5 Best Children-Friendly Museums in Istanbul

Berrin Sever Kuray
22 May, 2015

There are a lot of museums in Istanbul that I as a local even can hardly count. Many of them exhibit the historic objects showing the ancestors' value that lived on this land. However in the past decade there had been a good progress of evaluation of modern art in Turkey. The mission of museums had changed to promoting the Turkey's new creations to international art world. 

Nowadays, local families living in Istanbul or coming from other cities of Turkey, prefer visiting the modern art museums with children. Schools are organising tours for their students as these exhibitions let children to understand the new art code, which is other than orientalism, by workshops.  

So here you will find my 5 child friendly museums that mostly local people prefer to visit.  

1. Miniaturk:

Inside miniaturk

I never thought of myself of visiting this place called #Miniatürk in Istanbul. I always thought, "I live in Istanbul and I am seeing the historic places all in action.  Why go and see the mini ones??" haha ;)

I went there at November 2013 as the result of inresistable incessant demand of my 7 year old son. (You can imagine how they can be sometimes) Goshhh what happened? A great family time :))

So I felt myself noting this down. Please do not waste your time hurry up! Every one should see this place at once ;))

This is the largest open air miniatur park of the world. As you proceed from the ticket window to open air park, the place's magical structure captures you. Just think about a world that only at the height of the children.

As we see the miniatur of Rumeli Fortress, my three year old daughter shouted out "Mummy look! 

Welcome to my castle, lets go there and play the fairy tales pleasee!!". 

Then I realized that already we were in a different world opening to a fairy tale atmosphere.

The park hosts to 120 models of historic places from Turkey and  from Ottoman's former territories that lie outside of Turkey. Models vary from Hagia Sophia to Selimiye Mosque, from Rumeli Fortress to Galata Tower, from Ephesus to ruins of Mount Nemrut, from Sumela Monastry to Halicarnasus Mausoleum (yet this place has not survived to present time)..etc..

Miniaturk is a very unique park to understand how Istanbul and Turkey were before and now. Seeing the visual size in the perspective of children help to understand the historical places of Istanbul more easily. There are information booth in front of each model. You can activate this by showing your ticket. The info given is about the model's history, explaining how and when it was built in many different languages. 


So I suggest everybody to visit this place for taking a quick look of historic icons of Istanbul and Turkey. As you see the miniatur size you will make your plans according to what you and/or the child interested mostly. 


More to know from sightsee of mom:


The museum is open air. So please get children wear according to season conditions. At summer time use hat and sunlotions.

This is a baby stroller friendly museum.

There passes a train for children to  show all around the open air park. (The fare is 1TL for each) Children love that, i suggest you to take that, so you can let them see every miniatur with no growing tired exclamations.

At the museum you can find a restaurant with a diner style menu. Beside that there is a cafe, where you can buy hamburgers and drinks... May be you just want to have a snack, so do not worry.  By the pond you will see several booths selling hotdogs, corns, cotton candies and drinks as well.

There is a very big playground composed of a Troy horse that children love to climb, a fabler tree (1 TL), slides from a big castle, a life size chessboard ( 1TL) and a  labyrinth (1TL) where you can get lost ;)) and many other more...

There is a pond where you can monitor boats for only 1 TL.

How about elder children, of course including you!! There is a simulation of helicopter ride over Istanbul and Turkey. 

I also suggest you to ask the daily activities from the ticket desk.  You can see the Janissary band of old Ottoman, which will be very historic moments to catch.

There is a parking lot, for free.


Address: Sütlüce Mahallesi, Imrahor Caddesi, Sütlüce, Beyoğlu/ İstanbul 34445

Phone: + 90 212 222 2882

Website: Miniatürk Website


2. Rahmi Koç Museum:

Rahmi Koç Museum

The museum had been founded in 1994 by Rahmi Koç, which lays on the shore of Haliç- The Golden Horn. Rahmi Koç Museum's mission is to collect the original objects which are showing the historical progress of the industrial revolution.


Researchers, students in all levels, kids, families, artists are the most common visitors as the exhibition has gained an outstanding collection through years. The place had become a popular source of information for public and attracting more visitors everyday by cultural activities and supporting research of in every aspects of engineering history by documentations as well.


