An Adventurous Day in Istanbul, Part 2 – (And Tips for taking a child to Istanbul)

On our recent one day (one very long day trip) to Istanbul we made our way speedily around most of the main sites. Following our visit around the famous Sultan Ahmed mosque, also known as the blue mosque, we decided to visit Topkapi Palace and skip going to Aya Sofia (Hagia Sofia).

Topkapi Palace, built in the 1400s is an Ottoman Palace within walking distance of the Blue mosque and was the primary residence of Ottaman Sultans for 400 years. The palace structure consists on a central courtyard with numerous buildings encasing, including a library built for the servants for their education. The views from the balconies and give stunning view of the Bosphorous. You can imagine Sultans of days gone by taking in the beautiful views for hours watching ships and boats sail by. These days Topkapi Palace is a museum and houses some amazing historical collections from Turkish history, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and precious gold and stones (including a 86 carat diamond which I JUST could not find anywhere at all). Unfortunately photography was prohibited in most places and so I had to put my camera away and just take in the sights.

We decided to skip going to Hagia Sofia (Aya Sofia). It was originally a beautiful Greek Orthodox church which later became a mosque and is now a museum. From photos I know this is another beautiful building that is a highly recommended visit. This will be on our list to visit if ever we go back. With a 3 year old that wanted to stretch his legs we opted to go around the markets and squares instead.

There are a number of markets in Istanbul, the largest being the Grand Bazaar which boasts over 3,000 shops! It is absolutely huge and extremely easy to get lost if you suddenly get distracted by one of the very many shiny pretty things that are on sale there. Whilst we had a look we opted to go around the Egyptian Markets, much smaller at just over 150 shops(!). It has his name from being famous for selling imported spices, mostly from India and Egypt whilst selling other Turkish produced goods and a lot of delicious looking food. You could quite easily spend a whole day just wandering around the markets. We wisely opted to keep Little Z strapped in here as its pretty easily to lose your bearings and kept swept along by people behind you. Haggling is welcomed and the sellers are good natured and always up for a bit up for a bit of a price challenge. It was about now Little Z decided to have a well earned long nap for a couple of hours.

We spent the rest of our day wandering around the main squares and taking in the sights. The city is a fascinating contradiction of very laid back squares where people sit about looking really relaxed with an outer layer of speedy roads, bustling business and a very busy web like harbour. There are a lot of different boat tours you can go on to see the Bosphorous, a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. We spent about an hour on the Istanbul coast and I think that’s probably enough unless you are an avid architecture lover. The coast is packed with all the most significant buildings. Universities, historical palaces, government buildings, castles showing that at one time this particular coast was of massive political and strategic importance. Even today the sea is filled with boats and ships that all weave between each other in an intricate expert fashion without clashing into each other. I spent most of my time worrying we were going to do collide into something.

After a pretty long day we finished the day off perfectly with a very nice Turkish meal and headed back to the airport to catch our 8.30pm flight. Having checked in smoothly a lot of group commented on how Little Z was such a good little boy and had been brilliant through the day. To his credit he really had been. Unfortunately our flight looked like it was going to be delayed. 8.30 came and went and even at 9pm we were still none the wiser about what was happening. Little Z was enjoying stretching his legs by speedily running about by this point and, in a lounge with enough irate passengers to fill a whole jet, it was starting to get difficult to easily spot him running about. By 9.30pm, and still none the wiser, a lot of passengers were starting to lose their temper and an all out war of words ensued between a small group and the airport staff, all in Turkish. The rest of us kept tapping shoulders of other Turkish people asking if they could translate. It turned out the plane had been ready on time, as had the bus to take us from the terminal tot he flight. The airport staff however had tootled along pretty late, by which point the bus had gone off to his next job. We were all eventually herded onto the flight about 10pm and made it back to Antalya at midnight. By this point everyone was understandably fed up. Little Z did a sterling job of singing the entire way back though to keep spirits up. The icing on the cake that night was when our coach making the one hour trip back to our hotel didn’t check heads and left us stranded at the airport whilst we waited to pick up our stroller. We wearily crawled into a Β£60 taxi and collapsed into bed about 1.30am. Thankfully we got a full refund about 3 days later ad probably made it back to the to hotel a lot quicker than the other passengers did.

