Istanbul Museum Pass is a useful card for those who want to visit many museums in Istanbul. The most important feature of the card is that it saves you from waiting in line at museum entrances.
In this article you can find a list and map of places where you can get Museum Pass Istanbul. In addition, after the insider tips I will give you in the article, you will be able to decide whether the museum card is worth its price.
Istanbul Museum Pass 2021
In the following lines, I answered the most frequently asked questions about Istanbul Museum Pass in 2021 under 14 headings. As I am a tourist guide, I know well what foreign tourists visiting Istanbul are curious about. If you cannot find what you are looking for in the article, you can write in the comments. I reply to comments within a reasonable timeframe.
1. Istanbul Museum Pass Worth It?
If you are going to visit Istanbul museums in detail, Istanbul Museum Pass is definitely worth the money. However, do not forget that you should visit at least 3 or 4 museums with all sections. Especially Topkapi Palace has three separate sections and Museum Pass is valid in all of them. Even in this museum alone, you will get most of your money back.
In my opinion, Museum Pass Istanbul is worth buying just to avoid waiting in line at ticket offices. Because waiting for a long time at museum entrances can ruin your day. For this reason, the museum card can be bought even for fast track advantage.
2. Istanbul Museum Pass Price 2021
The price of Istanbul Museum Pass is 325 Turkish Liras as of 2021. This price was set in 2020 and has not changed yet. Since the Turkish Lira has lost value against the Euro and USD in recent years, the price of the Museum Card is quite reasonable for foreign visitors.
Free Admission for Children Under 8 Years Old
The museums affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Istanbul are free for children under the age of 8. However you still need to get to ticket office to obtain free entry ticket. Passport copy is required as a proof of the children’s age. If you do not want to get stuck in the long lines in each museum, you may want to buy the pass for kids too.
There is also an easy way I can suggest you about this. However, I cannot guarantee it will work 100%. If the child’s age is obviously smaller than age of 8, the attendants let him/her pass with you from the museum entrances. Although this depends on the decision of the authority on the turnstile, it usually works in crowded museums such as Topkapi Palace.
3. How to Use the Museum Pass?
Once the card is activated, you can use the Museum Pass Istanbul for 5 days, or 120 hours. The museum card is valid in all Istanbul museums that I have listed below. The museum card is a plastic tool just like a credit card and it’s very easy to carry. You can activate it in turnstiles at museum entrances.
4. What’s Included in Istanbul Museum Pass?
You can find the list of museums included in the Istanbul Museum Pass below. You can find much more detailed information about each of these museums by clicking the blue links.
Don’t be surprised when you don’t see Hagia Sophia in the list below. Because Hagia Sophia has been turned into a mosque since 2020 and there is no entrance fee. Thus, there is no need to use a card at the entrance.
- Topkapi Palace Museum (including Hagia Irene Church and Harem)
- Istanbul Archaeological Museum (Inside Topkapi Palace Complex)
- Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Near Hippodrome)
- History of Islamic Science and Technology Museum (within Gulhane Park)
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum (Byzantine Palace Mosaics – Near Blue Mosque)
- Kariye Mosque (Chora Church) (Best Byzantine Mosaics – in Edirnekapi)
- Rumeli Hisarı Fortress (Citadel at the Bosphorus)
- Yildiz Palace (One of the Ottoman palaces in a park – in Besiktas)
- Galata Mevlevi House Museum (Whirling Dervishes Museum – in Galata)
- Istanbul Fethiye Museum (Former Pammakaristos Church – in Balat)
5. Museum Card vs Entrance Fees
Here I will describe how you will compensate the money you pay for the Istanbul Museum Pass in a day or two. The Museum Card gives you an advantage when compared to Istanbul museum entrance fees.
For example, Topkapi Palace is a complex consisting of three sections. A separate fee is charged for each section. The entry fee for the main section of the palace is 100 Turkish Liras, the Harem is 70 TL and the Hagia Irene Church is 60 TL. When you visit these sections, most of the money you give to the museum card will be covered.
