Ankara Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know about the Capital of Turkey
General Information of Ankara
Ankara is one of the most important cities in the Middle East. Also known as Ancará or Angora, it is the capital of Turkey (Republic of Turkey) and the economic center of the country. It has more than 5 million inhabitants, which makes it the second most populous metropolis in the region after Istanbul.
Throughout history, various civilizations have been part of Ankara, such as the Greeks, Hittites, Byzantines, Arabs, and Persians.
In fact, it is said that the name of the city comes from the Celtic denomination Ancira (anchor), one of the oldest words in this language.
Location of Ankara
Ankara is located in the center of the Anatolian Peninsula, which is bordered to the north by the Black Sea, to the northwest by the Sea of Marmara, and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. The Bosporus Strait and the Dardanelles separate this peninsula from the European continent.
Due to its geographical position, Anatolia has served as a connection between the peoples of the West and the East. This was reflected in the passage that Ankara suggested, which in the 20th century made it the political center of the area.
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How to Get to Ankara?
There are multiple paths when traveling to Ankara. Next, we mention the main ones for you to take into account when putting together your itinerary to visit the Turkish capital.
On the one hand, you can get to Ankara by plane. The city has Ankara Airport, 28 km from the center, which has mostly domestic flights and a few international ones, especially to Europe. In general, travelers will need to transfer to Istanbul.
To go from the airport to the center, we recommend taking a private transfer or the Belko Airbuses, an airport transportation system. You can also choose to take a taxi, which costs around 70 Turkish liras to the capital.
On the other hand, you can travel to Ankara by train, as Turkey has a splendid high-speed rail network that connects the country's capital with other metropolises such as Konya and Istanbul in less than two hours.
If you want to save some money, you can take a bus between these cities. The ticket costs about 35 Turkish liras and the travel time is about 5 hours.
Top Attractions of Ankara
The capital of Turkey has multiple sites that you can visit in a matter of days. Among them, the mosques and museums stand out. Below, we mention some of the most important buildings in Ankara.
Visit the Museums of Ankara
Among the museums in the city, we recommend you take into account the State Museum of Art and Sculpture, the Museum of the War of Independence, and the Ethnographic Museum of Ankara.
Another site of great interest is the Museum of Anitkabir, where the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president and founder of the current Republic of Turkey, is located.
Meet the Main Mosques
Turkey has a large population devoted to the Islamic religion, so it should not be strange to see a large number of mosques in Ankara. Among them, we highlight the Kocatepe Mosque and the Haci Bayram Mosque. Both have great historical and cultural relevance for the country.
Get to Know Ankara Castle
Also known as Ankara Kalesi, it is one of the most important monuments in the city, dating back to the 7th century. It functioned as a fortress and political center during ancient times.
It is located on a hill in the Ulus Bentderesi district, within the old town of Ankara. From there you will have a very beautiful panoramic view of the capital.
If you want to know it, you should know that its doors are constantly open and it is not necessary to buy tickets to enter (it is free).
Its visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, while on weekends it is from 08:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Visit Lake Eymir
This is an alternative for nature lovers. The lake is located on the outskirts of Ankara, about 20 km. It stands out for its silence and for offering visitors the opportunity to get some fresh air outside the metropolis. There you can rent bicycles or go hiking.
See the Tower of Atakule
It is a communication and observation tower that can be seen from most points in Ankara, due to its large size and location on a hill.
Undoubtedly, Ankara is a city that has a lot to offer. Don't stop visiting it!
How to Get Around in Ankara?
The city of Ankara has all kinds of transport, including taxis, metro, railway, and bus. The latter have public and private services, so it will be easy for you to get on them. In the case of the metro, the city has three lines and its announcements are available in Turkish and English.
You must bear in mind that a large part of these services can be paid for both with transport cards, which you can buy at any ticket office, and in cash.
If you want to get around the city quickly and comfortably, you can choose to rent a car. If you want to ride at your own pace, we recommend renting a bike.
Where to Buy in Ankara?
In the historic center of the city or in the modern part, it is possible to find places where you can buy all kinds of products, such as antiques, rugs, suits, and spices, among other items.
Shopping in Ankara can be a very entertaining walk and a great way to get to know the city.
Ulus is one of the most traditional regions for this, which is made up of narrow streets and multiple shops selling traditional items.
Similarly, in Kizilay, most of the business is concentrated. This area is modern and urban. We recommend you visit Ataturk Bulvani Street, where you will find shops of all kinds, cafes, and galleries.
If what you are looking for is to go shopping in Ankara, you must visit the Anka Mall, Armada, or Mesa Plaza. Around it, you will see restaurants and bars so you can have a drink after your purchases. You have options of all kinds and tastes to choose from!
Is It Safe to Travel to Ankara?
Yes! In general, the risk of robbery in the city is usually very low and tourists find it easy to walk from one place to another, even at night.
In any case, we recommend that you be careful with your belongings in crowded public spaces, as this is where the highest number of pickpocket crimes are recorded.
If you want to know the main cities of Turkey in a safe way, you can take into account our excursions to Turkey, which make tours of the most important attractions of the country.