In 2022, due to the unstable situation around the world, prices in Istanbul have increased very much. By our approximate estimations, 25 euros is the minimum budget for a day in Istanbul. This is how much it costs to lay down when planning a trip for 5 days. Then this is enough for a good budget hostel close to attractions, a shuttle ride to and from the airport, a card for public transport and several trips a day on it, as well as food in inexpensive cafes and street food.
Coronavirus restrictions in Turkey
Turkey has completely abolished all restrictions, entry is possible without PCR tests and vaccination certificates (everything is like before 2020).
Inside the country, all restrictions have also been lifted, the mask regime is observed only in hospitals.
Turkish currency. What money to take with you?
Turkish currency is lira. The lira exchange rate has been falling against both the Euro and the Dollar for many years. The country has high inflation, but it has not kept pace with the depreciation of the currency. This makes the country cheap for tourists.
We have page about Turkish Lira, how it looks like and where is the best option to change your own currency to Lira.
How much does it cost to get from Istanbul Airport to the city?
Istanbul has two airports: New Istanbul Airport (IST) in the European part of the city and Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) in the Asian part. The new Istanbul Airport completely replaced Atatürk Airport for scheduled passenger traffic in April 2019.
If you arrived at the New Istanbul Airport (IST)
If you arrived at the New Istanbul Airport (IST), then you can get to the city in the following ways:
Havaist shuttle. Shuttles depart every hour, during the day. You can buy a ticket on the spot at a small kiosk or directly on the bus. Website: hava.ist
The fare depends on where you are going. Here are some examples:
- Taksim Square – from 52 lira and 60-80 minutes.
- Kadikoy – from 57 liras and 60-90 minutes
Bus. City buses are a rather inconvenient way to leave or arrive at the airport. City buses have several routes to the airport (H2, H3, H4) but do not depart from the city centre.
Taxi: to Taksim at least 270 liras. Get into a yellow taxi and make sure the taxi driver turns on the meter, which in most cases is located on the windshield.
KiwiTaxi transfer to the city costs from 55 € to Sultanahmet district. Find the transfer of KiwiTaxi here. The advantage is that you will be met by a driver with a sign, and the price is fixed. Istanbul taxi drivers can wind up an extra 10-15 km bypassing the main route in order to earn more from you.
If you arrived in Sabiha Gokcen (SAW):
Fast and inexpensive – Havabus buses. They run every half an hour to Kadikoy (from 30 lira), and Taksim (from 40 lira). The road to Kadikoy usually takes an hour, to Taksim – 1.5 hours. The bus does not need to be booked in advance – there are always places (sometimes you have to wait). You can pay the fare before the trip.
Buses run from 4:00 am to 1:00 am. The timetable can be found on the Havabus website (there are also current prices).
City bus. You can buy a ticket from the driver, or you can pay with an Istanbulkart transport card. Buses E10, E11 go to Kadikoy. In Kadikoy, you can take the metro or ferry to the European side. Buses run around the clock.
Taxi: to Kadikoy from 230 liras, to Taksim or Fatih district – from 250 liras.
KiwiTaxi transfer with a sign and a English-speaking driver costs from 55€ to Taksim or the Grand Bazaar area.
How much does public transport cost?
Istanbul has good public transport, although at first it may seem difficult to figure it out. The Google Maps app handles route planning, so you don’t need to install anything extra.
The city has everything: buses, light rail, ferries, metro, Marmaray (metro under the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe) and metrobus. But every time you transfer, you will have to pay the fare again (but the price will be cheaper) if you use city card.
Therefore, the Istanbulkart transport card is required. It can be bought from vending machines at metro/ferry stations or from kiosks throughout the city.
One trip with a card costs 7.67 lira, the first transfer – 5.49 lira, the second – 4.17, the third and subsequent – 2.63 lira (ticket price). The cost of the Metrobus is determined by the number of stations (the card must be attached at the entrance and at the exit).
The requirement to attach th HES-code to Istanbul Card is cancelled in mid of 2022.
How much is a taxi?
Taxi prices have risen twice in 2021, most recently in December, and continue to rise. So in August 2022, landing costs 10 liras, each kilometer is 7 liras. The minimum cost of the trip is 15 lira. On the Taksiyle website, you can calculate the approximate cost of the trip.
Big article about taxi in Istanbul is posted on our website.
