Istanbul Cards You Should Have For Your Trip

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the mesmerizing city of Istanbul by ensuring you have the essential Istanbul cards for a seamless and enriched travel experience. From the Istanbul Museum Pass unlocking the doors to the city’s historical treasures to the Istanbulkart providing hassle-free access to public transportation, these cards are your keys to unlocking the cultural, culinary, and architectural wonders of this vibrant metropolis. Whether you’re exploring ancient landmarks, savoring local delicacies, or navigating the bustling streets, having these cards in hand will not only simplify your logistics but also open doors to a more immersive and rewarding adventure in Istanbul.

Table of Contents

Before Starting: What to Know Before Buying Istanbul Cards For Your Trip

Duration of the Istanbul cards you bought

The card you are about to buy may be valid for 3 or 5 days only! Be extra careful and make sure that you are buying the right card that’s valid according to your trip.

Are these Istanbul cards you buy trustworthy?

Yes, they are meant to be trustworthy for a quality trip. However, before purchasing anything online, we suggest you contact the vendor to ensure that you are buying a legit card.

Do children need cards for the Istanbul trip?

All children at the age of 6 or under are free of charge. The fee should be paid for those who are over 6 years old.

IstanbulCard (Akbil)

IstanbulCard is the only card you’ll need to access public transportation in Istanbul. It doesn’t matter if you are taking a bus, ferry, metro, Metrobus, Marmaray, funiculars, or tram, you need an IstanbulCard for transportation.

Where to get IstanbulCard?

You can get your anonymous IstanbulCard from Ticketmatic, the black and yellow machines you can find almost everywhere.

istanbul card machine

Also, you can get an Istanbul City Card from these machines which you can use for transportation for 1 to 15 days unlimitedly. One Istanbul City Card can only be used by one person per ride.

Prices of IstanbulCards

The price of an anonymous IstanbulCard is 70 TL (2.6 USD)

The price of Istanbul City Cards depends on their validity duration:

  • 1 day: 210 TL (8 USD)
  • 3 days: 420 TL (15 USD)
  • 5 days: 800 TL (30 USD)
  • 7 days: 1000 TL (37 USD)
  • 15 days: 1500 TL (56 USD)

How to top-up your IstanbulCard?

After getting your IstanbulCard, you will realize that there is no balance. You need to load some money to start using it. There are three ways to load your IstanbulCard: 

  • Using the Ticketmatics (cash or card)
  • Via IstanbulKart mobile application
  • At mini markets (tekel bayii) in the streets

For the Istanbul City card, you won’t need to top up because its usage is unlimited.

Things you should know about IstanbulCards

Whether you are new or not to Istanbul, there are some facts you should know about while using your anonymous Istanbul Card:

  • The monthly top-up limit is 500 TL
  • The daily top-up limit is 300 TL
  • A ride charges 15 TL, Metrobus 22.5 TL, Marmaray 33 TL
  • You can use it consecutively 5 times in one vehicle
  • You’ll need another card after reaching the limit

Things you should know about Istanbul City Card:

  • Unlimited usage, no need to top up the card
  • Only 1 person can use it
  • The card will be invalid after the expiring date
  • Buying one from a machine is more affordable


Do you really need a physical IstanbulCard?

There’s a mobile app called “IstanbulKart” where you can create a digital IstanbulCard. You can scan the QR code via the app to pass through validators.

App Link: App Store Google Play Store

Turkey Museum Passes

Museum admissions are generally more expensive for foreigners compared to locals. If you plan on visiting every Istanbul museum, paying for each entry fee can burn a hole in your pocket. To save you from such trouble, the government is selling Turkey Museum Passes for everyone for more reasonable prices.

Types of Museum Passes you can have

There are 5 different Turkey Museum Passes you can purchase:

  • Museum Pass Türkiye
  • Museum Pass İstanbul (Mobile)
  • Museum Pass Cappadocia
  • Museum Pass The Mediterranean (Mobile)
  • Museum Pass the Aegean (Mobile)

Museum Pass Türkiye

With Museum Pass Türkiye, except Dolmabahçe Palace, you can visit every museum belonging to the Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Directorate of National Palaces once for free. Once you use the card for the first time, it will expire in 15 days, so you have to plan accordingly if you want maximum efficiency. 

Museum Pass Türkiye costs 3500 TL (131 USD).

Museum Pass Istanbul Mobile

Museum Pass Istanbul Mobile is for visiting the places that are under the Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Directorate of National Palaces. It can only be used once every place and will expire in 5 days after the first usage.

Places you can visit with Museum Pass Istanbul Mobile:

  • Galata Tower
  • Galata Mevlevi House Museum
  • Adam Mickiewicz Museum
  • Great Palace Mosaics Museum
  • Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam
  • Turbes Museum
  • Istanbul Archaeology Museums
  • Hagia Irene
  • Topkapi Palace Museum 
  • Topkapı Palace Harem
  • The Fortresses (Hisarlar) Museum 
  • Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

Museum Pass Istanbul Mobile costs 2250 TL (84 USD)

Museum Pass Cappadocia

If you are planning to go to Cappadocia after your Istanbul trip, you can hit two birds with one stone thanks to Museum Pass Cappadocia! There are more than 10 places you can visit with Cappadocia Pass. After the first usage, the card will expire in 3 days.

Places you can visit with Museum Pass Cappadocia:

  • Ihlara valley
  • Deri̇nkuyu Underground City
  • Göreme Open Ai̇r Museum
  • Kaymakli Underground City
  • Özkonak Underground City
  • Nevşehi̇r Museum
  • Nevşehi̇r Çavuşi̇n Archaeological Site 
  • Çavuşi̇n Church
  • Nevşehi̇r Hacibektaş Museum
  • Nevşehi̇r Zelve-Paşabağlar Archaeological Site
  • Aksaray Monastery Valley
  • Aksaray Museum
  • Nevşehi̇r Gülşehi̇r St. Jean Church
  • The Dark Church (Göreme)

Museum Pass Cappadocia costs 1500 TL (56 USD).

Museum Pass The Mediterranean (Mobile)

If your next stops are Antalya, Mersin, Adana, or Denizli after your Istanbul trip, here’s the Museum Pass the Mediterranean for you! Including 4 different city’s cultural heritages that are under the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, more than 40 places are waiting for you. After the first usage, the card will be valid for 7 days.

Some popular heritages to visit with your Museum Pass the Mediterranean:

  • Antalya Museum
  • Antalya Aspendos Archaeological Site
  • Adana Anavarza Archaeological Site
  • Adana Museum
  • Mersin Silifke Asthma Cave
  • Mersin Tarsus Museum
  • Alanya Castle
  • Alanya Museum

Museum Pass the Mediterranean costs 1700 TL (63 USD).

Museum Pass the Aegean (Mobile)

If you want to go towards the Aegean coasts to see the cultural heritages of past ancestors after your Istanbul trip, Museum Pass the Aegean is your best opportunity! You can visit the places belonging to the government in İzmir, Aydın, Muğla, and Denizli cities for 7 days with this card. There are more than 60 locations waiting to be seen!

Some popular heritages to visit with your Museum Pass the Aegean:

  • Ephesus Museum
  • Ethnography Museum of Aydın
  • Muğla Bodrum Antique Theatre
  • Beçin Castle and Archaeological Site
  • Museum of Underwater Archaeology
  • İzmir History and Art Musueum
  • İzmir Bergama Musueum
  • Basilica of St. John

Museum Pass the Aegean costs 1700 TL (63 USD).

A Turkey SIM Card

turkey sim istanbul sim turkey esim istanbul esim

When you land in Istanbul, one of the first things you should do is apply for a local SIM card. There are three main operators in Turkey which offer prepaid SIM cards and welcome packages for foreign visitors:

  • Turkcell
  • Vodafone
  • Turk Telekom

Why do you need a local SIM card in Turkey?

The first and most important one is being free of unnecessary roaming charges from your own provider. When you buy a local SIM card, it comes with internet, calls, SMS, and social media packages. Also, you won’t need to deal with low network coverage if you get a local SIM card.

Offers of Turkey SIM card operators


20 GB

200 minutes for domestic calls

Unlimited WhatsApp usage

Valid for 30 days


20 to 70 GB

750 minutes for domestic and international calls

250 SMS

Unlimited WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger usage

Unlimited Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for a week


Valid for 90 days

Turk Telekom+

10 to 75 GB

250 to 1500 minutes for domestic calls

250 to 1000 SMS

Unlimited WhatsApp usage

5 GB for other social media apps

Valid for 7 to 28 days depending on the package

DISCLAIMER: Contact customer support of the providers for the prices.

Istanbul Welcome Card

The Istanbul Welcome Card is an all-inclusive card that comes with great offers at affordable prices. Think of a card that covers up every crucial point of your trip:

  • Tours to the most notable Istanbul museums with a guide
  • Bosphorus cruise
  • Covering public transportation
  • Digital guide and map

There are three types of Istanbul Welcome Card which are classic, premium, saver, and deluxe. Depending on the card, they last 3 or 7 days and have more or less benefits. We recommend you get the deluxe card if you’re going to stay a week in Istanbul. The card will be delivered to your hotel without any extra charge.

Istanbul Tourist Pass

The Istanbul Tourist Pass is another alternative to plan your Istanbul trip easily. Similar to the Welcome Card you get guided tours and opportunities to enjoy your time. There are 3 planned activities to do each day with the Istanbul Tourist Pass.

The pass is bought online and can be used with the mobile application via QR scan. Istanbul Tourist Pass is valid for 3 to 7 days depending on how many days you buy.

Istanbul E-Pass

Istanbul E-pass covers popular sightseeing locations in Istanbul. It is another pocket-friendly way to explore the beauty of Istanbul culture. As can be understood from the name, it’s a digital pass that’s mailed to you instantly after the purchase.

An International Bank Card

istanbul international bank account card

Especially when you are abroad, paying your expenses is the top priority. Without convenient and secure transitions, or being able to use your money in the first place, an international bank card is needed. Here are several international bank cards to use for your Turkey trip:

  • Wise
  • Revolut
  • N26
  • Chime

Before coming to Turkey, don’t forget to notify your bank that you are going abroad so that you don’t alarm the anti-fraud system. Also, you can withdraw or deposit freely with such cards via ATMs in Turkey.