In spite of Ankara being one of the top three cities in Turkey for work and play, my unofficial subtitle for this section is, "Give Me One Good Reason to Spend the Night in Ankara." Like any capital city, Ankara offers an endless selection of cultural institutions, activities, and events, but let's be realistic -- you didn't come all this way to check out the Museum of the Centennial of History of Sports and Education now, did you? But you did come to see the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and you won't be disappointed. The question is, then what?
Although the Atatürk Mausoleum (Anitkabir), set on the western side of the city, deserves a look, most of your free time should be spent in and around the citadel; it's the most picturesque and typical neighborhood of old Ankara, with some of the best views. Then head down to Tunali Hilmi in the early evening for a walk through Ankara's version of SoHo, and grab a bite and a glass of wine.
Especially for Kids
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations recently began activities that allow kids to be archaeologists for a day. Some of the activities include building models of objects on display, pressing coins as the Lydians did, and spelling their names using hieroglyphs.
Over in Kizilay is the Neverland Çocuk Kitapevi (Selanik Cad. 65/C Kizilay; tel. 0312/424-1513), a bookstore and emporium of picture books, PC games and toys targeting the youthful.
The Atatürk Farm and Zoo (Atatürk Orman Çiftligi), 6.5km (4 miles) south of Ankara along the road to Bursa, was originally commissioned by Atatürk to demonstrate to a skeptical populace the possibilities inherent in an apparently barren land. Thanks to his initiative, and the latest agricultural techniques (ca. 1920), the farm and zoo has become a popular afternoon-picnic destination, with its wide-open green spaces, cafes, and restaurant. The fact that the land does in fact yield fruit is proven by the excellent beer, old-fashioned ice cream, yogurt, and milk that visitors can sample. There's also an on-site replica of the house where Atatürk was born.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.