Museum Pass Istanbul: what is it and what benefits it has
There are always a lot of tourists in Istanbul, so queue to main attractions and museums of city begin in the morning. How to save time and avoid waiting in line? To do this, you should use Museum Pass Istanbul, which will not only save you time, but also money and your nerves! Because sometimes it’s a real adventure to stay in a queue to buy tickets when the weather is hot or rainy.
As practice shows, using a Museum Pass is more profitable than buying tickets every time.
How Museum Pass works, what it includes and where it can be purchased, read our article.
Museum Pass Istanbul: What it is?
This is a card that is officially issued by Turkish Ministry of Culture for tourists. There are several types of cards. Which ones may you need?
Museum Pass Cappadocia will be needed for those who are going to visit not only Istanbul, but also in Cappadocia.
For those who are actively planning to travel around the country, there is a Museum Pass Turkey which includes most interesting Turkish museums (cost is 375 liras).
There are also Museum Pass The Mediterranean which makes it possible to visit more than 50 museums in such cities as Antalya (ancient cities: Syedra, Aspendos, Phaselis, Termessos and others), Mersin (fortresses, caves and museums), Adana (antique cities: Anavarza and Cilicia), Denizli (Laodikea and Pamukkale). Cost of card is 220 liras.
Museum Pass The Aegean (Aegean Sea) gives you opportunity to visit museums and historical sites in such regions as Izmir (for example, Ephesus, Pergamon, Agora), Aydin and Mugla (ancient theaters, archaeological museums, Kaunos, Stratonikea, Iasus, Heraclea and more), Denizli (Laodikea and Pamukkale). Cost of card is 220 liras.
Thus, you can save doubly by using cards both for Istanbul and for other regions, for example, for Cappadocia. Let’s take a closer look at how beneficial a card is.
Museum Pass Istanbul: Cost for 2020
For today (2020) cost of a card is 220 liras (or $38). Compared to tickets and cards in European tourist cities, this is a fairly modest price. The main thing is to understand why it is needed and what you can save with it.
Such card gives you possibility of free admission without queues to 12 historical complexes of Istanbul within 5 days since card purchase. In addition, card gives a small discount on a tour of Bosphorus, as well as discounts in souvenir shops and cafes at museums. For example, you wanted to drink coffee in a quiet cafe surrounded by green trees in Archaeological Museum. In a cafe, when you pay for a drink, they will ask you: Do you have a Museum Card? You show it, and they give you a small discount (on average, discounts range from 10% for a cafe).
Museum Pass Istanbul: Which museums are included?
Such card provides free admission without queues to the following historic complexes:
- Hagia Sophia Museum. Ticket price without a Museum Card is 72 liras.
- Topkapi Palace (including Harem). Ticket price to Topkapi Palace (72 liras) and Harem (42 liras) without a card will be 114 liras. Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
- Hagia Irene is one of the oldest churches in Istanbul. It is located on territory of Topkapi Palace: on the left if you came from the side of Hagia Sophia. Ticket price without a card is 36 liras.
- Archaeological Museum is also located in territory of Topkapi Palace. Ticket price without a Museum Card is 36 liras.
- Mosaic Museum is located next to the Arasta Bazaar behind Sultan Ahmed Mosque (a pointer in middle of market above). Ticket price is 24 liras.
- Galata Mevlevi Museum is a museum of dervishes. Galata Mevlevi is located near Istiklal (more details here). Ticket price is 14 liras.
- Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Ticket price is 42 liras.
- Museum of The History of Science & Technology in Islam. Ticket price is 14 lire.
- Rumeli fortress. It is located in Bebek District, from where magnificent views are opened. Ticket price is 18 liras.
- Kariye Museum, or Chora. Museum is located in an atmospheric district called Balat. Ticket price without a card is 54 lire.
- Fethiye Mosque, or Pammakaristos Church. Museum is located in Balat, so it can be combined with a visit to Chora Church. Ticket price is 6 lire.
- Yıldız Palace is currently under restoration.
Please note that popular Basilica Cistern (20 liras), Galata Tower (32 liras) and Dolmabahce Palace (60 lire) are not included in Museum Card.
But there is always an alternative: if you have little time, and you don’t want to stand in line and pay for a separate ticket to Basilica cistern, an 8-minute walk from it is the recently restored free Theodosius Cistern, which is 100 years older than Basilica.
If you don’t really want to climb the Galata Tower and enjoy the picturesque beauty from observation deck, you can walk along Istiklal Street, admire the tower and make a beautiful photo at the base of tower.
Museum Pass Istanbul: Where is it sold?
There are several ways to buy a card:
- At the box office of museums to which it applies. It is worth considering that in spring and summer (even in the morning) it is quite difficult to buy a card: due to long lines or the fact that a card is not available. It is better to come for a card in the evening (at the closing of a particular attraction) or to purchase in the least popular museums, where there are no crowds of tourists.
- In special machines selling cards: these are found in Sultanahmet near major historical sites (for example, near Hagia Sophia).
- You can purchase a card online. This method of purchase is especially relevant in the tourist season, since you will not need to spend time buying card itself. Sale is carried out by an official distributor.
These are the most convenient and fastest ways to buy. Do not purchase a card from unknown persons. Museum Card may be sold only by objects of Turkish Ministry of Culture or official distributors. Currently, such a distributor is ISTANBUL WELCOME CARD, which is officially registered in Turkey.
Museum Pass Istanbul: What is the benefit of it?
Let’s take a closer look at what you can save with a card.
For those who have a limited stay in Istanbul for 2-3 days, reducing waiting time in queue for buying tickets is a big plus. Usually in winter there are no such lines, but in spring and summer the crowds to Topkapi Palace or Hagia Sophia can be seen right from the Hippodrome Square.
That is, firstly, you will save your time, which can be spent on visiting another museum or on a snack in a cafe. And also nerves: in hot summer weather, standing in a long line is not the most pleasant activity. Thanks to the card you can avoid unnecessary stress and use travel time to the maximum.
Let’s calculate how much you can save on tickets to museums.
On the first tourist day you can visit: Hagia Sophia, Topkapy Palace, Garem, Turkish and Islamyc Arts Museum. Total amount of visits to museums without a card will be 228 lire (72 + 114 + 42). Moreover, cost of the card is 220 lire.
Second day: Archaeologycal Museum, Hagia Irene, Mosayc Museum, Rumely fortress or Chora Church. Total amount without a card will be 114 or 150 liras (36 + 36 +24 + 18 or 36 + 36 + 24 + 54 (if instead of Rumeli fortress you go to the Chora Church)).
Thus, purchase of a card will pay off on first day of the walk, while we also save our nerves and the time that you spend standing in lines.
Therefore, I recommend especially paying attention to the Museum Pass to those who are going to Istanbul for a short time or are set to real savings. As we have seen, it really pays off, especially during the tourist season.