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Welcome to Ankara!
The country’s capital city and its center of government, Ankara, Turkey, is so often seen as the dull, modern sibling to the exciting, historic, and cultural Istanbul. While it certainly can’t boast sights and landmarks on the same level, Ankara is far more than a drab, grey monument to bureaucracy, and has so much to offer the adventurous traveler. Full of exciting cuisine, fascinating culture, and historic attractions, Ankara should definitely be on any traveler’s Turkish itinerary.
Tourists know the well-known attractions, but a worldwide local knows how to experience it best. This is an insider’s guide of some of Ankara’s finest spots.
The Great Outdoors
One of the best things about Ankara is that it’s a green, nature-filled city, particularly in comparison to Istanbul. Walking out of the Ankara airport, you’ll see that long, tree-lined avenues are common, and the city is full of lush, verdant parks. One of the best places to start your visit is at the 69 acres of Genclik Park. With a ferris wheel, swimming pool, open-air theater, and an amusement park, there’s a whole day’s worth of entertainment to be had, enjoying the sunny Ankara weather.
Worldwide Local Tip: When night falls, the main swimming pool hosts a stunning light show. Grab some traditional Turkish ice cream from a local vendor and enjoy a spectacular atmospheric experience.
Eating in Ankara
Ankara’s food scene has boomed in the last few years, with two districts in particular that are of interest to connoisseurs: Gaziosmanpaşa and Kızılay. In Gaziosmanpaşa, you can find some of the most popular Ankara restaurants, which are increasingly seen as offering some of the best Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine around, with Trilye and Niki both worth a try. Kızılay is edgier, trendier, and full of sidewalk cafes frequented by a young, vibrant crowd, modeling the latest in Ankara fashion.
Worldwide Local Tip: Ankara also has some of the best spots to grab dessert in Turkey. Whether you’ve just dined at a fancy restaurant or filled your boots at a streetside kebab shop, head to Zeynel in Kavaklıdere to try authentic Turkish milk puddings like tavukgöğsü (with chicken!) or kazandibi.
Millennia of History
While it may not have quite the same rep as Istanbul, Ankara is still bursting with amazing historical sites and fascinating cultural attractions. Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk, the first president of Turkey, is fascinating and beautifully designed. Don’t be surprised if, while you’re in Ankara, time seems to have stood still at The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which has an outstanding collection of archaeology dating back to 1000 BC. However, the must-see landmark is Ankara Castle, perched high on a hill overlooking the city, and dating back to the empires of the Romans, Seljuks, and Ottomans.
Worldwide Local Tip: After exploring the castle, wander down the hill to Hamamönü for artisanal crafts, souvenir shopping, and a picturesque neighborhood of Ottoman-era wooden houses. Don’t miss the chance to pamper yourself at the historic Karacabey Hamam, for an amazing and authentic experience that is the true flavor of old Ankara.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Ankara is a young, modern, and vibrant city that still has enough historic sites and architectural wonders to satisfy any traveler. Walking the streets as a worldwide local will give you access to fantastic cuisine, beautiful sights, and some amazing and unique experiences.