Istanbul Turkish Bath & Hammam: Guide & Tips
Read our complete guide to a 5000 year old traditional spa experience. Learn tips & places to go.
An indispensable element of Turkish culture, the Turkish Baths or Hammams, offering relaxing and refreshing time to everyone who visits Istanbul.
The very first bath structures were used by the Romans but Turkish bath is leading this culture in the world in our day.
Indeed, hammams were a part of daily life in the Ottoman Empire. The health benefits of baths were known, and they also served as a kind of socializing place serving for man and women at the different time periods in a day.
Turkish Baths have been perceived as places where physical and spiritual purification is obtained for a long time and this tradition is still alive both in modern spa centers and in many of the historical marble domed hamams in Turkey. A hammam experience is truly a must do experience in Istanbul.
On this page, you will find everything you need to know about the Turkish Baths and hammams in Istanbul, including the best historical baths to go to and what exactly is awaiting you there...
Guide step by step
Even if every hammam in Istanbul gives a different experience, there are still some steps that don't change wherever you go. Here is a quick overview of what to expect when you go to a hammam in Istanbul, step by step:
- 1PAYMENT: After you decided what kind of service you want (either a package with massage or just to be by yourself), you will have to pay at the reception before the session.
- 2CHANGING ROOM: Then, the officials will show you the room where you can change and lock your belongings. They will also bring you the necessary items for your session (depending on the package you paid for). You can put your swimsuit and drap your body with the thin towel called pestemal before going out of the changing room.
- 3STEAM ROOM: When you are all set for your session, you will be taken to the beautiful big steam room. Usually, the steam rooms are separated by gender. Don't forget to wear sleepers as the floor can be very slippery.
- 4OPEN PORES: In the steam room, you can wet yourself and lie down like you are sunbathing on the hot marble called the navel stone (göbek tası) and rest for a while. The purpose here is to make your body sweat and open the pores, to remove toxins and to prepare for a good scrub and bath. At times, you can pore some hot water on yourself to make your skin softer.
- 5SCRUB: Now is time for deep cleaning! The experience we call a scrub massage is to remove the dirt from your body with hard touches with a glove called this scrub by the official of the bath. This is followed by a soothing and relaxing foaming session. When it's all over, you feel light as a bird.
- 6MASSAGE: Beforehand, you can book various kinds of therapies and massages with essential oils. If you booked a massage, you will get to be in a special massage rooms. Couple massages are available in some hammams.
- 7REST: After this amazing traditional hammam session, if you still have time, spend a moment in the resting areas of the hammam and enjoy a relaxing moment to the fullest. To finish, you can put your clothes back and go out or eat in the hammam's restaurant if there is one.
Do I need a reservation for hammams in Istanbul?
As said previously, every hammam is different in Istanbul. Each of them has different packages and provide different services.
Some of them give the opportunity to enter without reservation and some require reservation for capacity or safety reasons.
Best thing to do is to make reservation beforehand and ask for details if needed.
One important part is the preparation before going to the hammam. Let's see what to bring in your bag for your hammam experience in Istanbul.
What to bring with you
Many personal products including traditional soaps, kese (bath gloves), shampoo and other would be given to you in hammams in Istanbul. Below, we have listed some products that would be necessary to take with you in a Turkish Bath. Most of these products will already included but still you may want to have your own products with you.
Let’s see what are these...
Put THIS In your bag:
TOP ISTANBUL HAMMAMS
1. Historical Cağaloğlu Hammam
One of the most famous Turkish Bath is Cagaloglu Hammam in the Sultanahmet area. It was designed by the court architect Suleyman Agha and built by the order of Sultan Mahmud I in 1741.
Many celebrities such as Turkey's first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, musician Franz Liszt, Cameron Diaz and Kate Moss were guests of this bath.
It was included in the New York Times list of ' "1000 Places to See Before You Die".
The standart package in Cagaloglu Hammam includes 10 minutes scrub+soap massage and sauna. Men and women rooms are separate because of the establishment and atmosphere.
2. Historical Aga Hammam
Here is the oldest Turkish Bath in the city which was founded in 1454 located in Cihangir district of Beyoglu. It was used as an exclusive hammam for the Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and his sons initially. The Sultan Abdulmecid had it renovated in 19th century and it was served for the Sultans and royal family members until the last period of Ottoman Empire.
It is very centrally located especially close to the hotels in Taksim area, only 400 meters away from the Taksim square.
