What Is the Istanbul Museum Pass, and Should I Get One?

Picture of the Museum Pass Istanbul, a card providing easy access to famous sightseeing spots.

by Erlend Geerts

in Practical Information, Sightseeing

Is the Museum Pass Istanbul something I should apply for? I get this question a lot from people planning to visit the Turkish metropolitan. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question.

It all depends on what you plan to visit and/or whether you mind standing (for a long time) in a queue or not. So let me explain what the Istanbul Museum Pass is, what you can (not) do with it, whether it’s right for you, and how you can get one.

What Is the Istanbul Museum Pass?

The Museum Pass is a one-time payment card that provides you access to 9 historical museums and cultural points of interest in Istanbul. It is valid for 72 hours, starting from the moment you first use it (not the moment you bought it).

Is the MüzeKart the same as the Museum Pass?

No. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry introduced the MüzeKart in 2008. It was, and still is, a huge success among Turkish citizens. It also drew the attention of tourists, but they were (and are) not allowed to buy one. This outcry resulted in the creation of a separate card, the Museum Pass Istanbul.

The MüzeKart is valid for 300+ museums nationwide. Only Turkish nationals and foreigners with a residence permit can obtain it.

The Museum Pass Istanbul is for tourists visiting the metropolitan, hence providing access to a limited amount of venues.

So, as a tourist, the Museum Pass is the one and only card you can apply for!

What Sightseeing Spots Can You Visit with the Museum Pass?

Currently, the card includes free access to the following areas of interest:

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapi Palace (the Harem with the palace is not included)
  • Chora Church or Mosaic Museum
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums
  • Galata Mevlevi House Museum
  • Istanbul Mosaic Museum
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • Yıldız Palace Museum
  • Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam

The card also includes discounts ranging from 10 to 20% in various sightseeing spots as well as shops across Istanbul. The list is too long to include here, but let me highlight a few that may interest you:

You can find the full list and the amount of discounts here.

What Are the Advantages of the Museum Pass?

The most important advantage is the ease of use. You no longer need to stand in line to buy your tickets and/or queue to get in.

Also, if you plan to visit all of the above mentioned places, you spend a lot less money.

How Much Does the Istanbul Museum Pass Cost?

The Museum Pass costs 85 TL per person. There is also a 2,5 TL fee for administration and shipping, regardless of the amount of cards you order for your family or party. Every card has the applicant’s name on it, and you may be asked to provide identification when entering.

Children under the age of 12 years enter for free in the included venues, so no need to buy a card for them.

How Can I Get a Museum Pass?

As a Witt Istanbul Hotel resident, you can order it on-line prior to your visit and have the card(s) delivered to the hotel, waiting for you and ready to use upon your arrival.

Click on this link to buy the Museum Pass Istanbul, and follow the on-screen instructions

  1. Select the amount of cards you want
  2. Make sure to provide the correct personal information as well as credit card details
  3. IMPORTANT! In the address part, make sure to enter Witt Istanbul Hotel’s address:

    Witt Istanbul Hotel
    Defterdar Yokusu No:26, Cihangir
    34433 Beyoglu, Istanbul

In case you don’t stay in our hotel, no need to despair, you can still buy the card in the following places:

  • Topkapi Palace Museum
  • Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Chora Museum
  • Istanbul Mosaic Museum
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Is It Worth Getting a Museum Card?

That’s a good question.

  • Mathematical* — A typical Istanbul city trip includes a visit to Topkapi Palace (25 TL) and its Harem (10 TL, not included), Hagia Sophia (25 TL), Basilica Cistern (10 TL), Blue Mosque(free), Dolmabahçe Palace (not included, 15 TL minimum) , Galata Tower (13 TL), Bosphorus Cruise (10-25 TL), Spice Bazaar (free), and Grand Bazaar (free, unless you go on a shopping spree).
    If we then look which of the above venues are included in the Museum Pass, then this leaves us with Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, 50 TL worth out of a 85 TL investment.
    So, you’re short of your investment, unless you include a visit to the Galata Mevlevi House, Archaeological Museums and the Kariye Museum (which I think are too valuable to skip). And if you have kids, don’t forget the discounts at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum and the Istanbul Aquarium.
  • Ease of Use — Mathematically you may get close to your investment, or be 25 TL short, depending on your priorities. But how much is waiting in line for a few hours worth to you?
    Indeed, even if you don’t break even, just walking into your sightseeing spot of your choice at any time of the day, without queuing, is just priceless to me. Trust me, been there, done that, not doing it again … in the blistering sun.

*The prices mentioned above are from October 28, 2013.

What's Next

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

sayed November 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Galata Mevlevi House includes the whirling show ?!!!……does this card provide any discount ?

