Topkapi Palace

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Topkapi Palace: Our most recommended tours and activities

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

You will start at the old Hippodrome of Constantinople which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major works of art including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II, constructed by the Germans. From there, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a key fixture of Istanbul’s skyline. Next, head for the Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. Move on to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Behold the dome and stunning Byzantine mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then visit the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Also stroll around the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight.

Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App

2. Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App

Take part in one of the best Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul and admire the cosmopolitan city from a completely different perspective while enjoying the beautiful views of the Orient and the Occident at the same time. The Bosphorus is 32km long, separates Europe from Asia and connects the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea. Cruise along the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe and discover Istanbul tourist attractions, magnificent palaces, ancient castles, and other historical sites, as well as fine seaside residences and the Bosphorus bridge. Historical places you will see from the distance include Galata Tower, Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque. Furthermore, you will have a glance at the spectacular pieces of authentic civic architecture on the European and Asian coast.

İstanbul Welcome Card

3. İstanbul Welcome Card

When you arrive in Istanbul your welcome package will be waiting at your hotel. Inside the package, find your card loaded with 10 rides for public transportation and vouchers to join the Bosphorus Cruise, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace tours. Skip the lines and explore the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Topkapi Palace with a historian guide. Have fun on a cruise along the Bosphorus and witness breathtaking views over the shimmering waters of Istanbul's magnificent river. See bridges, palaces, fortresses, seaside residences and, many other historical places. Travel around the city with 10 transportation tickets including metro, tram, ferry, funicular, bus, and metrobus. Take advantage of numerous discounts at many top attractions across the city and discover museums with the included audio guides at your own pace.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Guided Tour and Skip The Line

4. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Guided Tour and Skip The Line

Skip the line and visit the most important museum of Turkey and the Balkan Peninsula. Discover how the Topkapi Palace was built between 1466 - 1478 and served for over 400 years as the residency and administrative headquarter of the Ottoman Sultans. The guide will explain to you the entire story of the Palace during a one hour tour. Marvel at the great architectural beauty of this important monument of the Ottoman Empire.

Topkapi Palace and Harem: Guided Tour with Admission Ticket

5. Topkapi Palace and Harem: Guided Tour with Admission Ticket

Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s best sight on this exceptionally well-led guided tour. Discover Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of Sultan's family in the harem.  Meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Turkish delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Then let your guide take you to Topkapi Palace. Enjoy a 3-hour tour of Topkapi Palace, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. The complex of low buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoise shell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Skip-the-Line Ticket & Audio Guide

6. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace Skip-the-Line Ticket & Audio Guide

Take the shortest way into the glorious Topkapi Palace of Istanbul. Choose the time that suits you best, meet your host in front of the museum, and go directly to the entrance. You can save up to 2 or 3 hours by not standing in the famous lines. Following security checks, receive a brief introduction as to what to see inside, including the council hall, arms and armory section, or holy relics. Afterward, enjoy the palace at your own pace. You can enjoy a long coffee break in-between looking over a spectacular view of the Bosphorus. It is possible to see all of the palace within one hour, or you can choose to stay inside for several hours at your leisure. After your 30 minute-tour with your guide, you can stay inside the museum as long as you would like.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

7. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

After signing up for this experience, your name will be on the list for each of the monuments for 3 days. Be free to visit at the available times, gathering at the meeting points in front of the museums to skip the line with an authorized host. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your host.

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

8. Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel or cruise ship, and you’ll head out for a full-day VIP tour of Istanbul. Visit the Hippodrome, the center of sporting and political activities of ancient Constantinople. See the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the German Fountain of Willhelm II. Continue to the Blue Mosque, dating from the 17th century. This is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul and one of the principal features of the city skyline. It’s best known for its blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Afterwards, you’ll visit Topkapi Palace, the former imperial residence that was the seat of the Great Ottoman Empire. Explore the spectacular museum and its vast collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the treasury of the royal family. Continue to the Hagia Sophia, the magnificent Byzantine Church considered one of the finest and largest architectural works in the world. The last stop on the tour is the Grand Bazaar. In addition to its historical importance, this is a shopping venue that will tempt even the non-shoppers among you with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. At the end of the tour, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel or cruise ship.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

9. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

Visiting Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace requires standing in 2 lines: one for the ticket, and one for the security check. With this combo ticket, you skip the ticket lines and enter the two most famous landmarks in Istanbul as fast as possible, giving you more time to spend inside these museums. To use your voucher, meet your local host at the entrance of Hürrem Sultan Hamam. They are available at the time selected during the booking process at a very visible meeting point. Your host will then take you through the skip the ticket line gate to enter the museums. With this combo ticket, you can visit each museum one time. You can visit both museums in one day or you can visit each museum on different days. It is recommended to visit the museums either before 10:00 AM or after 2:00 PM since it will be less crowded inside.

