Difference between revisions of "Ankara"
Revision as of 14:38, 12 December 2017
Ankara is the administrative center of Turkey and a huge university town, so it has a large population of government workers and university students. As the national capital, Ankara is home to a large population of foreign diplomats and embassy staff, so it offers goods and services that might be more difficult to find in other Turkish cities.
Ankara is a sprawling, modern city which can appear as little more than a dull, concrete jungle at first glance. As a result, many tourists tend to use it merely as a transit point for getting to places like Konya or Cappodocia. However Ankara does have a lot to offer for those prepared to look a bit deeper.
Ankara has a symbolic significance for the secular Turks. It is the place where a new era for the Turkish people started. It is a symbol for independence, development and Western values.
Ankara was a small town of few thousand people, mostly living around Ankara Castle, in the beginning of the 20th century. The fate of the city has changed, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his friends made Ankara the center of their resistance movement against the Allies in 1920, and established a parliament representing the people of Turkey, against the Allies’ controlled Ottoman Government in the occupied Istanbul of post World War I. Upon the success of the Turkish War of Independence, the government in Istanbul and the empire was abolished by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara in 1923, and the Republic of Turkey is established. When you look at the modern Ankara of 5 million people today, almost all that you can see was built afterwards.
This doesn't mean that Ankara does not have any history of its own. Located in the center of Anatolia, Ankara’s history goes back to second millennium BC. Footsteps of Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Galatians, Romans, Byzantines and the Turks are still present.
The name Ankara has originated from the Celtic word of Ancyra, meaning Anchor. The original reason for using the name anchor in an inland city is not certainly known, but there are several different myths. King Midas, whose touch turned everything into gold in the mythology, is buried in the ancient site of Gordion, in suburban Ankara.
If you are traveling through Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, look for the wide fields around. This is where Timur the Lane defeated Ottoman sultan Bayezid I in 1402, on the great Battle of Ankara. The district of Esenboga keeps its name since then, as one of Timur’s famous generals and the commander of his famous elephant fleet “Isin Boga” has set his base here.
Ankara was recaptured by the Ottomans in 1403, and remained under Turkish control since then.
Apart from the old town in and around the citadel near Ulus and unplanned shantytown neighbourhoods inhabited by people from rural areas in the last five decades, most of Ankara, which was a provincial town of 20,000 people in the early days of the Republic, is a purpose-built capital due to its strategic location at the heart of the country. The history of settlement in the area is millenia old.
The biggest claim to fame of the town used to be the long-haired local breed of goats named after former name of the city (Angora), out of which high quality mohair textiles were produced, today the only place where you can spot them in city is the lawns on the side of a clover-leaf interchange on the highway west—in the form of cute sculptures.
Ankara being a young and modern city makes her face an identity problem. The increase of population from couple thousand to several million in less than a century means that almost everyone came here from somewhere else. Finding a native "Ankarali" is challenging, as a result. The population and culture of Ankara, therefore, is a mixture of everything Turkey offers, with people of origins from all cities of Turkey.
Ankara is quite a large city, with different towns and neighborhoods of their own characters. In a very simplified manner, most attractions of the city run through the long Ataturk Boulevard, running and diving the city north to south. Starting from Ulus Square, going towards south in Ataturk Boulevard, you will reach Kizilay, Kavaklidere and then Çankaya. As you pass through these districts one by one, the standards visibly increase.
Ulus is the historic center of Ankara, with most museums, early republican buildings, and the ancient Ankara Castle. Being the most elegant center of the republic in the beginning of the 20th century, now the area has left its charm, and is a messy, crowded neighborhood. Unless you are looking for the real cheap, (rather than some specific selections) not recommended for dining, accommodations or nightlife. In case you are interested to get a feeling of how life was once in Ankara, find Hamamonu District, the newly restored neighborhood with old Ankara houses. A famous spot for the conservative Ankarans, walk through the narrow traditional streets, and sip your Turkish coffee in an historic wooden house, especially at the night. Do not expect to find alcohol at Hamamonu.
