A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Athens vs. Istanbul for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Backpackers

Should you visit Athens or Istanbul?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Athens and Istanbul. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Athens

Athens is a historic, ancient, and vibrant city. It's a large city with plenty of activites for visitors as well. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for nightlife, food, and shopping.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a beautiful, historic, and diverse city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Athens and Istanbul: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty


How is Athens different from Istanbul?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Istanbul and Athens. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Museums and Historical Sights?

You'll find a number of museums and attractions in both Istanbul and Athens.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, Athens has many famous sights for visitors. As a historical capital of the world, this city has countless museums and archeological sites including the famous Acropolis, the National Archaeology Museum, and the Ancient Agora.

Visitors will find world class museums and historical sights in Istanbul that are not to be missed. With such a long and diverse religious and political history, it has many museums, mosques, churches, and archeological sites that you can visit. Some of the most famous sights include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Sarayi, and the Blue Mosque.

Athens
Istanbul


Is Athens or Istanbul better for Food?

Dining out at restaurants in both Athens and Istanbul can be an enjoyable experience.

Eat your way through Athens, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. Make sure you try the souvlaki, moussaka, and dolmades at any of the many local restaurants throughout the city.

For foodies, Istanbul is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. From Turkish classics to sweet desserts the city has it all. Popular dishes include Turkish style pizza, kebabs, and doner, which you'll find everywhere for affordable prices.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Nightlife?

The vibe at night is comparable in Athens and Istanbul.

The nightlife in Athens is well established with world renowned clubs and venues. There are all-night dance clubs as well as local bars and chill live music venues.

Istanbul has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Dancing, dining, and partying have all become part of Istanbul's culture. Top nightclubs in the city include Reina, Sortie, and Supperclub.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Shopping?

If you're looking to go shopping, Athens and Istanbul both offer plenty of spots.

Athens has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Most neighborhoods have a shopping street but head to Ermou Street for some of the city's best shopping.

Istanbul is an extremely popular place for shoppers. It is the capital of culture and fashion in Turkey, and there are many shopping areas that carry all kinds of brands. For a more traditional, but touristy experience head to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. For modern brands, Istiklal Caddesi is the most popular area for shopping.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Families?

Both Athens and Istanbul are family-friendly destinations.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Athens. With its rich history, beautiful outdoor activities, and kid-friendly food, Athens is a fun place to explore with the whole family.

Istanbul is a family-friendly place to visit. The city has several kid-friendly museums, a couple of aquariums, and fun theme parks.

Athens
Istanbul


Is Athens or Istanbul better for Couples?

Athens and Istanbul both fun destinations for a couple.

Athens is a good city for couples to visit. The city is historical, fascinating, and romantic, making it a beautiful place to explore as a couple.

Istanbul is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples who enjoy history, culture, and vibrant neighborhoods will enjoy a romantic stay here.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

For backpackers, both Athens and Istanbul are fairly comparable places to visit.

A large number of backpackers visit Athens, as it is a very popular city for budget travelers. The city has long been established as a backpackers destination with budget friendly food and plenty of hostels around town.

Istanbul is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. There are plenty of hostels and budget accommodation options, and there's also plenty of ways to meet other travelers. You'll find plenty of hostels concentrated in the Sultanahmet area.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Students?

For students, both Athens and Istanbul are fairly comparable places to visit.

Many students visit Athens. International students will appreciate the rich history, archaeological ruins, and unique opportunities that are available here.

Istanbul is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. Students appreciate the city's vibrant neighborhoods, constant activity, and diverse population.

Athens
Istanbul

Is Athens or Istanbul better for Public Transit?

Athens and Istanbul both offer public transit to get you around.

Many visitors use the public transit system in Athens. The city's metro system has 3 lines that connect to bus, tram and commuter rail lines.

Istanbul has a world-class public transit network to take passengers everywhere in the city. It has a comprehensive and diverse public transit system that includes buses, trams, minibuses, ferries, funicular, and more.

Athens
Istanbul


Is Athens or Istanbul a more walkable city?

Athens and Istanbul are similar when it comes to walkability.

Athens is a very walkable destination. You'll find the city's most walkable area's in the historical heart, where there are many pedestrian only streets and shopping areas.

