Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

Last Updated on September 26, 2020

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 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.

* 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 Istanbul Welcome Card, Istanbul Tourist 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 Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)


Former church and mosque, now a museum, 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.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money. Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Wanna learn more about Hagia Sophia?


2. Topkapi Palace Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money. Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Wanna learn more about Topkapi Palace?


3. Basilica Cistern Museum

Location: Sultanahmet

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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. Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

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.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.


4. Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Location: Sultanahmet

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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.

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

Wanna learn more about Istanbul Archaeology Museums?


5. Dolmabahce Palace Museum

Location: Kabatas-Besiktas

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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. Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Wanna learn more about Dolmabahce Palace Museum?


6. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

Location: Sultanahmet

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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 Museum

Location: Edirnekapi

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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.

Wanna learn more about Chora Museum?


10. Miniaturk (Miniature Turkey Museum)

Location: Sutluce, Golden Horn

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

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

Wanna learn more about Great Palace Mosaics Museum?


14. Naval Museum

Location: Besiktas

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)

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

* Most of the travelers visit only the most popular museums during their Istanbul visit. Because they also participate other shore excursions. There are guided museum tours, mostly preferred by the tourists as they want learn more about the history of the place they visit, especially when we speak about Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace Museums plus Basilica Cistern.

* Skip-the-line-access is also a great choice because especially Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace Museums takes thousands of visitors each day and waiting at the queue sometimes becomes really a mass, as they are one of world’s best and biggest museums.

Top 15 Most Visited Museums in Istanbul (2020 Insider Guide with Skip the Lines Tickets Advice)
Hagia Sophia ticket queue on a random day

* You’ll find two types of Museum Pass that you can buy for your Istanbul museums visits. One of them is owned and offered by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and other one is offered by the authorized travel agents. Read more on our Istanbul Museum Pass page.

* We used to recommend the Ministry’s Museum Pass (14 State Museums), but since the price has risen about 3x in the last two years, and about 35% in January 2020, and now it costs 295 TL (about €45), we find it NOT ECONOMIC.

* The Istanbul Museum Pass, offered by Istanbul Welcome Card is about €10 CHEAPER than the Ministry’s Museum Pass. It includes 11 museums while Ministry’s has 14 museums. But the non included ones are not that must-see museums. So we recommend this one.

Buy Your Istanbul Museum Pass + 5% discount

* The Istanbul Museum Pass PLUS, offered by Istanbul Welcome Card has about the same price with the Ministry’s Museum Pass. It includes 11 museums while Ministry’s has 14 museums, but it has pluses like Audio Guide Apps for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, 30 mins Highlights Tour inside Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Istanbul Archaeology Museums. If you want to visit the top museums with a GUIDE, than we definitely recommend this one which will be great value for money.

Buy Your Istanbul Museum Pass PLUS + 5% discount


We'd be so glad by giving us a like below and join our Facebook page, where you can also ask any questions, share your Istanbul experiences, pictures, yell out complaints, and chat with thousands of Istanbul travelers.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.