Turkey, a land of sunshine and those holidays..
Turkey is a popular destination all round for holiday makers and for people looking to invest in property abroad. A land of sunshine, hot summers and mild winters in most parts, attracts people from Europe and all around the world year after year. But it’s not just the weather. Turkey is a country full of ancient history, a rich culture, wonderful food, amazing hospitality, beautiful white sandy beaches and fun activities for all to enjoy. For decades it has attracted the most earnest of travellers, backpackers looking for adventure, couples looking for romance and most of all, families looking for fun.
The Turks adore children. They are part and parcel of every day life and are an integral part of every community in Turkey. They value family life above all else and the desire to have children is universal. To have a family is one of the top priorities for citizens across Turkey and while the western side of Turkey has become more and more cosmopolitan over the years, settling down and having a family is still the number one aim for the majority of Turks.
This genuine and love of children has led Turkey to become one of the most family friendly destinations in the world. If you decided on a move to Turkey with your children and buy an apartment in Fethiye or own a villa in Bodrum, you can be sure that your children will be well looked after at school and in your community. If you are travelling to Turkey on holiday, a huge range of activities await, whatever age your children are.
Being a large city and a multicultural wonderland, it is unsurprising that Istanbul has a lot to offer children. Families as a whole can enjoy breaking the divide between continents with a ferryboat trip on the mighty Bosphorus river, taking in the impressive views of fortresses, towers and palaces that adorn the shores. If the weather is not on your side, take your kids to the Grand Bazaar for a scavenger hunt. The art of bartering with stall owners is a fun pastime for anyone, but even more so when children are involved. Set them tasks of items to look out for in the Bazaar and then encourage them to barter to get the best price for their wares.
There is no better place than Istanbul for some historical education with an exciting twist. Your children will be so enamored by their surroundings that they won’t even realize that they are learning. The Rumeli Hisarı fortress sits on the European side of the Bosphorus and was built between 1451 and 1452 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, with three great towers. Now open to the public, the fortress once stationed a battalion of 400 Janissaries (Ottoman troops) and many ships were sunk into the Bosphorus by cannons from the fortress. The Galata Tower is a high, cone capped cylindrical tower that dominates the skyline of Istanbul and offers a panoramic view of the city’s historic peninsula. The tower was originally used to spot fires in the city, today, you and your children can climb your way to the top to enjoy the views from the restaurant and café at the top.
Everybody loves an aquarium and Istanbul is no different to most major cities in the world in hosting its own. Opened in 2011, the Istanbul Aquarium is easy to reach and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Visitors follow a geographical route that includes 16 themes and 1 rainforest going from the Black Sea towards the Pacific. The aquarium is home to 1,500 species and 15,000 land and sea creatures in total, two 5D movie houses with 7 separate films and a weather system attraction that allows visitors to experience wind, fog and water.
Bodrum is one of the most popular cities in Turkey for holiday makers and for those looking to buy a property in Turkey, and it is one of the most child friendly destinations. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, it’s the perfect place for families to relax. Gumbet offers a stunning sandy beach with shallow, calm waters laid out with cafes and plenty of sun-beds, the perfect for young children to play and swim. Bitez offers a cool breeze, respite from the Turkish heat and is a windsurfing hotspot, attractive to teenagers and young adults. Other water sports here include kayaking, parasailing and banana boats. The area is also home to beautiful orange and mandarin gardens for an afternoon walk, or perhaps take a boat ride around the coastline to see saline and turtles and little islands with their many ruins.
The town of Patara lies 11 miles west of Kalkan on the Mediterranean coast and is the official birthplace of Santa Claus. St Nicholas was born in here in the 3rd century and then moved to Demre nearby. An 11th century church in Demre is now the Santa Claus Museum. Legend has it that while he was working as a bishop in Demre and Myra, he would drop small bags of gold coins down the chimneys of houses with poor girls who were old enough to marry but had no dowry. Another story says he’d leave gold coins in the shoes of the poor who put them out for him. He became patron saint of virgins, sailors and children.
Patara village is suited to low budget travellers so good for families on a budget. Patara beach is 12 miles long and never crowded because the village is small and only has a few hundred beds for tourists, though you should be aware that there is very little shade. For history buffs or those needing a day of easy walks and stimulation, the Patara ruins include a theatre, a triple arched triumphal gate, a necropolis, Lycian tombs a ruined basilica and a public bath to explore.
One of the Most popular and famous beaches in Turkey, Ölüdeniz is the perfect destination for those with older children. Famous for its views from above, hiking into the mountains is a must, or you can paraglide from the top of the mountains onto the beach below. There are lots of hotels, bars and restaurants to choose from, all the way back to the popular, tourist minded villages of Ovacık and Hisarönü. The Blue Lagoon at the west end of the beach, is worth the walk to, the lagoon is calm even in the worst storms as it is so secluded and offers safe swimming for children. For a spooky day trip, head to Karaköy, the ghost town of the Fethiye area. Abandoned when the Greeks were forced to move out of Turkey, the town was left as it was on that very day and has been empty ever since.
Fethiye is a perfect place for exploring surrounding areas. Ölüdeniz, Hisarönü and Kayaköy are all accessible from Fethiye and the town itself is an interesting place for families, with a beautiful marina and a fun and very smelly fish market. Fethiye, like many resorts in Turkey offers many choices in the all-inclusive market where your children will be entertained all day long in the hotels’ Kids Clubs and by the well trained animators, not to mention the included food, drinks and ice creams all day long. But for something different, in the middle of a valley, surrounded by pine forests and bounded by a river is the Organic Eco Farm. Families can stay in stone, wood or mud brick bungalows and all of the food served here is healthy and organic, much of it grown on site. The Farm runs arts and crafts workshops or children can learn to bake bread and börek. They can also help around the farm and meet the animals, go fishing and swim in the pool. The beach is just a 10 minute drive away.
So you can see, there is much to do in Turkey for families and their children! Teenagers can enjoy thrilling activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, canyoning, snorkeling and mountain biking. Small children are safe in shallow waters, kid friendly pools and most resorts heavily cater for the little ones. Even Turkish food is child friendly, köfte is like a burger and Pide is like a pizza without the tomato paste, so you have these fail-safes to fall back on if you need it!
No matter your age, in Turkey, there really is something for everyone!