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“Don't waste your time”
Review of Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace
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Ranked #10 of 1,105 things to do in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: This palace was built in the mid 1800s to replace an earlier structure that was made of wood. The new palace incorporated sixteen separate buildings with stables, a flour mill and a clock tower among them.
Reviewed November 2, 2013

My husband and I went to Dolmabahce Palace with expectant hearts, deciding we will spend our last afternoon in Istanbul to look at some lovely architecture soaked rich in history. What a disappointing trip it turned out to be! Apart from the impressive exterior and spacious gardens, the entire experience was marred by the fact we had to be guided in groups to see the interior of the palace. "Guided" is an overstatement as most of the times, I felt like we were just herded like sheep in a crowded production factory. The guide spoke with a dispassionate voice, his annoyance with the group evident on his face. He truly looked like he needed to change his job! The group was way too large for him to manage and his information was only available to those who were at the very front. Many parts of the palace had small corridors to see certain rooms, so a large part of the tour consisted of waiting patiently for our turns to take a quick peek at the rooms and hurrying to try catch up with the guide who had walked on ahead. After a few cycles of this, the whole tour started to feel meaningless because we didn't get to hear any information, even the rooms started to look the same. Interests soon waned among many visitors within the group, people started talking among themselves, not bothering to look at individual rooms. We started feeling like we were stuck in a human jam - unable to accelerate or turn back or end the tour. After the tour ended in the main section, we deliberated if we should proceed to the harem section. "Maybe it will be better," we thought. It wasn't. It was the same procedure of jam-packed into a procession, except this time it was worse. The group was larger and it was clear they were trying to squeeze in as many visitors as they could. At the end of the tour, we walked past the guide - this time, a man who seemed more cheerful, informed and liked his job better. I wouldn't know though, I wasn't close enough to hear a single bit of information from him. Regrettably, I wished I had spent my last afternoon in Istanbul a little better.

6  Thank Jacinta G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,210 - 2,214 of 5,488 reviews

Reviewed November 1, 2013

This is worth some of your time to see, but I would not rank it as a must see. The major downside is that ou have to be escorted around in a group (ours consisted of about 60 people). It was difficult to hear what our guide was saying, and what I did hear of her emotionless delivery suggested that she was repeating a well-worn script.
We only lasted the first 20 minutes and left.\
Do also note that the Istanbul Museum pass is not accepted here, and it costs 40YTL to tour the building.

Thank ArthurAvio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2013

If you want to be shepherded around an at times rundown country pile and at other times over-the-top palace of excess, with no time to appreciate the good bits and a guide that can barely be heard, the Dolmabahce Palace is for you. Yes, there are nice views from the gardens across the Bosphorous, but that's not enough to justify the entry fee. The palace has no soul. Add to that the fact that you have to queue up to participate in a somewhat painful guided tour with 50 others, and we weren't sorry when it drew to a close. If you go, don't waste any more money on the extra Harem tour. The Selamlik tour is quite enough.

1  Thank paulhZ9321KR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2013

This palace has some of the loveliest gardens, and the biggest formal stateroom/reception hall I've ever seen! The chandeliers, the endless rooms, corridors with old paintings, artifacts, etc, and the crystal staircase are amazing. It's all faded and in need of renovation, but our guide told us there isn't enough money in the State coffers of Turkey to do the expensive upgrades necessary. Nonetheless, it's well worth the visit. Try to go in late March or early April, because the tulips gardens are a SIGHT to behold!

Thank littlelena
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2013

No other historic attraction could demonstrate the might and glory of the Ottoman dynasty in its latter stages as much as Dolmabahce Palace. Built with a modern western architectural style at the time, the place is filled with precious items that give a glimpse into the lavish lives of the Sultans and their families. A must visit for anyone setting foot in Istanbul in my opinion.

Thank Abdallah A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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