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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 31 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

The hammam, or Turkish Bath, is one of Turkey’s quintessential experiences: a deep cleanse, sweat-out, relax and (optional) heavy-duty massage all in one. Additional services include a massage and a rub-down with a kese (an abrasive glove), to remove layers of dead skin.

To visit Istanbul without indulging in this authentic Turkish bathing ritual is to miss out on one of the city’s best experiences. Besides the joys of an invigorating (and thorough) full body scrub and relaxing massage in beautiful marbled bathhouses, the city has several beautiful, historic hammams that are sights in their own right.

Many luxury hotels have a ‘hammam’, and offer a more personalised, private experience, but the authentic experience can only be had at a public one.

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam

Istanbul, Marmara Region, Turkey

Exterior of a red and white brick Turkish bathhouse with cafe tables beneath the pillars at the front

This gleaming white bathhouse was designed in 1556 by Mimar Sinan, the architect of the city’s greatest mosques – it’s now a modern, luxurious spa (albeit an expensive one) and a destination in itself. A basic 30-minute bath treatment includes a kese scrub and olive-oil soap massage.

Adult price: £50

Min age 6

Best for ages 13+

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Catma Mescit Hamami

Istanbul , Marmara Region, Turkey

Inside the Hammam at Catma Mescit Hamami in Istanbul

A beautiful 16th-century hammam designed by Mimar Sinan, this bathhouse offers facial masks and other spa treatments alongside classic Turkish treatments. As authentic as it gets.

Adult price: £42

Min age 6

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 1-3 hours

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Cukurcuma Hamami

Istanbul, Marmara Region, Turkey

Marble interior of the Cukurcuma Hamami Turkish bathhouse with lounge sofas in the background and detailed, decorative tiling on the floor

This pristine hammam offers services for men and women at the same time, making it a good choice for couples wanting to share the experience. 

Adult price: £32

Min age 12

Best for ages 12+

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Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam

Istanbul, Marmara Region, Turkey

Exterior of a Turkish bathhouse on a sunny day, comprising various interconnected domed buildings that are a sandy white with grey-blue roofs

A big beautiful bathhouse dating back to 1580, it recently reopened after a 7-year restoration. It includes a special hammam for children (of all ages). 

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 4+

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Price from: £18
Minimum age: 6
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 1-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Try to book at least 24 hours ahead to make sure you get a slot, and always arrive 15 minutes early to disrobe. Sessions range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, while extra massages can last over an hour.

When booking, see what is provided in the hammam kit at the bathhouse you go to: you may need to supply spare underwear or a swimsuit.

Some bathhouses permit children over 6, but unless there are special children treatments (some do have them), it’s not really suitable for under 13s. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

When to do it

Hamams are usually open all year round, seven days a week. Generally the baths are reserved for women in the morning and mid-afternoon, and for men only from late-afternoon until late at night, but each has its own schedule.

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Marmara Region, Turkey

Large illuminated mosque at night with sea in background

Exotic, inexhaustible and dynamic – East meets West head-on in this mesmerising city metropolis, famed for its extraordinarily rich history, superb food and shopping, and mind-blowingly magnificent, over-sized mosques.