Istanbul Museum Pass Worth It?

Istanbul Museum Pass

Istanbul Museum Pass Worth it? Where to buy?

Turkey is the 6th largest tourism country in the World. (Source: telegraph.co.uk) Turkey is situated in the Anatolian Peninsula, where many different civilizations had lived. Some of the civilisations that settled down in Anatolia are Ancient Greeks, Hittites, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans.

There is a very rich culture especially in Istanbul and Turkey due to the heritage of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. Each and every city of Turkey worth to visit but the most popular places are Istanbul, Ephesus and Cappadocia. These three places are considered as the Golden-Triangle of Turkey. There are several types of Museum Pass Cards to use in these regions.

In this article I would like to introduce you the Istanbul Museum Pass tourist card.

What Is the Museum Pass?

Istanbul Museum Pass is practical tourist card provided by Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry. It’s a very practical tool in order not to wait in the long lines. The price of the card was perfectly balanced during the 2016 & 2017 tourism seasons. However Istanbul Museum Pass’ price is 220 TL by July, 2019. You need to consider some things before you buy it. So let’s review them!

Museum Pass Istanbul Turkey 2019

istanbul museum pass 2019/2020
Price of the Istanbul Museum Pass “220 TL” for 2019 Tourism Season

Istanbul Museum Pass PROS & CONS

PROS: Fast track advantage, convenient for 2-3 days visit, saves your time, easy to get. Besides it provides some discount in private museums (Koc Museum, Istanbul Modern, Pera Museum) and some activities.

CONS: It can not be used for Dolmabahce Palace, Basilica Cistern, Galata Tower. It might not be suitable for daily visits & layovers. You need to visit at least 3 museums to cover the cost of the card.

Istanbul Museum Pass Worth It?

If you have only one day in Istanbul and planning to see only Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia budget-wise it’s not recommended. Because Hagia Sophia entrance fee is 72 TL and Topkapi Palace entrance fee is also 72 TL. Visiting these major pillars of Istanbul Old City costs 144 TL. So what to do next?

Here is how to cover the cost of Museum Pass in a day

Paying a standart visit to Topkapi Palace takes approximately 2 hours. If you have some more time to visit Topkapi Palace’s extentions (Harem, Archaeology Museum, Hagia Eirene Church) you can cover the cost.

You may visit the Harem Rooms which would cost extra 42 Lira, the price is rounded up to 186 TL, still below the cost of Istanbul Museum Pass.

If you have some more time to visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums (located in Topkapi Palace complex) which costs 36 TL, then the card covers its cost. (cost 222 TL so far)

You may also visit the Hagia Eirene Church which is located in the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace. It costs additional 36 TL. Now the ticket price comes up to 258 TL which is obviously more expensive than the Museum Pass itself.

It means that you can get your money back in one single day, as long as you have long hours to spend in Topkapi Palace complex.

If you’ll have some more energy, you may visit the Turkish Islamic Arts Museum (42TL) which is located next to the Blue Mosque. The cost of these visits will be 300 TL in a single day!


Skip the Line Tickets with Guided Tours

You can also consider skip-the-line tickets. These online tickets are a bit more expensive than the original ticket but it offers a guided group tour. Especially Dolmabahce Palace tour is recommended as the museum pass is not valid there.


Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace Museum can be visited with museum pass

High Season & Low Season Comparisons

High Season: If you are visiting the Istanbul in Spring or Autumn, there may be long lines in front of the museums of Istanbul. Especially April, May, June, September and October considered as the peak of the high season.

I would recommend you to buy the card even if you don’t think it’s worth the money. When you see hundreds of people waiting in the lines, you would understand what I’m saying.

Low Season: If you will visit Istanbul during the winter (December, January, October) or when it’s too hot (July, August) then you will less likely to see long lines in front of museums. However there are exceptions like Christmas, Easter or Islamic holidays.

Ticket line in front of the Hagia Sophia April ’19

Where to Buy Istanbul Museum Pass?

The Museum Pass Istanbul is sold at museums listed below. You may simply go to the ticket offices and ask for your personal museum pass. You need a copy of your passport or your id card for registration. The card is registered under your name and can be used by the owner only!

  • Topkapi Palace Museum
  • Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Chora Museum
  • Istanbul Mosaic Museum
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums

How to Buy Museum Pass Online?

