Planning a trip to Turkey and flying to Istanbul Airport? Get yourself a local prepaid sim card on arrival to avoid high roaming charges or may be easier for you an e-sim card for Turkey. This is a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for Turkey on arrival at Istanbul IST Airport. Find out where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per March 2023, best 4G/5G network in Turkey, opening hours, my recommendation, a vlog about my experiences and even info about international and e-sim cards for Turkey.

Getting connected is the first thing I do when traveling to a new country. Mostly buying a local prepaid sim card is the cheapest way to get a lot of data on your phone but e-sim cards are nowadays very convenient as well. As I am trying to travel to every country in the world I get to a lot of different places and to help fellow travelers saving money I write sim card guides about every country and international airport I visit. That is why on Traveltomtom you will find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: USA, Mexico, Colombia, ArgentinaThailand, BangkokSouth Africa, Kenya, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Europe, Asia, Sydney, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Germany and many more.

Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a sim card in Turkey in 2023 as well as buying a sim card at Istanbul SAW Airport, the other airport in Istanbul.

RELATED: the Ultimate Turkey Itinerary for 14 days. See all the hidden gems and don't miss any of the top sights in Turkey. Or check out my list of 19 beautiful places to visit in Turkey.

Why buying a sim card in Turkey

I can come up with a ton of reasons why being connected to the internet makes traveling to Istanbul much easier. Ordering a taxi, using translation apps, getting direction from Google Maps, looking for nearby rooftop bars and so on. Disconnecting is the new luxury and I totally agree, but not when visiting a city!

Yes, your hotel has free WiFi and so do bars and restaurants in Istanbul, but do you want to rely on others? What if the WiFi isn't working or the signal in your room is too weak, the internet speed is super slow? Also keep in mind that public WiFi connections are UNSECURED networks. Using a VPN is recommend.

Getting a local sim card in Turkey is easy and done fast. The most convenient place to buy a Turkey sim card on arrival is of course at the airport.

When not a fan swapping sim cards and changing phone number have a look into pocket WiFi devices. These travel gadgets are a great way to stay connected while traveling, but I am not the biggest fan. Read my HONEST review in the link.

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends buying a Turkcell sim card at Istanbul Airport. For 480 TL you get 20 GB data for use in Turkey.

Buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport is super easy and convenient, but you pay a price for that convenience! Turkey sim card deals in Istanbul city are much cheaper: almost 50% CHEAPER! Read more about it in my article about buying a sim card in Turkey in 2023.

Another way of staying connected when traveling in 2023 is an international sim card. Some of these travel sim cards are great deals for visiting Turkey! Check out my review and comparison of the best international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2023 and pick the one that suits your trip.

Also keep reading for more info about Turkey e-sim cards, which we of course totally recommend! This is the new sim card trend for 2023.

Istanbul is a mind-blowing city and I am sure some Istanbul travel tips will help you make the most of your trip. I recommend you to stay in Besiktas, Taksim or Sultanahmet, check out the amazing things to do in Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul or one of these 10 hidden gems in Istanbul.

E-sim card for Turkey

The best way to stay connected when traveling abroad is an e-sim card. You can order them directly online, it takes just a couple minutes and there is no need of swapping sim cards anymore. You receive a code in your mail, following the instructions, apply the settings and you are all set. Check out the following e-sim card deals for Turkey:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 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

Click here to order your Turkey e-sim card directly online or find more info. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number.

Istanbul Airport IST

istanbul airport arrivals

Welcome to the fairly new Istanbul 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. Seems like a great airport to arrive for your Turkey trip, but I am not really a fan. However, it is very easy to navigate and there is only one International arrival hall and one exit from the luggage belts so you can’t get lost at least.

Where to buy a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport

When walking from the luggage belts into the arrival hall you can go either right or left. There are 5 different shops, they sell more or less the same prepaid sim cards for Turkey, but the prices are different. Keep reading and I tell you the up to date prices as per March 2023.

sim card new istanbul airport

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 Vodafone (former WIFIST) Njoy is a Turk Telekom store and the 'Vodafone' (former WIFIST) sells Vodafone prepaid sim cards, but is NOT an official Vodafone store.

buying a sim card at istanbul airport

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.

Be aware that prices for Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport are MUCH higher than in Istanbul city center.

Prices Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport in 2023

As I said in the beginning of this article, all information is up to date as per March 2023 and everything is based on my own experiences buying a sim card for my Turkey trip. As I am a full time nomadic world traveler and use Istanbul often as a base I fly to IST airport all the time.

Also another reminder to always pay in Turkish Lira, the exchange rates some of the store offer are outrageous. Don't be fooled! All stores accept international credit cards!

Njoy Sim Istanbul Airport

turk telekom njoy sim card istanbul airport

Njoy is an official Turk Telekom reseller and they offer the above 4 Turk Telekom sim card deals:

  • 25 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and WhatsApp = 750 TL
  • 50 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and WhatsApp = 900 TL
  • 75 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and WhatsApp = 1,050 TL
  • 100 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and WhatsApp = 1,750 TL

All packages are valid for 30 days in Turkey only and with some packages you get a free gift. Please pay in Turkish Lira’s or use your credit card to pay in Lira. Their exchange rate is very off, but that counts for every store at Istanbul Airport. Always use local currency whether you pay cash or card.

WIFIST Istanbul Airport

vodafone wifist prepaid sim card istanbul airport

WIFIST is an official Vodafone Turkey reseller and they sell 4 different Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards. All their sim card deals at Istanbul Airport come with unlimited WhatApp.

