Traveling to Turkey soon? Don't waste money on high roaming costs or slow overseas data roaming bundles. Getting a local sim card in Turkey is easy. This is your guide for buying a Turkey sim card with: where to buy, best 4G/5G network in Turkey, up to date prices as per November 2022, e-sim cards for Turkey, my experiences and my recommendations. Find below everything you need to know about prepaid Turkey sim cards.
When arriving in a new country I buy a local prepaid sim card straight away! Because of my journey to travel to every country in the world I get to a lot of cool places. Providing travelers with valuable travel tips is a passion and that resulted in writing already more than 150 guides for buying local sim cards. On my website you can find sim card guides from: Mexico, Canada, USA, El Salvador, Jordan, South Africa, Dubai, Qatar, Thailand, Indonesia, Kenya and many more.
Are you flying into Istanbul and want to buy a sim card straight away at the airport then I have the perfect guide for you for both airports: SAW and IST.
RELATED: Ultimate Turkey Itinerary for 14 days! Rent a car and explore this beautiful country.
Traveling to Turkey and in need of inspiration? Find here a list of the best places to visit in Turkey. What about the Switzerland of Turkey or Maldives-like beaches? Hidden Monasteries and well preserved UNESCO heritage sites? Click on the link to find them all around the country.
Why buying a sim card in Turkey
All hotels and most restaurants and bars in Turkey have pretty good and reliable WiFi, so why getting a local sim card? A very easy question to answer! It simply makes traveling in Turkey so much easier. Like in general, having a data connection on your phone makes life much more convenient. Think about ordering a taxi from an app, or getting directions from Google Maps, finding nearby restaurants with good reviews or what about emergencies?
Getting a local sim card in Turkey is easy, fast and relatively cheap compared to Western countries. A Turkey sim card guarantees you a much more relaxing trip to Turkey.
Also don't rely on WiFi, because there is no guarantee! May be the signal in your hotel room is weak or the WiFi is so slow it hardly works. On top of that be aware that public WiFi's are UNSECURED networks, using a VPN is therefore recommended.
Not a fan of swapping sim cards and changing phone numbers? Then you should look into getting a portable WiFi device. How they work? Personally I am not a fan, but I will give you my HONEST opinion and tell you everything about it in my article: how to get WiFi on the road!
Traveltomtom recommends a Turkcell sim card for traveling in Turkey. They have the strongest 4G network and for $13 you get 20 GB data.
Traveltomtom also recommends looking into our comparison of the best international sim cards in 2022, we compared and reviewed them one by one and came to the conclusion that some of them are worth it for traveling to Turkey. The easiest and most convenient way? An e-sim card for Turkey.
Although this blog post is much more detailed you can instead of reading now also watch my vlog about buying a sim card in Turkey.
E-Sim card for Turkey
The best way to stay connected when traveling abroad is an e-sim card. No more visiting a store, swapping sim cards and still avoid unexpected roaming charges. An e-sim card for Turkey is the solution! Order online, receive a code, change your settings and voila you are connected to a Turkish mobile network. These are the Turkey e-sim cards deals you can order online:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $8 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
Click here to order a Turkey e-sim card directly or find more info. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from home.
Tourist SIM card in Turkey
There are only three mobile internet providers in Turkey and when you look at the prices for data they are not as cheap as you may expect. In a country where you can have a sandwich, a tea and a bottle of water for less than $3, you would expect competitive prices for Turkey sim cards. Unfortunately buying a Turkey sim card for tourists is relatively expensive compared it to its neighboring countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia.
When flying to SAW Airport or the new IST Istanbul Airport then you might want to buy a sim card for Turkey straight on arrival. I also researched the airports for you, click on the link to read more! They costs a little more, but it is of course the easiest and most convenient place to buy a sim card for Turkey. Below you can also see my vlog about buying a sim card in Turkey.
Sightseeing in Istanbul is a lot cheaper than sim cards for tourists. Check here for a free walking tour of Fener Balat and marvel at this hip up and coming neighborhood with its colorful houses.
Done with the standard things to do in Istanbul? Check this list of hidden gems in Istanbul and go off the beaten path. Other great recommendations in Istanbul are: Turkey's biggest mosque, Uskudar, Kadikoy, all in the Asian part of the city.
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Mobile internet providers in Turkey
There are three different mobile internet providers in Turkey: Vodafone, Turkcell and Turk Telekom. They have stores all over Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and all the other popular tourist destinations in Turkey. You can also find them on most international and domestic airports, like SAW Airport and IST Airport in Istanbul. Finding a shop to buy a Turkey prepaid sim card is not that hard.
I suggest tourist that travel to Turkey to visit one of the official internet provider stores of Vodafone, Turk Telekom or Turkcell. These are the ones you can trust, they should have the best deals and they activate it on the spot for you. Others phone shops are just resellers, if something goes wrong they send you to the official stores.