Next, Kizilay is the working class center of Ankara. The famous Kizilay Square, named after the now-demolished "Red Crescent" headquarters building, is Ankara's political center. Throughout the decades, lot's of protests and rallies has taken place in the square, and even today, this is the center of the political protests. Many roads and streets around Kizilay are better discovered on foot, and there are lot's of budget restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs of different taste. Sakarya Caddesi (Sakarya Road) is a messy pedestrian area with fisheries, street sellers and restaurants. Pass over the southern side of Ziya Gokalp Caddesi, the parallel vehicle road, and you will reach the district around Yuksel Caddesi (Yuksel Road). This pedestrian neighborhood is a left oriented area, with several culture centers, cafes, pubs, restaurants and bookstores. Many locals looking for quality avoids Ulus and Kizilay.
Continuing southern, the area after Kizilay and up to Kugulu Part (Swan Park) is Kavaklidere, also simply known Tunali district (Tunali Hilmi Caddesi/Road runs parallel to Ataturk Blvd, and locals simply name it and around as Tunali.) The area is more cosmopolitan, open minded, and popular among the young. The back streets are full of cafes, restaurants, pubs to rock venues.
Walking up from Kugulu Park (Swan Park), pass to Arjantin Street and in the end, turn left to Filistin Street. These two are where the top end cafes and restaurants are found, full of Ankara's chick and elegant going there to see and be seen. Further south, you reach Atakule Tower at Çankaya, the diplomatic center of Ankara, with the Presidential Palace and most embassies. From Kugulu Park to up, Ankara's nicest parks are aligned, namely Segmenler Park and Botanical Garden, in addition to small but cure Kugulu Park.
Rather than this alignment on Ataturk Blvd., check Bahçelievler District, west of Kizilay. 7th Road (7.Cadde) and around is a student oriented and family friendly region with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Further west, through Eskisehir Road, you will pass through the once suburban neighborhoods of Bilkent, Umitkoy and Cayyolu, which are new modern towns, less of an interest to tourists, but offers good dining and nightlife. Visit Park Caddesi, the areas newly created nightlife center.
Ankara is well connected by a good public transport network system. Private and public bus operators compete for your patronage and there are the 'dolmus' minibus transport providers that offer rapid tranfers and get you to your connection points. The underground subway 'Metro' is highly efficient which runs between outer suburbs and the interstate bus terminal 'ASTI'. Taxis are readily available and are probably the best way to get to your destination, relatively inexpensive for the time poor traveller.
It depends on where you are living / staying. If you are in Cayolu (new upper middle class area of the city) the metro services along Eskisehir Road and is convenient if you live next to Umitkoy or Arcadium. It will take you right to Kizilay (the center of town). If you want to hang with the college kids go to Bahçelievler it's on the Ankaray a really old stuffy tram underground (reached from Kizilay station, look for green signage). The actual metro is very modern and announces things in Turkish and jilted English (Listen for the phrase "Dear Passengers"). But it's always warm in the Metro, beware.
If you want to go to Tunali where all the hip/ non-trashy cafes / bars are then get a cab it'll cost you. But it's often faster than Metro to Kizilay. But if you want a taxi be warned very few taxi drivers speak English. Use key turkish words, Kizilay, Kugulu Park (with the "swans"), Cinnah (pronounced Jennah) (name of major road near hip expat places), or American (they'll think you mean embassy). A taxi from the airport will cost you like $40-60 USD, be prepared. Always be polite, taxi drivers are very nice just like the Turkish people, even though tipping is not expected, tip a Lira or two above your cab fare, if it's a long ride tip a little more. Always say teşekkürler (pronounced teshek kewlor, means thank you in an informal way, may see teşekkür ederim in guidebooks but few people use it.). Besides a lira is like .33$ and the driver will go out of their way to make you comfortable as long as your not obnoxious/ drunk. Expect a radio station blasting either Turkish radio or English EDM. Bring headphones. Most are not chatty unless your in a really touristy place like Kizilay and happen upon a driver who speaks some English. Point and direct is the best way, most are almost always honest and use the meter. Don't rely on address, but name of neighbourhood (mahallesi, usually abreviated Mah.) then major landmark or hotel name. When you get in the taxi starting with a "Merhaba" Hello will go a long way even if you don't speak Turkish. Don't worry if you look western they won't expect you to speak English. It's a thoughtful gesture. In many areas of the city look around there are yellow signs with buttons that you can press that will automatically call a cab for you. Or just walk and find a taxi stand.
