Traveling to Turkey

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace Guide: Ticket, Tour & Entry

The Topkapi Palace is one of the main landmarks of Istanbul.

For more than 400 years, The Ottoman sultans lived in the palace harem together with their wives, children and the immediate royal household.

The palace is now a museum.

It’s a good idea to get the best tickets, guided tours and a simple visit to Topkapi Palace.

I’ll start with the sights, then come to the tickets and general travel tips.

What can I see in the Topkapi Palace?

Palace complex: More than 5,000 people lived behind the gates of the 70,000 m² palace complex located directly on the Bosporus.

Treasury: In the collections of the sultans.

Armory: With weapons and armour from the Ottoman Empire as well as luxurious gifts from other countries.

Relics of Mohamed and his companions: (one of the most important Islamic pilgrimage sites)

Palace kitchen: 1,000 people worked here, preparing sumptuous food of the court. The Ottoman cuisine and its recipes are closely guarded secrets – hard to access without  an insider tip.

Konyali 1897 Restaurant: Good place for a Turkish coffee, Cay or Serbet and a small meal with a great view of the Bosporus.

Hagia Irene: A Byzantine Church located in the first courtyard of the Topkapi Palace.

Harem: With an additional ticket, you can visit the harem, which shows the lives of the Ottoman sultans and their families.

How does entry to the Palace work?

There are two possible entrances, one through the gate behind Hagia Sophia next to the Sultan Ahmed III fountain, along with a security check and metal detector. The second entry is the one coming from Gülhane Park, also with a security check.

You are already standing in a queue at the first and second security checkpoints.

Then there is the queue in front of the ticket counter at the main entrance to the Topkapi Palace. That’s why, on busy days, it’s not unusual to spend more than an hour just waiting for entry into the palace.

What tickets are available for the Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace: Entrance to the palace, palace kitchens, relics, treasury, armoury, gardens and Konyali 1897 restaurant.

Harem: Entrance to the harem which display the private living quarters of the sultans.

At the entrance, you have the choice between a normal ticket for the palace complex or a ticket which includes the harem in the palace.

You can also buy the ticket for the harem inside the palace.

The ticket for a normal tour (without the harem) is equivalent to 15 €.

Are there any skip-the-line tickets?

Yes and no.

There are no real Topkapi Palace skip-the-line tickets. sells skip-the-line tickets with a 30-minute introductory tour.

This will allow you to walk through the group entrance with the guide.

This is the easiest option that will save you time waiting in line for entrance to the palace. There is also a short, guided tour as a bonus.

The ticket is available directly from or from The ticket clearly has the best ratings.

For ordering directly on, I have arranged for a 5% discount for my readers. It should be deducted automatically, otherwise enter the code trb2019.

City passes with the Topkapi Palace

Istanbul Museum Pass: This pass includes the entire palace, along with the harem. Originally, it was my first recommendation for seeing the museums of Istanbul. Unfortunately, the pass no longer pays off since entry to Hagia Sophia is free. Since then,  the Museum Pass has quadrupled from 85 Turkish Lira to more than 200 Turkish Lira within a very short period of time.

Istanbul Welcome Card Premium: The Premium Card includes a ticket with group entrance for the palace, a guided tour of the Hagia Sophia without waiting in line, a Bosporus tour with audio guide and an Istanbul Kart pass which can be used for public transport. In my opinion, the Istanbul Welcome Card Premium is currently the most useful tourist pass in Istanbul. The Deluxe Card also includes a ticket for the Basilica Cistern.

Istanbul Tourist Pass: The pass also includes a ticket for the palace, along with many other services. This includes entry to all possible attractions, sights and activities in Istanbul. In my opinion, the Istanbul Tourist Pass only pays off if you purchase the 7-day version, because you can never use it up in only a few days. Otherwise, you would be constantly running about from morning to evening.

What tours are available through the Topkapi Palace?

I did all the tours of the palace, from a private VIP tour with a museum guide, who also showed the Topkapi Palace to then-US President Obama, to the skip-the-line ticket with a 30-minute introductory tour.

In my opinion, a guided tour pays off for anyone who is really interested in the stories from the palace, the sultans and the harem.

A guided tour reveals a small pavilion to be the true centre of the palace. The ruins of an ancient Roman temple are hidden on the floor of the armoury. Stories about the sultan’s wife, Roxelane, the Harem and Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent are classics.

If you only want a brief introduction to palace life, you can buy the skip-the-line ticket with an introductory tour. Anyone really interested in history should check out the Topkapi Palace with the Historian Guide Tour.

Unfortunately, the tour is only available in English because Adil, the historian behind it, does not speak German. I know him, and I deal with him in other areas as well. That’s why I’m going to write a big advertisement here.

Adil pays attention to details and knows almost all the stories from the palace. This is also shown by the reviews of his leadership.

Give him my best regards.

A few more thoughts …

Topkapi Palace is one of the must-see sights in Istanbul.

It is clearly one of the major highlights of your visit to Istanbul or even Turkey, for that matter.

Visit the palace complex, the rooms of the sultans, treasury, armoury and sit down on the Bosporus in Konyali in 1897. Up until 100 years ago, only very few people were able to have such a view.

The palace complex is quite large. Therefore, plan at least two hours for this excursion. If you want to see everything completely, then it’s easy to spend four hours here.

On normal weekends, public holidays and vacations, expect several queues on the way to the palace. Along with Hagia Sophia and Dolmabahce Palace, it is one of the three places in Istanbul for which I recommend a skip-the-line ticket.

Unfortunately there are no online tickets for the Galata Tower …

If you have any questions about tickets to the palace or would like to share your own experiences, please share them in the comments below.

Was your visit to the palace memorable for you?

What would you have liked to have known beforehand?


Topkapi Palace Museum (Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi)

Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih / Istanbul, Turkey