Planning a trip to Turkey and flying to Istanbul Airport and wondering if you can buy a prepaid sim card at Istanbul Airport (IST) on arrival? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know before buying a prepaid sim card for Turkey at Istanbul Airport.

Find out where to buy a prepaid sim card, up to date prices as per July 2024, best 4G/5G network in Turkey, sim card shops opening hours, my recommendation, a vlog about my experiences, the best e-sim cards for Turkey, info about international sim cards and everything else you need to know.

Get yourself a local prepaid sim card on arrival in Turkey or order an e-sim card on the internet to avoid high roaming charges, it will make your trip to Istanbul much easier if you have a working data connection on your phone.

Finding out the best way to stay connected is one of the first thing I look for when planning a trip to a new country. In the past I always used to buy a prepaid sim card on arrival  but nowadays I mostly order an e-sim card on the internet so that I have data on my phone as soon as the plane lands.

As Traveltomtom is also 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 like to document all my travel tips.

Therefore on Traveltomtom you can 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, Philippines, Brazil, Singapore, Australia and many more.

Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a tourist sim card in Turkey in 2024 as well as buying a sim card at Istanbul SAW Airport, the other airport in Istanbul.

Rather order an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet then click on the link for my complete Turkey e-sim card guide for 2024.

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 the best places to visit in Turkey in 2024.

Some links in this article about buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport 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!

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet when traveling to Istanbul. Why? The Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul airport are ridiculously overpriced!

E-sim cards for Turkey are much cheaper and already start from $4.5 USD and you get 20 GB data for just $26 USD from Airalo, on top of that you can arrange everything online within just a couple clicks.

Buying a prepaid sim card for Turkey on arrival at Istanbul Airport is very expensive. The cheapest prepaid sim card plan at Istanbul Airport as per July 2024 is 1,000 Turkish Lira which is $31 USD.

Buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport is super easy and convenient, but you pay the tourist price for that convenience!

Another option is to wait until you get to Istanbul city center and buy your Turkey prepaid sim card there. You will find the same plans as at the airport but then around 30% CHEAPER! Read more about it in my article about buying a prepaid sim card in Turkey in 2024.

Another way of staying connected when traveling in 2024 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 2024 and pick the one that suits your trip.

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.

Best e-sim cards for Turkey

The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Istanbul in 2024 is an e-sim card. No need to visit a sim card store anymore or buy a sim card at Istanbul Airport. With an e-sim card you are online as soon as the plane lands.

You order an e-sim card for Istanbul 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 Istanbul 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 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, including all Turkey e-sim deals from Airalo, Nomad, SimOptions, Jetpac, Holafly, etc.

Find below a selection of some of the e-sims for Turkey.

Airalo

Airalo is a reliable e-sim provider and Traveltomtom has used Airalo in more than 50 countries around the world. Check out the Airalo e-sim card 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 your Turkey e-sim card via Airalo.

Airalo always has some ongoing promotions, so definitely check out if they have promotions for Turkey e-sims.

The above Merhaba e-sim cards are data-only and are only valid in Turkey. Merhaba operates on the 4G/LTE and 5G network of Turk Telekom in Turkey. However, there is actually not much 5G in Turkey.

SimOptions

SimOptions is another reputable e-sim card provider that provides e-sim cards for pretty much every country in the world and Traveltomtom has been using sim cards from SimOptions for more than 7 years now.

SimOptions updated all their Turkey e-sim card plans and they have some amazing deals which are all 5G ready.

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.50 USD
  • 5 GB data for 15 days = $6.90 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $12.90 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $32.90 USD
  • 50 GB data for 60 days = $59.90 USD

Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card plan for traveling to Turkey via SimOptions.

Nomad

nomad esim card plans for turkey 2024

There is also Nomad an e-sim provider with very competitive prices. Traveltomtom has used Nomad several times in many different countries around the world.

They have a great e-sim card plan worth mentioning as it gives you 10 GB data for just $15 USD. 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 from Nomad.

With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number, but make sure your phone is e-sim card compatible and your phone unlocked before ordering an e-sim card for your trip to Istanbul.

This is just a summary of the available Turkey e-sim cards, but there is more from Jetpac, Holafly, Sim Local, etc.

Find everything you need to know about using e-sim cards when traveling to Turkey in 2024 in Traveltomtom's complete guide. Much more e-sim card plans and details, a comparison of all e-sim cards for Turkey, all FAQ and of course my conclusion of what is the best e-sim card for traveling to Turkey in 2024.

Why buying a sim card for 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.