  • 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms = 750 TL
  • 50 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms = 900 TL
  • 70 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms = 1,050 TL
  • 100 GB data + 750 minutes + 1,000 sms = 1,250 TL

If you have read my best Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists in 2023 article then you know that the prices for Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul Airport are MUCH more expensive than at official Vodafone stores in Istanbul city center.

Again a reminder to NOT pay in another currency, always pay in Turkish Lire, the above conversion rates are stupid!

EXAMPLE: at the time of updating this articles in March 2023 --> 750 TL = $40 USD, they charge you $50 USD for 750 TL, that is 20% commission basically!

Vodafone store Istanbul Airport

vodafone prepaid sim card istanbul airport

Vodafone Turkey at Istanbul Airport definitely listened to my critics from the last years. Their prices went down drastically. Vodafone Turkey was a no-go at first, but they got much more affordable now. The cheapest Vodafone prepaid Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport is now 610 TL around $32 USD, see the price sheet above.

  • 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 1, 000 sms = 650 TL

Remember the same Vodafone prepaid sim card they sell at the WiFist Vodafone? However, there they charge you for the exact same prepaid sim card deal 750 TL!

Therefore another reminder to buy a sim card at one of the official provider stores on the left hand side when you walk into the arrival hall.

All the above Vodafone Turkey packages are valid for 30 days and are for use in Turkey only.

Turk Telekom store Istanbul Airport

turk telekom prepaid sim card istanbul airport

These are the update prices as per March 2023 for Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards at Istanbul Airport, see the picture above:

  • 25 GB data + 750 minutes + 750 sms + 5 GB social media = 600 TL
  • 60 GB data + 1,500 minutes + 1,000 sms + 5 GB social media = 700 TL
  • 85 GB data + 1,500 minutes + 1,000 sms + 5 GB social media = 790 TL

All packages are valid for 30 days and are only for use in Turkey, there is NO international roaming included in any of the prepaid sim cards in Turkey. Remember the ENJOY store on the right side in the arrival hall? Their Turk Telekom sim card deals do NOT include free 5 GB social media and they are more expensive.

Turkcell store Istanbul Airport

turkcell prepaid sim card istanbul airport

They sell 3 different Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists at the Turkcell store at Istanbul Airport:

  • 12 GB data only = 480 TL
  • 25 GB data + 200 minutes = 640 TL
  • 50 GB data + 750 minutes = 700 TL
  • 100 GB data + 750 minutes = 770 TL

All packages are only valid in Turkey for 30 days. As you can see the big packages and with big value bundles of Turkcell are cheaper than the other providers.

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Best sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2023

As most prices for Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport are more or less the same these days it is harder to recommend a specific sim card. The cheapest prepaid sim card for tourists at Istanbul Airport is a Turkcell data only sim card with 12 GB for 480 TL.

Turk Telekom and Turkcell both have the good sim card deals, Vodafone sim cards are more expensive. Because Turkcell also has the  BEST 4G/5G NETWORK IN TURKEY they are considered the best prepaid sim card for traveling to Istanbul.

How I know? Check out my recently updated article about the best Turkey sim card in 2023, including more information about the best 4G/5G network in Turkey!

Remember that the prices for a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport are much higher than the official retail stores in the city. If you want the best deal (up to 50% cheaper) you have to wait until you reach Istanbul city center and you will find much better Turkey sim card deals for tourists.

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 Turkey.

If you want to buy a Europe sim card that works in Turkey I can recommend you the following: Orange prepaid sim card with 10 GB data valid in more than 30 European countries + Turkey for $49.90. You can order online, get it shipped to your home address and this international sim card is already pre activated. Simply plug and play! Click on the link above for more info.

Looking for the best sim card for Europe travel in 2023? In the link you find my complete guide with first hand information from more than 20 countries and 25 airports.

Also another reminder that you can order an e-sim card for Turkey, you keep your own number and you don't need to swap physical sim cards.

Pocket Wifi for Turkey

sim card istanbul airport

On your left-hand side when you walk into the Arrival Hall you will also find a store Airport Wifi Rental shop. These guys SELL (not rent) pocket WiFi device for 600 TL ($70). This does NOT come with any credit, you still have to buy a sim card for these portable WiFi devices and these are their prices in 2023, see the picture below:

portable wifi rental sim card istanbul airport

Check out my HONEST review about these portable WiFi devices. I am not a fan! This is so old school! The easiest way to stay connected when traveling abroad in 2023 is an e-sim card for Turkey as described above.

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 and leave me a comment below. Also happy to help you find some cool photos spots from around Istanbul.

How to get from IST New Istanbul Airport to Istanbul

You can take a regular taxi which will cost around 150 TL ($11) and takes between 40 - 60 minutes depending on traffic and where you go in the city. If you bought a Turkey prepaid sim card already then I recommend you to download Bitaxi, the leading Taxi App in Turkey, but Uber also works. A ride to Taksim, Galata, Besiktas, etc will cost you only 150 TL ($11).

from istanbul airport to istanbul

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 30 TL ($2) for a ticket. You can buy a ticket in the bus with your credit card.

In need of some more Istanbul travel inspiration then check out this 4-day Istanbul itinerary and don't miss a visit to Turkey's biggest mosque: Çamlıca. Or go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom for some serious wanderlust inspiration. As of March 2023 I have been to more than 150 countries on my way to visit every country in the world.

Enjoy your trip to Istanbul!

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