There is Uber in Istanbul, but the BiTaksi app is more popular in Istanbul. It calls you an ordinary yellow taxi, the price that the application shows is approximate – at the end of the trip, the driver will score the amount that will be on the meter. You can pay for “BiTaxi” by credit card or Istanbulcart.
There are thousands of taxi stops around the city, often getting into a taxi on the street is faster than ordering it somewhere. But taxis are not the best mode of transport in Istanbul during the daytime. The city is constantly in traffic jams and getting to the right place by public transport is often faster or not much longer.
Rent a Car
If you are going to rent a car, then be sure to go through the prices in several large online aggregators. Just keep in mind that petrol is expensive in Turkey. For Turkey we recommend:
Rentalcars is one of the largest car rental aggregators in the world. RentalCars withdraws money immediately and in rubles, and in case of cancellation, it also returns in rubles. RentalCars usually gives extras for free, like a second driver or unlimited mileage.
If you rent a car in advance, then an Economy class car (such as Renault Clio) will cost from 25€ per day. Always read the terms of the contract carefully!
How much does it cost to live in Istanbul?
Where to live in Istanbul? There are three worthy options: Kadikoy in Asia, Karakoy / Taksim and Fatih in Europe. Fatih is only recommended if you need to live close to major attractions like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. In the evening, life dies there, it will not be very pleasant to walk. For a good evening life, you need to go to the Besiktas or Kadikoy areas. But in the area of Taksim Square and Istiklal Street there are only nightclubs for tourists from the Middle East.
How much does a connection cost?
Mobile communications in Turkey are expensive. All three operators (Turkcell, Vodafone, Turk Telekom) charge from 250 liras for a tourist SIM card (may be much expensive at the airport).
For some reason, payment by card is almost never accepted for them, only cash. Above these 200 lira you will have to buy a package consisting of internet, minutes and SMS. A package for 10 gigabytes of Internet can cost from 100 lira.
Be careful: the SIM will “die” after 60 days.
How much does food cost in restaurants?
Istanbul is a gastronomic paradise. Especially for street food fans. In Istanbul you can find prices for every budget. Below are the average prices in non-tourist places
A traditional Turkish breakfast or Kahvaltı Tabağı (several types of cheese, sujuk, cucumbers, tomatoes, boiled egg, olives, butter, bread, tea/coffee) costs from 90 lira per person. For 90 liras it will often be a portion for one, in popular and tourist places you can pay 150 liras, but the breakfast will be large and enough for two.
Menemen – Turkish scrambled eggs, which they like to eat for breakfast, costs from 30 lira.
Tea – from 5 liras, Turkish coffee from 10 liras.
Fast food: doner from 20 lira; lentil soup (merjimek) from 15 lira, lahmajun 10-15 lira, large pide from 25 lira; simit from 5 lira (depends on freshness and bakery).
Look for places labeled Lokanta. This is a cafe, there is often a counter like in a dining room and you can choose what you want. You can have a good lunch from 30 lira. For example, the same merjimek soup can be found in locants for 7 lira. In tourist areas, cheap locants are hard to find.
There are a lot of places with good coffee, many where they make an alternative. A cup of cappuccino costs from 20 liras, filter coffee from 16 liras.
There are many bars and pubs in Istanbul, but 99% of them serve only Tuborg, Efes or something else very different from beer. A bottle of beer costs from 20 liras, although more often it is closer to 25 liras. Sometimes you can find beer from local craft breweries (for example, Zikkim) – a bottle will cost from 25 liras.
Turkey has good local wines and a lack of places to taste them. One of the best wine places is Solera Winery. A glass of local wine will cost 30 lira on average. Cheese/meat plate from 45 lira.
How much do groceries cost in the supermarket and markets?
Local goods in Turkey are inexpensive. Dairy products, cheeses, chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, local fruits and vegetables are on average 1,5 times cheaper than in Europe. It is best to buy vegetables and fruits in the markets that are at every turn.
How much does entertainment cost?
There are Hop-On Hop-Off buses in Istanbul by Istanbul Bus Tours company, but, frankly, sitting on a bus in a stuffy city is not a good thing. Yes, and it is not cheap – Big Bus costs 45 € per ticket.
Bosphorus boat tours are much more popular, ranging from a simple ferry ride along the Bosphorus for a few hours to a full-day dinner cruise. The price of a tour is almost never fixed, so bargain. For a two-hour tour of the Bosphorus with a guide, you can bargain for 20 liras per person. But enterprising Turks will not hesitate to take 100 from you.
