Flying to Istanbul soon and arriving on the Asian side at SAW Airport? If so then this is your complete guide for buying a Turkey sim card on arrival at Istanbul SAW Airport. Find up to date prices as per May 2023, where to buy a prepaid sim card, the best e-sim cards for Turkey, info about the 4G/5G network in Turkey, a vlog with my experiences arriving at SAW airport, information about international sim cards for Turkey and many more tips.
If you didn't get a chance to buy a sim card at Istanbul SAW airport then don't worry, I wrote also a complete guide for buying a sim card for Turkey in 2023.
From my experience I can also already tell you that sim cards in Istanbul city center are much cheaper, but getting connected at the airport on arrival is just so convenient, not?
Getting an e-sim card or buying a prepaid sim card is the first thing I do when I get to a new country. Getting connected instantly makes traveling to Istanbul so much more convenient. Because I am also trying to visit every country in the world you can already find more than 200 prepaid sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all around the world: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Medina, Jeddah, Europe, London, United Kingdom, Madrid, Barcelona, Portugal, Austria, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and many more.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your destination. Bookmark me!
Istanbul is full of amazing places to visit! If you like going off the beaten path a little I can recommend you a walking tour in Fener Balat with its many colorful houses in a vibrant neighborhood or visiting Uskudar, a charming neighborhood with many cool things to do. Click here for some other unique things to do in Istanbul or if you are interested I can recommend you this complete 3-day Istanbul itinerary.
In general Traveltomtom recommends a Turkcell prepaid sim card for Turkey. However, Turk Telekom has a great prepaid sim card deal at SAW Airport and is also recommended.
However, nowadays when I visit Turkey, depending on the length of my trip I get myself an e-sim card. They already start from just $4.5 USD. See below for the best e-sim cards for Turkey.
We also recommend looking into buying an international prepaid sim card that covers Turkey. Check out my comparison of the best travel sim cards for 2023. There are some great deals for Turkey. However, the easiest way to stay connected when traveling abroad in 2023 is an e-sim card.
Best e-sim cards for Turkey
If you want to make it really easy for yourself then order an e-sim card for traveling to Istanbul. E-sim cards are by far the easiest way to stay connected as you arrange everything directly online and within just a couple minutes. After you order you will receive a QR code, follow the instructions and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.
Check out the following Turkey e-sim cards deals:
- 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 to order a Turkey e-sim card directly online.
The above Merhaba e-sim cards are data-only and are only valid in Turkey. They operate on the network of Turk Telekom in Turkey.
Different e-sim card operator, different prices. The following Turkey e-sim cards are also data-only meaning calling and texting is not supported:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $29.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $49.90 USD
Click here to order one of the above e-sim cards for traveling to Turkey directly online.
Before ordering an e-sim card for Turkey make sure your phone is e-sim compatible. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from home.
Istanbul SAW Airport
Istanbul has two international airports, one on the Europe side (IST) and one on the Asia side (SAW). So check carefully where you will fly to. Both airports are about an hour away from the city center. Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) is the smaller airport and is very easy to navigate when you arrive. Istanbul SAW airport has only one arrival hall.
Where to buy a sim card at Istanbul SAW Airport
There are two exits from the luggage belt, but whatever exit you take, as soon as you walk into the arrival hall you can’t miss the Turkey mobile internet operator shops. Vodafone, Turkcell and Turk Telecom are located just a few meters from each other, see the picture below.
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Turkey sim cards and traveling in Europe
Although a part of Istanbul and Turkey is located in Europe, Turkey sim cards do NOT allow international roaming in other countries in Europe. If you are traveling onwards to Europe you might want to order an international sim card for traveling in Turkey AND Europe.
Prices Turkey sim cards Istanbul SAW Airport in 2023
Prices and info below are up to date as per May 2023. The Turkish Lira fluctuates a lot and therefore most phone stores display their Turkey tourist sim cards in USD as well. As of May 2023: $1 USD = 19.5 TL and 100 TL = $5.15 USD.
