Emirgan Park (Emirgan)
Every April, Istanbul's Emirgan Park explodes with color during the tulip festival. (Kids will be interested to learn that tulips originally come from Turkey, not Holland.) The park has been expanded and now has new playgrounds, fountains, lakes and a magnificent, huge slide (kids aged 10 and up). There is also a good and affordable cafe with kofte meatballs for the kids, or 'manti' pasta. Avoid the crowds on the weekend if possible.
Hours: Daily 07:00-22:30
Zorlu Center (Zincirlikuyu)
The best playground in Istanbul without questions is at the Zorlu shopping center. Open year round, it is neverthess at its best in the summer with its 'beach', monumental slide, play fountain and climbing areas. Easily accessible by metro, and, best of all, free. (Parents, try the slide yourself! I built up the courage and it was thrilling!)
Website: CLICK HERE
Istanbul has a wide range of indoor and outdoors activities for children, both in the city center and its environs. Here are slide shows of some of our favourites, guaranteed to keep the kids happy and occupied (map below).
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Kidsville (Kemerburgaz, Göktürk)
Kidsville in Kemer Country has both indoor and outdoor zones. A bit far the city center, but good value at 20tl for the whole day. A good choice if you want to get out of town for the afternoon. You can also head to the equestrian center and watch riders (dressage if you're lucky) and have a snack at the cafe.
Website: CLICK HERE
Maçka Demokrasi Parkı (Nişantaşı)
Located in the center of bustling Nişantaşı, Maçka Park is an expansive green area set in a valley with plenty of playgrounds. A new, sprawling climbing frame for older children was added in early 2015 and features a maze of tunnels and slides. The smaller park for younger kids near the fountain has lovely animal statues for the kids to climb on. There is a decent cafe in the park. The highlight of Maçka Park is the cable car that runs over the top, providing a bird's eye view of the park and the Bosphorus.
Set in the leafy suburb of Zekeriyakoy in northern Istanbul near the Black Sea and Gokturk, this farm/ranch has horses and ponies to ride in the fields, grazing sheep and goats, huge bulls and cows, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and even llamas! The cows' milk is used in their delicous milk puddings, and the rest of the cafe fare is simple but good. The cafe has outdoor seating overlooking a riding arena with jumps. You can also buy fresh eggs and yoghurt made on the farm.
Hours: Daily (except Monday): 08:30-22:00
Entrance: Free entrance
Website: CLICK HERE (in Turkish only)
Göztepe 60. Yıl Parkı (Göztepe)
This park in Göztepe on the Asian side is a great place for kids to burn off some steam. They can climb over the 'Bosphorus Bridge', splash in the water fountains and sail on a pirate ship. There is a spacious rose garden, a pond, and interesting sculptures including a metallic globe and topiary whirling dervishes. You can also hire a mini car to 'drive' around the kids' racng circuit. There are also lots of benches for the parents to sit and relax.
Hours: Open daily