Ankara, despite its seat as capital, is often considered as little more than a waypoint when travelers press their pins into the Turkey map. It doesn't have the wow factor of a city like Istanbul, the mountains of the east or the ruins and beaches of the south. And yet despite these factors, we urge you to linger here, at least for a bit, because its cultural institutions and neighborhoods are well worth time in your busy itinerary.
The obvious centerpiece of Ankara culture would have to be Anıtkabir, the resting place of Turkey's most legendary man, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The leader of the Turkish independence movement and the subsequent first president, the mausoleum, museum, and grounds are a fittingly large-scale tribute. North of city center in the old city of Ulus is where you'll encounter a greater sense of history, although Kizilay Square downtown is the busiest part of Ankara and has been a forum for the protests and celebrations fueled by generations of involved young Turks. Just follow Atatürk Boulevard north until you get close to where it becomes Çankırı Caddesi and you'll be within walking distance of a number of landmarks. Hacı Bayram Mosque, first constructed in the 15th century, and the Temple of Augustus (1st century BC) are adjacent to each other and serve as a good starting point for a tour of the district. It's a ten minute walk southeast to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which houses one of the world's preeminent collections of ancient artifacts. From there you may quickly move up the hill to Antalya's highest landmark, Ankara Castle. After taking in views of the city from the castle walls, you can head another ten minutes' walk south to the oldest Turkish bath in the city, Sengul Hamam or even head back into Kavaklıdere to see more modern artistry at the Ankara Modern Arts Center across from the American Embassy. Just be sure to stop at Kocatepe Cami (mosque), located in Kizilay if you haven't yet had enough of the large, minareted structures; this one is the most aesthetically wonderful in Ankara.
Beyond our suggested walking tour, there are also some excellent cuisine and nightlife choices to flesh out your Ankara experience. Also, be sure to visit our individual activity pages for more inspiration for a trip to the Turkish capital.