5 Family Activities in Istanbul

by Vago Damitio

Istanbul may not be the first place you think of for a family vacation, but the city that bridges two continents is an extraordinarily family-friendly place. While there may not be an Istanbul Disneyland (yet!), the city abounds with activities that are worthy of inclusion in any magic kingdom.


The Istanbul Aquarium is filled with more than fish. There are educational multi-media displays, 4-D films, hands-on exhibits, as well as the tons of fish, tunnels, old boats and everything a kid of any age could want.

Dondurma Clowns

Go to Sultanahmet in Istanbul and you will pass brightly dressed guys who offer Turkish ice cream, called dondurma. The price is a bit high but this is an especially delicious treat on a hot day. Of course, the real treat is the way they serve it. Expect to be tricked, but in a good way. Laughter can’t be contained around these guys.


Koch Transport Museum

The Rahmi M. Koch Transport Museum has collections of just about everything you can imagine, from dolls to bicycles, baby carriages, motorbikes, classic cars, boats, boathouses, locomotives, engines, toys and even a submarine. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits and you can even schedule a boat ride and submarine tour.

Cruise the Bosphorus

Could there be a better family excursion than a trip up the waterway that divides two continents? You can make stops in Europe and Asia and visit the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea before coming home. Grab plenty of treats along the way, like the special yogurt of Kamlica and the delicious hamsi (Black Sea sardines) at the Anadolu Kavagi village, located at the top of the Bosphorus just before the Black Sea.


Turkish Dance Extravaganza

This family-friendly dance show has something for everyone. Belly dancers, Black Sea folk dance and even a little bit of Sufi sacred music. This show is more kid-friendly than the Whirling Dervish show, but both are great.

For more tips on Istanbul, check out Things to Do in Istanbul.