Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Ankara, Turkey

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Excited to Explore: List of Things to Do in Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis that offers visitors a wide range of activities to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history, sampling local cuisine, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of this fascinating city, there’s something for everyone in Ankara. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top things to do in Ankara, so you can make the most of your visit.

Historical Overview Ankara has a rich and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. From the ancient Hittite empire to the modern-day Republic of Turkey, the city has seen its fair share of triumphs and tragedies. Visitors can explore this rich history by visiting some of the city’s many museums and historical sites, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the Ankara Castle, and the Ataturk Mausoleum.

Key Takeaways

  • Ankara offers visitors a wide range of activities to enjoy, from exploring the city’s rich history to sampling local cuisine.
  • The city has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years, and visitors can explore this history by visiting museums and historical sites.
  • Some of the top things to do in Ankara include visiting the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, exploring the Ankara Castle, and paying a visit to the Ataturk Mausoleum.

Historical Overview

Ankara has a rich history that spans over thousands of years. From the Neolithic era to the present day, this city has witnessed numerous civilizations, empires, and dynasties. In this section, you will learn about the major historical eras of Ankara, including the Neolithic to Byzantine era, Ottoman era, and Republic era.

Neolithic to Byzantine Era

The history of Ankara dates back to the Neolithic era, around 5000 BCE. The Hittites, one of the most powerful empires of the ancient world, ruled the city from 1400 to 1200 BCE. After the Hittites, the city was ruled by the Phrygians, Persians, and Romans. During the Byzantine era, Ankara was an important religious center and a hub for trade and commerce.

Ottoman Era

The Ottoman Empire ruled Ankara from the early 14th century until the end of World War I. During this period, Ankara was a major center for agriculture, trade, and craftsmanship. It was also an important military base and a center of Islamic culture and learning.

Republic Era

Ankara became the capital of the newly founded Republic of Turkey in 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, initiated a series of reforms that transformed the country from an Islamic empire to a secular republic. Ankara played a crucial role in this transformation, serving as the center of government and the site of many important institutions.

Today, Ankara is a vibrant city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. Whether you are interested in exploring the ancient ruins of the Hittites or learning about the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Ankara has something to offer for everyone.

Architectural Marvels

Ankara is home to some of the most breathtaking architectural marvels in Turkey. From towering mosques to ancient castles, the city has something to offer for every architecture enthusiast. Here are some of the must-visit architectural wonders in Ankara:

Ankara Castle

Ankara Castle, also known as Ankara Kalesi, is a historic castle that dates back to the Roman era. The castle is located on a hill overlooking the city and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The castle has been through several renovations throughout history, and the current structure is a mix of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture. The castle is now used as a museum and is a popular tourist attraction in Ankara.

Haci Bayram Mosque

Haci Bayram Mosque is a stunning mosque located in the Ulus district of Ankara. The mosque is known for its intricate architecture and beautiful interior design. The mosque was built in the 15th century and is named after the founder of the Bayrami Sufi order, Haci Bayram Veli. The mosque is open to visitors, and it is recommended to dress modestly when visiting.

Atakule Tower

Atakule Tower is a modern architectural wonder that offers stunning views of Ankara. The tower is 125 meters tall and has an observation deck that offers panoramic views of the city. The tower also has a revolving restaurant that serves delicious Turkish cuisine. Atakule Tower is a must-visit attraction in Ankara and is perfect for a romantic evening or a family outing.

Kocatepe Mosque

Kocatepe Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Turkey and is located in the Kocatepe district of Ankara. The mosque is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful interior design. The mosque was built in the 1980s and is a mix of Ottoman and modern architecture. The mosque can accommodate up to 24,000 worshippers and is a popular tourist attraction in Ankara.

Ankara is a city that is rich in history and culture, and its architectural wonders are a testament to its past and present. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast or simply looking for a unique experience, Ankara has something to offer for everyone.

Museums and Art Galleries

Ankara is home to a variety of museums and art galleries that showcase the rich culture and history of Turkey. Here are some of the must-visit museums and art galleries in Ankara:

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a world-renowned museum that houses artifacts from the Paleolithic era to the Ottoman period. The museum is located in the historic Ankara Castle and features exhibits on the Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, and other ancient civilizations that once inhabited Anatolia. The museum also has a section dedicated to the famous Catalhoyuk settlement, which is considered one of the oldest human settlements in the world.


CerModern is a contemporary art museum that showcases the works of Turkish and international artists. The museum is housed in a former train station and features a variety of exhibitions, workshops, and events throughout the year. CerModern also has a cafe and a gift shop where you can purchase unique souvenirs.

State Art and Sculpture Museum

The State Art and Sculpture Museum is a must-visit for art lovers. The museum features a vast collection of Turkish art from the Ottoman period to the present day. The museum also has a sculpture garden that showcases works by prominent Turkish sculptors such as Arif Hikmet Koyunoglu.

Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum

The Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum is a unique museum that showcases the history of transportation, industry, and communication in Turkey. The museum is housed in a restored caravanserai and features exhibits on everything from steam engines to telegraphs. The museum also has a cafe and a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs related to transportation and industry.

Erimtan Museum

The Erimtan Museum is a private museum that showcases the history and culture of Ankara and its surroundings. The museum is housed in a restored Ottoman mansion and features exhibits on everything from traditional Turkish handicrafts to contemporary art. The museum also has a cafe and a gift shop where you can purchase unique souvenirs.

Whether you are interested in ancient civilizations, contemporary art, or Turkish history and culture, Ankara has a museum or art gallery that will pique your interest. Don’t miss the chance to explore these fascinating institutions during your visit to Ankara.

Memorials and Mausoleums

If you’re interested in history, Ankara has plenty of memorials and mausoleums to explore. Here are two of the most notable ones:


Anıtkabir is a mausoleum that houses the remains of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. It’s an impressive structure that was built between 1944 and 1953. The mausoleum is located on a hill overlooking the city and is surrounded by a large park.

Inside the mausoleum, you can see Atatürk’s tomb, as well as an exhibition hall that displays his personal belongings and photographs. The hall also features a display of the gifts that were presented to Atatürk by foreign leaders during his lifetime.

Temple of Augustus

The Temple of Augustus is a well-preserved Roman temple that was built during the reign of Augustus in the 1st century BC. The temple was dedicated to the emperor and the goddess Roma.

The temple is located in the Ulus district of Ankara and is one of the city’s most important historical sites. It’s a great place to learn about the Roman period in Ankara’s history.

Inside the temple, you can see the remains of the original structure, including the walls and columns. There’s also a small museum that displays artifacts from the Roman period.

Whether you’re interested in the history of Turkey or just want to see some impressive architecture, the memorials and mausoleums in Ankara are definitely worth checking out.

Outdoor Activities

Ankara is a city that offers a wide range of outdoor activities for you to enjoy. Whether you prefer to explore nature or engage in sports, there is something for everyone. Here are two popular outdoor destinations in Ankara that you don’t want to miss:

Gençlik Park

Gençlik Park, also known as Youth Park, is a must-visit attraction in Ankara. This park is located in the heart of the city and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The park features a beautiful lake, walking paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds for children. You can rent a bicycle or a paddle boat to explore the park and enjoy the stunning views. In the summer, the park hosts concerts and festivals, making it a lively and vibrant place to be.

Eymir Lake

Eymir Lake is a picturesque lake located on the outskirts of Ankara. It is a perfect destination for those who love nature and outdoor activities. You can go fishing, hiking, or have a picnic by the lake. The lake is also a popular spot for water sports such as kayaking and windsurfing. There are several cafes and restaurants around the lake where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning views.

Both Gençlik Park and Eymir Lake are great places to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some fresh air. They offer a variety of activities for people of all ages and interests. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful scenery and memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.

Local Cuisine

When it comes to food, Ankara has a lot to offer. You can find a range of dishes, from traditional Turkish cuisine to international flavors. Here are some must-try dishes when you’re in Ankara:


Kebabs are an essential part of Turkish cuisine, and Ankara is no exception. You’ll find a variety of kebabs in the city, from Adana kebab to Iskender kebab. One of the most popular places to try kebab in Ankara is Düveroğlu Kebap Salonu. Their Adana kebab is a must-try.


Lahmacun is often called Turkish pizza, but it’s much more than that. This crispy, thin dough is topped with a mixture of ground meat, onions, and spices. You can find Lahmacun at most bakeries and street food stalls in Ankara.


Pide is a Turkish flatbread that’s similar to pizza. It’s topped with a variety of ingredients, such as cheese, meat, and vegetables. One of the best places to try Pide in Ankara is Pidecim Bufe. They have a wide variety of toppings to choose from.


Meze is a selection of small dishes that are served as appetizers. They’re perfect for sharing with friends and family. You can find a variety of meze in Ankara, such as hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and eggplant salad. One of the best places to try meze in Ankara is Köşebaşı.


No meal is complete without dessert, and Ankara has some delicious options. Try the kazandibi, a thick pudding with a slightly burned caramelized top, at Hacı Dayı. Another popular dessert is baklava, a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and honey syrup. You can find some of the best baklava in Ankara at Güllüoğlu.

Ankara’s local cuisine is a reflection of its rich history and diverse culture. Be sure to try some of these dishes to get a taste of what the city has to offer.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Ankara is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts to take back home. With a variety of options ranging from traditional handicrafts to modern fashion, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste and budget.

One of the best places to buy souvenirs in Ankara is the Samanpazari district. Here, you’ll find a bustling market with vendors selling everything from handmade textiles to copper goods. You can also find traditional Turkish sweets and spices, as well as ceramics and pottery.

If you’re looking for a more upscale shopping experience, head to one of Ankara’s many shopping malls. Kentpark, Cepa, AnkaMall, and Panora are popular destinations where you can find international brands, as well as local designers.

