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 go, best 4G/5G network, up to date prices, my experiences and my recommendations. Find below everything you need to know about prepaid Turkey sim cards.
This article is updated with the latest info and prices as of October 2021!
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, 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.
Turkey sim card vlog
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.
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 $19 you get 20 GB data.
We do NOT recommend so called world sim cards with coverage in every country. For our article about the best international sim cards in 2021, we compared and reviewed them one by one and came to the conclusion that only very few of them are worth buying. Global sim cards are simply way too expensive compared to local sim cards.
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 not significantly.
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. Also you can 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.
What to bring when you buy a sim card in Turkey
Your passport! Without a proper photo ID you won't be able to buy a Turkey sim card.
Prices Turkey sim cards in 2021
All the below information and prices are updated as per October 2021.
Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card
I checked out several Vodafone Turkey stores and all of them sell only 1 prepaid sim card for tourists:
- 240 TL ($28) = 20 GB data + unlimited calls and text in Turkey.
This Vodafone prepaid sim card is valid for 30 days and only for use in Turkey, not in the rest of the EU!
The Vodafone Turkey website now claims to offer a Tourist sim card for 40 TL ($7) with 20 GB 750 minutes and 1,000 sms, valid for 28 days. It sounds too good to be true and it unfortunately is, because when you click on order it gives either an error or suddenly everything changes to Turkish language without a translate option.
Well.. I would say give it try! May be for you it will work.
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 ($22) = 15 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms
- 260 TL ($29) = 40 GB data + 1500 minutes + 1000 sms
A Turk Telekom prepaid sim card is valid for 30 days and only in Turkey. Turk Telekom is slightly cheaper than Vodafone Turkey, but their package is a little smaller. 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 ($20): 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 2021
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 October 2021.
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.
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 coverage maps Turkcell has the best 4G network in Turkey as of May 2021. 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 33th place on the world ranking, Turkish mobile internet speed can be expected around 30 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 even slightly faster with 32 Mbps.
Looking for amazing hotels in Istanbul? Check out my best hotels in Besiktas on the Bosporus blog.
Best sim card for Turkey in 2021
My conclusion after reviewing all the prepaid Turkey sim cards is that Turkcell is the best prepaid Turkey sim card in 2021! They have the best mobile network coverage in Turkey and also the best prepaid sim card deals. For $19 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
E-Sim card for Turkey
Since I get more and more questions about e-sim card for Turkey I went to visit all the stores and none of the 3 mobile internet providers in Turkey offers an e-sim card for tourists in Turkey. There still is the possibility to get an e-sim card for Turkey, but you will have to buy one through Airalo, a worldwide e-sim card provider. These are the Turkey e-sim cards they offer:
- $4.5 USD = 1 GB data for 7 days
- $8 USD = 3 GB data for 30 days
- $12 USD = 5 GB data for 30 days
- $18 USD = 10 GB data for 30 days
These Merhaba e-sim cards operate on the Turk Telekom mobile network. Click here for more info or to order your Turkey e-sim card directly.
Buying a Turkey sim card for tourists at Istanbul airport
Prices at airports are almost more expensive 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.
Traveling to Turkey during COVID
Even in the recent months I have traveled to Turkey. Did I experienced a lot of issues because of COVID? NO, not really to be honest! In contrary to what you will read in the news I hardly saw any sights of the Corona Virus, yet I saw with my own eyes how the Turkey tourism sector is suffering under the international restrictions.
Are all places open? YES. Do you need to wear a mask? Yes and no, depends where you go and which Turkey tourist attractions you visit! Do you need a PCR test to enter? Yes, it has to be no older than 4 days.
Read all about my experiences traveling to Turkey during COVID in my latest Turkey travel blog. Find it all in the link: face mask rules, domestic flights, safety measures, social distancing, etc.
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.
Travel insurance for your Turkey trip!
Make sure you have travel insurance when you travel to Turkey! Cancellations, delays, over bookings, unexpected medical costs... make sure they are covered! Get a free quotation below...
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.
May you have any further question please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. Enjoy your trip to Turkey!