Once considered the center of the world, Turkey is a fascinating country to explore, with its mix of ancient ruins and modern cities. Traveling Turkey can be expensive, especially if you don’t know where to go, what to do, and how to travel cheaply.
But luckily, It is possible to backpack Turkey on a budget, as long as you know what you are doing. We’ve traveled Turkey extensively from North to South and West to East, and we are here to tell you that you don’t need to sell a kidney to travel Turkey.
In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite tips on how to travel Turkey on a budget, what is a typical backpacking itinerary, and how much you can expect to spend!
Backpacking Turkey Itinerary
Though there are so many beautiful places to visit in Turkey, there is a typical route that backpackers follow. It usually starts in Istanbul, then goes to Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, and finally Izmir. Some travelers return back to Istanbul before flying out.
If you look on the map, this is a counterclockwise way to explore the country, but you can also do it clockwise, or matter of fact, start in any of the cities mentioned instead of Istanbul. But for the sake of the article, let’s assume you follow the itinerary outlined above.
Istanbul is a must-see destination for any type of traveler. This city has something for everyone, from its rich cultural history to its old bazaars and modern infrastructure.
One of the most unique things about Istanbul is the fact that it is situated in both Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus Strait divides the city into two and travelers can explore the best of both worlds.
No matter how many days in Istanbul you spend, don’t miss the city’s iconic landmarks such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Galata Tower. For an epic shopping experience, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are great places to visit.
Accommodation in Istanbul is typically more expensive than in the rest of the country. We recommend that you stay out of the historic center (Sultanahmet) and stay somewhere like Taksim instead.
Cappadocia is a truly stunning region that should be on every backpacking Turkey itinerary. Not only will you experience the unique geological formations, but you’ll also be able to explore some of the most incredible ancient sites in the country.
From the world-famous underground cities where early Christians sought refuge from their persecutors, to the remarkable frescoes adorning Göreme Open Air Museum and the surrounding rock-cut churches—the history and culture of Cappadocia is an incredible experience.
But it’s not all about history; Cappadocia also offers plenty of exciting activities for travelers to enjoy. Hot air ballooning over the area’s surrealistic landscapes is an unforgettable experience, while exploring its lunar valleys on a quad bike or horseback can be just as thrilling.
If you can afford to splurge, stay in one of the Cappadocia hotels with a view of the hot air balloons. You can wake up early in the morning at sunrise and see the balloons floating above your head!
Antalya is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, and for good reason! Known as the “Turkish Riviera,” this city offers both beautiful beaches and majestic mountains, as well as tons of watersports that come with it.
But outdoor attractions aren’t the only things Antalya has to offer, the city is home to a historic old town known as Kaleici. The narrow cobbled streets in the old town are lined with colorful Ottoman and Greek houses, so it’s well worth a visit.
Accommodation in Antalya is more affordable than Istanbul, so you can easily find budget-friendly accommodations. The city also has plenty of cheap restaurants serving delicious Turkish dishes.
Located on the beautiful Turquoise Coast of Turkey, Fethiye is a resort town that provides a unique blend of stunning natural beauty and amazing culture. From its pristine beaches to its ancient ruins, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Fethiye is home to some of the best beaches in the world, with crystal-clear water and soft white sand that make it perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The coastline is also dotted with spectacular coves, lagoons and bays offering plenty of opportunities for sightseeing.
When you are not enjoying the beautiful waters and pristine beaches, you can explore the town’s historical sites. Visit Fethiye Castle, Kayaköy Village and Lycian tombs – three of the most popular attractions in the area. There are also plenty of hiking trails in the region for outdoor lovers.
The last stop on your backpacking Turkey itinerary is Izmir. Located on Turkey’s Aegean coast, Izmir is the third-largest city in the country, but it often goes overlooked. Don’t let this stop you from visiting though—Izmir has plenty to offer visitors!
From its impressive archaeological sites like Agora of Smyrna and Kadifekale Castle, to its vibrant nightlife scene, Izmir is a great place to enjoy a balance of culture and fun.
Izmir is also a great place to take a day trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale, two of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey!
Budget For Backpacking Turkey
Backpacking Turkey is not an expensive activity—the country has plenty of affordable accommodation options and meals cost much less than in the West.
For accommodations, travelers can find a dormitory-style bed in a hostel for anywhere from 10-20 USD per night. Depending on the city you are in, sometimes you can even find a bed for cheaper.
For budget hotels, you can get a room for anywhere from 20 USD to 80 USD for higher end mid-range hotels. If you are traveling with someone, sometimes it is cheaper to get a double room than to stay in a hostel.
Meals usually range from 3-10 USD for an entree. On the lower end, it would be a kebab or some kind of street food, and on the higher end, it could be a fresh seafood meal.
Unfortunately, alcohol is quite expensive since Turkey is predominantly Muslim.
Tips For Traveling Turkey On A Budget
Turkey is a great destination for budget travelers. Here are some tips to help you maximize your money and make the most of your trip:
- Take advantage of local markets to buy fresh produce and other goods as it is usually much cheaper than in supermarkets. Also, avoid eating out as that could easily cost three times more than cooking your own food.
- Visit historical sites like mosques and churches—many of them are free to enter!
- Stay away from tourist traps like bars and clubs. Instead, explore the small local cafes where you can get a great meal for a fraction of the price.
- Eat like a local. Kebabs, pides and simit are some of the most traditional Turkish dishes. Not only are they delicious, but they are also very cheap!
- Don’t be afraid to bargain when purchasing souvenirs and other goods from street vendors. This is an age-old tradition in Turkey, so don’t be afraid to ask for a better price.
Turkey might appear as a luxury destination, but this does not have to be the case! With a bit of planning and these tips, you will be able to explore this country without breaking the bank. Just remember to stay vigilant when it comes to budgeting and enjoy your time in Turkey!