Best Turkish Baths – Hamams in Istanbul
The Turkish baths are the Ottoman version of the Roman baths. They are a place created to combine the cleanliness of the body and relaxation, although they also fulfill a social and cultural function.
Etymologically, the word Hammam (the name in Arabic) means “that expels heat.” Currently and depending on the dialect, Hammam is equivalent to say bathroom.
During the 18th century, Istanbul had more than 150 bathrooms, many of them built by the architect Sinan.
What is a Turkish bath?
A traditional Turkish bath is a wetter variant of the sauna and is divided into several parts: Atrium, Cold, Tempered and Caldarium. The interior of the bathrooms is decorated with marble because it is a material that keeps the heat very well.
In most of the bathrooms in Istanbul, the entrance includes exfoliating scrub and various massages. It must be said that Turkish massages are quite strong and can be reminiscent of Thai massage.
Most popular Turkish baths
How could it be otherwise, in Istanbul there are hundreds of hamams. The vast majority are traditional Turkish baths, although spas with a more western style have also appeared.
Since you are in the heart of ancient Constantinople, we believe you should try a traditional bath.
Bathing in a hamam was not only a hygienic issue, but also a ritual that began the previous day, including special meals. And, although these customs are not maintained, the hamam remains an icon of Turkey. In your visit to the country, you can not miss an experience in a real Turkish bath.
Sightseeing in Istanbul is passionate and exhausting equally. We know. That is why we propose that, after days discovering your treasures until exhaustion, and before returning to everyday life, you will receive a last experience that will last in your body and soul.
Our philosophy gives the highest priority to intellectual honesty, so we try to give instructions without prejudice, so they can make a selection for themselves. We hope that these little comments will help you, at least.
We explain everything about the best Turkish baths in Istanbul.
Address: Vezirhan Sokak No. 34
Hours: Every day from 6 to midnight.
Price: from 40 euros.
Çemberlitaş Hamam is probably the best-known Turkish bath in Istanbul.
It is located in the historic center of the city, next to the Grand Bazaar, the Constantine column and other tourist attractions.
The Çemberlitaş Hamam was built by Sinan in 1584 during the mandate of the “Sultana” Nurbanu, born in Venice in the mid-sixteenth century and taken to Istanbul by Ottoman corsairs. The touch of Sinan is appreciated when contemplating the domes from the inside.
It is advisable?
That it is the most famous Turkish bath in Istanbul presupposes the obvious: it is the most expensive, something that does not imply the best service.
Attached to the Grand Bazaar, its basic service can only compete with the surrounding Turkish baths in price, somewhat below average. Although the tellak does not care about rubbing with the kese, the masseuse that includes the full service is more than recommended. It will not be an unforgettable experience, but neither will it be remembered as a tourist scam.
On the other hand, the Çemberlitaş Hamam, although it admits men and women, the rooms and treatments are done separately. If you want a mixed bath you should go to the Suleymaniye Hamam.
Although there is an option in which no service is received, if you opt for the most common package you will receive a massage and 15 minute scrub and a half hour oil massage. The price of the full service is approximately € 60.
Address: Mimar Sinan Sokak No. 20
Time: Every day, from 8 to midnight.
Price: from 40 euros.
With more than 450 years of history, the Suleymaniye Hamam is one of the oldest Turkish baths in Istanbul.
The enclosure is at the foot of the Suleymaniye Mosque, of which it is considered a part. The Suleymaniye Hamam was built in 1557 during the mandate of Suliman the Magnificent. It was designed by Sinan as part of the complex that included the mosque itself and other buildings such as a hospital and a primary school.
The price of the entrance includes, in addition to towels, flip flops and the necessary clothes (a bikini and shorts for women and a plaster for men), a massage with soap and an exfoliating wash.
The best hamam for couples and families
Suleymaniye Hamam is one of the few mixed baths in Istanbul. Without losing an iota of its original charm it becomes the hamam preferred by couples and families. All massages and treatments are given at the same time to the couple in the same room.
