Top 5 Family Fun Activities in Istanbul

Sitting on the banks of the Bosphorus, there's no denying that Ortaköy enjoys a fairly romantic setting. However, if you're travelling with children, you might find yourself spending a little less time gazing dreamily at the view, and a little more time queuing for ice creams. Istanbul's village has plenty to keep your family occupied - it's just a case of knowing where to look.

1. The scenic route

It can be hard to convince younger travelers that architecture is worth their attention, so a family trip may have to involve a certain amount of bribery. The Bosphorus Bridge, which runs straight through the district and stands only a few hundred meters from uur Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, has stunning city views and can be either driven or walked across, depending on just how little your little ones are.

Alternatively, there are several ferry companies that provide a more relaxed way to see the sights. Boat trips across the Bosphorus depart from behind the central Mosque and offer truly cinematic views of the city, with Hagia Sophia's ancient domes and minarets set against the more modern façades that line the sea front. Small hands can cling onto the rails while watching out eagerly for flashes of fish and migrating storks.

2. A walk in the park

The Yıldız Park is a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon with energetic children. It's as popular with locals as it is with tourists, but you can usually avoid traffic and crowds by visiting mid-week. Beautiful tulip gardens and a river of flowers are set against the huge swathes of open meadow that constitute the biggest park in Istanbul's city center. Premier League footballers-in-training can bring along a ball to while away the hours, while little artists and naturists can watch the squirrels play around blossoming Judas trees. To add in a quick Turkish history lesson, take a walk up to the Yıldız Palace at the northwest of the park. Although guided tours in English are a little sporadic, entrance is free for the under-12s. The museum has fascinating exhibits on the country's past, full of vibrant colors and exotic artefacts that should keep any budding historians absorbed all afternoon.

3. Too cool for Istanbul

Teenage travelers are notoriously hard to please, but Ortaköy’s arty side should enchant even the most cynical adolescent. Throughout its spider-web of streets, renovated buildings have been transformed into local craft stores, chic eateries and al-fresco markets selling the best Turkish art and foods. A little adult supervision may be required to curb over-spending at the Sunday Markets, which picket the streets leading up to Ortaköy Square every week. Stallholders from all over Istanbul come here to sell everything from handmade jewelry and intricate art to postcards and all the souvenirs you're likely to need. Pocket money can go a surprisingly long way here, so you and the teen should have more than enough left over to treat yourselves to gorgeously bitter Turkish coffees at the waterfront House Cafe.

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