If you’re visiting Turkey anytime soon, you’re going to want to stay connected. This is why you should consider getting yourself a Turkey sim card for tourists.
Whether you need data plans so you can share photos with those back home, you want to stream Netflix whilst camping, or you have business calls you need to make – there are many reasons why you need the best Turkish sim card when visiting the country.
But what are the best Turkish sim cards for tourists and how much will it cost? Is it worth getting a sim card or should you look towards eSIM deals? These are all great questions we’ll be answering in this guide to the best Turkey Sim Cards for tourists.
Why Buy a Prepaid Tourist Sim Card in Turkey?
There are many reasons why you should consider buying a sim card, and not just so you can share Instagram stories.
There are many network providers these days that allow you to use your home network abroad. T-Mobile and 3 are two examples of companies that allow their contract users to use data abroad, but there’s always a catch.
Some network providers only allow their users to use 2G abroad. To put that into perspective for you, it will take you 5 minutes to load a webpage. Other network providers only allow you to use 500MB. This can be used up in a few days and is not suitable for more than a weekend in Istanbul.
So if you want to stay connected, or you need calls and texts while you’re away, the solution is to get a tourist sim card in Turkey.
Getting a Turkish sim card means you have access to fast, reliable data since you are connected to the country’s network. Having fast data is extremely helpful for using things like Google Maps, and Google Translate, and looking up information about attractions or how to get from A to B (such as how to get to Ephesus from Istanbul).
A local sim card also gives you calls and texts, which is extremely useful when you want to book tours and need to keep in contact with the guide or driver.
But most importantly, having a tourist sim card in Turkey means additional safety. Not only so you can call emergency services, but so you can look up directions when you’re getting lost, you can download maps and GPS tools.
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Things To Consider Before Buying a Turkish Sim Card
Before you go browsing through the airport service counters, you need to know what to look for in a Turkish sim card. Here are some things you need to consider before making a purchase.
What is the registration process?
Usually, the registration process is quite simple. When we bought our Turkish sim card in Istanbul, we only had to present our passport for them to register our details to the sim card.
How do you activate the sim?
If you’re buying your sim card from a shop, the assistant will set it all up for you and you’ll likely be connected before you’ve even left the store. If you’re buying a sim card online or opting for an E-Sim, does the activation process seem simple? Will you have access to the tech support if you cannot figure it out?
What if you need to top up?
You should make sure to ask how to top up your sim card when purchasing it. If you buy your sim card from a store, they will usually tell you where you can top up such as from kiosks, convenience stores, or coming back to one of their stores.
You are usually given a card with your sim card that has these details on it so do not throw this away.
Where to Get Sim Cards in Turkey
The good news is there are many ways you can buy a sim card in Turkey, so you don’t need to worry about finding a place. Here are three main ways to buy a Turkish sim card…
At The Airport
The most obvious place to get a sim card is at the airport. However, we don’t recommend this. When we landed at Istanbul airport, we compared deals to what we found online and they were three times more expensive at the airport.
We’re not sure why, but we can only put it down to “airport prices.” Either the sales assistant thought we don’t know any better, or they just charge more for being in the airport.
Unless the airport is missing free WiFi or you absolutely need a sim card before you leave the airport, we don’t recommend this option.
There are many stores where you can get tourist sim cards in Turkey. The main providers are:
You will find several shops for each of these providers in all major cities. Since they are the same networks that locals use, you won’t have any issues finding a store no matter which area of Turkey you’re visiting, even in small towns like Fethiye.
However, you should scout around different stores. Turkcell does not share its prices online, and we found we were quoted different prices at different stores. You should be sure to visit a few different stores to scout out prices and get the best deal.
If you’re planning ahead and you have the time to wait for delivery, you can always get an e-sim card online before you visit.
Sometimes you can arrange for the sim to be delivered to your home address, or you can arrange to pick it up when you arrive at the airport. At present, there is no option to do this with the local sim cards in Turkey.
Best Turkish Sim Card Providers for Tourists
Now you know what to look for in a Turkish sim card, here is an overview of each plan available for tourists in Turkey. You can purchase these plans online before you visit, or you can pick them up from any of the network provider stores in Turkey.
Note: due to the Turkish Lira exchange rate fluctuation, Turkcell and Vodafone have removed their prices from their website and prices vary from store to store. As of April 1st, 2023, we have seen prices anywhere from 350TL to 600TL, and you should scout around for the best deal.
