Istanbul Things to Do

Things To Do as a Family

1.   Cruise along the Bosporus

One of the most popular things to do in Istanbul with the family is to cruise along the Bosporus. Hop aboard a private boat or ferry and enjoy the sights of the city from one of the world's narrowest straits, the Bosporus. Given the abundance of sightseeing spots by the strait, adults and kids will enjoy this fun activity.

You will have plenty of options for the cruise. The local Department of Transportation runs the Şehir Hatları passenger boat services along the river, while many other private operators offer cruise trips and sightseeing excursions to tourists. Sit and relax as your cruise traverses along the river, passing the landmark-filled skylines of Bebek, Ortakoy, and Golden Horn. The most popular terminal departs from Eminönü.

2.   Marvel at the Lovely Sea Creatures in Istanbul SEA LIFE

Kids will have a blast at Sea Life Aquarium Istanbul, where they will witness a wide variety of marine life, from turtles to sharks, whales, and piranhas. As the fifth largest aquarium in the world, Sea Life Aquarium Istanbul is home to a wide variety of sea creatures and has one of the largest collections of sharks in Europe. 

There's so much to see and discover at the Sea Life Aquarium. At the interactive rock pools, kids will have a chance to touch starfish and crabs. Stroll through the 83-meter-long underwater Ocean Tunnel, marvel at the giant seabed display, and feel like you're on the ocean yourself! The other exciting attractions worth checking out are the Turtle Hospital, thematic zones, and the Digital Aquarium.

3.   Visit a Miniature Park

One of the best things to do as a family in Istanbul is to visit Miniaturk, a fantastic open-air museum showcasing a miniature version of Turkey's famous landmarks and architectural monuments. Also known as the "Miniature Turkey Museum," Miniaturk is an ideal place for little ones who want to learn more about Turkey and its history.

The park sits on an area of 60,000 square meters, at the far end northern coast of the Golden Horn. It also houses the Panorama Victory Museum and the Istanbul Crystal Museum, a 3D museum featuring crystal glasses, lights, and high-tech laser technology.

4.   Have Fun at the Istanbul Toy Museum

At some point in the history of Turkey, the İstanbul Oyuncak Müzesi used to be a famous toy shop selling all kinds of classical Turkish toys and dolls. Located in the neighbourhood of Göztepe, on the Asian side of Istanbul, it was later converted into a toy museum, showcasing more than 4,000 different toys, puppets, and miniature sets collected from more than forty countries for twenty years.

İstanbul Oyuncak Müzesi offers you and your little ones great insights into the history of toys, with many of its collections being antiques dating back many centuries. The museum was established in 2005 by Sunay Akın, a Turkish poet and novelist.

5.   Play at the Legoland Discovery Center

Take your kids to a world of fun and creativity at the Legoland Discovery Center. It's an indoor area for entertainment and education located inside the Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall. Ideal for kids aged 3 to 10, it's an ideal place to hone the creativity of your kids and spend quality time with the family.

Families visiting the Legoland Discovery Center will have plenty of fun attractions to enjoy, including access to indoor attractions. You will see iconic buildings made from Lego bricks, and kids can have fun at the rides and the Lego 4D cinema. If your kids are fond of Lego, they should check out the Model Builder Academy and learn tips on how to build a Lego masterpiece.

6.   Ride the Rollercoaster at Isfanbul

If your kids are into thrilling rides, take them to Isfanbul, a massive complex home to a theme park, shopping venues, and entertainment areas. One of the park's highlights is the Nefeskesen rollercoaster, which can run to a speed of 110 km per hour in only three seconds! For families who are brave enough, riding this roller coaster is a must!

Aside from the roller coaster rides, you can enjoy many other things in Isfanbul with your little ones. The complex also serves as a shopping, entertainment, and exhibition venue, and the shopping center is home to an indoor zoo called the "Jungle," where the kids can have fun while the adults shop around.

7.   Watch Dolphin Shows at Istanbul Dolphinarium

Your kids will surely be thrilled by the thought of seeing dolphins up close. So, take them to the Istanbul Dolphinarium, a popular theme park along the Golden Horn. As Europe's largest indoor dolphinarium, it offers many exciting activities and attractions. Aside from watching the dolphin shows, you will have the opportunity to swim and interact with these incredible creatures!

The dolphin show lasts up to an hour, and visitors will have the chance to take photos with the dolphins after the show. And aside from the opportunity to swim and dive with the dolphins, you can participate in supportive alternative therapy, suitable for kids 3 to 16 years old.

8.   Admire the Wax Figures at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

One of the top things to do as a family in Istanbul is to visit the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum at the Grand Pera building in Istiklal Avenue to marvel at the incredible, life-size wax figures of celebrities and personalities in the field of sports, arts, and politics. There are also wax figures of Turkey's historical and cultural icons.

Madame Tussauds has many branches worldwide, but the main one is in London. When you get inside the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Istanbul, you can get a closer look at the life-size wax replicas of some of your favourite celebrities, football players, and other personalities from Turkey.

The museum consists of different themed galleries - sports, music, science and culture, history, the leaders, and VIP party. There are about sixty wax replicas inside the museum, and some of the most popular ones include Julia Roberts, Leonardo da Vinci, Madonna, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and more!

9.   Take a Boat Ride to the Princes’ Islands

After exploring all the exciting family-friendly attractions of Istanbul, you might want to escape the bustling city and visit a more tranquil place. So, hop on a ferry and enjoy a short boat ride to Princes Island, a cluster of nine islands along the Sea of Marmara.

Unlike the mainland, the Princes’ Islands have a more serene vibe, home to quaint villages of charming wooden houses. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the archipelago, so the best way to explore is through a horse-drawn carriage. There are also fun rides for the entire family to enjoy. But if you are looking for more adventures, rent bicycles and ride through the bike paths of the islands.

10. Shop for Turkish Delights

For families with a sweet tooth, your trip to Turkey should include shopping for the mouthwatering Turkish delights! Locally known as "lokum," these are different confections made from a gel of starch and sugar. Some of the most popular varieties have chopped dates, hazelnuts, pistachios, or walnuts bound by starch and sugar. 

Shopping for Turkish Delights in Istanbul should be easy since you will find them all over the place, in different flavors and forms, and at various shops and markets around the city. Some of the most popular places to buy Turkish Delights are Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir and Hafiz Mustafa in the downtown area of Istanbul. The best part about shopping for Turkish delights is that vendors would happily hand out generous portions of these sweets for you to taste!

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