Ankara Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated November 18, 2019

Ankara is the capital of Turkey since 1923. With a population of 5,450,000 in 2017, it is the 2nd biggest city in the country after Istanbul. Cosmopolitan and happening, Ankara is a center of culture and performing arts. There is the Ballet, State Opera, and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. There are many monuments and historical relics, great architecture, museums and galleries, and a great food and night scene. Ankara has some of the best Turkish restaurants you will find. It is youthful and exciting. The cultural calendar is full of exhibitions and festivals.

Ankara is extremely popular with tourists. There is a lot to see and do in the city, like the Ankara Castle, Anitkabir, Kocatepe Mosque, and the Roman Baths. The city is home to the Turkish Parliament and the embassies of various countries. Ankara is Turkey’s administrative capital, and also a big university town. This means, a lot of people will always be visiting the city.

Before 1923, Istanbul used to be the capital of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish Republic and became the first President. He shifted the capital to Ankara. The city has archaeological sites of Hittite, Phrygian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman dynasties. It was a center of trade, culture and arts in the Roman period. It was also a major center for caravan trade during the Ottoman period. During the 19th century, Ankara lost prominence, but it became the center of the Turkish War of Independence and later the capital.

Ankara is also known as Angora and Ancyra. The city has a long history. The Hittites came here around 1,200 BC. Alexander the Great passed through the city in 333 BC. Today’s Ankara is a modern, cosmopolitan city, the starting point of many journeys.


Ankara – 10 Quick Facts

  1. Ankara is the second largest city of Turkey and the capital.
  2. Currency – Turkish Lira
  3. Ankara is spread over 25,632 square kilometers.
  4. Population – 5.45 million as of 2017.
  5. Time Zone – TRT Turkish Time (UTC+3 (FET).
  6. ISD code – +90
  7. Most people in the city speak Turkish or Kurdish.
  8. 7.8 million international tourists visited Turkey in the first 4 months of 2018, with many of them arriving in Ankara.
  9. Airport – Esenboğa.
  10. The city has an extensive public transport system. There are buses, subways, dolmuş (minibuses) and taxis.

Top 6 Reasons to Visit Ankara

Museums Ankara has many different kinds of museums that will appeal to you. The Museum of Anatolian Civilization is the most popular. It takes you through the history of the region. The Ethnography Museum is dedicated to the culture of the Turkish civilizations. The Rahmi M Koc Museum showcases industry and transport over the ages. The Altinköy Open Air Museum is unique. It gives you a real-life peek into Turkish village life.
Mausoleum of Atatürk The contribution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to Turkish history is undeniable. The mausoleum Anıtkabir in Ankara pays tribute to this great leader. It is a stunning modern structure with many statues and towers. The building itself is an engineering marvel. It has featured on Turkish banknotes between 1966-87 and 1997-2009.
Shopping and Nightlife Ankara is a modern city with all the comforts and luxuries. Kizilay is the city center where you will find plenty of shopping options ranging from standalone shops to big fashion names. There are many malls and shopping centers as well as street side vendors selling many interesting things and souvenirs. In the evening, this area transforms into the party district.
Architecture Ankara has seen many great civilizations, going back to the Stone Age. You will see their impact on the city’s architecture. Walk along the streets and you will find stunning buildings. The Ziraat Bank Headquarters, office buildings of the Ulus neighborhood and even the train station are stunning.
Quiet and Green Ankara has a peaceful and quiet vibe compared to the hustle and bustle of bigger European capitals. It is the political center of the country and a residential city. The city streets are relatively empty even during the weekends. The city is so well-planned that it is impossible to get lost even without a map. There are also many parks and a lot of greenery, so walking in Ankara is always a pleasant experience.
Food Scene The Ankara food scene will be a delight to the foodie. The street food stays authentic to its roots. The high-end restaurants offer continental and traditional Turkish cuisine with a modern twist. There is a variety of meat, fish and vegetarian options to choose from. Kokoreç is one Anatolian favorite where lamb’s organs are wrapped in intestines, flavored and grilled.

How to Reach

You can take a flight to reach Ankara, a bus, or train. You can also drive a car to the city. Istanbul is 448.4 kilometers from Ankara by the O-4, a distance you can cover in a little less than 5 hours. Antalya is 479.2 kilometers by the D695, and Izmir is at a distance of 584.4 kilometers from the city.

Flight – Esenboğa International Airport (ESB) is Ankara’s international airport. It is 28 kilometers north-east from the city. But there are few international flights. Only Turkish Airlines, British Airways, Austrian Airlines, and Lufthansa offer direct services to their European hubs. So most tourists taking the air fly in from Istanbul.

This is a new airport terminal with modern infrastructure. There are many gates, an efficient parking system, restaurants, currency exchange and other facilities. Belko Air runs airport buses, but the announcements are in Turkish only.

