Çocuklar (children) are the beloved centrepiece of family life in Turkey and your children will be welcomed wherever they go. Your journey will be peppered with exclamations of Maşallah (glory be to God) and your children will be clutched into the adoring arms of strangers.

Best Regions for Kids

  • İstanbul

Ice cream by the Bosphorus, ferry rides, exploring the Grand Bazaar.

  • South Aegean

Ruins such as Ephesus for older children, plus beaches for kids of all ages. Holiday spots like Kuşadası, Bodrum, Marmaris and Gökova (Akyaka) offer facilities, resorts, water parks and sports, with sights and less touristy coastline nearby.

  • Turquoise Coast

Water sports and activities from tandem paragliding to sea kayaking over submerged ruins. With younger children, holiday towns like Kaş offer picturesque lanes and sandy beaches.

  • Cappadocia

The fantastical landscape of fairy chimneys (rock formations) and underground cities will thrill older children, as will cave accommodation. Outdoor activities include hikes, horse rides and hot-air ballooning.

  • İzmir & the North Aegean

More Aegean beaches. İzmir's kordon (seafront) is a child-friendly promenade – plenty of space in which to expend energy and take horse-and-carriage rides. Boat trips and snorkelling are also popular.

Turkey for Kids

Travelling in family-focused Turkey is a blessing with kids big and small – waiters play with babies, strangers entertain and indulge at every turn, and free or discounted entry to sights is common. Do bear in mind, however, that facilities are often lacking and safety consciousness rarely meets Western norms.

Children's Highlights

Accommodation

  • Cave hotels, Cappadocia Bigger kids and teenagers will enjoy the modern troglodyte experience of bedding down underground.
  • Gület cruising, Mediterranean Coast Sleep under the stars, aboard a gület (Turkish yacht) overnight trip on the Med heading out from coastal towns such as Fethiye, Kalkan and Kaş.
  • Gelemiş pensions, Patara The family-friendly pensions, with pools, in teensy Gelemiş village are a relaxing beach-break alternative to Turkey's big resorts.
  • Guesthouses, Çıralı This beachfront village has plentiful guesthouses and bungalows; it's another chilled-out choice for fun-and-sun family holidays away from the big-brand resorts.

Activities

  • Tandem paragliding, Ölüdeniz Adventurous older children and teens can break up the relaxed beachy vibes with the adrenaline buzz of jumping off Baba Dağ.
  • Horse riding, Cappadocia Outdoorsy kids will enjoy exploring the Cappadocia valleys on horseback.
  • Cable car, Uludağ When traipsing around Bursa's fine Ottoman relics begins to bore, take the kids up the world's longest cable car.
  • Hiking, Göreme Plenty of day-hiking opportunities within the fairy-chimney-strewn valleys from short, easy jaunts between fairy-chimney rock formations for tots to longer day hikes to hidden cave-churches for older children and teens.
  • Eğirdir Outdoor Centre, Eğirdir Rent bikes to head out on a family cycling trip or explore the lake by boat.
  • Hot-air ballooning, Cappadocia The panoramas of the Cappadocian countryside from up high will probably be the highlight of older children's and teenagers' Turkey travels (there's no point taking younger kids hot-air ballooning if they aren't tall enough to see over the edge of the basket).
  • Ferry rides, İstanbul Let kids get an outdoor geography lesson, complete with great city views and the chance of spotting dolphins on the 25-minute ferry ride between Europe and Asia.

Historic Sites

  • Ephesus, Selçuk The ultimate site to introduce kids to history with a theatre and odeon to scramble up, Graeco-Roman communal latrines to gross-out at and amazingly restored monuments to gawp at.
  • Kaymaklı Underground City, Cappadocia Delving deep underground into Kaymaklı's caverns and tunnels will fascinate most children.
  • Pamukkale travertines, Pamukkale After rambling through the ruins of Roman spa town Hierapolis, kids will love walking down the otherworldly white calcite travertines and wading through the turquoise-blue pools along the way.
  • Basilica Cistern, İstanbul Kids will love the creepy atmosphere of this subterranean cavern with walkways suspended over the water.
  • Bergama Acropolis, Bergama These Graeco-Roman ruins, perched atop a cliff, are dramatic enough to impress teens.
  • Ancient Patara, Patara The Lycian ruins of ancient Patara ramble all the way down to the beach, great for mixing swimming and sand fun with some history.
  • Grand Bazaar, İstanbul For you it may be all about shopping but for little ones this is a magical labyrinth of colourful lanterns, secret corners and free lokum (Turkish delight) dished out by shopkeepers who dote on children.
  • Kızkalesi Castle, Kızkalesi Turkey's most fairy-tale-style castle sits on a rock outcrop just offshore, and there's the added bonus of being able to access it by pedalo as well as by boat.

