Çanakkale (pronounced chah-NAK-kah-leh) is a city in the Southern Marmara Region of Turkey, on the Dardanelles. A vibrant town thanks to the quite large student population of the local university, it also serves as a lively hub to travellers of diverse backgrounds and interests.
The city is on the southern, Asian bank of the Dardanelles (known in the classical antiquity as the Hellespont; Turkish: Çanakkale Boğazı, "Çanakkale Strait"), a narrow, meandering, and internationally significant waterway collectively known as the Turkish Straits together with the Bosphorus. The Dardanelles links the Aegean Sea (an arm of the Mediterranean) with the Sea of Marmara (and by extension, the Black Sea) while separating Europe (the Gallipoli Peninsula) from Asia (the Troad).
There has been evidence of a settlement in the Çanakkale area since 3000 BC—almost countless ancient cities lined both banks of the Dardanelles. Due to its strategic location on a major sea passage, the area is rich in history and culture, and was the scene of the Trojan War and the crossings of Xerxes' Persians and Alexander the Great's Macedonians in opposite directions about one century and a half apart.
During World War I, Çanakkale and the adjoining areas on both sides of the Dardanelles were the stage of a year-long battle between the United Kingdom, France and the Ottoman Empire. From April 1915 to January 1916, a joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul), with the fieriest conflict taking place on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The attempt failed, but not without heavy casualties on both sides.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The climate of Çanakkale is Mediterranean, but the slight influence of the oceanic Black Sea coast and the continental Balkans causes it to experience colder than average winter temperatures for typical Mediterranean climates. Therefore, Çanakkale experiences hot, dry summers and cool to chilly, rainy winters with occasional snow. The city is famously very windy year-round.
Summers are hot, with highs around 30°C, even though the hottest days can have highs above 35°C. Rain is uncommon, but a few, moderately heavy showers can interrupt the generally sunny, dry weather.
Winters are cool, sometimes chilly, with highs just below 10°C and occasional night-time frosts. Rain is common, and rainy spells often follow the infamous violent windstorms of the Marmara region, a southwesterly called Lodos. These windstorms tend to cancel ferries, so watch out for these days if you want to take them. Snow isn't very common, but falls and accumulates almost every year and heavier snowstorms can happen once every two or three years.
Spring (especially April and May) and fall are mild, and therefore are the best times to visit the city. There are occasional rain showers, but these generally don't last for long.
There are buses from Istanbul at any time, day or night. Just go to Istanbul's otogar, and look for 'Çanakkale' signs on the windowpanes of bus company offices. It takes 5½-6 hours to get from Istanbul to Çanakkale.
- Kamil Koç, İstanbul Otogar, Bayrampaşa-Esenler, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. One of the bus companies transporting passengers for 50 TL pp between Istanbul and Çanakkale.
- Truva Turizm, İstanbul Otogar no: 137, Bayrampaşa-Esenler, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Covers the same route for 45 TL pp (might be a few liras cheaper if the ticket is bought online through their website, but you will need Turkish language skills for that). )
Most buses drop their passengers off just next to ferry harbour—which is located in the city centre—after crossing the strait by ferry.
From Istanbul, the highway signs for Çanakkale lead you west to Keşan then south on E87 / D550 to the ferry ports at Eceabat and Kilitbahir. Coming the other way clockwise round the Sea of Marmara is a long route via Bursa that you'd only take for a tourist itinerary.
- From Eceabat sailing hourly 07:00-00:00 and every two hours through the night, 25 min. Adult 2 TL, car 40 TL.
- From Kilitbahir (5 km south of Eceabat) sailing every 30 min 07:00-22:00, 15 min, no overnight service. Adult 2 TL, car 35 TL.
- In summer there's also a waterbus for foot passengers to the island of Gökçeada, one hour. Otherwise take the year-round car-ferry from Karatepe, 12 km west of Eceabat.
Extra sailings are laid on at peak times, with long fractious queues to join them. Sailings may of course be suspended in bad weather.
- 2 Çanakkale Airport (CKZ IATA). This has flights three days a week from Ankara (ESB IATA), taking 75 min and operated by AnadoluJet the Turkish Airlines subsidiary. The airport is only 2 km southeast of city centre, so for ground transport just take a taxi. (You could walk, but flights are often late night or early morning.) There are car rental kiosks at the airport.
Most of the places in Çanakkale are in walking distance. There is a Tourist Information office several meters from ferryboat station (on the right if you are coming from the ferry). You can pick up a free tourist map of Çanakkale and the surrounding areas. They also have schedules of the minibuses to Troy and ferries to Bozcaada.
- 1 Archaeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi), İzmir Caddesi (on the highway to Izmir, about 30 min away from the ferry harbour on foot; minibuses are also available), ☏ , fax: . Tu-Su 08:30-12:30, 13:30-17:30. Artifacts excavated from archaeological sites in the countryside surrounding Çanakkale, mostly amphorae and pottery, is among the exhibited in this museum.
- Korfmann Library (The ÇOMÜ Korfmann Archeology Library), Fevzipaşa Mahallesi, Tifli Sokak 16, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 [dead link] (Deniz Müzesi), Fevzipaşa Mahallesi, Çimenlik Sokak (on the waterfront, just west of ferry harbour), ☏ , fax: . Tu-W F-Su 09:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00. The museum positioned around (and including) the Çimenlik Castle (Çimenlik Kalesi, also known as Kale-i Sultaniye) which dates back to 1461. A replica of a minelayer named Nusret that was employed in the naval battle of Dardanelles and photos taken during the period is among the exhibition of the museum.
- Trojan Horse (2 minute walk east of the ferry harbour, on the waterfront). The one that was used in the movie Troy was donated to the city. free.
Many travellers to Çanakkale are also attracted by the sites in the surrounding area; see the Go next section below for some suggestions.