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 4, 2013 at 10:23 am

Hi Sayed,

The Museum Pass provides access to the museum, but does not include a whirling dervishes performance.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Azzam November 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Leaving this Friday from the UK and returning on Sunday. Really only have the Saturday. So if you had just one day, where would you go? and in which order.

I will definately by the passes since saving on the queues will be a must for us

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Hi Azzam,

This really depends on personal preferences, but I would try to squeeze in Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Yerebatan, Grand Bazaar and Süleymaniye Mosque.

Have fun,
Erlend

Reply

Sal December 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Hi,

Wonderful site you gots here. Wondering whether the lines to the main tourist destinations would be in third week of December. Would it still be long lines?
Thanks for your views.
Sal

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Hi Sal,

There may be a line, but not the summer craze. I guess it would be less than 30 min, if any.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Anthony December 27, 2013 at 4:03 am

Hi,

I’ll be visiting Istanbul for 7 days during the second week of May. Could you give me an idea of what the lines will be like this time of year. With only 7 days during the mid-spring season I’d hate to lose precious hours waiting in line. Anything over 30 minutes and I’ll most certainly buy a pass.

Thanks.

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 2, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hi Anthony,

It’s hard to predict these kind of things, but May is high season, so I think you better buy the Istanbul card to be on the safe side.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Pat Yale January 11, 2014 at 11:58 pm

If only the authorities weren’t so mean with the 72-hour limitation. If the card was valid for the standard two weeks people usually stay in Turkey they could visit some of the sites at the start of their trip and others at their end. Otherwise except in terms of avoiding the need to stand in line for tickets (which you can avoid anyway by buying them online in advance) I’m sure almost everyone ends up paying more than they would have done had they bought the tickets individually.

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 15, 2014 at 9:54 am

Very true pat.

Reply

AA January 21, 2014 at 1:06 am

Hi,

Just wanted to say thanks for taking so much time out to help travellers with your posts and info on this site, its much appreciated :)

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Thanks a lot AA, it means a lot.

Reply

Nishant Jha February 2, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Once again big thanks for this post! I am a museum freak so would efinitely be buying this pass for me and my wife.

Just wanted to check would all these museums listed in the Pass allow a 6-months young infant to enter on a pram/stroller?

Thanks in Advance.

Regards,
Nishant

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Hi Nishant,

Yes, they should allow this. You’ll notice that Turks are very child-friendly — they will smile, caress and even want to hold it when they can.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

dodo February 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

can i use credit card to pay for the museum pass?

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm

When ordering online, only a credit card will work.

Reply

MM February 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Hi,
Great site, so much information. Just a quick question on admission prices, I have a Turkish Resident permit I know I can get a Muzekart but do you know if I can get the cheaper rate when just paying at individual sites, or do I still pay the yabanci rate?

Thanks, and keep up the good work.
MM

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Hi,

Unless you have a Turkish identity card, you will pay the tourist rate or Museum Pass rate. A residence permit will not give you a discount.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Matt March 4, 2014 at 10:22 pm

The website (http://www.muze.gov.tr/museum_pass) seems to imply that the Harem apartments are now included.
Museum Pass Points
Chora Museum, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum and *Harem Apartments, İstanbul Archaeological Museums, İstanbul Mosaic Museum, **Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts, Galata Mevlevi House Museum, Yıldız Palace Museum, Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam.

If so, that’s another 15TL of value or 65TL total from Hagia Sophia + Topkaki Palace + Harem. Do you know if this is correct? If it is we will probably purchase for our upcoming trip because we also want to visit the Science and Technology museum and possibly the others on the list.

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Hi Matt,

You’re right, it looks like it’s included now. Thanks got bringing that up.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Matt March 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm

That is great news. I think we will purchase the cards when we arrive in Istanbul next week. Your site has great information and has been very helpful in planning our trip.

Reply

Anna March 16, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Erlend,

First of all, your website is really useful and well organised. I read on the internet that some sections of Chora Museum are at the time closed due to restorations. Do you have more specific information regarding the restoration? Would it be possible to go and admire the frescoes?

Thank you!

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 17, 2014 at 10:27 am

Hi Anna,

To my knowledge, the museum is open as usual.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Sam March 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Very helpful indeed, may God bless u

Reply

Iris Pavlov April 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm

We got the Museum Pass with only 48 hours left on our stay. It was completely worth it. We visited 75 TL worth of museums, happily skipping the ticket lines. We saved 5 TL on our two hour Bosphorus cruise with Sahir Hatlari. We realized later you also get discounts at the museum cafes. So with even a short visit it is a great deal.

Reply

Sofia Poe April 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm

The Museum Card has just changed. They have reduced the accesses for the 3 day card and have introduced a 115 TL card for 5 days which you have to get for the Church of Chora.

Reply

Erlend Geerts April 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Hi Sofia,

You’re right. I’ll update the page as soon as I can.

Thanks for informing me.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

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