So you’ve had kids recently (maybe you want to travel before they turn 2-years-old and take advantage of the free air fare? 😉) and you love to travel… what should you do? While traveling with a toddler is definitely more challenging, it’s far from impossible and sometimes more rewarding than solo travel. When that smile lights up on their faces as you enjoy a new place together – well, there’s no other bonding experience quite like it!
But it’s still a different experience. Ephesus is one of the most incredible ancient cities on Earth, but it’s probably not the kind of place that’s going to capture the imagination of a 2-year-old. The best places if you’re traveling with a kid are destinations with decent facilities, high-quality markets nearby (for all those extra odds and ends you need to pick up – what if they get sick? How about when you run out of diapers? The only thing they’ll drink is apple juice, and you want to make sure it’s made from 100% concentrate… etc. etc.), close sleeping quarters for you to go back and forth from naps to the sights, and of course, most of all, awesome destinations that the whole family will enjoy, Mommy and Daddy included!
If you’re looking for your next holiday and you’re not leaving the kids with the babysitter, here’s the top 5 spots to consider when you come to Turkey.
When it comes to capturing a young kid’s imagination, there’s nowhere in the world quite like Cappadocia! The fairytale landscape is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, and even if you’re not sure they’ll love going up in a hot air balloon with you (most kids love it! But maybe you don’t want to be in one place for an hour, or you’re worried about them not climbing up when they shouldn’t), waking up with them at the crack of dawn to see the thousands of balloons all go up together is a sight they’ll certainly never forget.
Beyond that, Cappadocia has all the essentials. It’s a well-organized tourist destination with hotels of all class and doctors, hospitals, and major cities relatively nearby. In places like Göreme, the open-air museum is within a few feet of where you’re staying, so you can go out for a stroll with the little one and get right back home if you need to. Perfect!
You weren’t expecting Eskişehir to make this list, were you?! Well Eskişehir is another excellent city for toddlers. Transportation to the city is really easy with the relatively new high-speed railway that takes you there from Ankara or Istanbul (see a bit later 😊 ). The train ride itself is fun (what kid doesn’t love trains?) and once you get there there’s so much to do.
Again it’s a major city, so it has every variety of need and facility you can think of, as well as every kind of major market. But it’s also got a young, vibrant culture of its own where you can experience a different feel from the rest of Turkey. Strolling along the banks of the Porsuk River and sipping tea is fantastic, and as an added bonus there are playgrounds all the way up and down the river, many of them quite large with a section for toddlers and a separate section for older kids.
Of course the highlight for kids in Eskişehir is Sazova Park, whose fairytale castle is simply magical. The park has been intentionally designed to appeal both to kids and to adults, with an excellent café inside to take a break while the kids run around the castle.
Ok this was an easy one. İstanbul is a gorgeous city, and full of parks and playgrounds for kids. Obviously it has some of the highest quality facilities in all of Europe, with many of its top markets as well. Kids love the boat trips back and forth (the ferries that take a half hour… the full-day Bosphorus tours can be a little too long) and throwing “simit” bread to the seagulls (while cheekily eating some of it themselves as well! 😉).
Another highlight is what used to be called Vialand and has been renamed Isfanbul, a full theme park with tons of rides and attractions for all ages, located very near the center of the city.
Many restaurants in İstanbul cater specifically to families as well, with jungle gyms inside the restaurant and staff specifically on hand to play with the kids while you finish your meal. Istanbul is a wonderful place to bring the whole family, regardless of age or size of family, and there’s so much to do – your kids will be asking why they can’t come back every year!
Antalya - All Inclusive
Speaking of coming back every year, why not treat yourself to an all-inclusive beach holiday in Antalya. Many of the resorts cater specifically to families, with kids’ clubs that take in kids from different ages and have daily organized activities. For older kids, many of these activities are educational while for younger kids there are bouncy castles, ball pits, and of course the endless array of water slides and types of pools that kids just can’t get enough of.
While your kids are enjoying themselves, you can sit back and relax by the pool or the beach and watch them giggle while you enjoy those precious moments of R&R that’s so difficult to find back home.
Bodrum / Marmaris
Similar to Antalya, the beaches and pools in Bodrum and Marmaris are second to none. But the added appeal of Bodrum or Marmaris (the two are about 2 hours apart from one another) is the downtown area. Travel with another family and take turns watching the kids while the others go out and enjoy themselves on the town with a dinner and a night out. The nightlife scene, particularly in the summer, has something for everyone and the food is almost all locally sourced and delicious. Rather than the R&R of Antalya, head to Bodrum and blow off some steam after spending a wonderful day by the pool with your kids!