As a curiosity, all the masseurs are men.
Address: Ismail Gürkan Caddesi No. 34
Time: Every day, from 8 to 20 for women, from 8 to 22 for men.
Price: from 30 euros.
Another well-known Turkish bath in Istanbul is the Cagaloglu, in the old part of the city, in Yerebatan Caddesi, next to Hagia Sophia, and is one of the most visited by tourists as it is the only one besides the typical Hamam services It has a bar-restaurant and the possibility of accepting the dances proposed by slender young girls.
The Cagaloglu is the youngest of the great hamams of the city but, at the same time, is one of those that has worked uninterruptedly for a longer time. It was completed in 1741, during the reign of Mahmut I. Abdullah Aga signs a work that maintains the original architectural schemes, but adds baroque and glass details. Its origin is curious. It was a public hamam destined to maintain, with its profits, the bookstore that the Sultan had built inside the mosque of Santa Sofia. They are distinguished, offer experiences to cut the hiccups. As much as to have been a preferred choice of world celebrities when they wanted to feel like sultanas.
Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam
Address: . Tophane district
Price: from 45 euros.
Another premium experience in a restored hamam. The legendary Admiral of Calabrian origin Kiliç Ali Pasa, one of the contenders of the battle of Lepanto (Cervantes refers to him as Uchali in Don Quixote), entrusted this bath to Mimar Sinan, to be used for the enjoyment of the levend, soldiers who nurtured the Ottoman Navy. The bathroom was finished in 1583. After years of oblivion, the imposing building, whose dome stands out in the old
Tophane district, reopened in 2012 with facilities dedicated to the pleasure of the wealthiest customer.
It is a place to indulge yourself or give a luxury brooch for a trip to Turkey. Unlike most, this is not a double hamam, with separate rooms for women and men, but it offers a morning service for them and an evening service for them.
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam
Address: Bab-ı Hümayun Caddesi No. 1 Fatih District.
Time: Every day, from 7 to 23.
Price: from 55 euros.
Hürrem Sultan or Roxelana, wife of Suleiman the Magnificent and one of the most powerful women who knew the Ottoman Empire, was built a hamam to his height in 1557. The building was built on the Roman baths of Zeuxippos, in front of Hagia Sophia. The hamam worked until 1910, but a great restoration recovered them a century later. It is the most expensive, tourist and less social of our selection, but the experience deserves each one of the inverted Turkish liras. The attention given by its employees to the visitor is cordial, the facilities are neat and the atmosphere of relaxation is appreciated in the bustling Istanbul. We recommend the massage with judas tree essence oil. They will want to take a boat home.
Address: Turnacıbaşı Sokak No. 24 Beyoglu District
Hours: Every day from 8 to 19 for women, from 7 to 22 for men.
Price: from 16 euros.
Among so many possible experiences, those that are neither excessively expensive or complete, nor excessively classic or economic, do not stand out. But not for that reason they should be unworthy. An example of this intermediate level is the Hamam of Galatasaray, in the heart of European Istanbul. A handful of meters from the commercial Istiklal Street is this historic establishment (15th century). In the past, the Turkish baths of Galatasaray were a meeting place for generals, religious judges, grand viziers and sultans; Today, its preferred customers are tourists, willing to emulate their predecessors in a traditional and relaxing experience alike. Its menu of services is wide, and includes -for a somewhat exorbitant price- the possibility of holding parties and family reunions.
Built in 1481 by order of Beyazıt II, the Galatasaray hammam was originally part of the nearby complex at the famous high school of the same name thanks to the wish of Gül baba, a respectable man, who obtained from the sultan the realization of a school and a hospice.
Rebuilt in 1715 on the same site, this Turkish bath also welcomes until the beginning of the 21st century high school students doing their internship, as attested by Fetih Isfendiyaroğlu, former student and author of a book entitled “History of Galatasaray” published in 1952.
Address: No. 1 Beyoglu district.
Price: from 20 euros.
Among the fine options the Aga Hamami, located very close to Taksim Square. Without blunting at all, the Hamam Aga guarantees a pleasant time in an elegant and historical environment. The building that houses the facilities is one of the most beautiful and also the oldest. He was ordered to build in 1454 Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror: when this bath began to be used, all around were forests. It was, originally, a hunter’s cabin.
After successive renovations and a use that went from being exclusive for the nobility to popular in the last century, the bathrooms of Aga are presented today as a sufficient option both in services and as a result. Another positive aspect is its location, near the most commercial area of Istanbul. In short, a good site, but without bragging.
Kasımpaşa Büyük Hamam
Address: Potinciler Sokak No. 22
Hours: Every day, from 9 to 19 for women, from 5 to 22.30 for men.
Price: from . euros.
Price: from . euros.
In the middle of Taksim Square is Kadirga Hamami, small but very clean. Its schedule is from 9 to 15 hours for women and from 15 to 22 for men.
Tarihi Kocamustafapasa Hamam
Address: Kocamustafapasa, 185. District of Fatih.
Price: 8 euros the classic service.
The hamam of the tenuous bustle, the one of the tellak who learned the trade of their parents, the one in which you will hear Turkish and nothing else, the cheap one: the most genuine. Kocamustafapasa, in one of the neighborhoods of old Istanbul, offers an affordable, effective and authentic experience. Located near the mosque dedicated to the local spiritual leader Sümbül Efendi, the hamam fulfills its role as a place of purification of the faithful. Not being a place accustomed to foreign tourists, it is not an impediment for their tellak to kindly direct the client through all the classic rituals that take place in the hamam. Your employees will strive to make this experience highly satisfactory. It is not a spa. It’s a Turkish bath, the real one. More than 500 years of life guarantee it.
Address: Yalıboyu Caddesi No. 70
Hours: Every day, from 8 to 19 for women, from 6 to 22 for women.
Price: from . euros.
Address: Rıhtım Caddesi, Recaizade Sokak No. 17-19
Hours: Every day, from 8 to 19 for women, from 6 to 23 for men.
Price: from . euros.
Address: Çavusdere, 204. Üsküdar district.
Price: 9.50 euros the classic service.
Although the majority of historic hamams are located on the European shore of Istanbul, the Asian also offers rewarding baths. It is not easy to reach Çinili Hamam, in the conservative neighborhood of Üsküdar, but its price and the goodness of its tellak well deserve it. Kösem Sultan, consort of Ahmed I, was the influential Ottoman leader who ordered the construction of these baths, completed in 1640. He died having only seen the women’s area finished. Both operate today, in an elegant historical complex of classical Ottoman style that offers, like the Turkish baths of Kocamustafapasa, a traditional and cheap experience. Apart, for women only, there is a massage service with essential oils.
THE HAMAM RITUAL
DEVICE The classic experience is common: the visitor will undress in a cabin located in a patio-lobby. Then, wearing only the parete as a pareo, will be conducted, through a gate, to the sicaklik.
STEAM ROOM The sicaklik is the most spectacular room in the hamam under a perforated dome for light to enter thanks to its skylights. The gobektasi, a large central platform that is heated underneath – formerly with firewood – is key for steam to rule the room. At least ten minutes must be spent here. Sometimes, the Turkish bath has a sauna, which replaces the wet sweat, characteristic local, by dry, typical of the Nordic countries.
EXFOLIAR Once the humidity has opened our pores well, it is time for the natir -for women- or the tellak (for men) to demonstrate their art next to the kurna, a profusely decorated faucet: scrub our body thoroughly with the kese, the mitten able to bring out the dead cells in our skin and complete the task with a wash of hot and cold water and perfumed soap, the köpuk.
FINAL It is essential to finish the bath with a few drinks of Ottoman sherbet (sorbet) , soda or Turkish lemonade. Some hamam usually those dedicated to the foreign client, have extended their letter including relaxing massages, pedicures or manicures. Thus, these are closer to the spa known in the West, where silence and recollection precede traditional hilarity. In all our recommendations the experience, although different, is always pleasant.