The countdown has begun for millions of elementary and high school students in Turkey who will go on their two-week winter break starting Friday. With exams over, it's time for children to take a little break from their daily responsibilities. During this semester break, students will enjoy spending time apart from their study books and have fun with their families and friends.
Being the heart of the arts and culture scene for all ages, Istanbul offers a variety of activities for students. If you have not yet filled your calendar for the next two weeks, we have some ideas for students and parents to enjoy this school-free time together.
Istanbul Toy Museum
Since the time when humans first started crafting things by hand with the materials around them, parents have been giving their children toys to help them enjoy their time. Whether it is a simple, hand-made wooden toy or the most expensive, high-tech remote controlled toy, the simple idea behind these little things is to entertain children and help improve their motor skills.
In 2005, Turkish poet and author Sunay Akın opened Turkey's very first toy museum in Turkey. The museum is home to toys that Akın gathered from antique shops, collectors and auctions in more than 40 countries over the course of 20 years.
Each room in the museum resembles a different theater stage. For instance, when you enter the gallery of space toys, you encounter shining stars overhead, whereas miniature train sets are exhibited in a genuine train compartment. You have to pass through a submarine in order to reach the toilets in the basement. Visitors can relax in the cafe and check out the antique dolls, dollhouse and the miniature theater that has 70 seats.
If you want to enjoy a stroll through the memory lane while your children learn more about the toys of the past generations, you should spare few hours for the Istanbul Toy Museum.
Living in the city, children do not get much of a chance to play outdoors, climb trees and actually do what children have always been doing for centuries. Most children today are trapped indoors, often in front of a screen.
If you want to break this vicious cycle and have an adventurous and entertaining time with your family, this semester break, head to Istanbul's Çekmeköy to enjoy outdoors at its best.
Spread out over an expansive area of 65,000 square meters, Forestanbul features an adventure park with all sorts of challenges, such as swinging from trees, crossing suspension bridges, rock climbing, paintball and even a free-fall jump. That's just to name a few of the activities available, making this the perfect adventure location for adults and children.
Well, let's face it: Not everybody has the time or money to get to Turkey's best ski resorts and enjoy the slopes. For those who are stuck in the city during this semester break, Istanbul's Snowpark, which is located inside a shopping mall in Esenyurt, offers you a chance to enjoy the slopes without leaving the city!
The entertainment center uses real snow the offer its guests the ultimate skiing experience. On its slopes 70 people can ski at the same time while the parkour activity area has a capacity of 130 people.
The Chocolate Museum features sculptures of renowned figures as well as landmarks from around the world.
The center is open every day of the week throughout the year which means you can enjoy skiing not only in the winter but in the summertime as well. Apart from winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, the center also hosts entertaining activities including snowtubing and snowrafting. You can enjoy playing with the snow, climbing on suspension bridges and discovering ice caves.
And the best part is you do not need to bring any equipment. The center rents all the clothes and ski equipment you need while enjoying sliding down the slopes in the heart of the city. For those who are eager to learn skiing, courses are also offered by trainers.
The Chocolate Museum
Who doesn't love chocolate? If there is any food that is loved and cherished by people of every age, I can bet it's chocolate.
The Chocolate Museum in Istanbul's Esenyurt offers a sweet escape from the chaos of the city. As soon as you walk in, a blissful enjoyment of chocolate surrounds you and you dive into a world made with chocolate.
Spread across an area of 25,000 square meters, a former factory was transformed into Chocolate Museum featuring the busts of Rumi, Van Gogh, Albert Einstein, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Mehmed the Conqueror. A special section is allocated for Istanbul's highlighted venues including the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, the Maiden's Tower and the July 15 Martyrs Bridge.
The museum features five halls in total dedicated to Istanbul, Turkish leaders, world-renowned artists and civilizations as well as a main hall featuring the history of chocolate as well as chocolate waterfalls and real size chocolate hall. You can also find Noah's Ark and paintings that show the journey of chocolate throughout history.
Visitors are informed about the production process of chocolate, cocoa seeds, and how to make decorations using different materials.
It hurts when you step on it but no one can deny that playing with legos is one of the most entertaining and creative things in the world.
The Legoland Discovery Center offers a modern experience for lego lovers and brings a decades-old tradition to life with its modern facility that resembles the toy land of your dreams.
The center which is suitable for the children between the ages three and 10, features "Miniland," a 4D cinema hall, "Kingdom Quest" where children have fun with their families, "Merlin's Apprentice Ride," "Lego Racers: Build & Test," creative workshops and a lego shop where you can choose the one lego pack you want to take home among the thousands of choices and a lego café where you can blow the steam off.
For those who want to take a peek inside the world of legos, the center also offers a factory tour.