For many years, Turkey neglected the potential of family holiday destinations that children love, but in 2007, the Turkish government embarked on an ambitious plan to promote travel niches. They aim to make Turkey a top ten visited destination. Catering for families has become a top priority because they spend more money and return year after year for familiarity. More so than the solo backpacker travelling around the world during a career break.
Parents hate crowded buses and crammed pavements of Istanbul city centre. Neither do they prefer the southeast because it focuses on historical tourism rather than family amenities. But the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey put family holidays at the top of agendas. Officials and tourism workers believe in the age-old mantra. If children are happy, parents are too. Facilities and amenities include waterparks, hotels with babysitting services, restaurants with high chairs and themed days out.
But when Is the best time for families to visit Turkey? Places on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts shut down during winter, and during this period, most international visitors instead head to Istanbul. So, from November to April, avoid booking a family holiday unless children like bustling cities and not affected by cold weather and rainfall.
The primary tourism season runs from May to October, but the sunshine hits high temperatures from the end of July to September, sometimes reaching 40 degrees and higher. Older children usually cope with the high temperatures while parents keep the younger children out of the sun during the hours from 12 to 3, when the temperatures rise. Families with younger children who shy from the sun prefer May, June, and October.
Best Destinations in Turkey for Family Holidays
1: Family-Friendly Antalya Region
The Antalya region is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in Turkey, after Istanbul, and this is mainly because of small coastal resorts with unique characters and activities. Belek is popular with golfers, while Kemer is notorious for all-inclusive hotels. Families who enjoy history prefer the small but quaint resort of Side with ancient ruins, in the centre, alongside modern buildings and traditional restaurants. Otherwise, the more bustling resort of Alanya, with its extensive range of hotels, restaurants, and daytime excursions, satisfies children and parents with various daytime activities for families.
These include daily boat trips, jeep safaris, white water rafting for teenagers and scuba diving. Also, visit the Aqua Park in Konyaaalti, and Mini City, open every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Featuring mini models of significant landmarks around Turkey, Mini City encourages learning about history and culture in a fun and enjoyable way. Dinopark, obviously based on dinosaurs' theme, includes a walking area with large reptile models, a planetarium, a 7D cinema, fossil hunting, pool games, and trampolines. Kids under six can enter free, but supervision of children is solely the parent's responsibility. Our Antalya area guide lists many more reasons to choose this holiday destination.
2: Holidays in Fethiye
Fethiye is a different region west of Antalya. Once again, famous because of small coastal resorts surrounding the city centre, the centre does not have beaches, but most hotels have swimming pools. Otherwise, choose the small neighbouring resorts of Calis and Olu Deniz. Both have sizeable British clientele bases regarding tourism, but beaches in front of family-friendly restaurants and bars are the social focus.
Family activities include boat trips and Jeep safari, but parents and kids interested in nature enjoy Butterfly Valley. The water taxi from Olu Deniz drops passengers on the pebbled beach in front of the deep canyon. A path leads the way to the back of the canyon, where families find small waterfalls. Families also enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling. The ghost village of Kayakoy is a fun and informative way to introduce the history of Fethiye to children. Deserted soon after 1923, the village streets now hold empty houses, schools, and churches.
Local travel agents sell horse riding excursions and simple village restaurants, have menus promoting traditional cuisine, but juicy lamb tandir is popular with foreign visitors. Parents with teenagers can also paraglide from Babadag Mountain. Local travel agents drive customers to the top of the mountain, provide safety gear, and gives instructions before their clients join a qualified pilot to ride tandem over Olu Deniz for a magnificent bird's eye view. Please find out more in our Fethiye area guide.
3: Children love Cappadocia
Many travel agents sell package holidays to Antalya and Fethiye. Still, some families prefer to stay away from beaches and coastal resorts, so the region of Cappadocia in central Anatolian Turkey is an alternative. Previously popular with backpackers and scheduled tours of Turkey, more families are heading to Cappadocia because it has amenities to accommodate many travellers. Kids enjoy staying in an authentic cave hotel, and during the day, exploring the ancient cave churches of Goreme Open Air Museum.
Wake early the following day for a hot air balloon trip over the lunar landscape before heading to the underground city of Derinkuyu. Dating from the Hittites period, this city contained many facilities needed for a fully functioning society, including a chapel, school, and storage rooms for animals. Explore valleys of Cappadocia by quad biking, biking and horse riding or hike the region on foot. If your children are not long-distance walkers, instead head to Avanos, where they can try their hand at the old-fashioned method of making pottery.
A company in Avanos has also recently opened to offer gondola and jet boat rides along the river. Lastly, Uchisar castle stands at the highest point of Cappadocia, and while kids play at kings and queens, parents c sit back and admire fantastic panoramic views.
4: Bodrum Peninsula of Turkey
Bodrum ticks all the boxes for a family getaway, whether you opt for all-inclusive holidays or last-minute beach holiday deals. Choose a holiday destination from various family-friendly towns, including Yalikavak, Turgutreis, Gumbet or the town centre. One thing is for sure, and that is water splashing fun will be on your itinerary. As well as two water parks, other water sports sold include scuba diving, snorkelling, and jet skiing. Otherwise, boats set sail in the morning for coastline cruises from all principal harbours, and all kids love these.
Other excursion trips to sign up for include a jeep safari, or you might want car hire to explore the peninsula at the family's own pace. Another option is to rent villas, including private pools for the kids to splash around while mum and dad opt for relaxation and sunbathing. Beaches and sands are big business for families in Bodrum, or if you book into one of the beach resorts, most also offer kids clubs facilities. Since it is a peninsula, beachfront locations aren't hard to find in Bodrum, and parents will find a decent selection of restaurants to cater for every kids' tastebuds. Complete guide to the Bodrum area of Turkey.
Best Family Beaches in Turkey
When looking at the best places to take children on holiday in Turkey, many parents base their choice on the standard of beaches offered. Turkey steps up to the podium as the ideal country because it has some of the world's best stretches of sand. To make it easier to choose, we have drilled down even further, and in this article, list the best family-friendly beaches based on facilities, ambience and swimming conditions.
These luxury-designed villas are for sale in Yalikavak area of Bodrum and are just five minutes away from the famous Marina for sailing opportunities – ideal for families and living in Turkey all year round.
Sense Levent built to exceptional standards by the award-winning Saffet Kaya Architects and Designer Turkey, these contemporary apartments are found in Kagithane and are highly recommended for viewing as one of our top picks.
Uniquely located in Gumusluk to maximise on sea views and peaceful surroundings, these villas are built to modern contemporary standards and are suitable for those wanting to live with their families in a desired location in Turkey.
With panoramic views heading out across the sea and natural surroundings of Koyunbaba, these stone-built villas are found in Gumusluk area of Bodrum and are just a few minutes away from daily amenities.