Rest in Istanbul with children: excursions and amusement parks
Tourists often come to Istanbul with children: the largest city of Turkey has a lot of interesting things for young travelers. Here there are preserved ancient sights, open modern entertainment centers, children’s parks and fascinating museum exhibitions.
Websites that are useful to have at hand when planning a trip:
Tripster – Offers tours from locals in Russian all over the world, 80% of them customized. One of the most convenient services.
Sputnik8 – group tours in Russian. There are places where there is a surplus of proposals (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague), and there are places where you would like more.
Getyourguide – offers both group and individual tours. Plus tickets to museums, amusement parks, sightseeing from official representatives. Plus – low prices, minus – 95% English-speaking tours.
We made a selection of 12 places in Istanbul of interest to children. You can get to each of them on your own or with an organized tour. Almost everywhere you can buy tickets in advance, online. Or already on the spot at the ticket office.
Park of architectural models, and a real “showcase of Turkey. There are more than a hundred copies of structures and buildings, made at a scale of 1:25. The miniatures are built on the territory of 6 hectares. Among them are the sights that exist today, and the legendary monuments, destroyed many centuries ago. The creators of Miniaturk installed models of Turkish and foreign architectural masterpieces. You can see the ancient Temple of Artemis, the walls of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus and Mostar Bridges, Ataturk airport.
The park is designed in a harmonious single style: mini-architecture corresponds to the surrounding landscape. Dwarf trees grow between the buildings, the lawns are planted with velvet short grass, small ships sail along the canals, and a miniature train runs along the rails (the carriages will take you through the whole territory).
Miniatürk ticket for foreign tourists costs 15 TL (groups are entitled to a 20% discount). The park is open year round, daily from 9 am to 6 pm. There are buses 47, 36T, 38T, 41ST, TB1 and 54HS which travel from different areas.
This is Istanbul’s equivalent of Disneyland, a 60-hectare park in the Eyüp district. It has a huge shopping mall of 20 hectares, restaurants, cafes and hotels. More than 10 hectares are occupied by green spaces. “Vialand combines three zones with different themes: historical, game and adventure parks:
[list style=»check»] [li]Игровая зона рассчитана на самых маленьких посетителей. Это сказочный «пластилиновый» городок с забавными развлечениями, простыми аттракционами, без головокружительных подъемов и скоростей.[/li] [li]Историческая зона — эффектное шоу с реконструкцией «Старинный Стамбул» и интерактивными инсталляциями. Нравится и детям, и их родителям.[/li] [li]В зоне приключений туристов ждет экстрим с башней свободного падения, американскими горками и другими «адреналиновыми» аттракционами.[/li] [/list]
Vialand Istanbul is open from May to November. Admission is 169 Turkish Liras for parents, 159 TL for children 3-14 years old. Toddlers get in for free. You can book a day trip with included bus transfer from the hotel: the price of the day tour starts from 388 TL. Shuttle buses Nos. 39, 47, 49 run to Vialenda from various parts of Istanbul.
Boat trip on the Bosphorus
A boat trip on the Bosphorus is a tour along the strait that divides the city into European and Asian territories. You can go with children on a sightseeing boat or a private ship with a Russian-speaking guide.
Or go on a regular ferry. The duration of cruises is different: with a private ferry you will make a short tour in 1.5-2 hours. A cruise on a large excursion ship will take 6 hours with stops and landings. During the trip you will cross the border of Europe and Asia twice and see the magnificent panorama of the coastal areas of Istanbul from the water, the Golden Horn.
Pleasure boats and voyages depart from various Istanbul piers. The cost of the cruise starts at 2.5-5 TL – on a voyage ferry. A big cruise on a state-owned boat costs from 25-30 TL (from 12.5 TL for small passengers).
Istiklal and the funicular railway
There are two attractions in Istanbul that are already good because they are free. Or almost free. The first is the funicular to Karaköy (İETT Genel Müdürlüğü Karaköy), built almost 100 years ago. It is part of Istanbul’s transportation network, so you have to pay for it as you would for a regular fare. For example, with a single travel card. Children will be interested to ride the train, which first appeared in Istanbul back in 1875. The mini-excursion lasts a few minutes, but it is enough to experience a lot of emotions.
The funicular takes passengers to the Galata Tower and the beginning of Istiklal – and this is the #2 place that can be shown to children for free. The avenue is interesting not only because it is the central artery of the city and there eyes are scattered with stores. It is all about the vintage streetcars that run on Istiklal. Not to be photographed against them is not to be in Istanbul!
