The Turkey sim card business is booming! That I learned from my previous trips to Turkey and from my article about the best sim card in Turkey. Prepaid sim cards for tourists aren't cheap. Last September 2020 I drove 4,500 kilometer through the country on a big road trip. I of course updated this article for the new IST Airport. Find here everything you need to know about buying a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport IST upon arrival!
Most shops are closed due to the Corona pandemic, but as of September 2020 all the mobile internet provider shops at Istanbul Airport are OPEN!
Being connected to the internet is part of my lifestyle as a professional travel blogger. Therefore upon arrival I always buy a local sim card or order one online in advanced. May you land at Istanbul SAW Airport, then click on the link for my article about buying a sim card for Turkey there.
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Portable Wifi device for Turkey
This is a perfect solution for when traveling to Turkey with kids for example. TEP Wireless lets you connect up to 6 devices at the same time and you can all enjoy unlimited internet per day for just a couple dollars. Click on the link or the banner below for more info.
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, a great airport to arrive for your Turkey trip. There is only one Arrival Hall and one exit from the luggage belts so you can’t get lost either.
Where to buy a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2020
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, so 5 different prices and data packages.
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
Although NJOY is an official Turk Telecom solution partner the prices for Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards at the NJOY shop are NOT the same as in the official Turk Telekom shop. That would make it too easy! Welcome to Turkey. :)
Every Turkey mobile internet shop has its own deals for Turkey sim cards. But don’t worry I will come with a conclusion about the best Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport later.
Njoy Local Sim Istanbul Airport
They only sell Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards here. They have 6 packages starting from 160 TL ($28) to 350 TL ($62).
- 160 TL ($28): 750 minutes - 750 sms and 6 GB data.
- 180 TL ($32): 750 minutes - 750 sms and 10 GB data.
- 230 TL ($40): 1,500 minutes - 1,750 sms and 20 GB data.
- 250 TL ($44): 750 minutes - 750 sms and 25 GB data.
- 300 TL ($53): 950 minutes - 950 sms and 35 GB data.
- 350 TL ($62): 50 GB data only.
NJOY has a lot of Turkey sim cards for tourists available. All packages are valid for 30 days and in Turkey only. Please pay in Turkish Lira’s their exchange rate is a bit off! :)
WIFIST Istanbul Airport
At WIFIST they only sell two different Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards. Valid for 30 days and in Turkey only:
- 185 TL ($33): Free whatsapp, 1500 minutes internet, 1500 minutes calls and 100 sms.
That needs an explanation I feel, because in all my almost 100 sim card for tourists researches I have never come across a sim card that uses minutes instead of MB/GB. Anyway you can literally use 1,500 minutes (25 hours) of internet with this Vodafone Turkey sim card, unlimited data!
I honestly don’t really trust this myself, because when I asked the guy if they count per second or per minute he couldn’t really give me a proper answer. My advice for this Turkey sim card is a no-go!
But they sell another Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card:
- 250 TL ($44): 750 minutes - 750 sms and 20 GB data.
If you have read my best Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists article then you know that this is the standard Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card they sell everywhere around Turkey but here they charge you 250 TL instead of 200 TL at the New Istanbul Airport.
Vodafone Turkey Istanbul Airport
Vodafone Turkey at Istanbul Airport definitely listened to my critics as when I checked the prices in September 2020, they went down drastically. Vodafone Turkey was a no-go, but it got much more affordable now. The cheapest prepaid Turkey sim card they now sell starts from 260 TL ($35), see the paper below.
The other options are simply way too expensive to even mention compared to the other mobile internet providers. Remember they are all next to each other located on your left hand side when entering the Arrival Hall.
All the above Vodafone Turkey packages are valid for 30 days and are use in Turkey only.
I am not even doing an effort writing the Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards down. Simply stay away, ridiculously expensive. Even the WIFIST store sells cheaper Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul Airport!
Turk Telekom New Istanbul Airport
Let’s see if the official Turk Telekom shop at least can rival the non-official Turk Telekom shop Njoy Local Sim store. They seel three Turkey prepaid sim cards at the official Turk Telekom shop at Istanbul Airport.
- 220 TL ($29): 750 minutes, 750 sms and 25 GB data.
- 260 TL ($35): 1500 minutes, 1000 sms and 42 GB data.
- 270 TL ($36): 1500 minutes, 1000 sms and 50 GB data.
All packages are valid for 30 days and are only for use in Turkey.
Turkcell Istanbul Airport
They sell 5 different Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists at the Turkcell store at Istanbul Airport:
- 220 TL ($29): 750 minutes, 250 sms and 25 GB data.
- 240 TL ($32): 1250 minutes, 250 sms and 30 GB data.
- 255 TL ($34): 750 minutes, 250 sms and 40 GB data.
- 270 TL ($36): 750 minutes, 250 sms and 50 GB data.
- 290 TL ($39): 750 minutes, 250 sms and 60 GB data.
Turkcell sells a lot of different Turkey prepaid sim cards. All packages are only valid in Turkey for 30 days.
Best Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2020
With so many Turkey prepaid sim cards I was afraid it would be a puzzle finding the best Turkey sim card for tourists, but no it is fairly easy.
Turk Telekom is the best prepaid sim card at Istanbul Airport, the best value for money. For $35 you get 15 GB data and 1,000 minutes and 1,000 sms for all over Turkey. This is the best deal you can find at IST Airport.
There is no difference in price between the official Turk Telekom shop and the NJOY local sim store. As the official store is super busy, go to the friendly girls at the the NJOY Local Sim store. This is where you buy the best Turkey sim card at the New Istanbul airport.
Of course the prices for a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport are a little higher than the official ones in stores around Istanbul. So if you want the best deal you have to wait until you reach Istanbul city and you will find cheaper deals. Check out my recently updated article about the best Turkey sim card.
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. But for buying a Europe sim card I would recommend you the following Orange prepaid sim card with 20 GB data valid in more than 30 European countries.
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 out of Arrivals you will also find an Airport Wifi Rental shop. These guys rent out pocket Wifi devices for Turkey.
They charge $10 per day for unlimited 4G internet for up to 6 devices at the same time. I can tell you a TEP Wireless portable Wifi device is cheaper and its battery lasts much longer than the 6 hours the guys at Istanbul Airport told me their device would. Click on the link or the banner below to rent a portable wifi device for Turkey.
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 on my Instagram: @traveltomtom. There you will find also some cool photos spots from around Istanbul. Be aware this may create a serious dose of wanderlust as I have been to more than 100 countries in 7 years full time traveling now.
From IST New Istanbul Airport to Istanbul
You can take a regular taxi which will cost around 150 TL ($26) and takes between 40 - 60 minutes. If you are connected to the internet 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 ($20).
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 18 TL ($3) for a ticket. You can buy it in the bus with your credit card.
Enjoy your trip to Istanbul!