Known as the ‘cradle of civilization’, Turkey intrigues and delights at every turn. With a foot in both Europe and Asia, Turkey is a mixing pot for millenniums of civilizations. Its grandiose history is apparent in dazzling mosques, lively bazaars and captivating ruins.
One little known fact is that what is Turkey today was part of ancient Greece, and the country is literally packed with Greco-Roman ruins rivaling Athens’ best offerings at a fraction of the cost.
Watch the dizzying twirling of the mystical Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order, and savor the unbeatable Mediterranean Turkish breakfast. Succumb to the legendary Turkish hospitality and connect with the Kurdish culture over chai in Southeast Turkey.
Read on for our Turkey budget travel guide!
84% Sunni Islam
12% Shia Islam
Region: Middle East
Population: 82 000 000
Experience the incredible natural marvels of fairy chimney formations in Cappadocia.
Brimming with history, the Ottoman architecture seen in mosques, palaces and more is a testament to the greatness of the Ottoman Empire.
You don’t have to go far off the beaten path to discover the hauntingly beautiful site of Termessos.
The forgotten Armenian capital of Ani exudes an eerie ghost town ambiance.
The Turkish lira’s value fell significantly in 2018 and although the government is taking measures to strengthen their currency, now would be a good time for a budget traveler to explore the country with ease. You can negotiate the price of almost anything, particularly when you’re in the countryside. Even bus tickets and hotel prices are negotiable. Prices are highest in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, particularly during high season of June-August, and lowest in the eastern cities during the off season of November-March. In general, you can find cheap dorms for $6, rooms for $15. Entrance fees to major sights like the Hagia Sofia and Ephesus are $7.5, but others are significantly cheaper. Street food can cost between $0.60 to $2.5, and restaurants significantly more.
Being the crossroad where east meets west is a big responsibility, and Turkey has stepped up to the plate by recently completing the world’s largest airport in Istanbul—which already has two international airports. To be fair, Ataturk (IST) is scheduled to close once the new Istanbul Airport (ISL) is fully functional. To cover all bases, check out flight costs to Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) to see if you can get a better deal: Pegasus airline, Turkey’s low-cost carrier, is based there. Ankara, İzmir and Antalya all have international airports, as well 28 others. In total, Turkey has almost 60 airports and domestic flights are sometimes cheaper than taking the bus. Talk about options! If finding your best flight seems daunting, check out our guide to make the task a little friendlier.
In recent times, Turkey has experienced more political upheaval than usual. Many western countries warn their citizens against going. If your experience is anything like ours, you have nothing to worry about. Locals stressed to us that it is the governments that take issue with one another, not the actual people. Saying you’re from the USA may make Turks uneasy except in the southeast where the Kurdish have benefited from protection from the west against some of Turkey’s not always friendly policies. As in most countries, tourists’ pockets are appealing and there is a chance you could fall prey to theft. Lost luggage, accidents and sheer unluckiness are all possible. Be sure to get a well-suited travel insurance before you travel.
When to go
In general, Turkey is hot in summer and cold in winter, with high tourist season being June-August. We suggest April-May and September-October as ideal times to visit, although for the landscape enthusiast, Turkey is alluring any time of the year. Want to escape the crowds at touristy sites? Arrive early or stay late. Tour buses start pulling up to monuments at 8am and are usually gone by 6pm, allowing you to explore in peace. Interested in shopping? The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world, and navigation will be easier in the shoulder seasons when there are fewer tourists around. Be sure to bargain and compare prices before you buy anything. Bargaining is an art long mastered by the friendly salesman. Are you up to it?
Why we love Turkey
Oh, where to begin! For an archaeology-lover and a history buff, this ancient land is paradise. From sites filled with ancient splendor to monuments commemorating past battles won and lost, history comes to life in Turkey. And then there is the culture. The friendliness of locals is humbling. You get the feeling that no matter what fix you get yourself into, someone will always be glad to help, invite you to tea and present you to his family. As for geography, the Aegean coastline, mountains and lakes provide plenty of variety for the adventurous traveler, and the ability to roam freely is a big plus. Basically, Turkey has it all at a Dirt Cheap Travel price.