Are you planning your trip and excited to travel to Turkey soon? Don't waste money on high roaming costs or slow overseas data roaming plans. Buying a local prepaid sim card in Turkey or ordering an e-sim card for Turkey is easy. This is a complete guide for finding the best sim card for your trip to Turkey in 2024.
Find out where to buy a local prepaid sim card, a comparison of the Turkey prepaid sim cards, the best 4G/5G network, up to date prices as per January 2024, the best e-sim cards for Turkey, info about international sim cards, my recommendation and even a vlog about my experiences buying a prepaid sim card in Turkey.
When arriving in a new country I immediately look for the best ways to get connected, it is a vital part of my travel planning.
Since I am on a journey to travel to every country in the world I get to a lot of different countries. On average per year I use about 40 to 50 prepaid sim cards and e-sim cards to stay connected and that is how Traveltomtom became the ultimate specialist in sim cards for tourists.
In general local prepaid sim cards are ideal for those who use a lot of data, but e-sim cards are the easiest way to get connected in 2024 and when it comes to Turkey then e-sim cards are also MUCH CHEAPER than local prepaid sim cards.
Providing travelers with valuable travel tips is a passion and that resulted in writing already more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world. On my travel blog you can find sim card guides from: USA, Europe, Germany, United Kingdom, Asia, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, South Africa, Dubai, Qatar, Thailand, Bangkok, Indonesia, Bali, Malaysia, Kenya, Egypt, Hong Kong, China and many more.
Are you flying to Istanbul and want to buy a Turkey sim card straight away at the airport then I have the perfect sim card guides for you from both airports: SAW and IST. Traveltomtom also wrote a guide for buying a sim card at Izmir Airport.
The latest addition to the Turkey sim card guide family is Traveltomtom's comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Turkey in 2024.
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 in 2024. 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 for Turkey
All hotels and most restaurants and bars in Turkey have pretty good and reliable WiFi, so why getting a sim card for Turkey? 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! If 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 tourist sim card for traveling in Turkey. They have the strongest 4G/5G network and fastest data speed and for $27 USD you get a tourist sim card with 20 GB data and 200 calling minutes.
If you just need a little bit of internet on your phone when traveling to Turkey then look into buying an e-sim card as 1 GB data already starts from $4.5 USD. But it also is a very convenient way to get a lot of data on your phone in just 2 minutes. Because an e-sim card for Turkey with 20 GB data also only costs $26 USD.
More about the best e-sim cards for Turkey below or check out my complete guide with a comparison of the best e-sim cards for Turkey, including everything you need to know before using e-sim cards for traveling to Turkey in 2024.
Traveltomtom also recommends global travel sim cards. Check out my comparison of the best international sim cards in 2024, we compared and reviewed them one by one and came to the conclusion that some of them are actually great sim card deals for traveling to Turkey.
Make sure your phone is unlocked before buying a prepaid sim card in Turkey, getting an international sim card or an e-sim card. If your phone is locked none of these options to stay connected will work. If you are unsure if your phone is locked or unlocked then contact your mobile provider in your home country before your trip to Turkey.
Best e-sim cards for Turkey
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Turkey in 2024 is an e-sim card. No need to visit a sim card store anymore in Turkey. With an e-sim card you are online as soon as the plane lands.
You order an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a Turkey e-sim card installed on your phone.
Upon arrival in Turkey it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.
Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for Turkey.
For all your answers on FAQ's about Turkey e-sim cards check out Traveltomtom's complete guide with everything you need to know before ordering an e-sim card for traveling to Turkey in 2024.
Airalo is a reliable e-sim provider and Traveltomtom has used Airalo in more than 50 countries around the world without ever facing an issue. Check out the Airalo e-sim cards plans for Turkey in 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $6.5 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
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD
Click here for more info or to order a Turkey e-sim card directly via Airalo.
Airalo always has ongoing promotions, so definitely worth checkin them out.
