As a Turkish Lawyer, I occasionally travel to Ankara to attend hearings in the Supreme Court of Turkey. Ankara, being the capital, is Turkey’s judicial and political center.
Ankara is also the center of Turkish international diplomacy. Ankara is home to many high-level government officials and diplomats.
The city is also visited by many business people, government delegations, and tourists throughout the year. For this reason, Ankara offers an attractive fusion of activities for all.
Ankara enjoys the busiest tourism season in the spring season. Before the pandemic, in 2019, Ankara was visited by 4.941.495 tourists.
With an average daily temperature of 18°C (64 °F) in the spring season, Ankara offers a pleasant trip to its visitors.
The city has many types of entertainment. Ankara hosts many film festivals, opera, ballet, jazz, and modern dance performances. The city also has many historical landmarks like Anıtkabir.
As a tourist or first-time visitor, you need to have a travel plan and familiarity with the destination. Millions of people visit Ankara each year, and most of them enjoy Ankara without having trouble. This guide aims to help you be one of them.
As a Turkish local, I will give you all the tips to enjoy a safe trip to the Turkish capital Ankara.
How Safe is Ankara?
Ankara is safer than most western cosmopolitan cities. Ankara is assessed as a low threat location for crime directed to US Government interests by the US Government.
There were 4288 serious crimes reported in Ankara (2019), and %97 of the reported cases can be classified as theft. Source
If you compare Ankara’s population of 5.6 million with 4288 crimes a year, you can understand that Ankara is a safe place.
In Ankara, crime is not directed at foreigners. Perpetrators and victims were Turkish people in nearly every case.
Whether you’re planning a short recreational visit or a business trip to the capital, this guide will familiarize you with Ankara and Turkey’s differences.
Ankara Safety Facts
Ankara is the second-largest city in Turkey and has diverse demographics. Many cultures, immigrants from other countries, government headquarters, and foreign embassies create a vibrant multicultural city. Yet, Ankara is an orderly city.
Like any other European capital, Ankara cannot be entirely free from minimal criminal threats. The usual danger is pickpocketing which can happen anytime, mostly in larger gatherings.
The most common incidents occurring here include stealing, pickpocketing, and sometimes you simply become a victim of a scam. The things that will attract robbers are typically valuable belongings such as flashy jewelry and the latest smartphones.
4288 serious crimes were reported in Ankara (2019). The crimes documented in Ankara were Burglary (2,627 cases), robbery (120 cases), car vehicle break-in (888 cases), vehicle thefts (532 cases), and homicides (121 cases). Source
These figures demonstrate how Ankara is far better than London, New York, San Francisco, and other major cities of the world.
13 Essential Safety Tips for Ankara
Ankara is a safe city for anyone to visit. Though the city keeps evolving, and movements change rapidly.
It’s certainly safer than other populated European capitals. However, some simple tricks can make your trip even more trouble-free.
So, whether you are a solo traveler or with family, I have just compiled a list of useful tips, accordingly, so that your trip can be safer.
- Being the center of the political stage, Ankara is the main venue for public gatherings. Stay away from public meetings.
- Turkish society is politically divided. Avoid political debates with locals. Even if you know everything about Turkish politics, you should never discuss politics.
- Carry lower banknotes and coins during your stay. They get really handy when paying for cola in the grocery store or paying your fare to the taxi drivers etc.
- When leaving your room, mind your valuables. In Turkish hotels, there are usually safes in the room. You can also ask for assistance from reception. If you are staying at a budget place, don’t leave them in your room. Use a money belt or something similar.
- Always carry a photocopy or a photo of your important documents on your phone. Keep originals at some safe place. Losing your cash into the hands of some snatcher is less problematic as compared to losing your passport.
- Be wary of friendly locals who offer to take you to a bar for food and drinks. Use well-established restaurants and always ask for menus to avoid inflated prices.
- Avoid all sorts of empty restaurants, shops, alleys, or other places. If locals are not going to this place, you should not go as well.
- In doubt, you can ask for help or assistance from local shopkeepers. Shopkeepers have a huge interest in keeping their neighborhoods safe.