If you're in for a real Turkish moment wait for a Dolmus (like a shared taxi with 10+ other people). They will stop where you want to stop (provided it's reasonable and safe) and it's cheap. Depending on where your going (in affluent areas) there will usually be someone on board who can interpret your flailing hand gestures and tell the driver to stop. (expect anywhere from 3-5 Lira for a short trip) Can be very convenient if going to the malls (along Eskisehir not easily reached by metro) where most Middle class turks seem to carry on with their social lives. If you get lost most end up on one end in Kizilay or Asti. It's worth the experience, closest thing you'll get to being a local commuter.
As any other part of the Anatolian highland, Ankara has continental climate. The winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is commonly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15°C at nights. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Average daily temperatures in midsummer are around 30°C. Daily temperatures can reach 35°C and above, but is not common and usually last no more than a few days. 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 Ankara, anyway.
Ankara Esenboğa International Airport (ESB) is located some 28 km northeast of the city. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope - apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs. Iran Air also has two weekly flights to Tehran. For other carriers flying into Turkey, a flight into Istanbul is necessary, followed by an air transfer to Ankara by Turkish Airlines or Anadolu Jet (a low cost brand of Turkish Airlines).
The brand-new airport terminal was opened in 2007. It features many more gates, a more orderly parking system, and in general, better traffic flow. The road connecting Ankara's airport to the ring road has also been fully renovated.
Airport buses are operated by Belko Air, who operate a fleet of modern coaches. The bus number is 442 and it stops at multiple locations including Aşti (where intercity buses depart), Kızılay (the city centre) and Ulus (the historical center of the city, close to the museums and baths). The price is 8 TL. Bus 442 runs in a loop and buses depart frequently (roughly every 20 minutes). It is possible to take this bus from any of its stops back to the airport. Tickets can be bought on the bus after boarding. Note that announcements are made only in Turkish and you may not find any English-speaking staff. This is the most economic way of reaching the city center, after which you can take a taxi. A taxi drive from the airport to the city center should cost around 60 to 80 TL, depending on your destination.
Ankara is the eastern terminus of the Turkish high-speed rail system (YHT), with frequent fast trains to Konya, and via Eskişehir to Istanbul Pendik. Trains to Eskişehir and Konya take 90 minutes and those stations are within 3-5 km of their town centres, so they are easy day trips. Trains to Istanbul take 3½ hours to Pendik, 25 km east of city centre and involving a 90-minute transfer: see Istanbul page. Pendik is convenient for Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport (10 km, taxi or bus).
Destinations east of Ankara are served by slow overnight trains, the main services being to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (the Guney Kurtalan Express), to Erzurum and Kars (the Dogu Express), and to Tatvan (the Vangölü Express), thence by dolmus to Van.
For times and reservations (strongly recommended) see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr. Note that Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until 2018. The main impact on services is expected to be:
• YHT trains to Konya, Eskişehir and Istanbul Pendik mostly unaffected;
• Most eastbound services have bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings;
• Some mainline services cancelled or curtailed, eg the Cukurova Express to Adana;
• Most suburban trains cancelled.
For other reasons, international trains to Iran, Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely. However trains to Georgia, suspended since 1993, may resume in 2017 when the Kars-Tbilisi line opens.
The railway station is 1 km SW of the old quarter, and 3 km NW of Kızılay. Many public buses and dolmuses stop right in front of the station. The nearest metro, about 1 km away on the edge of the old quarter, is Ulus. Be aware that metro services are also being disrupted by the station construction.
If you are traveling from places other than Istanbul, you will find buses fast, inexpensive, and modern.
The buses terminate at the bus station (otogar) named AŞTİ (pronounced ush-tee and almost exclusively known as such locally; Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmeleri) standing for "Ankara Intercity Terminal". Most of the cities in Turkey have direct buses to the capital of Turkey, and buses are much faster than trains in Turkey. From Istanbul to Ankara, the bus trip takes around 5 hours and one way fare is about 35 TL. Hundreds of companies operate buses to anywhere in Turkey. The companies with bigger ticket desks in AŞTİ are most of the time more convenient, but more expensive.
AŞTİ is connected to the Kızılay Square and a number of other central locations by a metro line. There are also free of charge shuttle buses to Kızılay (and a number of other locations) run by the AŞTİ administration. They depart from behind the main building.
With full English support:
The city has a dense public bus network, a two-line subway called Ankara Metrosu and a single line suburban railway called Ankara Banliyö Treni.
For tourists, Ankara’s public transit system, particularly the public bus network, can be difficult to figure out, because maps are rare and all information is in Turkish. Nor is there any access provided for disabled travellers in any form of public transport. Buses and metros tend to be very crowded during rush hours, especially on Mondays and Fridays.
