There are so many museums in Istanbul that even I as a local can hardly count them all. Many of them exhibit historic artifacts which showcase the value of the ancestors who lived on this land. In the past decade there has been great progress towards the evaluation of modern art in Turkey. The mission of museums has changed, an emphasis is being placed on promoting Turkey's modern examples to the international art world. Reflecting that progress, nowadays it would seem Turkish families prefer visiting the modern art museums with their children. Schools are organising tours and workshops for their students. These exhibitions help children to understand the expanding art code outside of Orientalism.
Listed below you will find my top 5 child friendly museums visited by locals.
I never thought of myself as being someone who would visit a place called Miniatürk. I always thought, "I live in Istanbul and I see the historic places in action. Why would I go and see the mini ones??" haha ;) However, as the result of the incessant demands of my 7 year old son, we finally visited. You know how kids can be when they want something! But the reward was a fantastic family time. Since we had such a wonderful time I must encourage everyone, don’t waste any time! Hurry up, visit Miniatürk at once!
Miniatürk is the largest open air miniature park in the world. As you proceed from the ticket window to the open air park, the magical structure captures you. Just think about a world only at the height of the children! As we see the miniature of Rumeli Fortress, my three year old daughter shouted out "Mummy look! Welcome to my castle, lets go there and play the fairy tales PLEASE!!". It was then that I realized we had entered into a different world, one that encouraged my daughters fairy tale imagination.
The park is host to 120 models of historic places throughout Turkey and spans the Ottoman former territories lying outside of Turkey. Models vary from Hagia Sophia to Selimiye Mosque, from Rumeli Fortress to Galata Tower. They also include Ephesus, the ruins of Mount Nemrut and go from Sumela Monastery to Halicarnassus Mausoleum which has not survived to present time unfortunately. Miniatürk is a very unique park which allows one to understand how Istanbul, Turkey and the Ottoman Empire were in their past and current states. To better assist visitors, there are information booths in front of each model. You can activate this by showing your ticket. The booths are available in many different languages.
Tips from the viewpoint of a mom:
The museum is open air. Children should dress accordingly, with hats and sunscreen in the summer.
This is a baby stroller friendly museum.
There is a train for children which goes around the park that will allow you to alleviate weariness when viewing the miniatures. The fare is 1TL
At the museum you can find a restaurant with a diner style menu.
There is a cafe where you can buy hamburgers and drinks.
By the pond you will see several booths selling hot dogs, corn, cotton candy and drinks.
There is a very big playground composed of a Troy horse children can climb and a fable tree. 1 TL
Slides attached to a big castle, and a life size chess board. 1TL
A labyrinth where you can get lost ;)) 1 TL
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 a helicopter ride over Istanbul and Turkey.
I also suggest you to ask about the daily activities from the ticket desk.
You can also hear the Janissary band of old Ottoman military times.
There is free parking in the lot.
Address: Sütlüce Mahallesi, Imrahor Caddesi, Sütlüce, Beyoğlu/ İstanbul 34445
Phone: + 90 212 222 2882
Website: Miniatürk Website
Rahmi Koç Museum
The museum was founded in 1994 by Turkish businessman Rahmi Koç after being inspired by the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, USA. The museum lays on the shore of Haliç- The Golden Horn in the Hasköy neighborhood. Rahmi Koç Museum's mission is to collect the original objects which display the historical progress of the industrial revolution.
Researchers, students of all levels, kids, families and artists are common visitors mainly because the exhibition has gained an outstanding collection throughout the years. The place had become a popular source of information for the public and attracts more visitors everyday with cultural activities and supporting research and documentation regarding every aspect of engineering history. The museum is divided into 3 parts.
Historical Lengerhane Building: This old Ottoman anchor house was founded during the reign of Sultan Ahmet the Third (1703-1730) on the base of a Byzantine building from the 12th century. It is now considered a second-tier historical monument. Lenger means anchor and chain while hane means house. The objects exhibited at Lengerhane are machines operated by steam and sail, also toys, locomotives, press and cinematography machines.
Historical Hasköy Shipyard: This historical dockyard was founded in 1861 by the Ottoman Sea Line Company (Şirket-i Hayriye) for the maintenance of their ships.
Among the objects exhibited in this building are a submarine, old cars, an olive oil factory, and Atatürk collection, as well as motorcycles and bicycles along with much more.
Open air Exhibition: This section is reserved for large scale machines such as a submarine, ferry boat, planes and an impressive floating sheer leg. Tram cars are also on display.
We love to take a tour and find out what has been recently added to the collection. The museum prides itself on being a fluid, ever changing exhibition. If the weather is fine we never miss the chance to have coffee by the Golden Horn and take in the fantastic view!
