Istanbul with children

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Known more for its history and architecture than its child-friendly attractions, Istanbul might not seem the obvious place to bring the kids. Yet this ancient city has plenty of things to keep the children (çocuklar in Turkish) as entertained as the adults – in fact there’s even a Children’s Day each 23 April.

Boat trip on the Bosphorous

Jumping on a ferry and crossing from Europe to Asia along the Bosphorous waterway is something everyone can enjoy. Visit a hill-top fort or waterfront palace and stop at a local restaurant for lunch.

Basilica Cistern

Slightly creepy lighting gives this underground water system – built by the Byzantines in the sixth century – an other-worldly atmosphere that kids love. The cistern’s raised platforms take the visitor between huge columns while carp swim in the waters below. Look out for the huge stone Medusa heads.

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Bazaar behaviour

They might not be interested in the jewellery or coffee pots on sale at the city’s Spice Bazaar, but kids’ faces always light up at the sight of lokum (Turkish delight). And with the Turks’ indulgent attitude towards children, you’re likely to get some free samples.

Gülhane Park

The offspring have been patient while you marched them round the Topkapı Palace so it’s only fair that you allow them to expend some of that pent-up energy in the park next door. Fountains and lots of trees providing shade help keep them cool.

Istanbul Modern

Contemporary art might not be top of most children’s must-see lists but this former shipping terminal turned gallery has a great interactive section where six- to 12-year olds can learn about art while having fun.

Rahmi M Koç Museum

If Istanbul Modern has whetted their appetite, kids can find similar hands-on attractions at this place. An industrial museum exhibiting such curiosities as an English Channel-crossing car, there’s plenty here to fill a couple of hours and a good café to fill a hungry stomach.

Have your kids got itchy feet? Our shiny new edition of Travel with Children gives you a whole world's worth of family-friendly travel tips and suggestions. Got a craving for some Turkish delight? Try our Istanbul city guide.

Want more? Check out our Travel with children resource page, which features links to all our family-travel tips and tricks.