My husband and I are from Chile and have traveled to many places before having a baby. When our baby was 6 months old, we decided to travel with her for the first time! For her first time abroad, we attended a destination wedding in Turkey. As new parents we were so excited to experience Istanbul with a baby!
Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world with so many amazing historical places. It is in two continents: Europe and Asia. You’ll also find plenty of family friendly activities in Istanbul.
I had visited Istanbul before, with my parents and siblings, but this was a completely different experience. This time I’d be visiting Turkey with a baby, plus being with our friends on their wedding day.
As we started to plan our first international trip with a baby, we decided to only visit Istanbul. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves and wanted the trip to be more relaxed. We thought more days in Istanbul with a baby meanwhile also having less time in airports and airplanes was the right option for us.
We stayed in Istanbul for 6 days, and on our way back to Chile, after visiting Istanbul, we visited London with a baby for 10 days.
Istanbul with a Baby – Table of Contents
Getting to Istanbul, Turkey
Our trip started with a 14-hour long haul flight with a baby. We were flying from Santiago de Chile to London.
Initially, we were really nervous about the length of the flight. Thankfully, all those worries were for nothing. Our baby slept in our arms and in the travel baby carrier.
We flew with British Airways, one of the airlines with airplane bassinets. While we did request one, we didn’t get the one we wanted.
They have two options for airplane bassinets on flights (only available on some of the bulk-head rows). We wanted the flat lie down option, but they gave us one for older babies which is more similar to a car seat.
But nevertheless, it was useful for our baby to play in and for us to have a place to put her down when we needed a break or to eat.
It can be nerve wracking when things don’t go as planned, but we soon learned that we had to be more flexible and to be prepared for unexpected events.
While we didn’t get much sleep on the flight, nor did we have much luck getting our baby to sleep much on the flight, especially compared to how much sleep she gets at home, we all managed fine.
Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of crying that disturbed the other passengers, ear pain or other things that could have gone wrong.
We were also worried of what other passengers would think, but you also learn that many people can relate, they are nice to you and try to help.
What we had worried about for months soon was over and we were able to enjoy a beautiful vacation.
We arrived at Heathrow Airport and our second flight departed from Stansted Airport, and we thought the easiest way was riding the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, the subway and then the Stansted Express to Stansted Airport. Easy- peasy.
Our baby slept all the way in the baby carrier. She was really comfortable sleeping while we got to our destination.
We thought that two long flights were a lot for our first trip being new parents. To help with being tired after the flight, we decided to stay in a hotel at the airport, then continue our journey the next day.
After a restful 13 hours of sleep and room service, we took the second flight from London to Istanbul, via Atlas Global. The flight got delayed, and we had to wait inside the airplane, which was really uncomfortable, because we were seated at the back of the plane, and everybody gathered there to complain to the flight attendants.
It was a four hour flight that went smoothly after the rocky start. Not every flight is going to be perfect, but a good attitude can really help.
Once we got to Istanbul, we took a taxi to the hotel. It’s important to note that taxis usually don’t have their own car seats, so you’ll need to travel with a car seat to have one for taxi rides.
Where to Stay in Istanbul with a Baby
Our hotel was called Nomade Hotel Exclusive.
When we were searching hotels to stay in, we found a few good options, and we decided this one based on the location, recommendations, larger rooms and hotel facilities.
Nomade Hotel Exclusive is well located in Sultanahmet, the center of the old city on the European side, close to the main things to do in the city. Sultanahmet is a great location to stay. It is secure, we always felt really safe, and there are a lot of restaurants and shops nearby.
The hotel was really comfortable, the room was big, and it had two beds, a big and a small one. While we are comfortable co-sleeping in the big bed, you can either travel with your own travel crib or request a cot from the hotel.
Breakfast was a delicious buffet with plenty of options.
Getting Around Istanbul with a Baby or Toddler
When considering whether to travel with a stroller vs a baby carrier in Istanbul, it’s important to note that there are very few sidewalks. People had warned us beforehand that a travel stroller wasn’t recommended, because the streets weren’t flat, there are few sidewalks, and places tend to get crowded.
We didn’t bring a stroller or a car seat for this trip. Instead, we walked almost the entire time and had our baby in the baby carrier.
Throughout our trip, our baby was always in our arms, in the baby carrier or on a blanket on the floor. She was little, so she slept most of the time in the carrier while we were exploring the city.
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With the baby carrier we were really comfortable and we took turns carrying her. We also made sure to stop frequently in green areas for her to rest, to feed her and to change her diaper.
Other ways to get around in Istanbul are by taxi, tram or ferry. You can buy a card to use both the tram and ferry, and it´s really easy. We like to walk when we travel, that way we get to know a lot of places and it’s free! And with a baby it was much easier for us.
There were a couple of exceptions where we took a taxi, like getting to the hotel from the airport and to go to the wedding.
Eating in Restaurants in Istanbul
When eating out in restaurants we had our baby on our lap. We didn’t need to manage baby food while traveling since she wasn’t eating solids yet. We had decided to start introducing solid food after the trip, so it would be easier only breastfeeding her.
This meant we also didn’t need to look for high chairs or pack a travel high chair.
