The historic heart and capital of Turkey, Ankara is the ideal place to learn about the country’s rich past and discover the city that exists today. Not as well known as bigger brother Istanbul, Ankara has a more laid-back vibe and plenty to explore. It's cosmopolitan and cultured, with museums and an arts scene that includes regular festivals. It's home to the hilltop mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern-day Turkey, and there's a buzzing dining scene to try flavour-packed Turkish cuisine.
Experience a slice of the local lifestyle with a stay at a cosy Ankara hostel with a friendly team on-hand to help plan your stay. You can swing on the outdoor love seat while you map out your day, or lounge on comfy sofas and flick through the movie selection. Other options include a hostel with colourful walls decorated by local artists. Hostels in Ankara often have modern kitchens so you can cook a hearty brunch before watching the city lights twinkle from the rooftop terrace.
Kızılay is the bustling city centre, where you’ll find transport connections and plenty of fashion boutiques, as well as the urban public park Güvenpark. Çıkrıçılar Yokuşu is a more traditional shopping street, with traders selling handwoven carpets, leather goods and spices, while neighbouring Bakırcılar Çarşısı is renowned for its copper goods. Wander up the cobbled streets for some of the best views of the city, passing through Hamamönü to see a restored Ottoman neighbourhood filled with white-painted houses.
Ankara Citadel (Hisar) is one of the city’s oldest sites; its inner walls date back to the 7th century. With winding streets lined with restored wood-beamed houses now serving as restaurants, it resembles a traditional Anatolian village. The imposing Anıtkabir is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first President of the Turkish Republic, whose tomb is surrounded by museums and a ceremonial courtyard. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations provides an introduction to Turkey’s past, exhibiting ancient jewellery, works of art and earthenware artefacts from across the ages.
The city has an underground train system, Ankara Metrosu, with four lines connecting 42 stations across the city. It also has a good bus and minibus (dolmuş) network, including an airport bus that links Esenboğa Airport with the main bus station AŞTİ otogar in 45 minutes. High-speed trains can reach İstanbul Pendik in just under 4 hours, as well as taking you to other destinations like Eskişehir and Konya.