Turkish bath (hammam) is a popular entertainment. Most importantly, don’t go to Galatasaray Hamam. This place is overgrown with legends, but differs only in high prices and poor service. In non-tourist hamams, it costs 30-35 lira to go in, another 10 for a massage, another 10 for a scrub. The most popular and famous hammam with good service is Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan. It is aimed at tourists and costs from 80 to 140 euros per visit.
How much do souvenirs cost?
Souvenirs can be bought almost everywhere.
Just don’t forget to bargain. Popular things can be bought for next to nothing: 1€ for a dozen postcards, 0.5€ for magnets, 1-2€ for souvenir mugs, 2-3€ for wallets. Silver rings can cost 2-5€, a set of 6 traditional tea cups with saucers – from 1.5€.
Turkish coffee is also brought from Turkey (from 12 liras per 100 grams), copper products (Turku, for example), spices, dried fruits, scarves, rose petal jam, figs, olive oil, shoes, bags, jewelry and much more. Istanbul is a continuous and chaotic market. Walk around, ask around for prices and learn a little Turkish words, you can profitably buy anything.
There are cool antique shops on Çukurjuma Street, next to the Museum of Innocence and in Kadikoy.
Museums in Istanbul
In Turkey, from July 1, 2022, entrance tickets to museums and archaeological sites rised in price. The cost of visiting many popular sites will increase from July 1 by 30-45%.
You can go to the Blue Mosque for free, the main thing is not to get there at the time of prayer (the schedule is indicated). A ticket to Topkapi costs 100 liras, but Hagia Sophia has become free since it was turned into a mosque. To the Basilica and to the top of the Galata Tower – 30 lira.
If you want to get around all the museums in Istanbul, then try buying the Istanbul Tourist Pass. At first glance, it is incredibly expensive (95€ for two days, 145 for seven days), but it includes a free transfer to the hotel (it’s 30€), a mobile router (it’s 35€ for a week), admission to 12 museums, a cruise on Bosphorus, Turkish baths and other things. If you use the card to the full, it will pay off.
There is also the Istanbul Museum Card (Museum Pass Istanbul) – a subscription for a one-time visit to the sights of Istanbul from within 5 days. It includes both a number of popular attractions and most of the minor ones. The museum card makes it possible not to stand in queues for tickets, for example. This is one of the main advantages, since during the high season it can take more than an hour. List of museums that are included in the Istanbul Museum Card:
- Topkapi Palace, Topkapi Harem (on the territory of Topkapi Palace)
- Archaeological Museum
- Mosaic Museum
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
- Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam
- Galata tower
- Galata Mevlevi Museum
- Rumeli Hisari Fortress
The subscription is valid for 120 hours from the moment of activation (passing through the museum turnstile) for a one-time visit to each attraction.
The Istanbul Museum Card gives a 10% discount in shops and cafes that are located on the territory of museums. The cost of the card is 325 lira.
When to visit Istanbul?
The ideal time to visit Istanbul is April-May and September-October. At this time, the optimal weather and housing prices. It is very hot in the city in summer, although many believe that this is the peak season for Istanbul, as locals leave the city for the coast, and there are fewer tourists in general than in Antalya, for example.
Summary. So how much will I spend?
If we consider the cost of a trip in 5 days, then the most budget option will be as follows:
- 5-10€ for accommodation per day for a decent hostel or a small room (if there are two of you), close to attractions.
- From 2€ for transportation, including round trip tickets for the Havaist shuttle, the purchase of Istanbulkart and several trips on public transport per day.
- 5-10€ for food (cafes and supermarkets). Even for 5 € a day in Istanbul, you can feed yourself well.
- 40€ for souvenirs, museums and paid attractions. There are a lot of free things in Istanbul!
- For 12-30 euros per day, you will get a vacation of varying degrees of budget.
- From 30 to 60 euros per day – it will come out much more comfortably. You can take a taxi more often (if there are no traffic jams), go to museums, buy souvenirs.
- Quite good – lay from 60 to 100 euros per day per person. So you can almost never deny yourself anything.
There is no upper ceiling, since in Istanbul there is something to spend almost any amount on (there are enough luxury hotels, and restaurants, and entertainment).
- Tourism Police in Istanbul;
- Prices in Istanbul on Numbeo;
- Istanbul ranks 30 out of 136 on the Backpacker Index (#1 is the cheapest, Vientiane);
- Official tourism portal of Istanbul;
- Wikitravel about Istanbul;