Dolmanbahçe Palace picture
EnginKorkmaz/Getty Images

Key Info

Visnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Caddesi

Details

Castles/Palaces, Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.8scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Sitting along the Bosphorus near the Kabatas tram stop and the Besiktas ferry port, Dolmabahçe Palace's jaw-dropping beauty and historical importance impresses visitors. Built in the 19th century, the palace was used by the final Ottoman sultans as their primary residence and administrative seat. The interior and exterior architecture showcase a mix of European and Arab designs that can only be found at this global crossroad.

Past travelers were wowed by the palace's extravagant interior, although some wished photography was permitted and felt tours were rushed and lacked information. Several visitors also reported long ticket lines, and the property's website cautions that the ticket office closes early once all passes have been distributed for the day, so plan on arriving early.

Dolmabahçe Palace welcomes travelers every day except Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Standard tickets (which include a tour and access to all areas of the palace except the harem, or former sultans' sleeping quarters) cost 30 Turkish lira (approximately $8.50); separate passes for the harem are 20 Turkish lira (or $5.50) per person, while a combined ticket is available for 40 Turkish lira ($11). On-site facilities include multiple museums (including one with clocks and another with 5,000 works of art), a gift shop, restrooms and a cafe. The property is located in Besiktas, about a mile northeast of Taksim Square.

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Type
Time to Spend
#1 Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

Sultan Ahmed I was determined to build a mosque that rivaled the nearby Hagia Sophia, and most would agree that he accomplished this task – or, at least, came close. Since the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque has been quite the sight to behold, with an array of domes, semidomes and minarets (or narrow towers). It's also one of the biggest tourist draws in Istanbul.

Visitors say this mosque offers "stunning architecture inside and out." It can, however, get busy, so consider arriving early. And remember, the Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so dress conservatively. Women should wear headscarves, as is custom. If you forgot to bring one, you can borrow one from the mosque.

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