Museum compose of three departments:

Historical Lengerhane Building: This old Ottoman anchor house was founded during the reign of Sultan Ahmet the Third (1703-1730) on the bases of a Byzantium building from the 12th century and now it is considered as a second-tier historical trace. ( What is Lengerhane? “Lenger” means “anchor and chain”, “hane” means “house”. )

The objects exhibited at Lengerhane are scientific and communication utensils, machines works by steam, sailing, toys, locomotives, press, cinematographic machines.

Historical Hasköy Shipyard: This historical dockyard had been founded in 1861 by the Ottoman Sea Line Company (Şirket-i Hayriye) for the maintenance and repairing of their ships.

The objects exhibited in this building are  submarine, old cars, olive oil factory, old fashioned carpenter, toy shop, clock repair,pharmacy, Ataturk collection, motorcycles and bicycles

Open air Exhibition: This section is reserved for large scale and durable objects such as a submarine, ferry boat, planes and an impressive floating sheerlegs. ( Aviation & navigation machines, tramcars are exhibiting.)

Rahmi Koç has become a traditional museum for local families to visit. We love to take a tour and find out what is gained newly to collection.  And if the weather is fine we never miss the chance to have  coffee by Golden Horn's beautiful view at the restaurant of old Bosphorus line ship with family friends.

There are a lot of activities to be done while touring with children. So I made a quick list for you:

There are workshops for children ranging from 4 to 14 years old. Such as science and technology projects, colorful mathematics, fun projects, drama, astrology, cinema, sculpture and many more (Ask for information from the ticket office before you go.)

You will find activity area for children at upper floor of the museum's entrance. Children love this place as it is inspired from the Mathematicum Museum in Germany. You can play and learn with all the experiment sets as family.

Do not miss the visit to submarine which is parked at dockyard by Golden Horn. ( No allowance under 9 years old. Ticket for adults:7 TL and for students: 5 TL)

At weekend you can find nostalgic railway journey moving from museum on a narrow railway along the Golden Horn shore. ( This activity is free for museum visitors, but must do reservation.)

You can ask guidance for groups before you go. ( Please call them and make a reservation.)

You can have a tour with Tugboat and the old Black Sea fishboat along the Golden Horn. (Please make reservation from the ticket desk)

As this is a very big museum sometimes kids can get tired as wandering around. So there is carousel and a playground where you can rest and kids can get entertained.

Notes of museum from sightsee of mom ;)

This is a child and baby friendly museum. You can use strollers every where and get help in need.

You can even find wheel chairs and strollers for free at ticket office.

There is a parking lot for free.

For starving bodies, of course you can find restaurants in the museum. However if you are wondering about a homemade Turkish cuisine or a cheaper cost menu, there is one very close to museum called Lale Restoran. This is located at lower street just behind the museum.  (Please note that this type of restaurants in Istanbul mostly close around 5 pm.) You can order anything you want but "döner" is perfect ;) The waiters can be friendly with your children, this is a good traditional behavior of Turkish people, so do not worry.

Discovery sphere;  if your kids are under 9 years old, I do not recommend you to visit. Additionally the quality of movies shown at sphere is not as I expected. So do not waste your time in here ;)

Rahmi Koç Museum and Miniatürk are on the same avenue at Haliç (Golden Horn) shore. You can have tour to both of the museums in one day.

Rahmi Koç Museum is a popular museum for local people to learn about environment, to have social life with friends by the beautiful Golden Horn shore and to have enjoyable time with kids as experimenting under the roof of old Ottoman historic building.

Address: Piri Paşa Street, Hasköy Avenue. No:5, Beyoğlu, İstanbul

Phone:   (212) 369 66 00

website: http://www.rmk-museum.org.tr/en/index.htm


3. Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: 

İstanbul Modern

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art is the first to organize the exhibition of modern and contemporary art in Turkey. It was founded in 2004 located by the European side of Bosphorus at Karaköy Custom Port. Since then Istanbul Modern embraces Turkey's artistic creativity and promotos its cultural identity in the international art world.

Despite being a permanent and a temporary art galleries, Istanbul Modern offers photo galleries, educational and social spaces for every age, library, restaurant, cinema and design store.

Istanbul Modern encourages a creative and an interactive museum experience for its visitors.  As a result of this act, museum encouraged the frequent visitors.