In the below table, I have included the price in USD so you can check the exchange rate on the day of purchase. We try to update these prices regularly, but cannot always keep up with the moving exchange rates.
Prepaid Tourist Sim Cards for Turkey
*Scroll left-right to view more
|Turkcell||20 GB||30 days||200||Free Whatsapp||$13 USD|
/ 250 TL
5 GB Social Media
|28 days||750||750+ Free Whatsapp||$5 USD|
/ 85 TL
|Telekom||50 GB||28 days||1500||1000 + Free Whatsapp||$8.90 USD|
/ 165 TL
|Telekom||75 GB||15 days||750||750 + Free Whatsapp||$8.90 USD|
/ 165 TL
+ 5 days of 5GB data if you buy online
|28 days||750||1000 + Unlimited Whatsapp||$40 USD|
Data Coverage Map
Perhaps the biggest decider on which sim card is best for you is determined by the data coverage. While many Turkish sim cards connect you across the country, there are some patches that coverage cannot reach.
Here is a map of each provider’s data coverage.
Turkcell Data Coverage
As you can see from this data coverage map for Turkcell, the map is washed in red. This means that most of the country is connected to 4G+, even in rural areas. You’ll find no problems finding data coverage wherever you visit, as even Cappadocia has 4G and 4G+.
If you are planning a road trip and will pass through some of these rural areas, this is the best network provider for you in terms of data coverage. There are not many areas that have 5G with Turkcell.
Telekom Data Coverage
As you can see from the map above, Telekom has pretty good data coverage in the cities with most areas seeing 4G+ network service. In the region of Cappadocia, you can see there are 3G, 4G and some spots with 4G+ in most towns. In Istanbul, it is possible to connect to 5G.
There are a lot of rural areas in Turkey that don’t have connectivity according to this data coverage map, but these areas don’t tend to be on the main tourist trail. For tourists, Telekom provides decent data coverage, but if you are visiting Cappadocia you might find some areas a bit spotty.
Vodafone Data Coverage
Vodafone has similar connectivity as Telekom, but with few areas connecting to 5G. If you are sticking to the main tourist areas and not planning a road trip, the data coverage provided by Vodafone in Turkey will suffice.
e-Sim Cards for Turkey
Another option is to get an eSIM card. These are great for people who don’t have the time to find a sim card shop or you’re not visiting for long enough to make the purchase worth it.
eSIMS work by allowing you to buy flexible data packages without the need to buy a sim card. eSIM companies usually connect you to the local network, as they have deals with the providers who operate there.
They are quick and convenient, especially if you are planning to visit multiple countries on your trip.
Here are some eSIM cards we would recommend:
eSim Cards for Turkey
OneSimCard (eSIM World)
$0.25 USD per MB
Free to receive texts and calls
$0.45 per minute to call anywhere in the world
$0.59 per text anywhere in the world
No calls or SMS
1 GB / 7 Days – $4.50
2 GB / 30 Days – $6.50
3 GB / 30 Days – $8.00
5 GB / 30 Days – $12.00
10 GB / 30 Days – $18.00
20 GB / 30 Days – $26.00
No calls or SMS
Unlimited data / 5 days – $19.00
Unlimited data / 7 days – $27.00
Unlimited data / 10 days – $34.00
Unlimited data / 15 days – $47.00
Unlimited data / 20 days – $54.00
Unlimited data / 30 days – $64.00
Unlimited data / 60 days – $84.00
Unlimited data / 90 days – $99.00
No calls or SMS
300MB / 3 Days – $2.50
1GB / 15 Days – $6.00
2GB / 10 Days – $11.00
5GB / 30 Days – $29.90
10GB / 30 Days – $55.00
1GB / 3 Days – $4.50
1GB / 8 Days – $5.00
1GB / 15 Days – $5.50
3GB / 8 Days – $12.50
3GB / 15 Days – $13.50
5GB / 15 Days – $20.00
5GB / 24 Days – $21.50
7GB / 15 Days – $24.50
7GB / 24 Days – $25.00
10GB / 24 Days – $31.00
50GB / 90 Days – $100.00
Prepaid Sim Cards vs Pocket WiFi
If you’re just after a sim card for the data, then you might consider getting a pocket WiFi instead. These are small gadgets that allow you to connect to a mobile hotspot from wherever you are.
If you’re on the beach, simply connect to your pocket WiFi and you can share photos, chat with friends, and browse the internet just as you would with data. They also connect you to the whole of Turkey, and not just limit you to a region or city.
You can also connect to more than one device, so if you’re traveling as a family and everyone needs the internet, this could be better valued than getting everyone a sim card.
