If you thought Çanakkale was worth visiting only as a launching point for Gallipoli's battlefields, think again. The presence of the highly regarded Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University endows this small city with a sizeable student population that loves nothing more than to eat, drink and party in the atmospheric cobbled lanes around the saat kulesi (clock tower; 1897) and along the sweeping kordon (waterfront promenade). Joining their revelries is a highlight of any visit.
The undisputed hub of the region, Çanakkale is replete with mythological associations. It was from the ancient town of Abydos immediately north that Leander swam across the Hellespont every night to see his love, Hero; and it was in the Dardanelles that Helle, the daughter of Athamas, was drowned in the legend of the Golden Fleece, giving the waterway its ancient name. Close by are the remnants of ancient Troy, immortalised by Homer in his epic poem the Iliad.