As a tourist or a non-resident you can only buy a visitor line sim card for tourists in Turkey. Meaning your sim card will be registered on your passport number and is valid for a maximum period of 2 months. After those 3 months the sim card will stop working and there is no way around this! So always bring your passport when buying a sim card in Turkey. In the store they will take a copy of your passport.
Prices Turkey sim cards in 2022
All the below information and prices are updated as per May 2022. The Turkish Lira fluctuates a lot and USD prices in this article can be a little off because of that!
Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card
I checked out several Vodafone Turkey stores and all of them sell only 1 prepaid sim card for tourists:
- $40 USD = 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms
This Vodafone prepaid sim card is valid for 28 days and only for use in Turkey, not in the rest of the EU!
You can find this deal on the Vodafone Turkey website and in every Vodafone store in Turkey. You will find out why I don't recommend a Vodafone sim card for your trip to Turkey... super high prices compared to Turkcell and Turk Telekom.
Turk Telekom prepaid sim card
They claim to be cheapest prepaid sim card in Turkey, well I can I already tell you that is a lie!
At Turk Telekom they have 2 prepaid sim card deals for tourists:
- 200 TL ($15) = 15 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms
- 260 TL ($19) = 40 GB data + 1500 minutes + 1000 sms
A Turk Telekom prepaid sim card is valid for 30 days and only in Turkey. For more info check the Turk Telekom website, however it is also a little bit difficult to find the right information in English.
Turkcell prepaid sim card
A quick conclusion tells us that Turkcell has the cheapest Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists:
- 169 TL ($13): 20 GB data + 200 minutes + Free Whatsapp
For more info about this Turkey prepaid sim card check out the Turkcell website.
Check how much Turkcell credit you have left? Dial *123#
Turkey 4G/5G network in 2022
Turkey is pretty advanced when it comes to mobile technology. Turkey is a big country and all those millions of Turks love the internet. Therefore the Turkey sim card business is booming, however there is still no 5G in Turkey as of May 2022.
Prepaid sim cards are pretty expensive. Prices are important of course, but so it the network strength. That said all the popular tourist destinations in Turkey now have a 4G connection and they say they are rolling out 5G in the beginning of 2022, let see. As soon as I find out more I will of course update this blog immediately.
If you go off the beaten path in Turkey, 4G coverage becomes rare. The country is simply too big. Below you can see the Turkey 4G/5G mobile internet coverage maps per provider. For more detailed maps click on the link above.
Turk Telekom 4G/5G coverage map
Vodafone Turkey 4G/5G coverage map
Turkcell 4G/5G coverage map
Based on the 4G/5G coverage maps as per January 2022 Turkcell has the best 4G network in Turkey. If you travel to the more remote areas in Turkey then Turkcell is the best Turkey sim card for you. Turk Telecom has a much weaker network, but if you only stay in one of the famous Turkey tourist destinations then Turk Telecom will be just as good as the others.
Internet speed Turkey
With a respective 37th place on the world ranking in 2021, Turkish mobile internet speed can be expected around 13.7 Mbps on average. While researching the best sim prepaid sim card for Bulgaria I found out that the internet speed in this Turkish neighboring country is much faster with 28 Mbps.
Looking for amazing hotels in Istanbul? Check out my best hotels in Besiktas on the Bosporus blog.
Best sim card for Turkey in 2022
My conclusion after reviewing all the prepaid Turkey sim cards is that Turkcell is the best prepaid Turkey sim card in 2022! They have the best mobile network coverage in Turkey and also the best prepaid sim card deals for Turkey. For 269 TL $13 you get 20 GB data and 200 minutes for 30 days in Turkey.
For most tourists 20 GB data is more than enough for their Turkey trip. In case you need more internet you just top up and it is easy.
Order a Turkey sim card online
If you want to be online as soon as the plane lands then order an international sim card online that you can use in Turkey. The following Orange sim card will be shipped to your home address and is already activated.
- 10 GB data
- NO calls
- NO text
- valid for 14 days
Here another reminder that you can also order an e-sim card for Turkey and keep your own number. You arrange everything online and there is no need for swapping a physical sim card anymore.
Buying a Turkey sim card for tourists at Istanbul airport
Prices for sim cards at airports are more expensive in general and so in Turkey. There are two airports in Istanbul, one on the European side: IST, and one on the Asian side: SAW.
Arriving at Istanbul SAW Airport? Check out the link to read my article about buying a Turkey sim card at SAW airport. When you arrive to Turkey at the IST Istanbul Airport then click on the following link for buying a sim card at IST.
RELATED: Ultimate Turkey Itinerary for 14 days, including all the best places to visit! Check it out and don't miss any of these Turkey top sights.
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.
Looking for a place to stay in Istanbul? I have now visited Istanbul about 15 times and my favorite areas are: Galata Tower/Beyoglu or Besiktas. Check here for a complete guide about where to stay in Istanbul.
May you have any further question please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below or check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom if you are in need of some serious travel inspiration or follow up on my road to visit every country in the world. As of November 2022 I have visited more than 140 countries, so many more to go still.
Enjoy your trip to Turkey!