Istanbul is a popular European destination for travelers from all over the world. Istanbul is also a cheap destination when compared to other main European metropolitan cities. Here, we’ve put together the answers on the such commons questions including “How expensive is Istanbul?”, “Daily average costs to visit Istanbul”, “Is it expensive to eat out?”, “How much to budget should I have per day for Istanbul?”. You can find all the necessary information on our guide, including the average prices on airfare, accommodation, restaurants, drinks, transportation, internet, phone and must see attractions to plan your budget for your trip to Istanbul.
Average Costs to Visit Istanbul
1. Is Istanbul Expensive?
When compared to many major cities in the world and in Europe prices, Istanbul isn’t too expensive. It is expensive relative to the other destinations in EU such as Poland, Romania or Bulgaria.
Istanbul also was ranked 154th over 208 cities in the world in the June 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey (was 163rd over 209 cities in 2018). Cost of Living Survey is a survey that measures the costs of more than 200 items in comparison such as the costs of housing, transportation, food, clothing, house goods, entertainment and more. So it gives an idea for you to make a comparison between the other major cities in the world.
2. How Much Does It Cost To Fly To Istanbul?
Flights to Istanbul will vary on where you will fly from and when will be travelling. If you make a quick search, you will see that you can find flights to Istanbul for about €250-350 from EU, £175-325 from UK, $500-750 from US and CAD 850-1400 from Canada.
In June and July, the airfare prices are the highest. If you can fly to Istanbul during low season, which begins in late November and lasts through the summer, you can find the best deals.
But, regardless of which country you will fly from, you can reduce the cost of the flights by taking a stopover. You can have a multiple hour stopover and save around $150, but it would worth only if you also plan to travel to that stopover country.
Summary: average € 275 per person (return flight from EU)
3. Accommodation Prices
Accommodation prices vary from district to neighborhood’s being how far away from the city center. But, anyways it will be better for you to stay at the main tourist districts and neighborhoods at the heart of the city, as you can easily find all kind of deals. If you are in Istanbul for a short visit and your aim is to party, enjoy the city and meet new people, than you can rent a hostel room or bed in a shared room for a couple of days in the city center.
The cost of a hostel would be about € 20 per night for 2 adults. It would be about € 50 per night for a mid-range hotel for 2 adults. If you rent a flat, you will need to pay from month to month and the average monthly price will be around areas as well. You can rent a nice one bedroom in Istanbul, at the city center from € 275 a month, three bedroom from € 500 a month.
Finally we can say that and assuming it will be touristic trip to Istanbul, and although the prices differ too much among hotels, € 500 for 10 nights / € 350 for 1 week (for 2 adults) at a mid-range hotel in the tourist zones such as Sultanahmet, Taksim or Galata would be a reasonable price.
Our recommended booking site is AGODA Istanbul since it lists hotels, apartments, B&B’s, vacation homes and inns. They make price match and you’re not required to pay until after your stay for almost all accommodations. And they say that if you find cheaper one, they refund the difference.
Summary: € 500 for 10 nights / € 350 for 1 week (for 2 adults)
4. Public Transport Cost
Using public transportation is the cheapest way to get around Istanbul. It is also safe and convenient. The public transportation of Istanbul includes buses, metros, metro-buses, trams, funiculars, cable car, shared taxis (dolmus), ferries and sea-buses.
Istanbulkart is the public transportation card of Istanbul, and you can access the whole public transportation system of Istanbul via this single transportation card. Istanbulkart’s price is 6 TRY (No credits). The cost of 1-ride is 2,60 TRY/ € 0,4 as of 2019.
Summary: € 16 for 40 rides per person (enough for 1 week/10 days)
5. Food & Drink Prices
Istanbul can be a cheap destination if you save yourself from the touristic traps. We recommend you not to chose the hotel food as it will be expensive than in the downtown.
You can have a good Turkish breakfast for one person from €3 to €5 in between a sandwich/tea and full brunch in a fancy place. But we assume that you will have free breakfast on your hostel or hotel and you should take it.
