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
Ice cream by the Bosphorus, ferry rides, exploring the Grand Bazaar.
- Ephesus, Bodrum & the South Aegean
Ruins such as Ephesus for older children, plus beaches for kids of all ages. Holiday spots like Kuşadası, Bodrum, Marmaris and Akyaka offer plenty of sights, facilities, resorts, water parks and sports, with less touristy coastline nearby.
- Antalya & the 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.
The fantastical landscape of fairy chimneys (rock formations) and underground cities will thrill older children, as will cave accommodation. A safe, relaxing rural area with activities including horse riding, hot-air ballooning and walking.
- 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.
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.
- Cave hotels, Cappadocia These offer novel accommodation, as do Olympos tree houses and Kabak's beach retreats.
- Tandem paragliding, Ölüdeniz One of many western Mediterranean spots where you can mix beach-based fun and water sports with more dramatic activities.
- Resorts, Bodrum Holiday complexes and beaches around the pretty town, along with Kuşadası and Marmaris' water parks, make the Aegean a good option for a relaxed seaside holiday.
- Horse riding, Cappadocia A memorable way to see the rocky valleys, as is hot-air ballooning.
- Walking Teenagers will enjoy exploring Cappadocia or the Kaçkar Mountains.
- Cooking courses Available in locations such as İstanbul.
- Major sights For older children and teenagers, Turkey offers intriguing and romantic relics, from Ephesus to Ani, Pergamum and Afrodisias.
- Hippodrome, İstanbul Ruins such as this Byzantine race track offer plenty of space for toddlers to expend energy.
- Basilica Cistern, İstanbul Children will love the creepy atmosphere of this subterranean cavern, with walkways suspended over the water.
- Cappadocia Exploring the fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities will prove memorable for older kids.
- Turquoise Coast At Mediterranean spots such as Patara and Kekova, you can mix ruins with the beach, boat trips and sea kayaking.
Exploring Turkish Food
- Sweet treats Turkey does these as well as it does kebaps – including baklava, dondurma (ice cream) and lokum (Turkish delight).
- 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.
- Children's menus are uncommon outside tourist areas, but restaurants will often prepare special dishes for children.
- High chairs are by no means common, but can sometimes be found in tourist areas (apart from İstanbul).
- Public baby-changing facilities are rare, but found in some chain restaurants.
- Breastfeeding in public is uncommon; best to do so in a private or discreet place.
- Seaside towns and cities often have playgrounds, but check the equipment for safety.
- Buses often lack functioning toilets, but they normally stop every few hours.
- Free travel for children under six on public transport within cities, and discounts on longer journeys, are common.
- Most car-rental companies can provide baby seats for a small extra charge.
- Dangerous drivers and uneven surfaces make using strollers an extreme sport.
- A 'baby backpack' is useful for walking around sights.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lonely Planet's Travel with Children has practical information and advice.
- 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).
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.
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?).