Istanbul: Full-Day Small Group City Highlights Tour

10. Istanbul: Full-Day Small Group City Highlights Tour

Get to know some of the best sights of Instanbul with a local guide on this trip to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Square, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. Enjoy included pickup and drop-off and skip-the-line entry privileges. Start your day with pickup from your hotel, then hop in an air-conditioned vehicle and set off on your journey to see Istanbul’s greatest landmarks. First, head to Hagia Sophia, meaning divine wisdom. The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for 916 years and as a mosque for 481 years. In 1934, by the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it was converted into a museum and has since been open to visitors. Next, visit Topkapi Palace and enter inside. As well as being the imperial residence of the Sultan, this palace was also the seat of government for the ottoman empire. In 1924 it was converted into a museum. Today, it's famous for its harem, royal treasury, and holy relics sections. Continue to Hippodrome of Constantinople (Sultanahmet Square), built by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in 203 A.D. During the Roman period, this square was the civil center for the people of the city where once 100,000 spectators could be held. Located in the heart of Sultanahmet surrounded by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace, today Hippodrome is home to the Egyptian Obelisk (Dikilitaş), the Serpentine Column (Burma Sütun), the Constantine Column, and the German Fountain. Next up on the itinerary is the Blue Mosque. This mosque was built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I in the year 1616 and is located opposite the Hagia Sophia. Today, the Blue Mosque is one of the most famous landmarks of the old city with its famous six minarets, dome, and blue tiles decorating the interior walls. Visit the Grand Bazaar. Featuring 18 entrances and more than 4000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is one of the greatest bazaars in the world. Stroll through the unique shops and experience the atmosphere of everyday local life. At the end of the tour, sit back and relax as you're driven back to your pickup location.

Planning Your Visit

  • Obey the Dress Code

    You’ll get denied entrance to the Sacred Relics Department if you’re showing some skin. No shorts, short skirts or sleeveless shirts are permitted. It is the holiest section of Topkapi Palace, Turkey.

  • Orient yourself

    Along with the harem section, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul houses four courtyards or “avlu.” Shade or eateries for resting aren’t too hard to find. There’s a café and a restaurant in the first courtyard, a second café in the third courtyard, and a second restaurant in the fourth.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open Wednesday through Monday. October 26 - April 15, 9:00AM to 4:45PM. April 15 - October 26, 9:00AM to 6:45PM.
  • Is it expensive?
    Museum tickets start at 30TL (about $11), Harem tickets start at 15TL (about $5) and continue up with perks and tours.
  • Will I need a guide?
    A guide will definitely add to the experience! Audio guides are also available for rent at the palace.
  • How to get there
    Take the tram to the Gülhane or Sultanahmet stations, or the Marmaray to the Sirkeci Station. It's a short walk from any station.
  • Additional information

    • Cloths can be provided by onsite staff if you need to cover up during your visit to the Sacred Relics Department.

    • Stroller and photography are not permitted inside, so please plan ahead.

Other Sightseeing Options in Topkapi Palace

Want to discover all there is to do in Topkapi Palace? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Topkapi Palace

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 3,913 reviews

Kenan was helpful, knowledgeable and professional. Nice sense of humor as well, my husband and I had a nice experience overall and felt we were able to squeeze a lot in one day, and Kenan was flexible enough to adapt to our wants and needs… It was amazing how he seems to know the Grand Bazaar like the palm of his hand! I wanted to see fabrics and he took me to three exquisite small stores, had tea with the owners, made me feel like a local, not a tourist. At Topkapi he knew so much about the architecture, the time frames, and very interesting anecdotes and folk legends… and hey I am an Art Historian! Recommend

Highly recommend this tour! I feel like you definitely need a tour guide to help you fully appreciate the Topkapi Palace and the Harem. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about life in the palace and he was happy to answer all of our questions. I’m so glad we signed up for this tour!

The card was delivered to my hotel on time and included all the tickets and benefits as promised. The quality of the experiences was satisfactory and cost effective.

Excelent, friendly, supportive and knowledgeable guides. Thanks Emir and Can.

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