The average price for a three-course meal for one person in a mid-range restaurant at for lunch & dinner would be around €7. You can pass the lunch and grab a famous Turkish simit (a sesame crusted bread, similar to bagels) with tea or buy a pre-maid sandwich for markets for short breaks and you can spend less than €1.
You can enjoy your beer in a terrace for €3 or have a cocktail on a rooftop bar for €7.
As a summary we can say that you will spend about €20 per day for one person on food and drinks on average. But we recommend to plan extra money to treat yourself for some inspiring local tastes or street food.
Also note that, if you are a clubber, you should leave about at least €50 for couple of days nights out at the bars and clubs.
Some up to date prices on food and drink in Istanbul:
- Meal in a cheap Restaurant : from 20 TL to 35 TL
- Three-course Meal for 2 People in a mid-range Restaurant : from 75 TL to 150 TL
- Fast Food Chains : from 18 TL to 25 TL
- Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) : from 10.5 TL to 20 TL
- Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) : from 14 TL to 25 TL
- Cappuccino (regular) : from 8 TL to 15 TL
- Coke (0.33 liter bottle) : from 2.50 TL to 7 TL
- Water (0.33 liter bottle) : from 1.00 TL to 1.50 TL
- Water (1.5 liter bottle) : from 1.50 TL to 3 TL
- Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) : from 30 TL to 60 TL
- Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) 13 TL to 15 TL
- Milk (1 liter) : from 3.25 TL to 5.75 TL
- White Bread (200 g) : from 1.50 TL to 3.50 TL
- Rice (1 kg) : from 5.00 TL to 12 TL
- Eggs (12 pieces) : from 6.80 TL to 15 TL
- Cheese (1 kg) : from 20 TL to 40 TL
- Chicken (1 kg) : from 15 TL to 30 TL
- Meat (1 kg) : from 50 TL to 80 TL
- Apples (1 kg) : from 4 TL to 8 TL
- Banana (1 kg) : from 7 TL to 15 TL
- Oranges (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 8 TL
- Tomato (1 kg) : from 4 TL to 9 TL
- Potato (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 7 TL
- Onion (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 8 TL
Summary: € 15 for food (inc. lunch & dinner) and € 5 for drinks per day per person, total € 200 per person (enough for 1 week/10 days)
6. Internet & Phone Prices
For the ones who are low budget traveler and don’t need to get connected and make & receive calls all the time during their travel, using the free WiFi at the accommodation, city’s free WiFi spots, restaurants, cafes is a good solution. So you don’t need to spend for Internet and Turkey SIM card.
If you want to buy a Turkey SIM card, we recommend this if you strongly will need to make and receive calls and have internet access during your trip to Istanbul.
If you want to use your phone only for emergency calls, than we recommend Pay-as-you-go (the cheapest option but only for calls, no data/internet), which would cost about € 10.
If you are a heavy phone user (calls, SMS, internet/data), we recommend the Prepaid (price is per month) plan, which would cost about € 25. Read more on our Buying a Turkey SIM Card in Istanbul (Pay-as-you-go & Prepaid Plans) page.
If you only need internet/data, no need for calls, than we don’t recommend buying Turkey SIM card, we recommend Pocket WiFi for Istanbul, which would cost about € 50. And with pocket WiFi, you can also make and receive voice calls from Whatsapp or Skype.
Summary: € 10 pp for pay-as-you-go, € 25 pp for prepaid SIM, € 50 up to 10 person for Pocket WiFi
7. Attractions Prices
The most popular attractions in Istanbul are not very expensive. You will pay about €9 (€15 for guided tours) to visit Hagia Sophia and €9 (€15 for guided tours) to visit Topkapi Palace, which are the most visited ones.
