Know before You Go to Topkapı Palace in Istanbul – 5 Best Advice

What is the Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace was ranked the #1 most-visited museum in Turkey in 2022, with over 2.35 million tourists. Home to Sultan’s family and the headquarters of the Ottoman government for four centuries, Topkapi Palace has unmatched importance in the history of the Ottoman Empire. Skip the line at Topkapı Palace

The Topkapi Palace is one of the largest tourist attractions in Turkey, which can take a full day to finish if you enter every room. Read this article on Why You Should Visit the Topkapi Palace.

Many tourists go straight to the palace with little to no knowledge of what the palace is about. Without knowing what to expect, they wait in ticket lines for an hour, missing out on the best parts. Unfortunately, many visitors underestimate the size of the palace. They don’t finish the palace and leave without seeing the best parts. This article is to help you get the best out of your Topkapi Palace experience. Here are our Top 5 Topkapi Palace Tips:

#1: Give at least 2-3 hours to visit Topkapi Palace properly.

Topkapi Palace isn’t like most other tourist attractions in Istanbul. For example, you can easily complete Basilica Cistern or Galata Tower in 30-40 mins and get the most out of it, but at the same time would barely scratch the surface of Topkapi Palace. Topkapi Palace (without its garden) is approximately 80,000 m2, has hundreds of rooms, nearly a dozen exhibition halls you can visit, four large courtyards, a breathtaking terrace that would take you half an hour to finish taking photos only, and all of this without even taking Harem (private part of the palace where Sultan lived with his family and concubines) into consideration, which is like half of the palace. So give it a good 2-3 hours minimum to properly experience Topkapi Palace museum. Give it 4-5 hours to see every room in it.

#2: Visit Topkapi Palace in the mornings.

Topkapi Palace museum works every day except Tuesdays and is open from 09:00 to 18:00 or 18:30, depending on the season. Regardless of the season, it’s busier on weekends and even busier in the afternoons. If you cannot control the season or day of the week you’re visiting, at least you can try to control the time of your visit. Topkapi Palace tends to be less crowded before noon. It may still be busy when you visit it in the morning if you’re visiting in high season. But you can be sure it will be EVEN more crowded in the afternoon of the same day.

#3: Get a tour guide to skip the long ticket lines and get historical insights.

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How to Skip the Topkapi Palace Line?

Tour guides and tourism agencies have ticket-purchasing privileges in almost all museums in Turkey. Booking a tour with a tour guide can guarantee you skip the hour-long ticket line at the Topkapı Palace museum. Plus, you’ll have an actual guide who can explain the palace’s history in great detail, explain things that are not in free audio guides, and tell you intriguing stories that happened in this spectacular palace. Click here to book a guided tour of Topkapi Palace.

#4: Do not miss the terrace!

Topkapi Palace is soo massive that many tourists get tired and leave before seeing the jaw-dropping view of Istanbul from the terrace at the end of the palace. Topkapi Palace was built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul (just like Rome), so naturally, it is higher than most places in town. The palace is located right at the corner of the city, facing the Bosphorus from one side and Golden Horn from another. It has one of the best – if not the best – aerial views of Istanbul you can ever find. From one side, you will see the Bosphorus, the Asian side, and the Bosphorus bridges and the Princes’ Islands. You will see the beautiful Golden Horn and Galata Tower from another side. It is a MUST-see. You have to see that view if you’ve been to Topkapi Palace. DO NOT miss it.

Also, read our article: Top 10 Aerial Views of Istanbul

Topkapi Palace Tip #5: Visit the Harem.

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Harem is an additional part of the Topkapi Palace. You can book/buy with the Topkapi Palace or purchase separately upon entry. Since the entrance is a bit small, many visitors don’t even pay attention to Harem’s existence. Many leave the palace without ever realizing half of the palace is through some tiny door in the corner. It is secluded and almost invisible because it was supposed to be that way.

Harem means “forbidden place”, deriving from the Arabic word haram, which means “forbidden”. It was indeed “haram” for anyone who was not a part of it, and is built so that you cannot see it from outside. It is behind the courtyard walls, easy to miss, and well concealed. Ask your guide or any palace employee where the Harem is and make sure you see it. Harem is the private part of the palace where the Sultan lived with his family and concubines. The bedrooms, living rooms, hammams, and grand halls are all inside the Harem.


Book a guided tour to the Topkapi Palace & skip the long ticket lines!

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