Pocket WiFi’s are usually expensive to buy, but fortunately, you can rent one for your trip and pick them up and drop them off at the airport. The cost is determined by how long you need it for.
Here’s where you can pick up pocket WiFis in Turkey…
*Scroll left-right to view more
|Plan||Price||Where to buy|
|Istanbul||3 days – 1 month||$48.00 USD – $479.98||Click here|
|Antalya||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $85.60||Click here|
|Alanya||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $91.57||Click here|
|Bodrum||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $79.63||Click here|
|Izmir||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $91.57||Click here|
|Ankara||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $91.57||Click here|
|Trabzon||1 day – 14 days||$13.94 – $91.57||Click here|
Tips for Buying a Turkish Sim Card
Before you run off to buy your sim card, I have a few more words of advice for you.
- Don’t buy the sim card from the airport. The deals we were offered were a lot more expensive than in the city. We’re not sure why, but they were working out to be around 3x the price.
- Scout around for the best deals. Unfortunately, some companies do not advertise their prices and we found that the price varied depending on which shop we visited. Go to a few and compare prices.
- Remember the Lira changes dramatically. You may find that the price of a sim card changes from week to week, this is because the exchange rate for the Lira is always changing. You should have an idea of prices in USD and then convert it to Lira on the day.
- Keep your receipt and the packaging. The little card that the sim card comes in usually has details on how to top up and emergency numbers, so don’t throw this away.
- Don’t leave the store until you’re up and running. If there’s a problem and you’ve left, you need to go back and get it fixed. This adds more time and effort. It should connect you within minutes, but sometimes it can take up to 15 minutes to an hour. So just wait around until you’re good to go.
- Don’t remove your sim card unless you’re finished with it. The sim card is locked with a pin number, which you need to enter to be able to open your phone. If you forget your pin, you’ll be unable to use your phone if you take the sim card out and put it back in again.
FAQs About Turkey Sim Cards for Tourists
Here’s what people usually ask us about sim cards for tourists in Turkey…
Can tourists get a SIM card in Turkey?
Yes, tourists only need to show their passports to get a sim card anywhere in Turkey.
What is the best SIM card to use in Turkey?
In our opinion, the Telekom 40GB data plan is the best value deal for tourists. If you want good connectivity, the Turkcell 20GB plan has the best data across the country.
How much is the SIM card in Turkey?
This is dependent on the provider and the plan. You can find plans for as little as $2.50 USD, to as much as $40 USD. The most popular options are between $13-$20 USD.
Can I use WhatsApp in Turkey?
Yes, you can use Whatsapp in Turkey.
The Verdict: Best Sim Card in Turkey for Tourists
As you can see there are a lot of choices to choose from when picking the best Turkish sim card for tourists. When we visited, we chose a Turkcell sim card for tourists because we planned to stay longer than a month and were traveling to more rural areas.
We were quite happy with Turkcell and found we always had connectivity, even when hiking in Cappadocia. We also found it easy to top up by visiting the store and asking for assistance. Their staff spoke English and were very helpful.
However, we think Telekom is the best value for money. You get decent network coverage and 40GB for $19 USD is a pretty good deal for those who need a lot of data. You can stream movies on long-distance buses for that amount.
Our personal opinion is that Vodafone Turkey tourist sim price is too expensive for what it offers. For $40 USD, you can get two Telekom sim cards at 40GB each, or one Vodafone sim card with 20GB. We’ll let you do the math.
So in short, for the best data coverage, go for Turkcell, for the best priced data plan, go for Telekom.
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22 thoughts on “Best Turkey Sim Card For Tourists in 2023”
Hiya Sean & Louisa,
This is an awesome explanation. ‘Short’, straightforward and easy to understand. My family and I will be visiting Antalya and Istanbul in the summer (I know, 🥵 😅). And this has given us enough infos in term of connectivity (our flight lands 10:00pm). Keep on writing, I enjoy your writing. Best, Yuni
Hi, thank you for the in-depth guide on data/sim in Turkey. For the E-sim, I can’t seem to find the same deal of 20gb+200mins at 13USD on the onesimcard website? Can you advise how to get this done? Thank you
Hi Sel, I think you are referring to the OneSim, eSim card which sadly doesn’t have that deal anymore. The best deal for eSIMs (I think) is the Airlo eSim, which gives you 10gb of data for 30 days, for $18.00 USD. You can see the Airlo deals here.
hello, the prepaid sim card prices you posted, are they the prices at the airport or the normal price? thank you
From our experience, no the prepaid sim prices at the airport were a lot higher. I can’t remember exactly the price now because it was a few months since I last visited Turkey, but it was definitely cheaper to buy a sim card in the city.
