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 Istanbul is brimming with exciting cultural activities for kids. Based on our own family excursions, we have curated a Top 10 list from over 30 suggestions.
For other museums, parks and events, visit our Kids' Tips page here
1. Miniatürk (Beyoğlu)


One of Istanbul's most kid-friendly (and afforable) days out, Miniatürk is a mini-Turkey set on 15,000m2 on the banks of the Golden Horn. Akin to Madurodam in Holland, it is home to 1:25 scale model replicas of 128 landmarks: 59 in Istanbul and 69 in Turkey and in former Ottoman lands. These include the Istanbul bridge, Galata Tower and Istanbul airport, as well as locations further afield like the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia and the terraced houses of Mardin. There is also a very nice playground with a replica of the Trojan Horse, and a simple but good cafeteria. This is a great place to start or end a trip, to orient the kids or recap.


Hours: 10:00-17:00 every day except Wednesday

Price: Adults 10tl, Kids 3tl


2. Rahmi M. Koç Museum (Hasköy)


This is our favourite destination as it affords a worldclass collection of planes, trains, trams, horse carriages, motorbikes, boats and automobiles--all on a beautiful setting on the Golden Horn. There is also a planetarium, and, for older kids, the chance to explore the interior of a real submarine. Eateries are aplenty, including a cafe on a former Istanbul ferry, an outdoor fast food stop next to a London double decker, a proper British pub, and an upmarket restaurant serving great Turkish fare. There's also a science exhibit where kids can experiment hands-on.


Hours: 10:00-17:00 Tuesday-Friday, 10:00-18:00 Saturday-Sunday

Price: Museum: Adult12.5tl, Student 6tl

Submarine: Adult 7tl, Student 5tl (Book in advance. Children over 8 only)


3. The Naval Museum (Beşiktaş)


Caiques and cannons and boats, oh my! The newly upgraded Istanbul Naval museum in Besiktas is an awesome museum for kids. Only 6tl entrance for adults. Kids are free. There's a fantastic maritime-themed playroom with puzzles and pirates, and even a nice nursing room . All indoors, tho, so better for a rainy or blistering summer day.


Hours: 09:00-17:00 every day except Monday

Price: Adults 6tl, kids are free


4. 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!)


Hours: 24/7



5. Istanbul Toy Museum (Göztepe)


This private toy museum is easily identifiable by two huge giraffes statues and giant nutcracker soldiers that guard the entrance. Inside, the former family home of the founder, the Turkish poet and author Sunay Akın, is filled with 4000 vintage toys. Dating from the 1700s to today, the toys were collected over 20 years from over 40 countries at toy shops and auctions. The museum also has a fantastic cafe, which looks like a gingerbread house, plus glass room where kids can paint wooden toys and take them home (for a fee). Outside is a giant chess set, and a statue of Nasreddin Hoca--the original Turkish clown. For more pics, click HERE. 


Hours: 09:30-18:00 weekdays, 09:30-19:00 weekends (CLOSED MONDAYS)

Price: Adults 10tl, kids 7tl

Website (in Turkish, English or French): CLICK HERE

6. Kidzmondo (Trump Tower, Mecidiyeköy)


Kids aged 2-14 can be a doctor/fireman/pilot for a day and even earn money at Kidzmondo in Trump Tower in Istanbul. Kids must be aged 4 and above to take part in activities. An exercise in capitalism, but also in responsibility. Not to mention fun.



Hours: 10:00-18:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

10:00-20:00 Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Price: Depends on age and time of week. Sample: 55TL on weekends for kids aged 4-14. See website.

WebsiteCLICK HERE (website in Turkish only)

7. Ortaköy Neighborhood


Set on the European shore of the Bosphorus, right under Istanbul's famous bridge, and boasting a beautiful mosque, Ortaköy is a quaint and colorful artistic enclave of the city. Dotted with small boutiques and street stalls selling souvenirs, it is a great place to spend an afternoon. Its cobblestone streets are also full of great eateries and street food. It is best known for its baked potatoes known as 'kumpir' that come with dozens of topping choices. Plus ice cream, simit and 'kagit helva' (layers of pastry filled with cream). Then let the kids burn it off at the playground.

8. Ottomanya (Mall of Istanbul, Başakşehir)


Let your kids be Sultan for a day at Ottomanya, an interactive Ottoman museum at the Mall of Istanbul. At the calligraphy (hat) workshop, kids get to 'spray' with a real can onto a digital screen to create 'Ottoman Street Art', while at the marbling (ebru) workshop they create real art they can take home. They can take selfies dressed as Ottomans, play drums along with a mehter Ottoman military band, make their own 'Hacivat and Karagöz' shadow puppets and flap their arms along with a video game of the famous Ottoman hero Hezarfen, who made his own wings and jumped off the Galata Tower. Don't be put off by the location: you can get there by public transport.


Hours: Daily 10:00-22:00

Price: 30tl for one hour, 40tl for two hours; kids aged 3-13 only

WebsiteCLICK HERE (website in Turkish only)

9. 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


10. Istanbul Aviation Museum (Bakırköy)


One of Istanbul's least visited museums is also one of the best. Very near to Atatürk Airport (so a great stop on teh way home), the museum has an indoor area with information on Turkey's illustrious flying history (starting from Evliya Celebi, said to be the first human to fly when he jupmed off the Glata Tower wearing homemade wings a la Icarus). There are rooms full of models of planes, pilot uniforms throughout Turkish airforce history, and cases full of medals. But outside is the real treat with actual aircrafts that you an explore, including a full size commercial THY plane. Before you leave watch the movie about the Turkish Air Force aerobatic demonstration team, called the Turkish Stars.


Hours: Tuesday-Friday 09:00-16:00, Saturday-Sunday 09:00-17:00 (CLOSED MON.)

Price: Adults 6.50tl, kids are free


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