£20 IN... ISTANBUL
'The city of cats' used to be a budget traveller’s happy place. Used to be…
It hasn’t quite reached the scary prices of the rest of Europe’s capital cities but it’s creeping up behind them.
The good news? There’s still bargains to be found across the city, you just need to know where 😏
BazaarsThe early bird gets the… Persian rug…
Local shopkeepers believe that it’s lucky to give their best price to the first customer, so it’s well worth blurry eyes to be here at 8am when the stalls are just opening.
You’ll find everything you need in your life, from spices to ceramics to dead stuffed cats… and it costs nothing to look 👀
BoatsThe best way to see Istanbul is on water.
The Bosphorus Strait waterway links the European and Asian sides of the city - 2 continents in one day... not bad.
You’ll see signs for ‘Bosphorus Tours’ everywhere, but don’t get sucked in. Just head to a kiosk that says ‘akbil’ (ticket) and buy an ‘Istanbul Kart’ for 5TL (£1). Throw a fiver on it and you can use it like an Oyster Card.
The hard part is working out which ferry to take. Some do simple hops across the harbour, others take looping routes around the bay. This guide will help you out.
ModaWhen you reach the Asian side, head directly to Moda, a bohemian neighbourhood known for its art collectives and breakfast cafes.
Window shop the independent boutiques and catch the pop up exhibitions at the Halka Art Project.
Prices drop this side of the river so the longer you hang out here the more drinks you’ll have later.
FoodEating out is always a cash burner, instead choose from the gazillions of street food stands and kebab shops.
You’ll find a load of them at Taksim Square. Try a Dürüm (sliced meat in a wrap with spicy sauce) or a ‘wet burger’ - a steamed bun with a juicy beef patty inside.
The stalls are open 24 hours and any meal here will cost you less than a fiver 🙏
NightlifeAfter a day of penny-counting you can afford to treat yo self.
A cocktail in a river cafe will set you back a tenner, but seeing the sun melt behind the city’s domed skyline is 100% worth it.
Then it’s time for the main event...
Set up in an old beer factory and pulsing with a grungy vibe, Babylon IS Istanbul’s music scene.
Check the event page to see local acts or spend money you don’t have on a big-name gig. Patti Smith, Hot Chip and Bonobo are just a few that have played here.
Like any city, it’s the main attractions that’ll cost you. The Blue Mosque and The Basilica Cistern are masterpieces, you'd be a chump not to see them. Set aside some of your budget for the big dogs and save on food, transport and expert haggling.