For a unique shopping experience, visit Ankara’s antique shops. Here, you can find rare and valuable items such as Ottoman-era furniture, antique jewelry, and vintage clothing. Be sure to bargain with the shopkeepers to get the best price!

When it comes to souvenirs, there are plenty of options to choose from. Some popular items include Turkish carpets, Turkish delight, and traditional Turkish tea sets. You can also find handmade jewelry, leather goods, and Turkish towels.

Overall, shopping in Ankara is a fun and exciting experience that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re looking for traditional souvenirs or modern fashion, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. So, don’t forget to set aside some time for shopping during your trip to Ankara!

Performing Arts

Ankara is the center of performing arts in the Anatolia Region. If you’re a fan of music, ballet, and theater, you’ll be pleased with the range of options available to you. Here are two of the most prominent institutions you should check out:

Ankara State Opera

The Ankara State Opera is one of the most prestigious institutions in Turkey. It was founded in 1948 and has been a hub of cultural activity ever since. The opera house has a seating capacity of 1,200 and hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year. You can catch everything from classical operas and ballets to contemporary plays and musicals. The Ankara State Opera is renowned for its world-class productions and talented performers. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, you simply cannot miss a show at this iconic venue.

Presidential Symphony Orchestra

The Presidential Symphony Orchestra is another institution that you should definitely check out. Founded in 1930, it is one of the oldest orchestras in Turkey and has a long and storied history. The orchestra performs a wide variety of music, ranging from classical to contemporary, and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry. The orchestra is made up of over 100 talented musicians, and their performances are always a treat for the ears. If you’re a fan of music, be sure to check out a performance by the Presidential Symphony Orchestra.

Whether you’re a fan of opera, ballet, or music, Ankara has plenty to offer. The Ankara State Opera and Presidential Symphony Orchestra are just two of the many institutions that make Ankara a hub of cultural activity. So why not immerse yourself in the world of performing arts and experience the magic of live performance?

Travel and Accommodation

You’re planning a trip to Ankara, Turkey, and you’re excited to explore all the city has to offer. When it comes to travel, the easiest way to get to Ankara is by flying into Esenboga Airport, which is located about 28 km northeast of the city center. From there, you can take a taxi or use public transportation to get to your hotel or other accommodations.

Ankara has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, metro, and light rail. Buses are the most common form of transportation and are relatively inexpensive. You can purchase a bus card at any kiosk or station and load it with money to use on the buses. The metro and light rail systems are newer and more modern, but they have a more limited route.

When it comes to accommodations, Ankara has a range of options to suit any traveler’s needs and budget. From luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there’s something for everyone. Some of the top-rated hotels in Ankara include the Divan Ankara Hotel and the Mimi Hotel Ankara, both of which offer comfortable rooms and excellent amenities.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are plenty of hostels and guesthouses in the city. Many of these offer private rooms as well as dorm-style accommodations. Some popular options include the Ankara Hostel and the Otel 19.

No matter where you choose to stay, be sure to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel times. This will ensure that you have a place to stay and can avoid any last-minute stress.

Overall, Ankara has plenty to offer visitors, from its rich history and culture to its modern amenities and attractions. With a little planning and preparation, you’re sure to have a wonderful trip to this exciting city.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some hidden gems to explore in Ankara?

Ankara has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. One of them is the Atakule Tower, which offers stunning views of the city. Another is the Anadolu Medeniyetleri Museum, which houses a vast collection of ancient artifacts. You can also explore the Genclik Park, a beautiful park in the heart of the city.

What are the top must-see attractions in Ankara?

Ankara has a lot of must-see attractions that are worth visiting. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a popular choice, as it houses an impressive collection of ancient artifacts. The Ankara Citadel is another must-see attraction, offering panoramic views of the city. You can also visit the Ataturk Mausoleum, the final resting place of the founder of modern Turkey.

What are some unique shopping experiences in Ankara?

Ankara has a lot of unique shopping experiences to offer. The Hamamonu district is a great place to start, with its traditional Ottoman-style houses and shops selling handmade crafts. You can also visit the Kizilay district, which is home to many modern shopping malls and boutiques.

What makes Ankara a must-visit destination?

Ankara is a must-visit destination because of its rich history and culture. The city has a lot to offer, from ancient ruins and museums to modern shopping centers and restaurants. It is also a great base for exploring the surrounding region, with many natural wonders and historical sites within easy reach.

What are some fun winter activities to do in Ankara?

Ankara has a lot of fun winter activities to offer. You can go skiing or snowboarding at the nearby Elmadag Ski Resort, or take a sleigh ride through the snowy countryside. You can also warm up with a cup of traditional Turkish tea or coffee at a cozy cafe.

How many days should I plan to explore Ankara?

To fully explore Ankara, you should plan to spend at least 2-3 days in the city. This will give you enough time to visit the top attractions, explore the hidden gems, and experience the unique culture and cuisine of the region.

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