Traveling to Istanbul, with its rich history and vibrant culture, is an experience like no other. However, ensuring that your finances are in order is crucial for a stress-free journey. In this comprehensive guide about money in Istanbul, we will delve into all aspects of managing your Liras while exploring this enchanting city, from understanding the currency to practical tips on payment methods.

Turkish Currency in Istanbul: Lira (₺ TL)

The Turkish lira, denoted as ₺ TL, serves as the official currency of Turkey and Northern Cyprus. This currency has a fascinating history, dating back to 1844 when it replaced the kuruş as the primary unit of currency in the Ottoman Empire.

Originally, the lira was based on two systems: 6.61519 grams of pure gold or 99.8292 grams of pure silver. However, in 2005, a new law came into effect, removing the old Turkish lira from circulation and introducing a new series of banknotes with enhanced anti-counterfeiting features, known as the new Turkish lira.

Turkey Currency Converter to USD and EUR


Turkish Bills and Coins

You’ll come across a range of Turkish bills and coins during your stay in Istanbul. Bills are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Turkish Lira. Coins, on the other hand, come in values of 1 Lira, as well as 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 kuru (100 kuru (YKR) = 1 TL). Having a mix of bills and coins can be handy for small purchases and tipping.

Turkish Lira: Money in Istanbul (Turkey)

ATMs and Banks in Istanbul and Turkey

You’ll find banks and ATMs scattered throughout Istanbul, ensuring easy access to cash when needed. Banks typically operate from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

If you prefer to exchange your currency, Istanbul also boasts numerous exchange bureaus known as DOVIZ. While these bureaus offer convenience, it’s important to note that their exchange rates might not be as favorable as those at banks, and they often do not charge a commission.

Read more: ATMs in Istanbul: How to Withdraw Money with No Fees

Payment Methods in Turkey

While visiting Istanbul in 2023, you’ll discover that card payments are widely accepted, especially in tourist-centric areas.

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that cash still reigns supreme, particularly in smaller businesses. Here are some key considerations:

  • Card Payments: While card payments are accepted in most places, you might encounter middle-range currency rates. Some establishments also prefer cash to avoid fees imposed by card companies. However, it’s worth noting that American Express and Discover cards are rarely accepted.
  • Cash: Carrying cash is advisable, especially if you plan to visit local markets or small shops. Additionally, leaving a tip in cash is appreciated by service personnel.

Exchange Rate for Turkish Currency (Lira)

The exchange rate in Turkey, particularly against major currencies like the US dollar, has experienced significant fluctuations due to regional political and economic instability. To stay updated on the current exchange rate for the dollar to Turkish Lira or other foreign currencies, you can use online tools like a currency calculator. Keep in mind that exchange rates can change frequently, so it’s wise to check before any financial transactions.

Don’t Miss The Best Tours and Cruises in Istanbul

How Much Cash Should I Bring to Istanbul?

While planning your trip to Istanbul, it’s important to strike a balance between carrying enough cash and avoiding potential risks. Here are some recommendations:

  • ATM Usage: Consider withdrawing Turkish Lira from ATMs upon arrival in Istanbul. This approach minimizes the risk of carrying large sums of cash throughout your journey.
  • Initial Cash: Bringing around 5,000 Turkish Lira can be a good starting point. This amount should cover expenses such as taxi fares and dining at moderate establishments. For upscale dining experiences, you can comfortably rely on your credit card.
  • Budgeting: To help you plan your budget effectively, consider the following daily budget breakdown for your time in Turkey:
    • Budget Travel: $50/day plus $50-80 for experiences like a visit to a hamam or a museum.
    • Moderate Travel: $80/day plus $80-120 for experiences, which might include a couple of museums or a more luxurious hamam.
    • Luxury Travel: $250/day plus $400-600 for premium experiences like a museum pass, a luxurious hamam session, a Bosphorus cruise, or a fun cooking class.


How much is $100 in Turkey in Turkish Currency?

The exchange rate for 100 Turkish Lira varies daily. As of this writing, 100 Turkish Lira is approximately $3.69, €3.37, and £2.91. You can use the free currency calculator mentioned earlier to check today’s rates.

What is the best currency to take to Istanbul?

While you might be able to use Euros or US Dollars in touristy areas, it’s advisable to use the local currency, Turkish Lira. Even when using your debit card, having some cash on hand is preferred, as it ensures you get better rates and is widely accepted.

Can you use USD as a currency in Istanbul?

In some places, you can use USD, but it’s not recommended due to unfavorable exchange rates. For a more cost-effective and convenient experience, it’s best to use Turkish Lira for all your transactions in Turkey.

Is Turkey cheap for USD?

Turkey may seem affordable for visitors due to the current economic climate, but it’s important to be sensitive to the local situation. Inflation is high, and the local population faces economic challenges. Being discreet about how “cheap” things are can show respect for the locals.

Should I carry cash in Istanbul?

Yes, carrying cash is highly recommended in Istanbul. Cash is the preferred payment method and often leads to better prices. Additionally, it ensures that you can make payments, even in places where card payments might not be accepted.

What is not allowed to be brought to Turkey?

When traveling to Turkey, avoid bringing prohibited items such as drugs, weapons, firearms, and radioactive substances. Additionally, there is a list of restricted foods, including fruit, eggs, meat, dairy products, and fresh or packaged food, which should not be brought into the country.

Conclusion: Money in Istanbul

In conclusion, understanding the currency, exchange rates, and payment methods in Istanbul is essential for a seamless travel experience. By following these guidelines and being mindful of local customs and preferences, you can make the most of your trip to this captivating city. Enjoy your journey through the diverse streets of Istanbul and its enchanting blend of history and modernity.

Don’t Miss The Best Tours and Cruises in Istanbul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *