Istanbul on a Budget: The Insider’s Guide to Daily Expenses

Istanbul, the city that straddles two continents, is an enchanting blend of history, culture, and modernity. From its ancient monuments to its bustling bazaars, there’s something for every traveler. But how much do I spend per day in Istanbul? In this article, we’ll break down the costs to help you budget for your trip to this incredible city.

How much do I spend per day in Istanbul?

Whether you’re a backpacker on a shoestring budget or a luxury traveler looking for a lavish experience, Istanbul has options for everyone. Here’s a breakdown of daily expenses:



  • Hostels: $10-$20 per night


  • 3-star hotels: $30-$60 per night


  • 5-star hotels: $100-$300 per night


Street Food & Local Restaurants

  • $5-$10 per meal

Mid-range Restaurants

  • $15-$30 per meal

High-end Restaurants

  • $40-$100 per meal


Public Transport

  • Istanbulkart: $5-$10 per day


  • $20-$50 per day, depending on distance


Museums & Attractions

  • $10-$20 per attraction

Guided Tours

  • $30-$100, depending on tour

Miscellaneous Expenses

Souvenirs & Shopping

  • $10-$50 per day

Entertainment & Nightlife

  • $20-$100 per night

Saving Tips for Istanbul

Get an Istanbul Tourist Pass

Save on attractions and transportation by purchasing a pass that grants you access to various sites and includes unlimited public transport.

Eat Local

Indulge in delicious street food and dine at local eateries for a budget-friendly, authentic experience.

Walk, Walk, Walk

Istanbul is a walkable city, and you’ll save on transportation while enjoying its beauty.

Must-Visit Attractions

Hagia Sophia

Marvel at this architectural wonder and its rich history.

The Blue Mosque

Visit this iconic mosque and admire its stunning design.

Topkapi Palace

Explore the opulent residence of Ottoman sultans.

The Grand Bazaar

Get lost in one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets.

The Best Time to Visit Istanbul

The best time to visit Istanbul is during the shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October) when the weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much do I spend per day in Istanbul? On average, budget travelers can expect to spend $30-$50 per day, mid-range travelers $70-$150 per day, and luxury travelers $200+ per day.

2. Is Istanbul safe for tourists? Yes, Istanbul is generally safe for tourists. However, it’s essential to exercise common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

3. Do I need a visa to visit Istanbul? Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa. Check the Turkish government’s website for the latest information.

4. Can I drink tap water in Istanbul? It’s not recommended to drink tap water in Istanbul. Stick to bottled water to avoid potential health issues.

5. What’s the currency in Istanbul? The currency in Istanbul is the Turkish Lira (TRY).

6. Are credit cards widely accepted in Istanbul? Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in Istanbul, especially in hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments or street vendors.

Turkish Delights: A Food Lover’s Guide

Istanbul’s culinary scene is diverse and delicious. Here are some must-try dishes:


Savor the succulent flavors of various types of kebabs, from döner to shish.


Indulge in this sweet and flaky pastry, a true Turkish delight.


Start your day with this sesame-encrusted bread ring, a popular street food snack.


Enjoy these Turkish dumplings filled with ground meat and topped with yogurt and spices.

Tips for Solo Travelers in Istanbul

Stay in a Central Location

Choose accommodation in areas like Sultanahmet or Beyoğlu for easy access to attractions and a lively atmosphere.

Join a Walking Tour

Explore the city and meet fellow travelers on a guided walking tour.

Be Cautious at Night

Stick to well-lit, busy areas and avoid wandering alone in unfamiliar places after dark.

Learn Some Turkish Phrases

Knowing a few basic phrases in Turkish can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable and connecting with locals.

Istanbul Off the Beaten Path

Balat Neighborhood

Wander through the colorful streets of this historic district, home to centuries-old houses and a vibrant community.

Suleymaniye Mosque

Visit this lesser-known mosque for its serene atmosphere and stunning views of the city.

Büyük Valide Han

Discover this hidden gem, a historic inn that offers a unique perspective of Istanbul’s past.

Kadıköy Market

Experience local life and taste delicious foods at this bustling market on the Asian side of Istanbul.


Istanbul is a city that offers a unique experience for every traveler, and with careful planning, you can have an unforgettable trip without breaking the bank. So, how much do I spend per day in Istanbul? The answer ultimately depends on your travel style and preferences, but by following the tips and insights shared in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your adventure.

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