Eskişehir (pronounced es-KEE-sheh-heer) is a city in the northwestern part of the Central Anatolia in Turkey. The city is home to about 500,000 people and two of Turkey’s biggest universities—Anadolu University and Eskişehir Osmangazi University—therefore the city is widely nicknamed as "students’ city" in Turkey. The name Eskişehir translates to "the old city" in Turkish, a fitting name as the city fully embraces modern life while still maintaining a sense of tradition and ancient values.
The area is inhabited since before the Phrygians founded Doryleaum near today’s Eskişehir. The area to the south of Eskişehir is known as "Phrygian Valley" even today and contains many remnants from Phrygians (some parts of the valley is within the borders of Kütahya and Afyonkarahisar provinces).
Eskişehir is a haven of liberalism in a largely conservative region, which stems from the large student population, as well as the already-progressive-minded culture of refugees from Crimea and Balkans settled in the city in the late 19th century during the decline of Ottoman Empire, descendants of whom constitute most of the native population.
Despite its name, most of the city is new construction, with the oldest buildings being no more than 50 years old, with the prominent exception of the nieghbourhood of Odunpazarı. Since 1999, when Yılmaz Büyükerşen, the former president of Anadolu University, has been elected mayor, the city has a somewhat-imitation Central European feel to it with its bridges, parks, statues, and trams.
The Porsuk River bisects the city all along. The other, non-natural feature that bisects the city is the main Istanbul–Ankara railway, which lies more or less a few blocks north of the river.
Eskişehir is a city with two distinct yet related centres.
The riverside promenade, Adalar (literally "the islands", although this area is technically a part of the mainland, except for a small river island on which the historic building of Tepebaşı City Council stands), and the pedestrianized Doktorlar Caddesi (officially İsmet İnönü Caddesi), just north of Adalar, with a tram line in the middle is the centre of youth life in Eskişehir. The natural extension of Doktorlar Caddesi towards northwest, past a bridge over the rail tracks and Espark shopping mall, Üniversite Caddesi, which leads to the Yunusemre Campus of Anadolu University, marks the northwestern extent of student territory.
Southeast from Adalar is Hamamyolu, another pedestrianized street with a large leafy strip in the middle—or a linear park, you might say. This is the old city centre and where locals and families rather to hang out and go shopping. At the southeastern end of Hamamyolu is Odunpazarı, the Ottoman district.
Adalar and Hamamyolu meet at Köprübaşı ("the bridgehead"), marked by the bridge on which the tram line crosses Porsuk.
Like any other part of the Anatolian highland, the winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is regularly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15° C. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Summer nights are cool, though, so be sure to bring at least a cardigan with you to wear outdoors. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, but with an annual rainfall amount of 415 mm (i.e., a semi-arid climate), you are unlikely to get much wet during your trip to Eskişehir, anyway.
Turkish Airlines used to have scheduled flights from Istanbul, which are no more in use. There are some flights from Bruxelles the schedules may vary.
Eskişehir is in junction of almost all major raillines in Turkey, so it is possible almost anywhere with a railline in Turkey (except European Turkey until Marmaray, an undersea rail tunnel which will connect Europe and Asia under Bosphorus, is completed) to find a train which has a stop either in the Central station (official name: Eskişehir station; in the city centre) or in Enveriye station (about 2 km south of city centre). Most trains departing from Istanbul (all except those heading for southerly cities of Konya and Adana to be precise), and all trains departing from Ankara and Izmir stop at Central station, from which most of city centre is a short stroll away. Enveriye station, on the other hand, is linked to city centre by minibuses (operating until midnight) which drive along the nearby street. However, most trains with a stop at Enveriye arrive after midnight, so your best bet is to take a taxi if you want to avoid the 30–40 minutes of walk to the city centre.
High speed trains from Istanbul currently leave from Pendik station on the Asian side of Istanbul (bus 251 from Kadikoy / 10m by taxi from Kartal metro station). It now takes 2 hours from Pendik and the price is 35TL (25TL for young people under 25). The ride from Istanbul on the old line was quite scenic, especially when railtracks traverse side of Lake Sapanca and through the rocky and verdant valley of Sakarya River. This may have changed now.
Ankara is connected to the central station of Eskişehir by recently started high speed train service (YHT) seven times a day (which takes 1h 20min and costs 25 TL pp, 15 TL ps), in addition to a wide number of conventional trains (which are mostly heading for Izmir or other cities to the west of Ankara via Eskişehir).
Eskişehir lies on the highway D200/E90, which connects Bursa, a major city in the northwest, with Ankara, the national capital. From Istanbul, take D100 or the toll-road O-4/E80 eastwards to Adapazarı first, and then hit the southwards D650 there. In Bozüyük, take D200/E90 to east. Most of the route from Istanbul is up to motorway standards with segregated directions, except some short sections under construction through the valley of Sakarya River.
While landlocked Eskişehir is connected to the Black Sea through Porsuk/Sakarya River system, it's not possible to get into the city by boat unless you are extremely adventurous and obstinate to try to paddle; and even then you have more than a few rapids to pass through.
