8 Ottoman Palaces In Istanbul & How To Get To Each One

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Here is my guide to the best palaces in Istanbul that we suggest you visit. These palaces of Istanbul are sure to delight, showcasing the grandeur and complexity of what was once the residence of the Ottoman sultans and the capital of the empire.

Read on to discover fascinating facts, delve into the history, and learn how you can reach each one by public transport.

Turkey Travel Blog_Top Palaces In Istanbul

Today, we are traveling to Istanbul, one of the most popular cities in the world. The city, which has hosted many nations and countries for centuries, is the capital of many cultures and civilizations and is home to millions of people. Beautiful Istanbul sits across two continents and is a crossing point of Eastern and Western culture.

If we try to describe Istanbul fully, it would be necessary to write volumes of books about this interesting city. Instead, this article will only discuss the Istanbul palaces we know you want to add to your Turkey travel itinerary. 

1. Topkapı Palace – Topkapi Palace 

Istanbul Palace - Braided Guards (Zuluflu Baltacilar), Topkapi Palace, Istanbul_Depositphotos_595477328_S

After Fatih Sultan Mehmet (II. Mehmet) conquered Istanbul, he had Topkapi Palace built, which was used as a castle during the Byzantine period. Thus, the first Ottoman palaces in Istanbul emerged.

Once A Royal Residence

Topkapi Palace stands out with its slightly different architecture from that period’s Eastern and Western cultures. The palace has four central courtyards with other functions. For example, the second courtyard was used as the administrative center at that time.

If you want to learn in detail what is what and which part is used for what, you can take a guided tour by paying extra. You can visit the palace independently, but we recommend you take a guided tour.

Topkapi Palace Istanbul-11


One of the most important features of Topkapı Palace is that it was the place where the Ottoman sultans lived until the 17th century. After the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1924, the palace was converted into a museum. In 1985, this spot became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the “Historic Areas of Istanbul.”

Palaces in Istanbul -Braided Guards (Zuluflu Baltacilar), Topkapi Palace, Istanbul_Depositphotos_90341996_

Fun palace facts: Kösem Sultan, one of the most powerful and influential women in Ottoman history, was the Valide Sultan to her sons Murad IV and Ibrahim I and her grandson Mehmed IV. She lived in the Topkapı Palace and later in the Old Palace (Eski Saray).

What We Loved At Topkapi Palace

  • Located close to Topkapı Palace: There are many popular things to see near Topkapı Palace, such as the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Archeology Museum
  • How to get to Topkapı Palace Istanbul: You can easily get to Topkapı Palace by public transportation. You can take the T1 tram; it takes only 5 minutes to walk from Sultanahmet stop to Topkapı Palace

2. Çırağan Sarayı Palace – Çırağan Palace Kempinski

Palaces in Istanbul - Ciragan Palace_Istanbul Turkey_Depositphotos_469395120_S

Çırağan Palace is among the prettiest palaces in Istanbul. There are many reasons we recommend you visit this palace; the most interesting reason we recommend a trip to this Istanbul palace is that here you have the opportunity to stay in this palace.

Çırağan Palace gives you the opportunity to travel in time. This palace was built at a time when every Sultan wanted to live in his own house instead of his parent’s home. You can experience things that even the Sultan could not experience in this palace, which was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz. Sultan

Suite is ranked 14th on CNN’s list of “The 15 most expensive hotel suites in the world”. It comes then as no shock that Çırağan is the most expensive place for accommodation in Istanbul.

Istanbul Palaces - Ciragan Palace Istanbul Turkey_Depositphotos_469037568_S

  • Why else you should head to Çırağan Palace Istanbul? From here, you can also enjoy a unique view of the Bosphorus. It’s also the ideal atmosphere for weddings or other parties
  • Located close to Çırağan Palace: Once at the palace, you’ll notice that it is very close to other Istanbul palaces; you can take the ferry to Beylerbeyi Palace, walk or take a taxi to Dolmabahçe Palace and Yıldız Palace
  • How to get to this Istanbul palace: Jump on bus numbers 129T, 22, 30D, 42T, 57UL, DT1, or U1. You can take the Metro and look for lines M2 and M7.

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3. Beylerbeyi Palace

Istanbul Palaces - View of Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul_Turkey_Depositphotos_536821494_S

You can be enchanted by stepping into this palace built in the 19th century. The word Beylerbeyi means lord of the aghas, and I think that the reason is that it is one of the best palaces of Istanbul.

The palace is located on the Bosphorus, a spectacular part of Istanbul which connects Asia and Europe. It is the last palace where the Ottoman sultans lived, as it was the place where Abdulmecid was put under house arrest. Sultan Abdulmecid II lived here under house arrest.

The construction of the palace was started during the reign of Sultan Mahmud, but it was Sultan Abdülaziz who turned it into its present form. He demolished the building and had it rebuilt after a fire.

There is a reason why Turkish President Ataturk loved to host guests at Beylerbeyi Palace, even in the early days of modern Turkey; from magnificent gardens to detailed ornate ceilings, anyone who loves architecture should not miss visiting the magnificent summer residence as a relic of the empire.

Palaces of Istanbul - The opulent interior of Beylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul _Depositphotos_381821648_S


How to get to Beylerbeyi Palace Istanbul: You can get to this Istanbul palace in four different ways; bus, train, Metro, and cable car. You can use buses 14M, 15B, 15F, 251, 34AS, and 34G. You can board the Marmaray train, M5 for the Metro, or jump on Minibus C-115 or Minibus and C118 for the cable car.

4. Dolmabahçe Palace – Dolmabahce Palace

Romantic places in Istanbul - Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

This palace was built because the Sultan thought Topkapı Palace was old and wanted to move to a new one. The Sultan also wanted this newly built palace to rival many European palaces.

