As the second largest city in the country, Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey. What was once a small village in the heart of Turkey, is now home to a surplus of 4.5 million locals, including those of military and political stature, as well as a large student population.
Following World War II there was a huge influx of people coming from all over the land seeking a better life. They settled in the city of Ankara, nestled 848 meters high and sprawling through valleys and hills. Since its humble beginnings, the city has transformed into one of the country’s most modern cities, rich in history and tradition. In this vibrant metropolis, architecture dating back to the day of the Ottoman Empire mingle with skyscrapers, mosques and castles making this city an absolute hidden treasure.
Things to Do in Ankara
Walk Through History
In a city that lives and breathes ancient history, the best thing to do in Ankara is wandering around the Old City. Countless historic buildings have been fully restored to accommodate art galleries, museums, cafes, and bazaars. As its name suggests, this is the oldest part of Ankara, and one of its greatest attraction is the Citadel. Although the ancient hilltop fortress has a foundation dating back three millennia, not much has changed over the years. Take a walk on the fortress walls and discover a Turkish village complete with ancient stonework, fountains and even a restaurant and mosque! The Old City and the Citadel is a great place to stretch the old legs and travel back in time.
Continue exploring the city on foot with a visit to Hamamonu, an area with beautifully restored houses. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, galleries and arts and crafts stores to delight and entertain. Some cafes and artist workshops in the area date back to the 1920s and 30s. Another must-see landmark is the Haci Musa Mosque, with an impressive wooden framework and gates made in 1421.
Although the city has emerged as a concrete jungle and an administrative center, there isn’t a corner where the past and present aren’t seen living side by side. Head over to the south side of the city and stumble upon the glorious remains of Roman Baths. Made during the rule of Emperor Caracalla between 212 and 217, and destroyed by a fire in the 10th century, what remains of the baths are still a sight to be held.
Another landmark is the communications and observation tower, Atakule. Here you can catch breathtaking views of the city from a 125-meter high vantage point. Ascend to the tower in a glass framed elevator and gasp at one of the finest views the city has to offer.
While a fair amount of the city can be explored on foot, the cheapest, quickest and most convenient way of getting around is using taxis. The yellow taxis are easily spotted around town, just be sure they have the letter ‘T’ on their license plate to signify they’re legit. All taxis run on a meter so while negotiating may seem like fun; you’ll wind up paying more in the end. Before you set off make sure your driver has turned on the meter.
The Metro is another equally speedy and affordable mode of transport and is perhaps better suited for longer distances. There is also a bus system in operation, which is a little tricky for tourists to get their heads around as all maps and travel information is in Turkish. So unless you speak the local lingo, you’re better off taking a taxi or Metro!
Ankara is a relatively safe city to travel around. There is, however, one point of concern: road safety. Drivers don’t tend to stop for pedestrians, so if you’re about to make a crossing, do so with care. Another walking hazard is loose paving stones, so keep your eyes on the road when walking to avoid taking a fall.
When to Go
Summertime is undoubtedly the best time to travel to Ankara. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures peaking at 30 plus degrees. While the days are warm and dry, the nights can be a little chilly, so be sure you take something warm when going out at night. During winter months, temperatures can drop below zero and more than a little snow is not unusual. Another consideration besides the weather is the Islamic month Ramadan, which changes every year. As Turkey is an Islamic country, many restaurants and other establishments tend to close during the day during Ramadan. Even if you happen to be unfortunate enough to find yourself there during the month, you'll always find food somewhere during the day, but it’s best not to eat or drink in public out of respect.
After all, that walking and sightseeing you’ll be ready for some much-needed rest at night. Take a look at our collection of local vacation accommodation in Ankara and you'll be sure to of find the perfect place to get a few good night’s sleep