Country: Turkey
Currency: Lira (TRY)
Peak Season: July-September
Shoulder Season: April-May, September-October
Median Temperature: 11.80 C / 53.24 F
Main Languages: Turkish, Arabic, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, underground metro, dolmus, suburban train, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 2 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $150.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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The Turkish capital—Ankara—is bursting with historical significance at every turn. Having been helmed by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman regimes among many others, it has enjoyed shifts in architecture, dining, religion and tradition, making it a very colorful, tolerant city with plenty to offer inquisitive minds. Ankara is always plotted on history buffs' maps, primarily for the myriad of remnants from former Anatolian civilizations, numerous era museums, and the beautiful landscapes that blanket the outskirts. Within the city limits, you'll find a bustling metropolis glistening with bazaars of Turkish fabrics, delicacies, and forged tools. Ankara makes for a perfect escape from the usual, and its numerous modes of transport easily take tourists from similarly wonderful destinations like Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara.

The capital of Turkey—Ankara—may not fare better than Istanbul is terms of cosmopolitanism and fun, but its lacking of a sea, nor its toned down pleasantries, aren’t enough to stop any tourist from enjoying the historicity the city beholds, all the way from the viewing the remains of the Roman empire to feeding your cultural appetite with a myriad of Anatolian artifacts inside its many museums. Ankara also boasts being a livable city due to the excellence of its financial, health and education sector. The sweltering daytime heat is cured by cooler nights brought about by the city’s high elevation, enough to get you entangled in the nightlife scene. And, as most tourists, Ankara is only part of your many itineraries in the country, so absorb as much history as possible.

The city vibrantly its embrace of western culture, evident in the way people dress, talk, and shop—and let’s not forget the skyscrapers that dot the skyline. Mass-manufactured goods have become a mainstay, subtly overpowering the appeal of local tapestry. However, this should not deter you from checking out its rich selection of handicraft and spices. Afternoon traffic jams are common sight due to the population density. If you’re used to the clamor of the big city in the west, there’s no trouble getting by Turkey’s take on the urban jungle.

Packing List

  • Essential medication and toiletries, a handkerchief (lots of smokers here) and a street map/GPS device to get by easily; pack bottled water because the tap water has high mineral content
  • Towels and slippers for hamams (Turkish baths); soap, towels and shampoos are likely given out for free by the staff, but some bath companies charge a high price for these, so it’s better to bring your own
  • Smart, seasonal attire—jeans, jackets, polo shirts, dress shirts will blend you right in; remember that winters engulf the city in snow, while summers are intensely hot and humid
  • Credit cards, since these are honored almost everywhere and ATM machines are easy to locate; items can be bought from local markets (pazars) and shopping malls
  • A guidebook and schedule of essential museums/sites to visit; given that most tourists stay in Ankara only for a day or two, an immediate idea of what museums suit cultural appetite is advised

Things to Do

  • Visiting the serene grounds of Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ismet Inonu, the second President of Turkey, arguably credited for “westernizing” and pushing forth “democratic” standards in Turkey
  • Entering the Museum of The War of Independence to view paraphernalia and relics of the early 20th century Turkish War of Independence that made Ankara the capital of the Republic of Turkey
  • Visiting the Ethnography Museum of Ankara that houses the remains of the first President of Turkey and commemorates all the civilizations that conquered and steered Turkey to the divergence we see today
  • Perusing the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations for its displays of intriguing archeological artifacts spanning from the Paleolithic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine to the now-present landscape
  • Viewing the desolate remains of the Roman Baths, Temple of Augustus and Rome, as well as the lowly Julian Column, showing traces of how far the Roman Empire has spread across Europe

DON'T

  • Defer your museum visits to late in the afternoon, do them in the morning to avoid traffic jams and busy sidewalks; visiting the city during Ramadan (July-August) spells closed establishments
  • Forget that both Ankara and Istanbul both have a relatively high number of theft-related crimes; blend in with the crowd, distance yourself from dubious people and avoid late night excursions
  • Expect everyone to festive as they look in the postcards; Ankara is quite a serious town, given its role in the economic sector; people are usually busybodies and don’t have time for petty talk
  • Forget that Ankara is a hotbed for couture, so try to scour for some good, colorful dresses (that are inexpensive, by the way); remember to have currency exchanged here instead in your country
  • Be ignorant of mosque etiquette: take off shoes before entering the mosque; no walking directly in front of those praying; no boisterous laughter, noise and expletive language