Turkey is amazing country. The people are friendly, the countryside is beautiful, and the prices are great value. Turkey was never high my trouble agenda but that’s only because I was ignorant of just how fantastic this country is. If you have even the remotest of opportunities travel To Turkey, you need to see it with both hands, book your ticket and get over here.
But for those of you that are planning to join the cliched digital nomad diaspora, having an up-to-date idea about what things cost is critical. While it’s great to be earning dollars and spending pesos, baht, or lira, if you’re blowing unnecessary cash on overpriced western cheap junk, then travelling cheap countries to become expensive. To how much exactly does it cost to travel around Turkey in 2016?
I’ve just finished a slow six week loop travelling around turkey’s Western coast with a few detours to Central Antalia, from March to May 2016. He’s a quick breakdown of what it cost me. Of course these costs a particular my circumstances - I was travelling alone and working remotely most days. I wanted to see as much as possible while travelling is a little as I could which meant visiting each location for approximately five days at a time. That meant I wasn’t able to take advantage of longer term accommodation discounts and could only stay in places with decent Wi-Fi (interview however that means pretty much everywhere). Your mileage may vary.
Send a pretty wide range of accommodation varying from mattress on the floor dorm rooms in Cappodocia to cozy boutique hotels in Istanbul. Turkeys’s got something to suit every budget. Price is for accommodation in Turkey very significantly depending on the region and time of year. April and May a high season in Istanbul but shoulder season along the coast where prices peak in July and August. October too much is pretty much low season and everywhere.
One caveate with these prices though is that the recent bombings I scared many tourists away and accommodation prices are about 30 to 50% cheaper then what they might otherwise been. Don’t let the news coverage scare you though. Turkey is still a very safe place to travell in - much safer than the US for example.
Should go to pick up a hostel in between five and fifteen euro per night. In Izmir I was paying €11, in Cappodocia €5, and in Olympos €12.50. Some of these included a light breakfast, some didn’t, and some offered so much good food you didn’t need to eat until dinner.
Hotel prices very even more the hostels, depending on location and quality. In Marmaris, I paid €9.50 for a double room in a basic hotel with breakfast, Wi-Fi, and swimming pool. In Kusadasi, I paid €21 per night for a suite with ocean views, pool, sauna, an half board. Accommodation is most expensive in Istanbul. Here I stayed in a little boutqiue hotel in Beyoglu for €20 per night including light breakfast.
Turkish the food is fantastic - delicious, cheap, and healthy. Again however prices vary considerably depending on where you eat.
Vast majority of hotels include a offer a Turkish breakfast. This normally consists of boiled eggs tomatoes cucumbers olives, bread and jams. Turkish tea is fantastic - a strong black brew that you dilute with water and sweeten with sugar to taste. Just don’t even think about putting milk in it though - lest you suffer glares of disgust from local onlookers and staff. Tea is social lubricant in Turkey - you can’t do anything without being offered some.And it’s cheap - expect to pay L1 at a sidewalk to L5 in a bar.
Coffee sadly, was the low point of Turkey for me. Turkish Coffee turk kahvse is a thick, strong brew with the coffee particulates left in the cup to setting into a thick brown caffinated mud (that you obviously don’t drink). I love it medium sweet but sadly it isn’t readily available (never at breakfast) and much more expensive than tea (L5 to L15). Turks don’t drink it that often and it is entirely possible to find coffee houses that don’t serve coffee - just tea. The other coffee is crap instant nescafe or American style filter battery acid.
The staple of every traveller in Turkey is the tavuk doner or chicken kabab. Usually served in half a loaf of fresh white bread with lettus, tomatoes, onion, and occasionally cold fries and pickled cucumbers, you can pick this up for as little as L2.50 from a street vendor (even in Istanbul) to L15 in a restuarant or touristy take away.
In Cappodocia and other inland locations, try the potter kabab - stewed meats slow cooked in a single serve pottery jar that is then sliced open in front of you so that it can ooze over the delicious sides of bread and veg.
And if you are feeling a little braver, try kokorec - minced offle wrapped in intestine and heavily spiced with garlic and chilli.
This is one area where Turkey is more expensive than the rest of Europe. Only ten years ago, Turkey was the land of the 50 pence shot but thanks to Erdoğan and the AKP, alcohol is slugged with massive taxes to discourage conception - along with some other unintended effects.
