Bishop Museum vs. Iolani Palace

The full name of Bishop Museum.

Why not both? You’re probably thinking to yourself. Well, I’ve seen both places inside and out. I can tell you right now, if you’re thinking of spending a short time on Oahu (like two weeks or less) and especially on a budget I suggest you either go to Bishop Museum or Iolani Palace. They’re very similar in history, architecture, and what they have to offer which is why I think one or the other is best. If you’re staying for a while and can afford it then go ahead and see both! I already wrote a whole post on the Iolani Palace. The Bishop Museum isn’t all that complicated so I’ve decided that it might not be worth it’s very own post. Instead, I’ll compare the two for you.


Winner: Iolani Palace

At admission price alone Iolani Palace wins (slightly) with full price adult charging $21.75 per person and Bishop Museum at $22.95 per person. I outlined more specific pricing of Iolani Palace on my ultimate guide post. For Bishop Museum senior citizens (over 65) are $19.95 and children 4-17 are 14.95 each. Under 4 years old are free. There is a military and kama’aina discount. $14.95 per adult, $12.95 for seniors, and $10.95 for children 4-17 while under 4 are still free.

Getting There

Winner: Iolani Palace

This statue is on the main stairway in Iolani palace.

Iolani Palace is right in Downtown Honolulu with all sorts of buses coming from every direction passing right by it. There is no way I could name them all, however bus numbers, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 19, 20, 40, 42, 52, 62, and others all stop right next to it. Bishop Museum is in Kalihi (a not so great neighborhood) with only bus 2 going near it (1L and 2L go there too however they are only Monday-Friday). Also, from Waikiki it’s a longer ride and you can’t see it from the bus stop so it’s a bit easy to miss.

Both places have metered parking if you have your own car you’ll be driving. Bishop Museum has more parking available though, Iolani Palace not so much.


Winner: Bishop Museum

The Bishop Museum is open from Sunday-Saturday 9am-5pm. An easy solid schedule you can keep track of even if you’re bad at scheduling. Iolani Palace, not so much. Sunday’s they’re closed (except Kama’aina Sundays). Monday they’re open 9-4. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays they’re open 10:30-4. Friday’s and Saturday’s they’re open 12-4. It’s so complicated.

For Families

Winner: Bishop Museum

Outfits people wore all across the Pacific.

The Bishop Museum has several different buildings to choose from surrounded by the Great Lawn in the center. If you have small children this is the place to go. They have plenty of tactile and hands on things to do in each building. In the picture above, hanging above the pictures were outfits for children to try on and get pictures in. The Science center has a huge (fake) rock formation to play in while the Hawaiian Hall has games to play. They will definetly be entertained. Since the Iolani Palace is a self guided audio tour young children may get bored and mess around on the touch screen they were just given.

History Buffs

Winner: Tie

Different canoes across the Pacific.

If you want more specific history on the Kalakaua dynasty and Queen Liliuokalani in her final days of reigning then the Iolani Palace is what you want to see. If you are more of an architect geek and want more of a broad Oceanian history then you’ll want to see the Bishop Museum. They still talk about the royal families as well, however it’s more of a broad sense rather than specifics on King Kalakaua.

View from the Bishop Museum.

All in all it really depends on the type of experience you want. Bishop Museum has a better view of Honolulu than the palace does. Once you’re inside there you can’t really see outside of the windows. Even if you don’t like history these are both awesome places to visit. It’s your choice, since there wasn’t really an overall winner in the end!

About Leanne

Leanne got the inspiration to travel the world at 12-years-old when her family moved from Washington State to Florida. Although she still had to attend 7th grade she used her time to gain inspiration from travel bloggers. Now, 7 years later, here she is! Today she’s living in Honolulu, Hawaii and preparing herself both physically and mentally to travel the world. Come join her here on Countries To Go!

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