The cheapest option would be therefore to buy discount passes and cards such as Istanbul Tourist Pass (3-day for €115, 5-day for €135 or 7-day for €145) or Istanbul Welcome Card (7-day Classic Card for €19, Premium Card for €49 or Deluxe Card for €79). With these passes, you will have free access to more than 30 major tourist attractions, as well as get skip-the-line access, free public transportation, one-way airport transfer, unlimited internet access, etc.
Below are the breakdown of the prices for major tourist attractions in Istanbul.
- Hagia Sophia Museum (Guided Tour) – Regular price €15
- Topkapi Palace Museum (Guided Tour) – Regular price €15
- Basilica Cistern (Guided Tour) – Regular price €9
- BigBus Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour (24 hours) – Regular price €45
- Istanbul Whirling Dervishes Show – Regular price €18
- Blue Mosque (Guided Tour) – Regular price €10
- Grand Bazaar and Turkish Handcrafts Workshop – Regular price €10
- Maiden’s Tower – Regular price €4
- Bosphorus Cruise – Regular price €4
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum – Regular price €12
- Sea Life Aquarium – Regular price €12
- Princes’ Islands Boat Trip (Round-trip) – Regular price €4
- Hagia Irene Church Museum (Guided Tour) – Regular price €10
- Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Guided Tour) – Regular price €11
- Legoland Discovery Centre – Regular price €10
- Pera Museum – Regular price €4
- Sakip Sabanci Museum – Regular price €5
As a summary we can say that; assuming you will stay at least 1 week in Istanbul, you should buy Istanbul Tourist Pass (7-day for €145) or Istanbul Welcome Card (7-day Premium Card for €49 or Deluxe Card for €79) to save up to %70 and also get fast-track entry, free public transportation, 3-day unlimited internet access and one-way airport transfer.
- Viator’s 3, 5 or 7 Day Istanbul Tourist Pass from € 115
- Get Your Guide’s Istanbul Tourist Pass: 3, 5 or 7-Day City Pass from € 115
- Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe by Get Your Guide from € 75
- Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe by Get Your Guide from € 75
- Istanbul Welcome Card Classic by Viator from € 25
- Istanbul Welcome Card Premium by Viator from € 50
- Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe by Viator from € 75
Summary: € 145 for Tourist Pass or € 79 for Welcome Card (you will save about € 250 if you visit separately with their regular prices) would be a great choice to see about all major attractions with fast-track entry and pluses
8. Random Spending
You’ll have random spending during your Istanbul stay for sure such as buying souvenirs, carpets, hidden gems of the city, jewelry, Turkish delight or any other shopping items that are unique to Istanbul or Turkey. So you probably would need a budget about €200 for random spending.
Summary of All
To give an average answer for “how much does it cost to go to Istanbul?”, we can say that you can expect to pay for 1 week Istanbul trip:
- Airfare: average € 275 pp return flight (from EU), € 550 for 2 person
- Accommodation: average € 350 for 2 person
- Public Transport: € 16 for 40 rides pp, € 32 for 2 person
- Food & Drink: € 15 for food (inc. lunch & dinner) and € 5 for drinks (1-2 beer only) per day per person, total € 140 pp and € 280 for 2 person
- Attractions: € 145 for Tourist Pass or € 79 for Welcome Card pp, lets say you buy Welcome Card, and you pay € 158 for 2 person
- Turkey SIM card (optional): € 25 pp, € 50 for 2 person
- Pocket WiFi (optional): € 50 up to 10 person
- Private Airport Transfers (optional): one way € 38 for 2 person, € 76 for round trip (you can use airport shuttles for one way € 5 for 2 person, € 10 for round trip, but note that you’ll need to pay for a taxi to get to your hotel from the city center)
- Random Spending: about € 200 for buying souvenirs, unique shopping items etc.
But note that you can easily reduce the costs regarding where you stay, eat and the optional ones above. You can also design your custom made attractions with their regular gate prices above. But overall, we can say that Istanbul is a cheap and reasonably priced destination.
Finally, we can say that your 1 week Istanbul trip would cost you about € 1696 for 2 person including all.