One of the best tours in the city, “Living and Everyday Istanbul” by guide Nurbol lasts 3.5 hours. It covers Istiklal Avenue, plus Ortaköy promenade and Beyoglu streets. Testimonial from one of the tourists on Tripster:
Lived in Istanbul for a week. Loved the Nurbola excursion all around. Both the content, the organization of the logistics, and the relaxedness. It’s really an immersion in living, everyday Istanbul. There is history and traditions and modernity and dishes of Turkish cuisine. The tour was in one breath. During the week we had a lot to compare it with.
Istanbul’s Floria Aquarium.
“Floria is considered one of the largest oceanariums in the world. There are 64 glass sections over two floors with a total surface area of 23,000 m², housing 17,000 representatives of marine and terrestrial fauna from different climatic zones. They live in a favorable environment, as close to natural conditions as possible. The aquarium is equipped with modern digital equipment and information about all its inhabitants is displayed on touch screens.
There is a 1,2 km long sightseeing labyrinth running through the building. There are 17 underwater themed zones and one terrestrial zone – the Amazon rainforest. In the main aquarium, where sharks and rays of all varieties swim, you can go scuba diving.
Free shuttles run to the aquarium from several parts of Istanbul; there is an underwater subway station, Marmaray, and shuttle buses that stop near Floria. Ticket prices for teenagers or adults start at 89 Turkish Liras, for visitors 2-12 years old from 62 TL. You can buy special family tickets: for 210 TL for three people, for 280 TL for four.
KidZania – children’s city of professions
It is a network project presented in several cities around the world. In Istanbul, it operates in the Akasya Acibadem shopping center. Kidzania has an area of 10,000 m². On the interactive sites work stores, banks, a hospital and a school, transport, cafes and pizzerias are open, there is a theater. Children and adults are met at Kidzania Airport, and guests are given GPS bracelets so they can keep in touch. Parents rest in the cafe: you can’t interfere with children’s games.
This is how the administrator of KidZania in Istanbul sees the goal of KidZania:
Children begin to learn the world of adult professions, from driver and firefighter to actress or mountain climber. Each young tourist is given currency, which they deposit in a local bank account. And then he pays for services and earns his own money by solving professional problems. This is so exciting that adults begin to regret that in their childhood were not such motivators. After all, making money in reality is not that much fun at all (laughs).
The entrance fee to KidZania is 40 TL for adults and 110 TL for kids. Children from the age of 4 are allowed. You can take a free shuttle bus from the Kadıköy-Kartal or Hacıosman-Taksim metro to the city of professions.
“Aquamarine” is a large aquatic entertainment complex between the shores of the Marmara Sea and Büyükçekmece Lake. It is remote from the center, but popular with those who come to Istanbul with children. Aqua Marine has four pools of different depths (there is a children’s pool and a wave pool). There are large, small, extreme water slides and an enclosed slope-tunnel. There is a natural sandy beach near the water park. There is a lot of greenery on the well-groomed territory of Aquamarine, umbrellas and deck chairs by the water. Showers, changing rooms and cafes are available.
You can get to Aqua Marine from the metro station Taksim by a free shuttle bus. There is a shuttle service from the Tüyap Metro Station. A ticket to the water park costs 35-40 TL for a child and 70-80 TL for an adult.
Topkapi is the famous residence of the Ottoman Empire. Today it has been turned into a grand historical museum. Schoolchildren will want to see how the sultans lived, how the harem was arranged, and what games the sultan’s children played. Teenagers will want to visit the chambers of the legendary Roksolana. Inside the palace, there are luxurious interiors of the Magnificent Century and collections of weapons, gifts and cooking utensils. There is a unique museum of harem life.
The outer walls of Topkapi unite four courtyards, many buildings, towers and galleries, halls and pavilions. Tourists can explore the Treasury and Treasury, the library, the Blue Mosque and the beautiful Tulip Garden.
Admission to the Topkapi grounds costs 72 lira, a visit to the harem will cost another 42 TL. Children under the age of 8 get in for free. You can get to the palace by subway – to Sultanahmet or Gülhane stations; then you have to follow the signs on foot.
A former water reservoir built by the Greeks in the 4th and 6th centuries that is 10 meters below ground. Today the ancient cistern has been turned into a museum object with a total area of 9800 m². Young tourists in Istanbul will be interested to visit the “mysterious underground”. From the outside, the Basilica is an inconspicuous building with a constant queue at the entrance. Inside, a majestic sight opens up to the eye.