All in all it was an amazing day which I would split into 2 or 3 days on another visit. If you do fancy visiting with children then here are my top tips:

Top Tips when taking children to Istanbul

Istanbul is like any major city, extremely busy and bustling with people on a mission. We found it to be very child friendly.

Snacks are a plenty if you have a child in tow. Little Z was happy snacking on Simit (Circular slightly toasty bread baked with sesame seeds) or corn on the cob. There are plenty of sellers dotted about and Simit cost us 1 Lira (about 30p). There are also of numerous crisp and drinks stands.

Most of Istanbul is stroller friendly. There are some cobbled streets about and some buildings have a lot of stairs at the entrance and no ramps. We were ok though, it is best to have two adults for one stroller so you can carry it up and down.

Be careful on the subways. Like any subway they have a massive rush of people and you need to be prepared to whisk your child up and collapse your stroller quickly.

It is best to keep children strapped into strollers or in arms at the bazaars. Again, it is very busy and people are flowing in every direction.

Buy tickets in advance wherever possible. The queues are pretty long.

Be warned – the queues for Topkapi Palace are long even to see the collections. We ended up splitting up to make sure Little Z wasn’t bored for too long. Topkapi does has a very nice child friendly restaurant and is worth having a stop here if you are spending a long day sight seeing.

There are lots of squares and nice coffee shops dotted around if you need to make pit stops.

Istanbul markets (3)

Istannbul square

Turkish bread

Istanbul cat


Istanbul dates

Istanbul markets

Istanbul markets (2)

Istanbul markets 3

Istanbul markets 4

Bosphorus (4)

Bosphorus (3)

Bosphorus (2)


Mini Travellers

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  1. Sarah MumofThree World June 30, 2014 / 6:49 am

    It looks and sounds like a fantastic place, and well done to Little Z for surviving so long! I would have been really annoyed about the flight delay and missing the bus! (But I bet a taxi was more pleasant than the bus anyway!).
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Forever 12My Profile

  2. Erica Price June 30, 2014 / 9:36 am

    Amazing! Love the sound of the Grand Bazaar. Had to laugh at Z providing the entertainment. Sounds like a mare of a journey back, but the taxi bit might have worked out better.
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  3. Coombemill June 30, 2014 / 10:11 am

    Sensible tips for travelling generally abroad with young children. I do love all the market food photos and Baklava are my favourite sweet. #MagicMoments
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  4. jollyjillys June 30, 2014 / 10:43 am

    What fab pictures looks like you had a fantastic adventure. Love the cat picture lol
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  5. TheBoyandMe June 30, 2014 / 11:49 am

    Your photos are wonderful! I really feel like I’m in Istanbul with all the sounds and sights, colours and craziness. It reminds me a bit of Bulgaria which makes sense as it was invaded by the Ottoman Empire who rules Turkey. I think you’re very brave to have managed to have done all of that in one day, and shame on the travel company for screwing up royally with transportation back.

    Have you recovered yet?
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  6. Sophie Lovett June 30, 2014 / 12:19 pm

    Looks like a fantastic place! I’ve been to Istanbul a couple of times but not for ages – it’s one of my favourite cities, and in fact the Aya Sofia might be my all time favourite building! I’m hoping we might be able to visit soon as Leigh and Arthur have never been…
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  7. brummymummyof2 June 30, 2014 / 5:54 pm

    Oh looks fab! I love different countries and different experiences I think that is to do with being an RE teacher. I am a right old geek and wherever we go somewhere new I always go to the local place of worship. They totally fascinate me! Hats off to taking your little one somewhere so unique and interesting xxx
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  8. Mummy Tries June 30, 2014 / 7:40 pm

    Sounds like an incredible place to visit, I’d love to take my brood here! I’ll be knocking on your door for more tips if we go πŸ™‚ #MagicMoments
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  9. Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One June 30, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    I loved the Topkapi Palace when I visited, just didn’t have enough time to see much else, it’s certainly a city I’d like to spend more time in after reading your posts #whatsthestory
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  10. Funky Wellies June 30, 2014 / 8:48 pm

