We are often asked which is your favorite hammam in Istanbul. It's a very difficult question to answer since there are over 200 hammams in Istanbul alone! In this article, we will explain how the hammam experience works and we will list the hammams in Istanbul, between the historical, the touristy and the local ones.
Below you will find a list of the most privileged and famous hammams in Istanbul, including a beautiful hammam in Istanbul which you can book online.
What to expect at the hammam in Istanbul?
The hammam is truly a unique experience that every visitor should try when visiting Turkey. We are sure that you are a big fan of the hammam and go there several times a year (at least once every 2 months).
We like to say that the hammam is a kind of meditative sanctuary where you cleanse yourself. The main purpose is to cleanse the body, but we find that it also cleanses the mind and strangely enough, it makes you feel lighter.
Each hammam has its “protocol” and its offers, but generally, one goes there for “the total”: entry + glove scrub + soap wash. The massage is to be paid extra.
HOW DOES IT WORK? 7 STEPS :
- When you arrive, you will be moved to a room to change and get ready. You will then have to put on your bathing suit (or topless for women, as you prefer). Don’t forget your slippers so you don’t slip and your towel to dry yourself.
- You will then enter this foggy space where you will be received for your treatment. At this point, you will probably have been provided with a hammam kit included in the price, containing a glove, cleaning materials, etc. Some hammams give it directly to the client. Some hammams give it directly to the person who is going to give you the treatment.
- After washing for at least 10 minutes with your host, your skin will be softened and ready for your KESE, which is the name of the horsehair glove massage.
- You will lie on a marble stone called Gobektasi. First on your stomach, then on your back, a person will rub your skin with the glove. This scrub will last for about 20 minutes. You will be impressed by the amount of dead skin that will be removed. Just let it happen and you’ll be like a baby by the end. If the pressure of the glove scrub is too much, ask the person to be gentler by saying “Yavach lutfen”
- Finally, you will be given a soap wash (this is usually included in the package). This wash is just super relaxing and draining at the same time
- You can book a professional massage according to those offered by the establishment. It will be necessary to do so in advance. This service will have to be paid extra.
- You will finish your hammam session with a relaxing moment in the rest area with deckchair. You will even be offered a small snack.
THE HAMMAM FOR MEN: The hammam is not only a feminine practice, Turkish men love to be pampered in the hammam regularly. This is why the hours of the male part of the hammams are generally longer. So men, get ready for the big cleaning.
Things to know before going to the hammams in Istanbul
- Pregnant women should avoid the hammam after the second month of pregnancy.
- Be prepared to spend at least an hour or even an easy hour and a half in the steam room, and take your time!
- Women and men are separated into two different sections during the steam room experience.
- Usually, the person giving you the treatment is the same gender as you, but in the larger hammams, sometimes it is only men (very rare).
- The price of a full hammam experience in Istanbul is about 50 €. This price includes entrance, glove scrubbing and soap washing.
- The hammams all offer additional treatment services such as manicure, waxing, facials and massages. Check out their websites for more information.
- Children are also welcome in the hammam.
1. Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam : The most magnificent
Located in one of the oldest districts of the city, in Tophane, this hammam literally takes you back in time! Beautiful architecture, professional massages, adorable staff and authentic atmosphere, these are the criteria that made me appreciate this moment of personal relaxation.
All hammam “equipment” will be provided to you upon arrival. Women can go there until 4:30 pm, then it’s the men’s turn. It is forbidden to be naked… A reservation is required in this high-end hammam!
2. Valide Atik Hamam : The most local
Unlike the previous one, this beautiful 14th century hammam is split into two distinctly separate areas for women and men. It is much more local, intimate and original, perhaps a little less flashy than the historical hammams.
Reservation is not compulsory but call anyway to be sure it’s open, the schedule changes regularly.
3. Cemberlitas Hamam : The sure value
The Cemberlitas Hammam is a popular historical Turkish bath that was built in 1584 by the famous architect Sinan. It is located between Sultanahmet and Beyazit, and is very easily accessible by streetcar. There are separate areas for men and women, and people of the same sex as you will welcome you. You are provided with all the hammam paraphernalia but you can bring your own.
It is a sublime hammam, with an impressive ceiling height, very nice and affordable services and quality cleansing products. To enjoy this high standard hammam, it is important to make an appointment.
4. Cagaloglu Hamam : The most expensive
This is the most luxurious hammam in Istanbul. A real jewel full of history in the heart of Eminönü, the sumptuous Cagalolu Hammam was built in 1741! It offers a service with great care, with products of high quality and you will even find an upscale restaurant called Lokanta. The entrance fee alone is around 100 € and the packages with massage go up to 300 €.
5. Ayasofya Hürrem Hamam: The most majestic
Ayasofya Hürrem Hamami is the Sultana Hammam. It is located not far from the Hagia Sophia Mosque complex and was built in 1557 by the famous architect Sinan at the request of Sultan Süleyman’s wife, Hürrem Sultan Roxelana.
Recently renovated, this beautiful and bright hammam with white marble is a very luxurious experience. You can be naked and will be welcomed by people of the same sex as you. Prices are relatively high, ranging from 55 € for the entrance only, to 185 € for the total with massage. You will find a sublime restaurant where you can smoke shisha and enjoy the mystical atmosphere of the Saint Sophia Mosque during your relaxing time.
6. Aga Hamam : The oldest
Not far from Istiklal Avenue in Taksim, here is the oldest hammam in Istanbul, a timeless classic! Aga Hamami welcomes you in an authentic atmosphere with oriental carpets and embroidered cousins. Aga Hammam is less neat than the others on the list, but very warm and loved by travelers. Its advantage is that men and women can have a session at the same time, but they will be separated in two different spaces during the scrub or massage.
It’s also the cheapest hammam on the list, with prices starting at around €30 for the basic package (entry + scrub + cleaning). A real bargain!
What to bring for a hammam session in Istanbul?
If you go to a well-known hammam, it will offer you a package with all the accessories included. But if you go to a more local hammam, like Valide Atik’s, here is what you will need to have in your bag if you want to miss anything for your relaxing moment:
- Plastic flip-flops (important for walking around without slipping). If you don’t have any, they will surely lend you some, but for me, it’s impossible to wear someone else’s slippers.
- A towel that you will probably borrow from your hotel…
- A real soap and shampoo.
- A horsehair glove. If you don’t have one, we’ll sell you one.
- Cream to moisturize you after your session.
- A bathing suit, because hanging out naked in the hammam is only reserved for Turkish mamas
- Utilities: cotton swab, cleanser, cotton etc… if needed.