Luckily for those who like a tipple, the Turkish flavour of Islam is happy to selectively interpret what is and isn’t haram. Turks love to drink and alcohol is available just about everywhere. Efes and locally brewed Tuborg are the most common beers available and will cost around L6 for a 50cl can in a market and L10 in a cafe or bar, or L30 in a club. Spirits are similarly expensive while the price of imported wine is just nuts.
One drink to try is the local spirit raki. It’s a strong 80-100 proof anise flavour spirit that turns milky white when diluted with water. It’s the national drink of Turkey and very similar to ouzo and pastis. A shot in a long glass will cost L10-20 and must be consumed when eating fish - lets the fish cry according to the local saying.
There is a hell of a lot to see and do in Turkey. Sail the turqious coast in a Gullet. Hike the Lycian way. Balloon at dawn over the fairy chimneys of Cappodocia. Get lost in the choas of Istanbul. Thankfully, most things are pretty cheap or even free - with some notable exceptions.
Museums and monuments range from free (the stunning Blue Mosque in Istanbul) to L40 (Ayia Sophia next door). The ruins of Efes and Hieropolis were L35 each, while local castles are around L10. I didn’t feel the need to see all of them in the places I visited - after 2000 years of decay, most ancient cities tend to look very similar - but I’m glad for the little splurges I did indulge in (the Blue Cruise) and regret not ballooning (€100) in Goreme.
There are also a myriad of tours to choose from if you are that way inclined. Prices of these things are normally fixed by the operators at the start of the season but your hotel concierge should be able to haggle them down for you. For me personally, I prefer to travel slower to work, work for 6 hrs and expore for the rest of the day at my own pace.
Getting around most of Turkey is pretty painless and quite cheap. You can fly between Istanbul, Ankara, and any domestic location for under L100 (€30) including taxes but if you don’t want to travel via these hubs then the best option is a Bus.
Turkish buses are more advanced than anything you’ll see in Europe or the US. Seatback TVs with movies, USB ports, and often Wi-Fi. They cost around L10 per hour of travel and are depart everywhere to almost anywhere every couple of hours. Smaller destinations are harder however - even places that seem close on the map like Marmaris to Fethiye only have coop minivans plying the route.
The other issue with bus travel is that the bus station or otogar is often on the ourskirts of town. Getting from a treehouse in Olympos to Antalya airport - a distance of just 100km - required 3 vehicles over 4hrs.
To get around locally, your best option are the epynomous dolmus - regular minivans that are often crouching room only. These cost between L2 and L5 depending on how far your distination is and you pay the driver on entry or exit.
Taxis are another option, especially in Istanbul but be warned - the scams are legendary.
For 42 days in Turkey, I spent a total of L4997 or about €1550. This included some one-offs like 90 day visa (USD60 for Australians, free for many EU citizens) and a Blue Cruise (€200). This works out to be something like L120 (€38) per day, L840 (€260) per week, and L3570 (€1100) per month.
An exact breakdown of costs is difficult to provide because of the inclusive nature of many bills - acommodation + breakfast + bartab. Of the six week L5000 total, L1700 (33%) was for accommodation and some meals (mostly breakfast), L1200 was for transport and site seeing (25%), with the remainder being food and drinks. A daily budget would look something like this:
- L50: hotel with breakfast
- L30: Lunch & dinner
- L20: Siteseeing
I could have reduced my accommodation costs significantly by 1) sharing with rooms with a partner/friend or negotiating a monthly rate. Given my circumstances of travelling without my family and wanting to see as many places as possible while working, neither option was possible. The other big cost was alcohol - even when buying from the market, the 85% tax on beer quickly adds up - I spent approximately L750 on beer alone! Thankfully, I didn’t need to go out clubs or trendy bars where a drink can cost €15 and more.
For a digital nomad, Turkey ticks all the right boxes - cheap, beautiful, and free Wi-Fi is available everywhere. You can live well here quite easily for less than €1000 per month. Many people are obviously concerned about personal safety and the threat of terrorism but after spending 6 weeks here, I can honestly say there are few places in the world where I have felt safer.
Turkey is amazing - don’t miss it.