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: 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. 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 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.
- 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 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
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/
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
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