Dessert is easy to make and has a simple look, but its taste is neither simple nor tasteless. Şibit dessert is made by cooking phyllo dough on a tin plate, cutting it in the shape of Baklava, and drip into syrup. 

As for the local dishes of Ankara, the following are also can be listed:

  1. Beypazarı stew prepared using lamb, lard, rice, tomatoes, green pepper, and salt.
  2. Incegiz soup prepared with a mixture of lamb, boiled chickpeas and wheat.
  3. Tamtak prepared with bone lamb, stale tandoori bread, onion, broth, oil, salt, red pepper and black pepper.
  4. Bici dish(Aş) made with grape leaves and bulgur.

Shopping in Ankara

Shopping is a crucial part of any period of our lives, and especially holidays. You will always need to purchase something on your trip in Ankara, whether it is a need or just want to treat yourself. Luckily, Ankara is a big city, and you can find whatever you need quickly.

There are many shopping centers in Ankara, all in different sizes and contents. Make sure to check out which shops are available at the shopping center you will visit, since not every shopping center includes every shop.

Of course, shopping centers offer so many things, but they are typically things you can get from any place. If you want to shop authentic and traditional things while in Ankara, you should follow local bazaars. There are many Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Thursday bazaars all around Ankara. Those bazaars offer things that you cannot find in big shopping centers like handmade goods or homemade food.

An interesting bazaar in Ankara that you must visit is the Antique Bazaar. The special thing about this bazaar is, you cannot find this bazaar each week, unlike other bazaars. This bazaar is open only once a month, on the first Sunday. So, if you want to shop for some unique and antique goods, you must visit the Antique Bazaar on the first Sunday of any month. 

Events

Ankara is rich in terms of cultural and entertaining events, and one evidence of it is the festivals and events organized in Ankara annually. You can find a festival or event in Ankara all year long. It is highly recommended to participate in at least one event if you ever encounter one while in Ankara. The following are some of the events conducting in Ankara. 

Open-air Cinema Days

The event led by Cankaya Municipality offers a nostalgic cinema experience to the public. The experiences that provide enrichment in the field of culture and art brings a different atmosphere to the audience.

International Ankara Jazz Festival

The International Ankara Jazz Festival first took place in 1996, under the name of ODTÜ Jazz Days. This university’s jazz day event got more significant and more prominent throughout the years and eventually became one of Ankara’s most important festivals. Today, the International Ankara Jazz Festival takes place annually in May.

The International Ankara Jazz Festival includes jazz music groups from all around the world to take the stage and perform their music. The festival also offers many fantastic jazz concerts, jam sessions, workshops, and causeries.

With a different theme each year, the International Ankara Jazz Festival keeps its active soul alive. Besides, the money gathered from the tickets is used to give scholarships to students who want to get a jazz degree. If you ever find yourself in Ankara in May, do not forget to participate in this fantastic festival.

The International Ankara Theater Festival

The International Ankara Theater Festival, which has been organized by the TAKSAV-Social Research For Culture and Art Foundation since 1996, is the occasion for the society to meet with the theater. However, it is known that the 2020 program had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 measures.

Ankara International Film Festival

Ankara International Film Festival, one of Turkey’s most prestigious film festivals, is held each January starting from 1988. Besides, it is the first film festival in Ankara. The Ankara International film Festival aims to promote and support Turkish cinema to the world while supporting other cinema-related domains, including photography and graphics.

Additionally, the Ankara International film Festival offers an excellent deal for talents waiting to be discovered. Promising screenwriters, directors, designers, and actors hold a great opportunity to make significant progress in their careers.

The Carrot and Stew Festival

The Carrot and Stew Festival is a unique festival held each June in the Beypazarı district of Ankara. The festival’s full name is Beypazarı Traditional Historical Houses, Handicrafts, Carrot, and Stew Festival. You can expect so many things from this festival: from food to dancing and contests.

People from over 40 cities come to Ankara to participate in Beypazarı Traditional Historical Houses, Handicrafts, Carrot, and Stew Festival. If you want to participate in a festival where the culture, entertainment, and food are included, Beypazarı Traditional Historical Houses, Handicrafts, Carrot and Stew Festival can be the best option.

International Kalecik Karası Festival

The International Kalecik Karası Festival is a festival that wine lovers would adore. Besides tasting wine made from Kalecik Karası grape, you can expect lots of entertaining activities from this festival. Some activities include Turkish oil wrestling, concerts, dance contests, and flyboarding.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the area. If you happen to be in Ankara at the beginning of or middle of September, you should participate in the International Kalecik Karası Festival.

Where to Stay?

Places suitable for accommodation in Ankara can be shaped according to the characteristics of the regions and the expectations of the person to be accommodated. For example, Kizilay is the most central area of the city, with various entertainment and shopping facilities, and is crowded day and night, making it one of the places to stay. Those who come to Ankara by High-Speed Train or intercity buses can stay in the vicinity of HST and ASTI. It is also ideal for Anıtkabir visits. Ulus Square, the center of Ulus, one of the oldest and historical districts of Ankara, is another option for accommodation. Beypazari, which is known for its proximity to Ankara and is one of the touristic attractions with its historical texture, unique houses, and natural beauties, can be a suitable place for those who seek tranquility. Finally, Kizilcahamam, which is one of the most preferred areas of health tourism with its hot springs, is among the places to stay.

Frequently asked questions about Ankara

Ankara is one of the most significant cities of Turkey, whether if it is about cultural heritage or political importance. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Ankara that might help you better understand the city.

What is Ankara known for?

Ankara is known for being the capital of Turkey.

Is Ankara worth visiting?

There are many places to visit and activities to do in Ankara. However, Ankara is not a tourism center and would not offer you as much as Turkey’s touristic places, but you would not regret visiting Ankara either.

Is Ankara safe?

According to FCO, Ankara is safe. But keep in mind that all large cities of the world carry a risk of some sort, and it is beneficial to be careful.

Does it snow in Ankara?

Yes, Ankara can get pretty snowy in the wintertime.

Is there a sea in Ankara?

No, since Ankara is located in the middle of Turkey, there is no sea in Ankara.

Is Ankara hot in the summertime?

Ankara can get very hot and dry in the summertime due to the characteristics of the climate.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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