Istanbul, Turkey is a fantastic place for a family vacation because there are so many things to do in Istanbul with kids. You may be surprised to find out that Istanbul has a lot of theme parks, aquariums and zoos, and other famous attractions that the whole family will enjoy. After all, fun is not just for kids.
You may not know this but Istanbul spans two continents. The Asian side boasts favorites like Kosuyolu Park, Hababam Sinifi Museum, and the Maiden's Tower. On the European side, go on a shopping spree at the Grand Bazaar or Istiklal Caddesi, take a ride on the Taksim Tunel nostalgia tramway, or let the kids run wild at Gulhane Park.
Why not start with a ride? There are two cable cars in Istanbul but the best is the Eyup Pierre Loit tram with special views even the little ones will enjoy. You could also take a ride on the Tunel underground funicular, the nostalgic tram that is the oldest functioning underground railway in Europe. Or take a walk across the Galata Bridge, which also has some stellar views of the skyline.
In the city center, you can hop aboard a private boat and see the sights from the Bosphorus Strait, take a horse-drawn carriage through town, or taste some delicious Turkish delight at the spice market. But the theme parks are the most popular attractions for kids visiting Istanbul. Don't miss the Basilica Cistern, which most kids think is a spooky dungeon.
Exploring Istanbul with kids is a great adventure, no matter how old they are. There is something to do for everyone in the family. From taking a boat ride up the straight to shopping malls and the spice market, you and the kids will enjoy every minute of it.
Before heading out to enjoy a boat trip, climb the Galata Tower, or taste some Turkish pizza at Taksim Square or the Spice Bazaar, you will need to drop off your luggage. Keep it safe at one of the many Istanbul luggage storage spots while you and the kids have a fun day visiting the city. Also, skip the ticket lines and fees at many attractions by getting a VIP ticket online.
Fun for kids and adults alike, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Istanbul will keep you all busy for an entire day. Designed for kids from toddlers to teens, visitors can fly on the Merlin Apprentice ride, join the Kingdom Quest to zap the trolls, or watch a movie at the Lego 4D Cinema.
The young kids can visit the farmer's home in the LEGO Duplo Farm where they can climb up into the attic and slide down the slide. Get a pic of them with the farmer's cow and then let them build whatever they want with the Duplo bricks. Older kids will love building a LEGO racer that they can even race on the timed ramps.
Located in Cevahir Istanbul, FunLab is Europe's largest indoor entertainment center with four stories of fun. Visitors can get a thrill on the Crazy Shark roller coaster that goes over 38 miles per hour or the Tower that drops them from 82 feet in the air.
The lab has eight different categories like arcade and video games, amusement rides, virtual reality simulations, and redemption games where you can win prizes. There is even a theater where you can relax and watch a show before heading out to the mall to do some shopping.
Isfanbul Theme Park
The largest theme park in Istanbul, the Isfanbul has 50 acres of rides, games, shows, food, and shopping for kids and adults alike. You can find it in the Eyup District at the Isfanbul Shopping Mall. It was Turkey's first theme park, opened in 2013, and has 26 attractions to enjoy.
With rides like King Kong, Angry Birds, and Ice Age, you know this is a fun way to spend the day and evening. The Safari Jungle Park section has a laser tag game where you can win prizes as well as almost 400 animals in 100 different species. This popular attraction in Istanbul is fun for the whole family.
The Istanbul Dolphinarium along the Golden Horn is home to hundreds of dolphins as well as beluga whales, seals, and walruses. It is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul and boasts the largest shark collection in Europe. They have a touch pool for the little kids as well as a jellyfish exhibit, sea turtle hospital, and several exciting shows.
The first show features fur seals, and then the walruses show off with their exercises, basketball skills, and aerobics. And the beluga whale dances, paints, and sings. But the dolphins are the real stars with balancing tricks, somersaults, jumps, singing, and even water ballet. Be sure to bring a camera. It is located across the Golden Horn from the Miniaturk.
Sea Life Istanbul
If you want to see more sea creatures, Sea Life Istanbul is the largest aquarium in the country with 21 different themed worlds and 47 water basins of fish, marine mammals, and other fantastic animals. See a giant jellyfish, scary piranhas, and thousands of tropical fish. The kids will love Clownfish Alley where they can Find Nemo.
Walk through the 272-foot underwater glass tunnel where you can see all sorts of beautiful and magical creatures up close. In Europe's largest shark collection, they have 61 sharks in 15 different species including the gentle nurse shark, strange-looking hammerhead, and peaceful sand tiger sharks. Be sure to grab some unique souvenirs at the gift shop.
Another park inside a mall, Moipark is in the humongous Mall of Istanbul. The park boasts shows, attractions, and 30 rides from Ballo City for the little tykes to the thrilling Drop & Twist Tower. The park is also home to hundreds of arcade games where visitors can win prizes.
What makes this theme park unique is that it has one floor for kids between four and 10 years old while the other is for kids and adults over 10 years old. That way you know exactly which ones your kids can ride without having to ask.
If you don't have time to visit all the sites you want to see in Turkey, take the kids to Miniaturk where you can see everything in one place. Located on the shores of Golden Horn, this is the world's largest miniature park featuring more than 100 of the country's most iconic attractions back to the Ottoman Empire.
Here you can see the favorites like Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and Suleymaniye Mosque as well as the Big Island of Princes Islands, Sultanahmet Square, and the walls of Constantinople. They even have a train that will take you all around the place with interesting details about many of the attractions.
Istanbul Toy Museum
On the Asian side of Istanbul, the Istanbul Toy Museum is full of ancient dolls, miniatures, and puppets. It started out as a toy shop but when it went out of business, the owners turned their private collection into a museum with more than 4,000 toys from Turkey as well as the rest of the world.
Toy trains, teddy bears, and tea sets are just a few of the items you can see here. You can see toys made by famous toy maker Ernst Paul Lehmann, figures of American presidents, a miniature display of WWII Germany, and even a dollhouse butcher shop from 1900 with intricate details.
Finding something to do in Istanbul with kids is not difficult with so many major parks and attractions all over the city. The Golden Horn is the perfect example of how to spend an entire day when you visit Istanbul. It is one of those places in the city where you can spend 24 hours without experiencing everything there is to enjoy.
This waterway is the main inlet of the Bosphorus Strait where it combines with the Sea of Marmara. It was named for its unusual shape of the inlet from the air, boasts five famous bridges and is the largest natural harbor in the world. Not to mention the theme park, shopping, dining, and other attractions along both sides of the water.
A ferry trip through the Bosphorus Strait can be a memorable experience for the whole family, including little kids. One of the most exciting things to do in Istanbul with kids is to take a cruise along the Bosphorus past all the small islands to get a unique view of the largest city in Turkey.
You will start at the Galata Bridge with views of Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia and continue to the entrance of the Black Sea. Most of the sightseeing cruises stop at Princes Islands and other sites where you can spend some time exploring.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is one of the oldest churches in the world, which was also a mosque for some time before being turned into a public museum. But it is not a typical museum with exhibits behind glass. This one is open and boasts marble columns, a 105-foot dome, and items covered in gold, silver, and paintings.
This is one of the things to do in Istanbul with kids that the whole family will enjoy but little tots may get bored after a while. While you are here, be sure to take the kids to see the Basilica Cistern. The subterranean water source is supported by 336 columns made of marble and covers over two acres.
Perhaps the most stunning building in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque is a must-see, even if you don't go inside. Another one of the fascinating things to do in Istanbul with kids, the Blue Mosque is an Imperial mosque that still attracts a large number of tourists. It was constructed in the early 17th century under the rule of Ahmed I.
Of course, the little kids may not be as excited as you are to see the 50 different tulip designed tile handiworks, the ostrich eggs in the chandeliers used to deter spiders, and the gorgeous stained glass windows, but they may be interested in Ahmed’s tomb. Be sure to come by in the evening when the mosque is bathed in blue light, which explains the name.
Some museums will be boring to kids but the Rahmi M Koç Museum is one exception. Some of the really interesting exhibits are the classic airplanes, a submarine, and vintage cars. Located along the Golden Horn, this place also has some great views of the water, which you can visit afterward from Haskoy Park.
The museum also boasts a planetarium with cool shows and interactive exhibits. You can even get inside the cockpit of some of the planes. There are also experiments kids can try. With race cars, trains, trams, boats, and aircraft, nobody will get bored here. We think your crew will love this outing, along with many other Istanbul museums.
What are the best family activities in Istanbul?
If you have young kids under school age in Istanbul, your best activities may include Gulhane and Kosuyolu Park for their playgrounds and space to run or anywhere along the Golden Horn where you can find all sorts of attractions for the young ones.
The best theme parks in Istanbul for tiny tots are LEGOLAND, Isfanbul Park, and Moipark with many rides and games just for preschoolers. To keep the older kids from getting bored, the FunLab, Sea Life, Dolphinarium, and Miniaturk would be perfect. Also, the whole family would enjoy a cruise on the Bosphorus.
Istanbul With Kids
With all of these fun things to do from the Galata Tower to the Grand Bazaar, you and the family will not get bored. More likely, you may get overwhelmed with choices because there is so much to do in such a short time. Plan your Istanbul itinerary to follow (including starting the day with brunch) before you go with all of the major attractions you want to visit. We've made several terrific suggestions!