The above Merhaba e-sim cards are data-only and are only valid in Turkey. They operate on the 4G/LTE network of Turk Telekom. Incoming and outgoing phone calls and sms are not supported.
Traveltomtom also uses SimOptions regularly for my travels abroad. They have e-sim cards from pretty much every country in the world. However, their Turkey e-sim plans are more expensive than Airalo:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
- 4 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $29.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $49.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order a SimOptions e-sim card for traveling to Turkey.
A third trusted and reviewed e-sim provider is Nomad and they often have very competitive e-sim card plans. The best thing about the Nomad e-sim cards for Turkey is that they are 5G ready as of 2024.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $9 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $11 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card for Turkey via Nomad.
Make sure your phone is e-sim card compatible before getting an e-sim card for Turkey. With an e-sim card you keep your phone number from home as it operates on your phone alongside your sim card from your home country.
This is just a very quick summary of Turkey e-sim cards. Curious to know more, find a complete comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Turkey in 2024 in my guide, including everything you need to know about using an e-sim card in Turkey.
Where to buy a tourist sim card for Turkey
There are three mobile internet providers in Turkey and when you look at the prices for data plans in Turkey 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 USD, you would expect competitive prices for perpaid sim cards.
Unfortunately buying a Turkey sim card for tourists is relatively expensive compared it to its neighboring countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia. This is because foreigners can only buy a tourist sim card. If you want a prepaid sim card in Turkey with a foreign passport as a non-resident you can only buy a tourist sim card.
Tourist sim cards have different prices and packages as prepaid sim cards for locals.
International Airports on arrival
The most convenient place to buy a Turkey prepaid sim card is of course on arrival at any of the international airports. Most people will start their trip to Turkey in either IST Airport or SAW Airport in Istanbul. For both airports I wrote a specific guide for buying a Turkey prepaid sim card on arrival:
- Buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport IST in 2024
- Buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport SAW in 2024
- Buying a sim card at Izmir Airport in 2024
Luckily all the other international airports like Antalya, Ankara, Bodrum, Trabzon and Kayseri all have sim card stores from the main mobile internet providers in the arrival hall. So buying a tourist sim card in Turkey is easy, it is just really expensive.
Expect tourist prices for tourist sim cards on arrival at the international airports in Turkey. The cheaper sim card deals for Turkey you find in the city center in official phone stores of the mobile internet providers. Or even better... on the internet.
Phone stores in city center
If you want the best prepaid sim card deals and data plans then you have to buy your Turkey sim card away from the airport. Go where the locals go and get local prices. However, even here tourists pay a higher price for their prepaid sim card. There are plenty official retail stores around the city from one of the mobile internet operators. Locate them simply though Google Maps. Walk in with your passport and you can buy a sim card for tourists without a problem.
Traveltomtom recommends an official retail store of one of the mobile internet providers over a random phone store. At these stores they also sell prepaid sim cards for Turkey but at different prices. Always put your new registered sim card in your phone and wait till everything is working before you walk out of the store.
As I already showed you above there are multiple ways to stay connected when traveling to Turkey and one of them is ordering a sim card for Turkey on the internet.
If you buy an international sim card for Turkey a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip and if you order an e-sim card for Turkey you arrange everything online within just a couple minutes.
If you travel to Turkey on a budget then sightseeing in Istanbul can be a lot cheaper than buying a 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 and day trip in and around Istanbul are: Turkey's biggest mosque, Uskudar, Kadikoy, all in the Asian part of the city.
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, Ankara, Izmir, Bodrum, Bursa, Antalya, Trabzon, Kayseri and all the other popular tourist destinations in Turkey. You can also find them on most international and domestic airports. Finding a shop to buy a Turkey prepaid sim card is not that hard.
