Ankara, Turkey’s Capital City

Last Updated on August 19, 2023

Ankara, Turkey's capital city, is important to diplomats, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and the military, and has a lot of significant sights for visitors.

The city now sprawls through valleys and across hills in every direction, but on your visit, you need only be concerned with a few specific areas, such as Ulus, Çankaya, Kızılay, Altındağ.

Ankara's several interesting sights such as the citadel, Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Anıtkabir (Atatürk's Mausoleum), and Roman ruins, can fully occupy you for a day.

This city is full of surprises. During your visit, you will be fascinated by the surrounding history, art, archeology, music, nature, and much more.

Top Sights

Ankara, Turkey's capital and second most populous city has many places to see. Of course, Anıtkabir is one of the most important places to visit. Anıtkabir is a magnificent building where the monument of Gazi Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Turkish Republic, is located. It also includes a museum.

Ankara Castle (Ankara Kalesi) is located at the top of the city, you can watch the whole of Ankara when you go up to the castle. In addition to the breathtaking scenery, walking around the castle is also very enjoyable. There are cafes, art galleries, and souvenir shops in the castle.


You will probably have to spend most of your time in Ankara visiting museums. Whatever you are interested in, you can find a museum or art gallery about it in Ankara.

Anatolian Civilizations Museum (Anadolu Medeniyetler Müzesi) is one of Turkey's most important museums because it contains valuable archaeological artifacts. Some other important museums are the Museum of the War of Independence (The First Assembly of The Republic of Turkey), the Ankara Republic Museum (The Second Assembly of The Republic of Turkey), the Erimtan Archeology and Art Museum, and the Rahmi M. Koç Museum. These two museums are very close to the Anatolian Civilizations Museum and the Ankara Ethnography Museum and are located in Altındağ, just at the entrance of Ankara Castle. There are other museums in the vicinity, such as the Word Museum.


Ankara's parks are also quite famous. First of all, it is possible to mention parks such as Gençlik Parkı (Youth Park), Millet Bahçesi (Nation Park), Kuğulu Park (Swan Park), Botanical Garden, Seğmenler Park.


As for the mosques, you can see the famous Hacı Bayram Veli Mosque and the Kocatepe Mosque. Hacı Bayram Mosque is a historical mosque located in the Ulus district of Ankara and is adjacent to the Temple of Augustus. Kocatepe Mosque, on the other hand, is the largest mosque in Ankara, built between 1967-1987. You can be sure that it will fascinate you with its architecture and splendor.


Ankara is the third largest city in Turkey in terms of surface area.

Centrally located, the city is a transportation nexus for all of Turkey's bus, train, plane, and highway routes.

You don't have to worry about visiting tourist locations, because you can get anywhere by metro, bus or taxi. If you adjust your trip according to the proximity of the places you want to see, you can easily travel on foot. You can provide transportation in Ankara by using the metro, which has 4 different lines (Kızılay-Batıkent (M1), Kızılay-Çayyolu (M2), Batıkent-Sincan/Törekent (M3), Keçiören-Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (M4)), or Ankaray. At the same time, you can choose the buses that go to all parts of Ankara. Taxi drivers in Ankara are very helpful and taxis are not very expensive. You can also travel comfortably by taxi.


As Ankara is the capital of Turkey, it is home to people from many cultures. That's why you can experience different dishes here, as well as eat local Ankara dishes. Among them, are Ankara Tava, which is a meat dish cooked with patience and effort, Bici Aşı, which is a combination of vine leaves and bulgur, Ankara Yaprak Döner, Çalma Aşı, Beypazarı Güveci, Uruş Kapama which is to prepare on special occasions such as weddings and holidays, and more delicious local dishes you can eat in Ankara.


You can choose your accommodation in Kızılay, Ulus, Çankaya, Hamamönü, Kızılcahamam, Beypazarı districts or near Ankara Garı or AŞTİ.

Some of the best hotels to make your stay in Ankara more comfortable are Crowne Plaza, Mimi Hotel, Divan Hotel, Radisson Blu, Ankara HiltonSA, CPAnkara Hotel, Occidental Ankara, and Divan Çukurhan.

For further information, read more about Ankara Hotels.


One of the activities you should do in Ankara is to visit the famous Kızılay Square (Kızılay Meydanı). Located in the center of Ankara, Kızılay Square has many shops, restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues, cinemas, art and culture centers, and much more. The liveliest street in this square, which is very crowded at all hours of the day, is Sakarya Street (Sakarya Caddesi). If you want to taste Ankara's famous doner kebab, you can stop by Karanfil Sokak. Even if you go to the square in the morning, you can have a Turkish breakfast at the breakfast shops on Konur Sokak. When you get tired in the square, you can go to Güvenpark. This park is the first park in the history of the republic.

