“When it comes to traveling to Istanbul with family and children, I’m sure you will find it challenging. Well, it is not an easy task to manage trip when you have kids and spouse traveling with you. But, luckily, there are always chances to learn from other travelers who have experience in this field.
So, if you are looking for some practical experience that you can use during your travel to Istanbul, then you will love this post.
This informative post, based on my own experience, is about safe areas in Istanbul, the best hotels, shopping centers, fine dining restaurants, Turkish cuisine and insurance in Istanbul.
As a mother traveler, who traveled to Istanbul with family and kids, I enjoyed my traveled. However, I have also experienced hard moments when our kids got sick. That’s why, I think adding information about international hospitals and emergency may be helpful to you too.
Hope this post will help make your travel to Istanbul smooth :)”
Istanbul is one of the biggest and beautiful cities that offers many options of entertainments to tourists and visitors. I would say that Istanbul is the heart of Turkey although it is not a capital city. Do you know why?
The gorgeous historical museums like Istanbul Archeological Museum, the museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace; Blue Mosque; modern shopping centers with all European and USA brands; restaurants with local and international cuisines; shore excursions and cruise tours, dazzling Grand Bazaar, all these make Istanbul unique.
“Despite the great leisure opportunities and beautiful sightseeings, it is difficult to choose a place to stay with family and kids in Istanbul.”
As many other big cities, Istanbul also has safe and unsafe areas. You have probably read a lot of discussions in virtual forums telling people that to be careful in Istanbul because of hijacking and kidnapping. If you check the news about Turkey, you will hear the news only about bad accidents and incidents. Don’t believe in media bias! It is not as dangerous in Turkey as it is described by media!
I had the best experience in Istanbul and in other cities of Turkey, even though I was warned too. I am not going waste your time by writing about political situations in Turkey. You can do it via news channels 😉 So, aiming to save your time, I’ll go directly to the point.
Where to stay in Istanbul with family and kids?
If you are going to travel to Istanbul with family and kids, I would suggest you to stay in the suburbs of Istanbul. You might surprise, but let me tell you why you need to stay in the suburbs of Istanbul.
1. The suburbs are not as busy as city centers. Less crowd, more safe. 2. More options for babies like playgrounds, parks, etc. 3. People will remember and accept you as local, If you cross the same street several times. 4. Everything is close to each other. No taxi needed.
The best safe area to stay in Istanbul, especially with family and kids, is Buyukcekmece
“Buyukcekmece is a prestigious seaside district of Istanbul. It is situated in the suburbs of Istanbul, on the Sea of Marmara coast of the European side. Buyukcekmece is largely an industrial area with a population of 380,000.”
Buyukcekmece has a great view of sea and a nice boulevard with playgrounds, shops and restaurants. You don’t need to go to the city center if you need anything. There are many barbers, supermarkets, fine dining, fast foods, tea and coffee houses, and even an international hospital here (if you want to know more about restaurants and international hospital in this area, please, read the article till the end).
Buyukcemece is not far from Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It may take you 15-20 minutes ride from Airport, and 45-50 minutes ride from Zeytinburnu to Buyukcekmece (more about Zeytinburnu on my next post).
Best hotels with sea view in Buyukcekmece, Istanbul?
There are many choice of places to stay in Buyukcekmece.You can rent an apartment at boulevard with the sea view, find hotels starting from 2 stars and ending 5 stars or stay at the motel. But if you want to find the best place to stay with family at a great rate, I would advice you to stay at Eser Premium Hotel in Buyukcekmece.
Why Eser Premium Hotel?
Eser Premium Hotel and Spa is an impressive 5 star hotel located by the blue-flag Buyukcekmece beach which is defined as a new Bosporus in the city. The location of Eser Hotel is perfect such as, it is 20 minutes ride from/to Ataturk International Airport, 5 minutes ride from Tuyap Exhibition center, 10 minutes walk to the International Hospital, 20 meters to the beach, 20 minutes ride to the CNR Exhibition Center. The hotel provides free transportation to the Tüyap Exhibition Center during all exhibition events. You can also get 7/24 airport-hotel and hotel-airport transfer services.
As you can see by its name, Eser Premium Hotel and Spa has a full-service spa and massage services, sauna and indoor swimming pool. This beautiful hotel also offers fitness, spinning, yoga, pilates and zumba. Everything mentioned here included to the price, except the massage service.
The family rooms have a king and a queen size beds next to each other. If you would like to have more space for your babies, you can book VIP room. There are VIP rooms on every floor and all of them have an incomplete sea and city view.
We traveled to Istanbul during Ramadan month, so, we could get a great deal at Eser Premium Hotel. We stayed at a family room on the sixth floor. Later we changed our family room to VIP room on the second floor for a great rate. Our kids were more happy at the VIP room because they had extra (living) room with more space. The VIP rooms have one big bathroom with Jacuzzi and a separate shower in a bedroom, and an extra restroom in living room. You can check the photos of Eser Premium Hotel and Spa on my previous post.
Besides all its luxury and sea view, the hotel also provides free breakfast. There is an A’la Carte Restaurant with a rich open buffet that serves breakfast from 7 am till 10 am. You can have a natural honey, jams, natural yogurt, cereals, fruits for breakfast. If you are a bread lover, like me, A’la Carte Restaurant is exactly for you! 😉 There are several types of breads including wheat bread, French bread, bread with raisins and Turkish smit (my favorite one!).
