Istanbul is magical—and a feast for the eyes. Just meandering around the Grand Bazaar, with its exotic aromas, colours and bustle, is a real marvel for the kids. And based at luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, you’ll feel like the Sultan of the palace. If you have older kids, be sure to make time for a traditional Hammam, or Turkish bath, at the hotel—a ritual locals enjoy with their families.
1. Take advantage of the fact that your kids are early birds by setting the alarm for dawn and planting yourself alongside the Bosphorus River to take in the sunrise. Watch the smoky blues and grays brighten into salmon-pinks and oranges. Bonus: grab a cup of Turkish coffee from Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Mahdumlari.
2. Go on a scavenger hunt for toys in the Grand Bazaar. Hint: think traditional darbukas (drums) and soccer balls from Turkey’s Galatasaray club for the boys in the bunch and handmade charm bracelets or sparkly slippers for the girls.
3. Dine under the stars at the Sunset restaurant located on a mount atop the city, where the little one’s attention will be fixed on the view of the bridges that change colors and look like strands of glowing pearls crossing the river so you can enjoy a bottle of red.
5. Steal a smooch with your honey in the dark pathways of the Basilica Cistern (also known as the Sunken Palace), where moody lighting, cool echoing along the walkway surrounded by water and drippy ceilings will distract the kids.
6. Take your mini captain and hop aboard a public ferry for a ride to the mouth of the Black Sea. You will pass nifty sights: Rumeli Castle, Ortakoy mosque and Dolmabahce Palace.
7. Tell adventurous stories at the Sirkeci Terminal where the Orient Express used to travel into. The ornate interior is dreamy, and trains still operate in the station. Fun fact: the kids can feel like movie stars since a James Bond movie was filmed there. Can you guess which one?
8. Make your tiny travelers feel like king and queen for the day with a visit to Topkapi Palace. Their eyes will light up as the stories from their history books come to life with a famed dagger on display and beautifully decorated harem rooms. Bonus: when you’re done, grab a meatball from the nearby Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi Selim Usta, then wander over to the Blue Mosque to ogle at the beautiful architecture.
9. Make a memory of your trip, literally. The Caferaga Medreseci craft center not only has beautiful Turkish crafts, but offers day classes to drum up something extra creative.
10. Take a historic tram ride down pedestrian Istiklal Street. Fun find: where the street ends at the popular Tunel area, look for Lokal restaurant where movies are played on the wall.
Andrea blogs at www.andrea-stanley.com.
Read more about Istanbul in Four Seasons Magazine.
Andrea Stanley is a freelance writer. She lives in a shoebox apartment in New York City, along with her husband, Greg, and three-year-old son, Connor. Her work has appeared in Glamour, SELF and the Chicago Tribune, among various other publications. When not wandering around the world, she can usually be found wandering around her neighborhood, macaroon and Joan Didion book in hand.
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