- If you are coming to Ankara for the first time, know where you are going. Don’t go to places less famous to tourists. Only go to popular spots.
- Get your phone working on the first day of your arrival. Having a phone line and being able to use the internet, directions or helplines is a necessity.
- Learn some Turkish – most people don’t understand and speak English. So, it can be hard to communicate. Turkish people are very flattered and get very generous if you just try to speak Turkish.
- Most taxi drivers are honest, yet scams are common. Taxi drivers may mislead, use taxi stops. Insist taxi drivers to use the meters, and they are legally obligated to use taximeters.
- Use public transport to get home after 10 pm. Crowded places are safe.
Is Ankara Safe at Night?
Ankara is full of white-collar government officers, and as the city falls into darkness, Ankara gets quieter.
Especially at midnight, empty streets can be scary to anyone who is unfamiliar with the environment.
Yet, Ankara has a vibrant nightlife. Please use common sense, drink responsibly, and have friends cover your back, and you will be okay.
Is Ankara Safe to travel for solo female travelers?
Turkey is a safe country for women, and Ankara is mostly safer than the rest of Turkey with its modern society. Yet, there are some things you can do to be safer.
Avoid walking at night in empty streets without friends.
Dress modestly. Jeans and t-shirts are okay clothes. Yet, mini skirts and provocative attire may attract too much unwanted attention.
Is Ankara Safe to travel for families?
Ankara is a safe and excellent place to travel with families. There may be two things that may disturb you.
In the UK, I was shocked about how protective the parents were. In Turkish culture, it is normal to smile at other people’s children and converse with them even if you see them for the first time.
In busses or any public place, you will see Turkish locals showing affection to your children and treating them nicely. This is normal in our culture, and you do not need to be afraid.
This is the first cultural difference.
Second cultural shock may come to you when you realize that Turkish people are calling your children “cadi” (The witch) or “çirkin şey” (the ugly thing).
Turkish people believe saying too many good things about somebody may bring jealousy and bad luck. For this reason, to protect your children from having bad luck, we usually compliment the opposite of how we feel about your children.
Is Ankara Safe for Students?
Ankara provides a safe and easy experience for students who moved to Turkey for study. Life here is quite normal for students, and there are many areas for students to hang out without any hassle.
There have been few cases of verbal racism against students from Arab and African countries, but they are negligible. Yet, learning Turkish may improve your life quite drastically. Turks adore foreigners speaking their language.
It is estimated that there are 200,000 international students in Turkey.
Is it Safe to Drive around Ankara?
Driving in Turkey is generally more dangerous than driving in Europe, but the safest place compared to Asian countries. The road conditions are good. Yet, more blooded Turkish people can be unpredictable and hesitant to follow the rule.
Ankara is slightly safer than Turkey in general. As it is the capital city and houses many international consulates, the regulations are strictly implemented in Ankara, resulting in a more European standard driving experience.
Yet, drive defensively in Turkey.
As my father used to say, “Driving is not following the rules, drivers make mistakes, and a good driver is a person who can compensate for other drivers’ mistakes. Not being involved in an accident is more important than being right.”
If you wish to learn, check my articles on
How is healthcare in Ankara?
Ankara has adequate health services for its population. Ankara has 83 Hospitals and 1973 Public Clinics. There are many private and public health services to choose from.
According to UNDP, Turkey has a High Human Development on par with other industrial nations. Ankara, which is the capital of Turkey, has even better health services than other cities of Turkey.
Dangerous Parts of Ankara
One of the most dangerous parts of Ankara is the district Çinçin.
In some cases, the police usually refrain from entering this zone, as the area is hazardous both day and night. Specifically, tourists should be away from such an area.
Other parts included are the historical center of Ankara near Ulus, which is ruled by poverty. These areas resemble the homeless ghettos of America.
Is Ankara’s tap water safe to drink?
Ankara’s tap water is clean and safe, but it is not suitable for drinking. The water in Ankara tastes very bad, particularly when you are used to spring or mineral water.
Turkish people share the same opinion and mostly use bottled water in their homes. However, Turkish locals like me use tap water to make tea or for cooking purposes.