Istanbul Airport IST

istanbul airport arrivals

Welcome to Istanbul Airport (IST). The airport with the ambition to become one of the biggest airports in the world in terms of handling passengers. Istanbul Airport is pretty new and obviously ultra modern and super spacious. Seems like a great airport to arrive for your Turkey trip, but I am NOT a fan.

The airport is insanely huge, walking distances are legit far! Having a stopover in Istanbul Airport then fingers crossed you are going to make your flight connection. From my own experience I unfortunately have to admit that I missed my connection flight already many times with Turkish Airlines. With loads I mean, almost 10 times now.

There is NO compensation as Turkish Airlines changed the Terms & Conditions in such a way that they don't have to pay you any compensation. Although having an Elite Plus status with Turkish Airlines I do NOT recommend flying them, just like I don't encourage you to buy a sim card at Istanbul Airport.

Most cringe about IST Airport is that they only offer 1 hour free WiFi and after that you will have to pay. However, you are probably just arriving at Istanbul Airport and starting your trip to Turkey. In that case never mind, my extra info! :) 

When arriving it is very easy to navigate and there is only one International Arrival Hall. After you went through passport control you get to a huge Baggage Claim Hall. There are ATM's, money changers and Duty Free shops, but no sim card shops in the baggage claim area, they are in the arrival hall.

Where to buy a Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport

There are 5 different sim card shops at Istanbul Airport and they sell more or less the same prepaid sim cards for Turkey for tourists. The prices different a little, so keep reading and I tell you where you can find the best tourist sim card at Istanbul Airport.

After you collect your luggage from the luggage belts in the baggage claim area there is only one exit. Through sliding doors you will end up in the massive arrival hall and you are forced to go either left or right. 

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 reseller store and the 'Vodafone' (former WIFIST) sells of course Vodafone prepaid sim cards but also Turkcell sim cards. Don't be fooled by the signs this is NOT an official Vodafone store.

buying a sim card at istanbul airport

If you walk to the left you will see the all the phone stores of all the main mobile internet provider in Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone and Turk Telekom.

There is also an Airport WIFI rental company. The Turkey prepaid sim card business is booming. Never have I seen an airport with so many mobile internet shops. You must think: great that means competitive prices... but NO, unfortunately not!

Be aware that prices for Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport are MUCH higher than in Istanbul city center. At Istanbul Airport you can buy tourist sim cards for tourist prices.

Here is Traveltomtom's vlog what it looks like arriving at Istanbul Airport and my experiences buying a local prepaid sim card to stay connected in Turkey.

Prices Turkey sim cards at Istanbul Airport in 2024

As I said in the beginning of this article, all information is up to date as per July 2024 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.

When you decide to buy a Turkey prepaid sim card at the airport of Istanbul then always pay in Turkish Lira or by card. The exchange rates some of the stores offer are outrageous. Don't be fooled!

All stores accept international credit cards. Best is to pay by card when buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport. Prices below are in Turkish Lira and as of July 2024: $1 USD = 32.6 TRY and 100 TRY = $3.07 USD.

All sim card shops at Istanbul Airport are open for 24 hours. None of the sim card shops sell e-sim cards, only physical prepaid sim cards for tourists are available.

If you want an e-sim card for Turkey then check out my complete guide with the best e-sim cards for Turkey in 2024.

Njoy Sim Istanbul Airport

njoy store istanbul airport turk telekom prepaid sim card plans

Njoy is an official Turk Telekom reseller and they offer the following Turk Telekom prepaid sim card plans:

  • 25 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and social media apps = 1,500 TL - $46.8 USD
  • 40 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and social media apps = 1,600 TL
  • 70 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and social media apps = 1,900 TL - $69.3 USD
  • 90 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and social media apps = 2,050 TL
  • 125 GB data + unlimited calling, texting and social media apps = 2,200 TL
  • 300 GB data only = 2,800 TL

At Njoy they only sell prepaid sim cards, e-sim cards are NOT available as of July 2024.

The cheapest sim card for tourists at the NJOY/Turk Telekom store is 1,500 TL = $46 USD.

All packages are valid for 30 days in Turkey only. 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/WIFI 5G Vodafone Istanbul Airport

wifi5g wifist store istanbul airport vodafone prepaid sim card plans

WIFIST is an official Vodafone Turkey reseller and they sell several different Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards valid for 30 days:

  • 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms + unlimited social media = 1,500 TL - $46 USD
  • 50 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms + unlimited social media = 1,750 TL
  • 70 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms + unlimited social media = 1,900 TL - $58 USD
  • 100 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms + unlimited social media = 2,100 TL

These Vodafone prepaid sim card plans are only available as a physical sim card and not as an e-sim card. Unlimited social media is included, but TikTok and YouTube is NOT included.

