Planning a trip to Turkey and flying to Istanbul Airport? Get yourself a local sim card on arrival to avoid high roaming costs. This is your guide for buying a local sim card at Istanbul Airport IST with everything you need to know: where to go, the best option, up to date prices, mobile network coverage, opening hours and more.
This article is updated in October 2021 with the latest information and prices including a vlog of how to buy a sim card at IST Airport.
Buying a local sim card is the first thing I do when I get to a new country. As I am traveling to every country in the world I get to a lot of places and I write local sim card guides about every country and international airport. That is why on my website you will find more than 150 sim card guides: USA, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Paris, London, Amsterdam, etc.
Vlog about how to buy a Sim card at Istanbul Airport IST
Why buying a sim card in Turkey
I can come up with a ton of reasons why being connected to the internet makes traveling to Istanbul much easier. Ordering a taxi, using translation apps, getting direction from Google Maps, looking for nearby rooftop bars and so on. Disconnecting is the new luxury and I totally agree, but not when visiting a city!
Yes, your hotel has free WiFi and so do bars and restaurants in Istanbul, but do you want to rely on others? What if the WiFi isn't working or the signal in your room is too weak, the internet speed is super slow? Also keep in mind that public WiFi connections are UNSECURED networks. Using a VPN is recommend.
Getting a local sim card in Turkey is easy and done fast. The most convenient place to buy a Turkey sim card on arrival is of course at the airport.
When not a fan swapping sim cards and changing phone number have a look into pocket WiFi devices. These travel gadgets are a great way to stay connected while traveling, but I am not the biggest fan. Read my HONEST review in the link.
Traveltomtom recommends buying a Turkcell sim card at Istanbul Airport. For 320 TL ($36) you get 20 GB data and unlimited calls and text in Turkey.
Buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport is super easy and convenient, but you pay a price for that convenience! Turkey sim card deals in Istanbul city are much cheaper: almost 50% CHEAPER! If you can wait a until you reached the city you will save at least $15 USD! Read more about it in my article about buying a sim card in Turkey.
We do NOT recommend buying an international sim card with world wide coverage. I reviewed them one by one and came to the simple conclusion that most of these global sim cards are NOT worth it. Local sim cards are WINNERS!
Istanbul is a mind-blowing city and I am sure some Istanbul travel tips will help you make the most of your trip. I recommend you to stay in Besiktas, Taksim or Sultanahmet, check out the amazing things to do in Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul or one of these 10 hidden gems in Istanbul.
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Istanbul Airport IST
Welcome to the newly opened airport with the ambition to become one of the biggest in the world in terms of handling passengers. Istanbul Airport is obviously ultra modern and super spacious. Seems like a great airport to arrive for your Turkey trip, but I am not a fan. However, it is very easy to navigate and there is only one Arrival Hall and one exit from the luggage belts so you can’t get lost at least.
Where to buy a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2021
When walking from the luggage belts into the arrival hall you can go either right or left. On both sides you can buy a sim card for Turkey, but there are 5 different shops, but luckily the prices in 2021 are more or less the same regardless which store you visit.
If you walk to the right you see Burger King on your right hand side and in front of you you will see: Njoy Local SIM and WIFIST. Njoy is an official Turk Telekom store and WIFIST sells Vodafone prepaid sim cards. I can already tell you that NJOY is a great option to buy your Turkey sim card.
If you walk to the left you will see the original Turkey mobile internet provider shops: Turkcell, Vodafone and Turk Telekom. Also there is an Airport WIFI rental company.
I told you the Turkey prepaid sim card business is booming. Never have I seen an airport with so many mobile internet shops.
Prices Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport
As I said in the beginning of this article, all information is up to date as per October 2021 and everything is based on my own experiences buying a sim card for my Turkey trip. Before prices would differ a lot per shop, luckily now prices are everywhere more or less the same.
Njoy Sim Istanbul Airport
Njoy is an official Turk Telekom reseller and they offer the above 4 sim card deals.
- 320 TL = 24 GB data + unlimited calling and texting.
- 370 TL = 45 GB data + unlimited calling and texting.
- 450 TL = 60 GB data + unlimited calling and texting.
- 500 TL = UNLIMITED data + unlimited calling and texting.
All packages are valid for 30 days in Turkey only. Please pay in Turkish Lira’s or use your credit card as their exchange rate is a bit off, but that counts for every store at Istanbul Airport.
WIFIST Istanbul Airport
WIFIST is an official Vodafone Turkey reseller and they sell 2 different Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards. This is their sim card deal for 1 month:
- 320 TL = 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1000 sms.
