How To Plan A Trip To Turkey On A Budget

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Turkey doesn’t need to be an expensive vacation, and there are plenty of ways to budget while enjoying its best features.

Turkey is an affordable destination for travelers. Vacationers love its Mediterranean beaches, unique Cappadocian landscapes, and archaeological wonders dating back almost to the beginning of civilization. Fortunately, visitors don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts to enjoy seeing the battlefields of ancient Troy, Istanbul’s architecture, the Aegean coast, and biblical sites.

Budget Trip to Turkey

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Getting To Turkey Cheaply

Getting to Turkey is simple. It’s best to use Istanbul as a starting point since plane and train tickets there are generally more affordable. Turkish Airlines and other companies offer direct flights to Istanbul from many large international airports. Rates fluctuate, but a round-trip ticket from New York City to Istanbul usually costs around $1000. Flights from European cities are much cheaper. Travelers from within the EU can find cheap train and bus tickets if they don’t mind taking a while to get there.

related: Everything a Traveler Should Know Before Planning a Trip to Turkey

Low-cost Transportation Around Turkey

Flying

Flights from Istanbul to other Turkish cities are relatively low-cost. For example, 30 Euros ($35 US) can buy a one-way ticket from Turkey’s largest city to Bodrum, an Aegean Sea resort town famous for its beaches. Tickets to Nevsehir in Cappadocia are about the same price. Getting to Ankara, the capital city, can cost as little as 20 Euros ($24 US). Turkish Airlines and Pegasus tend to have the best deals.

Budget Transportation Turkey

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Trains

Travelers can also take high-speed trains between destinations like Istanbul, Eskisehir, and Konya. For example, the train connecting Ankara and Istanbul takes about four and a half hours. The cheapest ticket costs 75 Turkish Lira ($9 US). That means that it doesn’t take much longer than the flight and costs about half the price.

Buses

Buses are a very common way to move around the country. They tend to be the cheapest option but take the longest. Tickets are most easily purchased in-person shortly before traveling. Since buses to popular destinations run frequently, travelers don’t need to worry too much about scheduling unless they’re on a very tight itinerary.

Renting A Car

People traveling in groups of three or four may want to rent a car. This is a great choice for experienced drivers who are familiar with stick shifts. Automatic transmissions are rare in Turkey. Renting a car will give travelers the freedom to explore destinations farther off the beaten track.

Public Transportation In Cities

Taking public transportation is the cheapest way to get around Turkey’s cities. To make it cheaper in Istanbul, travelers should get ahold of an Istanbul Kart from kiosks located around the city. Using this transportation card means that fares will cost about 40% less. Many other urban areas have their own versions: Ankara Kart or the Konya Elkart.

Turkish Lodging On A Budget

Affordable Lodging In Turkey

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Turkish hotels offer tourists everything from the most luxurious rooms and pampering to simple pension-style service. People traveling on a budget should look for one and two-star hotels.

  • One-star hotels typically cost between 50 and 85 Turkish lira ($6-10 US) per person.
  • Two-star hotels with more complete breakfasts run 70-105 lira ($8-12).

Budget travelers shouldn’t stay too near attractions like the Haga Sofia. Visitors will be amazed how much money they’ll save by simply walking an extra five minutes to see the sights.

Finally, Booking.com doesn’t work from within Turkey. It was banned in 2017 because the company couldn’t reach a tax agreement with the government. Anyone who wants to make reservations with the platform should do so ahead of time and print out a copy before traveling. Airbnb, on the other hand, works normally and legally in Turkey.

Eating Cheaply In Turkey

Cheap Street Food Istanbul Turkey

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Turkey is known for its street food. The good news is that it doesn’t cost travelers too much to try it either. At these stands and carts lunch can cost about 20 Turkish Lira ($2.30 US). Travelers will enjoy trying delicious foods like balık-ekmek (fish sandwiches), lahmacun (Turkish pizza), and tuvuk pilav (chicken and rice).

related: If You’re Planning An Istanbul Vacation, Be Sure To Factor These Foods Into Your Trip

  • Visitors who stay in Airbnbs or hostels can eat cheaply. They can shop at local markets and cook in kitchen facilities. The only con is that this takes energy, time, and cooking skills. After a long day of seeing the sights, not everyone is up to preparing a meal.
  • Travelers who choose to stay in hotels may not have the luxury of cooking cheaper homemade meals, but they often get to enjoy Turkish breakfast, kahvalti, which comes included. This spread includes cheese, eggs, olives, bread, and tea. It will keep sightseers going longer without getting hungry, so people trying to save a few dollars should make sure it’s included with their hotel fare.

How Much Does A Trip To Turkey Cost?

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Those planning a trip to Turkey need to know how much to set aside before traveling. Tom Brosnahan, the creator of Turkey Travel Planner, says that budget travelers should expect to spend between 180 and 250 lira ($20-30 US) each day per person. This amount means that they stay in one-star hotels with private bathrooms. They’ll eat in cheap restaurants. People with this budget should take buses and trains.

The very least that tourists could expect to spend is around 120-180 lira ($14-20 US) a day. To maintain this budget, travelers need to eat one picnic a day and stay in the cheapest pensions. They can only travel in the cheapest buses and trains. Solo travelers should expect to spend about 30% more since they spend more on lodging. A two-week, budget trip to Turkey could cost as little as $300 in addition to what it costs for the ticket there.

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