Eating out and entertainment in Ankara
Turkish food is renowned for its variety of flavours and colours, exhibiting influences from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Western and Balkan cultures. Ankara, as an agricultural hub, has access to some of the country's finest ingredients, and the region is known for its fruits, wines and breads. Delicious local food can be found in Ankara's many fine restaurants and street stalls.
Ankara's nightlife is concentrated mostly in and around Kızılay, where the most of the city's bars and clubs are located. Alternatively, many pubs and bars are located on Tunali Hilmi Street. On hot summer evenings, Ankarans will catch the breeze and hang out in courtyards, gardens or parks.
Shopping in Ankara
Ankara is bristling with choices for shoppers, from street stalls and bazaars to boutique shops and shopping malls. Kızılay, the heart of the city, is home to a good mix of malls, boutiques and cafés, with some of Ankara's best-known shopping streets, including Atatürk Boulevard, Tunali Street and Kavaklıdere.
Some of the best malls in Ankara include the massive ANKAmall, the second-largest mall in Turkey after Cevahir in Istanbul and the six-floor Karum Mall, known for its upscale designer boutiques.
Bazaar shopping is an unmissable Turkish experience, and Ankara's historic Ulus district is home to some of the country's most authentic and flavourful markets, with authentic and handcrafted Turkish goods, including handwoven textiles, carpets and traditional fabrics, handmade leather and copper goods, jewellery, spices, embroidery and ceramics. The district also hosts Ankara's oldest food market, and many of the area's old Ottoman houses have been converted into restaurants.
Sports and fitness in Ankara
Ankara offers many sporting and leisure activities, with gyms and sports clubs throughout the city. There are also several golf clubs and country clubs for expats to join. There are parks throughout Ankara, with many of its best hiking and running trails on the southeast outskirts of the city.
See and do in Ankara
Located in Ankara's administrative centre, Atakule (Turkish for 'Ancestor Tower') is a 410-foot (125m) communication and observation tower that provides a view of the whole city. Visitors can dine at the tower's rotating Sevilla Restaurant as they plan their next move.
Located in the historical district of Ulus is Ankara Castle, overlooking the area's wooden Ottoman houses. The castle dates back to the 7th century but incorporates architecture reflecting the city's history with the Seljuk, Roman and Byzantine empires. The neighbouring streets are packed with traditional workshops, antique shops, cafés and restaurants.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations & Ermitan Archaeology and Art Museum
This museum has collections encompassing Anatolia's deep history, with artefacts from the Classical era to Iron Age empires like the Phrygians and Urartians, the Bronze Age Hittites and the Neolithic proto-city of Çatalhöyük, one of the oldest settlements in the world.
The Ermitan Archaeology and Art Museum nearby focuses solely on the Classical era, with contemporary instalments aimed at bringing to life the Greek and Roman periods.
Expats bitten by the history bug can plan a day trip to the Hittite sites of Hattuşa, Yazilikaya and Alacahöyük or the Phrygian city of Gordion at Yassıhüyük.
Anitkabir is the hilltop site of the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and is an important pilgrimage site for Turks to pay respects to their first president. Besides the mausoleum, there is a large museum complex commemorating Atatürk's life and the war for independence.
Ankara State Opera House
This theatre shows regular performances for the Turkish State's Opera, Ballet and Theatre companies, as well as from international classical music companies.
Near Ankara Castle in the Ulus district are preserved ruins from the Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus Caesar. These ruins include the remnants of the Temple of Augustus and Rome, as well as the ruins of the Roman baths. Currently under restoration, there are also ruins of a Roman theatre that once sat 3,000-plus spectators.
What's on in Ankara
International Ankara Music Festival (April)
This festival is traditionally opened and closed by a symphonic orchestra, but it hosts all styles of music performance from both Turkish and international artists.
Ankara Film Festival (April–May)
Since 1988, the Ankara Film Festival has welcomed independent and mainstream filmmakers and cinephiles from around the world.
International Ankara Theatre Festival (October)
Organised by the Turkish Foundation for Social Research, Culture and Art (TAKSAV), the International Ankara Theatre Festival is held every year and presents professional and amateur plays by Turkish and international theatre groups.
Republic Day (October)
Ankara, as the country's capital and the final resting place of the country's founder, is visited by more than 100,000 people every year and is the focus of the nation's celebration of independence. Expats should be sure to catch the parades, concernts and fireworks displays during this 35-hour celebration.
Are you an expat living in Ankara?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ankara. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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