Museum Pass Istanbul: the pros and cons of the museum card of Istanbul

Museum Pass Istanbul – a single pass, decorated in a plastic card, providing free access to the most famous sights of Istanbul. First of all, it will be useful to travelers who plan to visit several iconic places at once during their stay in the metropolis. If the main purpose of the trip is shopping or a gastronomic tour, then Museum Pass Istanbul is hardly needed.

It looks like Museum Pass Istanbul

The main advantage of such a card is a significant cost savings: after all, tourist plastic opens the doors to most Istanbul museum complexes. In addition, if you have a card, you do not have to stand in long lines, which are often formed at the ticket offices of the most famous attractions. The pass also involves additional bonuses in the form of discounts in souvenir shops, cafeterias and some stores. With the card, access to private museum objects at a reduced cost becomes available. Although Pass Istanbul is good in many ways, plastic has a significant drawback: its effect does not apply to several significant monuments of Istanbul, in particular the Dolmabahçe Palace and the Basilica Cistern.

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Dolmabahce Palace

From October 1, 2018, the Turkish authorities increased entry prices at some museum institutions in the country by 50%. Of course, this also affected the price tag for the pass. And if even 3 months earlier it cost only 125 TL, then in 2019 the cost of the Istanbul museum card is 185 TL. Museum Pass is valid for 5 days. If you travel with children under 12 years old, then you should know that you don’t need to buy such a card: after all, admission to most institutions for this category of people is free.

Related entries:

What is included in the card

Pass Istanbul includes a fairly extensive list of museum complexes and attractions. In the table below we give a complete list of objects that you can visit for free with a museum map. And in the right column you will find the current price of entrance tickets for 2019.

Table with objects that you can visit for free
Saint Sophie Cathedral
Ayia Sofya

The total amount of entrance tickets at the above institutions without a museum card is 380 TL. Visiting all these plastic attractions can save you up to 195 TL. Let’s say that you included in your excursion plan only the most popular objects of Istanbul: Ayia Sofyu, Topkapi Palace and the Archaeological Museum. The total cost of visiting these places (185 TL) already pays for the card. In this case, you do not have to stand in lines.

Restaurant Elite World Istanbul
Elite world istanbul

In addition, various types of discounts are offered to cardholders. For example, with it you will receive a discount on entrance fees to the Maiden Tower (25%), as well as on a boat trip along the Bosphorus Strait (25%). With the availability of the Museum Card Istanbul, private museums in Istanbul reduce entry costs by 20% – 40%. The Elite World Hotels chain of hotels offers a 15% discount in all its restaurants, and the Secure Drive transfer company makes a 30% discount on any trip. A detailed list of card bonuses is available at

How it works

Museum Pass must be presented in front of the museum
Archaeological Museum

Using the museum map of Istanbul is quite simple. Almost all cultural objects of the metropolis have turnstiles with an electronic access system, to which visitors must apply their pass. If there is no such equipment at the entrance, then you need to go to the front doors, where you will be met by an employee of the institution with a portable reader.

It is important to note that the Museum Pass is activated not from the moment of purchase, but after visiting the first attraction. If you planned to buy plastic for two and use it several times, then we hasten to disappoint you. With a card, you can visit the above facilities for free only once. Exactly 5 days after activation, its action ceases.

Where and how can I buy a card

If you are interested in the pass, and you would like to know where to buy a museum card in Istanbul, then you should carefully read this item. There are only 4 ways to purchase Museum Pass Istanbul. The most common of these is buying a card directly at the box office at the attractions themselves. Above, we have already given a list of museum complexes with a pass. Actually there, at the box office, and you can buy a museum card (with the exception of the palace Yildiz).

The card can be bought at the box office attractions

It is most reasonable to buy a pass from the less popular sites in Istanbul, for example, not at the ticket offices of Aya Sofya, where tourists are always lined up, but at the entrance to the Archaeological Museum. You can get a museum card in many hotels of the city at the reception. A complete list of hotels selling plastic is available at

Minibus for sale at Museum Pass Istanbul

Often, the main attractions of Istanbul appear branded minibuses with the inscription Museum Pass Istanbul. Most often they can be seen at the Hagia Sophia. They are also considered official sellers of museum cards.

Ordering a card through the site

Perhaps the fastest and most convenient way to buy a pass is to order a card online on the Museum Pass Istanbul main website. In this case, you will need to go to the portal, select the type of card you need, enter personal information indicating the address of the hotel in Istanbul where you stayed. Payment is made by credit card, after which plastic is delivered to the specified hotel address.

Find out RATES or book any accommodation using this form

Conclusion – is it worth buying

So, does it make sense to buy a Museum Pass in Istanbul? The answer to this question primarily depends on the main goals of your trip and its duration. If you plan to stay in the city for only 1-2 days, then you just physically will not have time to visit all the facilities available on the map: only one walk in Topkapi can take half a day. Therefore, it’s more logical to purchase Pass Istanbul when you take at least 4-5 days to take a city tour.

Sultanahmet Square

In addition, it is important to identify the main goals of your Istanbul tour. If you just have to walk around Sultanahmet Square and see the sights from the outside, then it makes no sense to buy a pass. The need for a map also disappears when, first of all, you want to visit the Dolmabahce Palace or the Basilica Cistern. Museum Pass Istanbul will be useful only to those travelers who are not indifferent to museums and plan to visit at least 3 popular objects from the list – Topkapi Palace, Archaeological Museum and Ayia Sofya.

Leave a Comment