If you are wondering the answer of the typical traveler question of “How can I stay connected to internet during my trip?”, here you can find detailed information about WiFi in Istanbul, including the best WiFi solutions, free WiFi hotspots, pocket WiFi rentals, prepaid SIM cards and more.
Keeping your contact with your family, friend, or with your job is a priority while traveling abroad. Staying connected to social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or the need to use GPS or helpful city apps the other popular reasons. You can take a look the most common ways to get WiFi in Istanbul during your stay.
6 Practical Ways to Get WiFi in Istanbul
1. Get an International Plan for Turkey with Your GSM Provider
Arranging an international use plan to get data and call package with your GSM provider, before you leave for your Istanbul trip, can be the easiest solution. The good thing is that you won’t need an activation and you can just get connected Internet upon your plane lands to Istanbul.
But the very bad thing is that the international packages are always very expensive. You can be charged around € 30 per 100 Mb of data usage which may last only a few hours. Also your GSM provider won’t notify you about your usage and you may face a very huge phone bill.
Also, some GSM providers offer roaming that you can have the freedom to use your mobile just like you do in your country. You can check it from your GSM provider if they have good offers for Istanbul, Turkey.
So, if you can not get a good roaming price from your GSM provider, we don’t recommend this paid option to get Internet during your Istanbul stay.
2. Rent a Pocket WiFi (Mobile Hotspot) – RECOMMENDED
Renting a Pocket WiFi, also known as mobile hotspot is the most efficient, secure and practical way to get WiFi in Istanbul or whole Turkey. This portable small device and high-speed mobile hotspot offers reliable and unlimited internet in Istanbul, and you are able connect your laptop, phone and other devices to the internet wherever you are in Istanbul, using the 4G connectivity.
You are also able to share the Internet connection with up to 10 people at no additional charges. Great option for groups or friends. You just need to stay within the 15 meters from the person carrying the device.
There are many companies providing pocket WiFi solutions and the good thing is that you are able to use them in many countries like Turkey, EU, or the UK. And they are delivered to your hotel, or pick it up from the New Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW).
So, we highly recommend this paid option to get Internet during your Istanbul stay. Read more on our Rent a Pocket WiFi in Istanbul page.
3. Buy a Prepaid SIM Card for Turkey
For the ones who will need to make and receive calls, than purchasing a Turkish SIM card or a prepaid card with WiFi combined can be a good solution.
There are only three GSM providers in Turkey that can set you up with a SIM card and data plan. And these include Vodafone, Turkcell and Turk Telekom. According to Turkish law, all SIM cards have to be registered, and can only be purchased with a valid passport. They all offer plans with different amounts of data use.
You’ll need to get to an official GSM company retailer, where you can find them at the Istanbul Airports, stations, as well as on all of the streets and neighborhoods of Istanbul. And you’ll also need to have identification with you. Majority of the GSM store sellers may help you to choose your plan and get your SIM card.
We also recommend you to make sure if your phone is unlocked and will work with Sim cards from any carriers, before your trip. You can check this with your GSM provider.
The good thing is that these pre-paid SIM cards are generally not too expensive depending on how much data you will use and how long you will stay. And they offer good coverage.
The bad thing is that you’ll need to spend time and big effort to choose the best deal, high charges if you exceed data, and possible troubles with the GSM companies.
So, we can recommend you to purchase Turkish SIM card if only you would stay in Istanbul at least 2 weeks or more. Read more on our Buying a Turkey SIM Card for Tourists in Istanbul page.
4. Use Free WiFi Hotspots in Your Hotel, Apartment or Hostel
For the ones who are low budget traveler and don’t need to get connected all the time during their travel, using the free WiFi at the accommodation is a good solution. Majority of the hotels, apartments or hostels in Istanbul offer free WiFi for its guests.
But here comes couple of problems; that you may get slow connection at low bandwidth, and becomes almost unusable, as well as low internet security. The free WiFi may not cover the whole hotel facilities. Also you may be charged in some of the luxury hotels in Istanbul. It is better to read the hotel reviews before you book.
So, we can only recommend free hotel WiFi if you don’t need Internet when strolling around the city, and only need to check WhatsApp or Instagram. We don’t recommend it if you need to download attachments, watch videos or make Facetime or Skype kinda calls.
5. Use Free WiFi Hotspots at the Restaurants & Cafes
Using the free WiFi at the restaurants and cafes is another good option for budget travelers. You can find free WiFi at the majority of the restaurants and cafes in Istanbul, located at the tourist districts, zones and popular sightseeing areas.
You just will need to order a beverage or food if you are hungry, ask for the WiFi password and enjoy your Internet. But note that although the connections at the majority of the restaurants and cafes are mostly fast enough, sometimes it can be slow regarding the number of guests, as well as low internet security.
So, we can only recommend free WiFi of the restaurants and cafes if you don’t need Internet all the time and enough for you to use during your rest time.
6. Use Free Istanbul City WiFi provided by the Municipality
Istanbul also offers Free WiFi connection sponsored by the local municipality via several hotspot locations around town. It is called “ibbWiFi”. You need to register first to use this service.
The ibbWiFi has hotspots in about all the squares of the major tourist distritcs and neighborhoods such as Sultanahmet, Taksim, Eminonu, Besiktas, as well as some parks, Intercity Bus Terminals and on the Public Buses & Metrobuses.
The not good this can be that it may rarely work, sometimes can be hard to register, connect, and very low speed. You’ll only get 1 GB free Internet per day with 2 Mbps speed.
So we can only recommend this only if you’ll need quick look at your emails or make a search about visitor info of a place. You can’t deal with big data with this free WiFi.
Summary of All
* The Pocket WiFi solution is the best value for money solution, the most efficient, secure and practical way to get WiFi in Istanbul.
* If you have a longer stay for at least 10 days or more in Istanbul, than purchasing a prepaid Turkish SIM card can be a good solution together with the Pocket WiFi.
* If you are a budget traveler and don’t need so much Internet, than you can use the Free WiFi at your hotel, at the many of the Istanbul’s restaurants and cafe, and in some Free WiFi points that the Istanbul Municipality offers.