If you know the city well, public transportation, especially the metro, is an ideal, easy, quick and cheap way to get around particularly for longer distances. For shorter distances taxis are an easy, quick and cheap way to get around.
There are two types of public buses in Ankara; those run by the Ankara Municipality named Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri (EGO) and those run by a private corporation named Ankara Özel Halk Otobüsleri (ÖHO). You can differentiate these two types by their colors. EGO-run buses are white and blue while ÖHO-run buses are blue. Both types of these public buses use the same bus network and bus stops.
Ankara Municipal Buses
The Ankara Municipal Buses, named Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri (EGO), consists of an extensive and dense bus network, and is owned and operated by the Ankara Municipality.
Since 2014 there's now smartcards called "Ankarakart" which you can buy in the seven "Kart İşlem Merkezi" Card Processing Center or in the many "Ankarakart Dolum ve Satış Noktası" Ankarakart Filling and Selling Points with the distinctive logo on display. You can also fill your cards in many automats found in metro statations across the city. The cards cost 5.50 TL when you buy them and 2.50 TL for each person when you get in a bus or a metro. If you take a second bus/metro within an hour you only need to pay 1 TL. Keep in mind the aoutomats don't give back change so if you have larger denominations fill your cards in the counters of metro stations or in filling points. If you dont plan on using municipal buses or metros too much you can also buy magnetic tickets that cost 4 TL for a single ride from the mentioned places. Keep in mind with this card you have to have a second ticket if you need to change buses along the way.
Many newer buses show the previous, current and upcoming stops on the screens in front. But they might not be working so be aware of your location and try not to miss your stop. Most of the stops have screens next to them that display the arriving buses and the time of their arrival, they also tell the major stops like Kızılay, Sıhhiye and Ulus. In front of the buses there are LED screens showing the busline and the major stops.
Theres an app called EGO Cepte in which you can see all the buslines, their destinations, their schedules and when they will arrive to your station. It's in Engish and in Turkish. You can download it from AppStore, GooglePlay or Windows Store.
Ankara Non-Municipal Public Buses
The Ankara Non-Municipal Public Buses, Ankara Özel Halk Otobüsleri (ÖHO), consists of an extensive and dense bus network, operated by a private corporation.
Payment system for non-municipal buses is with cash. The ticket, which is only a one-way ticket, is purchased in buses at a cost of 2.40 TL.
Unfortunately, no stops and maps are displayed in the buses and bus stops nor announced by voice in the buses.
Dolmuş are private run minibuses. They are as common as buses and run on their specific routes. Guven Park at Kizilay Square is the main stop of dolmuş's, running all sides of central Ankara. You can get in and out anywhere on their route, and they stop the same way you catch a taxi with your hand. The prices range depending on your departure point and destination, but typically not more than a two to three liras.
The Ankara Metro, named Ankara Metrosu, consists of three (four, if you count Batıkent-OSB Törekent as a separate line) metro lines, which are called Ankaray and Ankara Metro which is owned and operated by the Ankara Municipality .
The west-east light-rail line named Ankaray and the north-south heavy-rail Ankara Metro line are both mostly underground lines and intersect at Kızılay station.Currently,it is possible to go all stations with one payment.
The Ankaray line runs between AŞTİ (Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmesi - Ankara Intercity Bus Terminal) and Dikimevi. The line is 8.7 km long (8.0 underground and 0.7 km surface railway) and has 11 stations.Except Emek station,all stations are under the ground.
The Ankara Metro consists of four lines (M1-M4). M1 Line (Kızılay-Batıkent) is 14 km long and it has 12 stations.In Feb 2014,M3 line opened as an extension. M2 Line (Kızılay-Koru) has 11 stations and it's 16 km. Ironically,this line has a station named MTA (company who runs New York Subway) M3 Line (Batıkent-OSB Törekent)opened as an extension to M2 line.To reach this line from M2,leave the train (came from Kızılay)in Batıkent and move to other track. M4 Line (Tandoğan-Keçiören) is 12 km long and has 11 stations, it ends in Tandoğan Square and if you want to go to Kızılay you need to take the Ankaray line from the same statation.
Payment for the subway is based on the smartcards and magnetic tickets mentioned above.
All stations are announced both on a display (in newer trains used in M2 and M3)and by voice in the metros.
