Turkey is a fantastic place to take kids, no matter their age. I have had the privilege to visit Turkey quite a few times with my daughter, initially when she was just 6 and 10 years old and more recently as a teenager. During these trips, we discovered a lot of fun and exciting things that are perfect for kids at any stage.
Turkey boasts landscapes that seem out of this world, numerous outdoor activities, stunning beaches, tasty food, and a wide array of water sports. Yet, what truly sets Turkey apart is its deep-rooted culture and history, making it a perfect place to take kids, as it brings their history books alive in an engaging and fascinating way.
Plus, Turkey is known for being safe and family-friendly, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all.
With so many incredible destinations in Turkey, selecting just a few perfect for kids is quite a task. To make your job easier, I have hand-picked ten best things to do in Turkey with kids of all ages based on my personal experience.
How did I shortlist them? Well, I prioritized activities that blend education, adventure, and fun, making each experience enriching and enjoyable for children.
Here’s the compilation of ten fantastic things for families with kids & teens to enjoy in Turkey.
Table of Contents
Cruise along the Bosphorus in Istanbul
The Bosphorus is considered the centerpiece of Istanbul. It’s not just a waterway connecting the European and Asian sides of the city but a unique symbol of its rich past.
An essential addition to any Istanbul itinerary, a cruise through Bosporus is fun and relaxing for kids as they get to see a lot of famous landmarks of Istanbul from the water without getting tired and bored.
At the same time, it is educational as children learn a lot about the city’s heritage.
A common sight on a Bosphorus cruise, the playful seagulls soaring above the cruise ship that add a sense of wonder and excitement to the experience.
Step into a Mysterious World of Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
An underground marvel, once a vital water source for the city, Basilica Cistern is an enchanting historical site in the heart of Istanbul, Sultanahmet.
With impressive columns, shadowy waters, and the head sculptures of Medusa, this ancient cistern feels like stepping into a scene straight out of a fantasy movie. Its eerie and mysterious ambiance reminds one of the secret chambers in stories like Harry Potter, making it fascinating for teens.
As for little kids, the place can spark their imaginations, making them feel like explorers discovering the hidden kingdom.
I highly recommend visiting the cistern with a tour guide. This way, you can skip the long lines, and your kids will learn about its historical and cultural relevance in a fun way.
Interesting Titbit: The Basilica Cistern featured as a backdrop in the James Bond film – From Russia with Love.
Explore Miniaturk in Istanbul
To sum up Miniaturk in a single word, it’s like Mini-Turkey!
Yes, this outdoor museum displays over 130 miniatures of the most famous sites in Turkey, offering a comprehensive glimpse into its history and culture.
It’s thrilling to see all of the country’s major attractions in one place.
Younger kids will enjoy wandering around and marvelling at the small-scale models, while teenagers can gain more insight by listening to the audio descriptions.
Additionally, there are many enjoyable activities and games available for extra fun.
Stroll Istiklal Avenue and Ride the Nostalgic Red Tram
Walking along Istiklal Street is a delight. Alive with live music, street performers, stylish shops, and the aroma of Turkish delicacies, it’s a place to be in Istanbul, no matter the age.
The vibrant shops and delicious sweets such as Turkish delight and doldurma (Turkish ice cream) will definitely be a treat for young kids. Teens can enjoy browsing trendy boutiques.
While here, you can’t miss the famous historic red tram running down the street. It moves so slowly that you can hop on and off easily, that adds a bit of old-timey fun to your exploration.
Soar Over Cappadocia in a Hot Air Balloon
Cappadocia’s landscape, with its Mars-like terrain comprising of unique rock formations called fairy chimneys, is incredibly appealing to kids and teens alike. Experiencing this magical region from a hot air balloon adds an element of adventure to the experience.
You’ll see the excitement on the faces of young kids as they gaze at the brightly colored giant balloons and feel the thrill of being up in the air.
For teens, the stunning views are perfect for capturing Instagram-worthy photos. My teen daughter couldn’t stop snapping pictures of the beautiful scenery from our aerial vantage point.
Pro Tip: For the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, get your kids ready for an early start. Preparing them to wake up at 4 am ensures a smooth start to this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Learn the Traditional Craft of Pottery in Cappadocia
Avanos in Cappadocia is known as the heart of traditional pottery making. One of the most famous pottery workshops here, Chez Galip Pottery, offers a unique hands-on experience where kids can watch skilled artisans at work and even try their hand at pottery.
