Istanbul Museums Entry Fees and Hours

Entry fees and visiting hours of Istanbul Museums change every year. For this reason, the article needs to be updated frequently. Even the statuses of some museums have changed since 2018, when I first wrote this article.

For example, Hagia Sophia and Kariye are no longer museums. Both of them started serving as mosques and are now possible to visit for free. On the other hand, Istanbul Museum Pass is valid in some museums on the list and not in others.

For all these reasons, I have updated this article, which includes the ticket prices and opening hours of Istanbul Museums, for the year 2021. I hope it will be useful to those who will visit the city.

Istanbul Museums Entry Fees and Hours

In this article, I would like to introduce you to the 10 best museums of Istanbul. Most of these museums are located in Sultanahmet, the heart of Istanbul Old City. However, there are also museums located in popular districts such as Beyoglu and Besiktas. One of the museums on our list is located on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Under the main titles named after the museums, I first shared brief information about the history of the museums. Then, you can find the entry fees and opening hours of Istanbul museums in the subtitles.

For some museums, it is possible to buy tickets online and join guided group tours. Skip-the-line tickets with a guided tour cost a little more than standard museum tickets. However, it saves you time and allows you to get information by traveling with a licensed guide. You can make reservations for these tours by clicking the links I marked in blue under the relevant title.

1. Hagia Sophia

10 best museums in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia is located in Sultanahmet, which is considered the old city of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia is the most important tourist attraction in Istanbul and welcomes approximately 3 million visitors a year.

The Hagia Sophia was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was completed in only 5 years and 10 months. Given the technology of the 6th century, it is difficult to believe how it was finished so quickly.

Hagia Sophia Guided Tour Tickets

Since it will be difficult to grasp the history of Hagia Sophia on a single visit, it is recommended to take a guided tour. You can buy guided tour tickets for Hagia Sophia from this link.

Hagia Sophia Opening Hours

Hagia Sophia opening hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. The Mosque will be open to visitors except for prayer hours. The visiting hours will be the same as the neighboring Blue Mosque.

In Sultanahmet, the heart of Istanbul Old City, mosques close one hour before prayer time and open half an hour later. For example, if the noon prayer is at 13:00, the mosque will be closed between 12:00 and 13:30. You can check the current praying hours for Istanbul mosques from this website.

Hagia Sophia Entrance Fee

Hagia Sophia entrance fee was 100 Turkish Liras before it was converted into a mosque. Tickets are no longer sold at the entrance and Ayasofya can be visited free of charge like other mosques in Istanbul.

2. Topkapi Palace

Must-See Museums of Istanbul

Topkapi Palace is located in Sultanahmet and very close to Hagia Sophia. Topkapi Palace was the place where Ottoman sultans lived between 1461 and 1856. 25 Ottoman sultans lived here with their families.

Ottoman sultans moved to Dolmabahce Palace located on the Bosphorus after 1856. Although Topkapi Palace was not used after this date, it was well preserved and turned into a museum during the republican period.

Topkapi Palace is a complex consisting of many buildings. A standard visit to the Topkapi Palace does not include other museums within the same complex as the Harem, Hagia Irene and Istanbul Archeology Museums. separate tickets are required for each of these sections.

Topkapi Palace Guided Tour Tickets

There may be long lines at the entrance of the palace in high tourist season. If you purchase skip-the-line tickets, you will get the fast track advantage. You can buy guided tour tickets for Topkapi Palace from this link.

Topkapı Palace Opening Hours

Topkapi Palace opening hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. Topkapi Palace is closed to visitors on Tuesdays.

Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee

Topkapi Palace entrance fee is 100 Turkish Lira. An extra 70 TL must be paid for the Harem visit. In addition, an additional 60 TL must be paid to visit the Hagia Irene Church located within the boundaries of the museum. The Istanbul Museum Pass is valid for all these sections in this palace.

3. Basilica Cistern

Istanbul Museums Entry Fees

Basilica Cistern is the largest of the Byzantine underground cisterns in Istanbul. Built in the same period as Hagia Sophia, the cistern has a history of 1500 years. Apart from the Basilica Cistern, there are two other important cisterns in the vicinity, such as Cistern of Philoxenos and Theodosius Cistern.

Theodosius Cistern, which is only a few blocks away, has recently been opened to visitors and is free for now. Apart from these two, the Sarnic Restaurant, which has emerged with the transformation of a 1500-year-old cistern into a restaurant, also has a beautiful ambience.

