Istanbul is a huge city which offers many different activities, like sightseeing, shopping, eating out, parties, different tours, etc. This also means, that you can spend a lot of money, especially if you are foreigner or yabanci (yabangee). So here is a little guide how to save some money and still enjoy your visit in Istanbul.
- Before departure: check if you need tourist visa and order it. This will save your time and money. You need to order visa online at least 24 hours before arrival to Turkey. For more info about this (and also if you need tourist visa), click here.
- Money, money money! Currency in use in Turkey is New Turkish Lira (YTL or TL), but in some shopping centers and at the aiports you can pay with dollars ($) or euros (€). However, it’s always good to know the currency rates, so don’t foget to check it before you pay (too much) with foreign currency. Also, take care, since some € and TL bank notes and coins look very similar.
(You can also use currency converter here.)
|Istanbulkart and public transportation|
- Public transport: going to a huge city like Istanbul, you will need to use some public transport sooner or later. If you are staying more days (or if there is more people travelling togheter), I recommend you to buy ISTANBULKART. It’s a smart card with which you can pay all public transportation in the city. It is very useful and also cheaper if you pay with istanbul kart (also known as AKBIL), for example, if you buy single ride, it will cost you 4tl (and the bad thing is, you cannot buy it at all bus stops), meanwhile with AKBIL, it will cost you less than 3tl! Also your next ride (within 2 hours) will be even cheaper. Unfortunately, you need to pay for AKBIL (around 8tl), but still, you can sell it to other travellers when you leave Istanbul. One more useful info: Click here to see how to reach city center from Istanbul’s aiports.
- Accomodation: I guess the cheapest accomodation is to find your host via Couchsurfing or other similar pages. If you prefer other option, one of the important things you need to ask yourself is: What will I do in Istanbul? And where will I spend my time?? I must warn you, that Istanbul’s traffic is horrible and hectic, that’s why you’ll want to stay close to your point(s) of interest, if you don’t want to spend hours and hours every day, migrating from one part of the city to the other. For most turists this means, staying in Sultanahmet or nearby. For more tips about choosing hotel in Istanbul, click here.
- Eating and drinking: During your stay, you will encouonter cafes and restaurants at every step. Many of them are good, other just average. For snacks I do recommend you some street food: it’s cheap and delicious. For main meal, I only recommend you to avoid main tourist places, like Sultanahmet. You can find many cheap lokanta (canteen) almost everywhere, just check where locals go and don’t be affraid to enter some small street. There is one gold rule: before you order, always ask for its price! Some restaurants even have different prices in Turkish and English menus, so ask also for Turkish menu. When it comes to alcoholic drinks I guess there is no ”low budget” way, since Turkish government imposed 60% tax on alcoholic drinks. Also, it is not possible to buy alcohol everywhere. You can buy it in special shops, called tekel and many bars with a sign of Efes or other beer.
And don’t forget to enjoy your stay!