Ankara is not only the capital but also one of the most famous tourist cities of Turkey. With a long history of formation and development, this place contains countless interesting things for you to explore. And in this article, we will share with you the most complete Ankara guide. So, is Ankara worth visiting, what to do in Ankara and how to plan a budget trip to Ankara perfectly? Let’s check out our Ankara blog (Ankara travel blog) with the fullest Ankara travel guide (Ankara city guide, Ankara guide, Ankara tourist guide) from how to get Ankara, best places to do, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Ankara to help you maximize your trip as follows!
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This is considered the cradle of many civilizations, the ancient architectural works are of great importance until today. Not only that, the Ankara economy also develops rapidly, the city is vibrant and bustling with shopping, service and tourism centers. Therefore, Ankara promises to bring many interesting things to your trip.
Overview of Ankara (#ankara blog)
Ankara, also known as Ancyra or Angora, is the capital of Turkey and is also the country’s second largest city, after Istanbul. It has an area of about 25,000 square kilometers (capital city and metropolitan municipality) with a population of more than 5,3 million according to the 2022 census.
Ankara is the capital, political center and home to many great civilizations with a history dating back to the Stone Age of Turkey. It’s located in central Anatolia, walking along the streets here will find a mixture of modern elements and ancient history. Coming to Ankara is one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to experience the culture and architecture of Turkey.
Since 1920, Ankara has been chosen as the capital of Turkey. Since then, this city has always been known as a leading administrative, economic and educational center of the country. Not only that, with beautiful natural scenery, ancient architectures and a unique culture, Ankara is also a great destination that anyone traveling to Turkey wants to visit.
The capital Ankara is considered the cradle of many great civilizations, the architectural works are a mixture of modern elements and ancient history. Not only that, the city’s economy develops very quickly, bustling with shopping centers, and tourist services. Ankara is the only destination where you can explore the culture and architecture of Turkey to the fullest.
The city is located at an average elevation of 938 meters above sea level, on the vast plains of central Anatolia, with montane forests to the north and the arid Konya plains to the south. The main rivers are the Kızılırmak and Sakarya river systems, 50% of the land is used for agriculture, 28% is forest and 10% is grassland.
When to come? (#ankara travel guide)
Although only a not too large city, Ankara is influenced by two types of climate at the same time: semi-arid and Mediterranean. The climate here is characterized by hot dry summer and very cold winter, the temperature often drops below 0 degrees Celsius. You should come here in the period from May to September every year. This is the time when the weather is warm, pleasant and rainfall is also little.
Ankara summer is usually very hot so you should avoid coming here at this time. And spring, autumn or winter are all quite cool.
In addition to the stunning architectural works and attractions, when traveling to Ankara, don’t forget to choose a time to coincide with extremely attractive events and festivals. In April, Ankara has many special festivals, which is the Tulip festival of thousands of flowers blooming together. An international film festival featuring humorous productions by both adults and children, the winners will be screened across the city.
Or in May, Ankara with the Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival. This is an annual event of the year to recognize and honor the contributions of women in the field of film.
In December, there will be an Ankara International Dance Festival, you will be immersed in concerts, enjoying fashion shows or participating in international art workshops will make your trip more special.
How to get to Ankara? (#ankara guide)
Currently, there are quite a few airlines that are exploiting direct routes to Ankara such as Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Qatar Airways, etc. from many cities across the world with fares of about 500 – 1,000 USD/way depending on each route. You should book tickets about 1 to 2 months in advance to get the most favorable fares. Ankara international airport called Ankara Esenboğa Airport (IATA: ESB, ICAO: LTAC) is located about 29 km from the city center, you can use the bus to get to the downtown.
As the capital city of Turkey, you can easy to get Ankara by train from Istanbul, Eskisehir and Konya. The train from Istanbul takes around 3 hours to get to Ankara.
Getting around Ankara (#ankara tourist guide)
Ankara has a very developed public transport system. You can choose to travel around by bus, dolmus (minibus), metro, taxi, private car or bicycle depending on your preferences. In particular, the bus is the means of transport chosen by many tourists. Ankara has a long-distance bus system with air conditioning system, reservation, and good service. Traveling by bus in the city is very convenient, you will find buses across the city.
Where to go and what to do in Ankara? (#ankara travel blog)
Ankara Castle (#ankara blog)
Address: Kale, 06240 Altındağ/Ankara, Turkey
Ankara Castle is located in Altindag district, through many ups and downs in history, Ankara castle has been owned by many empires, including Hittites, Phrygians, persian, Byzantine, Arab and even Ottoman Turks. Through many restorations by the Romans, Seljuks and Ottomans, Ankara Castle consists of a citadel and fortress divided into 20 separate towers. Currently, the castle is both an exhibition of paintings and music, and a concert festival venue in the summer.
