As I have been writing city guides for almost a year my friends asked me to write a city guide for Ankara… Due to this reason I wrote a city guide for Ankara and I hope it would be useful especially for tourists visiting Ankara either for business or leisure…
In the beginning of my guide I would like to give very brief information about history of Ankara.
According to historians Ankara was founded in early ages of human history. Mainly Hittite Empire and after them many different civilization lived in Ankara. And in the end of Ottoman Empire, Turkish Republic was founded in Ankara. And Ankara was announced as capital of Turkish Republic.
According to latest figures Ankara’s population is almost 5 million.
Here is the guide for 2013 for the capital city of Turkey… Enjoy…
How is the weather in Ankara?
Weather of Ankara is continental climate. Summer time is hot almost 30 degrees sometimes even hotter and in winter time is cold like zero degrees even sometimes minus in daytime. Moreover you can live real spring and autumn in Ankara.
Where is Ankara?
We can say Ankara is in the middle of Anatolia. It is located in the cross roads of Turkey. It is almost 450 kilometers far from İstanbul, 600 kilometers far from İzmir and 500 kilometers far from Antalya.
How can you reach to Ankara?
As Ankara is in the cross roads of Anatolia, transportation to Ankara is so easy. You can reach to Ankara by car from İstanbul in 5 hours, from İzmir in 8 hours and from Antalya in 7 hours.
How can you reach Ankara by car?
There are four major roads connecting to Ankara. First one is İstanbul road. It comes to Ankara from North western side. Second one is Eskişehir road. Eskişehir road connects Ankara to western part of Turkey. The major city in this direction is İzmir. Vehicles coming from Bursa, Balıkesir, Eskişehir, Bodrum, Antalya also use this road. Third one is Konya road which connects Ankara to Southern and southeastern side of Turkey. This road connects mainly Cappadocia, Konya, Adana, Mersin Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş to Ankara. The fourth road is Samsun road which connects North eastern side to Ankara. You can reach Trabzon, Kayseri, Samsun and major cities by using this road.
How can you reach Ankara by bus?
As Ankara is in the cross road, transportation to Ankara is so easy. For examle, almost all coach services have coaches to all destinations from Ankara. There is a big bus station in Ankara called Aşti which is located near cross road of Konya and Eskişehir road. Accessing to Aşti is so comfortable. You can use Ankaray which is a lighter railway than subway to Aşti and it takes almost half an hour from Kızılay square. There are also bus services and taxis in Aşti. Main bus companies are Ulusoy, Varan, Kamilkoç, Nilüfer, Pamukkale and Anadolu. In addition to them, there are many other companies too.
How can you reach to Ankara by train?
Another way to reach Ankara is railway. In Turkey in last few years railways gain the importance that it deserves again. Recently high speed trains to Eskişehir and Konya started to run. From Ankara to both Konya and Eskişehir takes almost one and half hour by speed trains. Moreover till the end of the year 2013, high speed train between Ankara and İstanbul is going to be operated. It is going take 3 hours from Ankara and İstanbul with that high speed train. Another advantage of train transportation in Ankara is the station is located just in city center.
How can you reach Ankara by plane?
As Ankara is capital city of Turkey there are many both domestic and non domestic flights to Ankara. There are flights from many big cities to Ankara like Munich, Vienne, Moscow, Brussels, Frankfurt, Tehran, Bagdad and Baku.
The name of the airport in Ankara is Esenboğa which is located almost 35 kilometers from city center. Esenboğa airport has both modern and new terminal buildings.
There are cafes like Cafe Nero and Ankara cafe and restaurants like Resto and Burger King in Ankara Airport.
How can you reach Ankara city center from Esenboğa Airport?
There are several alternatives to go to city center from Esenboğa Airport. First one is shuttle service called Havaş. Havaş is a shuttle service company which makes transportation from airport to city center and city center to airport. It costs 10 TRY for one way trip and you can buy the tickets in the bus. There are busses in every half an hour from early in the morning till night. Busses wait in front of Arrivals Exit in the airport. In the city center busses first go to Ulus and then to Aşti. Aşti is the last station for Havaş Busses. In order to go airport from city center busses depart from Aşti and pick other passengers in Ulus Station and goes to airport. The road takes almost an hour from Aşti to airport but of course it depends on the traffic in Ankara.
Another alternative to go to city center from Esenboğa Airport is municipality busses. These busses are also good alternative to go to city center from airport and from city center to airport.