Istanbul is very walkable. Although it is huge, most of the neighborhoods that tourists visit are incredibly walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

Athens
Istanbul

Should I spend more time in Istanbul or Athens?

How long in Athens or Istanbul?

Both Athens and Istanbul have a number of activities to choose from. You can spend a similar amount of time exploring either.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Athens is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Istanbul is 3-7 days.


  • How many days in Athens or Istanbul? Ideal Length of Stay
    Athens 3-7 
    Istanbul 3-7

One day in Athens or Istanbul?

Athens is a big city with plenty to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the big city destination of Istanbul. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Athens or Istanbul?

Athens is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered around the area.

Istanbul is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Athens or Istanbul?

Athens is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Athens, five days is sufficent for most. The entire area has lots to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Istanbul. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A week in Athens or Istanbul?

Athens is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Athens has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the historic big city of Istanbul. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Which city is cheaper, Istanbul or Athens?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Athens is €103, while the average daily cost in Istanbul is €45. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Athens and Istanbul in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Athens 51
    Istanbul 28
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Athens 102
    Istanbul 56
Compare Hotels in Athens and Istanbul

Looking for a hotel in Athens or Istanbul? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Athens


Hotels in Istanbul


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Athens 22
    Istanbul 2.64
Typical Local Transportation prices in Athens

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Athens:


  • Airport Bus for Two
    6.40
  • Metro
    1.50
  • Metro
    2.00
  • Metro from Airport to City Center
    8.00
  • Taxi from Airport
    35

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Athens

Also for Athens, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Ultra - Private Transfer from Athens City Centre to Piraeus Cruise Port: $9.41
  • Ultra - Athens Private Airport Transfer from City Centre to Athens Airport ATH: $9.41
  • Mercedes Luxury Private Transfer Athens - Piraeus: $16
  • Athens Port Private Transfer: $16
  • Private Luxury Transfer from Athens - Piraeus: $17
  • Athens Private Transfer Service: Athens Hotel to Piraeus Port: $19
  • Athens Airport Shuttle Bus Transfer: $21
  • Athens Private Transfer: Piraeus Cruise Port to Central Athens: $22
  • Athens Private Transfer: Central Athens to Piraeus Cruise Port: $22
  • Athens hotels to Piraeus port Private departure transfer: $22
  • Piraeus port to Athens hotels Private arrival transfer: $22
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Hotel to Athens Airport: $24

Typical Local Transportation prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Ferry
    0.16
  • Local Bus
    0.17

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Istanbul

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Istanbul:

  • Private Transfer from Istanbul to Bodrum: $1,244
  • Istanbul 5-Day City Package with Hotel, City Tours and Airport Transfers: $722
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Bodrum: $722
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Izmir: $653
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Kusadasi: $647
  • 2-Hour Bosphorus Yacht Cruise with Transfers: $500
  • 4-Day Wonderful Istanbul Including Accommodation Plus Transfer: $474
  • Istanbul Airport to Kartalkaya Transfer: $460
  • Safe Istanbul Airport Transfer in Luxury with English Speaking Chauffeur: $355
  • 4-Day Istanbul City Package including Full-Day Istanbul City Tour plus Airport Transfers: $350
  • Istanbul to Bursa Uludag private minivan transfer service: $348
  • From Pamukkale Day Tour With Flights and Transfers: $334

Is it cheaper to fly into Athens or Istanbul?

Prices for flights to both Istanbul and Athens change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Athens 30
    Istanbul 11
Typical Food prices in Athens

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Athens:


  • Ice cream
    3.00
  • Souvlaki
    2.20

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Athens

For Athens, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Online 1hr Cooking Class: Santorini Tomato Fritters: $6.22
  • Greek Meatballs Private Online Cooking Class: $27
  • Withlocals the 10 Tastings: Athens Private Food Tour with a Local: $42
  • Online Cooking Class: Greek mini cheese pies: $45
  • Street Culture & Food Tour: $56
  • Afternoon Food Tour: $56
  • Athens walking and tasting food tour.: $60
  • 4-Hour Cooking Class with Market Visit: $69
  • Homemade Gyros cooking class and dinner in Athens for private groups: $75
  • The Classic Food Tour: $76
  • Taste of Half-Day Small Group Food Tour: $77
  • Greek Phyllo and Pie Cooking Class in Athens: $77

Typical Food prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of dining costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Juice
    0.11
  • Turkish Delight
    0.03
  • Dessert
    0.48
  • Pastries
    0.08

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Istanbul

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Istanbul.

