Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To’s? Fares & Insider Tips)

Last Updated on September 26, 2020

The Istanbul Welcome Card is one of the three common city passes in Istanbul, together with with Istanbul Tourist Pass and Istanbul Museum Pass. We tested them all and here we’ll give you information and advice about the Istanbul Welcome Card, including should you buy it, what you ‘ll get, what are the advantages and disadvantages, the purchase process, how you’ll use it and how much you’ll save when comparing with other tourist passes.


Let us give you some useful info first, about what is this Istanbul Welcome Card and compare it with other passes. And than describe you how to use the card.

Insider Advice: If you ask our advice about which card you should buy in between the three Istanbul passes that we mention above, we highly recommend you buy Istanbul Welcome Deluxe.

What is Istanbul Welcome Card?

Istanbul Welcome Card is a travel discount card provided and offers combo attractions for less for individual, family or groups. And you will get valuable discounts of up to 50%. It is a very compact card.

What we’re telling you about here is a superb easy and convenient discount card. You can easily plan your Istanbul days in minutes including a base of:

  • Fast Track Entry to 9 Museums including Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Harem etc.
  • Choosing 3 tours by a Historian guide
  • Public Transportation rides (Istanbulkart)
  • Bosphorus Cruise with audio guide
  • Digital Guide Book and map
  • After your reservation you will get a personal discount code, and that will allow you book additional tours, attractions, experiences and transfers in Istanbul for 20% less than the regular price.

After you purchase the card, it will be delivered to your hotel (for FREE) and will be ready to use at upon arrival.


There are three types of Istanbul Welcome Card (Classic, Premium and Deluxe), and all are valid for 7 days.

1. Istanbul Welcome Card Classic

Includes

  • 90 min. Bosphorus Cruise & Audio Guide
  • 5 Rides with Public Transportation
  • Digital Guide Book and Map (City map of Istanbul, Must do things in Istanbul, Suggestions for Istanbul tours, Useful information)
  • Free Delivery to Hotel

Pricing & Validity

Valid for 7 days starting from your first activation. Price is € 25.

2. Istanbul Welcome Card Premium

Includes

  • Skip the Line Service and all Ticket & Entry Fees
  • Hagia Sophia 30 min. Highlights Tour & Audio Guide
  • Topkapi Palace 30 min. Highlights Tour & Audio Guide
  • Basilica Cistern 30 min. Highlights Tour
  • Unlimited stay inside each Museum
  • 90 min. Bosphorus Cruise & Audio Guide
  • 10 Rides with Public Transportation
  • Digital Guide Book and Map
  • Free Delivery to Hotel

Pricing & Validity

Valid for 7 days starting from your first activation. Price is € 55.

3. Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Includes

  • Fast Track Entry to 9 Museums (plus Basilica Cistern)
  • 60 min. Tour with Historian Guide at Hagia Sophia
  • 90 min. Tour with Historian Guide at Topkapi Palace & Harem
  • 30 min. Tour with Historian Guide at Basilica Cistern
  • 90 min. Bosphorus Cruise & Audio Guide
  • 20 Rides with Public Transportation
  • Digital Guide Book and City Map
  • Free Delivery to Hotel

Pricing & Validity

Valid for 7 days starting from your first activation. Price is € 85.

Which Card should I get?

It will depend on your wish and the duration of your Istanbul visit. We recommend you to buy;

  • Premium Card – if you stay for 3 days.
  • Deluxe Card – if you stay between 3-7 days or more into seeing great museums with historian guide.

You can save more with the Deluxe Card.

What I’ll Get with Premium Card?

Hagia Sophia Fast Track Entry: plus 30 minutes guided highlights tour with a licensed guide (plus Audio Guide App & Plan). Your name will be on the list for 7 days.


You can come at the available days and times, and meet the  Istanbul Welcome Card guide in front of the Hagia Sophia, between the entrance and exit.

Daily except Tuesdays at 09:30 and 10:30

Topkapi Palace Fast Track Entry: plus 30 minutes guided highlights tour with a licensed guide (plus Audio Guide App & Plan). Your name will be on the list for 7 days.

