Welcome to the majestic Topkapi Palace, a historical gem nestled in the heart of Istanbul. With its rich history and stunning architecture, this iconic landmark offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by Ottoman sultans for centuries. From its intriguing exhibits showcasing priceless treasures to its serene courtyards and breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, there are countless reasons why a visit to Topkapi Palace is an absolute must for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in Istanbul’s vibrant past. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates beauty and grandeur, prepare to be captivated by the allure of this magnificent palace that has stood as a symbol of power and prestige for generations.
Did you know it is one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul and that you do need to plan your visit wisely?
The Topkapi Palace is such an amazing site to visit in Istanbul. Don’t rush your visit, take your time and soak up the history, the views and the architecture.
It is such a joy to walk around the gardens and view the buildings, the colourful tiles and the views from its location in Istanbul. We hope you enjoy the Topkapi Palace as much as we did.
We share with you our top 5 reasons to visit the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul but after you visit you will probably have many more reasons.
After visiting the Topkapi Palace we share with you 18 hidden gems in Istanbul that are off the beaten track for you to visit. We hope you have allowed enough time to enjoy all that Istanbul has to offer.
Check out our new web story on the Topkapi Palace here.
Pro-Tip for Arriving in Istanbul
Are you arriving at Istanbul’s New Airport? We find it is easier to have a transfer pre-booked for your arrival.
Visa For Turkiye
Do you need a visa for Turkey?
You will be required to complete a Health Declaration Form for Turkey.
Visit Topkapi Palace Tips
- It is worth getting there early in the day, as the queues start well before the opening time of 9 am. Any later and you will find that once the buses arrive it can become quite congested. Even if you have only one day in Istanbul it is worth a visit.
- We would recommend that you pre-purchase your tickets and skip the line tour. Enjoy a guided tour inside the Topkapi Palace and see the four courtyard museum including the Audience Hall, High Court, Historical Kitchens, and The Treasury.
If you are staying 5 days in Istanbul you may want to consider purchasing the 5 days guided Museum pass.
Skip the queue to get into the:
- Hagia Sophia,
- Topkapi Palace,
- Basilica Cistern,
- Dolmabahçe Palace,
- Blue Mosque, and more on an exceptional guided tour.
Do You Need To Book Accommodation In Istanbul?
Check availability below.
A Great Read:
To assist in visiting the Topkapi Palace the bestseller from Amazon “The Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul“ is well worth the read. You can wander around in awe within the palace grounds itself and the buildings, and you don’t want to miss anything.
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Essential Visiting Information for Visiting The Topkapi Palace.
Taken from the website of the Topkapi Palace
“The Topkapi Palace Museum is open to visitors every day except Tuesdays.”
Topkapi Palace Hours
Winter Season: 30 October – 15 April
The Museum, Harem and Hagia Eirene, can be visited between the hours of 9.00 am and 16.45 pm.
The last entrance to the Museum 16:00,
Attention: Ticket booths are closed at 16:00
Summer season: April 15 to October 30
The Museum, the Harem and Hagia Eirene Museum, can be visited between 09.00 am and 18.45 pm. The last entry is 18.00 pm.
Attention: the ticket office closes at 18:00
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee
Museum Ticket: 200 TL (USD$15.00 Euros 13.00)
Topkapi Palace Harem Ticket: 100 TL (USD$7.50 Euros 6.50)
If you want to visit the Topkapi Palace Harem you will have to buy a separate ticket from the ticket booth in front of the Harem entrance.”
Short History of the Topkapi Palace Turkey
In 1478 Mehmet the Conqueror constructed Topkapi Palace to be used as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire and the residence of the Sultans for 380 years.
Over the centuries the palace undertook renovations after the devasting effects firstly of the earthquake in 1509 and then later a fire in 1665. There are 4 main courtyards and several smaller buildings. The harem was the home for the women in the Sultan’s family.
Sadly the Topkapi Palace lost its importance during the 17th century when the Sultans preferred to build along the Bosphorus instead.
In 1923 at the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Topkapi Palace became a Museum. In 1985 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Topkapi Palace What To See
Our reasons why you should visit the Topkapi Palace
The Exterior of the Harem
The Harem means ‘ a place forbidden’. It is where the mother of the Sultan lived with the concubines and wives of the Sultan.
The Topkapi Palace Harem has 300 rooms, 9 Turkish Baths, 2 Mosques and 1 hospital. Only certain people could enter the Harem:
- the Sultan
- the Queen Mother
- the Consorts
- the Princes
- the concubines
- the eunuchs who guarded the harem
When you are in the Harem in the Topkapi Palace ensure that you always look up towards the ceilings – the tiles, design, colour and gold inlay are incredible.
How much is all that gold worth?
Inside the Harem do not miss visiting the private chamber of Sultan Murat III. (The photos do not do the rooms justice).