Ankara Suburban Railway
The Ankara Suburban Railway (Ankara Banliyö Treni) consists of a single line running on the national rail network, and owned and operated by Turkish State Railways. It runs between Sincan in the west, through the city center, to Kayaş in the east. The line is 37 km long, all of it above ground, and has 26 stations. No points of interest for visitors at these suburban destinations, but Sincan is an interchange with mainline YHT services. You can pay in cash at the station for a one-way ticket (2.35 TL) or a return (4 TL).
As of July 2016 the Railway is closed due to construction. The passengers can take the 522 busline from the train station.
Taxis are numerous in Ankara and are recognizable by their yellow color and word Taksi on top of the car. All licensed taxis have the letter T in their license plates.
The fare shown on the meter reads according to distance traveled. The ride will start at 2.20 TL, and the rate is 1.90 TL per kilometer. The rates for day and night are same. Tipping is not done.
Occasionally, some taxi drivers will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed price, especially with tourists. But most taxi drivers will start taximeters at all times. You should avoid these cabs and simply take another one as you will almost certainly end paying too much. Many taxi drivers, even though very few of them speak a foreign language, will understand your requested destination and instructions. Tell them then to put the taximeter on. Taxi drivers do normally work with the taximeter, so they will not be surprised at all when you ask them to put it on. Emphasize to the taxi driver that you will pay for the meter price before getting in.
Always try to stop a taxi that is passing by on the road or find a legitimate taxi stop.
If you are not familiar with the city and see that you are a tourist, the taxi driver may drive a detour in order to charge you more. Insist on going to the destination that you want, and have a map to show them your destination, to avoid a detour.
Also beware that all taxis are required to have the designated license plate with the letter T apart from their yellow coloring.
Be careful on what notes you hand them for payment; some taxi drivers have tried to pretend that the 50 lira note that was handed was just a 5 lira note. Occasionally taxi drivers may actually also rip notes you give them, and tell you it is no good, in order to make you hand them a 50 lira note. So, make sure the notes are not ripped, and is actually the right one before you hand them over. Do not buy their quick-sell tricks and also do not allow them to round the price up to the higher denomination.
Ankara has several historic buildings and landmarks, mostly concentrated around Ulus. On a quick visit, one can get a taste of most important historic places in a day long trip. If you have even less time, two never to miss places are Anitkabir and Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. For longer stays, Ankara has lot’s to offer as the modern capital of Turkey.
Ankara Castle, Cengelhan - Rahmi Koc Museum, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations are all 5 minutes of walking distance, and very close to Ethnographic Museum, State Art and Sculpture Museum, Haci Bayram Mosque, Salt Ulus, Augustus Temple and Roman Baths; all of which are located in Ulus.
Archaeological Remains and Landmarks
The best way to discover the castle is on foot. The main gate is near the clock tower. Once passing the main gate, the inner castle has several historic buildings, some of which are well restored and serving as souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries. Walk further to reach the stairs taking you up the castle walls, where you will have panoramic views of Ankara.
Ankara Castle and the buildings inside are partly restored, and the area of the inner caste closer to the main gate is the better side. If you walk further in, many of the buildings inside the castle are worse in condition, and house the poorer residents of Ankara. There is a wider program of restoring the castle and the surrounding neighborhoods, which is going rather slow, but changes are visible.
Outer castle is similarly interesting. On the opposite side of the main gate is Cengelhan, now hosting Rahmi Koç Museum. The old caravanserai is excellently restored, and gives a good idea of how the area was once. The narrow street running below through the entrance of Rahmi Koç Museum is full of shops selling antiques, Turkish silver-works and souvenirs.
DoIn order to follow the events and performances in Ankara, online ticket sites of Biletix and Mybilet are good places to check, and both are available in English. Most local newspapers and event websites are in Turkish, and give a wider information about the daily events.
Ankara has annual festivals, including Ankara International Music Festival, Ankara International Jazz Festival, Ankara International Cinema Festival and lot's more, and it is always good to check what's going on in the city.
Ankara Modern Arts Center (Çağdaş Sanatlar Merkezi), opposite the American Embassy in Kavaklıdere, at Atatürk Boulevard has free exhibitions and performances, mostly of local and infamous artists, but sometimes of more impressive ones.
Local and national groups play in Ankara bars and venues especially on the weekends.
