Dolmabahce Palace: all you need to know to enjoy it

Are you traveling to Istanbul and want to visit the Dolmabahçe Palace? Here is everything you need to know about this visit.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

9 min read

Dolmabahce Palace: all you need to know to enjoy it

Dolmabahce Palace | ©Guilhem Vellut

The Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the largest buildings in the entire city of Istanbul. It was built in 1856 in order to replace the old Topkapi Palace. It is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings, as it is also located on the coast of the Bosphorus Strait.

This impressive palace served as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire, until it became a museum. During the visit, you can take a unique tour of most of the entire complex, an interesting and characteristic visit of the city.

I tell you how to get tickets and the details you should know before you go!

The best option

Istanbul Dolmabahçe Palace Guided Tour

Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace guided tour without queues

A 1 hour tour of this wonderful Palace of Istanbul with the company of the best expert guide in your language.

This tour will give you the opportunity to visit the Dolmabahçe Palace with an expert guide so that you can dedicate yourself only to explore the ornamentation of the different rooms and learn interesting stories about the sultans who lived there. In addition, your guide will end the tour at the Çamlıca Hill observation deck where you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Istanbul.

Don't waste valuable vacation time on accessing a tourist attraction or planning itineraries. Visiting a palace like this in the city of Istanbul is truly a privilege and you should make the most of it.

Recommended if... You are not satisfied with just visiting the sites without knowing their history. Thanks to this guided tour you will better understand the interest of this impressive palace in Istanbul.

How to get tickets for the Dolmabahçe Palace? What types of tickets are there?

Dolmabahçe Palace| ©Dan
Dolmabahçe Palace| ©Dan

If visiting this magnificent work is among your plans, you can buy your ticket in two ways: at the Dolmabahçe Palace ticket office or online in advance, to better organize your vacation plans. If you want to buy it there, I recommend you to go with some time in advance because the queues at the door of the Palace are usually quite long. The clear advantage of buying online is to save this time.

Tickets are divided into different categories depending on which section of the Palace you are interested in visiting. As you can see, the general admission is somewhat cheaper. Therefore, if you have the time, it is a very good option. The prices are in local currency, but I leave you the detail of the approximate prices in euros:

  • Entrance to the Selamlik area: 8€.
  • Entrance to the Harem: 5€.
  • Joint ticket: 12€.

Is it worth taking a guided tour of the Dolmabahçe Palace?

Of course it is. In palaces with so much history and with so many ornamental details it is always highly recommended to hire a guided tour. In this tour the guide will take you through the different rooms of the impressive Ottoman residence (think that it has more than 280 rooms and this on your own can be overwhelming) and will tell you the most relevant events that will give you the context of the history of luxury and eccentricity of the sultans of the time.

Book a visit to the Dolmabahçe Palace

Are tickets to Dolmabahçe Palace included in any tourist card?

Palace Details| ©Agon Ymeri
Palace Details| ©Agon Ymeri

You may be thinking of buying one of Istanbul's tourist passes to get the most out of your trip.

Well, your Istanbul E-pass includes the admission fee and the guided tour of the Selamlik section of the Palace.

This visit consists of a tour of the Dolmabahce Palace with a professional English-speaking guide, if you speak English. If not, don't worry as the audio guide is also available in Russian, Spanish, Arabic, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, among others, provided by Istanbul E-pass live guide.

Moreover, you can get in without reservation or queue. You just need to show your pass, which will be sent to your email address in a QR code format.

The Istanbul E-pass is available in passes of different lengths. There are 2, 3, 5 and 7 days and it starts with your first activation. Days are counted according to the calendar and can only be used on consecutive days.

Book a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace

How much time do you need to visit Dolmabahce Palace?

Inside the Palace| ©Megan
Inside the Palace| ©Megan

Individual visits are not allowed, so always wait for a group to form. This takes practically minutes, as tourists are constantly arriving.

The visit inside the Palace is estimated to take about 1**.5 to 2 hours**. No photography is allowed inside the building and the tour is strictly marked, which makes the visit much smoother. But it is true that the Palace is very large and full of details that you will surely want to contemplate carefully.

Then it is up to you whether you take a break at the cafeteria located on the banks of the Bosphorus, in the first garden of the Palace. There, you can also contemplate the popular Clock Tower.

The best time to visit the Palace, in my experience, would be early in the morning or late in the afternoon, before closing time. If you decide to visit it around noon, you will probably come across many other tourists with the same intention. It is the busiest time of the day.

You can also combine your visit, taking advantage of the proximity to the Bosphorus, with a cruise on the Bosphorus River. An extremely pleasant experience after your tour.

Book a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace

When is the Dolmabahçe Palace open?

Palace Tour| ©Christopher Bazley
Palace Tour| ©Christopher Bazley

If you are planning your visit to the Palace, please note that it is closed on Mondays. This is quite common in the city of Istanbul, so I recommend that you check before heading to any attraction on this day of the week.

All other days of the week it is open from 9am until 5pm, but visitors are admitted until 4pm.

Book a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace

What not to miss at Dolmabahçe Palace?