Tunalı Hilmi Street

Tunalı Street (Tunalı Caddesi) is one of the liveliest spots in the city with many shops, restaurants, and bars. In the evenings, you can have fun or go shopping by attending live music or concerts here. Don't forget to stop by Kuğulu Park because there are black swans here as gifts from China, and you can come across a wide variety of birds and flowers. You can take the famous simit of Ankara and enjoy this park.

Beypazarı Houses

You should definitely see Beypazarı Houses (Beypazarı Evleri), one of the most beautiful examples of Anatolian architecture. These wooden houses from the Ottoman period reflect the urban fabric and traditional way of life tremendously.


Samanpazarı is one of the first places that comes to mind when Ankara is mentioned because it is one of the oldest settlements in Ankara. Located under Ankara Castle, this region attracts a lot of tourist interest today. There are art galleries, museums, and jewelers, as well as shops selling spices, legumes, quilts, and rosaries, as well as antique shops, wicker makers, glass makers, and basket makers. You will not want to return from Samanpazarı without buying local Turkish products as a gift.

Atatürk Orman Çiftliği

Atatürk Forest Farm was established in 1925 by the order of Atatürk and is a very important farm that pioneered agriculture. Here you can visit the zoo, have a picnic, and eat kokoreç in the shop inside.

Tours & Excursions

Ankara's several interesting sights such as the citadel, Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Anıtkabir (Atatürk Mausoleum), and Roman ruins, can fully occupy you for a day.

If you don't want to bother finding your way around, consider joining a half-day city tour.

Ankara can also be your base, or starting point, for visits to other points of interest in Central Anatolia. Excursions run from Ankara east to the Hittite capital of Boğazkale (Hattuşa-Yazılıkaya) and the historic town of Amasya, north to the fine historic town of Safranbolu, and south to Cappadocia (maps).


Beypazarı, located 98 kilometers west of the city center, is an old settlement and a destination that may attract your attention with its cultural richness and historical houses. The most famous aspect of Beypazarı is its two or three-story white historical mansions. Also, many handcrafted products are sold here. You can reach Beypazarı by bus services departing from the city center or AŞTİ bus terminal.


One of the cities close to Ankara is Konya. You can reach Konya by high-speed train from Ankara Train Station. Konya is the largest city in Turkey in terms of surface area. The importance of this city is that it was the capital of the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires in history. One of the first things that come to mind when Konya is mentioned is the Mevlana Tomb (Mevlânâ Celâleddîn-i Rûmî is a Persian mystic, theologian, and Sufi mystical poet who lived in Anatolia in the 13th century.), while the other is Çatalhöyük (this is one of the first settlements belonging to the Neolithic period. Founded 9 thousand years ago, Çatalhöyük in the Çumra district is a world-famous ancient city that allows us to access information about the first settlement, the first house architecture, and the first sacred structures.), is one of the most beautiful and important ancient cities in Turkey.


One of the most curious places in the world and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Turkey is Cappadocia (Kapadokya), which is a four-hour drive from Ankara. If you want to go by plane, you can go to Tuzköy Airport, which is 30 km from the center of Nevşehir, from Ankara Esenboğa Airport. Kayseri Airport, which is 100 km away from the center of Nevşehir, is a place frequently preferred by tourists who want to go to Cappadocia. You can find out if there is an airport transfer from your hotel. Finally, you can take the train from Ankara to Kayseri and reach Cappadocia from Kayseri Center. Cappadocia is famous for its fairy chimneys, formed by lava and ashes eroded by rain and wind over the years. When you go to Cappadocia, you should get up early in the morning and take a hot air balloon.


Eskişehir is 1.5 hours away from Ankara by train, and Odunpazarı, in particular, will enchant you with its historical houses and delicious çibörek. There are many museums you can visit in the old city. You can take a pleasant walk in the Porsuk Çayı and enjoy this city, which is nicknamed the Venice of Turkey.

Historical Background

Before the Turkish War of Independence brought Atatürk and his generals to Ankara as a wartime command post, this Central Anatolian town 454 km (282 miles) southeast of Istanbul (map) was a small town with a Roman citadel on a high hill and a brisk trade in soft Angora goat hair and the garments made from it.

After Atatürk proclaimed Ankara to be the capital of the new Turkish Republic, it began to grow. After WWII, a constant influx of villagers from the countryside in search of a better life brought Ankara explosive growth.

Today this city at an altitude of 848 meters (2782 feet) is a sprawling metropolis of five million people, many of them employed in government ministries and embassies, universities and schools, hospitals and medical centers, the military, and some in light industry on the outskirts.

-by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Melike Kocaer

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