Basilica Cistern Opening Hours

Basilica Cistern opening hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. The cistern is open to visitors every day of the week throughout the year.

Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee 2021

Basilica Cistern entrance fee is 30 Turkish lira. Children under the age of 8 free of charge. Please note that there is no credit card here and you have to pay the ticket price in cash. Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid for Basilica Cistern.

4. Galata Tower

Istanbul Museums Opening Hours

Galata Tower is a very suitable place to take photos of Istanbul. Galata Tower, which offers a 360-degree view, is located in Beyoglu district. Galata Tower was built by the Genoese trade colony during the Byzantine period.

Genoese and Venetians, who were Italian trade colonies, had a presence in the city for many years. Goods from the Silk Road were transported to Europe by these maritime colonies in both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Galata Tower Opening Hours

Galata Tower opening hours are between 9 am and 7 pm. Galata Tower is open to visitors every day throughout the year.

Galata Tower Entrance Fee

Galata Tower entrance fee is 35 Turkish Liras. Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.

5. Dolmabahce Palace

Istanbul Museums Visiting Days

Dolmabahce Palace is a magnificent palace built on the shores of the Bosphorus. Representing the late Ottoman architecture, the palace was built in the 19th century.

Sultans lived in the classical Topkapi Palace in the Historical Peninsula for 400 years. However, they moved to the modern Dolmabahce Palace in 1850. This period was also the times of Westernization in the Ottoman Empire.

Dolmabahce Palace Guided Tour Tickets

The palace is crowded during high tourist season. There is no way to bypass the ticket lines as the Museum Pass is not valid here. If you want to take advantage of the fast track, you can buy guided tour tickets for Dolmabahce Palace from this link.

Dolmabahce Palace Opening Hours

Dolmabahce Palace opening hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. Dolmabahce Palace is closed to visitors on Mondays.

Dolmabahce Palace Entrance Fee

Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee is 90 Turkish Lira. An extra 60 TL must be paid for the Harem visit. Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.

6. Istanbul Archaeological Museum

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Istanbul Archeological Museum is located within the walls of Topkapı Palace. The Neo-Classical building of the museum was built in the 19th century by Alexander Vallaury, a famous architect.

There are many historical artifacts related to the civilizations that lived in Anatolia and Mesopotamia in the Istanbul Archeology Museum. The museum also houses an important heritage related to Greco-Roman and Byzantine history.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum Opening Hours

Istanbul Archeological Museum opening hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. Istanbul Archeology Museum is closed to visitors on Mondays.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum Entrance Fee 2021

Istanbul Archeological Museum entrance fee is 50 Turkish Liras. Children under the age of 8 is free of charge. The Istanbul Museum Pass is valid at this museum.

7. Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

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Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is located next to the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome. The building was originally the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, one of the most important grand viziers in Ottoman history.

There are many important works on Islamic history in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. The museum hosts a heritage dating back to the caliphate period.

In the section about Turkish history, there are works from the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. Those who are interested in Turkish rugs are recommended to visit this museum. Because there are hundreds of years old hand-woven carpets in the museum collection.

Turkish and Islamic Art Museum Opening Hours

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum opening hours are between 9 am and 5 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. The museum is open to visitors every day of the week throughout the year.

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Entrance Fee

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum entrance fee is 50 Turkish Liras. Children under the age of 8 is free of charge. The Istanbul Museum Pass is valid at this museum.

8. Yildiz Palace

List of Top Museums in Istanbul

Yildiz Palace is located in Besiktas district of Istanbul. It is located within walking distance of hotels such as Four Seasons, Conrad Bosphorus and Ciragan Palace Kempinski.

The palace, which also includes a large walking area called Yildiz Park, is a 19th century building. The most interesting part of Yildiz Palace is the main building called Shale Pavillion.

Yildiz Palace Opening Hours

Yildiz Palace opening hours is between 9 am and 5:30 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. Yildiz Palace is closed to visitors on Mondays.

Yildiz Palace Entrance Fee 2021

Yildiz Palace entrance fee is 20 Turkish Liras. If you want to visit Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory, you need to pay 30 TL extra fee. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid here.

