Istanbul is one of the most captivating cities in Turkey. Through its architecture, cuisine and lifestyle, it captures the true essence of Turkish culture. If it’s a family vacation you’re planning, Istanbul could be a perfect fit for all – especially the kids.

With so much to see and learn, children will be enthralled with the charms of the old world. Besides, there’s also a bunch of theme parks, unique museums, aquariums, and attractions to keep them entertained throughout the trip.

Here are 24 fun things to do with your kids in Istanbul – and have a great time doing them yourself.

Theme Parks & Aquariums

1. Take A Tiny Turkish Adventure At Miniaturk

The Miniaturk, one of the world’s largest open-air miniature parks, is one the coolest places to hang out with your kids. It has attractions and iconic places from all over Turkey displayed as pieces of artwork in a shrunken-down, handy size for children to explore.

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Timings: Monday-Sunday (9am-7pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults (10TL); Students (3TL)

2. Spend A Fun Day At LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Legoland is a fun activity centre where kids can enjoy building palaces, walls and houses constructed out of Lego. This place has a number of attractions like a Lego 4D cinema, Lego Factory, the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, and more that will keep your little ones entertained.

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Timings: Saturday-Thursday (10am-8pm), Friday (1pm-8pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults (46TL); children (36TL); No charge for children under 3 years

3. Be Stunned By The Vast Aquarium At Istanbul Akvaryum

Istanbul Akvaryum has various small aquariums within it, with themes based on 16 water bodies around the world.

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It houses unique marine life found in their respective water bodies. It hosts Europe’s largest shark collection and has other interesting things like the sea turtle hospital, jellyfish exhibit and an interactive touchpool experience.

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Timings: Monday-Sunday (10am-8pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults (69TL); Children (44TL); No charge for children below 2 years

4. Watch A Stunning Dolphin Show At Istanbul Dolphinarium

The young ones will be delighted to see dolphins performing at one of the largest dolphinariums in Europe. Walruses and small whales are also part of the show. Children over six can also go swim with the dolphins and learn more about these beautiful sea mammals.

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Timings: Saturday-Thursday (1.30pm-3.30pm, 4.30pm-6pm), Friday (2.30pm-4pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults (100TL); Children 80TL; No charge for children below 3 years

5. Brush Up On Some Adrenaline At Vialand

Vialand is a fun theme park with a number of rides and roller coasters. The adrenaline rush after a few hours on the rides here will be a nice break from all the hectic sightseeing.

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Timings: Monday-Sunday (10am-10pm)

Ticket Cost: Packages range from 69TL to 150TL

6. Get Them To ‘Play An Adult’ At Kidzania

KidZania is an activity centre where kids can enjoy learning through realistic role play. At KidZania, children rule their own country and take up pretend jobs to run it. They can choose to be a dentist, fire fighter, chef and more. Here, they earn KidZania currency and choose how to spend their wages.

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Timings: Tuesday-Sunday (10am-7pm)

Ticket Cost: Ages 2-3 30TL; Ages 4-14 50TL; Adults 30TL

7. Step Into The World Of Dinosaurs At Jurassic Land

You can’t go wrong when it comes to dinosaurs and kids. This theme park reanimates extinct dinosaurs through several stunning models. It has 4D cinemas, interactive displays, excavation workshops, and many other fun activities.

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Timings: Monday-Sunday (10am-7.30pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults 49TL; children 39TL; No charges for children under 2 years

Museums

8. Explore Antique Toys At Istanbul Toy Museum

Taking a child to a toy museum is a no-brainer. The Istanbul Toy Museum is a one-of-a-kind place that holds a collection of toys dating back to the 18th century.

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There are toys from all over the world and from different periods. Every room is decorated to match a certain theme. For instance, the room of space toys is decorated with shining stars overhead and the miniature train sets are exhibited in a real train compartment.

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Time: Tuesday-Friday (9.30am – 6pm), Saturday-Sunday (9.30am-7pm)

Ticket Cost: Adult (13TL); Children (10TL); No charge for children below 3 years

9. Ride A Submarine At Rahmi M Koç Museum

Situated on the shores of the Golden Horn, the Rahmi M Koç Museum is Turkey’s first museum dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communication – and is particularly geared towards kids. Here, your little ones will get a chance to explore old trams, climb up into cockpits of small military planes, sit in vintage cars and even enter a real submarine.

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Time: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm

Ticket Cost: Adult (16TL); student (7TL); Submarine (Adult: 8TL, Student: 5TL)

10. Take An Art Workshop At Istanbul Modern Art Museum

This a beautiful space to introduce your kids to modern art. They host interactive sessions and workshops for kids between the ages of 6 and 12. If your kids like art, this would be a good place to spend a few hours having fun and learning at the same time.

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Timings: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday (10am – 6pm), Thursday (10am – 8pm) Sunday (11am – 6pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults (25TL); No charges for children under 12

11. Check Out Vintage Cars At Ural Ataman Classic Car Museum

Here’s a museum that will not just delight the kids, but will leave you quite excited too. This museum hosts more than 50 classic vehicles, from a 1946 model Ford Sedan to a cross-country vehicle used during the Korean War to transport a four-star general.

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Timings: Friday-Sunday (11am-6pm)

Ticket Cost: 5TL

Monuments & Cultural Attractions

12. Introduce Them To The Wonders Of The Islamic World At The Blue Mosque

A trip to Istanbul should include some of the most iconic buildings around – and the Blue Mosque is one such attraction. A magnificent building that adorns the cityscape, this is an active house of worship, so remember to dress appropriately.