There are also private shuttle services which you can make reservation before coming and they can pick you where ever you want. One of the major companies is Secure drive for this service.
Of course there are taxis in Esenboğa Airport too.
Moreover there is a big parking lot in Esenboğa Airport. Prices starts from 8,5 TRY for an hour and if you would like to leave your car longer than 24 hours you can make registration so you can leave your car to 65 TRY for 4 days. There are other registration alternatives too.
Where to stay in Ankara?
There are few centers of Ankara;
One of them is Ulus which is both historical and business center of Ankara. There are many hotels nearby to Ulus. There are both small hotels and very luxurious hotels like Radisson. If you would like to visit old Ankara, you can stay in a hotel in Ulus according to your budget.
Kızılay is the major business center of Ankara. There are many hotels in Kızılay. Doubletree by Hilton, Princess is major hotels in this district.
Tunalı Hilmi Street is another business and entertainment center of Ankara. Sheraton, Hilton, Rixos, Dedeman are the biggest hotels in this district. There are many hotels also like Ramada, Houston and Tunalı.
Places nearby Eskişehir Road are also developing rapidly and if you would like to go somewhere in there Marriott, Movenpick, Bilkent Hotel give good opportunity for staying.
How is public transportation in Ankara?
There are several ways of public transportation in Ankara. Major one is municipality busses. You can use cards which you can buy from kiosks to use this municipality busses.
There are also private busses for urban transportation in Ankara. They also stop in bus stops and you cannot stop them except bus stops. The main difference between municipality busses and private busses is in municipality bus you should use card and in private busses you should pay 2 TRY to money collector behind the driver.
There are two line underground railway systems in Ankara. One of them goes from Batıkent to Kızılay and the other one goes Aşti to Dikimevi. There is a connection between them in Kızılay. You can also use the cards in these subways.
There are also private minibuses for public transportation. They are called dolmuş and their color is mainly blue. When you get in the dolmuş you pay the price to the driver. They cost 2 TRY for 2013. You can stop a dolmus when you see it in street. If there are available seats, they could stop in front of you. There are not any special stops for them like busses. But there are main stops in city centers like Ulus and Kızılay.
What to do in Ankara?
Anıtkabir: Atatürk’s mausoleum who is the founder of Turkish Republic is in Ankara. There is also a great museum of Turkish Independence War in which there are panoramic paintings, vehicles and presents from other countries. Almost all tourists visit Anıtkabir.
Atakule: Atakule is a tower which is located in Çankaya District of Ankara. You can watch Ankara from the top of Atakule.
Kocatepe Mosque: Kocatepe Mosque is the biggest mosque in Ankara. It is located near Kızılay.
Roman Baths: There are historical remains from ancient Roman times in Ulus district of Ankara.
Temple of Augustus: This historical remain was also built in Roman Times. It is located near Hacı Bayram Mosque.
Ankara Castle: Ankara Castle is located in Ulus District of Ankara. There are restaurants in which you can enjoy both tasty food and view of Ankara.
Old Ankara District (Hamamönü): Around Ankara castle there is old town of Ankara. There is Çengel Han in which you can find Koç Museum and good restaurants to eat.
First National Assembly: As Turkish republic was founded in Ankara First National Assembly was in Ankara too. This building is a museum now.
Anatolian Civilizations Museum: Going to Anatolian Civilizations is a must if you have time in Ankara. As early ages of human history took place in Anatolia there are many remaining from those times. In Anatolian Civilizations museum you can find many historical remaining. This museum is also located near Ankara Castle.
Ethnographical Museum: In Ethnographical Museum, you can find many items moreover after death of Atatürk, his body stayed in this museum till the end of construction of Anıtkabir.
Painting and Sculpture Museum: In Painting and Sculpture Museum which is located just near Ethnographical Museum you can find many different paintings and sculptures.
Atatürk’s House: Atatürk was born in Salonika and the house in which he was born is a museum in Salonika. There is a model of his house in Çiftlik district of Ankara where you can visit the house.
Zoo: Even though the construction of bigger zoo has not finished yet there is a zoo in Çiftlik District of Ankara in where you can watch many different animals.
