Learn, play, and have fun: Istanbul is full of adventures for all the family, from parks to aquariums, museums, playgrounds, and cinemas. To ensure an easy win, we reviewed Istanbul’s favorite places and compiled a list you can use throughout the year.
Parks and playgrounds
Spending time in nature leads to many great learning opportunities for kids, and some down time for accompanying adults. Here are the city’s favorite outdoor parks and playgrounds as recommended by Istanbul parents:
With unobstructed grass areas and its very own little pet zoo, Ihlamur Kasrı is a great choice for parents with children of all ages. The whole area is well-maintained and cleaned on a regular basis, with a café attached to the historic pavillion.
With two entrances—in Ulus and Ortaköy—the very well managed Ulus Meyve Bahçesi remains an off-the-beaten-path location even for locals. There is a large parking area by nearby Lotus World, if you’re coming by car.
All modern shopping complexes are equipped with indoor or outdoor playgrounds these days, but what makes the space at Zorlu Center stand out is the design that turns the playground into the perfect challenge track.
One of the biggest parks in Istanbul, Özgürlük Parkı, is where kids can take advantage of the open space in many different ways. It tends to get very crowded on weekends, so visiting on weekdays is recommended.
There might not be too much to do at 60.yıl Göztepe Parkı when you’re a kid, but every summer the water fountains turn the place into a hit—even if just for a short time.
Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanical Gardens in Ataşehir include a park with a picnic area, as well as a library, and occasionally organizes educational workshops for children.
Featuring indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as educational facilities, Istanbul Butterfly Farm in Beykoz is an ideal day- trip destination, located slightly off the beaten path. The butterfly garden area is closed between December 2018-March 2019; the café and outdoor garden continue to be open.
Faruk Yalçın Zoo in Darıca is Istanbul’s largest open-air facility of its kind, providing shuttle buses that depart from Kadıköy. The smaller yet beautifully located Petting Zoo in Polonezköy provides many entertainment options for children and adults within its Country Club complex.
A fun way for kids to learn about the city is to go up Galata Tower for a view of all the major sights of the historic peninsula. Let your children pick their favorites or help them name the monuments after seeing them up close.
Another option is taking a Bosphorus boat tour. Equipped with an audio guide or guide book, your family can easily explore the opulent palaces and mansions on the shore of two continents.
If your kids are into airplanes, boats, and railways, Rahmi M. Koç Museum has a fascinating display of Istanbul’s industrial past.
As a park showing Turkey’s most popular sites in miniature, Miniatürk is an amazing selfie spot for children, where they can feel like real giants!
You must have seen the videos of how Turkish ice cream sellers entertain Istanbul tourists. Let your kids take the Kahramanmaraş ice- cream challenge and get them a scoop!
Find some traditional Ottoman candy macun in Sultanahmet. It will catch the eye of any sweet-tooth child, especially as this sticky and sugary paste is available in all colors of the rainbow.
Arts and crafts
After visiting the fascinating Istanbul Oyuncak Müzesi (Istanbul Toy Museum), join its wood painting workshop and other weekend events. Making your own toys is always fun!
For artsy kids, Istanbul Modern provides various regular educational programs. Let your children participate in the free BASF Kids’ Lab, a weekend program about the museum’s exhibition and artworks, or family art workshops which parents can also join. Pera Museum, Akbank Sanat, and Sakıp Sabancı Museum also holds children’s educational programs from time to time. Visit their website or call to check, and be aware that workshops are mostly held in Turkish.
Visit Tırtıl Kids in UNIQ Istanbul or Watergarden AVM, where the kid’s bookstore hosts workshops in story-reading, yoga, and illustration.
Providing an interesting way to discover city life, Kidzania and Kidzmondo are places where children from 4-14 can learn about different careers, manage money, and interact with others through role play.
Suitable for any family members from 7-70, İsfanbul is a theme park combining shopping, a hotel, and entertainment— everything you need in one place.
Offering books, games, and workshops, İyi Cüceler is a homey and friendly corner where children can read, learn, and play.
Happy Nest is said to be one of the largest children’s English bookstore holding monthly events and workshops. It also has a café featuring a healthy menu and a garden offering greenery.
Experience the art of glass personally at Cam Ocağı (Glass Furnace) in Beykoz where children can participate in workshops for engraving, bead making, and glass blowing.
If your children (or yourself) are lego maniacs, spend a few happy hours at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Forum Istanbul Shopping Center.
The world’s fifth largest aquarium, also featuring Europe’s biggest collection of sharks, Sea Life is the best place an underwater adventure. It also offers special programs such as birthday parties, sleepovers, and breakfast with seals.
Emaar Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is another place to give marine and aquatic creatures a closer look, especially if you’re looking for jellyfish, penguins, and crocodiles.
At Istanbul Aquarium, the world’s biggest thematic aquarium, kids can learn about 16 different geographical regions by following a route from the Black Sea to the Pacific to the Amazon.
Ensuring that children don’t get bored during shopping on İstıklal Caddesi, Madame Tussauds is a highly entertaining spot for everyone to have fun taking selfies with waxwork stars.
Visit Istanbul Sapphire’s 4D cinema for a city tour with an aerial view, and then go up to the top of the building to enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of Istanbul.
Explore the world of stories and fairytales at Masal Müzesi (Fairytales Museum) in Kartal, where you can find books ranging from classic fables to modern tales, sculptures of characters in the garden, and related activities.
Prof. Dr. Türkan Saylan Culture Center is equipped with libraries, dinosaur museums, playgrounds, and a theater.
For young adrenaline seekers, Xtrem Adventure is a great place for kids to do extreme sports and outdoor activities without leaving the city.
Surf the waves and enjoy the speed at Surf School Istanbul in Kilyos. Children can take surfing lessons or experience kitesurfing.
At Olimpik Go Kart, any drivers over 140 centimeters tall can appreciate the excitement of racing in a safe environment.
Located in one of Istanbul’s central business districts, Istanbul Atlı Spor Kulübü is a popular spot for horseback riding in the city. If you want to get closer to nature, visit Alkuzu Çiftliği for riding lessons.
Offering ice skating and hockey lessons, Silivrikapı Ice Rink and Sports Facility is one of Turkey’s largest ice skating facilities. Engage in ice sports and be a cool kid!
A chance for your kids to be Spider-Man: Boulder Istanbul offers bouldering training for children aged 5-12.
Through Cihangir Yoga’s lessons for kids from 3-7 years old, your child can improve concentration and coordination.