Best tourist SIM card for Turkey: What, where, and how?
Get a travel eSIM for your trip to Turkey instead.
· 3 min read
Are you planning a trip to Turkey? One thing you definitely don't want to overlook is getting a data pack to stay connected throughout your trip. But with so many options available - from local prepaid SIMs, international roaming, or getting a travel eSIM - how do you choose the best option to staying connected?
Do you need a SIM card for Turkey?
As with most major destinations, you'll be able to find free public WiFi in Turkey, especially in places like restaurants, malls, and hotels. However, connecting to public WiFi comes with its risks and limitations. If you are exploring the streets or en-route from one location to another, chances are that you will not be able to get connected — this means you might have issues getting an Uber, accessing your maps, or getting access to translation apps.
While it is possible for you to travel in Turkey without a data SIM, we strongly recommend that you get one so that you can stay connected at all times. This is particularly important and useful especially in times of emergency.
International Roaming in Turkey
Of course, there is always the option of getting international roaming with your primary data plan. However, international roaming charges are often expensive, so make sure to check your roaming packages to make sure it is within your budget.
If you are European, there is a chance that your provider already includes Turkey coverage in your base plan - but you should always double-check to be sure, especially since Turkey is not part of the EU. And if you are traveling from other parts of the world, and will be getting a roaming package for Europe, make sure to confirm if you will need a separate roaming package for Turkey since it is not part of the EU.
Which telcos in Turkey provide tourist SIMs?
As with most countries, there are a few key players in the telco market, all of which provide options for prepaid SIM cards that are suitable for tourists. In Turkey, the top three telcos to know are:
- Turkcell: the largest mobile provider in Turkey, and considered to be the best in terms of speed and coverage.
- Vodafone: global telecom giant providing reliable network coverage in many areas, with generally lower prices than Turkcell.
- Turk Telekom: provides extensive coverage with many WiFi hotspots across Turkey. Prices are fairly similar to Vodafone.
How much are tourist SIM cards in Turkey?
Each of the three telcos provide their own version and variation of 'Welcome to Turkey' packages for tourists. Most of these packages offer large data packs of 20GB and up, and have a validity of 28-30 days. Some packages also include unlimited data for certain apps, like WhatsApp or Telegram.
However, it is important to note that not all packages have their prices published online; and a main reason for that is because the prices actually vary from store to store - even for the same plan. So if you are planning to pick up a SIM card from one of the local telcos, it is advised that you do some price comparisons at the actual stores to find one that is the most value-for-money for you. As a reference, prices can range anywhere between USD25 - USD40.
Where to buy a tourist SIM card in Turkey?
There are many places where you can buy a tourist SIM card in Turkey. One of the most convenient places to get them would be to pick it up from the airport after you land. Remember to check out the different stores at the airport to find the best deal.
Alternatively, you can head to the retail stores in the city center. The prices of the SIM cards at the retail stores in the city center are often cheaper than if you were to get it at the airport, but prices also vary from shop to shop. This also means that it'll be a greater effort for you to find the best deal.
To purchase a tourist plan, you will need to make sure you have your passport documents ready with you as verification and activation is required.
Get a Nomad Travel eSIM for Turkey instead
Getting a local SIM from Turkey can be troublesome, especially if you had to navigate through all the different prices to find the best deal.
Instead, we recommend that you get a Nomad travel eSIM for Turkey. Do away with the hassle and confusion of comparing prices — what you see is what you get, and there are no hidden fees, ever! And an added benefit of getting a travel eSIM is that you'll be able to make your purchase and install the eSIM before your trip, so you can get connected as soon as you land in Turkey!
Nomad offers a variety of data plans for Turkey, with prices starting from as low as $1.50/GB. And in case you will be traveling to multiple countries in Europe, Nomad also has many Europe regional eSIM plans, which provides coverage for up to 35 countries with just a single eSIM.
What is an eSIM?
For those who are not familiar with what an eSIM is, it is essentially an embedded SIM. It works exactly like a physical SIM, except instead of a physical SIM, it is a chip that's embedded within your device. To use an eSIM, all you need to do is to download an eSIM profile (which is also known as installing an eSIM), and activate the eSIM profile on your device.
It is important to note that you will need to have an eSIM-compatible device to be able to use an eSIM.