As for breastfeeding during our trip, I never had a problem breastfeeding her in public. I was initially afraid there might be issues, but nobody said anything, not even once.
Everybody loves babies in Turkey, even more than other places we´ve been. People on the street greeted her and talked to her, all the time. “Bebek” was one of the first words we learned in Turkish and we heard it a lot the complete length of our visit.
We ate a lot of snacks on the street, our favorites were simit (sesame encrusted bread), baked potatoes with toppings inside, grilled corn, roasted chestnuts, ice cream, and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
Best Things to do in Istanbul with a Baby
There are so many things to do in Istanbul and many are easy to do with a baby. We didn’t plan to visit them all as we wanted to keep our trip relaxed, without the pressure of having to see everything!
We didn’t book any tours and did everything at our own pace, which was comfortable for us, especially with a baby. We planned one or two attractions per day and went there in the mornings. Afternoons were generally free to walk around or spend time at the park.
Here are some of the things we enjoyed while visiting with a baby in Istanbul:
Taksim Square, Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia
Walk around Taksim Square, it has restaurants and shops. You can visit the Blue Mosque, which is a functioning mosque, and it is next to Hagia Sophia, the principal mosque of Istanbul. Both are really pretty and we recommend you get there early to avoid the crowds.
Walking along the Bosphorus
Walking on the sidewalk next to the Bosphorus is another thing you could do. It was the first time our daughter saw the sea.
Galata Bridge and Galata Tower
We walked across the Galata Bridge to visit the Galata Tower and walked through the narrow streets of Karakoy. It is also recommended to get there early to avoid the crowds.
The Galata Bridge has two floors, on the upper one is where the cars cross and you can see fishermen there, and on the lower level there are restaurants.
In Sultanahmet there is also the Basilica Cistern, the largest basilica in Istanbul. It’s worth the visit but it was a little dark and crowded for our baby, as we could tell she was scared. There are also other basilicas if you want to get to know the underground facilities that once stored the city´s water supply.
Grand Bazaar & Spice Bazaar
Nearby, within walking distance is the Grand Bazaar. It is really large and a bit crowded. We went there to buy some gold coins, as a traditional wedding gift in Turkey. There are many shops with lamps, spices, coffee, teas, scarfs and much more. You can also visit the Spice Bazaar, which is smaller.
The Topkapi Palace is also worth the visit. Topkapi Palace has beautiful gardens and views. It used to be an entire city but now it has become a museum with many exhibits. The three of us enjoyed this our visit a lot and spent a whole morning there.
There are many museums to visit in Istanbul. We visited the Istanbul mosaic museum, which was nearby, small, interesting and baby friendly.
Our favorite place to visit was the Gulhane Park. We went there a few times in the afternoons, with a blanket, some toys for our baby, and some Turkish delights for us.
It is a great place to spend some time, rest and relax. It is beautiful, with many flowers and there are plenty of other families there too.
Ferry to Asian Side of Istanbul & Sunset over Bosphorus
Since we traveled to Istanbul for our friend’s wedding, we had a day dedicated to the wedding. On the wedding day, we traveled by taxi and rode a ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul, where the ceremony was. The place was extraordinary, just by the side of the Bosphorus.
We were able to watch the sunset while we enjoyed an incredibly beautiful ceremony. You should enjoy a sunset by the side of the Bosphorus if you can, it is really beautiful.
Visiting Istanbul with a Toddler
Istanbul also has a multitude of toddler friendly activities, like Legoland, Sea life Aquarium, Istanbul Theme Pak, Miniaturk, Rahmi M Koc museum and playgrounds. We didn’t visit them because our baby was really young and wouldn’t be able to enjoy them.
If we had been visiting Istanbul with an older baby or a toddler, we would have added a few of these to our Istanbul itinerary!
What to Pack for Istanbul with a Baby
The items that we used the most were the baby carrier and a travel blanket for her to be in the grass. A portable changing pad is also necessary for outdoor diaper changes or to put over the changing tables at the airports and public bathrooms.
We visited in June and it was really hot. For our baby we only need onesies for the entire trip. She used them in the day and night.
Sunscreen is important if your baby is older than 6 months and a UV protected baby sun hat.
You are going to need a comfortable baby carrier, because you will use it a lot. Our baby carrier is an Ergo baby cool air mesh 360. We were happy to travel with this baby carrier because it is really comfortable for both of us parents and our baby. The fabric is breathable, so it was perfect for the hot days that we had there, and it is lightweight. Again, the stroller isn’t recommended in this location.
We brought diapers and wipes from home, so we didn’t have to buy any in Istanbul. We preferred this to using our vacation time shopping for baby items, plus on the way back we had plenty extra space in our suitcase!
That being said, if you do need to buy baby items in Istanbul, there are plenty of options. We even had a convenience store right next to the hotel.
We only brought one suitcase. This way one adult could hold the baby, and the other one carried the suitcase and a small backpack with the baby stuff. We found it less stressful in the airports and getting around by carrying just a few items.
On a typical day there we would go out with the baby in the carrier, and the other adult would carry the backpack with a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, blanket and a few toys.
We highly recommend Istanbul as a place to visit with a baby! There’s so much to explore in the city and you’ll love every minute of it!