During my visit I noticed that the museum attracts the young visitors as well. There are mostly school students coming during weekdays. The museum organises tours for these children with a guide.


Must knows about the museum:

Weekdays are suitable for comfortable visits. No queues. 

Thursdays are free.

You can make reservation for guidance at the museum, make a call for before you go.

If you do not want guidance you can have audio guide for 10 TL.

Do not miss the lovely view of old Istanbul Bosphorus from the restaurant.

Backpacks are not allowed during the visit. If you are carrying your baby's stuff, I suggest you to bring a small handbag to carry at the museum.

However, it is not allowed to eat or drink inside. So you can either have lunch at the restaurant or can have your box outside where there are benches cross the historic clock tower.

Other than having your own lunch box, or lunch at the museum's restaurant, walk to Karaköy. You will find a variety of food down there. (This will take only 20 minutes of walk with children. For the orientalist cuisine visit "Güllüoğlu" to have the best baklava ever, or eat at Namlı which is a very famous delicatessen store.)

What I most like about the museum is their educational programmes for all ages. You can find the schedule for workshops and make reservation (pls call: +90 212 334 7341 ).

There is a parking lot, but not free :((

For mom's with strollers or with children under 5 years old, use the elevator for lower floor. The stairs are moving while you are stepping down ( as it is a modern decoration done, hanging stairs with chains;) ), this is not dangerous for adults however with children you might need a little help....


The modern art museum attracts the youth very much. I noticed that they are very interested in each piece. So let them visit the exhibition.

There isn't a baby sitting room. However there are toilets in each floor with baby nursery beds. Do not worry, they are clean and very neat.

The souvenier shop is great to look!! There are out of the box designs. I loved them all. You can find something different and useful as a gift from here. 

The exhibition is held at at the wharehouse port of Karaköy. The place is renovated by the very well known company Eczacıbaşı. They used the # 4 wharehouse and decorated the place for museum conditions.

At Istanbul Museumof Modern Art you will find a brief look for the modern Turkey's creations in every aspects of the art. If you are planning a visit to Istanbul, this exhibition is one of the top spot in town  to see not only for the compositions but of course have a rectangular shot right accross the old Istanbul's siluet with your loved ones ;))) 


Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi, Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo:4, Karaköy/ İstanbul 34433

Phone: +90 212 334 7300

Website: http://www.istanbulmodern.org/en


4. Pera Museum:

Pera Museum

Pera Museum is a private museum, which was founded by "Suna and Inan Kırac Foundation". The building is located at the historic quarter of Tepebaşı- Beyoğlu, which  was originally Bristol Hotel in the former days. Later on it was renovated by "Suna and Inan Kırac Foundation" transforming to a modern museum, but preserving the exterior façade which is the Istanbul's architectural flavour.


The museum has three permanent collections: 

Orientalist paintings, 

Anatolian Weights, 

Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics. 

As holding these collections Pera Museum creates notion for future generations to understand the historic identity of the public dinamics. The museum has a mission of  introducing Turkish audience with the very best known world artist's works, such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Joan Miro, Andy Warhol, Rembrandt, Goya and many more, other than these orientalist collections. 

Pera museum is an attractive spot to see in Istanbul for finding examples of modern Turkish art move era spiced with orientalism. This is realised by activities like educational and academical works, audio- visual events and organizing innovative art shops for every age, showing movies and performing music events from different cultures.


Here find my notes of Pera Museum from sightsee of mom:

This museum is also a baby and child friendly place. You can use elevators, the bathrooms are very clean, the cafe can help you to prepare any kind of baby food. You can leave your children for workshops while you are watching a Pera movie ;)) or visiting the exhibition.

Call the museum before you go and ask for the agenda of workshops for children.

(Here find the agenda of workshop at http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Pera-Education.)

You might want to see performances or movies as well. You can check the agenda of events from http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Activity

At the entrance there is an artshop, a cafe and a ticket desk. 

The cafe is decorated as an "art deco" referring to former Bristol Hotel architecture style. The menu offers a wide range of food from salads, sandwiches to pastries. The hot chocalate was delicious ;) As you are close to Istiklal Avenue where you can find different cuisine restaurants as well.

The art shop has a wide range of souveniers that you can buy for your loved ones ;)

Museum has different ticketing policy such as "long fridays" and "young wednesdays".  