There are so many activities to be done while touring with children. So I made a quick list for you:
Workshops for children ranging from 4 to 14 years old. It includes science and technology projects, colorful mathematics, drama, astrology, cinema, sculpture and many more Ask for information from the ticket office before you go.
You will find an activity area for children at upper floor of the museum's entrance. There are family interactive activities; it is inspired from the Mathematicum Museum in Germany.
Don’t miss the submarine which is parked at the dockyard by the Golden Horn. Children under 9 are not allowed. Adults 7 TL Students 5 TL
Weekends only, visit the Nostalgic Railway Journey which moves from the museum by way of a narrow railway along the Golden Horn shore. This activity is free for museum visitors but only through reservation.
Guided groups are available by reservation.
Tour with your choice of a tugboat or an old Black Sea fishing vessel along the Golden Horn. Please make reservations from the ticket desk, note that the fishing boat can accommodate 12.
There is a carousel and a playground where you can rest and kids can be entertained.
Notes of museum from the viewpoint of a mom:
This is a child and baby friendly museum. You can use strollers everywhere and receive assistance if necessary.
Wheelchairs and strollers are free at the ticket office.
Free Parking is available at the onsite lot.
For starving bodies, of course you can find restaurants in the museum.
However if you are wondering about a homemade Turkish cuisine with a budget menu a restaurant is just one street back across from the museum. Lale Lokantası closes at 5 p.m. You can order anything you want but the "döner" is perfect ;) Turkish waiters may be friendly with your children. This is positive traditional behavior of the Turkish people; do not worry!
Discovery sphere is not recommended for children under 9. Additionally the quality of movies shown at the sphere were not as I expected, therefore I can’t recommend it.
Rahmi Koç Museum and Miniatürk are conveniently located nearby on the same avenue along Haliç (Golden Horn) shore. You can easily tour both of the museums in one day.
Come see for yourself why the Rahmi Koç Museum is so popular among the locals.
Address: Piri Paşa Street, Hasköy Avenue. No:5
Phone: (212) 369 66 00
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art was the first to organize an exhibition of modern and contemporary art in Turkey. It was founded in 2004 and is located on the European side of the Bosphorus at the Karaköy Custom Port. Since its foundation Istanbul Modern continues to embrace Turkey's artistic creativity and promote its cultural identity in the international art world.
Hosting both permanent and a temporary exhibitions, Istanbul Modern offers photo galleries, educational and social spaces for every age. There is a library, restaurant, cinema and design store as well.
Istanbul Modern encourages a creative and an interactive museum experience for its visitors. As a result of this, the museum is rewarded with frequent visitors.
During my visit I noticed that the museum attracts the young visitors as well as adult. There are mostly school students coming during weekdays; the museum organises tours for children with a guide.
Must know information about the museum:
Weekdays there are typically no queues.
Thursdays are free.
You can make reservation for a guided tour just make a call for before you go.
Audio guides are also available for 10 TL
Do not miss the lovely view of Sultanahmet and the Bosphorus from the restaurant.
Backpacks are not allowed during the visit. If you are carrying your baby’s items, I suggest you to bring a small handbag to carry in.
It is forbidden to eat or drink inside. You can either have lunch at the restaurant or you can have your boxed lunch outside where there are benches across from the historic clock tower.
You can also walk to Karaköy. You will find a variety of food down there. This will take only 20 minutes with children. For the Orientalist cuisine visit Güllüoğlu to have the best baklava ever, or eat at nearby Namlı Gurme 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 reservations by calling +90 212 334 7341.
Paid parking is available.
For moms with strollers or with children under 5 years old, use the elevator for the lower floor.
The stairs are moving while you are stepping down since it is a modern design created by hanging stairs with chains. This is not dangerous for adults however with children you might need a little help.
The modern art museums very much attract children; they seem to love to explore the pieces.
There isn't a babysitting room. However there are toilets on each floor with baby changing tables. Do not worry, they are clean and very neat.
The souvenir shop is great to browse!! There are “outside of the box” designs; I loved them all. You can find some unique and useful gifts!
The museum has made its home in the #4 warehouse at the Karaköy port. The place was renovated by the very well known company Eczacıbaşı.