Selamlik| ©Raymond Cunningham
Selamlik| ©Raymond Cunningham

Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the largest buildings in Istanbul and its tour is one of the most interesting of all the museums and exhibitions in the city.


This building is the main building of the Dolmabahçe Palace. Here, the public life of ancient life took place. Meetings and various festivities related to the representatives of the state were organized here. It is the first part of the palace that you will see and it will simply leave you open-mouthed.

But why? Actually all the halls and corridors of this part of the visit are more than beautiful. I recommend you to pay attention to the decoration of the ceilings and the large and luxurious chandeliers.

Everything that has to do with the ornamentation of the Palace is really impressive. In fact, you will be able to identify that the halls are distinguished according to their color. You will find, for example, the Blue Room or the Pink Room.

My favorite places of the whole visit are the stairs built with Bohemian crystal and the library of the caliph Abdulmecid Efendi, the last inhabitant of the palace in the Ottoman period. They are truly jewels that you can't miss.

The feast hall

As you can imagine, in the midst of so much luxury, the reception hall is most spectacular. It is a truly immense hall, about 2000 square meters, and very high ceilings, almost 40 meters high. Inside there is not so much luxury because it is almost empty, but just contemplating its columns and its giant lamp of 4 tons is wonderful.

Here, for example, Atatürk's first speech as president and his funeral were held.

The harem

In this type of palaces of the Ottoman period, the family life and the women of the Sultan took place. It is true that this part is not as spectacular as the other sectors of the Palace, but it is interesting to know how the daily life of this figure was.

Atatürk's room

Inside the harem, you can find the room of the man who founded the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. This place was where he lived and died in 1938.

A curious fact is that all the clocks in the Palace mark the time of his death as a tribute and commemoration.

The Gardens

The gardens have an easily identifiable European style, as in the rest of the Palace. It is decorated with many elements from other palaces of older times such as fountains, statues and floral arrangements. The so-called Hasbahçe is the main garden, where you can also appreciate the facade of the Selamlik building from a privileged perspective.

Book a visit to the Dolmabahçe Palace

How to get to Dolmabahçe Palace?

Istanbul Tramway| ©Edgardo W. Olivera
Istanbul Tramway| ©Edgardo W. Olivera

Dolmabahçe Palace is located in the Besiktas area of Istanbul, an area a bit more secluded than the main central areas of the city.

Beyond that, it is very easy to move around Istanbul by public transport, and if you do not know where you are, you can help yourself perfectly with the Google Maps service or with the service of the Istanbul transport page.

Kabatas is the closest stop to the Palace and is perfectly connected with the rest of the city. You can reach this point with:

  • Funicular: from Taksim.
  • Ferry: from Uskudar, on the other side of the Bosphorus.
  • Streetcar: from Karaköy neighborhood or Sultanahmet area.
  • Bus: from many other parts of the city.

If you do not feel comfortable with public transportation, remember that you always have the cab service or the Istanbul tourist buses.

Is it advisable to go to Dolmabahçe Palace with children?

Details of the palace walls| ©Robert Pilepic
Details of the palace walls| ©Robert Pilepic

The interesting part for children will surely be listening to the history of the sultan, which is told by the guide as a story, and it is easy to imagine how these scenes of everyday life in the palace we are visiting. Also the gardens and the views of the bay are special spaces to share with the family.

Book a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace

What can I do near Dolmabahce Palace?

Ortakoy Mosque| ©Kemal Eksen
Ortakoy Mosque| ©Kemal Eksen

If you want to take advantage of the day and visit the Dolmabahce Palace area, here is a list of interesting options:

  • Besiktas Football Stadium: here you can make a visit to the Besiktas Football Club museum, the museum of the oldest soccer club in Turkey.
  • If you take the funicular to Taksim Square, you will reach Istikal Street. This area is very commercial, full of stores to shop and try different street food options.
  • Another very attractive option is to take the ferry to the Asian side of the city of Istanbul and discover another side of this capital.
  • Also visit the Ortakoy neighborhood, very close to Besiktas. The Ortakoyes Mosque, free and free access, and very impressive, on the banks of the river. I recommend you to visit it at prayer time to enter fully into the Muslim culture. Remember, if you are a woman, cover your hair, shoulders and arms before entering.

Sundays are particularly nice because there is a very lively market and many people in the streets.

Book a visit to the Dolmabahçe Palace

Some useful tips for your visit

Dolmabahce palace by night| ©Cangul
Dolmabahce palace by night| ©Cangul
  • Remember that it is forbidden to take pictures and videos inside the palace. You will see a large security operation in and around the Palace.
  • Before entering the building, you will have to put on some plastic sheeting to protect your feet. You must keep them for the entire visit and they are to promote the conservation of this building so valuable to the city of Istanbul. The floors and carpets are already many years old, and the purpose is to prevent them from wearing out or getting dirty easily.
  • Take into account the time you will spend at the security checkpoints when planning your visit. As I told you earlier, it is a very crowded place and everyone must be checked.
  • Large bags or backpacks are not allowed at the entrance of the Palace, so remember to bring just the right things.
  • You are also not allowed to bring food or drink, so enjoy yourself before entering the Palace.

Book a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace