Turkey's capital is youthful, innovative, and exciting, with the galleries and museums befitting a great world city, plenty of superb Turkish restaurants, and a cultural calendar that constantly turns up new festivals and exhibitions.
The star of the show in Ankara is undoubtedly the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, but Vakıf Eserleri Müzesi also houses a stunning carpet collection and isn't to be missed.
Dining out is always a pleasure in Ankara. Bolder diners shouldn't miss a kocorec (offal) kebab, while everyone can enjoy gourmet joints like Trilye.
If Washington has the Lincoln Memorial, Ankara has the Ataturk Mausoleum. This stunning classical structure is a fitting memorial to the father of the Turkish nation.
Ankara's trendiest area, Kizilay is one of Turkey's most vibrant shopping areas, and it's the place to be if you want to sample the city's lively nightlife.
Ankara is dominated by the citadel which, aside from being a fascinating historic fortress, also offers extraordinary views (and photo opportunities).
The Anıtkabir is a monument worth standing before. It is a mausoleum that was designed to honor the burial of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of the Republic of Turkey who also led the country's fight for independence, and also serves as his tomb. Made of a mix of concrete, travertine, and marble, the sombre and symmetrical mausoleum features beautiful arcades that surround the ceremonial courtyard. The steps leading to the front are flanked by walls carved with beautiful stonework that are almost Egyptian in style. The vast courtyard facing the front is comprised of gorgeous mosaic tiling. Visit all four of Anıtkabir's main parts to get a sense of its sheer scale: the Road of Lions, the Ceremonial Plaza, the Hall of Honor, and the Peace Park.
The Kızılay Meydanı is also known as the Kızılay Square. Today, it features the meeting point of two major boulevards running from south to north and east to west. The Emek Business Centre lies to its southeast and the beautiful Güven Park is at the southwest corner. It is also home to the Kızılay AVM shopping mall, which lies to its northwest. In May 1960, the Square played venue to a failed coup but today it's a bustling commercial and business center, as well as being a major transportation hub.
The history of Ankara castle goes back several hundred years to Roman, Byzantine, and Seljuk empires. Overlooking the red-tiled roofs of Old Ankara, the Ankara Castle stands tall, with the red Turkish flag flying proud on its peak. Visitors and locals who make the climb to the top are here for more than just a stunning view of an ancient city steeped in significant global history. They're also here to wind around the periphery of the city, which is fortified with 20 towers and move through the beautiful stone-encased alleyways.
Somewhere between 1967 and 1987, the conception and subsequent construction of the Kocatepe Mosque began and ended. Its result? An incredible, innovative, and truly modern re-imagining of an Islamic beacon: the mosque. Rivaling any cathedral, the sheer size of the Kocatepe Mosque or the prominence of its sleek and thin minarets is not its only call to excellence. The interiors are flush with high, domed ceilings, intricate and hand-crafted mosaic tilework, and gorgeous chandeliers.
The city is not at a loss for monuments and historic sites that either provides visitors with panoramic views of the city or that are large enough that they themselves can be viewed from a far distance on a clear day. The 410-foot-high communications and observation tower Atakule is one of those view-worthy masterpieces. The tower's upper-most section has a revolving restaurant, Sevilla, and an open terrace where the ancient breezes of the East and West meet, while the bottom section features a vast indoor shopping mall.
Spring is a superb time to travel to Ankara. Not only is the weather warm (but not stifling), it's also festival season, with dance and classical music every day during the International Ankara Music Festival.
Ankara Esenboğa Airport (ESB) is around 20 miles north of the center of town. From there, take the 442 Bus (₺8). Taxis will cost about ₺60.
High-speed trains from Istanbul run into Ankara's station, which is just outside the center of town. However, the subway runs from nearby Ulus, so getting to hotels isn't hard.
From Istanbul, take the E80, then the E89, while the E90 runs from Bursa and the E96 from Izmir.
Buses to Ankara are cheap and reliable, and terminate at the ASTI bus station, right next to Emek subway station.
Popular luxury options in the center of Ankara include the Radisson Blu, the Latanya Hotel (which has an on-site spa), and the Surmeli Ankara Hotel, which has a lively bar.
Ulus - the city's commercial center, Ulus is north of the Old Town and is very handy for ascending to the citadel.
Kizilay - Ankara's hip, upscale neighborhood, Kizilay is packed with boutiques, bars, restaurants, and achingly fashionable young Turks.
Çankaya - the political hub of Turkey, Çankaya is home to the major museums and galleries in Ankara.
To ride both buses and subway services, you'll need to purchase magnetic cards (Ankarakart). The cheapest costs ₺3.50, while 20 journeys costs ₺35.
Standard taxis will charge a basic fee of ₺2.20, followed by about ₺3 per mile.
Cars can be rented from companies like Budget, Hertz, or Enterprise, and will cost around ₺20-25 per day.
Kizilay is the area to visit if you are after boutique jewelry or clothing, but bazaars like Çıkrıkçılar Yokuşu are a better place to find bargain textiles, pottery, or carpets.
MM Migros is the dominant supermarket in Ankara, and it's fairly cheap. For example, expect to pay around ₺10 for a gallon of milk.
Street food is everywhere in Ankara - with kebabs at the fore. But if you want a high-class sit down meal, try Trilye (which focuses on seafood) or Boyacizade Konağı, which is housed in an elegant Ottoman mansion. Meals will cost around ₺15-20 per head.