Turkcell Istanbul SAW Airport
When checking out the Turkcell shop I was offered a wide array of prepaid Turkey sim cards. Turkcell claims to have the best Turkey mobile internet network, which is actually true. They offer sim cards with calling minutes and as well as data only packages.
There are 7 data packages available, see the sheet below.
These are the best Turkcell Turkey prepaid sim card for tourists at SAW airport:
- 500 minutes - 1000 sms and 10 GB data = 190 TL
- 14 GB data = 210 TL
Turkell has a lot of options to choose from. All prepaid sim card plans are for use in Turkey only!
Turk Telekom Istanbul SAW Airport
There are only 3 Turk Telekom prepaid sim cards for sale at Istanbul SAW airport. These are the available options:
- 750 minutes - 750 sms and 10 GB data = 160 TL
- 750 minutes - 750 sms and 20 GB data = 210 TL
- 950 minutes - 950 sms and 30 GB data = 240 TL
I asked what the surprise gift was and the friendly guy showed me a mini usb cable. All prepaid sim card plans are for use in Turkey only!
Vodafone Istanbul SAW Airport
It is well known that I use Vodafone sim cards a lot for traveling around the world, but what about Vodafone Turkey. They offer at least free social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, Spotify, etc.
They sell 4 different Vodafone Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul SAW Airport:
- 750 minutes and 12 GB data = 210 TL
- 750 minutes and 15 GB data = 230 TL
- 750 minutes and 25 GB data = 270 TL
- 750 minutes and 32 GB data = 310 TL
Texting is not included in a Vodafone Turkey sim card. All prepaid bundles are for use in Turkey only!
Best prepaid Turkey sim card SAW Airport
Most of the Turkey prepaid sim cards at Istanbul SAW airport are similar in packages. The Vodafone Turkey sim cards are more expensive than Turkcell and Turk Telecom, but they offer free social media.
Turkcell offers a lot of different Turkey sim cards and also has the best network in Turkey, though they are the most expensive! All in all I thiink that...
Turk Telecom is the best Turkey prepaid sim card at Istanbul SAW airport in 2023. They are the cheapest 160 TL and you get calling time, sms and 10 GB data!
If you want to watch a vlog about my arrival at SAW Airport in Istanbul and buying a sim card then have a look below.
Considering that every bar, restaurant and hotel has free WiFi as well that probably is more than enough data for your Turkey trip .
In case you can to wait until you arrive in Istanbul center then check out my recently updated article about the best sim card in Turkey for tourists in 2023. An educated guess tells you that the sim cards offered in Istanbul city center are much cheaper.
Order a sim card for Turkey online
If you want to be online as soon as the plane lands then order an international prepaid sim card online that you can use in Turkey. These travel sim cards will be shipped to your home address and are pre-activated for you. Which means it is plug and play.
Check out the following international sim cards for Turkey:
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Click here to directly order an international sim card for Turkey online.
Here also another reminder that you can also order an e-sim card for Turkey and keep your own phone number at the same time, no more swapping sim cards. Arrange everything directly online.
How to get from SAW Airport to Istanbul city
Buying a sim card at SAW Airport is pretty well organized and so is the public transportation from SAW Airport to Istanbul city center. When you exit SAW Airport you cross the road and go straight. On your right hand side you will see Havabus busses that have a couple fixed destinations around Istanbul center.
RELATED: How To Get From Sabiha Airport SAW to Taksim Square.
The bus to for example Taksim Square cost 35 TL, a little less than $2 USD per person one-way. The drive take around 1 to 1,5 hours.
I hope all the above tips for buying a Turkey sim card at Istanbul SAW airport were helpful. May you have any additional questions please leave me a comment below. Also for Istanbul travel tips I am more than happy to help you out.
More about traveling in Turkey: Ultimate 2 week Turkey itinerary, Stay in Taksim Square or Sultanahmet, Best places to visit in Turkey, etc.
If you are interested what it looks like traveling to every country in the world then check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom for some serious wanderlust. As of May 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Istanbul!