Istanbul Museum Pass Worth It? 2021

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 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.

Museum Pass Istanbul is obviously valid in museums in Istanbul. However, not everything is that simple. Because the museums in Istanbul are managed by three different state institutions and each has different visiting conditions. For this reason, the Museum Card is only valid in museums affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Is Istanbul Museum Pass Worth The Money?

If you are going to stay in Istanbul for 2 or 3 days and spend most of it visiting museums, the Istanbul Museum Pass is worth the money. However, you have to visit at least 4 museums to cover the money you give to the Museum Pass. On the other hand, it would not be right to consider the Museum Pass only for its price. Because it saves you time by giving you fast entry at ticket offices.

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 entrance to Hagia Sophia is now free. Entrance to Topkapi Palace is 200 Turkish Liras. If you visit the Harem, you will pay an extra 100 lira. However, the cost is still far below what you pay for the Museum Pass.

1. Where to Buy Istanbul Museum Pass?

You can buy the Istanbul Museum Pass from the ticket offices of museums such as Topkapi Palace, Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Since there are usually long queues at the entrance of Topkapi Palace, if you buy from the Archeology Museum inside the palace, you will save time.

2. Price of Istanbul Museum Pass

The price of Istanbul Museum Pass is 360 Turkish Lira as of 2021. If you have the energy to visit all museums in Sultanahmet, you can cover this money in one day. I explained this in detail in the next title. However, under normal circumstances, I would recommend the Museum Pass for those staying in the city for two days.

3. How to Cover the Cost of Museum Pass in a Day?

Yes, now I will explain how to cover the cost of Istanbul Museum Pass in one day for those who trust their fitness.

The entrance fee to Topkapi Palace is 200 Turkish Liras and it takes an average of 3 hours to visit. If you visit other sections in Topkapı Palace, you will compensate the majority of the card fee.

You can visit the Hagia Irene Museum and it is already included in the ticket price. If you also visit the Harem Section, there is an extra cost of 100 TL. Thus, a total of 300 Lira.

Entrance to the Istanbul Archeology Museum is 60 Turkish lira. Thus, the price came to 360 Lira. So far you have visited all the places within Topkapi Palace walls.

If you visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Sultanahmet Square, you have to pay an additional 60 lira. Thus, the total price reached 420 TL.

You got back the money you paid for the Istanbul Museum Pass within one day. Moreover, without waiting in line at the ticket offices! Of course, there are many other museums that you can enter with a museum card. You can also find them in the following lines.

4. Istanbul Museum Pass PROS & CONS

In this title, let’s briefly look at the pros and cons of the Istanbul museum pass.

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 and Basilica Cistern. It might not be suitable for daily visits & layovers. You need to visit at least 4 museums to cover the cost of the card.

5. Skip the Line Tickets with Guided Tours

As an alternative to the Museum Pass, you can also buy skip the line tickets with a guided tour. These tickets are slightly more expensive than standard entrance tickets. However, it provides you with the advantage of both guided tour and fast track. Moreover, you will listen to all the necessary information about the place you visit from the guide. You can buy these tickets from the links below.

6. Hire A Private Tour Guide in Istanbul

Another way to quickly enter museums in Istanbul is to hire a private tour guide. Tour guides can buy tickets directly as they have priority at the ticket 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 private tour guide in Istanbul, you will be well informed about the history of the city.

7. High Season & Low Season Comparisons

If you are visiting Istanbul in spring or autumn, which means high season, 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.

In this case, I suggest you buy the museum pass even if you think it is not worth the price. Because when you see hundreds of people waiting in the lines, you would understand what I’m saying.

The picture above shows the queue at the entrance of the Hagia Sophia Museum in April 2018. Now Hagia Sophia is not a museum, but Topkapi Palace and other museums get the same crowd during tourist 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, museums can get crowded during Christmas, Easter, and Islamic holidays, even in low season.

8. How to Buy Museum Pass Online?

You can purchase the Istanbul Museum Pass online from the official website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. You can reach the official site from this link. Alternatively, you can try the Istanbul Tourist Pass. This product provides guided entrance service to museums. It also includes extra services such as Bosphorus Cruise and Whirling Derwish Show. You can also view the offers of Istanbul Tourist Pass from this link.

9. 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.

10. List of Museums Included in the Museum Pass

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The list of museums included in the Istanbul Museum Pass is quite long. However, important museums such as Dolmabahce Palace and Basilica Cistern are not included. So I suggest you take note of the list. In the picture above, you see Topkapi Palace, the largest of these museums.

  • Topkapı Palace Museum (including Hagia Irene Church and Harem)
  • Archeology Museums of Istanbul (Inside Topkapi Palace Complex)
  • Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Near Blue Mosque)
  • Great Palace Mosaic Museum (Byzantine Palace Mosaics near Blue Mosque)
  • Galata Tower (near Istiklal Street and Taksim Square)
  • Rumeli Hisari Fortress (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on Bosphorus)
  • Yildiz Palace (Ottoman Palace complex within Yildiz Park, Besiktas)
  • Galata Mevlevi House (Whirling Dervishes Museum near Galata Tower)
  • Fethiye Museum (Former Pammakaristos Church)

11. Museum Pass for Dolmabahce, Basilica Cistern?

Museum pass is not valid for Dolmabahce Palace and Basilica Cistern. The entrance fees of these three important museums in Istanbul are as follows: Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee is 120 TL, and Basilica Cistern ticket price is 30 TL.

12. Map of Istanbul Museums

Museum Pass Istanbul Map

You can see the map of the museums in Istanbul on the visual above. Of course, Museum Pass is not valid for all of them. However, entrance to places such as Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque is already free. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are also open to everyone.

Museum pass is not valid in Miniaturk and Dolmabahce Palace. These will be the only museums on the map that you need to pay extra for.

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)

Istanbul Museum Pass 2021 by Serhat Engul

10 Comments Add yours

  1. blank 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. 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:

    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. 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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