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Sculpture made for climbing in Istanbul

10 Reasons to Take the Family to Istanbul

Article by Ayse Ferhangil 05.24.2016 Photographed by Ilker Gurer

Situated in both Europe and Asia and separated by the Bosporus, the Turkish capital is known for its impressive historical heritage, contemporary culture and sophisticated nightlife. But this dazzling city is also a treat for families. Kids are welcome in every corner, from the most luxurious restaurants to street vendors, and are often showered with sweets along the way. Discover 10 essential Istanbul experiences the entire family will savor.

1. Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula is packed with stunning palaces, but your kids may be more intrigued by the food carts. Have them try simit, giant sesame-coated pretzels, washed down with ayran, a liquid yogurt served foamy and cold.

2.  The Istanbul Aquarium is the world’s largest thematic aquarium. One tank features more than 20 species of shark — and kids older than 14 can dive with them. Senlikkoy Mahallesi, Yesilkoy Halkali Cad. No. 93;

Girl in front of aquarium tank in Istanbul

3. At Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamami, housed in a 16th-century building restored to a glorious new life, kids (accompanied by adults) are welcome to experience traditional Turkish bathing — think of it as an alternative bubble bath. Kemankeş Mah. Hamam Sok. No. 1 34425 Tophane, Karaköy;

4. Head to the Naval Museum Command to see jaw-dropping gold-leafed imperial rowboats; the courtyard boasts part of a German battleship that sank during World War II.  Near the Kadikoy Pier; 

Naval Museum

5. The Chocolate Museum at the Pelit Factory, one of the leading bakeries of Turkey, has chocolate models of historical buildings, figures and masks — plus cotton candy clouds. Sanayi Mahallesi, 1678. Sok. No. 19 Esenyurt

6. KidZania Istanbul is an indoor theme park that invites kids to try on real-life adult careers and responsibilities — such as working as a paramedic and producing real biscuits in the biscuit factory. Akasya Acıbadem, Yeni Nesil Yaşam Kompleksi, Ankara Devlet Yolu Haydarpaşa Yönü Çeçen Sok. Acıbadem/Usküdar;

7. Princes’ Islands, a short ferry ride from the city, are ideal for a family daytrip — there are seaside restaurants, carriage rides and beach clubs.


8. Miniatürk is an open-air museum where the Bosphorus Bridge, Hagia Sophia and other landmarks are done in 1/25th scale. There’s also a playground, fairy-tale tree, toy train and labyrinth.  Sütlüce Mahallesi, İmrahor Cad. 34445 Sütlüce/Beyoğlu;

9. Karaköy, the new hip seaside area, is filled with cafés, galleries and artistic endeavors, including the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, which offers interactive workshops for kids.

10.  The 600-year old Spice Market, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, will amaze kids with enticing colors, smells and tastes.  Misir Çarşısı No. 92 Eminönü-Fatih;

Istanbul bazaar market

Plan Your Visit to Istanbul

  • Istanbul

    Location Istanbul, Turkey

    Experience The historic city that bridges Europe and Asia.

    • Overlooks the stunning Bosphorus
    • Contemporary design with Turkish accents
    • Signature Mediterranean cuisine