Buying a SIM card at Istanbul Airport (IST): Travelers Guide 2024

Istanbul, spanning two continents, is a sensory experience. Without the internet, its bustling bazaars, stunning mosques, and hidden gems are difficult to navigate. A SIM card at Istanbul Airport (IST) will help you get Internet connection right upon landing in Turkey’s land. But, it is good for tourists to buy SIM card at Istanbul airport, which SIM plans to choose and cost, alternative to airport SIM for Turkey travel. Find out the most adequate answers below!

SIM card at Istanbul airport
SIM card at Istanbul airport

I. Can I buy a SIM Card in Istanbul (IST)?

Yes, getting a SIM card at Istanbul Airport is a smart move for travelers. This is the most excellent solution for these reasons:

  • Get Online Instantly: No waiting for WiFi, connect as soon as you land.
  • Reliable Connection: Don’t rely on spotty public WiFi, especially in crowded areas.
  • Stay in Touch Easily: Share your trip with family and friends through calls, texts, and social media.
  • Explore Like a Pro: Navigate Istanbul with ease using apps like Google Maps.
  • Control Your Spending: Prepaid SIM cards make it easy to budget for data and avoid surprise roaming charges.

An airport SIM card provides convenience and peace of mind, but it’s a good idea to compare prices before you buy.

II. Where can you buy a SIM Card at Istanbul Airport (IST)?

Istanbul is a significant airport in Turkey
Istanbul is a significant airport in Turkey

Upon exiting customs, you’ll be greeted by a bustling bazaar of carrier kiosks and stores. Stay calm! The three giant SIM card at Istanbul Airport – Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telekom – have you covered. Let’s explore their offerings:

1. Turkcell store

Turkcell is widely recognized as Turkey’s top dog, offering excellent coverage and speed.

  • Location: Keep your eyes peeled for Turkcell kiosks in both arrival halls.
  • Opening hours: 24/7, ensuring connectivity regardless of your arrival time.
  • Plans: Tourist Welecom Pack – 20GB for 30 – 40 USD
Turkcell's booth SIM card at Istanbul Airport
Turkcell’s booth SIM card at Istanbul Airport

2. Vodafone store

Vodafone is a strong competitor of Turkcell, known for its reliable network and competitive prices.

  • Location: Vodafone kiosks and stores are readily available throughout the arrival terminals.
  • Opening hours: 24/7, like Turkcell, they’ll be there whenever you land.
  • Plans: 
    • Tourist Exclusive Pack: 20GB for 10,9 USD, ideal for minimal data needs.
    • Tourist Welcome Pack: 10B for 5,45 USD, a good balance for casual users.
    • Tourist Data Pack: 5GB for 3,27 USD for those who can’t live without constant connection.
Vodafone booth SIM card at Istanbul Airport
Vodafone booth SIM card at Istanbul Airport

3. Turk Telecom store

Turk Telecom is a solid choice, offering good coverage and competitive pricing.

  • Location: Find Turk Telekom kiosks and stores scattered across the arrival terminals.
  • Opening hours: Similar to the others, they operate 24/7 for your convenience.
  • Plans: Tourist SIM Card – 20GB for 6 USD, a good budget option.

► Our recommendation: If you do not know which provide to choose, we recommend Turkcell sim card because of its convenience and suitable price.

III. Do SIM Card Shops at IST Airport Open After Midnight?

Yes, you can find SIM card kiosks at Istanbul Airport. All three major Turkish mobile providers – Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telekom – have kiosks in the arrival halls, and they are all open 24/7. So, even if you arrive late, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a kiosk that’s open.

IV. Istanbul Airport SIM Cards Price

Booths of three carriers SIM card at Istanbul Airport
Booths of three carriers SIM card at Istanbul Airport

Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telecom sell SIM card at Istanbul Airport. SIM cards at Istanbul Airport tend to be pricier than options available in the city or online. Each operator provides various tourist programs and costs, so compare before picking. In January 2024, these were top tourist SIM card at Istanbul Airport:

1. Turkcell

Turkcell is Turkey’s largest and most popular mobile operator, with a strong 4.5G network coverage and various services and apps. Turkcell offers a Tourist Welcome Pack for foreigners, which includes:

  • 20 GB of internet
  • 200 minutes of calls in all directions
  • Unlimited messaging via BiP and WhatsApp
  • Valid for 30 days

With a foreign passport, you can buy this pack from the Turkcell store at the airport. The price of this pack is 1,000 Turkish Lira, which is about $35.