    Great post, and love your colourful photos. I have yet to go to Istanbul! xx
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  11. Honest Mum June 30, 2014 / 9:26 pm

    Stunning photography and brilliant child friendly travel tips x
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  12. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) July 1, 2014 / 1:29 am

    Sometimes I forget that I am an Architecture Graduate. But it would judt go back to me when I see structures such as these in your photos. They have so many great Architecture there and I wish I can visit them soon. Thanks for sharing =) #whatsthestory
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  13. Hurrah For Gin July 1, 2014 / 2:01 pm

    Wow Tas it looks amazing! Much respect for keeping calm in the throes of plane delays with a 3 year old – i probably would have been going crazy. Glad you had such a super time πŸ™‚ x
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  14. Emma July 1, 2014 / 4:10 pm

    Fantastic post, and you’re a lot braver than I am, I’d probably not have attempted a trip like that with my son at that age, can’t say I’d want to take him now TBH! But Little Z sounds like he’d take it all a lot better πŸ™‚
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  15. Lauren | Belle du Brighton July 1, 2014 / 10:40 pm

    This post brought back so many memories for me, my mum took me to Istanbul when I was 12ish, we went to a lot of the same places as you, and the photos of food made me remember begging her to buy me food from street stalls!
    Lauren | Belle du Brighton recently posted…My Breastfeeding storyMy Profile

  16. Jenny July 2, 2014 / 6:20 am

    WOW you had such a busy and amazing trip. I love how much history and culture there is. And all the tips were great, I have always wanted to go to Istanbul, it’s on my list to visit someday. Not sure I could pack in all that you have. So impressed. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
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  17. Mummy Says July 2, 2014 / 7:17 am

    It looks fantastic and what brilliant photos. We would love to get to Istanbul one day so these tips are amazing. Thank you! x
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  18. Seychellesmama July 2, 2014 / 8:19 am

    Oh my gosh, what a day!! Bless little Z for being so good I think that’s amazing!!! Sounds like a really wonderful place, busy with lots to see! It’s nice sometimes to be places where you can not take photos, allowing you to really see it for yourself instead of from behind the camera lens!! Glad you all got back safe in the end,despite the airport and taxi dramas!! X
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  19. Potty Mouthed Mummy July 2, 2014 / 8:23 am

    Well done to z, what a good boy. Sounds like you had quite the ordeal getting back but sounds like a lovely day. I love the pictures! X
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  20. Super Busy Mum July 2, 2014 / 9:09 am

    Wow…what an amazing place to visit! Everything looks amazing and I bet it smelt fabulous too! The architecture of countries like this have always amazed and intrigued me. Although after seeing this post I’d go just to buy some of those FABULOUS plates!! Thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH xx
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  21. chantelle hazelden July 2, 2014 / 9:26 am

    wow, you managed to pack an awful lot in to your trip, sounds like a fascinating place to visit, your photographs show it off perfectly #MMWBH
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  22. older mum in a muddle July 2, 2014 / 5:31 pm

    Fabulous photographs – what a holiday!!!! I’ll bet the bazaar was amazing.

    Ps… I am taking a two month break from blogging now – see you in the autumn :o). X
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  23. Susan Mann July 2, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    This looks amazing and well done wee z xx

  24. Sam @ And then the fun began... July 3, 2014 / 10:15 pm

    Fab pictures! This really takes me back about 20 years to when I was there. We also visited the Galata Tower I believe. The views are stunning from either side of the Bosphorous. Do they still have the free trams? Not sure if I’d take a child on one mind you they used to be a bit like the Japanese metro for packing people in and men would just randomly grope you on there – kind of unpleasant really!! Otherwise a lovely place! One of my most vivid memories of Turkey was going to a real Turkish Bath and having a full on Turkish scrub down! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so clean!! πŸ™‚ #sharewithme
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  25. Charly Dove July 5, 2014 / 10:04 pm

    It sounds like you had such a good time in Instanbul. Must have been such a long day though especially with Z. Love the photos, we must get there one day too #whatsthestory
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  26. Jane Batt July 6, 2014 / 10:02 am

    Glad you managed to get some photos – they’re so beautiful and colourful. Looks absolutely amazing.

