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Çanakkale, Dardanelles, Turkey

Last Updated on February 5, 2024

Located on the southern shore at the narrowest point in the Dardanelles Strait (Hellespont, Çanakkale Boğazı; map), Çanakkale province is situated in the Biga Peninsula, also known as Troad or Troas, and has been home to many civilizations. Greeks, Hittites, the Byzantine Empire (Byzantine), the Romans, and the Ottoman Empire (Ottomans) all have habituated Çanakkale. Moreover, the Canakkale and Dardanelles Strait between the Aegean Sea (Ege Denizi) and Marmara and Black Seas have been major strong points in defense of the Dardanelles from the time of the Trojans through the First World War. It is even said that Alexander the Great passed through the Dardanelles Strait to invade the land across.

Today, in modern Turkey, Canakkale is a beautiful city with adequate hotels to serve travelers who want to experience the ancient history of the city and cross the Dardanelles via the Dardanelles car ferries. Canakkale is also the best base for visiting the Gallipoli battlefields and the ruin and archaeological site of the ancient city of Troy.

You can visit Canakkale and either Gallipoli or Troy on a whirlwind day trip from Istanbul, but to see them both—or to tour either one in a less-rushed fashion—we recommend a more comfortable overnight excursion by car or bus. If you have the time, a multi-day excursion by car is the optimal way to see these sights.

Top Sights

Popular attractions to visit in Çanakkale itself include the Trojan Horse (sadly not the original wooden horse, but at least the prop used in the 2004 Trojan movie, starring Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt), cobblestone streets with traditional Ottoman-style houses, the sturdy Çimenlik Fortress, with its Military Museum and Naval Museum, and the Çanakkale Archeology Museum. Across the Dardanelles are the Gallipoli battlefields of World War I, which take a full day or more to visit thoroughly.

South of Çanakkale are the storied ruins of the ancient Troy site, where the Trojan War took place. Here, you can see the ancient remains of the city walls. Further south along the Aegean coast are the archaeological sites of Alexandria Troas, the Apollo Smintheon, and ancient Assos. Inland from Troy, legendary Mount Ida (Kazdağı) raises its forested slopes, sheltering a few mountain lodges for a getaway from the bustle of town life.

From Geyikli Ferryboat Port (Geyikli Feribot İskelesi),  you can take a ferryboat to the island of Bozcaada to enjoy its small pensions and boutique hotels, open-air restaurants serving local wines, and its quiet, laid-back lifestyle.

Lodging

Çanakkale has an adequate supply of adequately comfortable hotels except on and around ANZAC Day(April 25th), when the World War I Gallipoli campaign is commemorated.


Cuisine

Canakkale is a good place to eat fish and all kinds of seafood. You can also find other types of traditional Turkish cuisine in Canakkale. Moreover, local specialty meals such as Çanakkale Bombası (a delicious type of halva cake made by combining tahini and chocolate sauce) and Çanakkale Peynir Helvası (a local dessert of Çanakkale, consumed hot and made by combining cheese and halva) are among the popular choices for visitors.


Transportation

You can easily come to Çanakkale by car, bus, or perhaps even by plane. Getting to and around Çanakkale is easy and convenient, with several transportation options and regular ferries in the region available at all times.

For those who prefer planes, Çanakkale has an airport, which you can reach via airway from Ankara and Istanbul. Ferryboats are a popular choice, with car and passenger ferries crossing the Dardanelles on three different routes, two of which serve Çanakkale. Bus travel is also a viable option, with numerous companies operating on the route between Çanakkale and most major cities in Turkey.

If you prefer to travel by car, the fastest and most direct route from Istanbul to the Gallipoli peninsula is via the highway to get to the town of Gelibolu. In Gelibolu, you can take one of the regular Dardanelles car ferries to Anatolia and Çanakkale. Alternatively, you can also use the new bridge (1915 Çanakkale Bridge) near Gelibolu to reach the Asian side, thus Çanakkale town.

Tours & Excursions

The Gallipoli Peninsula, Dardanelles Strait, and Çanakkale province hold an important place in the history of Turkey as one of the most important defense lines of the country in the First World War.

If you'd like someone to make all the transport, lodging, and sightseeing arrangements for you, there are many different tours available, from whirlwind one-day excursions from Istanbul to 6-day self-drive Istanbul-to-Ephesus trips.

In Canakkale, you can take guided Gallipoli tours, where you will visit significant battle sites such as the ANZAC Cove and other major points and listen to stories from both sides of the war.

You can also take tours of ancient Troy and explore the site while listening to stories from ancient times, the Trojan War, and the earliest settlements told by your tour guide.

It is also possible to take a day trip to the nearby small town of Eceabat, located on the European side of the Dardanelles Strait, and explore ancient castles such as the Çamburnu Castle, Sestos Castle, Bigalı Fortress, and Kilitbahir Castle.

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