Above & below:
Kids of all ages and interests end up in Istanbul with their families, who wonder...what to do? Here are some suggestions:
Hop in a ferryboat in Eminönü or Karaköy and cruise across the Bosphorus to Üsküdar, Haydarpaşa or Kadıköy. Then come back. It takes about an hour, costs very little, and gives everyone a great introduction to the city.
For a longer ride, take a Bosphorus cruise (from 1-1/4 hours to all day). More...
Fortresses & City Walls
Rumeli Hisarı on the Bosphorus, and Yedikule in the Istanbul City Walls, are great for romantic notions of warrior adventures, but be aware that safety may be a concern: visitors are allowed to climb up to the walls and towers, but many accessible stairways and walkways have no guardrails! Stay with your child at all times.
The century-old Tünel and İstiklal Caddesi's Nostalgic Tramway may interest some kids...and even get you where you want to go.
Everybody loves the spooky atmosphere of these ancient purpose-built underground reservoirs. Grandest is the Basilica Cistern, but nearby Binbirdirek is good as well.
Towers & Panoramas
The Galata Tower gives kids and adults alike panoramic views of Istanbul, though there's often a line for admission, and younger kids may not want the wait. More...
Leander's Tower (Maiden's Tower, Kız Kulesi), on a tiny island in the Bosphorus, was the location for scenes from the James Bond movie The World is Not Enough, and Hitman. It was also featured on "The Amazing Race." It's now the home of a restaurant, which provides boat transport for diners, though transport is problematic for just a short visit.
The Pierre Loti Café, reached by aerial tramway (teleferik), overlooks the Golden Horn. Getting there is half the fun! There's another aerial tramway in Beyoğlu between the Hyatt Hotel and the Swissotel. More...
One of those miniature-building parks (like Holland's Madurodam), Istanbul's Miniatürk has 120 model buildings of 1/25th scale, nearly half of them tiny copies of Istanbul's landmarks. It's great for an informal kid-style history/architecture lesson. More...
On a rainy day, you might as well have fun with water. The Istanbul Aquarium is a good place to do it. It's on the Sea of Marmara shore southwest of Atatürk Airport, 19 km west of Sultanahmet. You can take the Halkalı banliyö treni (suburban train) from Sirkeci Station to the Florya station, then walk southeast toward the sea for a few minutes to reach it. More...
The Rahmi M Koç Museum is a wonderful eclectic mishmash of relics and curiosities from the history of transportation, aviation, communications, science, models and toys. Founded by a scion of a wealthy industrial-commercial family, the museum includes an Istanbul ferryboat, Douglas DC-3 Dakota, F104 Starfighter and other airplanes, railcars, trolleys, steam locomotives, a Ford Model T, 1898 Malden steam car, antique telephones, phonographs, a zoetrope (primitive cinematograph).... It's impossible not to be fascinated by at least a few dozen of the items in this fabulous all-over-the-map collection.
The Douglas DC-3 Dakota...
Located on the left bank of the Golden Horn, it's just north of the Hasköy ferryboat dock (map), so you can combine a visit to the museum with a cruise on the Golden Horn. More...