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Timings: Saturday-Thursday, from 8.30am but shuts for 90 minutes during the prayer time throughout the day. Fridays, 2.30pm onwards.

13. Experience Old-World Charm At Hagia Sophia

Not far from the Blue Mosque lies another marvellous monument, the Hagia Sophia. This beautiful building, which was once a church, was laterconverted into a mosque. Today, it’s a museum that retains the charms of both Christianity and Islam.

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Timings: Tuesday-Sunday (9am-5pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults 40TL; Children under 12 are free to enter

14. Explore The Under-Bowels Of The City At Basilica Cistern

This may not be the ideal spot for young kids, but teenagers might find this spooky subterranean cistern interesting. The Basilica Cistern is a vast underground water storage facility built 1,500 years ago. It has a slighTLy creepy atmosphere, low lighting, dripping water, and a spooky Medusa head.

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Timings: Monday – Sunday (9am-5.30pm)

Ticket Cost: 20TL

15. Glimpse The Ottoman Empire At Topkapi Palace

Situated close to the other historical monuments in Old Istanbul, Topkapi Palace used to be a real Ottoman palace. Today, it is converted into a museum where you can see well-preserved artefacts from the Ottoman time. A tour of the jewel-filled Treasury and Harem are highly recommended.

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Timings: Monday – Sunday (9am-4.45pm)

Ticket Cost: Adults 40TL; Children under 12 are free to enter; Harem and Halberdiers with Tresses Dormitory Ticket 25TL

Tours & Day Trips

16. Take The Bosphorus Cruise

Watching the magical city of Istanbul from its shoreline is a spectacular experience for both, your children and you. The shoreline of the Bosphorus has a lot of history, and a Bosphorus cruise is the best way to explore it.

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Cruise Details: Şehir HaTLarı is Istanbul’s official ferry company that offers three tours, Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise, Full Bosphorus Cruise and the Full Bosphorus Cruise by Night. Prices range from 20-25TL for adults and 6-12TL for kids under 12. Children below 6 go free.

17. Get Away From The Crowds At Prince Islands

Your kids and you could both take a break from the sightseeing and hustle-bustle of the city by heading to Prince Islands. This is a chain of nine small islands where locals and tourists come to relax.

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Take a short ferry ride from the main city to get here – it’s a great place for kids to play, ride bicycles and explore nature. There are no motor vehicles allowed here, so it’s quite safe. You can rent a bicycle or horse cart to get around.

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How To Reach Prince Islands: Catch a ferry or a sea bus from Kabatas on the mainland.

Ticket Cost: A 55-minute seabus ride will cost you 10TL and a 100-minute ferry ride will cost you 5TL.

Grand Views

18. Take In The City View From Galata Tower

The 60-metre Galata Tower is a magnificent part of the Istanbul skyline, from where you’ll get a 360-degree view of the city. The view and experience is straight out of a video game, and kids are sure to love it.

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Timings: Monday – Sunday (9am 8.30pm)

Ticket Cost: 25TL

19. Get Aerial Views Of The City With The Istanbul Cable Car

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The Istanbul Cable Car Ride is a type of aerial tramway that allows you to enjoy stunning views of the city. The kids will love the cable car ride up and down the mountain, while you enjoy snapping pictures for yourself.

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Timings: 8am – 11pm (summer) and 8am – 10pm (winter)

Ticket cost: 4TL

Turkish Experiences

20. Ride The Nostalgic Tram

It’s not the most popular mode of travel, but kids will love this old-fashioned tram. The ticket collectors wear old-school uniforms and ring the ding-ding bell that makes for quite an experience. Take the tram ride along Istiklal Caddesi, around the city centre.

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Timings: 6.15am – Midnight

Ticket Cost: 4TL

21. Spend Some Family Time At A Turkish Hammam

The hammam, or Turkish bath, is traditionally enjoyed by grownups – but there’s no reason why kids can’t enjoy some spa time, too.

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Mothers can spend time with their daughters in the women’s section and fathers and sons can relax in the men’s section. You can opt for a sauna, massage or simply enjoy some pool time.

Food & Drink

22. Eat A Traditional Turkish Breakfast

A Turkish breakfast, or kahvalti, is an exquisite affair. There are various versions of it, but most consist of freshly baked flatbread, honey, cream, cheese and preserves (rose jam and fig marmalade), green peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.

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The Beşiktaş neighbourhood in Istanbul has a place called “Breakfast Street” that has lots of small restaurants.

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Restaurant Recommendations: Lades Menemen Restaurant, Çakmak KahvaTLi Salonu, Aşşk Kahve, Café Privato

Cost: 10-20TL

23. Get A Taste Of Turkish Street Food

Istanbul street food is delicious and satisfying. If you’re running late, just stop by at one of the many street-food joints and grab a delicious meal.

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Children will particularly enjoy bread and cheese preparations like gozleme (Turkish pancake filled with savoury ingredients); pide (a Turkish pizza made fresh in a wood-fired oven); lahmacun (another Turkish version of pizza); simit (ring-shaped bread covered with sesame seeds) and kumpir (baked potato filled with a choice of fillings.

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Cost: 5-10TL

24. Indulge Their Sweet Tooth

The Turkey food trail is incomplete without dessert. Your kids will love the wide range of sweet dishes Istanbul has to offer, with baklava being the most popular one.

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This flaky filo pastry is filled with nuts like pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds, drizzled with sugar syrup and baked in a wood-fired oven. Another popular sweet treat goes by the name of Turkish Delight (lokum). There are endless varieties of it that can be found in restaurants, stores and even bazaars.

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Cost: Baklava (30-70TL/kg), Turkish Delight (10-40TL/kg)

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