I recommend tourists to visit one of the official internet provider stores of either Vodafone, Turk Telekom or Turkcell. These are the ones you can trust, they should have the best deals and they activate your new Turkey sim card 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 name. So always bring your passport when buying a sim card in Turkey. In the store they will take a copy of your passport.
As of 2024 a tourist can use a prepaid sim card and their imported mobile phone for a maximum of 3 months before it will be blocked. After 90 days you will have to pay an import tax based on the value of your phone.
Prices Turkey sim cards in 2024
All the below information and prices are updated as per January 2024. The Turkish Lira fluctuates a lot and therefore most phone stores display their Turkey tourist sim cards in USD. As of January 2024: $1 USD = 30.1 TL and 100 TL = $3.32 USD.
Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists
On my last visit in Turkey in January 2024 I checked out several Vodafone Turkey stores in Istanbul and in Izmir and all of them sell the exact same prepaid sim card for tourists:
- 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms = 900 TL - $30 USD
This Vodafone prepaid sim card is valid for 28 days and only for use in Turkey, not in the rest of the EU!
This Vodafone Turkey tourist sim card is also advertised on the Vodafone Turkey and it literally says: prices may vary from store to store. Yes, that is very true. Some official Vodafone stores in Istanbul tried charging me $45 USD for the same tourist sim card.
Big plus and completely new is that Vodafone Turkey sells the same prepaid sim card plan as above in some stores also as an e-sim card. However, the same plan as an e-sim card costs 850 TL which is $28 USD.
The Turkey e-sim card plans you can buy on the internet are much cheaper!
Turk Telekom prepaid sim card
They claim to be cheapest prepaid sim card in Turkey and well according to the above prices that would be true. On the Turk Telekom website you can find complete different prices, but the above price is the real one. Taken in a Turk Telekom store in January 2024 and double checked in many other stores in Istanbul, as well as in Izmir on my recent trip to Turkey.
- 40 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms for 28 days = 650 TL - $22 USD
A Turk Telekom prepaid sim card for tourists is only valid in Turkey. Turk Telekom does NOT offer e-sim cards for tourists. For more info check the Turk Telekom website.
Turkcell prepaid sim card
Don't be fooled by the above price of 169 TL for the following prepaid sim card plan for tourists:
- 20 GB data + 200 minutes + Free WhatsApp valid for 1 month = 650 TL - $22 USD
Turkcell adapted their prices for 2024 and took off their prices from their website because of the inflation of the Turkish Lira, just like Vodafone. They still sell the exact same tourist sim card but they raised the price to 650 TL which is $22 USD.
Turkcell does NOT offer e-sim cards for tourists in their stores in Turkey. For more info about this Turkey prepaid sim card check out the Turkcell website.
Check how much Turkcell credit you have left? Dial *123#
Best 4G/5G network in Turkey in 2024
Turkey is a huge country and all those millions of Turkish people love mobile internet. For them it is much cheaper to stay connected than for tourists. Therefore the Turkey tourist sim card business is booming and prices are exceptional high.
But apart from the prices for tourist sim cards let's also dive into the network coverage. Traveltomtom compared the 4G/5G mobile data network coverage maps for Turkey of Vodafone, Turkcell and Turk Telekom to find out which provider has the best mobile data network in Turkey in 2024.
Is there 5G in Turkey?
No, there is still no 5G in Turkey as of January 2024. Despite millions of mobile internet users there is only 5G in central areas in Istanbul. The first 5G towers are recently constructed in Istanbul city center and at the IST Airport, but that is about it.
If you go off the beaten path in Turkey, 4G/LTE coverage can become rare as well. Turkey is a huge country. However, as you can see from the below Turkey 4G/5G mobile internet coverage maps most of the best places to visit in Turkey are covered with a 4G/LTE signal.
Turk Telekom 4G/5G network coverage map
Vodafone 4G/5G network coverage map
Turkcell 4G/5G network coverage map
Although the above mobile data network coverage maps are updated for 2024 they are not 100% accurate. However, they are a great reference to compare the 4G/5G networks of the mobile internet providers in Turkey in 2024.
