When I looked for a budget-friendly option to visit all the big sights of Istanbul, I found the Istanbul Museum Pass. I’ll explain here what the Museum Pass of Istanbul is and if the Istanbul Pass is worth your money.
Of course, you can wander around Istanbul from east to west and explore this magnificent bustling city of Turkey for days on end, without setting foot inside a museum or monument.
Yes, you can do that.
But for a history buff like me, there are certain must-see attractions in Istanbul. Like the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace for example. But famous monuments and sights usually come with a hefty price tag too.
Read more: Best hotel in Istanbul
My original post was made in 2017 with the prices of that time. In the meantime, prices have gone up and the exchange rate changed. This post is updated in April 2022 to reflect the new prices.
What is the Istanbul Museum Pass?
The Istanbul Muzecard (from Müze, Turkish for “museum”) is a bank card like a pass that gives access to a number of museums in Istanbul and the top famous attractions of the city.
At the entrance, you just show your card, it gets scanned and you can enter the sight.
What can you do with the Museum Pass in Istanbul?
The museum pass gives you free entrance to the following list of 12 museums and monuments:
- Hagia Sophia Museum
- Topkapı Palace Museum and Harem Apartments (optional- inside Topkapi Palace)
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums
- Istanbul Mosaic Museum
- Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts
- Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam
- Galata Tower Museum
- Galata Mevlevi House Museum
- Rumeli Fortress Museum
- Fethiye Museum
- Haga Irene Museum
**Click the links to learn more about the museums and to see if this is of interest to you.
Now, I am a history buff and I do like to visit museums but Istanbul has so much to offer, it is almost impossible to visit all of these in 1 visit.
Luckily, the pass is valid for 5 days. So you have 5 days to visit the museums you like. You can only visit each museum once per Istanbul Museum Pass.
But as you can see, the Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace are at the top of the list. In my opinion, these two are definitely worth visiting when you only have a little time and are not so keen on museums.
Mainly because the Hagia Sophia is more an old mosque and sight to roam around at and the Topkapi is a palace (and who doesn’t like palaces?)
Read more: Dolmabatçe or Topkapi Palace in Istanbul
How much does the Museum Pass cost?
The Istanbul Museum Pass will cost you 360 Turkish Lira. At the moment, that comes in at €23,10 or $24 or GBP 19,41.
For the 360 TL, you get 5 days to visit all the above-mentioned museums and sites.
Where can you buy the Istanbul Museum Card?
You can buy the card online, here, but currently, they don’t ship the card.
Another option is to purchase it online in advance, and include full audio guides for all museums with this option.
But you can also purchase your Museum Card in Istanbul on site. I bought my Istanbul Museum Pass at the first site I visited, the Hagia Sophia Museum.
You can pay at the cashier with all major credit cards and with actual cash money if you’d like. Once you have the card, you can skip the lines and just swipe your museum pass to get in.
At another major tourist attraction of Istanbul (if not THE tourist attraction of Istanbul), the Topkapi Palace, there are vending machines to purchase your Istanbul Museum Pass.
No waiting in line to buy tickets or buy the card, just purchase one from the many machines on site. I found this an absolute plus.
Just keep the museum pass in your purse or backpack and off you go!
So… is the Istanbul Museum Pass worth it?
In my book: YES!
360 TL is quite steep, but with the current exchange rate, it’s not that bad.
You can have more than a luxurious meal with starters, main course, dessert, and wine for that in Istanbul. You can buy all the lokum in the world for that for your whole family and you can easily spend that money on something else at the bazaar.
But then again, 23€ or 24 USD is just a little more expensive than the entry price for a zoo or major museum in, for example, Florence or Rome.
And with the Istanbul Museum Pass, you get entry to over 10 museums (and a whole bunch of other discounts) for free.
But let’s look at the numbers. Below is a list of the major attractions with their single entry fee:
- Hagia Sophia Museum: free, as it is a mosque now again.
- Topkapı Palace Museum: 200 TL
- Harem Apartments (optional- inside Topkapi Palace): 100 TL
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums: 60TL
- Istanbul Mosaic Museu: 35 TL
- Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts: 60 TL
- Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam: 25 TL
- Galata Tower Museum: 100 TL
- Galata Mevlevi House Museum: 25 TL
- Rumeli Fortress Museum:30 TL
- Fethiye Museum: 10TL
- Haga Irene Museum: 80 TL
So let me add that up for you quickly. That is TL 725 worth in museum visits. But that is when you visit all of them. And although I like museums, I didn’t even do that.
Most famous sights and the Istanbul Museum Pass
As you can see, a visit to the Topkapi Palace + Harem of the Topkapi Palace is already 300 TL. Add in another museum, like for example the Galata Tower Museum of 100 TL and you’re already in the clear with your Istanbul Museum Pass!
Added bonus is that you can add some extra museums, check them out, and not feel like you’re breaking the bank.
Plus you can swipe your way through security and enjoy the famous attractions of Istanbul without having to wait in line and you can save a few Turkish Liras if you want to visit more museums!
With 5 days validity to the card, this is easily managed. But if you’re short on time, it might still be worth it, as the Istanbul Museum Pass allows for you to skip the lines and walk straight through security.
At the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, this might save you over an hour each, so do consider this.
Probe around the Globe Suggestion
If you like museums, but also enjoy a little bit more guidance, opt to purchase the Istanbul Museum Pass with audio guide to all museums included! Skip the lines, save money on entrance fees and have an audio guide in your pocket with this option.
Read more things to do in Istanbul on a 1-week itinerary here.
If I would have had more time or when I will go back, I definitely would like to explore more of the other museums too as they seem very interesting to me.
Read more: Modern Orient Express – Train to Istanbul
Looking for more than just museums in Istanbul?
Have you been to Istanbul? Did you visit any of these museums?
Did you use the Istanbul museum pass or not? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.
Valuable Info 🙂
Shall be buying the card.
Hi, what about basilica cistern? is it included? have you visited? worth it? prices?
Hi Chris, I’ve written in the post what is and isn’t included in the Istanbul Museum Pass. The Basilica Cistern is not included. I have visited and I found it really unique but it becomes quite an Instagram-circus so best to visit early morning’s when everyone else is not up yet.
Hi, isn’t the Blue Mosque included in this?
No because you can enter the Blue Mosque free of charge so it doesn’t need to be included. Have fun.
Thank you for your prompt response Naomi. I shall trouble you with more queries as this would be my first time to Turkey 🙂
Do you have to take a guided tour at the scheduled times or can you enter when you arrive? I want the pass to skip the lines.
There is no guided tour included Laura. You can perfectly explore on your own and don’t need a guide. Have fun!
Hi – I got in touch with the helpline to check how the e-ticket is used. They mentioned that a printout with the QR code would work, but now I’m wondering if that’s right, especially if there are vending machines giving out an actual card?
If you asked them directly, I would trust their word Mahvesh. When I visited, the card was swiped by an electronic device, so a print out with QR code seems very plausible. Have a great time exploring Istanbul.
I was just wondering if you can purchase the card at the airport?
Hi Kristen. To my knowledge, the card can only be ordered online and shipped to an address in Turkey or purchased at one of the museums. There are vending machines next to the Topkapi Palace. The card doesn’t include transport so that is why it is not sold at the airport (I think). Have a great trip!