In the previous entry we talked about moving around Istanbul. We already got to know about the organizational issues, so now we should consider, where we can go with our Toddler 🙂 The season of visits to the former Constantinople has begun and I hear more and more questions on various discussion groups about places suitable for little children. Below we can see the destinations, that first came to my mind. Let’s start! 😉
1) Miniatürk: There is a place in Istanbul where you can see the whole of Turkey on just six hectares of land. Where you can visit all heritage of Turkish culture in a few hours. It’s „Miniatürk”. This miniature park isn’t only the “Must see” for every tourist, but also the great place for walks with babies. Exhibitions and simulations are properly secured. It’s full of greenery and there’s lots of space to run. And the most important thing – this park provides a lot of attractions for children, such as playground, labyrinth, tree telling fairy tales, or riding a choo-choo train 🙂
If you want to learn more about exposed monuments, you can use the audio system which provides information in many languages: Turkish, English, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese and Persian (Farsi).
As I’ve mentioned in the Maltese entry, Bibi is the biggest fan of aquariums and oceanariums 🙂 There are four aquariums in Istanbul: Sea Life (TurkuaZoo before), Istanbul Aquarium, ViaSea and the newest one – Emaar. The first two are on the European side. Last two – on Asian side. The cost of admission for adults starts from 40 TL (10 euro around). For an extra charge you can take a special photo (in every aquarium) or go to souvenir shop. My favorite one is definitely Istanbul Aquarium in Florya. It’s big and thematic – each room presents a completely different theme. I also liked the fact that you could dump digital photos onto a CD and you did not have to print them. I can also recommend Emaar – tour guides really engage in guiding guests and telling them interesting facts about underwater creatures 🙂
3) Istanbul parks:
Although Turks complain that Istanbul isn’t too green, the big plus is the large number of parks with playgrounds for children. I present my favorite ones – although those on the Asian side will be mentioned more because of my place of residence.
My number 1 on Asian side is definitely Göztepe 60. Yıl Parkı (which means „Göztepe 60th Year Park”). Its characteristic feature is the huge amount of flowers, especially roses, in every corner. That’s why offering walk to my Husband’s relatives I’m telling them to go to „Gül Parkı” (tr. gül – róża) 🙂 Furthermore, there’s a lot of space to run and play, aquarium in the middle and fountain show several times a day. Newies spend there around 1,5 h. From Göztepe Park there’s a short way to the Toy Museum (tr. İstanbul Oyuncak Müzesi).
I also like Özgürlük Park and Fenerbahçe Park. First one is situated in Göztepe too. It’s well organized. We can not only count on beautiful views and lots of greenery, but we also have a basketball court, small gym or restaurant near the pond (I recommend going there for breakfast!). There’re also shops nearby. Fenerbahçe Park in turn is located by the seaside, that’s why you don’t have only the view of the sea provided, but you can also take a walk along the promenade. This place looks very romantic – there’s even a cafe called „Romantika” 🙂 A very nice seaside park is also Maltepe Sahil. Thanks to the large number of parking places places you can easily go there by car and not worry about a stopover. Beside playgrounds and benches, there are also several sport facilities, many coffee houses, restaurants and even Migros market nearby 😉
I can also recommend the botanic garden Nezahat Gökyiğit situated between Ataşehir and Ümraniye. This is a peaceful place, full of different species of plants. What’s different than other European botanic gardens is that you can enter Nezahat Gökyiğit for free.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have much experience with European side but I would like to introduce you parks I enjoyed. First one is Gülhane Park. It’s not called as the historical park without reason. This place is situated just beside Topkapı Palace. There’re plenty of museums around, and furthermore, it’s very close to the two most important monuments in the city – Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque Sultanahmet. The park itself is absolutely charming – it’s full of tulips and other flowers, alleys, sculptures, streams with fountains, benches… Just for the short relax in the heart of Istanbul. We shouldn’t be surprised, that was recognized as the most beautiful park in the former Constantinople. Another place I liked is the Sporcular Parkı in Levent. There’s lots of greenery, space to run and even a small cafe. There are several sports facilities around.
It’s worth noting, that in most of the parks and seaside promenades there’re regularly kept clean toilets. The fee is 1 Turkish lira (=0,25 euro) – you can use the coin or Istanbulkart mentioned in the previous blogpost 🙂 Each of them provides changing tables for inflants. And here I’m going to say the very imporant info – they are both on the women’s and men’s side! So Gentlemen – if it is your turn to change diapers, you can’t avoid it anymore 😉 Photos have been taken in Göztepe 60. Yıl Park.
4) Legoland: I have good news for Lego fans – in Istanbul near the SeaLife Aquarium, there’s a huge recreational complex Legoland where, for example, you can see the city in the block version 🙂 It seems, this is a place rather for bigger children, but Legoland is also friendly to the youngest travelers. There’re also many facilities for strollers and family restrooms where you can change diapers. Furthermore, already year-old children can practice their manual skills by playing (however, you should choose places with larger blocks).
5) And out of city?
There are four Princess Islands in the Anatolian part of Istanbul available for tourists: Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada i Kınalıada. I’ve visited two first islands and I think, that they are lovely places for a walk or a picnic. Most of Turks will tell you, the best way of sightseeing would be taking bike (in case of trip with toddler a bicycle seat is necessary, but I’m not sure, if renting companies provide them). The biggest advantage of islands is the opportunity to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the nature – on the Princess Islands car traffic is highly limited, so on the roads you can see mostly bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. To get there from the city you need to use ferry, so-called vapur. It departs from Bostancı, Eminönü and Kadıköy.
You can also go to the nearby city of Darıca in the Izmit province. There’s a ZOO („Faruk Yalçın Hayvanat Bahçesi„). Children under the age of three enter for free. Discount tickets are 30 TL, adults pay 40 TL.
6) How about going shopping with baby?…
Generally, I don’t recommend going to shopping malls with an infant – especially to Turkish centres. At the entrance you’re exposed to radiation, because you go through the gates and your bags are x-rayed like at the airport. Shopping malls are big and noisy. But we all know… We often don’t have a choice. However, in the Asian district Ataşehir there’s a shopping centre, you can go with toddler in a peace – especially in nice weather. It’s Watergarden. The name of this complex is absolutely not accidental. The building is surrounded by a large network of fountains, where the show takes place every hour. You can watch it actually from every side, because most of shops has an exit to outside (you can see the movie from the performace HERE). Restaurants and cafes are located on the lowest level and have an outdoor area next to the water. There is a small playground on the roof. There’re a lot of shops there and an internal cafe directed to parents with children (however I miss a store like Joker or eBebek). At the lowest level near the parking area there’s the Migros market, where we have a wide range of products. Nursery rooms are clean and convenient. Near the mall we can visit a bazaar with organic products as well. And the very important thing – there’re no gates and screening machines at the entrance.
If you went to Istanbul with your bigger child, there’s Kidzania in Akasya shopping mall. It’s a place where children from the age of 4 can develop their hobbies and gain some practical skills 🙂 (unfortunately, Turkish website doesn’t have English version) The ticket for child costs 75 TL. If the parent accompanies them, the additional fee is 35 TL.
Moreover, all the Istanbul aquariums are located beside shopping malls, so if you need, you can go for quick shopping.
Istanbul is a dynamically developing city and new places are being established here all the time. If we visit another destination from Bibi, we’ll surely let you know on our blog 😉 In the next article I’ll write about the physical activities for moms and babies in Turkey.