They also sell 2 sim card packages valid for just 5 days, but these are data only sim cards however, significantly cheaper! See the above picture:
- 190 TL = 5 GB data
- 250 TL = 10 GB data
If you have read my best Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists article then you know that the prices for Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul airport are much more expensive than for example in Istanbul city center.
Vodafone store Istanbul Airport
Vodafone Turkey at Istanbul Airport definitely listened to my critics from the last years. Their prices went down drastically. Vodafone Turkey was a no-go at first, but it got much more affordable now. The cheapest prepaid Turkey sim card they now sell starts from 320 TL ($36), see the paper above.
- 320 TL = 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1000 sms.
In the beginning of this article I already told you prices are more or less the same everywhere. Yes indeed, the above packages are the exact same as at the WIFIST store at Istanbul Airport.
All the above Vodafone Turkey packages are valid for 30 days and are use in Turkey only.
Turk Telekom store Istanbul Airport
These are the update prices for Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards as per October 2021 at Istanbul Airport, see the picture above:
- 300 TL = 15 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms - $34
- 375 TL = 35 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms - $43
- 420 TL = 50 GB data + 1500 minutes + 850 sms - $48
- 470 TL = 80 GB data + 1500 minutes + 850 sms - $54
All packages are valid for 30 days and are only for use in Turkey, there is NO international roaming included in any of the prepaid sim cards in Turkey.
Turkcell store Istanbul Airport
They sell 3 different Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists at the Turkcell store at Istanbul Airport:
- 320 TL = 20 GB data + 200 minutes.
- 370 TL = 35 GB data + 750 minutes + 100 sms.
- 390 TL = 50 GB data + 1200 minutes + 100 sms.
All packages are only valid in Turkey for 30 days. As you can see the big packages and with big value bundles of Turkcell are cheaper than the other providers.
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Best sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2021
As most prices for Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport are more or less the same these days it is harder to recommend a specific sim card. However I have a preference:
Turkcell is the best prepaid sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2021!
The prices for tourist sim card packages are all the same and the cheapest sim card deals all cost around 320 TL ($36) and give you minimum 20 GB data. More than enough for most people traveling to Turkey.
Turkcell not only gives the best value for money and is the cheapest for bigger data bundles, they also have THE BEST NETWORK IN TURKEY! How I know? Check below.
Of course the prices for a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport are a higher than the official retail stores around Istanbul. If you want the best deal (up to 50% cheaper) you have to wait until you reach Istanbul city center and you will find much better Turkey sim card deals for tourists.
Check out my recently updated article about the best Turkey sim card in 2021, included much more information about the best mobile network in Turkey!
Turkey sim cards and traveling in Europe
Although Turkey is partially located in Europe, it is NOT part of the EU and therefore you can NOT use your Turkey sim card data for traveling in Europe. The other way around you might be lucky that your Europe sim card allows you free roaming in Europe.
For buying a Europe sim card that works in Turkey I would recommend you the following: Orange prepaid sim card with 10 GB data valid in more than 30 European countries + Turkey for $49.90. You can order online, get it shipped to your home address and activated already.
Looking for the best sim card for Europe travel? In the link you find my complete guide with first hand information from more than 20 countries and 25 airports.
Pocket Wifi for Turkey
On your left-hand side when you walk into the Arrival Hall you will also find a store Airport Wifi Rental shop. These guys SELL (not rent) pocket WiFi device for 600 TL ($70). This does NOT come with any credit, you still have to buy a sim card for these portable WiFi devices and these are their prices in 2021, see the picture below:
Check out my HONEST review about these portable WiFi devices. I am not a fan!
I hope all the above tips for buying a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport were helpful for your upcoming Turkey trip. May you have any specific question hit me up and leave me a comment below. Also happy to help you find some cool photos spots from around Istanbul.
How to get from IST New Istanbul Airport to Istanbul
You can take a regular taxi which will cost around 150 TL ($17) and takes between 40 - 60 minutes depending on traffic. If you bought a local sim card already then I recommend you to download Bitaxi, the leading Taxi App in Turkey. A ride to Taksim, Galata, Besiktas, etc will cost you only 110 TL ($12). There is also Uber in Turkey, they are slightly more expensive, but it works just as fine.
There are of course also busses and damn they are convenient. Go to the -2 floor and get one of the HavaIST busses. They have several stops in the popular tourist districts of Istanbul and you only pay 30 TL ($3) for a ticket. You can buy it in the bus with your credit card.
Enjoy your trip to Istanbul!