There are various packages in Aga Hammam. If you choose the full package, an exfoliating full-body scrub and foam bath, 20-minute oil massage, and a face mask will be included. This experience takes about two hours. The Aga Hammam provides kese (pouch), soap, shampoo, pestemal, towel and slippers to the guests. Aga Hammam is open everyday. The most crowded hours is between Between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
3. Historical Çemberlitaş Hammam
Çemberlitaş Hammam is located right next to Çemberlitaş Tram station. It is in a walking distance from Sultanahmet area, 5 minutes from Sultanahmet station.
It is among the finest classical Turkish Bath examples that was constructed by Nur Banu Valide Sultan, some time before her death in 1583 and the architect was the great chief master Sinan. It was a double bath originally, but the women’s part was destroyed during the street widening process.
Pouch, soap, shampoo, towel, slippers and loincloth are given to the guests. Kese (peeling with a pouch) and traditional soap massage takes about 15 minutes, other massages are 30 minutes in Çemberlitaş Bath. There are separate sections for men and women and it is not possible to use the same space as a couple.
4. Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hammam
Standing out with its wealthy and charming architecture. The Hurrem Sultan Hammam takes its name from the beloved wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It was designed and built in 1556 by the chief Ottoman architect Sinan of 16th century.
In the place where it was built, were the ancient “Zeuxippos Baths”, which were destroyed in the past. Hurrem Sultan Bath was actively used until 1910, and then remained closed for many years. It was repaired in 1957-1958 and restored in 2008. Today, it continues to be used for its original purpose, taking its present with luxury and splendor.
Located right opposite the Hagia Sophia, The Hurrem Sultan Hammam is awaiting the visitors to feel like a Sultan and get a real cultural experience that is both exciting and soothing.
The Hurrem Sultan Hammam has different sections private for men and women. The prices are starting from 50 Euros with the 30 minutes package including traditional pouch and foam ritual on the navel stone.
5. Kılıç Ali Pasha Hammam
It was built by Architect Sinan by the order of Kaptan-ı Derya Kılıç Ali Pasha, one of the famous commanders of the Ottoman navy in the 16th century. It is actually part of Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex overlooking the Tophane Square. The bath, which was neglected for many years, started to serve as a bath again in 2012 after a seven-year comprehensive restoration.
Massage service is not included to tha standard packages in Kılıc Ali Pasha Hammam. The guests who want to receive classical oil massage service must make a reservation by stating their wishes. Our massage service is offered by professional therapists in private massage rooms.
The prices are reasonable as a historical bath in a central location. Kılıc Ali Pasha Hammam is a child-friendly facility. Children between 0-5 are free and there is a discounted price policy for the children from 6 to 12 years old.
There are different sections private for men and women and not available for the use of couples.
Turkish Bath for Couples
Turkish Hammam culture is intertwined with SPA’s in modern day. For the couples, it is possible to find bath and massage facilities that can be used at the same time at many 5 star hotels in Istanbul. Let us introduce you with some of them...
The Spa section is located on the 2nd floor of Raffles Istanbul. Reservation is reccomended to ensure availability.
- Couple Romance Package includes a 1 hour massage at the same time and room for the couples and 30 minutes use of jaccuzi.
- There is also a Turkish Bath package special for couples with including 30 minutes use of special suite, one hour foam massage and a complimentary fruit basket.
Allure SPA & Wellness at Romance Istanbul Hotel
You can reserve a special hammam as a couple where you can have your massages at the same time with therapists. Couples Hammam package includes a relaxing foam massage and body scrubbing followed by essential clay body masks. Following your treatment, you can relax on the navel stone. This package is about 50 minutes.
Sanitas Spa in Ciragan Palace Kempinsky Istanbul
Sanitas Romantic Couple Massage: (85 minutes) It starts with a signature massage and then continues with face peeling and treatment.
VIP Jacuzzi (30 minutes) You can relax and moisturize your skin with special products in an exclusice jacuzzi as a couple.
FAQ for Istanbul Hammams
The most common and comfortable item is a kind of tower that you wrap your body called “pestemal” in hamams. The bathers are usually given pestemal while some prefer wearing swimsuits under it.
Turkish baths are perfect for relaxing the mind and the muscles. The steamed air, hot water and cleaned pores ensures purification while making your body rested.
You can find fiber and pouch from bazaars, cosmetic- personal care stores and even in stores selling herbal products in Istanbul. There is a wide open air bazaar area called “Mahmutpasa” behind Spice Bazaar in Eminonu where you can find pouch along with many other items.
Yes, the sections are private for men or women separately at Turkish Baths. But it is possible to reserve special packages for couples at some SPA facilities of 5 star hotels in Istanbul.