Çanakkale is often overlooked by visitors to the Gallipoli battlefields and the ancient city of Troy. People usually pass through and don’t bother to take a look around. In all honesty, there really isn’t a whole lot to do in Çanakkale, but if you find yourself in this Turkish city on the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, give it a couple hours (that’s all it’ll take to see it).
Çanakkale has a very long history and military tradition and there is a huge military presence in the city. It has been a strategic area since ancient times because whoever controls the Dardanelles controls access to the Black Sea.
In ancient times, the Aeolian Greek city of Abydos (Άβυδος) was located just north of the moderncity. During Byzantine times, it was known as Dardanellia (Δαρδανέλλια) and was an important defensive area for Constantinople.
In 1915, one of the most important battles of World War I took place in the Dardanelles and across the straights in Gallipoli. The British, trying to capture Constantinople to secure a sea route to Russia, were beaten back by Ottoman troops commanded by Mustafa Kemal. This battle has been glorified in many films, the most popular being Gallipoli starring Mel Gibson.
I used Çanakkale as a stopover on my way to the island of Bozcaada. To get there, I took a bus from Istanbul using Metro Turizm. The ride took almost eight hours. The last part of the journey had the bus crossing the Dardanelles by ferry from Eceabat to the Çanakkale city center. The ferry actually runs 24 hours a day and costs only a few lira to board.
I stayed at Egem Pansiyon for 50TL. It was centrally located and on a quiet street. The staff was very helpful and the room was simple, clean, and comfortable. It was the perfect place for a quick overnight stay.
When I was leaving Çanakkale, I needed to get to Geyikli to catch the ferry to Bozcaada. I was told to go to the river to find a minibus there. At this little minibus station, I asked around and nobody knew of any minibus to Geyikli. I was then directed to the Çanakkale Otogarı (bus terminal), which is on the outskirts of town. I screwed up trying to get there so I ended up taking a taxi and paying almost 30TL. Once I made it there, it was possible to get a minibus to smaller towns and villages or a bus to bigger cities.
If traveling to Istanbul, buses can be boarded at the ferry terminal in the city.