The castle is surrounded by walls with towers located close together, covering an area of about 350mx150m. The date of the castle’s construction has not been determined, but it was remodeled by the Persians in 622. The inner walls may date from the reign of emperor Constans II, the outer wall is believed to have been built later.
Ankara Castle is the place to visit to learn about the history and culture of the city. The castle is surrounded by four solid walls, divided into 20 separate towers. Ankara Castle is a witness to many historical periods, from the Hittite empire to Persia, Ottoman, Roman… Today, the castle displays art exhibitions as well as held some major festivals and events in Ankara. Especially at the top of the castle, you can admire the beautiful view of the whole city. To climb to the top of the castle, you will have to go through a rather laborious journey. However, you will be well rewarded for passing it.
Today, the castle is used as a museum to display and exhibit art as well as to host major festivals and events in Ankara.
Anitkabir (Mausoleum Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)
Address: Yücetepe, Akdeniz Cd. No:31, 06570 Çankaya/Ankara, Turkey
Anitkabir is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the leader of the war for independence in Turkey (Türkiye) and the first President of the Republic of Turkey. The mausoleum is located in Ankara and was designed by architect and professor Emin Halid Onat and assistant professor Amet Orhan Arda. Construction of the mausoleum began in October 1944 and was completed in September 1953.
This site is the mausoleum of the first and second President of the Republic of Turkey. Its design is extremely majestic like a museum, attracting not only tourists but also famous historians and architects to visit. Coming to the Mustafa Kemal Mausoleum, you will see a collection with an extremely large number of paintings, watch Turkish soldiers in parades. Not only possessing a unique architecture, Anitkabir also has many valuable antique collections and unique works of art.
Not only that, visiting the mausoleum, you can also visit the Peace Park filled with green trees. There is even a Turkish national flag made entirely of real flowers.
Atakule Tower (#ankara travel blog)
Address: Canakaya district, Central Ankara, Turkey
Atakule is a tower built in 1989 by the order of then-8th President Turgut Ozal.. It has a height of up to 410 feet (125m) and is considered a great spot to admire the city of Ankara from above. In particular, there is also a restaurant that rotates 360 degrees.
After visiting the first presidential mausoleum of Turkey, do not forget to visit the Atakule tower. From here, you can stand on the terrace area or drop by the restaurant to both enjoy the unique cuisine and enjoy the panoramic view of the city. The 360-degree view space, along with the cool breeze, watching the bustling streets will make you feel much more comfortable.
Address: Kültür, Dr. Mediha Eldem Sk. No:67, 06420 Çankaya/Ankara, Turkey
Hours: Open 24 hours
As the largest mosque in Ankara, Kocatepe Mosque is very recognizable thanks to its soaring minarets and giant domes, which took two decades to complete. It has long been a prominent landmark on the skyline, as clear skies you can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
Comprised of several floors elaborately decorated with delicate details, this mosque’s inspiring design is significantly different from the traditional design and has been controversial over the years. The domes and minarets exude a patterned Gothic resemblance to the domes, the stylish terraces and the main entrance of the mosque are unique to the mosque’s architecture.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
Address: Kale, Gözcü Sk. No:2, 06240 Ulus/Altındağ/Ankara, Turkey
The museum preserves hundreds of thousands of fascinating artifacts associated with the region’s past. Here, visitors will learn about every aspect of human history in Anatolia, from the Paleolithic Age to the recent arrival of the Greeks and Romans. Artifacts in the museum are spread throughout two buildings dating from the time when the Ottomans ruled.
You can admire fascinating historical artifacts that highlight the stories of Anatolia, the land located in the Asian part of Turkey.
Address: Doğanbey Mahallesi, Talatpaşa Blv No:38, 06050 Altındağ/Ankara, Turkey
Hours: Open 24 hours
Genclik Park is known as the green lung of the city. Here, there are many trees, lakes, outdoor theater, giant ferris wheel… around the traditional pottery shops, in the evening the lake area will perform impressive water music. Tourists often choose to come here to take a stroll and enjoy the lively street performances.
Address: Anafartalar, Çankırı Cd. No:43, 06050 Altındağ/Ankara, Turkey
Visiting the Roman-style baths that were built in the 3rd century will also bring you many unforgettable memories. They are divided into 3 types: hot baths, warm baths and cold baths. Although so far not as intact as before, the statues, patterns or history of this place are always told in a vivid and extremely interesting way.
Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- New Park Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Divan Ankara Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Cinnah (Agoda, Booking)
- CPAnkara Hotel (Booking)
- Hotel Ickale (Booking)
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Ankara (Agoda, Booking)
What to eat?
The capital Ankara is considered to have a rich, unique and attractive cuisine. Below are some dishes you should try when coming here.
Simat Donut: A favorite dish of Ankara people, the donut is round, topped with sesame, eaten with some cheese and enjoyed with a cup of tea.
Doner Kebab: This is a Turkish sandwich famous around the world. Grilled pieces of meat are seasoned with delicious spices, sandwiched with bread and some vegetables and two special sauces.
