You can take a city trip to Istanbul with kids just fine. This huge city in Turkey has enough activities to offer for families with kids to keep you entertained for a few days. Istanbul is also increasingly the stopover if you want to visit certain countries. A great reason to see a little more of the city then, too. We found Istanbul a beautiful city and in this blog we list the best activities to do in Istanbul with kids.
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Istanbul with kids: not-to-be-missed sights
If you are visiting the city of Istanbul with kids, there are also a number of sights not to be missed. They may not be the most family-friendly sights, but we think you still can’t skip these sights when visiting the city. We list them briefly below.
#1 Hagia Sophia: This is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul and it is one of the largest church buildings in the world. You can visit this mosque for free (if there is no prayer service) and it looks impressive inside. We enjoyed visiting this mosque briefly and viewing it inside. Count on seeing it within 15 minutes.
#2 Blue Mosque: If you visit the Hagia Sophia, then you really can’t miss the Blue Mosque. In fact, this mosque is opposite the Hagia Sophia. This mosque is also free to visit and this mosque is also beautiful from the inside. Actually, the same goes for this as for the Hagia Sophia that you won’t spend more than 15 minutes visiting the mosque.
#3 Topkapi Palace: you can also visit a palace in Istanbul with kids. The Topkapi Palace is a huge castle and one of the largest structures in the city. You can also visit the castle (paid) and you can visit the treasure room here, rooms with weapons and old clothes and also the gardens are available to the public. Our daughter always finds a castle interesting to visit and is also often impressed by the different weapons they used to use.
#4 Bazaar: A visit to Istanbul is not complete if you don’t also take a moment to visit the city’s bazaar. The Kapalı Çarşı bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world and has more than a thousand different stalls and stores. Of course, this is also fun for kids, as there is a lot to see and therefore it is fun to get lost through the many streets of this bazaar. Of course, you have to haggle heavily here if you want to buy anything in this market! That’s kind of the game.
Istanbul with kids: seeing the city
There are several ways to see the city of Istanbul with kids. We list some great options below!
#5 Bike tour of the city: you can take a bike tour of the city with the Dutch company BajaBikes. Led by a Dutch guide, you will take a three-hour bike tour, passing by the city’s main attractions. We did this bike tour in Paris with BajaBikes and we thought it was a great introduction to the city! The Istanbul organization has children’s bikes for kids as young as 10 years old, and child seats are available for younger children.
#6 Hop on Hop off bus: you can also explore Istanbul with kids by bus. These open-roof double-decker buses run a route through the city, stopping at 11 different attractions along the way. You can get in and out as often as you want during a certain time period. We always find this a quick way to see a lot of a city. Especially if you don’t have a lot of time and still want to see a lot of the city with the family, this can be a great option.
#7 Bosphorus Cruise: You can also see the city of Istanbul with kids from the water. During a one and a half hour cruise on this cruise, you will sail along the Bosphorus River and pass by various sights of the city such as the Topkapi Palace. During the cruise, it is possible to learn more about the city through an English-language audio.
Istanbul with kids: kids’ fun
There are also a number of activities in Istanbul that are largely geared toward kids. We list the best activities for kids below.
#8 MiniaTurk: Istanbul has its own Madurodam, and at MiniaTurk you walk outdoors past all kinds of famous Turkish buildings recreated in miniature. You will see all kinds of sights to visit in Turkey. MiniaTurk is outside the city center and by car you can get there in about half an hour’s drive. By the way, you can also get here on the Hop on Hop off buses that run through the city.
#9 Istanbul Legoland: You can also go to a branch of Legoland in Istanbul. Actually, the setup of the Legoland Discovery Center is the same in all the cities they are in. There is a 4d cinema, there is an attraction centered on the toy Lego, there is a Lego factory and, of course, you can play with Lego. If you have ever been to the branch of Legoland in Scheveningen, it is comparable to that.