You can come at the available days and times, and meet the Istanbul Welcome Card guide at the Sultan Ahmet Fountain, in front of Topkapi Palace entrance.

Daily except Tuesdays at 11:30, 13:30 and 14:30

Basilica Cistern Fast Track Entry: plus 30 minutes guided highlights tour with a licensed guide. Your name will be on the list for 7 days. You can come at the available days and times, and meet the Istanbul Welcome Card guide at the entrance of Basilica Cistern.

Daily except Tuesdays at  15:30

Bosphorus Tour: a classic 90 minutes cruise, everyday at 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00, the Marine Officer will be waiting you at the Istanbul Welcome Card pier at the Eminonu Ferry Station.

Istanbulkart (Public Transport): %50 discount on all public transport in Istanbul, including a credit for 10 rides, which is fine enough for 3 days in Istanbul. Valid for Metro, Tram, Ferry, Funicular, Bus and Metrobus. When the credit is used, you can reload the card with new credit at the many vending machines at any station.

Digital guide book & city map: a nice travel tool for you with the must do things, walking tours, useful information and city map as a PDF file to your e-mail account

Audio Guide App in following 9 Languages: English, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish

20% discount on all other services: you can book additional tours, attractions, experiences and transfers in Istanbul for 20% less than the regular price. The airport transfer service has especially a relatively good price.

Free delivery to the hotel: great option that you won’t need to go for the pass office or stand.

What I’ll Get with Deluxe Card?

You’ll get above Premium Card offers, plus:

Fast Track Entry to 10 more Museums: In addition to Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, you’ll get skip the line access to Harem, Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum, Great Palace Mosaics Museum, Hagia Irene, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Rumeli Fortress, Museum of Science and Technology in Islam and plus the famous Basilica Cistern

3 Tours by a Historian guide: a great choice to experience and learn about the legendary Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Harem and the Basilica Cistern with one of the few Historian Guides in Istanbul.

Istanbulkart (Public Transport): You’ll get 10 more rides and total will be 20 rides.

How much will I save?

If you buy tickets at the ticket window on location individually, you’ll pay:

Hagia Sophia

Entrace is FREE. Guided tours are around €14

Topkapi Palace

Standard Ticket is 100 TL (about €12) at ticket window on location
Guided tours are around €18

Harem and Halberdiers with Tresses Dormitory Ticket is 42 TL (€4,5)

Bosphorus Tour

Cheapest option would cost 24 TL (about €2,8) from Eminonu ferry pier
Other online sites sell it for about €20-40.

Istanbulkart

Istanbulkart’s card only price is 6 TL (No credits). The cost of 1-ride public transportation is 3,50 TL. If you individually load 10 rides, it would coast you 35 TL, and total will make 41 TL (about €4,6)

* You can see the general admission tickets and opening hours of the popular Istanbul attractions from our Istanbul Attractions Opening Hours & Admissions page.

Is Istanbul Welcome Card Worth It?

If you’re looking for taking Istanbul’s couple of top attractions plus public card with as little stress as possible, than yes it will worth it.

A Few Reasons

* You’ll save time and money.

* The 20% discounts you’ll get on the additional attractions is the highest discount percentage available on the market.

Premium Card vs. Regular Prices

* If you individually buy the attractions on location, you’ll pay around 37

* When you buy Istanbul Welcome Premium, you’ll pay 55

* If you buy the Premium Card (€55) without taking advantage of the other discounts, the difference with the general admission prices at ticket window on location is around €15. And we didn’t count the 30 minutes guidance for Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace, plus FREE digital guide, map and delivery service.

* If we compare these with regular guided tours from any other average travel agents, than IWC Premium is a good option.

Deluxe Card vs. Regular Prices

* If you individually buy the attractions (just tickets) on location, you’ll pay around 75

* When you buy Istanbul Welcome Deluxe, you’ll pay 85

* The Deluxe Card will definitely save you a lot, as there will be 10 additional museums plus Basilica Cistern (not included in any other Museum pass), 3 tours by Historian guides, plus 10 more rides with Istanbulkart.