The city has a 2-line tram system. Of which you can buy a ticket of 1.90 TL per person and per trip and you can ride from bus station to city center. The Odunpazari houses and glass museum of modern art are at the Ataturk High school stop of Bus station line of tram. its 30 minutes walk to city center. Minibuses and public buses cover the rest. City also has a small fleet of 19th century-looking horse-drawn carriages, and a large taxi fleet. At almost anywhere on the large streets, you’ll see buttons (looking like electric switches) hanged on walls, trees etc. To call a cab, you need only to push one of those and the nearest taxi stop will soon send a taxi to where you have pushed it. But walking is probably the best way of transportation in this largely flat city, it is free of charge and the distances aren’t that huge.
While Eskişehir is not like Amsterdam, it is one of the most bike-friendly cities for Turkish standards. Some bike rentals may be found in the center. There is also a new smart bike system but not practical to use.
Eskişehir is known for its hamams (Turkish bath), although there seems to be no particular reason for this fame. There are some baths in the city centre, dating back to Ottoman period. Upon entrance you’ll be asked to put off your shoes and wear the slippers provided. Then you’ll put off all your clothes and wrap yourself in one of the large towels provided. A locker for clothes is provided. Have a through shower and wash your hair before entering the marble hot tub area. Don’t let soapy water leak into the communal pool, if you’ll also have a soapy scrub next to it. Staying more than one hour in the hot section is not advised (especially for the first time) as the very hot air and steam inside can cause the blood pressure to rise considerably. Once you’re done in the hot tub, you’ll be wrapped in the dry room all over your body and head, and asked what drink you’d like. Although never that pricey, the fee of this drink isn’t included in entrance fee, and you don’t have to drink anything if you don’t want to. Usually having a lemon soda is recommended, though, as it’s thought to lower the blood pressure back to normal level.
Entrance is about 5 YTL/person, massage costs a further 5 or 10 YTL (of course it’s not compulsory to have a massage and pay another fee just because you entered the bath if you don’t want to), towels are provided for free, shampoo and soap are provided for 0.50 or 1 YTL each. The price is not hourly, i.e. you can stay inside as long as you like (remember the ‘no-more-than-one-hour-for-the-first-time’ rule, though).
Women and men have separate sections (and enter the building from separate gates).
Anadolu University participates in pan-European university student exchange programs.
Osmangazi University abbreviated as ESOGU.
As you would expect from a big city, there are many ATMs around and credit cards are accepted in most places.
Because of the relatively large university student population, the city centre, especially streets leading to or running parallel with the Porsuk River are teeming with local and American-style fast food restaurants and pizzerias.
Local delicacies include:
Dünya Köfte (Universitie cd, between Özbek sk and Balkan sk) - part kofte shop, part butcher serves the delicious spicy kofte that you imagine when you think of middle eastern kofte. The butcher shop may put some off, but you know that the meat is fresh! Some English speaking staff.
Abdüsselam Balaban (Arifiye Mh. Belediye Sk. 63/7 (Behind the Eskişehir Municipal) - meatball and kebab restaurant at city centre. Restaurant makes one of the best balaban in town.
Pino - one of the oldest (1978) fast-food restaurant in Eskişehir.
Since it is a usual habit for university students to binge drink and to pub crawl, there are many bars, pubs, clubs, and discos scattered around the city. It is usually possible to attain a live music performance at weekends.
Several pubs in the riverbank of porsuk and the clubs near train station offers a good night, and also an opportunity to know local students.
Some pubs by genres:
Bulvar Hostel / Eskisehir (Sivrihisar-1 Cd. No:16, entrance from Porsuk Riverside) - Brand new hostel with dorms and privates, taras café has really good view. Owner guy is a brilliant world traveller, he has been to many countries then decides to open his own hostel in his own town. Breakfast is ok, you can also cook yourself at the kitchen. There is a Tram Stop in front of the hostel. It is in downtown but really quiet in some rooms. Building has two faces one side looks at the Porsuk river and the other side has the view of City Center. Reaching from Bus Station is so easy by Tram line and from Train Station a few minutes of walk by Porsuk Riverside only pedestrian lane. The boat tours main stop is only a few meters from the hostel and you can watch the boats passing in front of your room, that was really an unforgettable experience. Rooms have good prices regarding hotel's location, cleanlines, sleeping quality & qualified multiligual workers. You can buy meerschaum pipes & souvenirs from reception.
SRF Hotel is a rather small hotel with only few rooms, some non smoking and all newly furnished. This small hotel has no elevator and considering some rooms can be in up to fourth floor, this is a real pity, so better clarify this at the time of the booking. Hotel is located rather central in a quite but well kept Istiklal suberb in Reşadiye Esnafi street.
Tourism information office – Vilayet Sq 1, tel +90 222 230 38 65
The area code of Eskişehir is 222. Dial +90 222 when calling an Eskişehir number from out of Turkey.
The city’s large university student population makes it a place quite easy to communicate in English, although local older generations may only speak Turkish. Also you may encounter youngsters with an ability to speak less widespread European languages such as German or French, though this is much less possible compared with English.