In Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey, you need to use local currency (Turkish Lira - TRY) for your daily expenses. There are plenty of banks and money changers in Istanbul and the best currency exchange rates in Istanbul Center are normally offered by small change offices.
Currency Exchange at Istanbul Airport
At Istanbul New Airport (IST) you can find 40 currency exchange branches of money changer called Global Exchange. Offices of three Turkish banks can also be found at the airport. However, currency exchange rates at Istanbul Airport are far from good as Global Exchange here almost doesn’t have competition and the banks charge 4% commission. You can get much better currency exchange rates in the center of Istanbul so at the airport you should exchange as little as you would need for getting into the city.
How bad currency exchange rates at Istanbul Airport really are? Check here: Currency Exchange Rates at Istanbul Airport (IST).
If you are looking to send money abroad consider TransferWise. It’s a great tool for sending and receiving money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using your local bank. You can also get your own local bank account details in Europe, UK, US, Australia and New Zealand with the TransferWise Borderless account.
Money Changers in Istanbul
In the center of Istanbul you can find plenty of bank branches as well as smaller money changers. Normally the small players are offering the best currency exchange rates for the main foreign currencies such as USD and EUR. Another advantage of using the services of small money changers is that normally they charge no commission and the exchange rate displayed is the rate you are getting. Just look for the office with a sign “CHANGE” or “DÖVIZ” on it, there will be plenty of them on the streets in touristy areas of Istanbul.
Currency Exchange Rates in Istanbul Center
Currency exchange rates in the center of Istanbul are significantly better than at Istanbul Airport. How good are the rates offered by small money changers in Istanbul Center? Let’s see!
USD to TRY exchange rate in Istanbul
The official USD exchange rate at the time of our visit was 5.4296 TRY for 1 US Dollar and the rate offered in the center of Istanbul (5.4065 TRY/USD) was lower than the market rate only by 0.0231 TRY or 0.4%. If compared with the rates offered at Istanbul Airport, the difference is huge as you can save at least 0.06 USD for every exchanged dollar. By exchanging 100 US Dollars in Istanbul Center and not at the airport you can save 6 US Dollars and even more.
EUR to TRY exchange rate in Istanbul
The official EUR exchange rate at the time of our visit was 6.1824 TRY for 1 Euro and the rate offered in the center of Istanbul (6.1325 TRY/EUR) was lower than the market rate only by 0.05 TRY or 0.8%. If compared with the exchange rates at the airport, the difference is really significant as you are saving from 0.06 EUR to 0.15 EUR for every euro changed.
Exchange rates of other currencies in Istanbul
Exchanging US Dollars or Euros to Turkish Lira is normally the best option for currency exchange in Istanbul. Exchange rates are normally worse for less popular currencies but in the center of Istanbul they will still be significantly better than at Istanbul Airport.
Current exchange rates in Istanbul
For getting an idea what currency exchange rates in Istanbul can be expected at the moment, pay attention to the difference between the exchange rates mentioned above and compare them with current Turkish Lira exchange rate.
To get the best Turkish Lira exchange rate when making international money transfers, use the exchange calculator below and click "Get started".
If you like to use Hop-On Hop-Off buses for sightseeing, you can save up to 10% when booking your bus ticket online here: Istanbul Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.