Ankara

Ankara is the capital city of Turkey and the second largest city in the country 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 tourists 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 city, which add to its charms.

Modern cityscape of Ankara, as viewed from the path leading to Anıtkabir

Understand

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.

Orientation

Ankara: Kizilay square

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 current National Parliament. The area morphes into exurbs several tens of kilometres out of the city, which eventually give way to the wide open steppe.

Climate

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.

Get in

By plane

By train

YHT Train (High-speed train) at Ankara Central Station

Being in a central location in Turkey, Ankara is also the centre of the Turkish rail network and can be reached from many cities.

By bus

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.

Get around

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, especially on Mondays and Fridays.

If you know the city well, public transportation, especially 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.

By bus

EGO card

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.

Unfortunately, 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 2.25 TL.

Unfortunately, no stops and maps are displayed in the buses and bus stops nor announced by voice in the buses.

By Metro

Ankara Metro allows for quick access.

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 underground and 0.7 km surface railway) and has 11 stations

The Ankara Metro line, runs between Kızılay, the city 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

The Ankara Suburban Railway, named Ankara Banliyö Treni, consists of a single suburban line running on the national rail network which is owned and operated by the Turkish State Railways.

The suburban line, runs between Sincan in the west, through the city center, to Kayaş in the east. The line is 37.0 km long (all of which is surface and elevated railway) and has 26 stations.

Payment for the subway is done by cash at each train station for a one-way ticket which costs 1.70 TL and a return ticket which costs 3.00 TL .

By taxi

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 at 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 lira.

Occasionally, some taxi drivers will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed price, especially 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 on what notes you hand them for payment; some taxi drivers have tried to pretend that the 50 lira note that was handed was just a 5 lira 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 lira 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.

See

Kocatepe

Holy Places

Anıtkabir, Kemal Atatürk's Mausoleum
Atakule Tower in Çankaya, Ankara.

Museums

Ethnography Museum
Column of Julian the Apostate

Archaeological remains

Landmarks

Do

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

Fountain in Akif Ersoy Park

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.

Buy

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.

Malls

Eat

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 is 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.

- 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.

Drink

There are many bars and places to drink on that street which is parallel to Bestekar. The Edge, Twister, Hayyami (wine bar) are nice places. Sakal on Kennedy Street is a unique place with electronic, reggae or retro (offering different kinds of music). On the same street Mono is pleasant place to drink. Tunus Street, parallel to Bestekar is another street where you may find many pubs like Retrox, Flat, James Cook and Zodiac. If Performance Hall, Manhattan, Overall and Siyah-Beyaz are places where you can drink and dance till 4 am with live rock music. There normally are rock cover bands and a huge crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights in these places.

"Sakarya" is full of the cheapest solutions. Among the best places in Sakarya, one should note "Net", which is a good choice not only take a glass of beer or raki, but also to eat. "Buyuk Ekspres" is also a nice old bar of the town. Also Eski-Yeni, Pasaj and Telwe are nice bars where you may find rock or alternative live music styles with cheaper drink prices compared to Tunali, Cankaya region.

"Park Avenue" -in Konutkent district- is the new street for classy bars, cafes and night clubs. You may also find second branch of Kitir, Random & Crossroads in "Park Avenue". Istanbul's fashionable night club Sortie has also opened in this avenue and is a nice place to drink any kind of drinks and listen to latest club mixes. Narquilla is a great place to have your nargile while drinking beer and enjoying nice food. Also, there are meyhanes (tavern) in which fixed menus are served with drinks and classic Turkish music played. There are bars and restaurants also in the historic core of Ankara, close to citadel. You definitely have to go and return by taxi though.

Don't expect a lively gay life of Istanbul in Ankara. No-one comes to Ankara for its amazing gay life, however you can still enjoy your time while you are here. It has only one gay bar-club (Sixties) and this is open only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. It gets pretty crowded after 00:00 and plays Turkish and Western pop music. In addition to that, though it is not a gay bar, Eski-Yeni Bar in Sakarya Caddesi (street) seems to attract a gay-lesbian crowd especially in its bottom floor. Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, the leading queer organizations in Ankara, hold activities throughout the year.

Sleep

Budget

Splurge

Stay safe

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, especially 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.

Cope

Embassies

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.

Go next

Routes through Ankara

Bursa Eskişehir  W  S  Aksaray Adana
Istanbul Bolu ← Merges with  N  S  ENDS


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.