Kızılay: Kızılay is the main business center of Ankara. We can also say Kızılay is crossroads of Ankara. There is public transportation from almost all points of Ankara to Kızılay. You can find many restaurants and buffets to eat in Kızılay. In Kızılay by using Ziya Gökalp Avenue you can go to Kurtuluş, by using Gazi Mustafa Kemal Avenue you can go to Maltepe and you can go to either Ulus or other destination Çankaya by using Atatürk Avenue.
Ulus: We can say Ulus is the center of old town in Ankara. There are also many offices and governmental buildings. There are historical remains in Ulus too. There are Ankara Castle, Roman Baths, and First National Assembly nearby Ulus. 19 May 1919 Football Stadium, Ankara Arena Sport Saloon and Gençlik (Youth) Park is also nearby Ulus. Moreover Railway Central Station is also close to Ulus.
Tunalı Hilmi Street: Tunalı Hilmi Street is both business and entertainment center of Ankara. Not only on the street but also in sideways there are many offices, restaurants, cafes and hotels.
There are many shops, stores in Tunalı Hilmi Street. Seğmenler and Botanic Park is located so close to Tunalı Hilmi Street. Moreover trendy streets like Arjantin and Filistin is so close to Tunalı Hilmi Street. In Tunalı Hilmi Street there are also trendy sideways like Bestekar Street and Tunus Street. There are many restaurants, bars and cafes in all these streets.
Bahçelievler: Bahçelievler is another entertainment and business center of Ankara. There are many cafes and restaurants in Bahçelievler. In Bahçelievler 7th street is the most popular street. You can see especially many young people in Bahçelievler. There many cafes and restaurants with live music in Bahçelievler.
Çukurambar: Çukurambar is located near Eskişehir Road. In last year’s Çukurambar becomes so popular. There are many different cafes and restaurants in Çukurambar. Liva, Mado, Big Chefs, Marco Pasha, Tepenyaki Alaturka, Günaydın are the most popular ones.
Bilkent: Bilkent district is located in Eskişehir Road. There are both governmental buildings and private offices. As there is Bilkent University, there are many cafes and restaurants.
Çayyolu: Recently Çayyolu which is located in Eskişehir Road becomes so popular. There are mainly houses. In addition to the houses there are cafes and restaurants especially in Park Street.
Gölbaşı: Gölbaşı district is in southern part of Ankara. As there is a small lake called Mogan there are many restaurants. Moreover there is a very large park called Mogan Park.
Shopping Malls: There are many big shopping malls in Ankara. Some of them are;
Ankamall: Ankamall is one of the biggest shopping mall in Ankara. It is located in cross roads of Istanbul Road and Samsun Road in city center. There is a subway stop near Ankamall. Transportation to Ankamall is so easy from many districts of Ankara like Kızılay. In Ankamall you can find many different kinds of stores and eating facilities.
Armada: Armada is also a big shopping mall which is located near Eskişehir Road. You can go to Armada by using busses and minibuses which go through Eskişehir Road. In Armada there are not only many different fashion brands but also classy restaurants. In addition to this there is a gym called MacFit.
Cepa: Cepa is also located near Eskişehir Road. Cepa is one of the biggest shopping malls in Ankara. In Cepa there are many different fashion brands and restaurants. Another advantage of Cepa is being so close to Kentpark. So you can visit two malls on foot.
Kentpark: As I mentioned above Kentpark is close to Cepa. In Kentpark there are many popular fashion Brands and so classy brands like Harvey Nichols. A very large gym called Most is located in Kentpark.
Ankuva: Ankuva is located in Bilkent. As it is so close to Bilkent University there are many good restaurants inside of Ankuva like Mezzaluna and Borrdo. In addition to this there is a very enjoyable game center called Roll-house. In Roll-house you can play dart, bowling, billiard and many different games. There is also very large supermarket called Real and furniture shop called Tepe Home in Ankuva. One of the most well known gym Sports International is located near Ankuva.
Panora: Panora is located in Oran. Even though it looks it is a bit far from city center there are busses and minibuses to this classy shopping mall. In Panora there are not only fashion brands but also many good cafes, restaurants like Sushico, Butcha, Midpoint, Timboo, Num-num and attractions like movie theatre and game center. In addition to this one of the most popular gym MAC is located in Panora.
Natavega: Natavega is a big outlet which is located in Mamak. As it is located in Mamak you can go there by using Ankara side way from Çankaya.
Optimum: Optimum is another big outlet which is located near Istanbul Road.
Acity: Acity is another big outlet which is located near Istanbul Road.
Where to eat in Ankara?