Arrived at Antalya Airport yesterday (04/03/2023) sims cards were on sale for over 1100tl (€55), total rip off!
The hotel I’m staying at was offering them for €35, as we arrived after 9pm local time most of the shops were closed so will head into town and see what the prices are, surely will be cheaper. I will update this side with my findings.
Hi Habs, thanks for letting us know about the prices you saw! It’s a shame that it’s so much more expensive at Antalya airport as well. I hope you are able to find a better deal by going into the shops today. We found the shops were the cheapest option in Istanbul.
Hello. We are planning to arrive at the Istanbul airport on May 1 and will need GPS from there as we will be driving around Turkey for 18 days as far East as Cappadocia. How do we avoid buying the Turkcell or Telekom SIM at the airport? We live in the US. Thank you.
It will probably be better for you to get an e-Sim card if that’s the case. You can find great deals on Airlo.
If you go to app store and get Maps.me (Green square with suit case in it) you can then through WIFI search the world or in your case Turkey and as you home in it will prompt to download the map. Once you have done this you dont need a phone signal just use like Google maps. Just second check the route because sometimes it tries to be too clever and take short cuts that no longer there. Also make sure you download all the maps there may be more than 1for Turkey. Load now and practice locally to experience it; you can drop pins find walking trails etc, etc at no cost.
Hi Mark, thank you for the advice you shared. MapsMe is a great app and is really helpful for navigating around Turkey, especially if you want to do some hiking.
I went to Turkcell in the Mall of Istanbul today and asked for the Tourist Welcome Pack. The guy who helped me said the pack would cost me 800 TRL in stead of the advertised 165 TRL. Total rip off!!! Do they really think tourists are stupid?????
Hi Adriaan, I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. There are unfortunately some shops that try to take advantage of tourists, though we have not been to the shop you mentioned. I hope you were able to find a better deal at another store.
Today at Izmir city centre I went to some Turkcell and Vodafone shops and they only had one option for tourists with 20GB and it cost around 600 TRL. I went to a few different shops, all similar prices. And they didn’t have any official flyer or poster with the values, you just need to trust what the guy tells you. A bit sketchy, I find! No official info at the store. I was wondering where can I find these deals of 169 TRL?
Hi Marina, unfortunately, Turkcell and Vodafone have stopped advertising their prices online and we are always hearing of people being quoted different amounts from different shops. If you are sure you want to use their sim package, the only way to find the best deal is to go to different stores and compare prices. It’s not convenient and can be very frustrating for the consumer. At present, only Telekom are advertising their prices online and it’s much cheaper than 600 TL. Their coverage is not as good but it should be good enough if you just visit the tourist places: https://www.turktelekom.com.tr/tt-en/Pages/prepaid-tourist-sim-turkey.aspx
Thank you for your reply. I see the advertised price on the Turk Telekom website as 85 TL for the 25GB package. But today I went to the Turk Telekom shop in Izmir centre and they told me the price is 558 TL. I still can’t understand what’s happening… are all the shops trying to rip me off, or have the sim card prices gone up insanely in the last few months? Are the shops even allowed to sell at a different price than the one advertised online?
Hi Marina, I don’t see the package you mentioned on the Turkcell website, perhaps you were looking at the prepaid sim rather than the Tourist Sim Card. A prepaid sim is for locals and cannot be bought by tourists. Sometime in early 2023, Turkcell and Vodafone removed their prices from their website for this because the Lira is always fluctuating. The exchange rate in March 2023 is at an all-time low which is suspected to be due to the earthquakes. I believe the prices you are seeing are a result of the exchange rate dropping. As of this time, it seems the most affordable way to get data in Turkey as a tourist is to choose an eSim.
What about BIM sim card. Prepaid
We didn’t include BIM as we have not used BIMcell or have any experience with them. I see that you can get them from the BIM supermarkets, which is handy.
Hello, if I take off the sim cart and leave turkey when I come back to Turkey could I use it again?
Usually with these tourist sim cards, they are registered for a period of time only. Once that period is over, you need to purchase another one. If you had a 30 day sim card, left Turkey, and came back within the 30 days, then it should work fine. If you leave for a longer period of time, then you would need to get another tourist sim when you return back to Turkey.
Thanks very much guys! Extremely helpful