Sunny days get crowds fill Tunali Hilmi Road in Kavaklidere, and 7.Cadde in Bahçelievler.
Ankara offers a good selection of cinemas both in Kızılay and Bahçelievler, as well as all shopping malls. There are several concert halls for classical music and opera. Many universities promote concerts and spring festivals but these are sometimes open to their students only. Folk and traditional music is very alive, from small bars and restaurants to big concert halls where you can find local stars.
Depending on your interests, you can find trekking in local parks and in the surroundings, visiting the museums or hunting for the Ottoman or Selçuk remains in the ancient castle. Upscale shopping centers like Armada along the Eskisehir road also offer cinemas and quality restaurants.
Ankara's Castle (Kale) has been a trade center for centuries, and its sellers of carpets, leather and antiquities are slowly moving upwards hoping to attract the tourist trade. It's still a delicious place for walking and browsing, and there are family firms where you can buy, for a price, excellent carpets and kilims. Walking down from the Castle you can walk through the covered market, an iron structure where you can buy very cheap and excellent products.
Ankara has the highest number of shopping mall area per population in Turkey. Most have the same brands, offering similar products. Open everyday, better malls are Panora at Oran, KentPark, Cepa and Armada on Eskisehir Road and Ankamall in Akkopru (next to Akkopru metro station). In addition to most international brands, there are similar quality Turkish brands. Turkey is a textile industry giant, and Turkish brands can offer better deals for less. Some Turkish textile brand shops worth checking are:
Expensive and Fashion: Vakko, Beymen, Sarar, Tüzin (women only), Roman (women only), Fabrika.
Mid-range: Kigili (men only), Boyner (Department Store).
Budget and Casual: Koton, LC Waikiki, Defacto.
Jeans: Mavijeans, Colins.
Originally a glass manufacturing firm, Pasabahce shops sell Turkish glass art-work for all budgets. They are excellent as unique Turkish souvenirs.
Tunali Hilmi Road is the most known street shopping area, but the shopping mall boom has caused it loose some of it's charm.
For Turkish jewelry and silverwork, check Kugulu Pasaji (old-style shopping complex), opposite Kugulu Park (Swan Park) in Tunali Hilmi Caddesi.
The distant historic town Beypazari has nation wide famous hand made silver-works. Best place to buy is the Jewelry Market (Kuyumcular Carcisi) in Beypazari, but if you do not have the time to visit Beypazari, Kugulu Pasaj jewelries also shall have such art work.
Ankara is best known with its "döner kebap". In order to pick a good döner restaurant (there are many) you should take a look at the döner round. it should be rectangular and the cuts must be flat and separated.
Like many other capitals, Ankara is where you can eat the best and the freshest fish of the country all around the year (not the cheapest, though). Around Sakarya str., there are various types of fish restaurants, from fast food to stylish ones and it can be a good opportunity to also try rakı, which is known as a companion of fish. But fish restaurants abound in the city; in Cankaya there are at least three excellent ones, Kolyoz Restaurant ( www.kolyozbalik.com) , "Akdeniz Akdeniz" and "Lazoli" featuring the first Mediterranean and the second Black Sea cuisine. "Ege", located close to Tunali street, is another excellent choice for fish and raki. The restaurant has also a variety of wines. If you want to listen good Turkish Classical Music while you eat and drink raki, then "Sudem" should be seen. It is located on Olgunlar Street.
Besides many classic iskender kebab restaurants there are also many restaurant featuring the traditional cuisine of a specific city, catering to the community of more affluent immigrants: from the spicy Urfa to the variety of vegetables coming with Adana kebab. Uludag Kebabcisi on Denizciler Caddesi in Ulus has been around for about sixty years and is a top of the line restorant mainly serving Iskender kebap.
"Papsi" is a good choice to take a cold beer in a friendly atmosphere for years. It is located on Tunali Street. "Kitir" and newer "Random" are two other most popular bars, adjacent to Kugulu Park, also in Tunali. Corvus is on Bestekar Street offering Rock Music. There are many bars and places to drink on that street which is parallel to Bestekar. The Edge, Twister, Hayyami (wine bar) are nice places. Sakal on Kennedy Street is a unique place with electronic, reggae or retro (offering different kinds of music). On the same street Mono is pleasant place to drink. Tunus Street, parallel to Bestekar is another street where you may find many pubs like Retrox, Flat, James Cook and Zodiac. If Performance Hall, Manhattan, Overall and Siyah-Beyaz are places where you can drink and dance till 4 am with live rock music. There normally are rock cover bands and a huge crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights in these places.
