Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2023 Insider Guide)

Istanbul can be considered as one of the best cities in the world by means of history, culture and art. Istanbul hosts more than 80 museums ranging from archaeological, history museums to modern and fine art museums, as well as themed museum.

Whether you’re looking for once a palace/church/mosque amazing museums, as well as the one related with history, classic artists, contemporary, fine and modern art, photography, or temporary and permanent exhibitions, you can find the most visited and important ones on our list below.

Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.

Istanbul Museum Pass with no Regrets

Free cancellation with a FULL REFUND up to 24 hours in advance

Insider Tips + Advice

* Majority of the Istanbul museums open six days a week

* Majority of them are closed on Mondays

* Some have later opening and closing times on the weekend and some of the most visited museums are closed one day (mostly in week-day) of the week.

No Regrets Booking Advice

* Some of the attractions may open later or close earlier during the winter season.

* Please check our Istanbul Attractions Opening Times & Admissions page to avoid yourself in front of a closed door, and quickly see the visiting hours and ticket prices list of the popular museums on one page.

* Also please check our Turkey’s National, Religious and Public holidays page as majority of the museums can be closed during these holidays, or on the first day of religious holidays.

* Skip the lines tickets are very important to avoid the long queues especially for the most visited museums like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace.

* If you are a museum addict and want to explore Istanbul’s all popular museums as much as you can, we recommend you buy the 5-Day Guided Museum Pass, Istanbul Welcome Card, Istanbul E-Pass, or Istanbul Museum Pass. You’ll save much and get fast track entry with these discount cards.

* We also put some fast track entry tickets online purchase links under the museums, and they are only the proven tours and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. You can feel free to buy them.

Top 15 Must Visit Istanbul Museums

1. Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque (formerly museum)

Location: Sultanahmet

We Highly Recommend These Fantastic Night-time Activities

Former church and museum, now a mosque, one of the world’s greatest architectural works and accepted as the 8th wonder of the world, experience the history in the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.

As it serves as a mosque now, entrance to Hagia Sophia is FREE of charge.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Hagia Sophia?

2. Topkapi Palace Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

One of world’s richest museums and greatest architectural works, the former residence of the Ottoman emperors, four courtyards, terraces with astonishing views, as well as precious collections, one of the top tourist attractions.

Wanna learn more about Topkapi Palace?

3. Basilica Cistern Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

One of the most impressive and mystical buildings in the city. The two Medusa Heads, which are used as supports under the two columns at the northwest edge of the cistern, take the most interest and attracts the visitors.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Basilica Cistern?

Combo Tickets: Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern

This is a great combo ticket. Our favorite. You can visit the above top 3 most visited sights in Sultanahmet with this combo ticket, with skip the lines access. Great value for money. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly.

Buy Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern Combo Ticket

Click the red button to buy Combo online tickets and skip the lines.

4. Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Location: Sultanahmet

Consists of three museums (museum of Archaeology, the ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavillion) on one site, one of the richest archaeology museums in the world, an immense collection go back to the oldest civilizations and realize how far humans came, and see the collection of prehistoric, Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman antiquities, sculptures and sarcophagi.

Wanna learn more about Istanbul Archaeology Museums?

5. Dolmabahce Palace Museum

Location: Kabatas-Besiktas

One of the most glorious palaces situated on the banks of Bosphorus in Besiktas. The whole palace building is breath taking. The palace houses more than 50,000 objects along its hundreds of rooms. The interior of the palace reflects the grandeur of the epoch, and designed like the luxurious European palaces.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Dolmabahce Palace Museum?

6. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

Location: Sultanahmet

Housed in the Ibrahim Pasha Palace, displays illuminated Qurans, miniatures, antique carpets and more.

Wanna learn more about Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts?

7. Istanbul Modern Art Museum

Location: Beyoglu

A museum of modern and contemporary art, permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a photography gallery, cinema, restaurant, design store and library.

Wanna learn more about Istanbul Modern Art Museum?

