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Istanbul long layover advice for family with little kids

Hi all,

My family (wife and kids ages 7, 6, and 3) will be traveling this fall, and the best priced itinerary has us going through Istanbul. We would have a 6 hour layover during the day on one leg and then a 15 hour layover (from 11:35 PM to 2:40 PM the next day) on the other leg.

First, is there a hotel at the airport that we could go to without getting a visa? It wouldn't have to be spacious or super-nice, just something that would be clean and safe. With little kids in tow, we're not looking to explore - we just want this trip to be as painless as possible.

Second, is the airport a place where we could relatively comfortably spend six hours with little ones? Are there kid-friendly options at restaurants? Is it a safe enough airport for families?

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by
1026 posts

It's around 13 miles to the center of old town, about an hour by taxi with cooperating traffic. I don't think you can enter the country without a visa and a visa was $20 USD each last time we went. You might get on tripadvisor.com Istanbul forum for more timely and specific advice, especially about hotels. I've never seen any kid friendly options in any of the restaurants but there used to be a McDonalds or maybe more fast food places overlooking the Golden Horn at the Galata Bridge. Good luck.

Posted by
5174 posts

If you book the correct room in this airport hotel (landslide vs airside), you won't have to get e-Visas since it's technically connected to the airport. Just be sure to book the right room. Otherwise, you will need to get a Visa to exit the airport to go anywhere else, no matter how close.

TAV Airport Hotel
http://www.ataturkairport.com/en-en/shoppingdinning/pages/airporthotel.aspx

I take it you've never been to Turkey before because your concerns sound a bit odd, to say the least. Why would IST airport not be "safe for families"? Turks in general are very hospitable and they love children. Plus, there are multiple levels of security to gain access to secure areas of the airport where you'll be transiting. Yes, it's a very busy airport and you'll see people from all over the world that you've probably never seen before (it's a gateway between the Middle East and Europe/points west with LOTS of through traffic), but there should be no issue spending 6 hours at the airport (and the way back at the hotel). You'll see plenty of families of all kinds at the airport.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for your advice. I'll check out the website for the hotel. We've done a fair amount of traveling in Africa, and some airports feel safer than others. It's good to know that it's a busy airport because one of the safety concerns is just losing our kids in the crowd, so we'll be careful. But we enjoy seeing people from all over the world, so we look forward to that.

Given that it's a big airport, I assume we can use credit cards safely to make purchases - is that correct? We have been to some airports where they use only cash. Thanks again.

Posted by
5174 posts

Yes, credit cards should be no problem at the airport, no one expects foreigners to have Turkish Lira in hand (and even if you needed it, there are tons of ATMs everywhere). Try some Turkish Delights at one of the shops. I assume you're flying Turkish Air, which is a great airline. The food is delicious onboard (I've always pre-ordered a veggie meal and it has been excellent).

Posted by
12241 posts

There are not "tons of ATMs everywhere." Last time I flew through IST, I looked for an ATM. Nearly all of them are landside. I did see one on landing, before the security check to enter the airport but that was all. On my return, there wasn't even one then. Once in the airport, I asked around, finally found what appeared to be the only one and my ATM card didn't work. Apparently only cards for that specific bank were accepted.

Posted by
3 posts

We have two long layovers in Istanbul with Turkish Air- one is 6 hours and the other is 15 hours. If we stay in the airport during the layovers, do we need to pick up and recheck in our bags? Or will Turkish Air take care of that for us?

We will be sure to get some Turkish Delights during the long layovers. :) Thanks for your help!