Istanbul attraction reservations?

My wife and I will be in Istanbul for 4 days later this month, and we want to see many of the attractions on the European and Asian side. Do any Istanbul attractions require reservations prior to showing up? I want to make sure we don't show up somewhere just to be told it's booked and we can't see it!

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Reservations aren't reguired, and I don't think there is even such a thing.

Posted by Luke
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
39 posts

Thank you! Also, most of the attractions I've been reading about are on the European side. Are there any must-sees on the Asian side that might be lesser known?

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

No reservations needed, BUT do show up at main sites such as Topkapi Palace and Haghia Sophia first thing in the morning (check and make sure they're open on Mondays). They get extremely packed in the afternoon. On the Asian side, I would check out the Kadikoy neighborhood and the narrow streets surrounding its market. Great restaurants there (Ciya Sofrasi, etc) and super fun just to check out the different stalls. I did not go, but also heard Moda is worth seeing (it's close to Kadikoy). I went to Uskudar (also on Asian side, but other direction) and enjoyed seeing a marketplace built by Sinan and a few mosques. If you're into architecture, the Haydarpasa train station is pretty neat (that's the one that goes east to Ankara, etc) - it's very German inspired as it was a gift from one of the Wilhelms... (the local ferry goes there too)

Posted by Rob
Dunwoody, Georgia
235 posts

I'll add one thing to Agnes's reply. The Harem at the Topkopi requires it's own ticket. Those are for specific entry times and do sell out sometimes. You can buy at ticket for it when you buy your regular Topkopi ticket.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
532 posts

No reservations needed. We did reserve a place for the authentic Whirling Dervish performance in the Old town. Amazing the faith and dedication displayed by the Dervishes. Worth every dime. We did the Istanbul pass and showed up at
Topkapi at 3PM and there were minimal crowds because the tour ship hordes were long gone. The absolutely STUNNING history on display at Topkapithe sword of King David, the turban of Joseph of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph the staff of Moses, the Topkapi dagger, and the footprints of Muhammad, all war trophies taken when the Turks retook Constantinople from the Christians. The natural history museum had the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, and other treasure from antiquity. Really amazing stuff.

Posted by Jerry
Madison, WI, US
66 posts

Hi Luke - Want to emphasize as others have to do major sights as early in the day as possible. Before tour buses arrive. Would include Dolmabache Palacelocated in the estern modern side also as s place to go early if going to see it. If you're going...I saw it ...but didn't go early....90 minute wait.

Posted by wayner
stevens point, wi, usa
186 posts

Hi from Wisconsin, Maybe I missed it in the responses. Get a Museum Card. It will save you hours of waiting in line. It didn't really save us money as a couple attractions were closed, the Museum of Islamic Art comes to mind. But to jump to the front of the line with the card was worth a lot. Saved hours of time in the rain. Now jump to the front...check out where they are admitting the Museum card. There could easily be a second entrance. One for those without the card, and wanting to spend their touring time standing around out side and a second entrance that moves fast, as they have the card. Where to buy the card? We found the Arkeological Museum the best place to do it. Shortest line and closest to Aya Sofia, and Topkapi, and the museum is well worth the visit to see what is called the Sarcophagus of Alexander. Then go upstairs to the City of Istanbul Museum section and look at the two things: stone water mains (stone, my goodness, thank heavens for slaves), and the chain used to shut off the Golden Horn as a defensive measure. Don't forget to visit the Cistern. It is not covered by the Museum Pass but it is worth the visit if the line is not too long. wayne iNWI