Currency in Istanbul

What currency is most dominant? Euros or Turkey lira?
Which is most preferred?

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
813 posts

The preferred currency for a traveler is always the local currency - which is Lira. Hotels are likely to be priced in Euros for tourists, which may be causing some of your confusion, but try to pay for everything in Lira.

Posted by Stephanie
53 posts

Lira is preferred. In some places you can pay with Euro but your change will be in Lira at a less preferred exchange rate; I paid in Euros at my hotel and a scarf shop. Starbucks also accepted Euros with change in Lira. The ATMs I saw at the airport and in old town seems somewhat dodgy and I saw multiple people have cards get stuck. I chose to use the exchange windows you see all over Istanbul where you exchange your cash for Lira. I know it may not be the best exchange rate, but I didn't want to mess around with my atm cards.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1708 posts

The only problem we had with ATMs in Istanbul is that the one we used at the airport gave us an "old bill" than we couldn't convert to new money. That bill now resides with our grandson. Other than that we had no problems. Try to use an ATM at a bank, there are a number of then in the old town. What ever you do use lira. It is disingenuous to use anything else.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

Think of it this way: whenever you pay in anything other than the local currency, you are letting the merchant or vendor determine your exchange rate. And it will NEVER be as good as the exchange rate you'll get from a local bank-owned ATM. When you travel, it's ALWAYS to your benefit to pay in the local currency. In any country, anywhere.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4742 posts

I'm not sure which ATM's Stephanie saw, but the ones I used looked like ATM's anywhere else. Meaning, I always used one branded with a bank logo, and one that's next to a bank branch, attached to a wall, or has some other sign of permanence. These are everywhere, so it's not hard to find a suitable one. If you're really insecure, choose one that a local just took money out of. As everywhere else in the world, ATM's are mainly for locals, not tourists. At the airport, I didn't see any dodgy ones at all. On the way out of the airport, there was a "chorus line" of 4 or so ATM's, each from a different major bank. Even if you don't get money here, look at them; that way, you'll know some major banks and their logos, so you can identify suitable ATM's once in town. I don't even remember if I saw the kind of freestanding ATM's that New York City has in convenience stores, which don't belong to a bank and have extra fees; I've always felt these were indeed dodgy, and avoid them. But that's not hard, with "real" ATM's every hundred feet or so.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
341 posts

I am going to Istanbul and have traveled around Europe. The currency for Turkey is Turish Lira. You will use that currency every where in the country. But I did notice that the hotels do quote their rates in Euro and do expect to be paid in Euro, whether that is by cash or credit card. The exchange rate for the Euro is higher than the USD dollar so you will be paying more when using the Euro. It is much better to pay in Turish Lira not in Euro. But try to buy only as much as you need in Turish Lira. When you go to sell your left over turish lira to a bank, you will receive less of a rate than what you bought the lira for. The banks charge more, sells at a higher rate, but thens buy back the currency at a lesser rate than what you paid for the currency. That goes for all currencies. That is how they make their money. I know that is not all that you asked, but thought you may need this information on currencies.

Posted by Stephanie
53 posts

Dodgy in the sense of seeing cards getting stuck, including at an airport ATM, and passing some with guys lurking. Since I had Euros (live in IRE)and Turkey is cheap, I did what made me comfortable. Using the easy cash windows was simple so I chose exchange rate difference over ATM fees.

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
513 posts

My best friend lives in Istanbul and everybody uses Lira excpet for major Hotels and Shops that is both Euros and Lira. 1 Dollar eqauls 1.8125 Lira

Posted by Alex
Alexandria, VA
1 posts

The tour guide I'm working with quoted me prices in Euros, TL and $ for a full day tour and airport txfers. I did all the conversions and surprisingly the Euro quote was lowest in $ terms. Needless to say, we'll pay them in Euros but will use TL as our pocket money.