It’s a fun and engaging way to learn a new art form, experience the local culture, and develop a sense of creativity and accomplishment.
Moreover, taking home a piece of art, they made themselves can be a special memento of their time in Turkey.
Walk through the Ancient Ruins of Ephesus
If you think Ephesus is not suitable for young kids, with all due respect, I beg to differ. Taking kids to Ephesus is a fantastic idea.
I’ve been a strong advocate of taking kids on field trips as what they can teach kids about life @ large can’t be taught in the four walls of the classroom.
You can find theme parks and aquariums everywhere. It is not every day you get to walk through a city that once thrived thousands of years ago.
The compelling stories, majestic ruins, and the city’s sheer scale is different kind of adventure – one rooted in history and culture.
From the beautifully restored ancient Library of Celsus, the massive Grand Theatre, and well-preserved Terrace Houses to the Streets of Ephesus lined with statues and carvings – Ephesus can be visually and mentally intriguing for young minds as well as teens.
While you are here, visit the nearby Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selcuk to deepen understanding of what you’ve seen in the ruins.
Splash and Play at One of the Best Family-friendly Beaches in Turkey
Turkish Riviera has some of the best beaches for family holidays. Our favorite in Turkey is Oludeniz Beach, near Fethiye.
The water is calm and clear, with gentle waves that are safe for little kids, while older children and teens can enjoy a variety of water sports.
The area has many kid-friendly places and beautiful resorts to stay at. Plus, the nearby protected area of Blue Lagoon with shallow waters is ideal for little ones to splash around in.
While in Oludeniz, you must plan to paraglide as it’s one of the world’s top spots for this thrilling activity.
Other good beaches for families in Turkey include Konyaalti Beach, and Lara Beach in Antalya, and Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan.
We also liked Kaputas Beach near Kas, but it has stairs to get down to it, it might be tricky if you have small kids.
Go Hiking along the Lycian Way in Oludeniz
The Lycian Way is a gorgeous long-distance trail in Turkey known for its stunning coastal views. While the entire route spans hundreds of kilometres, families with kids can enjoy shorter, more manageable segments, just as pretty.
Hiking along the Lycian Way with kids is a fun way to get close to nature, witness beautiful landscapes, and explore ancient ruins. The section near Oludeniz is specifically known for its panoramic views of the turquoise coast and lush pine forests.
We chose to hike the section stretching from Kayakoy to Oludeniz. From the ruins of the abandoned Greek town of Kayakoy to the views over renowned Oludeniz lagoon—the route is sprinkled with amazing sights.
Make sure you choose a route that matches age and hiking ability of your kids, and you must pack essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and hats.
Indulge in Delicious Turkish Cuisine
Enjoying local food is a great way to make any trip with kids and teens, both fun and culturally enriching.
With its range of tastes, Turkish cuisine is something everyone can enjoy.
As you roam the streets of Turkey with your kids, you’ll often see vendors selling simit. This sesame-covered bread ring is tasty and easy to eat on the go, making it a perfect snack for kids.
You’ll also come across other popular street foods like gozleme, a stuffed flatbread, and doner kebabs.
And then there is Turkish ice cream, or dondurma. It is delicious, yes, and buying it adds to the deliciousness, thanks to the entertaining tricks the vendors play before handing it over. Kids and adults alike love this part! Let me tell you, it is also a test of your kids’ attention span and patience 😉
For those with a sweet tooth, baklava (a layered pastry) and Turkish Delight, also known as lokum, are must-tries. They come in various flavors and are usually a big hit with kids.
Turkish Pide, often called Turkish Pizza, is another kid-friendly dish that offers a familiar yet distinct taste experience.
And finally, you must take kids to a local bazaar like Grand Bazaar so they can see, smell, taste, and even take home a variety of Turkish snacks & sweets. It’s a fun way to introduce them to Turkish culinary traditions.
Wrapping up this list of the top 10 things to do in Turkey with kids and teens, I’d say that it’s one country that effortlessly combines fun, adventure, and education, making it an ideal family destination. With its unique activities and rich cultural experiences, Turkey is where the world opens up in new for young minds.
Guest Author: An avid traveler and writer with a keen interest in culture and history, Anjali explores the world with her family and shares these adventures on her blog, Travel Melodies. Her stories inspire families everywhere to embark on their own journeys, traveling more and creating better experiences.