  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise & Show: $29
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise Show: $30
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Inc. Dinner and Belly Dance Show with Hotel Transfer: $34
  • Alaturca Ottoman Dramatic Stage Show & Dinner Cruise ( Non - Alcoholic ): $35
  • Bosphorus Dinner & Show Cruise (All Inclusive): $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Show Cruise With Non Alcoholic Menu ISTANBUL Dinner cruise: $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise An Unforgettable Experience in Istanbul: $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Night Show from Istanbul: $37
  • Istanbul Cruise&Show with Dinner: $37
  • Dinner Cruise on the Bosphorus: $38
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise & Show: $39
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise with Sema Ceremony: $40

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Athens 28
    Istanbul 16

Tours and Activities in Athens

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Athens.

  • Athens virtual History, Philosophy and Democracy Tour: $6.22
  • Skip the Line: Frissiras Museum Entrance Ticket: $7.46
  • Skip the Line: War Museum of Athens Entrance Ticket: $7.46
  • Skip the Line: Temple of Olympian Zeus Entrance Ticket: $8.09
  • Skip the Line: Roman Agora of Athens Entrance Ticket: $8.71
  • Athens Museum of Cycladic Art Admission Ticket: $8.71
  • Skip the Line: Admission Ticket for Acropolis Museum: $9.33
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus: Self-Guided Audio Tour on your Phone (without ticket): $9.94
  • Skip the Line: Ancient Agora of Athens and Temple of Hephaestus Entrance Ticket: $11
  • Benaki Museum of Islamic Art Entrance Ticket: $11
  • Athens Museum of Illusions Ticket: $11
  • Self-Guided City Experience: $12

Typical Entertainment prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    1.12
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    1.12
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    0.56
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    1.68

Tours and Activities in Istanbul

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Istanbul are as follows:

  • 1 Day - Istanbul Tour: $315
  • 1 Day Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour From Istanbul: $300
  • 1 Day Istanbul & Ephesus Tour By Plane - YK230: $419
  • 1 Day Regular Cappadocia Tour by Plane - YK0011: $384
  • 1 Day Tour - Sapanca: $300
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $496
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Travel from Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $509
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Trip from/to Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $513
  • 1 Night 1 Day Trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $490
  • 1 Night 2 Days Cappadocia Trip from/to Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $521
  • 1 Night 2 Days Ephesus, Kusadasi, Hierapolis & Pamukkale Tour from/to Istanbul: $372
  • 1 Night Cappadocia Trip with Hot Air Balloon Tour: $525

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Athens 18
    Istanbul 4.04

Sample the Local Flavors in Athens

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Athens:

  • Athens Walking Tour with Food and Wine Tasting: $37
  • Virtual Greek Wine Tasting: $87
  • Athens Food and Wine Tasting Tour: $96
  • Wine tasting tour: $131
  • Wine Tasting and Athens Trikke Combo Tour: $133
  • The Best Winery & Tasting Tour in Nemea.Enjoy a unique all day wine tasting tour: $140
  • Private Wine Tasting Experience of Greek Awarded Wines in Athens: $148
  • Premium Wine Tour in Peloponnese -Ancient Corinthos, Nemea - the Land of Myth: $148
  • Athens Private Wine Tasting Tour - Dionysian Grapes: $149
  • Ancient Corinth & Nemea Wine Tasting (up to 15 in a Luxurious Mercedes Minibus): $151
  • Greek Private Wine Tasting: $166
  • Mercedes Private Full-Day Tour, Nafplio, Corinth Canal and Wine Tasting: $168

Sample the Local Flavors in Istanbul

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Istanbul:

  • Daily Tekirdag Wine Tasting Tour from Istanbul: $427


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Athens and Istanbul, we can see that Athens is more expensive. And not only is Istanbul much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Istanbul would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Istanbul and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Athens would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Athens than you might in Istanbul.