On long fridays, the museum is free and open til 20.00pm to everyone. 

On young wednesdays, free of admission for students at every wednesdays.

Yo can ask for audio guidance which will be helpful for your visit of exhibition from ticket office.

You can find the current and upcoming exhibitions list from: http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Exhibition

There is a parking lot right across the museum, but not free :(


Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi, Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo:4, Karaköy/ İstanbul 34433

Phone: +90 212 334 7300

Website: http://www.istanbulmodern.org/en


5. Sakıp Sabancı Museum:

Joan Miro Exhibition Istanbul

Sakıp Sabancı Museum was founded in 1998 and located at Istanbul's one of the oldest settlement by the shore of Boshphorus called Emirgan. 

The museum was named formerly as the Horse Mansion. This is because of the big bulk horse sculptures stated around the garden of museum.

(Therefore the locals call the place "Horse Mansion" or in Turkish "Atlı Köşk".)


SSM has become well known in the last decade due to the exhibitions of  world's famous artists' collections. The locals of Istanbul like to visit here for understanding the modern art, the famous paintings, sculptures, photos and other types of arts. The examples of past exhibitions are;  Anish Kapoor, Monet's Garden, The 1001 Faces of Orientalism, Rembrandt and His Contemporaries, Salvador Dali, Master Sculptor Rodin in Istanbul and so many other more...


There are also continual exhibitons held at SSM such as; The Arts of The Book and Calligraphy Collection, Painting Collections of the foreign artists who lived in Istanbul at the later of 19th century, Collection of old style of Furniture and Decorative Arts.


There is a very unique botanical garden in the museum. You can find each of every plant or trees' latin name and the information about it as you take a walk around.  Other than that this place has a gorgeous view of Bosphorus where you can take lots of pictures with your friends or family members. 


Sakıp Sabancı Museum is one of the best museum to visit with children in Istanbul as it has also educational activities for them. Please call the museum to check if there is any event on the day of your tour.


Must know about Sakıp Sabancı Museum;

The admission is free for the adults accompanying a child under 14 years of age. (so don't miss the chance, visit the museum ;) )

There is a free parking at the museum. If it is full, park at "Ispark", where you will pay of course, otherwise your vehicle can be pulled by traffic. If still you can't find a parking place, let the vale of Sütiş restaurant take your vehicle. After your tour in the museum, give some tip to vale (tip can be around 5-10 TL).

You can visit the museum with the baby strollers, however I got to mention you that  after the ticket desk, there is a little uphill road for you to climb ;(( oops, but no worry, that is all, because there is an elevator in the museum you can use.

You will find clean toilets, but sorry there is no nursery room. However, you can use the toilet to change diapers as there is a station.

Children loves the place to visit and they even take several pictures of the exhibited stuff. If the child does not like the museum please no worry, because there is a big garden that he or she will enjoy!!

You can let your child take an activity at the museum. During the time you can enjoy your visit by taking tour of collections, or drink your Turkish coffe at the restaurant at upper floor with a wonderful view of Bosphorus.

You will not find drink or food at the museum for children. So please make your own lunch box and have them at the mansion's big garden. It will be a such a wonderful time as watching the Bosphorus shore.

However there are great cafes at the right hand side of the exit which are by the beautiful Bosphorus shore line. One of them is "Sütiş" and the other named as "Orga". These are my favorites especially "Sütiş" has become a traditional spot for locals to meet friends. (they are more lower budget cafes)

The museum pass is accessible in this museum.

Please call the museum for agenda of workshops for children.


Address: Sakıp Sabancı cad. No:42, Emirgan 34467 İstanbul

Phone:    +90 212 277 2200

website: http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/


These 5 top museums will help you and your children to observe or touch the cultural activities of young and modern Turkish families/ people. Live Istanbul like locals do!

Museums Kid Friendly Kids Istanbul101
Berrin Sever Kuray

Berrin is a lifetime local of İstanbul, who thinks that her hometown is the best city in the world. She used to be an auditor and worked as a manager in one of the leading conglomerates of Turkey for several years. Giving birth to her first child changed her vision of lifestyle and switched to a lifetime mother of two kids who are now 8 and 4 years old. -- http://cocuklagezin.com/ 

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