Dolmabahçe Palace was used in two different periods, 1856-1887 and 1902-1922. During the Republican period, this palace was converted into the Presidential Palace. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and leader of the Republic of Türkiye, used the palace as a summer residence and wrote some of his important works here. Another feature of this Turkish palace is that leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passed away in this palace.

What is impressive in this palace in Istanbul is that the crystal chandeliers weigh several tons and also that Dolmabahçe Palace witnessed the late Ottoman period and the early modern era. This palace is not only interesting because of its physical and visible features but also because the palace was in operation over both the Ottoman period and the Republican period. 

Snowy winter months Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, Turkey_Depositphotos_384441158_S


How to get to the Dolmabahce Palace: located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, on the European coast of the Bosphorus, the cheapest way to get to the palace is by tram; however, the fastest way to get here is by taxi.

5. Yıldız Palace – Yildiz Palace Museum

The name of this palace in Istanbul translates to Star Palace. In addition to being recognized by UNESCO, this palace has an architecture that combines the west and east. It can be said that the palace, which was built by the Italian architect Raimondo D’Aronco, was influential in the unification of this east-west culture.

Yıldız Palace is also close to Dolmabahçe Palace, but the palace does not face the Bosphorus. Although certain mansions date back to Sultan Abdülaziz’s reign, Abdülhamid used this building between 1876 and 1909. In those years, the Sultan expanded the mansions and created a small city with an opera house, carpentry shop, and even an imperial porcelain factory.

Suppose you are interested in music, art, and literature. In that case, I recommend you visit Yıldız Palace because the palace has a library that exhibits books and photographs, which you should definitely see.


How to get to Yıldız Palace Istanbul:  Situated in Beşiktaş, Istanbul. You can take a bus, Metro, ferry, and taxi to get there with ease.

6. Küçüksu Palace – Küçüksu Kasrı

Technically a pavilion

Kucuksu Pavilion on the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Küçüksu Palace, built in the mid-19th century by the Sultan, stands as a testament to the architectural marvels along the Bosphorus strait on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Originally used as a hunting lodge and a resting place by several sultans, this summer palace invites you to travel back in time with its European-style furniture, crystal chandeliers and mirrors alongside ceiling decorations and marble that speak volumes of the opulent lifestyle.

It’s one of the palaces in Europe where you can immerse yourself in the splendor of the last residences of the Ottoman elite. 

  • How to get to Küçüksu Palace Istanbul: Getting there is straightforward: hop on a bus or a metro to the Anatolian part of Istanbul and enjoy a scenic walk or a short taxi ride to this historical gem.

7. Ihlamur Palace – Ihlamur Kasrı

Technically a pavilion

Ihlamur Palace, ordered by Sultan Abdulmecid, sits in a large park of flowers and serves as a prime example of palaces and pavilions designed for leisure and relaxation. 

Nestled in Beşiktaş, this summer residence of the Sultan Abdülmecid features lush gardens and two main pavilions that offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. It was a favored lodge and a resting place, reflecting the blend of Ottoman and European decorative arts. 

  • How to get to Ihlamur Palace Istanbul: Easily accessible by metro and bus lines serving Beşiktaş, Ihlamur Palace stands as a vibrant reminder of the Ottoman Empire.

8. Aynalıkavak Palace – Aynalıkavak Kasrı

Technically a pavilion

Aynalıkavak Pavilion A palace on a cobblestone street in Istanbul.

Aynalıkavak Palace, once a residence of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, now serves as a cultural beacon in the Hasköy neighborhood on the Golden Horn’s shores.

This palace was the first to be built with the intention of hosting cultural events and concerts, opening as a museum to the public. Its architecture and gardens were the brainchild of an Ottoman governor, showcasing shipyard palaces’ grandeur.

As one of the last residences of the Ottoman dynasty, it played a pivotal role as a resting place and venue for high society events. 

  • How to get to Aynalıkavak Palace Istanbul: To reach this historic spot, take a bus towards Hasköy and enjoy a stroll through one of Istanbul’s less explored areas.

Istanbul’s Beautiful Palaces FAQs

Topkapi Palace Istanbul-05

How many palaces are there in Istanbul?

Istanbul is home to a significant number of palaces, each with its unique history, architectural beauty, and cultural significance. These residences were the homes of Ottoman Sultans.

What is the significance of the palaces along the Bosphorus?

The palaces along the Bosphorus strait were the places that Ottoman Sultans used as residences, and they showcase traditional Ottoman architecture.

What is the Ihlamur Pavilion?

The Ihlamur Pavilion is a traditional Ottoman pavilion located in Istanbul. It was initially built as a lodge and resting place for several sultans.

How can one get to the Palace of Kempinski Istanbul?

Palace Kempinski Istanbul can be accessed by various modes of transportation, such as taxis and public transport. Jump on bus numbers 129T, 22, 30D, 42T, 57UL, DT1, or U1. You can take the Metro and look for lines M2 and M7.

Which Sultan ordered the construction of the first palace in Istanbul?

Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, ordered the construction of the first palace in Istanbul. Known today as Topkapi Palace.

What can visitors expect to see in the palaces in Istanbul?

Visitors to the palaces in Istanbul can expect to see traditional Turkish architecture, ceremonial halls, audience halls, Turkish baths, and rooms used by the Ottoman Sultans.

Are the palaces in Istanbul open to the public?

Yes, some of the palaces in Istanbul have been converted into museums and are open to the public for visitation and exploration of Ottoman history. All of the ones in this guide can be visited all year round. 

Now that you have a list of the palaces of Istanbul tell us which one of these Istanbul palaces you will set foot in first.

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