Under the dark vaults are 12 rows of ancient columns with capitals: a total of 336 stone pillars 8 meters high. At the base of two of them are hidden the heads of Medusa Gorgon. Tourists specifically look for these bas-reliefs to look into the eyes of the legendary monsters. And the columns are reflected in the water, and the lighting seems endless. Under the vaults of the gallery you can hear soft classical music and smell the damp. Tourists move on wooden planking, and under them splashing fish.
The cost to visit the Basilica for foreign nationals is 20 TL. Tickets can be bought at the entrance, after standing in line, or in advance. For 5 liras inside the building you can take a Russian audio guide. The museum is located in the tourist center, next to the famous museum of Ayia Sofia. Streetcar #1 (Sultanahmet stop) is a good way to get there.
Museum of Toys
This is one of the coziest places to go with children in Istanbul. The building, given over to the private collection of the modern poet Sunay Akın, is located in the Göztepe district. Mr. Akın collected 7,000 toys and miniatures from different eras (the oldest piece was made in 1814). Most of the collection, 4,000 items, is on display at İstanbul Oyuncak Müzesi. This is one of the richest museums of its kind in the world. Its exhibits include military, historical, domestic, musical and national collections of children’s toys.
[list style=»check»] [li]Мальчикам (по большей части школьного возраста) будет интересно проследить за историей мини-транспорта или космической техники.[/li] [li]Девочек заинтересуют куклы разных времен и старинные кукольные дома.[/li] [li]В музее Игрушек можно не только рассматривать экспонаты: сотрудники проводят кукольные спектакли и мастер-классы, устраивают воскресные завтраки в детском кафе.[/li] [/list]
Admission to the Toy Museum costs 18 TL for adults and 12 TL for children. You can get there by city bus routes 10, 14, 17, 19; go to the Göztepe stop.
Marmaray under the Bosphorus
The Marmaray Tunnel is on the list of inexpensive places to visit with kids in Istanbul. It lies under the Bosphorus and connects the European and Asian parts of the city. A ride on this specific branch of the Istanbul subway will not be uninteresting for everyone: both adults and children. Is the youngest travelers will not be able to realize the power and strength of technological progress. In their time, trains under the Bosphorus and the English Channel will hardly surprise anyone. But while there is no such technology in our country, to experience these sensations at least abroad.
Especially since on the Asian side of Istanbul there are many interesting things waiting for you: a beautiful view of the straits, a tour of the Maiden Tower, a walk through the old neighborhoods and markets. Get on the Marmaray train at Sirkeci station (this is the old railway station, where the legendary Orient Express departed from).
Legoland Discovery Centre
And this is the Istanbul analogue of Legoland in the territory of the Forum Shopping Center, which is also worth showing a child. There are playgrounds for kids from 2 years old and older. At the entrance is an exhibition of sights, assembled from Lego cubes. Among them you can see the Big Ben, the domes of the Taj Mahal, the openwork silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, streets and monuments of Istanbul. Between the architectural masterpieces, figures walk and transport rides; boats sail along the toy Bosphorus. Children take part in master classes on assembling Lego, build race cars and then try them out on the go, go on rides. The Legoland complex has a cafe and a 4D cinema.
The Forum Shopping Center is located near the Kocatepe metro. A ticket to Legoland in Istanbul for a child 3-14 years old costs 47 TL when booking online, and 59 TL at the offline box office. It is important to remember that children are only allowed here with adults.
Is Istanbul suitable for holidays with children? Yes, and for several reasons. First, Istanbul is the largest and most beautiful of the cities in Turkey. Everyone should visit it at least once. So why not do it as a child, with parents. Secondly, its architecture, cuisine and way of life is perhaps the most complete reflection of Turkish culture and mentality. People come here from all over the country, so to understand Turkey, it is better to start with Istanbul.
How comfortable is Istanbul with very young children? Here with the kids can be a little uncomfortable at first, because the city is too big and crowded. But when you feel how Turks are friendly to children and are willing to take care of them in transport, cafes, queues, you quickly get used to it.
The only thing is that with infants may not be comfortable in crowded transport (the city officially has 15 million people). And it’s hot – the climate is not for the faint-hearted. But, however, from 5-6 years and up to adolescence in Istanbul just a Klondike. Museums, attractions, water parks, unusual modes of transport and delicious food. Even adults would envy the entertainment program.
Many people think traveling to Istanbul with children is not a good idea, perhaps imagining a noisy metropolis with heavy traffic, crowded streets, oriental bazaars with vocal vendors and the eternally hasty crowds of locals and tourists. But you can also see a completely different city that always hospitably opens its gates to young travelers, offering them a huge choice of places to visit. This historical sites, and many museums, and modern entertainment centers, and many different interesting activities that leave only the warmest memories of this fabulous city.
