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Visiting Istanbul on a budget

2nd September 2014


Visiting Istanbul doesn't have to cost you 'an arm and a leg'. With a little planning you will find plenty of ways to make the most of your trip and still have money in your pocket.

Travel out of season

Visit Istanbul during the winter months, from Nov to march, during these months everything tends to be cheaper, due to it being out of season. Also it is better to avoid the hordes of tourists.

Seek budget friendly accommodation

Hostels and guesthouses provide excellent rates while staying in an expensive city like Istanbul. Most will offer free breakfast and wifi facilities.  Areas such as Taxsim and Beyoglu tend to be less expensive than Sultanahmet, accommodation here is considerably pricer due to its location.

Or why not stay in the Galata neighborhood; this ideal location is perfect for exploring galleries, boutiques and nightlife.

Eating out on a budget

There are plenty of tasty places to eat cheaply around Istanbul. The best way to taste the local cuisine is trying the food from the local street vendors. Eating on the street is a way of life in Istanbul; on nearly every corner you will find a street-cart or vendor selling something delicious and inexpensive. Top tip: head to the Beyoğlu side of the Galata Bridge for some authentic fish kebabs. At 5tl each this appetizing meal is defiantly purse friendly. Also you must try some of the great dessert cafes, which are ever-present around town. The prices are quite cheap and the desserts are delectable. Some even offer rooftop views of the Blue Mosque, so they're a great place to visit at night when the city is lit up.

Visit the free attractions

There are plenty of places to visit for free or in-expensive in Istanbul. Many of the museums and galleries are free to entre

Florence Nightingale Museum is free to entre but you must file a request at least two days in advance. Requests should be sent by fax and include a photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. Museum fax number: 00 90 216 553 1009 or 00 90 216 310 7929.

Atatürk Museum, come here to learn more about Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, the museum is set in his former home in the Sisli district . The house contains three floors of exhibits, including personal belongings and paintings.Halaskargazi Caddesi No: 250 Sisli (00 90 212 240 63 19).

The Istanbul Modern is free every Thursday. 

Suleymaniye Mosque, with magnificent Ottoman architecture and scenic views of the city’s skyline is one of the largest mosques. 

Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, located at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, is one of the oldest covered spice markets in the world.

Walking is free

Explore the city on legs! It will save you money and give you a chance to wander around the picturesque cobblestone streets. You will discover that Istanbul is an easy city to travel around by on foot. Most of the main attractions are located around the Eminonu area.

Remember – don’t expect cars to stop for pedestrians.


Haggling is a big part of Turkish culture. So when in Istanbul… don’t be afraid to negotiate on the price, whether it be a souvenir or food, you can always get them to come down on the price.

Take a cheap Bosphorus cruise

Avoid the touts selling overpriced boat trips, instead head for Galata Bridge and take a local ferry, go to the moored large boats, head for the most crowded, these will leave first. Take a round trip lasting over an hr, including passing under the Bosphorous Bridge for 12tl.


Alcohol is very expensive in Istanbul, wherever you visit, it’s a good idea to buy your favorite tipple at duty free at the airport and enjoy a drink before you go out. Many bars and hotels do offer happy hour usually around 5-6pm, which give discounts or two for one offers.

public transport

Use an Istanbulkart - A prepay electronic card, which makes it easier and cheaper to travel on the buses, ferries, funicular, trams, metro and metrobus. Istanbulkarts are sold at Istanbulkart vending machines and cost 6tl. You can add as much credit as you require. You can use one Istanbulkart to pay for several passengers. 



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