As being the capital of Turkish Republic in Ankara you can find many different restaurant alternatives. The ones that I mention is just a little part of them.
Göksu Restaurant: There are two Göksu Restaurants in Ankara. One of them is in Kızılay and the other one is in Çankaya. In both of them they serve many different and tasty foods. Especially for official dinners, celebrations and business dinners, Göksu restaurants offer you a classy atmosphere.
Hacıbaba: Hacıbaba is one of the most popular kebab restaurants in Ankara. It is located in Konya Road. They serve not only many different kebabs but also very delicious baklava.
Köşebaşı: Köşebaşı is a very well known kebab house chains in Turkey. In their quite classy environment they serve different kinds of kebabs. In Ankara Köşebaşı restaurant is located in Çankaya near Filistin Street.
Gar Restaurant: Gar restaurant also offers you tasy food in a classy restaurant. It is located in Filistin street.
Uludağ: Uludağ Restaurant is famous for meat foods. It is located in the cross of Arjantin and Filistin streets. Their special food is döner kebab with sauce.
Kukla Kebap: Kukla kebab is also famous with their tasty döner kebab with sauce. There are different Kukla Kebab restaurants in Ankara. One of them is in Cebeci and the other one is in Balgat.
Hacı Arif Bey: Hacı Arif Bey also serves very different kinds of kebabs. It is near Tunalı Hilmi Street in Güniz Sokak.
Tavacı Recep Usta: Tavacı Recep Usta serves food from southeastern part of Turkey. The location of Tavacı Recep Usta is near Hoşdere Street. They are famous for filled lamp rip.
Günaydın Restaurants: Günaydın is a very famous meat restaurant in Turkey. In Ankara there are different type of Günaydın restaurants. In Arjantin street, there is Günaydın Steak house in which they serve many different kind of steaks including dry aged steak.In Çukurambar, there is Günaydın restaurant in which they serve different kinds of tasty kebabs. In Filistin street there is Günaydın Burger which serves so tasty burgers. In Attar sokak which is parallel to Filistin Street there is another Günaydın restaurant serving kebabs and in Panora shopping mall there is doner house of Günaydın.
Butcha: Butcha is another steak house in Ankara. There is one in Park Street and another in Panora Shopping Mall.
Trilye: Trilye is a very classy fish restaurant in Ankara. It is located near Filistin Street in Çankaya. Trilye is a very good alternative for both official dinners and special days.
Lagos: Lagos restaurant is one of the oldest fish restaurants in Ankara. It used to be located in Çevre Sokak previously but in recent years it moved to Park Street in Çayyolu district.
Fevzi-Hoca: Feyzi Hoca Restaurant is located in Söğütözü near Çukurambar. In Fevzi Hoca, they serve both special Akçaabat Meatballs and fish.
Sushico: Sushico is another chain restaurant. One of them is in Panora shopping mall and the other one is in Attar Sokak near Filistin Street. They serve both Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
Quick china: Quick china is another chain restaurant. One of them is near Uğur Mumcu Street in Çankaya another one is in Ankuva Bilkent Center. Quick china serves Far East foods.
Teppenyaki Alaturka: Teppenyaki Alaturka is located in Çukurambar. The food it serves varies but most of them are cooked by Japanese cooks in far eastern style. The attraction in the restaurant is really enjoyable. Cooks cook the food in the grill infron of you while you are watching them and chatting with your friends.
Big-chefs:Big- chefs is a chain restaurant in Turkey. One of them is in Iran Street near Tunalı Hilmi Street and the other one is in Çukurambar in Ankara. In Big-chefs you can taste so different cuisine vary from pizza to steaks. The atmosphere of big chefs is also so classy.
Cafemiz: Cafemiz is very old café restaurant which is located in Arjantin Street. It has a beautiful atmosphere and it serves so tasty different kinds of foods.
Mezzaluna: There are two restaurants of famous Italian chain Mezzaluna in Ankara. You can try many different foods from Italian cuisine in Ankara. One of the restaurant is in Bilkent in Ankuva. The other one is in Iran Street.
Liva: There are many Liva restaurants and cafes in Ankara. In Liva, you can find many different food and patisserie.
Elizin: Elizin is a café restaurant chain in Ankara. One of them is in Tunalı Hilmi Street and the other one is in Panora Shopping Mall. Elizin offers you many different and tasty food and bakery.