A family vacation in Istanbul can be quite successful if you plan it well: choose a suitable time for travel, book a comfortable hotel, think of a program of excursions and entertainment. Kidpassage has taken care of part of it and has prepared all the information that will come in handy during your holiday with children in Istanbul.
Istanbul on the map of Turkey
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, located on the banks of the Bosphorus and along the northern coast of the Sea of Marmara. The Bosporus divides the city into two parts – European and Asian. The area of the city is 5.343 thousand square kilometers, the population, taking into account the nearest suburbs – 13.854 million people.
Istanbul is one of the largest and most interesting cities not only in Europe but also in the world. This is the city where East and West meet, where different cultures and religions intertwine, where you can see the past and the present at the same time. Although Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey, it does not diminish its popularity and importance among tourists.
The world got to know where Istanbul is two thousand years ago: the power and greatness of the city allowed it to become the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. However, at that time the city was known as Byzantium, New Rome, Constantinople. Its present name Istanbul acquired only in 1930.
Holidays with children
Holidays in Istanbul are remembered for a long time. This city is not like other cities in the world, it surprises at every step – the neighborhood of different eras, a mix of styles, a combination of fairy tale and reality. Is there a place in this city, buzzing as an oriental bazaar, where you can relax with your child? Absolutely.
The historic center of the city is perhaps the quietest and coziest area of Istanbul. In the hotels located here you can stay even with an infant and not worry about someone disturbing the baby’s sleep.
The historical center is a very beautiful place. In the warmer months, many hotels serve breakfasts and dinners on the roof overlooking the sights of the city. Maybe your child is too young to visit the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque, but even a toddler would love to see them from a distance.
You won’t want to spend too much time in the hotel though: the city has so many modern museums to take your child to and so many attractions for kids that we recommend spending at least a week on a trip to Istanbul with kids. Bus tour and a ferry ride on the Bosphorus, the Polytechnic Museum and the Museum of Toys, Aqua Park and Dolphinarium, Zoo and Aquarium, tasting baklava and Turkish Delight – the program of rest will be very busy. In addition, Istanbul has excellent playgrounds for children, located in shady parks.
In summertime for a trip to Istanbul, we recommend bringing light cotton clothes and wear them instead of shorts and shirts. For shoes, take into account that many of Istanbul’s streets are paved with cobblestones. In the off-season you will need clothes and shoes in case it rains. Be sure to bring warm clothes, as the city gets cold in the evenings.
When to go
Istanbul welcomes tourists at any time of year. The concept of the “dead season” does not exist here, but Istanbul has a high season: it lasts from mid-April to mid-October.
Holidays with children in Istanbul is best planned for the period from late April to early June, when there is no exhausting heat and the air is fresh and warm enough for long walks, or in the second half of September to October during the Velvet season.
In the summer months it is too hot and stuffy in Istanbul, and in winter the rains and cold wind hamper walks. In addition, in summer the number of people in Istanbul almost doubles because of the influx of tourists, and this affects the growth of prices in hotels.
But in the winter there are significantly fewer holidaymakers and the prices for accommodation fall – if you have a priority to visit museums, you can choose to go at a colder time of year. Note that with an infant in Istanbul is problematic at any time. It is impossible to enter the crowded transport with a stroller, and in summer, with the influx of tourists, the situation only worsens.
Another so far working secret of how to rest in Istanbul in the high season and not get caught in the crowd is to choose the month of Ramadan for the trip. For Muslims, this is the time of fasting, when people abstain from eating during the day and from entertainment. But in the big cities, neither museums, nor entertainment centers, nor restaurants, nor stores stop open, but there are far fewer visitors. To help you decide when it is best to go to Istanbul, we suggest reading about the climate of the city.
Weather and Climate
Istanbul is not a resort city, but it could be: the metropolis is located on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, and the summer is such that you want to leave the bustling streets and relax on the beach with the calm murmur of the waves.
Istanbul has a subtropical Mediterranean climate. It has a moderately cold and rainy winter, mild spring, hot summer and warm autumn with rain.
There is no time of year when tourists would not seek Istanbul. But in winter the flow of tourists drops, and in April it increases again. The reason for this is the April Shopping Week, and the beautiful weather. The daytime temperature in April rises to +16 ° C, the parks are in bloom and fragrant, the air is fresh and filled with something fabulous oriental. In May it gets even warmer, up to +20 ° C. Spring meanwhile is generous with rain, so do not forget to take waterproof clothes and shoes.