You have covered 230 TL of 325 liras so far. If you would add Istanbul Archaeology Museums (50 TL) and Turkish Islamic Art Museum (50 TL) to your itinerary that would cover the price of the museum pass. Total cost of these three museums will be 330 Turkish Lira which is more expensive than the museum card itself.
6. Additional Discounts for the Card
Istanbul Museum Card provides you additional discounts at other museums and attractions. You can find these museums in the list below. I recommend you to check the latest offers from the museums’ official websites.
- Museum of Innocence (Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s museum)
- Istanbul Military Museum (Located in Besiktas area by Bosphorus)
- Pera Museum (Located next to Istiklal Street At Beyoglu)
- Rahmi Koc Museum (Located in Golden Horn shores)
- Sakip Sabanci Museum (Located at the Bosphorus at Emirgan)
- Sadberk Hanim Museum (Located further up the Bosphorus at Sariyer)
7. Be aware of the Security Queues!
The museum card saves you from waiting in line to buy tickets. However, this does not mean that you will enter the museum without waiting. In most museums, there is a security queue after passing the ticket offices. You leave your bag on the x ray machine before you scan your ticket and pass through the turnstiles. Security checks take time due to crowds during the tourist season, and even if you own a museum pass, you may have to wait here.
The photo above was taken when Hagia Sophia was still a museum. The long queue in front was to buy tickets. You could skip this queue with the museum card. However, the crowd after passing the gate was due to the security check. For this reason, I recommend you to take into account the loss of time when making sightseeing plans.
8. Fast Track Guided Tour Tickets
There are fast track guided tours for the most important tourist attractions you can visit in Istanbul. Skip-the-line guided tour tickets are slightly more expensive than standard entry fees but it provides easy access to the museum. With the reference number given to you, you will meet the guide at the entrance and enter with the group. You can buy these tickets by clicking the links below.
- Hagia Sophia skip-the-line ticket
- Topkapi Palace skip-the-line ticket
- Basilica Cistern skip-the-line ticket
- Dolmabahce Palace skip-the-line ticket
9. Plan Your Museum Visits in Istanbul
In order to plan your museum visits in Istanbul, you need to take into account the days the museums are closed. Istanbul museums are closed one day a week. In the list below I have noted the days when the most important attractions are closed.
- Hagia Sophia Mosque: Open Everyday
- Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum: Monday
- Grand Palace Mosaic Museum: Monday
- Topkapi Palace: Tuesday
- Kariye Museum (Chora Church): Wednesday
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum: Wednesday
- Fethiye Museum: Wednesday
10. The Pass is not Valid in These Places
Unfortunately, Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid in some of Istanbul’s popular museums. Because those museums are operated by different government institutions. The Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and Galata Tower are among the museums where the museum card is not valid.
11. Where to Purchase the Museum Pass?
You can purchase the Istanbul Museum Pass from the museums listed below. You don’t need a passport when buying a card. However, do not forget to carry the passport copies of your little children with free entrance to the museums. Children under 8 years old can enter the museums free of charge. However, you will be asked to prove the kid’s age with the passport.
- Topkapi Palace Museum
- Kariye Museum
- Istanbul Mosaic Museum
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums
12. Istanbul Tourist Pass as an Alternative
You may also consider Istanbul Tourist Pass as an alternative product. The Tourist Pass Card has 3, 5 and 7 day options. It provides airport transfer, Bosphorus cruise, hop-on/hop-off Bus tickets and guided museum visits. You can check the details from this link.
13. Istanbul Museum Pass Online
The Istanbul Museum Pass can be purchased online from the official website. If you want to buy the museum card online, you can access the official website from this link.
14. Istanbul Museum Pass Map
You can see the map showing the locations of the museums you can visit when you get the Museum Pass. I did not load it in full screen to avoid slowing down the page opening speed. In order to find the Istanbul Museum Pass map as a PDF file, you can check Istanbul Tourist Attractions Map blog post. In this article I recommend, you can find images and explanations about all the tourist places in Istanbul.
Istanbul Museum Pass Card 2021 by Serhat Engul