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Seven things to do with children in Istanbul


In recognition of National Sovereignty and Children’s Day in Turkey on 23 April, we look at some of the top things to do with children in Istanbul. From checking out ancient buildings and playing in one of the many parks to exploring the city’s shoreline, we offer our top seven choices to keep the kids entertained

Emily Scrivener,

Take a boat trip on the Bosphorus
Hop aboard one of the public ferries for a trip along the Bosphorus. Take a short ride to the Asian quarter or, for those with slightly older children, why not opt for a longer voyage to the Black Sea and back? You’ll pass spectacular sights such as Rumeli Castle and the Ortaköy Mosque, and the children will have great fun playing pirates.

Hunt for treasures in the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is a treasure trove for children. While they may not be interested in purchasing or haggling for goods themselves, the sights, smells and sounds of the bazaar are sure to be a hit. Why not go on a scavenger hunt for toys – or give the kids their first taste of Turkish delight?

Explore another world in the Basilica Cistern
The dripping ceilings and eerie lighting of the Basilica Cistern allow children’s imagination run riot. Built in the sixth century, the cistern has a maze of ornate columns and carvings and offers a welcome respite from the heat outside. Look out for the huge upside-down head of Medusa.

Investigate at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums
If your children like the British Museum in London then we recommend heading to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. Children will be sure to make a beeline for the striking marble sarcophagi and will no doubt be impressed by the large-scale model of the Trojan Horse that they can climb onto in the children’s section.

Sightsee at Miniatürk
If your trip to Istanbul is pushed for time, head over to the Miniatürk Park where you can view 105 of Istanbul’s famous architectural structures all in one go (the models are 1/25th the size of the originals). If children lose interest in the models, the miniature train that crosses the park will be sure to capture their attention. The open-air park also has a great playground with a giant chessboard which is fun for both adults and children.

Explore Gülhane Park
Located just next to the Topkapı Palace, Gülhane Park is one of the oldest parks in the city and makes a great detour from some of Istanbul’s more touristy attractions. Both adults and children will appreciate the beauty of the park, especially in April when the tulips come up in a host of colours. There is also a well-devised children’s play area, while the fountains and trees provide welcome shelter from the sun.

Get interactive at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Located on the shores of the Bosphorus, this contemporary museum is especially attractive to children due to its extensive interactive displays and exhibitions. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, the museum makes good use of a broad range of interdisciplinary activities to entice new visitors.

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