Based on the 4G/5G network coverage maps for 2024 Turkcell has the best 4G/5G mobile data network in Turkey in 2024. If you travel to the more remote areas in Turkey then Turkcell is the best Turkey sim card for you. You can also expect the fastest data speed in Turkey from Turkcell.
Turk Telecom and Vodafone have a slightly weaker network, but if you only stay in one of the famous Turkey tourist destinations then Turk Telecom and Vodafone will be just as good.
Looking for amazing hotels in Istanbul? Check out my best hotels in Besiktas on the Bosporus blog.
Mobile internet data speed in Turkey
With a respective 63th place on the world data speed ranking in 2023, on average one can expect a download speed of 69 Mbps according to Speed Test Pro, published on Wikipedia.
Best prepaid sim card for Turkey in 2024
My conclusion after my comparison of the Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists is that prices fluctuate a lot these days and that is all due to the massive inflation of the Turkish Lira. The prepaid sim card plans you find online on the websites of the mobile internet operators are completely outdated and some won't even show you prices anymore.
For me it was a shocking surprise when I got to the official retail stores in Istanbul and Izmir and saw the prices for tourist sim cards. When I asked the staff about the tourist sim card plans that are advertised online they said they were not able to offer them anymore for the price shown. Basically I felt like they made their own prices and they indeed differ per sim card store.
It seems like Turkey sim card prices for tourists are going up with the years and at the same time the prices for Turkey e-sim cards are going down a lot. If you only need a little bit of internet to navigate, check email and use WhatApp then Traveltomtom definitely recommends an e-sim card over a local prepaid sim card.
For just $4.5 USD you already get 1 GB data for traveling in Turkey. Turkey tourist prepaid sim cards start from $25 USD!
Even if you are a heavy data user then an e-sim card for Turkey is cheaper than a local prepaid tourist sim card. An e-sim card for Turkey with 20 GB data costs $26 USD. Keep in mind that e-sim cards for Turkey are data-only and phone calls are NOT supported.
Find out everything you need to know about Turkey e-sim cards in 2024, including a comparison of the best e-sim cards for Turkey, all specifications, all FAQ's and more.
And that is also the only reason that I can come up with for you to buy a sim card in Turkey on arrival over ordering a sim card for Turkey on the internet. Local prepaid sim cards come with unlimited calling and texting in Turkey, which in some situation can be handy.
Based on the Turkey tourist sim card plans and the 4G/5G network coverage Traveltomtom ranks Turkcell is the best prepaid sim card for Turkey in 2024.
Remember that you can also buy a sim card for traveling in Turkey at the airports of Izmir, Antalya and of course Istanbul, but these tourist sim cards are sold for tourists prices. E-sim cards for Turkey are much cheaper. However, here is a guide for buying a sim card at Istanbul IST Airport or at Istanbul SAW Airport.
Interested in watching a vlog what it is like to buy a prepaid sim card for tourists in Turkey then check out Traveltomtom's YouTube video above.
Order a prepaid sim card for Turkey online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you would like to order a sim card for traveling to Turkey online before your trip then check out the following.
Arrive prepared in Turkey with an international prepaid sim card. You order them online and a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address. You put this sim card in your phone and it automatically connects to an available network upon arrival in Turkey, basically when the plane lands you are instantly online.
SimOptions is the only sim card provider that sells physical prepaid sim cards for Turkey:
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Here also a last reminder that if your phone is e-sim card compatible you can also order an e-sim card for Turkey and get connected within just a couple minutes and keep your own number from home.
For a complete guide with everything you need to know before ordering an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best e-sim cards for Turkey in 2024.
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 don't 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.
If 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 January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so many more to go still.
Enjoy your trip to Turkey!
Some links in this article about the best prepaid sim cards for Turkey are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!