You can buy Istanbul Museum Pass Online from this link: https://www.muze.gov.tr/

Map of Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

Museum Pass Istanbul Map
Istanbul Tourist Map

List of Museums to Use the Pass?

  • Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Topkapı Palace Museum (including Hagia Eirene Church and Harem)
  • Archeology Museums of Istanbul (Next to Topkapi Palace Complex)
  • Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Near Blue Mosque)
  • Grand Palace Mosaic Museum (Byzantine Palace Mosaics – Near Blue Mosque)
  • Kariye Museum (Also known as Chora Church)
  • Rumeli Hisari Fortress (Castle Next To 2nd Bridge of Bosphorus)
  • Yildiz Palace (Ottoman Palace complex within Yildiz Park, Besiktas)
  • Galata Mevlevihanesi (Whirling Dervishes Museum – Near Galata Tower)
  • Fethiye Museum (Former Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Church)

Museum Pass for Dolmabahce, Cistern or Galata Tower?

Museum pass is not valid for Dolmabahce Palace, Basilica Cistern and Galata Tower. Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee is 60 TL, Galata Tower entry fee is 35 TL, Basilica Cistern ticket price is 20 TL.

Written by Serhat Engul

8 Comments Add yours

  1. S Wilson says:

    Hello,
    Thanks for the very useful information. Does the museum pass valid for 5 days only and it must be use continuously? For eg. I will be in Turkey for 3 weeks, I will be in Fethiye for 2 days which you mention the pass is valid. I will travel to Pamukkale, Cappadocia before returning to Istanbul. It seems that the pass is only for museums in Istanbul only + Fethiye, so this pass will not work in Cappadocia open air museums?

    1. Serhat Engul says:

      Hi, Istanbul Museum Pass is valid for 5 days once it’s activated. If you activate it and leave Istanbul with the intention of using it later, it would not work that way. I would recommend you to buy 15 days Turkey Pass. It covers the museums in entire Turkey. (as far as I know.) PS: Istanbul Museum Pass does not cover museums of Fethiye region. It covers the Fethiye Museum which is located in Istanbul. (also known as Pammakaristos Church)

  2. Nayara S says:

    The Fathiye Museum and the Yildiz Palace are currently closed to the public due to restoration. Parts of the Topkapı Palace Museum (The treasury and the Collection of Calligraphy, Miniature paintings) and the main area of the Archeology Museums of Istanbul are also closed. In the latter we only had the chance to see the sarcophagi exhibit.

    1. Serhat Engul says:

      Hi Nayara, yes there is a large scale restoration in Istanbul. Some museums are partially or completely closed.

  3. Paul says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the information. Could you please provide the list of Turkey pass. I could see 300+ in most of the sites I visited and found a list written in Turkish in muze website. It would be great if you could provide the full list in English.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Paul, thank you for the contrubution. I will work on it.

  4. Sari says:

    Hi! I used Istabul Museum pass, but was not able to take a fast track to Hagia Sofia. The fast track is only for people, who are paying some extra to get a priority ticket. With Istanbul Museum pass you have to stand in the queue which took almost as long as the ticket line.
    Anyway I was pleased with the Museum pass. I went museums, where I was not planning to go. Especially I liked Turkish and Islamic Arts museum. It was nice and very peaceful inside, no crowds.

    1. Hi Sari, there are two lines to enter the Hagia Sophia Museum. The one on the left side is for buying tickets. The one on the right side is for guided tours. However the ones who have Istanbul Museum Pass and Istanbul Muzekart (only for Turkish Citizens) can pass through it. To be able to enter from the right line is advantageous most of the time. However if there are so many tour groups, that line is also packed. And if there are too many crowded guided groups around (especially on Saturdays) you may wait even more time in the right-side line. Yet it’s temporary.

      If you see too many people on the right line, you may change your itinerary and go to another museum instead. You can come back to Hagia Sophia later. This tactic usually works. Hagia Sophia is more likely to be quiet after 3 p.m. Because individuals and tour groups rush to it from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. I assume there is an extra line for “fast track” ticket which would cost you 1,5 times more than a normal ticket. I think it’s really unnecessary. That system just came up and I do not think it will work in the long term. I am happy to see that Museum Pass had been useful for you.

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