Atatürk’s new capital                                          Population: 5.1 million

Old name: Ancyra

Time was when wags would joke that the best view of Ankara, the Turkish capital, was the one from the back of a bus leaving the AŞTİ bus terminal. These days far fewer people would be so negative about a fast-modernising city with a good choice of hotels, restaurants, cinemas and museums.

For a short-stay visitor Ankara remains demanding in the way that all big cities are, but once you’ve got to grips with the lay of the land and the public transport system you may find it growing on you pretty rapidly.

When the work currently underway to regenerate the Ulus/Hisar area is completed Old Ankara is likely to resemble a large history park, providing more than enough reason to stay here at least one night.

Must sees: Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Anıtkabir, Carpet Museum (Vakıf Eşerleri Müzesi), Hisar

For the time being the main reason for a tourist to come to Ankara is to visit the Anatolian Civilisations Museum that houses some of the best finds from Turkey’s most important archaeological sites including Çatal Höyük.

However, the city also retains some interesting Roman remains in the Ulus area as well as a collection of reconstructed Ottoman houses inside the old Hisar (castle) and in Hamamönü.

Decorated goat in grounds of museum recalls the Angora goats after whom the city was named

Since this was the site that Atatürk chose as the capital for the new Turkish Republic it’s not surprising that it also retains many important early government buildings as well as the iconic Anıtkabir where Atatürk was laid to rest.

Other museums worth visiting include the country’s finest Carpet Museum, as well as a decent Ethnography Museum, and Painting and Sculpture Gallery.

The town’s most conspicuous mosques are the vast modern Meleke Hatun and Kocatepe Cami. More interesting are the two “forest mosques” containing wooden columns just outside the Hisar, and the Alaadin Cami inside it with Roman masonry embedded in its walls. The 15th-century Karacabey Cami in the Hamamönü area is also surprisingly delightful.

Time on your hands: Ethnography Museum, Museum of Painting and Sculpture, Rahmi M Koç Industrial Museum, Hacı Bayram Cami  & Temple of Augustus, Roman Baths & Column of Julian, Atakule & Botanik Bahçesi (Botanic Gardens)

ANK4Even more than İstanbul, Ankara is a town buiit on hillsAreas of Ankara

Hisar and Samanpazarı






There are plenty of reasonably priced restaurants and a lively, studenty nightlife around Kızılay. For better-heeled dining options head for Kavaklıdere, Çankaya and Gaziosmanpaşa where the diplomatic set hang out. On a budget head straight for Ulus.


When deciding where to base yourself in Ankara it may come down to a toss up between budget and convenience. Most of the cheaper accommodation is gathered around the Ulus area, with the real cheapies around Opera Meydanı where you may feel that nothing much has changed since the 1990s.

Ulus is by far the most convenient base for sightseeing but unfortunately it is also awash with gazinos (drinking dens) and seedy nightlife venues, making it unsuitable for lone single women in particular. The good news is that the urban regeneration taking place is likely to smarten things up although so far any progress in that direction has been slow. There are so many hotels along Cankırı Caddesi and in and around Rüzgarlı Sokak that it’s unlikely you would arrive here and not be able to find a bed.

If budget is not the priority then Kavaklıdere and Cankaya are home to most of the better quality accommodation although if you stay in either place you’ll need to do more toing and froing for sightseeing.

Kızılay is a good option if you want a lively nightlife and a better choice of reasonably-priced restaurants although the hotels here can’t compete with Ulus on price. If you stay here you will probably need to use public transport for your sightseeing too whereas from Ulus almost everything is within easy walking distance.


Angora House Hotel

Ankara Hilton

Crowne Plaza Ankara

Divan Çukurhan

Gordion Hotel

Hotel Dedeman Ankara

Hotel Spor

Otel Melodi, Kızılay. Tel: 0312-417 6414

Radisson Blu Hotel

Sevda-Cenap And Müzik Vakfı Konuk Evi, Hisar. Tel: 0312-310 2304

Sheraton Hotel & Convention Centre


Travel info

See Ankara Public Transport System.

Day trip destinations



Read about the struggle for Ankara’s soul: THE STRUGGLE FOR ANKARA’S SOUL

Read about Roman Ankara: ROMAN ANKARA



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