#10 Kidzania: If your kids like to reenact all kinds of professions then Kidzania is definitely a must in Istanbul. Our daughter visited the branch of Kidzania in Singapore and really liked it too. Kids can work in the supermarket, gas station, bank, hospital, dentist’s office and many more such professions. There are also all kinds of workshops that kids can sign up for that include ice cream making, candy making, sushi making and many more such foods.
#11 Vialand Temapark: you can go to an amusement park in Istanbul with kids. This amusement park is located in the north of the city and free shuttle buses run to the amusement park from the city. You have a number of spectacular attractions to visit at the amusement park. However, reviews online about the park are very mixed, and the biggest criticism of the amusement park is that the price (especially compared to the price paid by locals) is very high, there are few rides and the queues are long. By the way, you can buy a fastpass for this at the park.
#12 Moipark: You also have a kind of amusement park in Istanbul that is completely indoor. A good option if the weather is not so good for a day in Istanbul. This park is also slightly outside the city center, but there are several options such as a shuttle bus that can take you to the park from downtown.
Istanbul with kids: family-friendly parks
You can visit several fun parks in Istanbul with kids. That way you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city with your family for a while. We list the best two parks below.
#13 Emirgan Park: you should visit this park only when it is tulip season. Then this is really a beautiful park with many tulips in all kinds of colors. A big disadvantage of this park is that it is not centrally located and you can easily spend an hour on public transport. What will greatly appeal to kids in this park is that there are lots of playgrounds in the park where they can play. There are also plenty of eateries to get something to eat and drink. All in all, of course, you will soon be spending half a day at this park with the family.
#14 Gulhane Park: this park is the former garden of the Topkapi Palace and this park does have a central location in the city! This park is also the most fun to visit when it is tulip season. This park is also a great place to have a family picnic. Again, you will find playground equipment in the park, but there are a lot fewer of them than in Emirgan Park.
Istanbul with kids: other activities!
You have a number of activities to do in Istanbul with kids in addition to those mentioned above. We mention them briefly below.
#15 Sea Life Istanbul: You can also visit a branch of Sea Life in Istanbul with kids. Like all the sites worldwide, you can also see many tropical fish, rays, sharks and turtles at Sea Life Istanbul. The highlight of Sea Life is always the underwater tunnel, where you walk through and see the entire underwater world above your head.
#16 Istanbul Aquarium: This is another aquarium you can visit in Istanbul. They have free transportation to it if you buy your ticket in advance at the city center. However, you will soon spend an hour on the bus to get to the aquarium. This Aquarium is spacious and you can also view penguins here. Near this aquarium is also a shopping center with food court. Partly because of the travel time, you are easily half a day on the road with the family.
#17 Galata Tower: you can also see the city of Istanbul with kids from a great height. The Galata Tower is in the center of the city and the tower is 63 meters high. From the tower you have a magnificent 360-degree view of the city!
#18 Istanbul Sapphire: This skyscraper also allows you to view the city of Istanbul from a great height. The tower is easily accessible by subway. You can also watch a 10-minute 3d movie here, in which you view all the highlights of the city of Istanbul in a helicopter.
#19 Besiktas stadium: if your kids love soccer, you can visit the stadium of one of the city’s biggest clubs: Besiktas. You can book a guided tour of the stadium here, and the club also has an interactive museum about the club’s history. Of course, it’s totally awesome if you can also attend a club game. Check the club’s website for the team’s playing schedule.
#20 Day at the beach: especially in the summer months, it can be very hot in Istanbul and then it can be nice to go to the beach with kids. You do have to drive an hour by car to the seaside town of Kilyos for this. For most beaches you pay a small entrance fee, but then you get a deck chair and umbrella to go with it.
Where to stay in Istanbul with kids?
You can stay in Istanbul with kids just fine. The city has plenty of accommodations where they have rooms for families with kids. If you go to Istanbul you do want to be in the center of the city. We list a hotel in each price range that scores more than a 9 average from many reviews. Press the blue link for more information!
Budget hotel: Interstar Hotel
Mid-range hotel: Novus Pera Hotel
Luxury hotel: Romance Istanbul Hotel Boutique Class