Tadım Pizza: There are many Tadım Pizza Restaurants in Ankara. The one in Tunalı Hilmi Street has a great location. You can watch the street while watching Tunalı Hilmi Street. It is in Ertuğ shopping mall in Tunalı Hilmi Street.
Num-num: Num-num is another café restaurant chain. One of them is in Filistin Street and the other one is in Panora Shopping Mall. I can recommend Num-Num specially while you are going out with friends.
House Café: House café is a chain restaurant in Turkey. The one in Filistin Street offers you so tasty food and very different kinds of beverages.
Kafes Fırın: Kafes Fırın is famous for bakery. In addition to this it serves so tasty main courses and breakfasts. Kafes Fırın is another chain bakery café in Ankara. One of them is in Eskişehir Street and the other one is in Filistin Street.
Kebap 49: Kebap 49 serves many different kebab and pide alternatives. It is located near Tunalı Hilmi Street.
Aspava: Aspava restaurant is famous for wrap (dürüm) döner. In most of the Aspava restaurant they will serve you fried potato, salad for free. According to me the best Aspava Restaurants are Özçelik and Yıldız Aspava which are located in Küçükesat near Tunalı Hilmi Street. In addition to tasty food these restaurants work 24 hours so you have a great opportunity in Ankara if you get hungry late at night.
Hosta: Hosta is very old buffet chain in Ankara. There are many Hosta Restaurants in Ankara. We can say hosta is a good example of Turkish style fast food. If you do not have time and you would like to eat some meat, Hosta is definitely good alternative. Even though there are many different foods also, Hosta is famous for its tasty doner and ayran.
Café Lins: Café Lins is located in Bestekar Sokak which is parallel to Tunalı Hilmi Street. It has a cozy atmosphere.
Café Bien: Café Bien is also located near Tunalı Hilmi Street. It is so trendy especially in weekend evenings.
Bomonti: Bomonti is near Tunalı Hilmi Street. It is also trendy among young people especially in weekends.
New castle: New castle is pub chain. In Tunus street there is a good one serving good food in a great atmosphere.
What is nearby of Ankara?
Kızılcahamam: Kızılcahamam is 70 kilometers far from Ankara. It is near D-100 motor way while going to Istanbul. There is a natural park in Kızılcahamam in which you can enjoy nature. There are hotels and good restaurants in Kızılcahamam.
Bolu: Bolu is in the middle of Istanbul and Ankara. There is a natural lake called Abant and there are five star hotels in Lakeside. Moreover in winter time, there is Kartalkaya district in Köroğlu Mountains. There are classy mountain hotels in Kartalkaya. Kartalkaya is almost 220 kilometeres from Ankara
Beypazarı: Beypazarı is an old town near Ankara. In Beypazarı you can find silver manufacturers, shops, traditional food, museums and historical Ankara houses. Beypazarı is in north western part of Ankara and almost 100 kilometers far from Ankara.
Cappadocia: Even though it is almost 300 kilometers far from Ankara, I strongly recommend visiting this magical place in your trip to Ankara. You can see longer information about Cappadocia in my other city guide about Cappadocia
Eskişehir: Eskişehir is another big city 250 kilometers far from Ankara. By using high speed train you can go to Eskişehir in 1,5 hours. In Eskişehir there are museums, historical places, cafes and restaurants near Porsuk Spring. I strongly recommend eating Balaban Kebab, Çi Börek in Eskişehir.
Konya: Konya is also almost 250 kilometers far from Ankara. There is also high speed train to Konya from Ankara. It is almost 1,5 hours. Konya was the capital of Seljuk Empire and there are many historical remains in Konya. Moreover there is tomb of Mevlana who is very well known Islamic Philosopher and his philosophy is tolerance. There is Alaaddin Hill and Meram in Konya. In Konya don’t forget to eat Etli Ekmek and Tandır in Konya.
Kayseri: Kayseri is almost 300 kilometers from Ankara. Especially in winter time mount Erciyes offers you good accommodation with ski.
Ilgaz: Ilgaz is almost 200 kilometers from Ankara. It is a ski center in a forest. It is so beautiful not only in winter but also in summer time.
Elmadağ: There is a little ski center in Ankara called Elmadağ.
There are some little tips:
In this city guide, I would like to give information about Ankara especially to the foreigners who come to Ankara for both business and leisure trips. I hope this guide will help to the foreigners to enjoy their trips to Ankara.