2. Vodafone

Vodafone is a global mobile operator that operates in Turkey and many other countries. Vodafone offers a Tourist Exclusive Pack for tourists, which includes:

  • 20 GB of 5G data
  • Unlimited calls and SMS
  • 750 minutes and 250 SMS for international calls
  • Valid for 28 days

You can buy this pack from the Vodafone store at the airport with a valid passport. This pack is 10 euros, which is about $10.

3. Turk Telecom

Turk Telecom is a primary telecommunications provider in Turkey, with a wide range of SIM card plans for locals and tourists. Turk Telecom offers a Tourist SIM Card for foreigners, which includes:

  • 20 GB of internet
  • 200 minutes of domestic calls
  • 100 minutes of international calls
  • Unlimited messaging via BiP and WhatsApp
  • Valid for 30 days

Turk Telecom sells this bundle at the airport for foreign passport holders. This bundle costs 50 Turkish Lira ($6).


  • Compare prices between carriers before buying
  • Package information, prices may change over time. For the latest information, please contact the supplier.

V. Registration Process When Buying a SIM Card at Istanbul Airport – What to Prepare

Istanbul airport map
Istanbul airport map

Tourists will need to show their passport as part of the SIM card registration process in Turkey. This is a standard requirement.

In addition to your passport, you’ll also need:

  • An unlocked phone: Make sure your phone can work with Turkish networks.
  • A way to pay: Most kiosks accept cash or credit cards.

While the process isn’t overly complicated, it does require a bit of time and effort. For tourists experience, consider these alternatives:

  • Buy an international SIM card online before you depart. This way, you’ll land with a working phone number and data.
  • Opt for an eSIM if your phone supports it. eSIMs can be downloaded instantly and don’t require any physical installation.

VI. eSIM for Istanbul – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card Istanbul

Esim is a perfect choice in Turkey
Esim is a perfect choice in Turkey

Tourists can purchase an eSIM online, either before you arrive in Istanbul or even when you’re already at the airport. You can choose from eSIMs offered by local Turkish operators like Turkcell or Vodafone, or opt for an eSIM from a global provider.

The beauty of eSIMs is that they eliminate the problem of physically swapping SIM cards. This is especially useful when you’re traveling and want to avoid the airport kiosk altogether. Plus, you can activate your eSIM as soon as you land, ensuring you’re connected right away.

We specifically suggest Gigago as a trustworthy and economical eSIM supplier. Gigago provides customizable internet, phone, and SMS eSIM plans for nations and regions.

For Turkey, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1 GB for 3 days with $3.00 . What is great about Gigago’s Turkey eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $3.00$95.90 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Turkey, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

Note: Your phone must be unlocked and eSIM-compatible in order to work with Turkey eSIM.

VII. Can I Buy Tourists SIM Cards OutSide Of The Ankara

Yes, you can definitely buy a tourist SIM card in the city of Ankara if you don’t get one at the airport. You’ll find them at mobile phone shops, official carrier stores (like Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telekom), some shopping malls, and larger supermarkets.


When I fly into Istanbul, can I purchase a SIM card?

Without a doubt! You may find 24-hour kiosks or businesses run by Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telekom across both arrival terminals.

Which network provider is the best coverage in Istanbul?

Your data demands and affordability should be your primary considerations when selecting a plan from the three leading carriers; all three provide excellent coverage throughout the city.

How much data will I need for my trip to Istanbul?

Your intended usage of the phone is the determining factor. While 3 GB may be plenty for light users, those who use a lot of data for navigation, social networking, and video chats may want 10 GB or more.

Can I set up my own SIM card registration for Istanbul?

Yes. Customers may get help with registration and purchase processing from the counter workers at Istanbul airport kiosks. All you need is your passport!

IX. Conclusion

Istanbul has bustling streets and hidden jewels, but digital navigation requires a SIM card at Istanbul Airport. Getting one at the airport is fast but expensive, so save it for emergencies. Later, visit city retailers for flexibility and savings.

But for ultimate convenience and instant activation, consider eSIMs – your digital passport to a seamlessly connected Turkish adventure! So, choose your path, embrace connectivity, and unlock the magic of Istanbul!