How to Spend 48 Hours in Ankara, Turkey

The Kocatepe Mosque is one of the key places of worship in Ankara
The Kocatepe Mosque is one of the key places of worship in Ankara | © Koraysa / Alamy Stock Photo
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Turkey’s capital city is much more than a centre for all things bureaucratic. From the walls of a historic castle overlooking the city all the way to its trendy shopping streets, Ankara has plenty to see and do in two days.

Day one

Visit Ankara Castle and Hamamönü

Start your day in Ankara by going back to its historic roots and wandering around the famous Ankara Castle, one of the oldest sites in the city and dating back to the Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires. After taking in the amazing view, make your way down to Hamamönü or the Old Quarter to enjoy the Ottoman-style timber houses and stop by one of the many arts and crafts shops to buy handmade souvenirs.

Ankara Castle is a must-see for history buffs visiting the city

Eat lunch at Süha’nın Yeri

After working up an appetite, drop by Süha’nın Yeri to eat its famous döner kebab, which is cooked over a wood fire. This is a great place to get a quick bite with the locals (more specifically a döner sandwich accompanied by ayran, a Turkish yoghurt drink) and continue on your way.

Eat baklava at Baklavacı Hacıbaba

Of course, no meal is complete without some dessert. Ankara has plenty of sweet treats on offer; make sure to try some baklava in the most famous baklava shop in the city, Hacıbaba. Open since 1949, you’ll find every kind of baklava variety prepared perfectly.

Baklava is a speciality throughout much of Turkey

Visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

As one of the most important museums in Ankara, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations hosts exhibitions that focus on Anatolian archaeology from the Paleolithic era to the Neolithic era, as well as the Assyrian, Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires.

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations houses archaeological finds

Eat dinner at Trilye

You’ll have to make reservations in advance at this excellent seafood restaurant that’s also a bit on the fancier side – it’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Ankara. Trilye serves up freshly prepared Aegean and Mediterranean meze and the day’s freshest catch, best accompanied by a few glasses of rakı.

Day two

Visit Anıtkabir

Anıtkabir is not only the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, but also an architectural masterpiece. Composed of concrete, travertine and marble, the structure is as beautiful as it is imposing. You can enjoy a guided tour with Culture Trip as part of our epic 12-day Turkey adventure, led by our local insider.

The Anıtkabir is a key Ankara site

Eat lunch at Cafemiz

Cafemiz is one of the most popular cafes in Ankara, and you’ll see lots of locals meeting up here over coffee, tea and cake to discuss life. It also has a great lunch menu, which you can enjoy in its rococo-style interior or the garden, complete with floral patterns and shiny chandeliers.

Buy some Turkish candy at Ali Uzun Şekercilik

If you want to take back some sweet treats from Ankara as a souvenir, make a stop at Ali Uzun, a historic candy shop that has been around since 1935. You’ll find akide şekeri (Turkish hard candy) with hazelnut, mint, strawberry, lemon or cinnamon, as well as lokum (Turkish delight), pişmaniye (floss candy) and almond paste.

Visit CerModern

If you’re into art, then CerModern is the place to go during your Ankara visit. It’s the most important hub for contemporary art in the city and features exhibitions from Turkish and European artists. It also has a great cafe and hosts plenty of events and workshops.

The CerModern is a contemporary art centre

Eat dinner at Bursa Hacıbey Kebabcısı

At the end of day two, it’s time to eat some of the finest kebabs in the city. Bursa Hacıbey Kebabçısı has been open since 1961, serving some of the best döner kebab in town as well as other varieties of kebab in all of their delicious glory.

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