9. Beylerbeyi Palace

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Beylerbeyi Palace is located on the Asian side of Istanbul. Built in the 19th century, the palace is located in a very beautiful place on the shores of the Bosphorus. Since this palace is not well known by tourists, it is usually noticed during a cruise on the Bosphorus.

Beylerbeyi Palace was used as a summer palace by the Ottoman sultans for a while. It later became a guest house for high profile visitors. Among the celebrities who stayed in the palace is French Empress Eugénie de Montijo.

Beylerbeyi Palace Opening Hours

Beylerbeyi Palace opening hours is between 9 am and 5:30 pm. Please note that the ticket office will be closed 60 minutes prior to closing times. Beylerbeyi Palace is closed to visitors on Mondays.

Beylerbeyi Palace Entrance Fee 2021

Beylerbeyi Palace entrance fee is 50 Turkish Lira. You can visit all palace sections with a single ticket. Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.

10. Kariye Mosque (Chora Church)

Most Popular Museums in Istanbul

Kariye Mosque was a monastery church known as Chora Church during the Byzantine Empire period. The church, which was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period, served as a museum for 85 years in the republic period.

Kariye Museum, like Hagia Sophia, has been converted into a mosque since 2020. The most important feature of this building is that the best preserved mosaics from the Byzantine period are here.

The mosaics inside Kariye describe the life of Virgin Mary and Jesus. The mosaics are from the 14th century and depict biblical scenes.

Kariye Mosque (Chora Church) Opening Hours

Kariye Mosque (aka Chora Church) opening hours are from 9 am to 5:00 pm. The Mosque will be open to visitors except for prayer hours. The visiting hours will be the same as the other mosques in Istanbul.

In Istanbul, mosques close one hour before prayer time and open half an hour later. For example, if the noon prayer is at 13:00, the mosque will be closed between 12:00 and 13:30. You can check the current praying hours for Istanbul mosques from this website.

Kariye Mosque (Chora Church) Entrance Fee

Kariye Mosque (aka Chora Church) entrance fee is no longer charged. Like other mosques in Istanbul, it can be visited free of charge.

10 best museums in Istanbul by Serhat Engul

8 Comments Add yours

  1. blank Michael Opare says:

    Hello, I like your blog very much, nicely presented and very informative. I will be visiting Istanbul next week and want to visit most of the places you described . Is the new restrictions and curfew in Turkey particularly in Istanbul affecting the openings of all the places you wrote about in this blog and to tourists who just need a few places to see.

    1. Hi Michael, thank you for your nice review about my blog. The situation is critical right now. It was decided to close cafes and restaurants. Museums affiliated to Istanbul Municipality are also closed. Among them is the Basilica Cistern. Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace are open to visitors for now. But if the spread of the virus increases further, there is a possibility of a full curfew.

      1. blank Michael Opare says:

        Hello Serhat. Thank you so much for your quick reply and information. It’s very much appreciated. I guess we will have to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the trip, since we are expected to arrive in Istanbul on 11/24. And be there for 6days. A few of the people are fine with the the take out option for the restaurant and not planning on going out much. Just to walk around and see the city. If places are still open will follow the Covid prevention rules and visit and return to their country after 6days.

        1. I think you will be able to see most of the things. The latest Covid restrictions have just been announced and I don’t think there will be any major changes anytime soon.

  2. blank Natalia says:

    Hi Serhat,

    Could you please advise what museums/palaces are open for visitors, planning to visit Istanbul 03/12/2020.

    You help much appreciated.

    1. Hi Natalia, majority of the museums are open to visitors. Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are open. Only Basilica Cistern is closed in the Sultanahmet area.

  3. blank Carlos Banchik says:

    Hi Mr. Serhat,

    I find your sight very informative. Thanks for doing this. We were planning to visit Istanbul with my wife between December 24 to January 1. Are museums open, and other cultural sites open during this time?

    Kind regards,

    1. Dear Carlos Banchik,

      Although I am a guide, I have not been going to museums for months. For this reason, I do not know about each museum. In addition, as museums are operated by three different authorities, the opening and closing situations are constantly changing.

      As far as I know, museums affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are open between 09:00 in the morning and 5:30 in the evening. So Topkapı Palace is open. However, those affiliated to the Municipality of Istanbul are closed and the most important of them is Basilica Cistern.

      Mosques such as Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are open. However, there is currently full curfew on the weekends. For this reason, everything about museums can change daily and it is very difficult to follow.

      Kind regards

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