Turks adore children. They usually ignore mischief, and let their own kids scream, run around and make a mess. Don't be surprised (or anxious) when a complete stranger on the street expresses a comment about how sweet your child is, coos at them, or a shop attendant gifts them candies.
Forget about road public transport during rush hour, roughly 07:00-10:00 and 17:00-20:00. Being packed like sardines in a bus with barely enough room to stand idling in a sea of everlasting congestion is never fun. But bringing along whiny kids is taking it to a whole new level for everyone, including other passengers.
Even rail systems, e.g. trams which share the roads with motor traffic for part of their route, are not completely immune to traffic jams. All rail systems can also be as crowded as buses during rush hour.
Taxis are also hard to come by during rush hour.
You're in luck if ferries are heading where you are going to. Kids can entertain themselves by watching not only the waves crashing at the ship, but also the droves of gulls flying alongside the boats, receiving treats such as simit from the passengers.
There is a constant effort to make the streets and sidewalks easier to negotiate for people with impaired mobility, which is also helpful for strollers. However perpetual construction and reroutings mean you'll nevertheless have to commit some time and energy moving the stroller around.
Some attractions offer free entry or concessions for some age groups, but many don't unless you are a citizen or full-time resident of Turkey.
- 1 Istanbul Akvaryum. The bigger aquarium of Istanbul, with over 1,500 species.
- 2 Madame Tussauds. The Istanbul location of the wax museum chain, with figures of Turkish celebrities joining in with their international counterparts.
- 3 Miniaturk. A miniature park with scale models from around Turkey and the formerly Ottoman areas.
- 4 Pelit Chocolate Museum. A small museum dedicated to the history of chocolate in Turkey. It also features numerous chocolate sculptures.
- 5 Rahmi M. Koç Industrial Museum. An industry museum which showcases evolution of machines. Many transport related items including a submarine, classic cars, railway carriages, an out-of-service Bosphorus ferry and a Douglas DC-3 aircraft are in exhibit, and the visitors are allowed to board.
- 6 Sea Life Istanbul. A typical aquarium where you walk through transparent tunnels underwater. It's small compared to Istanbul Aquarium above, but it's just next to Legoland and offers combi tickets with it and Madame Tussauds.
- Legoland next door has iconic buildings of Istanbul made of Lego bricks.
- 7 Toy Museum. Housed in a historic mansion, the museum is dedicated to toys, about 2,000 pieces of them. The oldest are a violin made in France in 1817 and a doll made in the United States in 1820.
- 1 Vialand. The largest amusement park of the city has a good selection of rides, including a couple of rollercoasters.
- 2 Viaport Marina. Viaport Marina is out in the eastern suburbs, but has all in one place: a water park, a theme park, an aquarium, and a zoo.
Baby formula and toiletries can be easily and cheaply obtained from any supermarket.
Most fast food joints offer child menus. In traditional restaurants, ask for az, which despite the name ("little") is about two-thirds of the usual portion of many meals and priced accordingly.
Expect some ice-cream vendors to display a series of playful tricks while handing over the cornet.
In case you are involuntarily separated from your child, immediately report to the police (national hotline ☏ 112 from any phone; you can also contact the multilingual tourism police at ☏ ) and perhaps the consulate of your nation. Instruct the child on how to identify the uniformed officers (dark blue uniforms for the police officers, polis, a lighter shade of blue for the municipal police officers, zabıta, black and orange for the tourism police officers, turizm polisi – all of whom are often highly visible patrolling the main streets – and usually white and black for the security officers, özel güvenlik, in parks and indoor public spaces, including stations). The proficiency of English among the officers varies, but is usually closer to the lower end of the scale, so having the kid memorize a few key Turkish phrases (such as Kayboldum – "I'm lost"), or at least carry them written on a piece of paper, perhaps along with your and your consulate's phone numbers, to show to an officer when necessary is of immense value.
Tap water may or may not be safe, see Istanbul#Stay healthy. Bottled water is widely available, cheapest in chain stores. If buying from street vendors, check that the bottle has a label and the production details laser printed on the top or on the cap, to avoid refilled bottles with tap water.
Most public venues and virtually all shopping malls provide baby changing rooms, but some of them are accessible only through the ladies' restroom.
Public breastfeeding is okay when done discreetly, e.g. by turning your back to the crowd. Pods specifically designed for breastfeeding (bebek emzirme kabini) exist in some suburban areas but not in the centre, where you will spend most of your time.
- The Darıca district of Gebze on the eastern outskirts of Istanbul has a small zoo and a hobbit-themed public park.
- Izmit further east has a hands-on science museum and a faux Ottoman street in a set where period dramas are shot.
- Hop on a high-speed train, let the Anatolian countryside fly by, and go to Eskişehir, which offers gondola rides along its river and a wax museum. The highlight is Sazova Park, which combines a zoo, an aquarium, a miniature railway, scale models from around the Turkic world, a pond with a pirate ship, and a Disney-like castle in one place.
- Demirköy, about three and a half hours drive northwest, has the nearest show cave, where kids can explore the "underworld" in a perfectly safe environment.