As a big fan of the internet there is no way I can go without being connected so as soon as I arrive in another country I check out the cell phone providers to see what they can offer me. Most of the times I buy a local sim card as roaming costs are outrageous, so as I arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul I straight away checked out what they could offer me when I asked for a Turkey tourist sim card. If you are not a fan of getting a new number every time then try Teppy!
Tourist SIM card Turkey
If you are looking for a tourist sim card, Turkey has not that many options to be honest. There are only three providers and when I started looking around I was a little shocked. In a country where you can have a sandwish a tea and a bottle of water for less than $3 I expected competitive prices for getting connected to the internet. Unfortunately a Turkey sim card is not really cheap.
4G coverage sim card for Turkey
I always ask if there is a 4G connection across the country, just to be sure. But when I did that in Turkey they looked like they were offended. Sorry guys, some countries have no 4G network yet. I have traveled around Turkey and used Turkcell just because my Turkish friends recommended me to use this provider as apparently they have the best coverage. I just checked it for you on Opensignal.com, the best place to check if a certain area has 4G coverage, and basically all the touristy areas are covered by all 3 of them see the screenshots down below. Based upon the network coverage it seems that Vodafone slightly wins the race for the best SIM card for Turkey. But there is more...
4G coverage Vodafone Turkey
4G coverage Turk Telecom
4G coverage Turkcell
The guy at the Vodafone stand was helpful spoke good English but did not really have a pricelist for me. When I kept on asking what the different options were he pulled out a piece of paper that was barely readable but at least it said whatever was available. The cheapest option was 110TRY ($30) but that was only 1GB, for 2GB we were already looking at 160TRY ($45). Don’t go for Vodafone they are way too expensive!
As I approached the Turk Telecom stand I tried to see if they were displaying a pricelist for a Turkey sim card for tourists but I couldn’t find anything here either. When I asked the guy he said they didn’t have a list of the available options. He told me that texting and calling were unlimited and free in all packages and that it started from 3GB onwards for 100TRY. 6GB would be 130TRY and 10GB 160TRY. Turk Telecom was already way cheaper than Vodafone.
A blessing as I arrived at the Turkcell stand! Prices were displayed all around and the friendly guy helped me explaining the rest. The standard option for a Turkey sim card for tourists was 3GB data, 500 min calling and 1000 text for 95TRY, the cheapest option so far. Plus they even offered me a little gift, see the photo.
Best sim card for Turkey
Regarding the above I would say that for traveling the best sim card for turkey is Turkcell. They have the best network coverage and the lowest prices. It is therefore a pretty simple conclusion who wins the award for the best Turkey sim card for tourists: Turkcell! This is your best buy. A prepaid data sim card in Turkey is not cheap and therefore you might wanna consider temporary internet service without a contract. Check the link and read my article about a portable wifi device to take with you while traveling.
Internet speed Turkey
With a respective 33th place on the world ranking, Turkish mobile internet speed can be expected around 30 Mbps. While researching the best sim prepaid sim card for Bulgaria I found out that the internet speed in this Turkish neighbor is even slightly faster with 32 Mbps.
Buying a Turkey sim card for tourists at the airport
If you have read my guide for buying a sim card in thailand or Indonesian Prepaid sim Card for data then you may know I am not a big fan of buying a sim card at an airport. Prices at airports are always way higher than the ones in the city. Here in Istanbul I bought my Turkey sim card in a Turkcell shop in Besiktas. I paid 80 TRY ($22) for the standard tourist sim card turkey package where at the airport this was 95TRY. The problem in the city is that English is not spoken everywhere and for example in the Vodafone and Turk Telecom shop they could not even give me information as their English was insufficient.
On an onward journey into Europe? Go island hopping on the nearby Greek Islands and check out what is the best data sim card for tourists in Greece. Did you know that there are cheap ferries from Turkey to for example Lesbos Island, Greece?
What to do in Istanbul? There is so much more than visiting the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Taksim. Click on the photos below to read see where to find the best viewpoint in Istanbul: Buyuk Valide Han will blow your mind! Or read about the best day trips from Istanbul and see what it looks like to climb the minaret of the amazing Edirne Mosque and dont forget to explore the colored houses in Istanbul.
TEP Wireless portable WiFi
The disadvantage of buying a new SIM card is that you always get a new number with every country you go to, which of course can be annoying. Therefore I also use Tep Wireless if I go only a couple days to a certain country. A portable WiFi device that lets you connect your smartphone, laptop or tablet wherever you go for just a couple bucks per day. Check it out!
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