(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

Is Istanbul Stroller-Friendly? Tips for Visiting with a Baby or Toddler [2023]

Istanbul is a popular tourist destination for many reasons: the city’s rich history, the delicious cuisine, the blend of European and Asian culture — just to name a few. But is Istanbul stroller-friendly?

In this guide, Amanda from My Vintage Map will share everything you need to know about traveling to Istanbul with young children. It’s a great place to visit with family, but following the tips in this post will help you maximize your time and avoid common mishaps.

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products or services I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your continued support.

Is Istanbul Stroller-Friendly?

While I wouldn’t say Istanbul is the most stroller-friendly city, it’s still worth bringing a stroller with you if you are going with young children. There are paved pathways along most main roads, parks, and tourist attractions, and there’s no way we could have explored the city with our toddler if we didn’t have our stroller with us.

However, we were often frustrated with the terrible shape many of the sidewalks were in. We had to frequently navigate around potholes and cracks in the pavement, and some areas had pathways made of small stones that weren’t easy for pushing a stroller. 

In hillier parts of the city, the sidewalks consisted of a series of large steps, which is nice if you’re walking but not pleasant with a stroller.

Compared to other big cities we have explored with a stroller, such as Boston or Paris, we would rank Istanbul a 5/10 for stroller-friendliness.

But would we have chosen to go without a stroller? Absolutely not. We definitely used the stroller everywhere we went.

Is Istanbul stroller friendly? Amanda and her daughter sit on a fence with the sea behind them

Top Tips for Getting Around Istanbul with a Baby or Toddler

Bring a lightweight, foldable stroller. 

Because Istanbul is not always stroller-friendly, it’s important to bring a stroller that’s not too heavy so you can easily carry it if you need to. Having a compact stroller that you can fold also makes it easier to travel on public transportation and in taxis.

We have the Baby Jogger City Tour 2 and have used it so much when traveling. It only weighs 14 pounds and comes with a carrying bag. I also love that it has a good-sized compartment on the bottom for storing items throughout the day, and the seat reclines nicely for nap time. 

Is Istanbul stroller friendly? The Grand Bazaar is!

Use a carrier when possible.

If your baby or toddler doesn’t mind traveling in a wearable carrier, this can be a convenient option especially when touring museums, mosques and other places that aren’t stroller-friendly in Istanbul.

Take a taxi for longer distances.

We opted to take a taxi to get to most places so we didn’t have to worry about navigating the public transportation system, especially if we were dealing with a tired child. Taxis are not overly expensive in Istanbul, but sometimes taxi drivers will overcharge if they notice you’re a tourist. 

Check out this article for some helpful tips on using taxis in Istanbul.

Best Places to Bring a Stroller in Istanbul

These are some of the most stroller-friendly places in Istanbul:

  • Shopping malls: We explored several different malls during our time in Istanbul, including Zorlu Center, and each one had elevators that made it convenient to visit different floors.

  • Gulhane Park: There are many paved trails throughout this family-friendly park, and there is a really nice playground and other areas for your kids to run around here.

  • Sultanahmet Square: This popular square near Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque is nicely paved and easy to navigate with a stroller.

  • Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue: This area is known for its many food vendors and stores. The entire street is relatively flat and well-suited for strollers. Just stay toward the sides as much as possible as the tram often runs down the center.

  • Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar: These famous bazaars can get very crowded, but the walkways are smooth and strollers are welcome inside. Our daughter fell asleep in the stroller here, which allowed us to shop and take a coffee break in peace.

Worst Places to Bring a Stroller in Istanbul

Here are some of the least stroller-friendly places in Istanbul:

  • Galata Tower and the surrounding streets: This is where there were lots of stairs along the sidewalks, which made for a bumpy ride and slowed us down a bit.

  • Topkapi Palace: The buildings do not have elevators, and some areas don’t even allow you to bring the stroller inside. Some outdoor pathways were okay for a stroller, but other areas were very rocky or bumpy.

  • Dolmabahçe Palace: There are lots of stony pathways here, so it was easier to push the stroller without our daughter inside. However, this was a safe place for her to run around without fear of cars, so it was a nice opportunity for her to release some energy.

    Note that strollers must be left outside when exploring inside this palace as well. You’ll exit from a different place than you entered, so you’ll need to walk back around to the entrance to retrieve your stroller. The stroller zone is in the open and isn’t monitored, so don’t leave any valuables inside.

Is Istanbul stroller friendly? The Haigha Sophia is!