Pide bread (Turkish pizza): The bread is made with a thin layer of dough, topped with chicken, tuna, cheese and chopped vegetables. The cake looks very attractive when baked.
Tantuni: Super delicious snack in Ankara, it is made from minced meat, tomatoes, peppers, onions, rolled into thin tortilla bread.
Lahmacun: This dish is a type of Turkish pizza, served with parsley, some lemon juice, rolled up and enjoyed.
Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Corba): Traditional soup of the Ankara people as well as Turkey. The soup is fragrant, easy to eat and very nutritious. You can enjoy this dish at the hotel where you stay, or at the restaurants and bars in the city.
Kofte meatballs: Turkish-style meatballs are very soft and fatty, the people of Ankara create this dish with its own unique character. Kofte meatballs are often used as the main dish in the menus of restaurants.
Tips and things to know before you go
Ankara is the new capital of modern Turkey, although unlike the ancient capitals like Istanbul and Konya, this city still contains many “unspoken rules” that you should follow for your trip to be complete, safe and enjoyable.
Ankara summer is usually very hot so you should avoid coming here at this time. Spring, autumn or winter are all quite cool. In particular, tourists often choose to come here in the period from April to June because the weather and nature are very beautiful at this time. In addition, there are many attractive festivals, notably the brilliant tulip festival, which attracts many people to visit and take pictures.
When coming to local people’s homes or mosques you need to take off your shoes before stepping inside, or you can also put your shoes in a bag and carry them with you.
Clothing when going to mosques should also pay attention not to wear “lack of cloth, too short“ or overly flashy and extravagant costumes.
In Ankara, only certain places are allowed to sell and drink alcoholic beverages. Therefore, if you drink in public, you will be fined a huge amount. Drinking alcohol on the street is completely prohibited and violators can have to pay huge fines.
If you want to travel to Turkey cheaply, you can choose a means of transportation that is a bus, but at peak hours such as early morning or evening it will be very crowded, need to be aware of theft and safety issues. In addition, you can also take a taxi, but remember to avoid going after 10pm because the price of a taxi at this time increases a lot and can make you be burnt “pocket” with just a short ride.
Choosing public transport you should pay attention to theft when it is crowded, and if you take a taxi, you should ask the price in advance to avoid losing a lot of money. And also remember to pay the price when shopping at the traditional markets here, because that’s the culture in Turkey.
When you go to the markets and local shops, remember to bargain, this is a typical Turkish culture, if you don’t bargain, 99% you will be pay overpriced because sellers often increase the price by 2-4 times compared the original price.
When visiting the city, you should not openly criticize any local traditions or customs as this is extremely insulting because the indigenous people of Ankara are extremely proud and respectful of the traditions of their ancestors and they’re very sensitive to criticism so if you see something you don’t like, it’s best to keep it to yourself.
Tips for staff at restaurants, cafes, hotels is an act of showing the generosity and satisfaction of customers with the service of the staff, it is popular in many countries and territories around the world but not common in Ankara. If you really want to tip a waiter, you can leave 10% of your total bill or just leave a small reward, no more than 1 USD for the porter, hotel room cleaner, would be greatly appreciated. However, you absolutely should not tip the taxi driver, this behavior is not acceptable in this city.
The act of taking pictures of women, especially women wearing black headscarves, is completely prohibited here, if you take pictures of men, you also need to ask for his permission first.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Ankara and Istanbul you can refer to
- Ankara: Private Tour with a Local
- Ankara: Guided Walking Tour
- Ankara: Unlimited 4G Internet in Turkey with Pocket WiFi
- From Ankara: Private Cappadocia & Underground City Tour
- Ankara: Private Romantic Tour
- Goreme: Open Air Museum & Fairy Chimney Tours
- Istanbul Welcome Card
- Hagia Sophia Introduction Tour with Audio Guide
- Istanbul Classics Tour
- Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour
- Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, & Basilica Cistern Combo Tour in Istanbul
- Istanbul Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tours (Open-Top)
- Hop-on Hop-off Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise
- 4G SIM Card (MY Delivery) for Turkey from joytel2u
- Istanbul Museum Pass
- [Sale] Sea Life Aquarium Ticket in Istanbul
- Round Trip Ferry Tickets between Prince’s Islands and Istanbul
- Princes’ Island Full Day Tour from Istanbul
- Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise Tour
- Istanbul: Mevlevi Sema and the Whirling Dervishes Show
- Istanbul: Bosphorus Music and Dinner Cruise w/ Private Table
- Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App
- Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour
- Best of Istanbul in 1 Day
- Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Guided Tour and Skip The Line
- Istanbul: Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Luxurious Yacht
- Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
Are you looking for more top things to do in Istanbul: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And My trip to Istanbul — Explore the bridge city of Asia and Europe. And Turkey travel guide here.