  27. jennypaulin August 10, 2014 / 12:06 am

    i really dont think i could take my two on such a long flight (and then for it to be delayed!)- unless they were asleep! Well done to Z he is so well cultured at such a young age too – what an amazing experience for him and you all!
    your photos are amazing – all that culture and smells you encountered must have been wonderful.
    thanks for allowing me to share on my carnival post (live from the 12th) x
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  28. Sandra January 2, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Those pictures are amazing! I’ve been to Istanbul once on a day trip, but your story makes me look forward to going back one day! #mondayescapes

  29. Joanne Addison January 2, 2017 / 9:02 pm

    Really interesting post – Istanbul isn’t somewhere I would necessarily have thought about taking kids to but I think my kids would like the markets. Can’t believe the bus left without you:( #mondayescapes

  30. Natalie January 3, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    What a horrible experience your flight/delay/missing the bus was!! Mercy!! We traveled via plane within the country during our family vacation to Turkey. We had delays and delays, too….perhaps that is more common than I thought? But overall we thought Turkey was wonderful. Istanbul had been on my list of places to go my entire life so getting to visit was a dream come true. WE always travel with the kids and they were 9 and 11 at the time. Travel can be so educational for kids and parents alike and the whole world is a classroom!! I like to teach mine about the art and history and culture of a place which gives them even more wonderful memories of what they see because they have a deep understanding!

  31. Cathy (Mummytravels) January 3, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    I do love Istanbul and having had a less than 1 day visit on one occasion (and thankfully longer ones too) we did pack a lot in including your tips. Admittedly with no kids though. I would love to go back with her one day, although sadly can’t keep her corralled in a buggy any more! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
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  32. Lolo January 4, 2017 / 10:05 am

    I would love to visit Istanbul one day, but to be honest, I’m a bit afraid to visit this region at the moment. Happy New Year! #CityTripping
    Lolo recently posted…2016: A Year in ReviewMy Profile

  33. Ahila January 4, 2017 / 11:33 am

    Despite the flight delay and the bus driver’s oversight, sounds like you had a lovely day exploring Istanbul as a family. Enjoyed reading about your adventure and the part where little Z sang to keep everyone’s spirits up πŸ™‚ #CityTripping

  34. Sarah Christie January 4, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    Tas it looks so incredible I bet the smells and sounds were just amazing, I wouldn’t know where to look first. Although that flight would have stressed me out especially with young children x Thanks so much for linking up and have a great 2017 #MondayEscapes xxx
    Sarah Christie recently posted…Monday Escapes 2 Jan 2017My Profile

  35. Trish @ Mum's Gone To January 5, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    I’ve not been to Istanbul but I’ve certainly got areal sense of the city after reading this. Your photos of the bazaar are particularly good – making me feel hungry!
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  36. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) January 5, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    I had a great time in Istanbul and I must say the Aya Sophia was amazing. You certainly packed a lot in though and I love how little Z kept the spirits up on your rather challenging journey home. Eek! I visited in June 2015. A lot has happened there in the last year and I’m very much saddened by recent events. It’s such a great city I hope tourism isn’t dented too badly. #citytripping
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  37. Topsy Turvy Tribe January 5, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    We definitely need to head to Istanbul, it looks beautiful! Well done to Little Z, I think my two would have wiped out at the airport, although they do surprise us when they have an audience! Shame you were missed by the coach, I can imagine it was quite tiring to say the least! Looks like an excellent trip all in!
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  38. Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me) January 7, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Oh my word – those dates look incredible! I’d love to visit Istanbul. And living in London, we’d be a dab hand at rushing onto those crowded underground trains! #MondayEscapes #citytripping
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  39. Wilbur January 9, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    One of the truly great cities. So sad what is happening in Turkey at the moment.

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