İstanbul is a great destination for a family-friendly break. Children might whinge about the number of mosques and museums on the itinerary, but they'll be appeased by the fantastic baklava, lokum (Turkish Delight) and dondurma (ice cream) on offer, as well as the castles, underground cisterns and parks waiting to be explored.

For Toddlers

  • Playgrounds & Parks

There are good playgrounds in Gülhane Park. Open areas such as the Hippodrome and Yıldız Park also offer loads of space in which toddlers can expend energy.

For Bigger Kids

  • Rahmi M Koç Museum

Junior members of the family will go crazy (in a good way) when they encounter all of the trains, planes, boats and automobiles on exhibit at this museum in Hasköy.

  • Rumeli Hisarı

This huge castle on the Bosphorus is a hit with most children. Just be sure that your junior knights and princesses are careful when they clamber up the battlements.

  • Princes' Islands

Your kids will love taking fayton (horse-drawn carriage) rides around the islands, or hiring bicycles to get around under their own steam.

  • Basilica Cistern

It's creepy, and children can explore the walkways suspended over the water. Way cool.

For Teenagers

  • Cooking Courses

Some teenagers see the kitchen as offering more than a refrigerator just waiting to be raided. Book yourself and your aspiring chef into a cooking class such as the one offered by Cooking Alaturka in Sultanahmet.

  • Ice Cream

They may try their hardest to appear sophisticated, but teenagers almost inevitably lose their attitude and get excited when they sample the dondurma sold at the many Mado ice cream shops found throughout the city. There's a strategically located branch next to the Sultanahmet tram stop, and another on İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu.

Need to Know

  • Museums Children under 12 receive free or discounted entry to most museums.
  • Transport Children under seven travel free on public transport.
  • Strollers Most footpaths are cobbled or uneven, so strollers aren't very useful.
  • Nappies Disposable nappies (diapers) and formula are easy to purchase.
  • Restaurants Children are almost inevitably made welcome in restaurants, although high chairs and kids menus are not common.