Water Fun

  • Dragoman tours, Kaş Lots of outdoor activities that active teens will enjoy including SUP, guided snorkelling, boat tours and kayaking.
  • Water parks, Kuşadası After an Ephesus visit, let the kids beat the heat and let off some steam at one of nearby Kuşadası's water parks.
  • Kayaking, Kekova Water sports with a dash of history on the side while kayaking over the Kekova area's sunken city.
  • Boat trips, Mediterranean Coast Plentiful options for sea excursions from the resort towns along the coast from Ayvalık down to Alanya.

Exploring Turkish Food

  • Cappadocia Home Cooking, Ayvalı Budding cooks will love learning to cook mantı (Turkish ravioli) and other Anatolian dishes in this family home.
  • Only in İzmir Culinary Walk İzmir Encourage adventurous eating with this full-on jaunt through İzmir's food scene. The walk is decently flat so good for those with tots in strollers too.
  • Culinary Kaş, Kaş Learn to cook a Turkish feast together as a family at these daily workshops.
  • Culinary Backstreets, İstanbul The 'Shop, Cook & Feast' tour is a great introduction to Turkish cuisine for kids of all ages.

Planning

Accommodation

  • Many hotels in all price ranges have family suites.
  • Self-catering apartments and villas are common in tourist areas such as Bodrum.
  • Cots are increasingly common; many hotels will organise one with advance notice.
  • Resorts offer kids' clubs, and hotels in tourist areas may be able to arrange babysitting.

Eating

  • Children are welcomed with open arms by staff at restaurants in Turkey.
  • Children's menus are uncommon outside tourist areas but restaurants will often prepare special dishes for children.
  • High chairs are common in restaurants throughout Turkey.

Facilities

  • Public baby-changing facilities are rare, and usually only found in malls and some chain restaurants.
  • Breastfeeding in public is uncommon; best to do so in a private or discreet place.
  • Cities, towns and even bigger villages have parks with playground equipment, though sometimes it's in dire condition; always check the equipment for safety.

Getting Around

  • Long-distance buses don't have on-board toilets. Instead they stop for breaks approximately every three hours.
  • Free travel for children under six on public transport within cities, and discounts on long-distance bus and train journeys are common.
  • Most car-rental companies can provide baby seats for a small extra charge.
  • Skinny pavements in old districts of cities and uneven surfaces can make manoeuvring strollers difficult. Be vigilant when crossing roads; drivers rarely stop at pedestrian crossings.
  • A 'baby backpack' is useful for walking around sights.

Health

  • In hot, moist climates any wound or break in the skin may lead to infection. The area should be cleaned and then kept dry and clean.
  • Encourage your child to avoid dogs and other mammals because of the risk of rabies and other diseases.
  • For children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, double-check drugs and dosages prescribed for travel by doctors and pharmacists, as they may be unsuitable. The same applies to practitioners in Turkey.
  • Some information on the suitability of drugs and recommended dosage can be found on travel-health websites.

Products

  • Double-check the suitability of prescriptions your children are given while in Turkey.
  • Pasteurised UHT milk is sold in cartons everywhere but fresh milk is harder to find.
  • Consider bringing a supply of baby food – what little you find here, your baby will likely find inedible – or it will just be mashed banana.
  • Migros supermarkets have the best range of baby food.
  • Most supermarkets stock formula (although it is very expensive) and vitamin-fortified rice cereal.
  • Disposable bebek bezi (nappies or diapers) are readily available.
  • The best nappies are Prima and Huggies, sold in pharmacies and supermarkets; don't bother with cheaper local brands.

Resources

  • For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Safety

  • In hotels and other buildings, look out for open power points.
  • Many taps are unmarked and reversed (cold on the left, hot on the right).
  • Steep, uneven staircases in older buildings can be a problem.

On the street, watch for:

  • Turkey's notorious drivers, particularly those on pavement-mounting mopeds.
  • Crudely covered electric mains.
  • Open stairwells.
  • Serious potholes.
  • Open drains.
  • Carelessly secured building sites.

Baby Talk

Perhaps learn your child's age and sex in Turkish – ay (month), yil (year), erkek (boy) and kız (girl). To make polite inquiries about other people's children: Kaç tane çocuklariniz varmı? (How many children do you have?).