"Sakarya" is full of the cheapest solutions. Among the best places in Sakarya, one should note "Net", which is a good choice not only take a glass of beer or raki, but also to eat. "Buyuk Ekspres" is also a nice old bar of the town. Also Eski-Yeni, Pasaj and Telwe are nice bars where you may find rock or alternative live music styles with cheaper drink prices compared to Tunali, Cankaya region.
"Park Avenue" -in Konutkent district- is the new street for classy bars, cafes and night clubs. You may also find second branch of Kitir, Random & Crossroads in "Park Avenue". Istanbul's fashionable night club Sortie has also opened in this avenue and is a nice place to drink any kind of drinks and listen to latest club mixes. Narquilla is a great place to have your nargile while drinking beer and enjoying nice food. Also, there are meyhanes (tavern) in which fixed menus are served with drinks and classic Turkish music played. There are bars and restaurants also in the historic core of Ankara, close to citadel. You definitely have to go and return by taxi though.
Don't expect a lively gay life of Istanbul in Ankara. No-one comes to Ankara for its amazing gay life, however you can still enjoy your time while you are here. It has only one gay bar-club (Sixties) and this is open only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. It gets pretty crowded after 00:00 and plays Turkish and Western pop music. In addition to that, though it is not a gay bar, Eski-Yeni Bar in Sakarya Caddesi (street) seems to attract a gay-lesbian crowd especially in its bottom floor. Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, the leading queer organizations in Ankara, hold activities throughout the year.
The Sheraton Hotel, located in the Kavaklıdere district, is the most visible and glitzy hotel in Ankara (and has the prices to prove it). Around the corner from the Sheraton lies the Hilton, which is a bit past its prime but still a very acceptable place to stay.
The Radisson (located in Ulus, near the train station), the Swissotel (located on an obscure back alley in in Çankaya) and the Ramada (in Kavaklıdere, on fashionable Tunalı Hilmi street) are recent entrants, and offer very new-looking rooms that are nevertheless a tad smaller than those at the Sheraton or Hilton.
Independent hotels of note include Hotel Best, the King Hotel, Hotel Midas and Hotel Gold (both north of Kavaklidere on Tunus Caddesi).
Angora House in the Citadel district is a charming boutique hotel in an Ottoman era house.
In terms of budget accommodation, there is one hostel in the city center name is Deeps Hostel.Prices start from 25 tl to 40 tl.Web site is www.deepshostelankara.com. And also a number of cheap hotels can be found along Sanayi Caddesi, just north of Ulus Meydan: a double (en suite) at such hotels lists for 40-80YTL per night. Note that rates are usually negotiable and may or may not include breakfast.
Most people, including single female travellers, would very rarely encounter problems walking along the streets alone at night. Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night. However, "little crime" does not mean "no crime", and common sense should still be applied as anywhere in the world. Petty crime such as pickpocketing can occur, however, especially in crowded areas. Therefore, one should always take care of one's belongings and keep bags closed.
The biggest danger for travellers is the road traffic, because there is little respect for pedestrians. Every road should be crossed carefully and very quickly. Even if pedestrian traffic lights show green, it is absolutely essential to have a watchful eye. At crosswalks definitely look out before crossing the street.
Another danger for pedestrians is the sidewalks because they are often in a very poor condition. Because of the poor or irregular renovation of sidewalks, many of them have loose paving stones and holes in the asphalt. The risk of tripping and hurting oneself should not be underestimated.
Ankara Police Department has a "tourism police" section with staff multilingual in English, German, French, and Arabic.
Turkish is an Ural-Altaic language, closely related to Azeri, Turkmen, Uzbek, Tatar, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur and many other languages of the Turkic language family. The grammar is different from most European language (rather than Hungarian, Estonian and Finnish, with have related structures), making it complicated to understand at the beginning.
Learning Turkish can open new doors, as well as the hearths of the Turks. One of the most reputable institutions for serious language learners is Ankara University’s TOMER. TOMER has it's main language schools in Ankara, and has branches in multiple cities throughout Turkey.
There are other private courses offering Turkish also. The most economic way for longer staying expats is to find a Turkish friend, willing to exchange teaching Turkish to learning / practicing English or other languages.