One thing not to miss while in Çanakkale is bomba, which is the usual döner in half a bread plus an omelette added in. There are lots of buffets making it in the cluster of shops located just across the street from ferry harbor. Totally local, so don't expect to find it in anywhere else.
- Restaurant Damak Tadi, Yali Cad. 20. small place, tasty food. Close to the justice building and the Naval Museum.
- Peynir Helvasi. A special dessert made of cheese, yolk, semolina and sugar. Husmenoglu is a patisserie famous with that dessert.
Most nightlife in town revolves around the lively old town surrounding the historic clock tower, west of the ferry harbour. Many establishments offer live music during the weekend nights.
- 1 Barduck, Fetvane Sk 17/A. Coffees, beers and cocktails in a renovated historic house and its open-air backyard where smoking is allowed. 6-25 TL.
- 2 Yalı Hanı, Fetvane Sk 31. A coffeehouse with rustic wooden tables and chairs, offering tea, coffee, and beer in the courtyard of a converted inn building dating back to the 1880s. Visit in the spring, when the huge wisteria vine covering pretty much all of the courtyard is in full bloom of its purple flowers.
- [dead link] Anafartalar Hotel, İskele Meydanı 17100, ☏ .
- Anzac Hotel.
- Anzac House, Cumhuriyet Meydanı N:61 17100, ☏ .
- Otel Efes, Fetvane Sokak 5, ☏ . Small, clean and friendly hotel close to the ferry terminal. 20 TL.
- Kolin Hotel, Kepez 17100, ☏ .
- [formerly dead link] Akol Hotel, Kayserili Ahmet Paşa cad. Kordonboyu, ☏ .
- Buyuk Truva Hotel, Cevatpaşa Mah. M.Akif Ersoy cad.No:2, ☏ .
- Hotel Kervansaray, Fetvane Sokak 13, ☏ . Nice hotel close to waterfront. Comfortable rooms, helpful staff and lovely courtyard.
There is a public bathroom outside the ferry harbor area, but it costs 0.5 TL, has no toilet paper (napkins on a table outside the bathroom door), and has squat-type holes rather than toilets on the women's side. It is probably best to use a bathroom at a restaurant or your hostel.
As of Dec 2020, there is 4G from all Turkish carriers in the city and on the approach highways, and you'll manage a phone call on the ferry from Eceabat. 5G has not yet reached this area.
Hero and Leander
Two lovers separated by the Dardanelles according to an ancient Greek myth, Hero was an Aphrodite temple priestess in Sestos, on the European side of the Dardanelles, while Leander was a young man from Abydos, just across the strait. Guided by a lantern lit by Hero, Leander would swim across the Dardanelles every night to meet his lover. One night during a storm, the lantern got blown out, leaving Leander without guidance through the strong currents, and he drowned. Upon hearing about her lover's death, Hero killed herself. In 1810, while his ship was awaiting passage to Constantinople, English romantic poet Lord Bryon swam across between Abydos and Sestos, resurrecting the semi-forgotten legend.
Cape Nara (Nara Burnu, other names include Nagara Point and Point Pesquies, 6 km north of Çanakkale), on which Abydos was situated, is today occupied by the Nara Citadel, a beautiful early 19th-century Ottoman fortress. Due to its strategic location on the Dardanelles Narrows, it is inside a military zone and is not open to the public. On the other side of the strait, only very scant ruins of the citadel of Sestos survive, near a Turkish WWI military cemetery (Akbaş Şehitliği), on the highway 11 km northeast of Eceabat.
In remembrance of the myth and the poet, the local Rotary Club holds a swimming competition across the Dardanelles every August. The swim takes place between Eceabat and Çanakkale, considerably longer than the original Abydos–Sestos route, but still within the Narrows.
Çanakkale is a convenient base to explore many nearby sights from.
- The Gallipoli Peninsula is on the opposite banks of the Dardanelles. A self drive to the historic battlefield of Anzac Cove, filled with the memorials and commemorative areas, will cost more than 160 TL including car hire, fuel, and ferry toll. At 70 TL per person, tours are cheaper, but you will be rushed and unable to do it at your own pace.
- Kilitbahir — a village just across the narrowest section of the Dardanelles known for its extremely well preserved castle, which is the most obvious landmark seen from the waterfront when illuminated at night. The village has frequent ferry services from Çanakkale, and is a convenient starting point for visits onward to the southern and decidedly less-visited World War I monuments of Gallipoli, such as Cape Helles.
- Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) — two of the biggest islands of Turkey, also the only significant Turkish islands in the Aegean Sea, are nearby. Both islands are multicultural to a degree, and have native Greek communities as well as Turkish ones. Gökçeada, the northern and much bigger of the couple, has long been known for its atmospheric abandoned villages that have started to be revitalized. Bozcaada is a lively, charming island with a beautiful old town and a millenia-old wine-making tradition.
- Dardanos and Güzelyalı — two low-rise seaside suburbs surrounded by pine forests just south of the city. Dardanos is also the site of an ancient settlement as a burial mound (tümülüs) attests.
- Troy (Truva or Troya in Turkish) — an archaeological site about 30 km away. Ruins of the legendary city of the Illiad fame with the (re-constructed) wooden horse.
- Assos (also known as Behramkale; about 100 km away) is a pleasant seaside village with a hilltop Temple of Athena and mind-blowing views over the Aegean—which might have helped Aristotle to decide establishing a philosophy academy there.
- Along the Troad Coast — an itinerary south of Çanakkale combining visits to Troy, Assos, and a number of other historic sites along the Aegean coast.
|Routes through Çanakkale|
|Keşan ← Eceabat ←||N S||→ Troy → Izmir|
|Merges with ←||N E||→ Bandirma → Bursa|