Istanbul Cheapo:  A Guide to Istanbul on a budget

istanbul on a budget

Two days ago I arrived back home from my third and definitely not final trip to Istanbul.  I am in love with this city.  The call of the Muzzein, the red paint that stains the outside of the Hagia Sophia, Byzantine history and Turkish baths are all things I find lingering on my mind for years after each visit.  This city cannot be erased from memory.

When I took this last trip I was once again surrounded by all these things I love.  There was one thing however I wasn’t too fond of….the prices of everything.  For Turkey being a cheap country in general I felt somewhat cheated when I had to pay about 5,5 euros for a doner kebab.  This is Istanbul not Paris!  This is why I’ve decided to compile this list of tips and tricks to save money in Europe’s most popular and exotic destination;

Book a hostel or hotel outside of the Sultan Ahmet District; I know this may sound silly to some of you to book outside the place which is ground zero for visiting all of the main attractions but simply put; the closer you are to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque the more expensive things are.  Prices don’t start dropping until you are a good kilometer away from the city’s largest attractions so if you book your accommodation outside this area then you’ll be more inclined to eat at the restaurants and visit shops around where you are staying which will save you heaps right there. Also click here is you need help to  get a Visa for turkey

Don’t buy your souvenirs from inside the Grand Bazaar; this is where most tourists go to buy their kitschy souvenirs that remind them of their wonderful time in the city.  Shop owners know this and will sell their goods at three times the price of other shops.  I recommend buying all souvenirs from the shops in the neighborhood located just outside the spice bazaar.  In both the Spice and Grand Bazaar the most expensive items will be found in the shops inside the covered areas.  Buy items from shops which are on the street.  A decent evil-eye shouldn’t be more than 1 Lira.

Haggle; yes, people still do this, even at restaurants.  If it doesn’t have a fixed price written on it, it can be bought for at a price cheaper than the one the shop owner will tell you.  Don’t be afraid to try another shop if you think you aren’t getting a good deal since they all pretty much have the same things.  If the greeter at a restaurant is especially pushy for you to come in you can even haggle with him for about a 10 or 20 percent discount off your meal before you go in.

Buy a good bottle of alcohol from the duty free shop in the airport before you arrive; if you plan on getting loose in the comfort of your own room or outside of the restaurants and bars this is your cheapest option.  Alcohol is expensive in the city no matter where you buy it.  This is because only foreigners consume the most of it. So if you want to have a good time then I recommend drinking at home from a bottle bought at the duty free section of the airport.

If you may know of any more tips please share them in the comments sections below.  That way others (including myself) can have an even more inexpensive trip next visit!


Also be sure to check out Things to do in Cappadocia!


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Justin Carmack

Justin Carmack

Wanderer and diver at Art of SCUBA Diving
I've been on the road for 5.5 years now, visiting 80 countries, 6 continents and endless adventures. Divemaster and SCUBA addict. Travel junkie. World roamer.
Justin Carmack

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