In June the temperature rises to +26 ° C. It rains less than in spring, but the heat increases. In July and August the air heats up to +28 ° C, and sometimes the temperature rises to +35 ° C. Although the heat is rare, the high humidity of the air interferes with a comfortable stay. The second half of summer is not the best time to vacation in Istanbul. But if you, like millions of tourists, prefer this time, make sure that your hotel room has air conditioning.
A wonderful time to travel is September. The air temperature drops to +25 ° C, the stuffiness disappears, there are a little less tourists in the hotels, and all the children’s entertainment works at full force. Isn’t this what the best vacation in Istanbul with kids looks like? Don’t be frightened by the gloomy sky in the morning: by noon the sun is usually shining brightly in the sky. In October the weather in Istanbul is still warm. During the day the air warms up to +19 ° C and the rain is relatively rare.
In the evening in Istanbul is cool: in spring to +8-12 ° C, in summer to +19-22 ° C, in autumn to +12-16 ° C. Therefore, when vacationing in the city in summer, plan long walks for the evening. In spring and autumn you can enjoy cruises on the Bosphorus during the daytime.
From November onwards, it begins to get colder. By the end of autumn the daytime temperature is only +14 ° C, and in December – March does not rise above +8-10 ° C. It often rains, and if the temperature drops below zero (it happens in Istanbul), it snows. Walking is hampered by a strong cold wind.
Stores and Restaurants
Hotels in Istanbul do not spoil the guests with an all-inclusive system. Typically, the price includes only breakfast. When choosing where to stay in Istanbul, should you look for a hotel with full board? Probably not.
There are a lot of restaurants with different cuisines, from the usual European to the exotic. If you are going to stay in an apartment and cook on your own, find out in advance if there is a supermarket nearby. Large supermarkets are located in shopping malls, also in the city enough small grocery stores.
In supermarkets in Istanbul a good selection of baby food, so the stock of formula and puree with you do not need to bring, unless the child is used to the products of a little popular brand.
Some products are better to buy in the markets. For fresh fruits and vegetables, olives and nuts people go to Tarihi Inebolu Pazarı in the Kvasımpaşa quarter (an open-air farmers’ market, open on Sundays), Besiktas in the district of the same name or Sururi Bazar, the best place to buy nuts, dried fruits, olives, lukum and all kinds of oils. The market is open to visitors every day. The best fish markets are located in Fatih district. The largest selection of Turkish delight and other oriental sweets is at the Spice Market (aka Misir Carsisi or Egyptian Bazaar).
The public transport system in Istanbul is complicated and confusing – but only at first glance. From the list of “buses, dolmushi, streetcars, subway, metro, electric trains, water transport” we recommend excluding the first two items: the eternal traffic jams on the roads and crowded buses do not make moving around the city fast and pleasant. The subway and streetcar are, however, very convenient to travel between the major sights, and a ferry or boat bus makes it easy to travel from one side of the Bosphorus to the other.
Transportation in Istanbul adheres to a timetable (you can find it on the city’s official website). As a rule, traffic starts at 6:00 and ends at 23:00. If you are not going to use transportation often, you can buy single bus tickets or tokens for the subway, streetcars and ferries. The cost of one trip is 5 liras, two trips – 8 liras, three trips – 11 liras. It is only possible to pay cash for a ride on a dolmush. Children under 6 years old are entitled to free travel with a document proving their age.
To save on fares, if you plan to travel a lot in the city, it is worth buying Istanbulkart. With it you can pay for travel on almost all modes of transport: subway, streetcar, bus, subway, city rail, cable car, Vapuru ferry, high-speed Seabus.
There are several types of Istanbulkart and the most advantageous for tourists is the non-personalized ANONİM IstanbulCart. You can buy it either at service points near bus stops (10 liras) or at Biletmatik (6 liras).
After the purchase you refill it for a certain amount of money and use public transport. A ride with ANONİM IstanbulCart costs 2.5 liras per ride, a special fare (1.95 liras) applies for transfers, with 3-5 transfers the price is 1.2 liras.
Cabs can be used to get around Istanbul. It is a relatively inexpensive mode of transport in Turkey: the average price is 4 lira per ride and 2.5 lira per kilometer. At night there is a higher fare. Make sure the driver turns on the meter.
Is it worth renting a car in Istanbul? Driving in the city is rather problematic because of the constant traffic jams and difficulties with parking, but it is reasonable to rent a car to go on excursions in the suburbs. The offices of rental companies are located at airports and in the city center.