They now also sell Turkcell sim cards, yes this 'Vodafone' store! Here are the data-only plans.

wifi5g wifist store istanbul airport turkcell data only sim cards

  • 12 GB data only = 1,200 TL - $37 USD
  • 50 GB data only = 1,700 TL
  • 100 GB data only = 2,050 TL - $63 USD
  • 200 GB data only = 2,400 TL
  • 400 GB data only = 3,950 TL- $121 USD

And they also have Turkcell prepaid sim cards for tourists including calling and texting.

wifi5g wifist store istanbul airport turkcell sim cards

  • 20 GB data + 200 minutes = 1,500 TL - $46 USD
  • 50 GB data + 1,000 minutes + 200 sms = 1,750 TL
  • 105 GB data + 1,000 minutes + 200 sms = 2,100 TL - $64 USD

These Turkcell prepaid sim cards for tourists are available as physical prepaid sim cards as well as e-sim cards.

If you have read my best Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists in 2024 article then you know that the prices for Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul Airport are MUCH more expensive than at official Vodafone or Turkcell 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 July 2024 --> 1,500 TL = $46 USD, they charge you $58 USD for 1,500 TL!

Again do NOT pay in USD, always pay by card or Turkish Liras. There are many ATM's around in the arrival hall.

Vodafone store Istanbul Airport

vodafone prepaid sim card plans istanbul airport 2024

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 now got much more affordable prepaid sim card plans for tourists. Still though, very expensive compared to e-sim cards for Turkey.

vodafone prepaid sim card plans istanbul airport

The cheapest Vodafone prepaid Turkey sim card at Istanbul Airport is now 1,250 TL around $24 USD, see the price sheet above.

  • 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms = 1,250 TL - $38 USD
  • 50 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms = 1,350 TL - $41 USD
  • 70 GB data + 750 minutes + 250 sms = 1,750 TL - $54 USD

The Vodafone store at Istanbul Airport has more sim card plans for tourists, see the photo above.

Turkey is a pretty cheap country for tourists, but the prices for tourist sim cards are through the roof. Therefore another reminder to buy a prepaid sim card for turkey on the internet or get yourself an e-sim card for Turkey.

All the above Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim card plans are valid for 30 days and are for use in Turkey only. The Vodafone store at Istanbul Airport only sells prepaid sim cards, as of July 2024 e-sim cards are still NOT provided.

Turk Telekom store Istanbul Airport

turk telekom prepaid sim card plans istanbul airport

These are the update prices as per July 2024 for Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards at Istanbul Airport, also see the picture above:

  • 10 GB data + 750 minutes + 100 sms = 1,100 TL - $34 USD
  • 20 GB data + 750 minutes + 100 sms = 1,200 TL
  • 40 GB data + 750 minutes + 100 sms = 1,300 TL
  • 50 GB data + 750 minutes + sms = 1,400 TL  - $43 USD
  • 100 GB data + 1,500 minutes + sms = 1,600 TL

They also have data only plans:

  • 30 GB data = 1,100 TL - $34 USD
  • 100 GB data = 1,300 TL
  • 200 GB data = 1,500 TL - $46 USD
  • 300 GB data = 1,800 TL

All Turk Telekom prepaid sim card plans are valid for 30 days and are only for use in Turkey. The Turk Telekom store at Istanbul Airport sells all prepaid sim cards as physical sim cards as well as e-sim cards.

Turkcell store Istanbul Airport

turkcell prepaid sim card plans istanbul airport

Turkcell sells a lot of prepaid sim card plans for tourists at Istanbul Airport valid for 30 days, including free WhatsApp:

  • 20 GB data + 200 minutes = 1,000 TL - $31 USD
  • 50 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 100 sms = 1,100 TL
  • 80 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 1,000 sms = 1,400 TL  - $43 USD
  • 105 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 1,000 sms = 1,600 TL

All Turkcell prepaid sim card plans are valid only in Turkey. The Turkcell store at Istanbul Airport sells physical prepaid sim cards as well as e-sim cards for tourists for the same price. However, the Traveltomtom Team has reported that in the last couple months it was a hit or miss with available e-sims.

Traveltomtom gives you 50% chance you can get an e-sim from the Turkcell phone shop at Istanbul Airport! ;)

As you have seen some of the mobile internet providers and sim card shops at Istanbul Airport provide e-sim cards. But reminder that if you buy an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet you can find much better deals. For example the Airalo e-sim card for Turkey with 20 GB data for just $26 USD.

