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Ankara Tourism And Travel Guide
14.5° C / 58° F
April to August
1 to 2 Days
Ankara Esenboga Airport (31 kms)
Ankara (3 kms)
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and is the second largest city after Istanbul. It is the symbol of independence, as it was from here that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk operated his resistance movement against the Ottomans by establishing a government representing the people of Turkey, as opposed to the Ottoman Government that had occupied Istanbul. When they won their war of independence, Ankara was declared the country's capital. The city now has over 5 million population and is a centre for political, business and educational interests. With a young crowd, the city thrives on its many restaurants, cultural activities and nightlife. Tourism in Ankara is a thriving business also because it is so centrally located and it becomes very easy for tourists to shuttle between other cities, keeping Ankara as the base due to its efficient transport systems. But don't think it just a corporate jungle, the city itself has some interesting sites and museums. Here's an in-depth travel guide to Ankara.
How To Reach
Ankara is very centrally located in Turkey, which makes it easy to travel to.
From India, Turkish Airlines is the best way to get to Turkey. There are daily direct flights to Istanbul, from Mumbai & Delhi. Other flights from India also fly to Istanbul with a minimum of one stopover. Once you get to Istanbul, you can take a low-cost airline such as Anadolu Jet or any of the other domestic flights to Ankara. The journey is only 1 hour and there are many flighst flying through the day to Ankara.
The High Speed Rail Service connects Ankara to Istanbul, Konya and Eskisehir. Istanbul to Ankara takes only 3 hours via this rail service and is a fast and comfortable journey. The train station at Ankara is located near Kızılay Square and Ulus Metro station. From the station, you can walk towards the metro (10 minute walk) to connect you to other parts of Ankara, take a bus or hail a cab.
Ankara has a huge network of buses that connects the city with all parts of Turkey. Istanbul to Turkey takes about 5 hours and there are plenty of buses that depart daily.
You can take your pick from a variety of public transports or hire a private vehicle. Since Ankara is a commercial city, commuting from one place to another is no problem. You can get plenty of buses or take a taxi for short distances. For longer distances, there are conveniently placed Metro stations.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (March to May):
The weather during spring is lovely in Ankara and it's a great time to visit this city. The temperature ranges between 18°C and 12°C, getting warmer closer to summer. Some of the best festivals of Ankara happen between April and May, including the Ankara International Film Festival, Flying Boom International Women’s Film Festival and Ankara International Cartoon Festival.
Summer (June to August):
Crowded and hot, is what best describes the summer months of Ankara. However, if sunshine is your thing, it can be quite enjoyable, as long as you have enough sunscreen. The temperatures range bewteen 35°C and 18°C, where the day is hot and the nights are pleasant.
Autumn (September to November):
A slow tourist season, but with great weather. Autumn is when things start to cool down and the temperature ranges between 22°C to 14°C over these 3 months. Look out for special discounts and offers during this period.
Winter (December to February):
The winter months can get quite cold, with more chances of snowfall. The average temperature this time is 3°C. While the city does look great under a sheet of white, it's not ideal weather for tourists. But for those who enjoy the cold weather, there is still plenty to see and do even in the winter.
Things To Do
Ankara has many museums that give you great insight into the history of Turkey, and is an overall interesting experience. The Museum of Anatolian Civilization especially is the best place to start. A priceless collection of artefacts are on display here. Some of the other museums you can visit are the Altinkoy Open Air Museum, Ataturk Mausoleum, Etnografya Museum and many more.
The largest park in Ankara, Genclik Park is a nice place to sit around the park benches and have a quiet lunch. But at night, the park gets even livelier with its sound-and-light show which starts every evening. Enjoy the colourful light display on the water fountains and pig out on some street food in one of the many food kiosks available within the park.
The Romans left their footprint all across Turkey and in Ankara too. You will find some Roman ruins of Baths and Temples here. The Temple of Augustus and Rome, in particular, are quite popular with tourists. Also, visit the Columns of Julian, which was erected in 362 AD to commemorate the visit of Roman Emperor Julian.
Ankara Citadel & Old Quarters:
The Ankara Citadel is from where you can get one of the best views of the city. The red roofs of the old quarter below, with the modern city in its background, is a very beautiful sight. Within the citadel walls, you can still find some traditional Turkish villages. The old quarter of the city is a great place to walk around and also do a spot of shopping for antiques and souvenirs.
Aquariums are always a fun place to visit, especially for families. Aqua Vega Aquarium is the 3rd biggest tunnel aquarium in Europe and has some amazing water species. Apart from the main aquarium, it also has a Sea Shell Museum, Jungle Corner, Salt Cave, and the Tunnel Aquarium. You can spend a few hours here and enjoy the beautiful colours of the water kingdom.
If you want to get your tastebuds tingling, you must visit Uludağ Kebabçısı for their delicious kebabs. Also, Süha’nın Yeri is a popular joint for döner. For seafood lovers, visit Yelken Balık or Kalbur. Vegetarians have plenty of choices too - go to Veganka for a no-meat zone and choose from their wide variety of soups, salads and vegan dishes. Another popular joint for vegans is Vegihi.
For your sweet tooth, Baklavacı Hacıbaba has the best Baklava in town. For other interesting dessert options, go to Zeynel and try out their milk desserts. Kazandibi and Muhallebi are two must-try dishes which are milk pudding of sorts.
Being a large city, Ankara has many modern shopping malls as well as streets filled with shops and smaller and more local bazaars. You can take your pick depending on your taste.
Karum Mall is one of the largest in Ankara, with 6 floors of shopping! Anka Mall may be smaller but has all the top international brands along with a theatre and plenty of restaurants. Similarly, Cepa Mall too has a line of international and domestic brands.
Streets & Markets:
Kızılay is a busy street with dozens of shops and malls lined up on either side of the street. You will find restaurants, cafes, boutiques, bookshops and delicatessens here. Another popular street is Tunali Street which offers upmarket boutiques, patisseries and gift shops.
More popular with tourists are the smaller bazaars where you can get traditional Turkish products such as hand-woven textiles, jewellery, leather goods, spices and other craft items. The best place for this is Çıkrıkçılar Yokuşu. Also near Ankara Castle, you will find an open-air bazaar selling carpets, antique products, spices, nuts, herbs and dried fruits which make for lovely gifts to take back home with you.