As you wander from building to building, room to room, the colourful tiles impress even those who normally do not consider tiles of importance. The Summer Pavilion was built by Sultan Ibrahim in 1640. It was used for the circumcision ceremonies of the Crown Princes. The walls are covered with rare specimens of Ottoman Tiles. The most important of these are the blue and white panels influenced by Far Eastern ceramics on the chamber facade which dates back to 1529.
The magnificent entrance into the Inner Court dazzles you with the gold and tile decorations of the walls and columns. This Gate was used by the Sultans when holding special ceremonies.
The Library of Ahmed III was built in 1719 for the use of the officials of the Royal Household. Today the books of the library are kept in the Agalar Mosque.
When you walk into this room, there is a sense of peacefulness.
Sultan Murat III originally commissioned the Apartments, they are located in the centre of the Harem.Skip the queues and pre-purchase your fast track entry ticket here
Rules for Your Visit to The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul
- No taking photographs inside the exhibition halls
- Prams are prohibited
- Topkapi Palace Dress Code: You will need to wear appropriate clothing, if not, suitable clothes will be provided by the staff at the Sacred Relics Department. Shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops or strapless clothing are not allowed.
- If you want to use a tripod you will have to ask for permission
- There is not a guide service available only audio guides available from the booths inside.
If you enjoyed our article you can now download it and take it with you offline when you travel to Istanbul and visit the Topkapi Palace.
Other Things To Do in Istanbul
Ideally, you want to give yourself 7 nights in Istanbul to be able to see all the sights at a leisurely pace and not rush.
Are you a lover of Turkish cuisine?
One of our highlights of visiting Istanbul is enjoying the innovative Turkish food.
For a quick snack Turkish Pide was a definite favourite as well as Gozleme and Kebabs.
More places to see in Istanbul
We have put together some recommended tours for you (these are some of the most popular tours – we would recommend booking in advance to secure your booking)..
We spent 5 hours just wandering around the Grand Bazaar haggling over the prices of Turkish Delight, scarves and a gold engraved tea service. Crazy, how on earth are we going to travel with this without breaking it. It was a fun time, don’t be afraid of bartering, they expect it!
A tip: offer 50% less first then work up – you will probably end up paying about 60 – 70% of the first price offered. If you really want it, keep bartering!
The Spice Market is also worth a few hours. The aromas and the colours of the spices, well you will just have to visit to feel the essence yourself.
You can’t leave Istanbul without a boat ride on the Bosphorus. The sunset cruise on a private yacht is spectacular. You will sail past some very elegant properties on a cruise and the sunsets are incredible.
The Bosphorus separates Asian Turkey with European Turkey and it is the narrowest used strait for international navigation by shipping vessels. Over 48,000 vessels sail every year down the strait.
Where To Stay in Istanbul in 2023
Some of Istanbul’s famous hotels are:
The stunning Four Seasons Hotel is located at Ciragan Cad no 28 Besiktas on the Bosphorous. What is so beautiful about the Four Seasons is that it is a 19th Century Ottoman Palace. It has a pool, panoramic views, the Aqua Restaurant, fitness centre and Turkish bath.Check availability here
The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel Istanbul is located at Ciragan Caddesi 32 Besiktas. It is also a 19th Century Ottoman Palace and has excellent views over the Bosphorous. Imagine swimming in their infinity pool overlooking the Bosphorous after a day of sightseeing?
Guests can relax in the Turkish bath, or enjoy a massage in a private cabana by the pool. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul has an indoor pool and a fitness centre.Check availability here
We can’t recommend the hotel that we stayed in, we were moved once into a different hotel and then moved back into the original hotel that we had booked. The rooms were tiny, but the location was good for visiting the sites so we put up with the inconveniences.
For more hotel options in Istanbul :
The best times to visit Istanbul is between March and May and September and November. It is not as busy and the weather is pleasant.
Visa Requirements for Turkey
For the latest visa information for visiting Turkey click our link below:
Getting Into Istanbul
Cheap flights to Istanbul
There are many options to search for the cheapest flights in and out of Istanbul. We are great fans of using the search engine Skyscanner, where we find the cheapest options in most of our searches.
Bus Travel in Turkey
Travelling by bus throughout Turkey is easy and safe. We spent one-month using buses, it was certainly a cost-effective method of transport.
For the latest bus schedules and ticket prices click here.
Private Transfers from Istanbul’s Airport
You can book a private airport transfer from Istanbul’s new airport to your hotel by clicking here.
More articles to inspire you to visit Turkey:
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In conclusion, the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul offers a unique and captivating experience for visitors. From its rich history to its stunning architecture, this palace provides a glimpse into the opulence and grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. Whether you are interested in exploring the vast collections of artefacts, strolling through beautiful gardens, or simply taking in panoramic views of the city, there is something for everyone at Topkapi Palace. The palace’s cultural significance and its ability to transport visitors to another time make it a must-visit destination in Istanbul.
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