8. Private Sakip Sabancı Fine Arts Museum 

Location: Emirgan

Private fine arts museum, hosts collections of Ottoman Calligraphic Art, religious and state documents, paintings of the Ottoman era, archaeological and stone works, furniture and decorative arts.

Wanna learn more about Sakip Sabanci Museum?

9. Chora Mosque (formerly Museum)

Location: Edirnekapi

Part of a monastery which dates back to the 6th century, the Chora (Kariye) Museum (formerly Church-Mosque), is one of the most impressive museums in Istanbul. It houses very beautiful examples of Byzantine mosaics and frescos, as well as Islamic symbols. Chora served as museum until 2020 and than converted to mosque.

Wanna learn more about Chora Museum?

10. Miniaturk (Miniature Turkey Museum)

Location: Sutluce, Golden Horn

A fantastic open air museum that showcases the miniature form of the greatest landmarks and architectural monuments of Turkey. You’ll see the miniature form of Turkey’s popular landmarks and monuments, in the 1/25 of their real sizes. The museum also houses the Istanbul Crystal Museum and Panorama Victory Museum.

Wanna learn more about Miniaturk Museum?

11. Private Rahmi M. Koc Transport Museum 

Location: Haskoy, Golden Horn

Housed in a former anchor foundry, a science and technology museum, a trove of machines, vintage cars, trains and submarines.

Wanna learn more about Rahmi M. Koc Museum?

12. Private Pera Museum 

Location: Taksim

A private museum, permanent collections of orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights and measures and Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics, temporary exhibitions, publications, audio-visual events, educational activities.

Wanna learn more about Pera Museum?

13. Great Palace Mosaics Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

A museum of modern and contemporary art, permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a photography gallery, cinema, restaurant, design store and library.

Wanna learn more about Great Palace Mosaics Museum?

14. Naval Museum

Location: Besiktas

A collection of more than 20,000 pieces related with the Turkish Maritime history. The ornamented Ottoman Sultans’ boats take the most interest.

15. Private Sadberk Hanim Museum

Location: Sariyer

Turkey’s first a private museum that exhibits the private collection of Sadberk Koc, the wife of Vehbi Koc, a famous Turkish businessman. The museum lies on two separate parts and showcases exhibitions of more than 20,000 pieces artifacts of Turkish and Islamic works and archaeological relics belonging to different eras in time.

Wanna learn more about Sadberk Hanim Museum?

Museum Passes + Expert Advice

* We recommend the Ministry’s Museum Pass (10 top Museums), if you are a sole traveler and don’t want guides. It includes 13 museums under the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Directorate of National Palaces can be visited for 5 days with MuseumPass Istanbul. It costs 2250 TL. (around €75-80).

* Alternatively, if you want guided museum tours with skip-the-line access, we would recommend the 5-Day Guided Museum Pass, Istanbul Tourist Pass or Istanbul E-Pass. These passes can be expensive but they include guided tours with fast track entry. These also worth a buy.

Online City Pass – Istanbul E-Pass

This is a digital travel discount pass that is delivered to your phone upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival. It includes 35+ attractions and services including skip the line access and guided museum tours, dinner cruise, hop-on & hop-off Bus, airport transfer, and many more.

Buy Your Istanbul E-Pass

Wanna learn more about Istanbul E-Pass?

Online City Pass – Istanbul Tourist Pass

Istanbul Tourist Pass is a digital travel discount card that provides entrance and transportation tickets to many of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions along with several guided museum tours with skip-the-line access in a simple, useful, convenient and fun way.

Rather than paying for each item individually, the pass allows you to choose from 100+ things to do in Istanbul so you can pack as much into your stay as possible for a single set price. You’ll get valuable discounts of up to 80%.

After you purchase the pass, it will be delivered to mobile phone and will be ready to use at upon arrival.

There are four types of Istanbul Tourist Pass (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10-Day).

Buy Your Istanbul Tourist Pass Online Now

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