Planning a trip to Istanbul? One of the first questions that may come to your mind is, “How much money do I need to visit Istanbul?” Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll break down the costs and provide you with all the information you need to budget your trip to this fascinating city. From accommodation and transportation to food and attractions, I’ll cover it all.
So, let’s dive in and discover how much money you’ll need to fully enjoy your visit to Istanbul!
“How much does travel cost?”
This is probably the most common question that travelers ask themselves. The answer depends on various factors such as your salary, desired expenditure, and the activities you plan to engage in.
As a frequent traveler, I have often pondered these questions and developed a habit of making quick calculations before embarking on a trip to estimate my expenses. It is safe to assume that you should budget an additional 15-20% on top of your calculated amount, just in case. There are always unforeseen activities or restaurants that catch your interest. Regardless of your budget, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the prices in a foreign country to avoid overpaying.
In this article, I share my experiences and provide a breakdown of the costs if you decide to visit Istanbul. And honestly, I believe Istanbul should be on everyone’s bucket list.
As a management consultant, I feel kinda confident in my ability to offer insights into cost breakdowns so I hope you like it. Enjoy reading!
When it comes to accommodation in Istanbul, you have a wide range of options to choose from like everywhere else. From budget hostels to luxury hotels, there’s something for every traveler’s taste and budget. Here’s a breakdown of the average costs per night:
Budget Hostels: If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, you can find dormitory-style rooms in hostels for as low as $10-$20 per night. When it comes to affordable accommodations like hotels and hostels, I highly recommend using Hostelworld as a reliable platform.
Editors Note: If you choose to book your hostels and hotels through the widgets or links on my website, I would earn a commission without affecting the price you pay. If you appreciate the information I’m providing, I would be grateful for your support. Rest assured, the price remains the same for you. However, if you hate me, then you can always search for Hostelworld on Google and make your reservations there 😉
Mid-Range Hotels: For a more comfortable stay, mid-range hotels in Istanbul typically cost around $50-$100 per night.
In my personal opinion, I find that mid-range hotels may not be the optimal choice. They don’t offer the affordability of hostels or lower-end hotels, nor do they provide the luxurious amenities and services of high-end hotels. Therefore, it might not make sense to spend $100-150 per night on a mid-range hotel if you only plan to use it for sleeping.
However, if you prefer staying in hotel chains either because you find them reliable or because you want to accumulate loyalty points, that’s completely understandable. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with renowned chains like Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, and other well-known brands, as they consistently deliver a certain level of comfort and reliability.
Luxury Hotels: If you’re looking to indulge in luxury, expect to pay $150 or more per night for a top-notch hotel experience. In Istanbul, there are fantastic options for luxury hotels if you have the budget. You can explore the list of “The Best Luxury Hotels in Istanbul” to find top-notch accommodations.
There are three compelling reasons why luxury hotels in Istanbul are exceptional.
Firstly, their locations are incredibly desirable, often providing breathtaking views of the Bosphorus.
Secondly, these hotels boast remarkable culinary options, offering exquisite cuisine and outstanding restaurants, including rooftop bars and dining establishments.
Lastly, they provide an array of exceptional services such as a Turkish hammam, sauna, pool, and massage facilities. Some luxury hotels even offer additional perks like Bosphorus tours and guided excursions, making your stay even more convenient and enjoyable.
Getting around Istanbul is relatively affordable, thanks to its extensive public transportation system. Here are some key transportation expenses to consider:
Airport Transfer: To get from Istanbul Airport to the city center, you can take a taxi or use the metro. The taxi fare will cost around $25-$30, while the metro ticket is approximately $2.
Both Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökcen Airport (SAW) are conveniently connected to metro lines. However, it’s important to note that the travel time to reach the airport can exceed an hour, depending on your starting station. Therefore, it is advisable to plan your journey accordingly.
If you have luggage, it might be a hustle to navigate through the metro stations. In such cases, you can opt for a taxi by requesting your hotel’s reception to arrange one for you. It’s recommended to inquire about the fare in advance. Another option is to book a taxi through Kiwi Taxi, where you can also check the rates even if you decide not to make a booking.
Public Transportation: Istanbul offers an efficient public transportation network, including buses, trams, and the metro. A single journey ticket costs around $1.
It is crucial to be aware that you will need an Istanbulkart for using public transportation. You can purchase this card at the airports or at ticket machines located in metro stations, ferry ports, and other relevant locations where you can also add credit to your card.
Another important note relates to using the Marmaray line. Depending on the number of stations you travel, you may be eligible for a partial refund (if your journey is not over a long distance). The reason behind this is that when entering the Marmaray, you are initially charged the fare for the furthest station.
However, upon exiting, there is a machine where you can reclaim the excess amount. If you have trouble finding the machine, feel free to ask fellow passengers or security personnel. In most cases, it is located near the gate exit.
Taxi Rides: Taxis are a convenient way to navigate the city, but fares can vary. Make sure the taxi meter is running and ask for an estimated fare before starting the journey.