Best sim card at Istanbul Airport in 2024

Unfortunately it seems that prices for Turkey prepaid sim cards for tourists at Istanbul Airport are not getting cheaper, but in fact getting more expensive. This is my conclusion after updating this article in July 2024 and visiting Turkey for more than 30 times.

Prices for prepaid tourist sim cards at Istanbul Airport skyrocketed in the last months and it is hard to recommend a specific prepaid sim card as all of them are overpriced.

The cheapest prepaid sim card for tourists at Istanbul Airport is a Turkcell sim card with 20 GB data and 200 minutes for 1,000 TL. That is $31 USD.

Because Turkcell also has the  BEST 4G/5G NETWORK IN TURKEY they are considered the best prepaid sim card for traveling to Istanbul and therefore it is a simple conclusion that Turkcell is the best sim card at Istanbul Airport. But be sure you buy it in the Turkcell store and not at the 'Vodafone store' called WIFIST as here the exact same sim card costs 1,500 TL, 50% more expensive.

However, a reminder that an e-sim card for Turkey with 20 GB data for 30 days only costs $26 USD and you can order it directly on the internet and you are online as soon as the plane lands.

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Turkey via either Airalo or SimOptions, but there is also Jetpac, Nomad, Holafly and many others.

I am sure you now understand what I meant when I said: Traveltomtom does NOT recommend buying a prepaid sim card at Istanbul Airport. Instead order an e-sim card for Turkey online. Read all about using e-sim cards in Turkey including a comparison of the best Turkey in e-sim cards in 2024 in the link.

How I know about the best 4G/LTE network in Turkey? Check out my recently updated article about the best Turkey sim card for tourists in 2024, including all the information and a comparison of the network coverage maps of all the mobile internet providers.

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 30% 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 and especially Istanbul 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 USD. You can order this physical prepaid sim card online and get it deliverd to your home address. This international prepaid sim card for Turkey is already pre-activated. Simply plug and play! Click on the link above for more info.

However, the best way to stay connected when traveling to Europe and also visiting Turkey on the same trip is a Eurolink e-sim card from Airalo.

eurolink esim card plans for turkey and europe

This e-sim card is valid in all of Europe as well as in turkey. Click here to order the Eurolink e-sim card via Airalo.

If you buy a local prepaid sim card in Turkey then there is NO international roaming included in any of the prepaid sim cards.

For more info about Europe sim cards check out Traveltomtom's list of the best sim card for Europe travel in 2024? 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 and visit a sim card shop.

Pocket Wifi for Turkey

wifi rental istanbul airport

On your left-hand side when you walk into the Arrival Hall you will also find a store Airport Wifi Rental shop. Here they rent out Pocket Wifis and for $13 USD per day you get unlimited data. You can connect up to 10 devices at the same time. Sounds cool, but keep in mind that you all share the same connection, so data speed will drop drastically the more devices you connect. You will have to pay a $50 USD deposit for the pocket WiFi.

For some people, especially those with locked phones this is a solution to stay connected when traveling to Istanbul. 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 2024 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 questions hit me up and leave me a comment below. Also happy to help you find some cool photos spots from around Istanbul.

Buy a prepaid sim card for Turkey online

international prepaid sim cards for turkey

Does buying a prepaid sim card for Turkey in Istanbul sound like too much hassle and your phone is not e-sim compatible then check out the following option.

You can order an international physical prepaid sim card for turkey online and get it delivered to your home address. These pre-activated travel sim cards work like plug and play. You put the sim card in your phone in the plane and as soon as the plane lands you are online.

Check out the following international prepaid sim card for Turkey that you can order via SimOptions:

  • 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD

Click here to directly order an international sim card for Turkey via SimOptions.

Also a last reminder that with an e-sim card for Turkey you will get online within just 2 minutes and you arrange everything online. No need for swapping a physical sim card anymore or visiting a phone store.

Check out my guide and comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Turkey in 2024.

Or order an Airalo e-sim card with 20 GB data for $26 USD directly online or a Nomad e-sim card with 10 GB data for $15 USD.

How to get from IST New Istanbul Airport to Istanbul

You can take a regular taxi which will cost around 600 TL ($20 USD) 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 600 TL ($20 USD).

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 60 TL ($2 USD) 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 July 2024 I have been to more than 155 countries on my way to visit every country in the world.

Enjoy your trip to Istanbul!