Train – Ankara is in central Turkey, so the city is a hub of the country’s rail network. You can take a train from virtually anywhere in the country to reach Ankara. There are high-speed trains too from the Pendik station in the Asian side of Istanbul. There are also high-speed trains from Konya and Eskişehir. 

Bus – Most cities have direct buses to the Turkish capital. They mostly arrive at AŞTİ, which is the bus terminal. AŞTİ is connected to a metro line. Interestingly, bus travel in the country is quicker than train travel. The buses are also modern, comfortable, and cheap.

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Getting Around

Ankara has a very efficient public transport system. There are both public and private buses in the city. The 'dolmus' minibus is quick and cheap. There is also the Ankara Metro and the Ankara Suburban Railway. You can take a taxi too, but they will cost more.

Bus – Buses run by the municipality are called EGO or Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri. Private buses are called OHO or Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri. You can easily differentiate between the two by their colors. They all reach the same places.

  • The EGO buses are blue and white.
  • OHO buses are only blue.

Ankara Metro – There are several lines in the Metro, which is called the Ankara Metrosu.

  1. The north-south heavy-rail and west-east light-rail lines are both mostly underground.
  2. The 8.7 kilometer Ankaray line goes between Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmesi and Dikimevi. It has 11 stations.
  3. M1 to M3. M1 – 14 kilometers with 12 stations, M2 – 16 kilometers with 11 stations, and the M3 is an extension of the M2.

Ankara Suburban Railway – This is called Ankara BanliyöTreni. It is a single suburban line that runs on the national rail network. The 37 kilometer long line runs between Sincan in west Ankara to Kayaş in the east through the city center. It is entirely surface and elevated rail. There are 26 stations.

Taxi – You will find them easily. The taxis are painted yellow. Look out for ‘Taksi’ written on top of the cars and T written in the license plates. Day and night rates are the same, but generally, taxi travel in Ankara costs more. No tipping is needed. Most taxi drivers will understand instructions and destinations in English. However, some of them will negotiate, refusing to start the meter.

Visiting Ankara On A Budget

A trip to Ankara can be expensive like other European cities. However, you can still save a lot of money with good planning. Here are some ways you can save money.

  • Bus and Train Travel –Most people arrive at Istanbul first, as the city is better connected and because of its unique location between Asia and Europe. Take a bus from Istanbul to Ankara. It is cheaper than the train and also quicker. There are modern buses that offer a comfortable journey.
  • Accommodation – You will find many budget hotels in the city. It makes sense to book a hotel with free breakfast. You can even stay at a ‘Design’ hotel – a cheaper option with bare minimum amenities. Of course, there are star hotels and boutique properties too.
  • The Ankara Kart Card – Take public transport when traveling within the city. Get the Ankara Kart card at the airport. You will save almost 50% on each ticket if you pay by this card. You can use it for buses and metro. You can top up the card at any metro station.
  • Ankara, a Foodie’s Delight - You will find many budget-friendly street food options. This includes many authentic Turkish delights. Also try the Çiçek Lokantası (tradesmen eateries) that serve authentic home-cooked Turkish recipes that thelocals consider comfort food. You will get everything from classic Turkish soups to cold meze dishes in olive oil, vegetable and meat, and of course desserts. These are easy on the pocket and make a very satisfying meal.

Photos Gallery

The banknotes of Turkey had a picture of the Angora goat, native to the Ankara region, between 1938 and 1952.

Top Landmarks

  • HacıBayram Mosque
  • Anıtkabir
  • Atakule Tower
  • Ulus and Republican Ankara
  • Hamamönü
  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
  • State Art and Sculpture Museum
  • Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum
  • Ankara Aviation Museum
  • Ankara Castle
  • Temple of Augustus

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Weather in Ankara

Months Max Temp in °C Min Temp in °C Rainy Days
January 4 -4 6
February 7 -3 6
March 11 0 9
April 16 4 12
May 22 9 12
June 27 13 9
July 31 16 5
August 30 16 4
September 26 11 5
October 19 6 8
November 13 0 9
December 6 -2 9


The Best Time To Visit Ankara

The summer months, between June and September, is the best time to visit Ankara. This is also the peak tourist season. The days are bright, pleasantly warm and there are few rainy days this time of the year.

  • Ankara has continental climate. The summers are dry. The temperature reaches the middle 30s in the afternoons. 
  • There are a lot of sunny days during the summer months, which makes it ideal for sightseeing.
  • Spring and autumn are pleasant. Dress in layers as it can be chilly at night.
  • The winter is snowy. Coldest temperatures average between -2 to -5 degrees.
  • There are skating rinks and winter sports facilities available should you visit Ankara in the winter.