When is the best time to visit Athens or Istanbul?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Athens or Istanbul in the Summer?

Both Istanbul and Athens during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Athens in the summer for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Istanbul for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In the summer, Athens is a little warmer than Istanbul. Typically, the summer temperatures in Athens in July are around 27°C (81°F), and Istanbul is about 24°C (74°F).

In Istanbul, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Athens. In the summer, Athens often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Istanbul. Athens gets 357 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Istanbul receives 333 hours of full sun.

Athens usually gets less rain in July than Istanbul. Athens gets 6 mm (0.2 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 19 mm (0.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Athens 27°C (81°F) 
    Istanbul 24°C (74°F)

Should I visit Athens or Istanbul in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Athens and Istanbul. Most visitors come to Athens for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Istanbul because of the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Athens is generally a little warmer than Istanbul. Temperatures in Athens average around 19°C (67°F), and Istanbul stays around 16°C (61°F).

In Athens, it's very sunny this time of the year. Athens usually receives more sunshine than Istanbul during autumn. At this time of the year, Athens gets 206 hours of sunny skies, while Istanbul receives 169 hours of full sun.

In October, Athens usually receives less rain than Istanbul. At this time of the year, Athens gets 48 mm (1.9 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 71 mm (2.8 in) of rain.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Athens 19°C (67°F) 
    Istanbul 16°C (61°F)

Should I visit Athens or Istanbul in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Athens as well as Istanbul. The winter months attract visitors to Athens because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Istanbul this time of year.

Athens is much warmer than Istanbul in the winter. The temperature in Athens is usually 10°C (51°F) in January, and Istanbul stays around 6°C (43°F).

In the winter, Athens often gets more sunshine than Istanbul. Athens gets 143 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Istanbul receives 75 hours of full sun.

Athens usually gets less rain in January than Istanbul. Athens gets 45 mm (1.8 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 99 mm (3.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Athens 10°C (51°F) 
    Istanbul 6°C (43°F)

Should I visit Athens or Istanbul in the Spring?

Both Istanbul and Athens are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Athens this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Istanbul for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Athens is a little warmer than Istanbul. Typically, the spring temperatures in Athens in April are around 16°C (60°F), and Istanbul is about 13°C (55°F).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Athens. Athens usually receives more sunshine than Istanbul during spring. At this time of the year, Athens gets 226 hours of sunny skies, while Istanbul receives 180 hours of full sun.

In April, Athens usually receives less rain than Istanbul. At this time of the year, Athens gets 25 mm (1 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 49 mm (1.9 in) of rain.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Athens 16°C (60°F) 
    Istanbul 13°C (55°F)

Typical Weather for Istanbul and Athens

Athens Istanbul
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 10°C (51°F) 45 mm (1.8 in) 6°C (43°F) 99 mm (3.9 in)
Feb 11°C (51°F) 48 mm (1.9 in) 6°C (44°F) 67 mm (2.6 in)
Mar 12°C (54°F) 44 mm (1.7 in) 8°C (47°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Apr 16°C (60°F) 25 mm (1 in) 13°C (55°F) 49 mm (1.9 in)
May 20°C (68°F) 14 mm (0.6 in) 17°C (63°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
Jun 24°C (76°F) 6 mm (0.2 in) 21°C (71°F) 21 mm (0.8 in)
Jul 27°C (81°F) 6 mm (0.2 in) 24°C (74°F) 19 mm (0.7 in)
Aug 27°C (81°F) 8 mm (0.3 in) 24°C (74°F) 26 mm (1 in)
Sep 24°C (76°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 20°C (69°F) 41 mm (1.6 in)
Oct 19°C (67°F) 48 mm (1.9 in) 16°C (61°F) 71 mm (2.8 in)
Nov 16°C (60°F) 51 mm (2 in) 12°C (54°F) 89 mm (3.5 in)
Dec 12°C (54°F) 66 mm (2.6 in) 9°C (47°F) 122 mm (4.8 in)


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Athens vs. Istanbul Travel Comparison

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