Istanbul Museum Pass Worth It? 2020

Istanbul Museum Pass is a useful tool for those who want to visit museums in Istanbul. It provides cheaper entrance compared to normal museum tickets and saves you from waiting in front of the ticket offices. In this article, I would like to introduce you to the museum card of Istanbul.

Types of Museum Cards in Turkey

Turkey is the 6th largest tourism country in the World. (Source: 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. Museum Pass the Aegean is valid in Ephesus Ancient City and museums around it. Museum Pass Cappadocia is valid for Cappadocia geography that covers several cities.

What is Istanbul 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 2018 & 2019  tourism seasons. However Istanbul Museum Pass’ price is 325 TL by March, 2020. You need to consider some things before you buy it. So let’s review them!

Museum Pass Istanbul Turkey 2020

Istanbul Museum Pass 2020 and 2021
Price of the Istanbul Museum Pass “325 TL” for 2020 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 4 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 100 TL and Topkapi Palace entrance fee is also 100 TL. Visiting these major pillars of Istanbul Old City costs 200 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 70 Lira, the price is rounded up to 270 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 50 TL, then the card covers its cost. (cost 320 TL so far)

You may also visit the Hagia Eirene Church which is located in the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace. It costs additional 60 TL. Now the ticket price comes up to 380 TL which is over the cost of the Museum Pass itself.

If you’ll have some more energy, you may visit the Turkish Islamic Arts Museum (50 TL) which is located next to the Blue Mosque. The cost of these visits will be 430 TL in a single day!

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 (Because your visit must be covering Harem and Hagia Eirene Church as well).

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.

Hiring A Private Tour Guide in Istanbul

Another way to visit museums in Istanbul without waiting in a queue is to hire a private tour guide. Tour guides 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

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:

What is the Muzekart?

When buying Museum Pass online, you can see that a product called Muzekart is sold much cheaper. This card allows Turkish citizens to enter the museums at a symbolic fee for 1 year. However, this discount card will not be sold to non-citizens of the Republic of Turkey. You must have a citizenship number to get this card.

Map of Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

Museum Pass Istanbul Map
Istanbul Tourist Map

I recently wrote an article called Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps. This post can be very useful if you are looking for an article which shows the places to visit in Istanbul on maps. (There is also video narration in it)

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%2
  • 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 90 TL, Galata Tower entry fee is 35 TL, Basilica Cistern ticket price is 30 TL.

Written by Serhat Engul

10 Comments Add yours

  1. blank S Wilson says:

    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. blank 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. blank 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. blank Serhat Engul says:

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

  3. blank Paul says:

    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.


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

  4. blank 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.

  5. blank Sarah Zbeidy says:

    I would just like to thank you for this review. You made my life easier! Big thank you!

    1. blank Serhat Engul says:

      Hi Sarah, I am happy to see that my review has been useful to you. Hope you will have a great time in Istanbul!

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