hagia sophia

Top 5 Hagia Sophia Tips – Is Hagia Sophia Free?

What You Should Know Before Visiting Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is a mosque, and just like any other mosque, there are some rules inside, and there is etiquette. This article will show you what you should pay attention to when visiting Hagia Sophia. This way, you can save both time and energy.

Why You Should Visit the Hagia Sophia

#1 Dress Accordingly & Save Time 

dress code in hagia sophia

What is proper clothing in Hagia Sophia ? Women must cover their heads with a scarf, hat, or hoodie. Hair should not be seen. Cleavage, high slit, bare shoulders, tank tops, yoga pants, mini-skirts, and similar revealing clothing will not be allowed. Men and women cannot enter with shorts above knee level. If you show up with inappropriate clothing, you’ll have to purchase a full-body gown upon entry (costs 2 euros). 

Dress accordingly before visiting Hagia Sophia or any mosque, for that matter. Otherwise, you’ll have to queue to get a cover or scarf upon entry. In season, plenty of other people might queue to get a scarf.

How Do I Go to Hagia Sophia?

#2 Do not bring things that aren’t allowed inside

Do not bring any beverages except water, no alcohol, do not bring sharp objects, drones, tripods, flammable things, and any object that can potentially harm someone. They’ll take it from you at the security control if you do. Later you’ll have to return to take it back, giving you something to worry about.  

#3 Follow the Etiquette in Hagia Sophia to Avoid Awkward Situations

There are separate praying areas for men and women. During visiting hours, everybody can enter the men’s praying area. Women pray on the left side and men in the center during praying time. During praying hours, visitors stand behind the barrier of the men’s area.

  • Do not take pictures of people praying. Other than that, pictures and videos are allowed.
  • Do not lay. You may sit on the floor but not lay. Sitting on the floor is completely fine. 
  • Do not shout. You can speak in your normal voice; you don’t need to whisper but do not shout.

#4 Go late in the evening if you don’t want to queue.

One of the most asked questions is: “How Do I Skip the Hagia Sophia Lines?” 

So you’ve come to Istanbul and finally made it to the worldwide famous mosque, and what’s that? A queue that would take a lifetime to finish! Thousands of people are waiting in an endless line that stretches hundreds of meters. So how do you skip the Hagia Sophia line?

The answer is simple: you can’t. That’s no ticket line, just like any mosque in Turkey, is free for all. So that’s just the security line to get in. Since the building can only take so many people and everybody needs to go through the security control, the waiting to go inside can take up to 2 hours or more in high season. So how can you skip the Hagia Sophia line? The answer lies in timing.

Click here to book a guided tour of Hagia Sophia and learn about its 1500 years of history.

Best time to Hagia Sophia?

dress code in hagia sophia

Hagia Sophia, just like any mosque, is open throughout the year during the praying times. However, tourists visiting time is limited from 10:00 am to 22:00 pm. Be aware that there is a weekly congregation on Fridays. The mosque is only available for tourist visits from 2:30 pm to 10:00 pm on Fridays. On other days it’s 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. It’s open every day of the week. 

Most tourists visit monuments and historical sites during the daytime and spare their evenings for dinner and other activities. Thus Hagia Sophia is far less crowded in the evenings. Visit the mosque after 18:00 or even 19:00 to avoid long waiting lines. Enjoy the atmospheric ambiance of the stunning Hagia Sophia in the evening.

#5 Study Hagia Sophia before visiting or book a guided tour

Hagia Sophia is almost 1500 years old and is truly a spectacular building with a rich and complex history. With loads of religious symbolism, mosaics, and calligraphy, it is truly a fascinating site to unveil. To get the most out of your experience, book a guided tour from a professional who can elaborate on the ancient history of this one-of-a-kind historical site, and help you fully understand and discover this ancient wonder. 


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