As a big fan of the internet there is no way I can go without being connected. My job as a professional travel blogger requires me as soon as I arrive in another country to buy a local sim card. I have made several trips to Turkey and checked out all the Turkey mobile internet providers to see what tourist sim cards they offer. The last time in August 2019 to keep this article up to date. I can already tell you a Turkey sim card for tourists is NOT cheap!
- Flying to SAW Airport? Click on the link to read my guide for buying a prepaid Turkey sim card at SAW Airport in Istanbul.
- Landing on IST Airport? Click on the link to read my guide for buying a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport IST.
Tourist SIM card for Turkey
If you are looking for a tourist sim card, Turkey has not that many options to be honest. There are only three mobile internet providers in Turkey and when I started looking around I was a little shocked. In a country where you can have a sandwich, a tea and a bottle of water for less than $3 I expected competitive prices for Turkey sim cards. Unfortunately buying a Turkey sim card for tourists is expensive compared it to its neighboring countries. Buying a sim card in Greece or Georgia is much more affordable!
Sightseeing in Istanbul is a lot cheaper. Check here for a free walking tour of Fener Balat and marvel at this hip up and coming neighborhood with its colorful houses.
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Turkey mobile network in 2019
Turkey is pretty advanced when it comes to mobile technology and pretty understandable. Turkey is a big country and all those millions of Turks love the internet. Therefore the Turkey sim card business is booming. Unfortunately prepaid sim cards are expensive. Prices are important of course, but so it the network strength. All popular tourist destinations in Turkey have now a 4G connection and they are rolling at 5G at the moment as well.
Although if you go off the beaten path in Turkey, a 4G coverage becomes rare. The country is simply too big. Even in Western European countries this is normal, a German sim card does not guarantee you a 4G signal everywhere in Germany either, there are a lot of places with no 4G.
Below you can see the Turkey mobile internet coverage map per provider, updated lat July 2019 (source nperf.com).
Turk Telekom mobile internet coverage map
Vodafone Turkey mobile internet coverage map
Turkcell mobile internet coverage map
Based on the 4G coverage maps Turkcell still has the best 4G network in Turkey as of August 2019. If you travel to the more remote areas in Turkey then Turkcell is the best Turkey sim card for you. Based on the Turkey mobile internet coverage maps you would may be not choose a Turk Telecom sim card, but if you only stay in like Istanbul, Izmir or Antalya 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.
Buy your Turkey sim card online
If you only want a Turkey sim card with data then you can buy one online. For $40 you get a sim card shipped to your home address including 6 GB for traveling in Turkey! Get more info in this link.
Mobile internet providers 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.
What I would suggest though is that you go to one of the official internet provider stores of Vodafone Turkey, Turk Telekom or Turkcell. These have of course the best deals, the others are just resellers.
What to bring when you buy a sim card in Turkey
Your passport! With a proper photo ID you won't be able to buy a Turkey sim card.
Prices Turkey sim card as of August 2019
Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card
I checked out several Vodafone Turkey stores and all of them sell only 1 prepaid sim card for tourists:
- 200 TL ($35): 750 minutes - 250 sms and 20 GB data.
This Vodafone prepaid sim card is valid for 30 days and only for use in Turkey, not in the rest of the EU!
Turk Telekom prepaid sim card
At the Turk Telekom they have much more prepaid sim cards for tourists:
- 150 TL ($26): 750 minutes and 10 GB data.
- 200 TL ($35): 750 minutes and 25 GB data.
And there are several more with big data bundles, see below.
A prepaid sim card from Turk Telekom is definitely cheaper than Vodafone Turkey, they offer better value and more options for tourists.
Turkcell prepaid sim card
We already saw that Turkcell already has the best Turkey mobile network, let's see what kind of Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists they offer. They only sell one prepaid Turkey sim card:
- 150 TL ($26): 200 minutes - 1000 sms and 20 GB data.
This packages is valid for 30 days. Extra top-ups are cheap:
- 39 TL ($7): 6 GB.
- 49 TL ($9): 10 GB
Best sim card for Turkey in 2019
My conclusion after reviewing all the prepaid Turkey sim cards for sale is pretty easy:
Turkcell is the best Turkey sim card for for tourists!
They still have the best Turkey mobile network coverage in 2019 and also the best prepaid sim card deals. For most tourists 20 GB data is more than enough for their Turkey trip. In case you need more internet you just top up.
Get your Turkey sim card online
Is buying a Turkey sim card on arrival too much hassle? This option is only worth it if you are looking for a Turkey data sim card only though. You can buy a sim card with 6 GB data to use in Turkey for $40 through this link. It will be shipped to your home address before your Turkey trip. You can't call and text with this sim card, just data!
The disadvantage of buying a new SIM card is that first off your phone has to be unlocked! Second you always get a new number, which of course can be annoying. Therefore I also use Tep Wireless, a portable WiFi device that lets you connect your smartphone, laptop or tablet wherever you go for just a couple bucks per day. Check it out!
Also when traveling to Turkey with kids take a look at a Teppy: they offer unlimited data for a couple dollars per day in more than 100 countries and you can connect up to 5 devices at the same time.
Buying a Turkey sim card for tourists at Istanbul airport
Prices at airports are almost more expensive and so in Turkey. 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. For the record a Vodafone Turkey sim card at IST Airport starts from $60! So if you want to save a couple dollar then wait till you get to the city.
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Travel insurance for your Turkey trip!
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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 been now 5 times and my favorite areas are: Galata Tower, Old Town or Besiktas. May you have any further question please do not hesitate to send me a message on my Instagram: @traveltomtom. Warning! This could create serious wanderlust as there are photos from more than 100 countries from 7 years around the world. My best adventure from around the world? Click here. Also in case you are interested how I afford to travel? Or how to make money travel blogging?