Yet, I would advise you to stick with bottled water if you feel unsure about the water quality. Especially when you’re on a short trip, it’s better to drink mineral water bottles for your wellness.
You can safely use tap water to clean yourself, brush your teeth, and wash your clothes.
You can check the article on the safety of Turkish tap water to learn more.
Security Risks (Terrorism) in Ankara
Like most Western Metropolitan cities, Ankara has a low risk concerning the attack of certain illegal groups. Yet, even though the chances are rare, there is a risk as anywhere in the world.
My number one piece of advice, stay away from Turkish public political gatherings.
Also, Turkish authorities increased security controls in past years because of a recent coup attempt in Ankara.
Is Public Transport safe in Ankara?
Ankara’s public transport is very much reliable to travel and considered safe. Tourists can easily use public transport such as buses and the metro.
Ankara’s metro is the most convenient way of public transport in Ankara, which covers most areas of the city.
In my experience, you can be very comfortable with the environment and easy-going bus drivers.
Because Ankara is the capital city, most people are used to following regulations, and authorities have done their best to avoid inconvenience in public transports.
Natural Disaster Risks in Ankara
Ankara has flood and earthquake risks that are rare but could be dangerous.
As climate changes continue to affect the world, Ankara has faced many heavy downpours in recent years, which have caused floods and mudslides.
Ankara is prone to frequent rainfalls that can cause devastating damage. Fortunately, these downpours are usually predicted in advance, and people are warned.
The countryside of Ankara also lies in the earthquake zones, and small to medium level earthquakes are reported from time to time.
Summer can be hot, and forest fires are another risk, but after the recent breakout of forest fires in Turkey, the government has taken every step to avoid this in the future.
Is Food Safe in Ankara?
The food is safe in Ankara. The food served in restaurants, or permanent places is always controlled by health and safety standards.
Turkish food has its unique tastes and has eclectic options. Even newcomers will find similar tastes that are used at home.
Ankara has many high-quality restaurants, and you also find restaurants specializing in world cuisines like Japanese, Thai, Chinese and more.
Since Ankara is a place suitable for pasture, local cuisine is specialized in meat dishes. As a person from West Turkey, I always feel like Ankara smells like sheep meat. You should try different stew and meatball dishes in Ankara.
You should expect no serious harm, but some food may be strange to your stomach.
Check my other guide, if you wish to learn more about Turkish Food and What to expect in Turkish Cuisine.
Are taxis safe in Ankara?
Taxis are safe in Ankara, but some taxi drivers can be greedy and may try to deceive you about the fare.
Use official taxis and do not barter with them. Take a photo of the license plate coined in the rear of the taxis, by this way you can easily contact the taxi if you forget to take your belonging in the taxi.
Ask them to turn on the taximeter. This way, you can see the fare that you will pay.
Taxis are obligated to turn on the taximeter, and without a working taximeter, taxis are not permitted to work.
Taximeters always show the value in Turkish Lira, and taxis are obliged to turn on their taximeters.
Check my other guide, if you wish to learn more about Taxis in Turkey and the cost of taxis in Turkish cities, common taxi scams and more tips.
How Much Taxis Cost in Ankara?
The starting fee of taxis in Ankara is 5 TL (0,60 USD), and you will pay an additional 3,70 TL (0,46 USD) per kilometer. The minimum fee applied is 10 TL (1,25 USD).
The Turkish Lira value will change due to inflation, but you can always calculate a rough estimate of your taxi travel.
You can check the distance with Google maps and use the USD numbers above to calculate your rough taxi fare.
The 20 km taxi ride in Ankara will cost you around 9,8 USD. Calculator 0,60 (starting fee) plus 9,2 (20 km x 0,46) for 20 km.
Taxi fees do not change day or night or for any other reason.
Last Word About Travel Warnings about Turkey
Remember, these warnings are not prepared city-specific, and they are written for Turkey as a whole.
I do not totally agree with them, especially for Ankara. Some of these warnings are appropriate for Ankara, but I believe they lack some basic and crucial warnings and exaggerate rare possibilities.
I tried to give you a local’s perspective on safety in Ankara. I hope you liked it.