How to Spend 24 Hours in Ankara, Turkey

Kuğulu Park | © Jorge Franganillo/Flickr
Kuğulu Park | © Jorge Franganillo/Flickr

Turkey’s capital city may not be as flashy as its sister Istanbul, but it certainly has enough charm to keep you happily occupied for 24 hours. The bureaucratic city has its share of important historic sights, art galleries, museums, shops, and restaurants. We’ve rounded up the best, for a delightful 24 hours in Ankara.

Visit Anıt Kabir

Certainly Ankara’s most important sight, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, is a definite must-see when it comes to visiting the Turkish capital. The imposing and stunning structure is a concrete, travertine, and marble monument that ascribes to the aesthetic of the Second National Architecture Movement and was designed by Emin Halid Onat and Ahmet Orhan Arda.

Anıt Kabir | © David Stanley/Flickr

Admire some art at CerModern

Located in a former train depot, CerModern is one of Turkey’s largest hubs for contemporary art, featuring artists from all over Europe in engaging and notable exhibitions. The gallery also hosts many workshops including CerLiterature, Understanding Art seminars, and CerKids (art-centric workshops for children). CerModern’s café is also worth a mention due to its striking architecture as well as its menu of wholesome, homemade dishes.

Do some souvenir and antique shopping at Çıkrıçılar Yokuşu

Walking up and down this open-air bazaar district in Ankara is a great way to get some souvenir shopping done. You’ll also find lots of copper goods, handmade jewelry, antiques, ornaments, and even clothes for reasonable prices. The cobblestoned walkways of Çıkrıkçılar ascend the hill and so afford great views of the city from between the streets of this traditional Turkish market.

Ankara Saman Pazarı | © Jorge Franganillo/Flickr

Eat lunch at the Çengelhan Brasserie

When you get a little hungry from all that shopping, make sure to have your lunch at the Çengelhan Brasserie, part of the lovely Divan Çukurhan hotel. A former Anatolian caravanserai, dating back to 1522, there’s a very historic vibe to this stunningly renovated stone structure with a glass roof. The menu reflects the interior with excellent traditional Turkish and Ottoman dishes.

Get to know Turkey’s ancient past at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

Another essential sight in Ankara’s old town is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which occupies the now renovated storage building of the former Ottoman Mahmut Paşa bazaar. Inside the museum you’ll find excellent exhibitions revolving around Anatolian archaeology from the Paleolithic era to the Neolithic, as well as the Assyrian, Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Empires. The stunning displays include bronze, gold, marble, silver, and glass objects that go as far back as the second half of the first millennium BC and are arranged chronologically.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations | © brewbooks/Flickr

Do some shopping on Tunalı Hilmi

Tunalı Hilmi street is one of the liveliest places to go shopping and to mingle with the locals who are either rushing between stores or hanging out at one of the many cafes and restaurants. You’ll find all the major brands on this street but make sure to check out the very large branches of Beymen and Vakko, Turkey’s most well established luxury fashion brands.

Take a break in Kuğulu Park

For Ankara locals, Kuğulu Park is pretty nostalgic, most people will have been here to feed the swans in the park’s small pond. Take a seat to get a bit of rest and observe the daily life of Ankara’s locals.

Kuğulu Park | © Jorge Franganillo/Flickr

Eat dinner at Trilye

One of Ankara’s best restaurants this a very modern seafood restaurant where the food is just as good as the gorgeous décor. Choose from Trilye‘s daily made Aegean and Mediterranean meze and then continue on to the day’s freshest catch, grilled to perfection and best accompanied by a few glasses of rakı.

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