* Difference with the general admission prices at ticket window on location is around 10, very negligible and we highly recommend the Deluxe card. If we compare these with regular guided tours from any other average travel agents, than IWC Deluxe is by far the cheapest option. A great value for money

* But it didn’t end. If you decide to use the Istanbul Welcome Card services for just 1 or 2 more items like Basilica Cistern, Whirling Dervishes Show, Bosphorus Dinner Cruise or Airport Transfers using the 20% discount on their shop (you’ll read soon), it will start to really add you a great value of money.

* You will not wait in the long queues. It will be about 2 hours in high season, and nobody wants that. Also consider how much your time is worth? If your time is relatively worth like €20.00 an hour, you’re far way into savings.

* With the Istanbul Welcome Card, you’ll cover transportation and the most important highlights in Istanbul. And you can use your personal discount code to book all the additional tours, attractions, experiences and transfers online in advance, skip the lines, for 20% less than the official price and enjoy your visit hassle free.

* Also if you buy the card from our site, you’ll get extra 5% discount. (a good will discount for us, for our website visitors). And you’ll get even with the €10 difference on Deluxe Card.

How to buy Istanbul Welcome Card?

the Easiest and the Cheapest Way

I’ll quickly describe the process from booking the Istanbul Welcome Card to its first use.

* Istanbul Welcome Card has its own website. (istanbulwelcomecard.com)

* You can directly buy the card online from the website.

* But as we mentioned above, if you visit their website by our direct link below (click the image or the red buy now button under), you’ll see the prices with extra 5% discount, and on all products. This is a good will for us from the company, for our website visitors.

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)
Make sure you see the prices with %5 discount like above image when click from our website

Buy Online Now – 5% Discounted

 

Which Card We Recommend?

* From the three variants of the Istanbul Welcome Card, our recommendation is the Premium Card (if you’ll stay less than 3 days), or Deluxe Card (if you’ll stay more than 3 days).

* You’ll see the most visited Istanbul attractions as included in the map you’ll get, plus an Istanbul kart for public transport.

* The Deluxe Card also includes an Istanbul Museum Pass, and bonus Basilica Cistern fast track entry ticket with guide, and 10 additional public transport rides (total 20) than Premium Card.

continue the buying process online

* On the Istanbul Welcome Card website, you choose the card type, the number of cards, the booking date and the hotel to where the card is to be delivered.

Note: The card will be valid for 7 days from the date of the delivery and first activation. You can use Istanbulkart credits as long as you want.

* After you enter your details, you’ll see the order summary and pass to the payment options.

* You can make the payment via Visa, Mastercard, American Express or PayPal.

* And afterwards your card will be delivered to your hotel in a red envelope (including Airbnb stays), and you’ll able to use it.

* If you don’t want the card to be delivered to your hotel, you can also pick the card by yourself from the Istanbul Welcome Card offices located at Eminonu and Sultanahmet Square.

* Your Istanbul Welcome Card Envelope in Red will include: Fast Track Entry tickets with meeting point map, Istanbul fact sheet with key information, a map of Istanbul explaining how the Card it works, download links for the Audio Guide apps, and Istanbul city map. (see below)

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)

Buy Online Now – 5% Discounted

How to use Istanbul Welcome Card?

Now let us tell you how you’ll use the card. Hope you’re not bored with this long page.

* After you get your card, you’ll just need to go to the meeting points for the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace fast track entry and guided tour, plus Bosphorus Cruise. All are described with the tickets in the envelope.

* You’ll also see a marked plan on the map you get.

* No need to make any reservation. Your name will be on the list for 7 days and you can come visit the museums, and Bosphorus cruise at any available days and times, by meeting the Istanbul Welcome Card guide at the meeting points. So easy.

Hagia Sophia Fast Track Entry

* The meeting point is in front of Hagia Sophia, next to the main entrance with long queue. The English speaking local guides will be in red Polo and hold a sign with the inscription Istanbul Welcome Card. (see below)

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)
Hagia Sophia Meeting Point

* There will be free WiFi from the Istanbul Welcome Card to download the Audio Guide app.

* From there, guides will take you inside and you’ll get a brief 30 minutes orientation about the 1500 years old history of Hagia Sophia, and how to get to the different parts of the museum. You can read more about the museum on our Hagia Sophia Museum page.

* Daily except Tuesdays at 10:30

* Hagia Sophia is open every day of the week.