Top 10 Places to Visit in Istanbul with a Baby or Toddler

These are the top places I would recommend visiting on a trip to Istanbul with young children:

  1. Topkapi Palace: There are plenty of pathways and gardens on the palace grounds that make for a labyrinth of fun for children to wander through.
  2. Gulhane Park: This beautiful park is right next to Topkapi Palace and is filled with trails, sculptures, fountains, and a big playground to entertain kids for a couple hours.
  3. Hagia Sophia: This UNESCO World Heritage Site, sometimes called the “eighth wonder of the world,” is a must-see. Note that there is often a long line to get inside, but most of the line is in Sultanahmet Square where kids can run around while one person holds your place in line.
  4. Princes’ Islands Cruise: We booked a day cruise from Istanbul to three of the Princes’ Islands, and our daughter loved it. Some islands are car-free and safer for kids to run around.
  5. Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar: These are two of Istanbul’s largest and most well-known bazaars, and they provide a great sensory experience for children with their endless colors, scents, and sounds.
  6. Miniaturk: This unique park showcases scaled-down models of more than 100 famous landmarks in Turkey and around the world. Each model has incredible detail and is sure to delight small children. The park also has a nice playground for kids to enjoy.
  7. Taksim Square/Istiklal Avenue: This street gets very crowded but is easy to navigate with a stroller. If you want to get some shopping in on your trip, this is a nice place to do it.
  8. Dolmabahçe Palace: This is the largest palace in Istanbul and also worth a stop. The highlight of this palace for kids is definitely the expansive grounds and back garden with beautiful views of the Bosphorus Strait.
  9. Galata Tower: You can pay to climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city or view the tower from ground level. There are lots of souvenir shops and cafes around here as well.
  10. Bagdat Street: If you want to explore the Asian side of the city, this is another popular area for shopping and eating.
Is Istanbul stroller friendly? Definitely in the green spaces!

Baby and Toddler Essentials to Pack

These are the items I would consider to be most important when planning a trip to Istanbul with young children:

  • Clothing: We packed enough outfits to last for the duration of our trip plus several extra days so that we wouldn’t need to wash laundry. 
  • Diapers and wipes: You could plan to purchase these items once you arrive, but we found it easier to bring enough diapers and wipes with us.
  • Backpack with toys (for toddlers): We packed our daughter’s favorite toys in her own backpack to help keep her entertained while on the go.
  • Diaper bag: We brought our diaper bag with us to store all the clothes, diapers, wipes, snacks, and water that we would need for a day out. We strapped it to the handlebar of our stroller for easy access all day.
  • Stroller: Even though Istanbul is not always stroller-friendly, we were so glad we had our stroller with us. Our two-year-old could only make it so far on her feet before wanting to be pushed around, and the stroller was great for nap time, too.
  • Car seat: If you have a lightweight, portable car seat, I would recommend bringing this to quickly install for taxi rides. We did not have a car seat with us, so we held onto our toddler tightly, but there were many moments when I wished we had brought one with us for peace of mind.

What NOT to Pack

To minimize the amount of items to carry, I wouldn’t recommend bringing these items with you to Istanbul.

  • Portable crib: Our hotel room had a daybed in addition to a queen bed, which we were able to use for our toddler. Many hotels should also have portable cribs on site that you can use to save the hassle of bringing your own.
  • Portable high chair: We didn’t mind having our daughter on our lap during meal time, though most of the time she preferred sitting in her own chair. Since our daughter was almost three when we visited, I wasn’t paying attention to see if restaurants had high chairs, but I would imagine many places have them available upon request, too.

Best Way to Get to Istanbul

You can choose from two major airports near Istanbul: Istanbul Airport on the European side and Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side. Turkish Airlines is the most popular airline flying into Istanbul, but there are several other airlines available as well.

We flew into Istanbul Airport, about a 30-minute drive from the center of Istanbul. We booked a shuttle to our hotel ahead of time, but you can also get a taxi on the spot for about 300 Turkish Lira.

Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul with a Baby or Toddler

Before booking our hotel, we consulted with a family friend who lives near Istanbul about the safest and most convenient places to stay. She recommended the following hotels in the Kadikoy neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul. 

Both hotels are close to the popular Bagdat Street for shopping and eating:

Ultimately, we decided to stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul – Piyalepasa, which was close to Taksim Square on the European side of the city. 

The rooms were generous in size and had floor-to-ceiling windows, and we really enjoyed the breakfast buffet and indoor swimming pool. There was also a free shuttle from the hotel to Taksim Square, which we used several times.

Best Places to Eat with a Baby or Toddler

Here are a few great places to eat with kids in Istanbul:

  • Istiklal Street: You’ll find a host of good restaurants along this shopping street. Several of these places are buffet-style with a variety of options – a nice choice for picky eaters.