At Istanbul Museum of Modern Art you will catch a glimpse of modern Turkey's creations in every aspect of the genre. If you are planning a visit to Istanbul, this exhibition is one of the top spots in town not only for the compositions but of course taking a wonderful photograph with old Istanbul's silhouette and your loved ones ;)))
Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi, Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo:4, Karaköy/ İstanbul 34433
Phone: +90 212 334 7300
Pera Museum is a private museum, which was founded by Suna and Inan Kırac Foundation. The building is located in the historic quarter of Tepebaşı- Beyoğlu, which was originally the Bristol Hotel in the former days. Later on it was renovated by Suna and Inan Kırac Foundation transforming it into a modern museum. However, they choose to preserve the exterior façade which is classic Istanbul architecture.
The museum has three permanent collections:
Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics
By holding these collections, Pera Museum created the ability for future generations to understand the historic identity of the public dynamic. The museum has a mission of introducing Turkish audiences with the very best known world artist's works. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol, Rembrandt, Goya and many more outside of their Orientalist collections.
Pera museum is a lovely location to visit in Istanbul and find examples of modern Turkish art spiced with Orientalism. This is realised by activities like educational and academic works, audio- visual events and organizing innovative art workshops for every age. Also through showing movies and performing music events from different cultures.
Here are my notes of Pera Museum from the vision of a mom:
This museum is a baby and child friendly place.
Elevators are available for use.
Clean bathrooms are a plus.
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 an exhibition.
Call the museum before you go and ask for the children’s workshop agenda or go online
here to find the agenda. http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Pera-Education.)
If it is movies or performances you are after, can check the schedule of events from http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Activity
At the entrance there is an art shop, a cafe and a ticket desk.
The cafe is decorated in Art Deco an homage to former Bristol Hotel’s architectural style. The menu offers a wide range of food from salads and sandwiches to pastries. The hot chocolate was delicious ;)
As the museum is located close to Istiklal Avenue, you can find different types of restaurants there as well.
The art shop has a wide range of souvenirs that you can buy for your loved ones ;)
Museum has a different ticketing policy depending on the day. For example ‘Long Fridays’ and ‘Young Wednesdays’.
On Long Fridays, the museum is free and open till 20.00 (8 P.M.).
On Young Wednesdays there is free admission to students.
You can ask for an audio guided tour for the exhibition from the ticket office.
You can find the current and upcoming exhibitions list here: http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/Exhibition
There is a paid parking lot right across the museum.
Address: Meşrutiyet Caddesi. No:65, Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu/ İstanbul 34443
Phone: + 90 212 334 99 00
Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Sakıp Sabancı Museum was founded in 1998 and located in Emigran, one of Istanbul's oldest settlements by the shore of the Bosphorus.
The museum was formerly named Horse Mansion because of the large horse sculptures situated around the garden. This is why the locals call the place "Atlı Köşk" or English of course it is Horse Mansion.
SSM has become well known in the last decade due to the exhibitions featuring collections of the world’s greatest artists. The locals of Istanbul like to visit here to take in the modern art, famous paintings, sculptures and photos as well as other types of disciplines. Some examples of past exhibitions are: Anish Kapoor, Monet's Garden, The 1001 Faces of Orientalism, Rembrandt and his Contemporaries. Also Salvador Dali, Master Sculptor Rodin in Istanbul and so many more.
There are also permanent collections held at SSM. Book and calligraphy collections can be seen. Paintings of the foreign artists who once resided in Istanbul in the late 19th century are on display. As well as collections of antique furniture and decorative arts.
There is a very unique botanical garden in the museum. You can find every plant or trees' Latin name and information about them 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 because it offers children’s educational activities. Please call the museum to check if there are any events 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.
There is a free parking at the museum. If it is full, park at "Ispark" where you will pay otherwise you could be towed. If still you can't find a parking place, let the valet of Sütiş restaurant take your vehicle. After your tour in the museum, give a tip to to the valet of around 5-10 TL
You can visit the museum with the baby strollers, however I should mention that after the ticket desk, there is a little uphill road for you to climb ;((
Elevators are available inside the museum.
You will find clean toilets, but sorry there is no nursery room. However there are changing stations.
Children will enjoy playing in the large garden.
You can let your child participate in an activity at the museum during which time you can enjoy your visit by taking tour of collections. Or drink a Turkish coffee at the restaurant located on the upper floor which has a wonderful view of Bosphorus.
Please make your own lunch box to enjoy in the mansion's big garden. Food is not otherwise available.
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 Orga. These are my favorites especially Sütiş has become a traditional spot for locals to meet friends and not spend a lot of money.
The museum pass is available for this museum.
Please call the museum for the schedule of workshops for children.
Address: Sakıp Sabancı cad. No:42, Emirgan 34467 İstanbul
Phone: +90 212 277 2200
These 5 top museums will help you and your children gather observations and get in touch with the cultural activities of young and modern Turkish families and Turks in general. Live Istanbul like locals do!