* And then, you can experience and enjoy the museum at your own pace, take pictures, etc. You can spent the whole day inside.

Topkapi Palace Fast Track Entry

* The meeting point is the 1st gate of Topkapi Palace. The English speaking local guides will be in red Polo and a red umbrella with the signs of the Istanbul Welcome Card.

* Some mix the meeting point for Topkapi Palace, they go to the 2nd gate of the palace where tickets are sold, but it is wrong. You should go to the main gate, in front of the big Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III. (see below)

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)
Topkapi Palace Metting Point

* From there you’ll into the palace and on the way the guide will make you a short tour and tell you about all the sights in the palace. You can read more about the palace/museum on our Topkapi Palace Museum page.

* Than, you can just enjoy the palace at your own pace, enjoy a long coffee break looking over a spectacular Bosphorus view, take pictures, etc. You can spent the whole day inside.

* Daily except Tuesdays at 11:30

* Topkapi Palace is open every day except Tuesdays.

Bosphorus Cruise & Audio Guide

* You can join the Bosphorus cruise everyday at 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00

* The departure point for the ferries is Eminonu Ferry Port, just across the Spice Bazaar and next to the Galata Bridge.

* You’ll see a separate stand and reception with the red label for the Istanbul Welcome Card at the Port, where The Marine Officer will meet you there. The meeting point is also explained on the ticket with a plan.

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)

* The Marine Officer will take you directly to the ferry (without waiting in the queue).

* There is free WiFi at the dock.

* Audio Guide App in following 9 Languages: English, German, Russian, Italien, Italien, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish

* You just sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the Bosphorus, with bridges, palaces, fortresses, seaside residences and many other historical places.

* You should sit on the top deck to get the best views. This Bosphorus Cruise will go for 90 minutes.

* You can use your Istanbulkart to get back to your hotel by public transport.

Basilica Cistern

* Basilica Cistern is included as a bonus with the Deluxe Card.

* The meeting point is the entrance of the Basilica Cistern. Situated about 100 meters from Hagia Sophia’s entrance. To the left when you face Hagia Sophia’s entrance.

* Again, the English speaking local guides will be there, and you can enjoy Basilica Cistern like the same way you’ll do with Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

* Daily except Tuesdays at 15:30

Choose Your Card & Enjoy Istanbul

Istanbul Welcome Card (Why Buy? How To's? Fares & Insider Tips)
Make sure you see the prices with %5 discount like above image when click from our website

Buy Online Now – 5% Discounted


Hit Us Up in the Comments Below

So have you bought your Istanbul Welcome Card, and And was it worth it? If you still have questions or doubts about Istanbul Welcome Card, just write us any questions below.

We are always here to answer any question in the comment section below, and know that no question is too ridiculous.

We also would be glad to read your Istanbul Welcome Card experience. So fire it up!

Happy travelling to Istanbul !!!


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12 COMMENTS

  1. I purchased Istanbul Welcome Card (Deluxe) a day prior my arrival to Istanbul. They delivered the card to the hotel I booked in. It was fast transaction. My first tour was I’m Hagia Sophia. My tour guide is a lady. Her name is Ezge in Turkish or Melody in English. She was so fluent in English and very accommodating. The mosaic of Jesus and 2 emperor Justine and Constantine is so heart warming. I felt the holiness and the history just by looking at them. Further, the Holy Calligraphy of Allah Mohamed Ali Hassan and more are the biggest in the world. I went to Prince Island and spent my time riding a rented biked until 4:30 PM. Next day, I visited Topkapi Palace and my guide was the bearded guy. He taught us the history and time line of each architecture how once area differs from another because each courtyard or section of the palace has different function and was develop by different Sultans leaving their own footprint or legacy. It is worth a visit. It has a lot of similarity to the forbidden city of Imperial China. I then went on Bosphorus tour. The reception of istanbul welcome card ask me to download the app. He recommended to sit on the right seat for a better view. The boat is branded TURYOL. It is near the fish and bread boat market. Thank you Melody, bearded guy and Istanbul Welcome Card. I went on solo travel so next time I will bring my family and friends and buy the same. Your services are beyond expectations.

