How Much Cash Should I Get?
I was asked how much I spent in Turkish Lira cash vs credit card.
I was in Turkey for 21 days:
- 17.5 days on Best of Istanbul + Best of Turkey
- 3.5 days before and after tours
I withdrew 4900 Turkish Lira at ATMs, approx $283 at the time, averaging ~233TL / day.
ATMs usually gave 100TL notes, sometimes 200TL or 50TL notes. If you try to pay a small vendor for a 35TL item with a 100TL note, they may frown at you, so covet your small bills.
Big Ticket Cash Only Items:
Boat Ride in Antalya: 400 TL
Turkish Bath in Antalya: 600TL + tip
Balloon Ride Tip: 3400TL balloon ride was CC, a tip was very much expected after the ride
Smaller Items That Required Cash:
Some toilets at rest stops: 0.5TL - 2.5TL coins (attendants can change small bills)
Nearly anything at a farmers market: 1 banana 3TL, 5 small cookies 5TL
Small souvenirs: 8TL (zip coin purse); 20TL (keychain); 90 TL (small ceramic vase)
Hotel porter tips, Airport transfer tips
Drinks (other than 1 bottled water) with group meals: add'l bottled water 0TL or 5TL, glass of wine 100 TL, Coke 15-25TL
Drinks on group boats: e.g., 50TL for fresh OJ
Turkish Coffee in a café: 20TL
Estimate: 1/2 bottle of water to brush your teeth
Bottled water in a small grocery store: usually 3TL / 0.5L (more at tourist kiosks, 10 or 20TL)
Bottled water from bus driver: 5TL / 0.5L (keep track, opt to "overpay" at end, in thanks)
Food and Snacks:
Simit and Cay Tea: 12.5 TL
Fish Sandwich near Galata Bridge: 40TL
Street foods and snacks: e.g., 30TL for 10 stuffed mussels
Turkish Delight in a tourist place: 2 pieces (weighed) 90TL
Turkish Coffee and Kunefe in tourist area: 102 TL with tip
Mado ice cream in Kusadasi: 3 scoops, 50 TL (you might want to budget for 2, or 3!)
Tips for on-your-own meals: even if meals can be paid in credit card, tip is expected in cash
At the chain-style rest stops:
Counter service meals can be paid with CC and no tip is expected.
Almost anything can be paid with CC, no matter how small the purchase.
Most of our independent meals were surprisingly inexpensive (e.g., 120TL) so you may feel guilty paying with CC. At the very least, tips are expected in cash and would be very odd added to the CC bill.
Disclaimer: by the time of your fall tours, with annual inflation at 78.6% in June (we think ours is bad!) prices may be higher, while the exchange rate may move in your favor.