When I say "Let the children enjoy the history and the city in their own way," I definitely do not mean, "suffer along with the kids as they run around wildly". I mean to suggest a few activities that can be a lot of fun as you do with your kids and which will also capture the essence of the city.
Besides, most of these activities are things that the locals do. Therefore, they will also help you understand the local life as well.
Day 1 - Istanbul
There are so many things that one can do with their families when they are in Istanbul. Activities below are all very attractive, but the ideal ones for you may change depending on your children's ages and number.
1. Gezici YAK is a tour operator, that organizes daily tours within and out of Istanbul, as well as longer vacations to the beautiful beaches of Turkey. There are some particular daily trips, that Gezici YAK organizes, that are particularly fitting for families (children of any age). One is "swimming with the dolphins" and takes place in Istanbul. The other is a daily trip to a seaside near Istanbul. Check out their official Web site for further information.
2. TorYol Boat or any other boat can take you and your family out on a boat trip on the Bosphorus. Trips usually start from Eminonu/Galata Bridge or Ortakoy and last for about 2 hours maximum. They sell simple snacks and drinks on the boat as well. As the journey will be short and there will be music, it should be well suited for children of any age -unless the rocking boat makes them sick in the stomach.
3.Santral Istanbul is a beautiful place to go with your family, especially in the summer. In the summer, they open their big garden, and put out pillows and chairs and sea beds all around for people to relax and enjoy themselves. There are also organized educational activities and workshops like painting, yoga -which occur on a daily basis. Supposedly, they also have a grand breakfast menu, so is a good option to consider for brunch.
4. Istanbul Modern is a modern arts museum that showcases different types of exhibitions -photography, filmography and arts- at the same time. There are dialogues between artists every now and then, and there are also special workshops for children. My suggestions would be to go here at a meal time -breakfast or lunch- and enjoy the view of its cafe -vast sea view from 0 kms- before or after paying a visit to the exhibitions.
5. The Princess Islands are always a fun excursion for families. Riding on the boat until the islands and then renting a bike on the islands, maybe swimming and sunbathing a little, eating ice-cream before returning and enjoying the banlieue life of the Turkish population would be the fine prints of this trip.
6. Go to the Istanbul Riding Club to pet the horses, watch them or maybe even to ride them.
7. Dolmabahce Palace is one of the few historical buildings that you may be able to visit without a hastle. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, next to the sea, the visit to the Palace is an overwhelming experience of luxury, style and history. Afterwards, enjoy a cup of tea next to the sea.
8. A holiday in Turkey should not finish without a proper meal. Gurme Boncuk is a "meyhane" -a tavern- where you could go with your children (better if they are young adolescents). The food is very nice, and the music level is kept under control. There are musicians who play soft and old Turkish classics.
9. For a traditional and big Turkish breakfast -if you do it the proper way, you will have to skip lunch- go to Sade Kahve. Occasionally, they invite a musician to play soft Turkish classics as well.
10. There is not much to see in Galleria itself, as it is a shopping center that is pretty out of way from the major parts of Istanbul. However, when you are with the family, it is always fun to ice-skate a little. And, so Galleria is considerably a nice place to do that.
Recep Pasa Caddesi 14/10 Taksim
34437 Istanbul, Turkey
tel: 90 212 238 5107
fax: 90 212 238 4437
Eminönü Ferry Docks
Eski Silahtarağa Bektrik Santralı Kazım Karabekir Caddesı No.1
34060 Istanbul, Turkey
tel: 90 212 311 5000 / 90 212 444 0428
fax: +90 212 444 0428
Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman Sahasý Antrepo No: 4
tel: 90 212 334 7300
fax: 90 212 243 4319
Istanbul Atli Spor Kulübü
80860 Istanbul, Turkey
tel: 90 212 276 2056
tel: 90 212 236 9000
fax: 90 212 236 3577
Asmalı Mescit Sok. No:29
tel: 90 212 245 31 69 / 90 212 245 31 69 70
Yahya Kemal Caddesi No:36/1 Rumelihisari
tel: 90 212 358 23 24
fax: 90 212 257 29 48
Galleria Shopping Mall
Bakirköy Sahil Yolu, Ataköy
tel: 90 212 560 8550