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 2020
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? 2020
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?
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.
- Hagia Sophia skip-the-line ticket
- Topkapi Palace skip-the-line ticket
- Basilica Cistern skip-the-line ticket
- Dolmabahce Palace priority access tour
Hiring A Private Tour Guide in Istanbul
Another way to visit museums in Istanbul without waiting in a queue is to hire a private guide. Local tour guides in Istanbul can buy tickets directly as they have priority at the box office. So they can get you into the museum quickly.
It is a long process to become a licensed guide in Turkey. The guides receive language and history education for years and get a license from the Ministry of Tourism. If you find an experienced guide in the field, you will be well informed about Istanbul.
Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey
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.
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
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.
Recommended Travel Blogs about Turkey
If you are satisfied with the information provided here, we recommend that you read the sister blogs of Istanbul Travel Blog.
For instance, Cappadocia Travel Blog offers detailed information about Cappadocia, famous for its unique volcanic formations. Here you can plan your trip to Cappadocia, an important place in the history of early Christianity.
There is a rich ancient Greek-Roman heritage in Turkey. One of the most important Greco-Roman site to see in Turkey is Ephesus Ancient City in Izmir. Before a cultural trip to Ephesus, you can read the articles on Ephesus Travel Blog.
Written by Serhat Engul