The Istanbul Tourist Pass is a cost-effective way to see over 35 of the top attractions across Istanbul in VIP style. The pass includes 3-day pocket WiFi, plus skip-the-line guided tours for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. You’ll also gain free entrance to a Whirling Dervishes Show and a Bosphorus Dinner Cruise.
Furthermore, your tourist pass includes free access to a host of Istanbul’s top museums and attractions, including Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Aquarium, as well as discounted airport transfer.
How to Buy
The best way to purchase your Istanbul Tourist Pass is online. You can choose from a 2, 3, 5, or 7-day pass and then select the number of people in your group and enter contact details and credit card information. It’s that easy. There is also a discounted Istanbul Tourist Pass for children under 12, but children under 5 are better off paying per attraction as entry is often free.
Upon completing your purchase, you’ll receive an email containing a link to your Istanbul Tourist Pass. You’ll also be asked to download the Istanbul Tourist Pass App, available for Android and iOS. The app helps you plan a travel itinerary and helps you to use your pass around Istanbul.
Skip-the-Line Guided Tours
Your Istanbul Tourist Pass includes skip-the-line access with guided tours of the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabache Palace, Basilica Cistern, Serfifye Cistern, as well as, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
This is one of the most popular tours in Istanbul. As such, the group bookings can be quite large, sometimes 30-40 people. When groups are this large extra guides are usually available to split the group.
Once you are assigned a guide, you’ll enter the magical Hagia Sophia for your tour. Not only do you benefit from detailed explanations and additional information whilst on the tour, but you also get to skip the entry queue. Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about the building’s history, architecture, and legends through the centuries.
Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum
This is a reasonably short tour that takes roughly 45 minutes. You’ll meet your guide at the big Bus meeting point. Your tour guide will take you to the museum via the Hippodrome, known locally as Sultan Ahmet Square. Once inside the museum, the tour guide will escort you room by room. They will provide a description and history of the artifacts on display in English and then allow you some time to view the items before moving on to the next room.
With the Bosphorus Dinner Cruise and Whirling Dervishes shows being two of the best tickets and top things to do in Istanbul, it’s amazing to know that reservations are also included with your purchase of an Istanbul Tourist Pass.
Bosphorus Dinner Cruise
The Bosphorus cruise is also a sunset cruise that come with dinner and entertainment. Depending on your location, your hotel pickup will be between 7:30 and 8 pm. Generally, the pick-up is outside your hotel, but if your driver is unable to stop safely, he will come into the hotel instead.
Kabatas docks are the boarding point for the cruise. Upon entering the ship, the staff check your name against the passenger manifest and assign you seats at a table. Tables are in groups of 10, so you will most likely share your tables with other tourists from around the world. Your meal will start with a selection of Turkish Mezes. These are served as soon as you are seated. For the main course, you can choose fish, chicken or kofte (Turkish meatballs).
The ship has a fully enclosed lower deck and a covered top deck with open sides. Typically you’ll set sail at sunset for some amazing photo opportunities. The cruise takes you past the beautifully lit Dolmabahce Palace, and shortly after, your main course will be served as the night’s entertainment starts. You’ll be treated to traditional Turkish dancing, belly dancing, and even a whirling dervish demonstration. Dessert is served during the performance, and afterward, you can move to the upper deck to sample a water pipe. There will also be an opportunity to have your photo taken with the entertainers still wearing their traditional costumes. The night will continue with a DJ and dancing until you return to shore around 11:30 pm. Your driver will meet you at the docks to drive you back to your hotel.
Whirling Dervishes Show
Held at the Hodjapasha Cultural Center, your booking will ask you to arrive by 6:30 pm. We recommend you arrive earlier to enjoy the Dervish Museum and atrium before the show commences. On arrival, take the steps up to the ticket window. Give your name as per your booking. You’ll receive your seat numbers and an informative booklet on the Mevlana Whirling Dervishes. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the performance.
The Istanbul Tourist Pass currently costs:
- 2-day Pass — 95 € for adults / 45 € for children under 12
- 3-day Pass — 115 € for adults / 55 € for children under 12
- 5-day Pass — 135 € for adults / 65 € for children under 12
- 7-day Pass — 145 € for adults / 65 € for children under 12
The Istanbul Tourist pass is more than worthwhile when used efficiently. You need to make use of the premium entertainment and museum visits to get good value for your money. For example, a Bosphorus Dinner Cruise, Whirling Dervishes Show, and Big Bus tickets, along with a few skip-the-line museum tours will easily cover the cost of your pass.
If you opt for a five or seven-day pass to get value for money, you should include the Bursa Day Trip and Sapanca Lake Tour in your itinerary, as that equates to an 80 € value. If you add in the free entry to Sea Life Aquarium and Madame Tussaud’s at 12 €each, then you’ll more than cover the cost of your pass.
Should you decide to purchase a longer pass, you’ll get value for money by booking guided tours of the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Basilica Cistern, Serefiye Cistern, Hagia Irene, and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Paying for a guided tour at each of these locations would quickly add up and cost over 100 €.
Is The Istanbul Tourist Pass Worth It?
Yes, absolutely, provided you make good use of it! When doing a simple price comparison of the included skip-the-line tours like Hagia Sofia, as well as, the evening entertainment like the Whirling Dervishes Show, and the Bosphorus Dinner Cruise, it will definitely save you a lot of money.
When you add in 3-days of pocket WiFi mobile internet, discounted airport pickup, and entrance tickets to Sea Life and Madame Tussauds wax museum it starts to become a steal-of-a-deal.
However, if you like to avoid groups and intend to explore Istanbul on your own without a guide, would prefer a short day cruise on the Bosphorus, and are happy to pay for your own airport transfer, then the tourist pass is probably not the best choice for you.
While it is possible to buy an Istanbul Tourist Pass once you are in Istanbul, it’s better to purchase it a few weeks before traveling. All tourist attractions can be very busy, especially during peak season. Booking your pass in advance and making reservations means you’ll be guaranteed visits to the sites you want. Typically all reservations are confirmed by email within 24 hours of booking.
The other advantage of using the Istanbul Tourist Pass is it functions as your personal vacation assistant. You can use the app for directions, information on tourist attractions, and activate reminders about your bookings. There is also a customer support service should you have any questions regarding your bookings or require assistance. If you book before arriving in Istanbul, you can also benefit from the free airport pickup service.