  2. It is worth every cent we had access to all the must see places and to all forms of public transportation. Our guides were lovely with all types of interesting and mystical stories especially Haluk Barlas who made Hagia Sophia more magical than it already is. I would recommend this to everyone visiting because the IWC team made us feel like we had friends there and were very helpful with everything we asked them.

  3. The Premium Welcome Card is a good choice for a short visit as well, we used in in 1 day. Short waiting, good guide and the boat trip is the best at the and of the day.

  4. Nous sommes très heureux d’avoir choisis cette carte pour la visite de Hagia Sophia, du palais de Topkapi et de la citerne basilique. Nos guides ont été très professionnels. Merci à Haluk, Eser et Ezgi!

  5. I did not add up if it was truly more economical to get this card. That said, I very much enjoyed the convenience this card offered me as a first time visitor to Istanbul. The guided tours were professional and fun. The no-wait-in-line option is a must. The transportation option is invaluable and easy to use, and add to. The museum pass is fantastic. I also used the shared transport both ways. It is easy, inexpensive and well organized. I find this card, especially for first time visitors, very helpful.

  6. The travel card and other tickets were waiting for us at our hotel and using the transport card around really helped us. The Hagia sofia guided tour was really very good. Our guide eugel was really a very knowledgeable guide and really one of the best ones. The skip the line tickets really helped save a lot of time. We also bought other attractions like whirling show ,basilla cistern, Dolmabahçe Palace using our discount code which really helped. We had to reschedule our Dolmabahçe Palace tour which was done very smoothly. The customer service is really the best and they responded to every problem faced. I would definitely recommend to all who want to visit Istanbul.

  7. You really get access to nearly all interesting places in Isanbul. But 1) I think you should somehow warn tourists about some places that are in card, but now are on reconstruction. 2) not all guides are great in excursions. Bur some are just wonderful! Thanks to Alid (Or Asid) for the best tour inTopkapi Palace!

  8. Our guide Haluk was excellent – with a great knowledge of history, a sense of humor and psychology of tourists. I will recommend him to friends who are going to Istanbul.

  9. We ordered the welcome card 2 days before flying to Istanbul – it was delivered “just in time” to our hotel. Our guide -Adil – was great: his english, his fundamental knowledge, the telling of “side” stories! In all a good chosen package to explore Istanbul!

  10. Wir waren überaus zufrieden mit den Leistungen, die in der Deluxe-Card angeboten sind, und haben sie häufig genutzt. Die Guides waren sehr freundlich und zuvorkommend und bestachen durch hervorragende Kenntnisse. Da nur wenige Deutsche vor Ort waren, fanden alle Führungen in englisch statt. Die Guides waren sehr gut zu verstehen. Es gibt nichts zu meckern, im Gegenteil. Die eingeschlossenen Eintrittsgelder, der Fastcheck-Einlass und die vielen Fahrten mit den öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln waren prima. Wir werden bei weiteren Besuchen, die Istanbulkarte erneut buchen. Danke für Alles.

  11. We purchased the Deluxe version of the Istanbul Welcome Card and couldn’t be more satisfied with it. Everything proceeded like clockwork. Emails contained clear instructions re. meeting place and what to expect, even photos showing the guides at the places where you were supposed to meet them. A package containing cards, instructions, maps etc. was waiting for us at the hotel, as promised. We didn’t think we were going to use the transportation cards, since we tend to walk everywhere, but they came in really handy for some of the really remote attractions. We even used the tram going out to dinner on a rainy evening. The historian guide, Adil, was very well informed, he answered all our unscripted questions in lots of detail. The other staff we interacted with was personable and willing to provide practical advice regarding means of transportation, what to visit off the beaten path and in what order. We even got a great suggestion for a baklava place :-) We would use this company’s services again without hesitation.

  12. My boyfriend and I visited Istanbul for 4 days. I have purchased deluxe Istanbul Welcome card and It was the best investment you could make when visiting Istanbul. We had 20 rides for 4 days ( each!) And 3 brilliant tours , and free entry to many museums. Tour guides were easy to find, very friendly and helpfull I want to thank to all of them. If visiting Istanbul , it is a MUST..in our opinions

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