fun things to do with kids in istanbul   Travel for Kids


Kids in the bazaar Istanbul
Visiting Istanbul, kids will be wowed by the opulent Topkapi Palace, great churches and mosques, ancient city walls, and colorful bazaars. Continuously inhabited for 3,000 years, Istanbul is a unique city, both for its geography and cultural history that spans both Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, and a diversity of people. In 330 AD, Constantine founded Constantinople, the Christian capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. Though almost continually besieged by attackers, the city remained independent until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks successfully invaded and Istanbul became capital of the Islamic sultans.
    Sultanahmet – Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque
    Seraglio Point – Topkapi Palace
    Bazaar Quarter Eminonu
    Yedikule – City Walls
      Surrounded on three sides by water, huge walls across the peninsula completed the city defenses. In the 5th century AD, under the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II, four miles of city walls were built, stretching from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. The fortifications were a series of stone towers, connected with a line of inner and outer walls, and a moat. From the towers, the defenders could catapult their favorite weapon at the attackers, the famous “Greek fire.”
    These walls held for a thousand years, as Constantinople was besieged by Attila the Hun, Arabs, Russians, Seljuk Turks and Crusaders, until 1453. The Ottoman Turks, led by Mehmet the Conquerer, bombarded the walls with enormous cannons until the walls were breached, and the invaders poured into the city.
    The best place to see the city walls is Yedikule, at the southern end of the walls. (Take the train and get off at Yedikule.) Designated as the Yedikule Museum, “the Castle of Seven Towers,” has a Byzantine gateway with two towers, and five more towers added by the Ottomans. Kids will have fun exploring the walls and towers, and deciding whether they want to be an attacker or defender.
    Miniaturk Park (Carsamba) – Miniaturk is a miniature city with models from Istanbul and all over Turkey – the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia), Suleyman Mosque, Galata Tower, famous tombs, minarets, synagogues, monasteries, castles, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicaranassus, etc.

Fun food


Two snacks kids will want to try are simit, a kind of giant pretzel with sesame, and Turkish Delights candy (lokum), flavored with rosewater, lemon, cinnamon or mint.




You can fill up your luggage with souvenirs from Istanbul, especially turbans, colorful beaded boxes, Turkish slippers, and a visit to the Grand Bazaar is fun for everyone in the family.

family tours istanbul tokapi palace

Tokapi Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman empire, but also the maze-like residence of the sultan, his wives and many children. Take a three hour private family walking tour of Tokapi Palace, learn about the secret life of the Seraglio, see one of the world's great weaponry collections, with activities such as drawing and calligraphy:

    Tokapi Palace Tour for Kids
kids books istanbul
song of the old city  
Song of the Old City
Anna Pellicioli, Merve Atilgan

A young girl has a busy morning in Old City Istanbul, watching fishermen down by the water, simit seller hands her a warm crunchy sesame round to eat (she shares the bun with sea gulls), hops on a ferry ride, sips pomegranate juice and enjoys rose candy at the Spice Bazaar, takes a Turkish bath. Plus fun facts about Istanbul. (Picture book)


Anna of Byzantium
Tracy Barrett

12th century, Constantinople. Anna is a brilliant scholar, the daughter of the emperor, and heir to the throne. But when her father dies, Anna’s willful younger brother becomes the new emperor, and her life is in danger. Based on historical events, the Byzantine empire is vividly brought to life. (Chapter book)


Anna of Byzantium istanbul constantinople kids books
Mosque istanbul kids books  
David Macaulay

How a typical 16th century mosque in Istanbul was built – from the foundations, to the walls of the prayer hall, and eight huge piers supporting a great dome, topped with a bronze crescent. The mosque complex also included a school for religious education, public kitchen, baths and fountains, a tomb, and minaret for call to prayer. (Picture book)


travel for kids | turkey | istanbul
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