The main menu of hot meals change every morning. Furthermore, you can have soup, boiled egg, scrambled eggs, and different hot meals at this open buffet. Lunch and dinner at A’la Carte Restaurant is for an additional cost.
They offered a special dinner package during Ramadan iftar. You can also have delicious desert with Turkish tea or coffee at the open air Sapphire Bistro Cafe in Eser Premium Hotel.
The gorgeous sea-view saloon and the Diamond Ball Room might inspire you to celebrate your wedding anniversary or birthday party here. If you decide to celebrate any event, you need to contact with wedding organizer. The special gala dinners and excellent premium services will make an unforgettable day for you. An elegantly decorated place with a capacity of 800 people, can make your dreams come true with its excellent service approach and gracious staff 🙂
Although the hotel has all above mentioned luxury amenities, it has cons too. The slow internet is the number one problem at this hotel.
We were not the first customers who complained about this issue. Luckily, the administration is very responsive and reacts immediately when the customer is not satisfied. We were provided with an extra modem when we mentioned our dissatisfaction. Rather than that this hotel is perfect place to stay.
So, if you want to have fun and relax without updating your Facebook status, then you will enjoy this 5 star hotel for sure! 🙂
Where to eat in Buyukcemece?
I think, it is the most difficult question for me to answer 🙂 Because there are tons of restaurants that have delicious food with various Turkish cuisines. Almost all of the restaurants in Buyukcemece offer free and unlimited tea. I’m not sure where to start, so that you can try the best Turkish cuisine 🙂
Furthermore, I will write the restaurants that we visited several times and enjoyed delicious food! We became their loyal customers because of their great service!
Biget is the top first restaurant in our list. If you are a meat lover, then you should definitely try Etli Bollu Bursa Iskender at Biget.
Bursa Iskender is a kind of doner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled lamb basted with hot tomato sauce over pieces of lavash bread. The thin meat generously slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt. Tomato sauce and melted sheep butter are generally poured over the dish at the table.
You have probably ate Iskender in the USA or Europe but it would never taste the same. Believe me, the meat tastes different for me in California after eating Bursa Iskender at Biget restaurant 😉 Just to inform you, if you order meal, you can get a free tea here 🙂
Our second favorite restaurant is Bymistik Antep Sofrasi in Buyukcekmece. They offer various Antep foods here. I would advice you try lahmacun, especially If you want something light before going to bed. If you still have a little space in your stomach, make sure you don’t miss your chance to order Katmer desert.
Katmer is a pastry made out from sheets of phyllo dough wrapped around kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) and studded with chopped local pistachios. Its too yummy among the Turkish deserts. The price is little bit expensive here but it worth to try it. I still miss Katmer! It is so delicious that I can’t forget the taste 🙂
Unfortunately, they don’t have Katmer in Turkish restaurants in Bay Area… Please, let me know if you find any 🙂
The taste of Katmer at Acikdim Pide Kabab Restaurant in Buyukcekmece is little different. However, the price is much more cheaper than in any fine dining.
If you would like to try some other Turkish deserts, get “Hatay Kunefesi” or “Firin Sutlac” at Acikdim Pide Kabab Restaurant.
Hatay Kunefesi is considered to be one of the most delicious Turkish desserts, especially in the city of Antakya (Antioch) in Hatay. The difference of Antakya’s kunefe from others is the daily made fresh, elastic cheese that is only made in Hatay region.
This elegant looking and delicious dessert should be consumed hot, right after the kadayıf absorbs the syrup for the best taste. In some places they serve kunefe topped with cream or ice cream.
Sutlac is baked rice pudding. The Firin Sutlac comes in a traditional bowl, a small clay dessert cup. The pudding is first cooked on the stove, then the clay cups are baked in the oven until the tops are very brown. You can find sutlac at the supermarkets but it will not taste the same. Because small clay cups gives special taste to Firin Sutlac.
Where to find a hospital if my child gets sick?
It is normal to get sick when we change our climate or diet. Especially kids can easily get virus during travel. If you or your kids get sick (God save), you can go to Buyukcekmece Kolan International Hospital. It’s 5-7 minutes walk or 3 minutes ride by taxi from Eser Hotel to the Hospital.
Our babies got sick during travel too. My older baby had an allergy and second sweetheart had vomiting and temperature. We took them to the emergency early morning. Tell you the truth, I am not very satisfied with their service.
The receptionists didn’t do their job well, as they couldn’t answer to our questions regarding insurance, test types for kids, etc. However, luckily, the doctor was professional and his prescriptions helped kids. Below information may help you to get the main idea about the hospital.
Buyukcekmece Kolan International Hospital has 24/7 emergency service. The staff communicates in Turkish and English languages. But be careful with the price as it is different for locals and foreigners. The hospital is free for locals. You need to provide “TC numara” which means TC number/Turkish ID at the registration for a free service. If you don’t have Turkish ID, then you need to pay approximately $250-$300 for emergency service. You can pay in cash or by credit card.
They accept international insurance as well. Make sure that you have the same insurance that they cooperate. Depending on your insurance, you can also get a refund later for your bill. If you would like to purchase the specific insurance that hotel works with, you need to find it online because they don’t provide the list at the hospital.
What are the cons of the districts in Istanbul?
The only CONs of the suburbs is the long distance to the city center. It might take you hours to commute from suburb to city center. You need to spend hours if you would like to go to Bogaz or Blue Mosque. It is better to stay in Zeytunburnu if you plan to visit city center or famous sightseeings. My next post will be about Zeytunburnu, so, stay tuned and visit my blog soon, please 🙂