Difference between revisions of "Ankara"
Revision as of 03:10, 8 March 2009
The locals are generally helpful to tourists, and many young people can communicate in English. Although most people will try to speak English with you, it's a good idea to bring a Turkish phrasebook or dictionary. Ankara is the administrative center of Turkey and a huge university town such that most of its inhabitants consist of civil servants, students and academics. Don't forget to bring your pullover too - the weather can be chilly!
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), only 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.
EasyJet also offers discount flights to and from Istanbul and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in the summer months (until October 25th) and to and from Istanbul and London Luton airport all year round for fares as low as £22.
The brand-new airport 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 HAVAŞ through the city center reaching Ulus (the historical center of the city, close to the museums and baths), and AŞTİ (where the intercity buses depart from to almost all the cities in Turkey). The price is 10 YTL.
Being in a central location in Turkey, Ankara can be reached from almost all trains departing from Istanbul to the eastern part of Turkey. The train trip from Istanbul to Ankara takes around 6-7 hours depending on the type of the train (fastest is Baskent for now, however, there will be faster trains in the near future to shorten the trip to 3 hours).
The overnight train to and from Istanbul is surprisingly affordable and saves the cost of a night's lodging. Reserve a cabin in advance if you prefer sleeping in a bed to sleeping in a seat.
If you are traveling from places other than Istanbul, you will find buses fast, inexpensive, and modern. Watch out for the drivers spraying your hands with lemon cologne if you do not like it.
The buses reach AŞTİ (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.
The city has a two-line subway and a dense public bus network.
Museums and Galleries
Parks and Gardens
Ankara offers a good selection of cinemas both in Kavaklidere and Cankaya (including Atakule) and 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 like Musa Eroglu. 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 reminiscent of places like Les Halles in Paris, where you can buy very cheap and excellent produce.
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 unseparated.
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 two excellent ones, "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.
"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, always 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, Yer Fistigi (turkish music) are nice places. Locus Solus on Kennedy Street is a unique place with electronic, reggae or retro (offering different kinds of music) also for eating. On the same street Mono is pleasant place to drink. "If" is where you can drink and dance till 4 a.m. There normally are rock cover bands and a huge crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
"Sakarya" is full of the cheapest solutions. Do not go into SSK building, though. It is a huge and ugly building full of night club of a rather cheap taste. 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.
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.
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 the King Hotel (behind the Parliament, near the American Embassy), and 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, 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.