After spending up big in Italy, it was good to be heading to a place where I could keep the costs down to a manageable level. Before arriving, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the cost of travelling in Turkey, but in the end the everyday living expenses were quite affordable. The only noticeable difference was the cost of alcohol due to the more recent increases in consumption tax levels on cars, cigarettes and alcohol in order to boost the struggling economy.
Despite this, Turkey still remains as one of the cheapest countries that I’ve been to. Within Istanbul, it is possible to save on transport costs by walking to most places (unless if it’s in the midday sun) as most attractions are within the city. Overall, my daily expenses came in at $53 per day. One thing to note is that my costs are heavily skewed towards Istanbul living costs as I spent six of the sixteen days in Turkey there. I would estimate that the costs would be approximately 10% more expensive in Istanbul than anywhere else that I went with the exception of Antalya where the costs were comparable between the two.
|TURKEY||Spend ($US)||Avg spend per day||Percentage|
|Average Cost Per Day||$53|
Food and drinks
It really isn’t expensive to eat in Turkey, but I ate A LOT. The average dinner meal would cost around $3-4 but I tended to order something a touch more expensive. There were many types of kebabs that could be procured from a range of places that were never too far away. My favourites were generally the Adani Kebabi which had a touch of spice in it, but wasn’t really a portable meal and best eaten in a restaurant. A cheaper alternative for most were the local buffets that cooked quite a few traditional dishes; mainly stews, salads and slow cooked dishes like baked eggplant and stuffed peppers which were my favorite. These too were incredibly tempting and instead of spending $3 for a plate of food like most people I at with, I’d try at least $6-7 worth of food.
As I mentioned, alcohol is expensive and a bottle of the Efes beer would cost $5 which I probably would have had one or two per night. I figured that I walked so much throughout Turkey, then I probably deserved at least a bottle of a reward.
The ubiquitous doner kebab wasn’t difficult to find. At the top end of Istiklal Street you could find a large row of Doner Kebab vendors, and deciding on which one to hand over your cash to can be intimidating at times. There are some vendors who would go as low as selling them for $2 though. They weren’t as large as the standard doner and they would use bread rolls instead of wraps, but they were just large enough to fill you up.
Where I spent more than the usual amount of money was on fizzy drinks. I never usually buy Coca Cola or Fanta, but the saltiness in the Turkish food required something equally sweet and fizzy to bring some balance to the flavours. Luckily the smaller bottles of drinks were readily available, but it is safe to say that any benefit gained from the additional walking was negated by the consumption of sugary drinks.
In Istanbul, I stayed at Chambers of the Boheme and would highly recommend them. Ahmet, the owner is super hospitable and is knowledgeable with everything within Turkey and could arrange transport and accommodation for anywhere within Turkey The guy was seriously networked. So helpful that it could feel strange if you’re not used to dealing with such a nice person or have just come from a place that isn’t as hospitable. The hostel is centrally located near Taksim Square and costs between $20-$30 per night – not the cheapest, but it’s comfortable and easy and the WiFi is decent. Breakfast not included.
Accommodation costs are fairly similar in Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Olympos where I also travelled to but the facilities varied. In Cappadocia I shared a room with two friends at the Nirvana Hotel with own bathroom. It was at an acceptable standard but despite the heat, I wouldn’t go near the pool as I couldn’t see the bottom of it, it was that murky.
In Pamukkale, I stayed at the Kale Hotel in a private room for $24 on the top level which had a door which was broken and wouldn’t lock. I took a chance on it still because I was only staying one evening and that’s all the time that you need there. Breakfast was ok with bread, egg, tomato, cucumber and honey.
In Olympos, I stayed in the 12 person dorm at Saban Treehouse. Despite the the guests who would try to turn the air conditioning off in the evenings, the place and the staff running it were was just awesome. To top it off, the free breakfast and buffet dinner was enough to cover the cost of the accommodation. I didn’t eat anywhere else and ever went hungry staying there. Would visit again.
My last stop was Antalya where I would fly out to Iran from. It was impossible to find half decent and budget accommodation there due to its popularity. I ended up staying at the Mango Pensione for $25 a night which was centrally located in the old town.
Transport was moderately priced and neither expensive or cheap. The shortest bus ride that I would have taken was from Pamukkale to Olympos which was a daytime journey and took around eight hours, costing $20. The longest bus ride was from Istanbul to Cappadocia which took twelve hours and costing $30. The most expensive ride was Istanbul to Pamukkale which was $37.
Bus rides in general weren’t the most comfortable, although I’ve been on worse in Central America. Most destinations involved taking overnight routes, where we’d be taken to a central bus terminal out of town. Here, we would wait amongst the other passengers and the incoming busses would never arrive on time. Amongst the chaos, we’d always have to grab the conductors and ask him which bus it was and point to our ticket with a “help me” kind of look as the drivers would never check the passenger manifest.
Around Istanbul, if you plan on catching public transport regularly the it’s best to get an Istanbul Card. It is a prepaid payment system on all public transport services such as trams, busses and ferries. The card isn’t the easiest to purchase due to the limited number of outlets selling them, but they can be bought at major transit locations such as the airport. I wasn’t aware of the card at first but Ahmet at the hostel let me use the spare ones that he had. The overall saving is 10% off rides compared to paying cash, but I found it to be most convenient as I didn’t have to wait in line to buy a token travel each time.
A ride anywhere on the tram without disembarking would cost $1. A ferry ride along the Bosphorus from the European side to the Asian side in my opinion is a must and will cost $1 each way. Ferries leave regularly from the Southern end of the Galata bridge and along the way you can see the vastness of the city as well as a different perspective of the many Mosques.
The general feeling I had towards the tourist spots was that the government was trying to milk as much out of tourism as they could. I didn’t go to many museums but to enter the Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Museum (undergoing extensive renovations at the time), it would have cost $15 and also involved waiting in quite a lengthy queue. It’s possible to skip the lines by going in with a guide but the cost of a guide was up to $20 per person in addition to the entry fee.
The greatest tourist cost incurred for me was the hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, but it was by far the most impressive thing I did in Turkey and would gladly exchange $150 to do it again.
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