Travel to Turkey with Children
Traveling with a child/children in Turkey? They’ll be smothered with love! Here are some kid-friendly destinations: —Istanbul, with its castles, palaces, and ferryboats —Cappadocia, a fairyland of rock pinnacles, caves and even real labyrinths, not to mention hot-air balloon flights —Bodrum, with a real Crusader castle and lots of gulet sailing yachts for cruises and swimming —Any of Turkey’s beautiful beaches Everyone in Turkey will do their best to help with any challenges to travel with a child (çocuk) or children (çocuklar). I’d recommend daily yogurt for digestion if your child has no sensitivity to milk products. Here’s info on food allergies. If you need medical help, ask for a doktor (doctor) specializing in çocuk hastalıkları (pediatric illness).
Disposable diapers (bebek bezi) are easy to find in pharmacies (eczane), grocery shops (bakkal) and supermarkets. Prima is a prominent brand. Look in the same places for jars of baby food. Hotels may be helpful in preparing simple cereals, pureéd fruits and vegetables. Ultra-pasteurized milk is sold in every local grocery shop (bakkal). Public toilets rarely have changing tables , so you may have to improvise, but Turks will go out of their way to help in any situation.
Cities have a few playgrounds, but they may not be convenient to where you’re staying. Still, ask about çocukbahçesi (“child[ren]’s garden”).
School children will find lots to entertain them: fortresses to explore in Istanbul, Galata Tower to climb, ferryboats to cruise on, lots of fine beaches, trams, sleeper trains, a few cable cars, palaces,caves, spooky underground cisterns (even whole underground cities), and—perhaps the supreme delight—hot-air balloon flights straight out of the Wizard of Oz.
Besides the attractions listed above, teenagers may be interested in Turkey’s excellent windsurfing opportunities,yachting, hiking, horse riding, cooking courses, tandem paragliding in Fethiye, and the various historical and archeological sites.
Virtually all hotels, large and small, can accommodate children of any age in cribs, cots or rollaway beds. Many lodgings have several family-friendly rooms with one large double bed and one single bed. Family suites are also becoming popular: adjoining bedrooms with kitchenette and perhaps two bathrooms. When you travel as a family, ask specifically about family-friendly sleeping arrangements. A family suite may be more comfortable, and may cost no more than two separate guest rooms.
- 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.
- 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.