  • Cafe Privato: Located close to Galata Tower, this restaurant serves traditional Turkish breakfasts with an assortment of fruit, cheese, meat, bread, and other dishes. On a nice day, you can sit on the outdoor terrace and kids will enjoy seeing cats meandering around the tables.

  • Lahmacun restaurant (Turkish pizza): What kid doesn’t love pizza? The Turkish version of pizza has a very thin crust and is loaded with minced meat, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and other toppings. Kids might enjoy a foamy yogurt drink to go with it, called ayran. There are endless places to order lahmacun in Istanbul — we got ours in the food court of the Zorlu Center.

Questions about Visiting Istanbul with a Baby or Toddler

Here are answers to some common questions about visiting Istanbul with a baby or toddler.

Is it safe to travel to Istanbul with young children?

Overall, we felt safe with our two-year-old in Istanbul, but there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be careful when crossing the street, as cars move quickly and do not seem to care much for pedestrians. We had to be super vigilant and held on to our daughter tightly near any roads.
  • There are many areas where paths are bumpy or made of small stones that make it hard to navigate with a stroller. We managed it okay, but it was definitely a nuisance at times.
  • Taxis do not come with car seats, so if you don’t feel comfortable having your child on your lap or sitting on a regular seat, consider bringing a travel car seat. While there are other forms of public transportation in Istanbul, we found taxis to be most convenient.


Terrorist attacks have taken place in Istanbul, with the most recent one occurring on the popular Istiklal Avenue in November 2022. A suicide bomber killed six people and injured dozens of others. It was a bit eerie to read about this attack since we had walked along that street with our daughter only two months prior.


While I can’t say that Istanbul won’t see any more terrorist attacks, they are few and far between. Before the 2022 attack, the last major attack was in 2017. My general advice for traveling to Istanbul with young kids would be to avoid crowded places as much as possible and not wander around after dark.

Is Istanbul stroller friendly? It can be difficult managing with crowds like this

Is Istanbul baby and toddler-friendly?

Personally, I didn’t find Istanbul to be the most kid-friendly place I have visited. Right before we went to Istanbul, we spent a few days in Paris and noticed a difference in terms of ease of travel.

In Paris, there are parks and playgrounds everywhere, and you feel safer as a pedestrian and in public transportation. In Istanbul, drivers are much more reckless, and we didn’t see as many playgrounds that are easily accessible.

Of course, there are kid-friendly areas in Istanbul — Gulhane Park was a highlight for our daughter. And admittedly, there are some kid-centered activities we didn’t have time to do, such as Miniaturk and the Istanbul Aquarium.

I would definitely not want to dissuade you from taking your kids to Istanbul, as it’s a beautiful, historic city to experience. We made some great family memories there and were glad we brought our daughter with us.

Is Istanbul an interesting city for young children?

I find you can make almost any place interesting for young children depending on the activities you do. As long as our two-year-old had places where she could run around freely during the day, she was happy. 

Knowing our daughter had a limited attention span, we limited the amount of time we spent in museums and looked for places where she could walk on her own, like palace gardens, shopping malls, and public parks.

What is the best time of year to visit Istanbul with a baby or toddler?

We visited Istanbul in September, and this was a really nice time to go. It was sunny and warm but not overly hot like in the summer months.

April and May are also great times to visit when the tourist crowds are not as large and temperatures are mild.

Istanbul winters are not overly cold compared to other countries in the northern hemisphere, with average temperature in the 40s and 50s from November to March. 

If you plan to spend a lot of your time outside with kids, I recommend going in the spring or fall. 

Of course, if you want to include beach days in your itinerary, June to September would be the best times to go.

Do you need a visa to visit Turkey?

A visa is required for citizens of many countries, including the United States, in order to visit Turkey. You’ll need to obtain a visa for every person traveling with you, including children. 

Thankfully, the visa process was one of the simplest I have ever experienced, with everything done online.

  1. Visit the official Turkey visa website and complete the application.
  2. Pay the visa fee (for United States citizens, it is $50 per person as of 2023).
  3. You should receive your visa via email within a few minutes.

Be sure to print a copy of your visa before arriving in Turkey, as an electronic version will not suffice.

Conclusion: Is Istanbul Stroller Friendly (and Family-Friendly Overall)?

Istanbul isn’t the most stroller-friendly city in the world, but it’s manageable (and recommended) to use a stroller if you’re planning to travel there with small children. We were glad we had ours with us even though there were places that weren’t the most stroller-friendly.

It’s very doable to travel to Istanbul as a family and include your kids in your adventure. We have lots of fond memories of our time in Istanbul with our daughter and are glad we were able to share the experience with her.

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Is Istanbul Stroller Friendly - Emma Jane Explores
Is Istanbul Stroller Friendly - Emma Jane Explores
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