Read here more “Istanbul Taxi Guide”
Food and Dining
Istanbul is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of delicious dishes that cater to all budgets. Here’s an overview of what you can expect to spend on food:
Street Food: Sampling the delectable street food in Istanbul is a must. From mouthwatering kebabs to traditional sweets, you can enjoy a tasty meal for as little as $5-$10. There are several popular street foods in Istanbul, including Döner, Kokoreç, Mussels, and Rice with chickpeas. If you’re on a budget, you can also find even more affordable options for $1-2, such as sandwiches or the traditional Turkish treat called Simit.
Whether you are traveling on a budget or not, I highly recommend to try Turkish street food. The flavors and variety of options available make it a must-try culinary experience.
Local Restaurants: Dining at local restaurants will cost you around $15-$30 per person, including a main course and a drink. Prices may vary depending on the restaurant’s location and reputation.
Fine Dining: Istanbul also boasts numerous fine dining establishments where you can savor gourmet dishes. Plan to spend $50 or more per person for an upscale dining experience.
Attractions and Sightseeing
Istanbul is rich in history and culture, with countless attractions to explore. Here are some popular sites and their approximate entrance fees:
The Mosques: Good news first, the Mosques have no entrance fees. So Admiring the stunning Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophie is free, but donations are welcome to help with the mosque’s upkeep.
Museums: The prices of museums vary depending on the specific museum you wish to visit. For Example, to enter the splendid Topkapi Palace, you’ll need to pay approximately $15 for the admission ticket. Topkapi Palace is probably the most expensive Museum you will visit. There are student offers available for museums; however, last time a friend of mine shows his regular Student ID and they didn’t accept it. They said they require an International Student Certification rather than a regular Student ID. To avoid any surprises, make sure to have the necessary documentation if you are a student.
Shopping is certainly not a mandatory expense, but many of us (me included) have the tendency to purchase items, especially souvenirs when we travel to other countries.
Turkey is also a fantastic destination for shopping, particularly when it comes to outfits. Turkish brands often offer excellent deals for high-quality products. You can explore the Grand Bazaar and numerous shopping malls in the city to find items that catch your eye and even enjoy a cup of coffee while you’re at it.
Also, the Spice Bazaar is Known for its aromatic spices and colorful array of goods, the Spice Bazaar is a sensory delight. You can find affordable spices and teas starting at $5. Here are some useful links:
Entertainment and Nightlife Expenses
Istanbul comes alive after dark with its vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. Here’s what you can expect to spend on a night out:
Clubs and Bars: Enjoying the energetic atmosphere of Istanbul’s clubs and bars may cost you around $10-$20 for entrance fees and $5-$10 per drink. Alcohol is generally expensive in Turkey so you can expect to pay $15 for a cocktail in a high-end club. You can read more about Istanbul Nightlife here: Istanbul Nightlife Guide
Live Music Venues: Istanbul offers various live music venues showcasing local talent. Ticket prices range from $10-$30, depending on the performer and venue.
Turkish Baths (Hammams): Treat yourself to a traditional Turkish bath experience, known as a hammam. Prices start at $25 for a basic package and can go up to a couple of hundred dollars for a luxurious spa treatment.
Bosphorus Cruise: Sail along the scenic Bosphorus Strait on a cruise, which typically costs around $5 for a standard tour. If you want to have a long tour with food it can cost up to $100 depending on the boat and meals.
So, how much money do you need to visit Istanbul? The answer depends on your travel preferences, accommodation choices, dining preferences, and the activities you plan to engage in. However, as a rough estimate, budget travelers can expect to spend around $50-$75 per day, while those seeking a more luxurious experience should budget accordingly.
Editors Note: If I assume a daily budget of $50-75, it is based on the assumption that the travelers are on a budget and will opt for more affordable accommodation and minimal expenses on food. However, if you choose to stay in a luxury hotel, dine at renowned restaurants for every meal, and spend your evenings at extravagant clubs, it goes without saying that your daily expenses will significantly increase.
Remember to factor in accommodation costs, transportation expenses, food and dining, attractions and sightseeing fees, shopping expenses, and entertainment and nightlife costs when planning your budget. It’s always a good idea to have some extra cash for unexpected expenses or to indulge in unique experiences.
Istanbul is a city that offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and breathtaking sights. With the right amount of money set aside, you can fully immerse yourself in its wonders and create unforgettable memories.
How much money do I need per day in Istanbul?
On average, budget travelers can get by with $50-$75 per day in Istanbul, including accommodation, meals, transportation, and attractions.
Is Istanbul an expensive city to visit?
Istanbul offers a range of options to suit different budgets. While luxury experiences can be pricey, there are also plenty of affordable choices for budget-conscious travelers.
Are credit cards widely accepted in Istanbul?
Yes, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. In hotels, restaurants, and shops you won’t have a problem. However, I would advise carrying some cash, especially for Taxis.
Are there any free attractions in Istanbul?
Yes, there are several free attractions in Istanbul, such as the Galata Bridge, Basilica Cistern, and exploring vibrant neighborhoods like Beyoglu and Kadikoy. All Mosques are also free to enter.
How much should I budget for souvenirs in Istanbul?
Souvenir prices vary greatly depending on the item and quality. It’s best to set aside around $50-$100 for purchasing souvenirs and gifts.
Can I visit Istanbul on a tight budget?
Absolutely! With careful planning, opting for budget-friendly accommodations, dining at local eateries, and using public transportation, you can explore Istanbul on a tight budget.
You can read more here: Istanbul on a Budget