A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Bucharest vs. Istanbul for Attractions, Food, Old Town, and Backpackers

Should you visit Bucharest 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 Bucharest 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.

Bucharest

Since it's a large city, you'll find plenty of things to do. It's also known for nightlife, food, and shopping.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a diverse, beautiful, and historic city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

How is Bucharest different from Istanbul?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Interesting museums and landmarks can be found in both Bucharest and Istanbul, but many consider Istanbul to be a step above.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Istanbul are among the most recognizable in the world. 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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Bucharest. The city is rich in landmarks and historical buildings. Popular sights include the Romanian Athenaeum, the Palace of the Parliament, Stavropoleos Church, and Curtea Veche.


Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Food?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Istanbul has a longer list of notable local restaurants than Bucharest.

Eat your way through Istanbul, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. 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.

Bucharest is becoming an appealing option for foodies. Many Romanian recipes have been passed down through the generations and they still use traditional flavors. You'll see some German or Hungarian influences, but the flavors are still uniquely Romanian. Popular dishes include ciorba (tripe soup), cabbage rolls, and mici (grilled meat rolls).

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Nightlife?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Party-goers will find similar levels of energy in Bucharest and Istanbul.

Bucharest has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The city has come to life with its party scene, with many bars and clubs that you can choose from. There are rooftop bars, chic dance clubs, and cozy pubs where you can pass the evening. You'll find most of the upscale clubs in the northern part of the city, with a more casual scene found in the downtown areas around Universitate and Romanā.

Many people head to Istanbul for the nightlife scene. Dancing, dining, and partying have all become part of Istanbul's culture. Top nightclubs in the city include Reina, Sortie, and Supperclub.

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for its Old Town?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Istanbul has a more popular old town than Bucharest.

The old town of Istanbul is one of the most recognized in the world. The Old City in Istanbul is the most historic part of the city. It's where you'll find most of the city's historic sights. The area around Sultanahmet Square is the most popular tourist area to explore.

Bucharest has an old town worth visiting. The old town dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries, with much of the historical charm seen in the architecture. Many of the buildings have been restored, but others are still awaiting repairs. This gives the area a sense of authenticity that you often miss in other old towns.

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Shopping?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Shopping is a popular activity in both Istanbul and Bucharest.

Bucharest offers some nice shopping areas. The residents love fashion, and you'll find many shopping centers around town where you can find a good deal. In addition to the many malls, there are also antique shops, flea markets and boutique clothing stores where you might find a hidden gem.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Istanbul. 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.


Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Families?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Both Bucharest and Istanbul are family-friendly destinations.

Bucharest doesn't usually come to mind when thinking about kid-friendly destinations. Kid-friendly activities include kid's play areas, museums such as the Museum of the Senses, and water centered activities like rowing in the park or visiting the wellness center Therme.

Istanbul offers lots of family activities. The city has several kid-friendly museums, a couple of aquariums, and fun theme parks.

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Couples?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Istanbul offers a wider variety of romantic activities for couples than Bucharest.

Couples visit Istanbul frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples who enjoy history, culture, and vibrant neighborhoods will enjoy a romantic stay here.

Bucharest is not always the best place to visit for a couple. The city has some romantic settings such as wandering down Victory Avenue or exploring the historic Cotroceni Neighbourhood. There are also several gardens and a number of nice cafes to explore.

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Most people consider Istanbul to be better for backpackers than Bucharest.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Istanbul. 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.

It's common for backpackers to visit Bucharest. The city is affordable, but it's often overlooked by backpackers. Part of the charm for many is the sense of authenticity that can often be hard to find in travel these days.

Is Bucharest or Istanbul Better for Public Transit?

Bucharest
Istanbul

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Bucharest and Istanbul.

The public transit in Bucharest can get you around easily. Public transit options include trams, buses, and trolley buses.

Public transit in Istanbul is top-notch. It has a comprehensive and diverse public transit system that includes buses, trams, minibuses, ferries, funicular, and more.


Is Bucharest or Istanbul a more walkable city?

Bucharest
Istanbul

Bucharest and Istanbul both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Bucharest is a somewhat walkable place. Many of the tourist attractions are within a walkable area.

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

Should I spend more time in Istanbul or Bucharest?

How long in Bucharest or Istanbul?

Both Bucharest and Istanbul have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Istanbul than Bucharest.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Bucharest is 1-3 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Istanbul is 3-7 days.


  • How many days in Bucharest or Istanbul? Ideal Length of Stay
    Bucharest 1-3 
    Istanbul 3-7

One day in Bucharest or Istanbul?

The of Bucharest offers food and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. Visiting the old town is also a must. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Bucharest or Istanbul?

Bucharest is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Bucharest, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Bucharest or Istanbul?

Bucharest is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer.


A week in Bucharest or Istanbul?

Bucharest is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This offers something for everyone.

Istanbul is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Istanbul, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Which city is cheaper, Istanbul or Bucharest?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Bucharest is $111, while the average daily cost in Istanbul is $43. 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 Bucharest and Istanbul in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Bucharest $51
    Istanbul $27
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Bucharest $102
    Istanbul $54
Compare Hotels in Bucharest and Istanbul

Looking for a hotel in Bucharest 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 Bucharest


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.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Bucharest Hotel Prices and Istanbul Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Bucharest $21
    Istanbul $2.51

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Bucharest

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Bucharest:

  • Best transfer from Bucharest Airport to City Center: $3.72
  • Bucharest airport transfer: $12
  • Private transfer from Bucharest Otopeni Airport to Bucharest: $12
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Bucharest Airport to Bucharest City: $14
  • Private Departure Transfer from Bucharest City to Bucharest Airport: $14
  • Bucharest - Private Airport Transfer: $15
  • Bucharest Airport Transfer: $16
  • Otopeni Airport Transfer to Bucharest: $16
  • Private One-Way BUCHAREST-OTP Airport Transfer: $16
  • Bucharest Airport Transfer by Minivan: $17
  • Private Bucharest Airport Transfer: $17
  • Bucharest Giurgiu Port Shared Transfer: $17

Typical Local Transportation prices in Istanbul

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


  • Ferry
    $0.15
  • Local Bus
    $0.16

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Istanbul

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Istanbul:

  • 2 Ways Istanbul Airport Transfer: $109
  • 2 Ways Istanbul Airport Transfer: $56
  • 2 Ways Sabiha Gokcen Airport Transfer: $56
  • 2-Hour Bosphorus Yacht Cruise with Transfers: $500
  • 2m Transfer: $85
  • 4-Day Istanbul City Package including Full-Day Istanbul City Tour plus Airport Transfers: $350
  • 4-Day Wonderful Istanbul Including Accommodation Plus Transfer: $474
  • Air Transfer Lines | Airport Transfer Service: $44
  • Airport Transfer, Hotel Tranfer, Shuttle Service, Taxi Service: $26
  • Airport private transfer to hotel and back: $109
  • Arrival Private Transfers from New Airport IST to Istanbul in Business Car: $123
  • City Center to Istanbul Airport (IST) Departure Transfers: $87

Is it cheaper to fly into Bucharest or Istanbul?

Prices for flights to both Istanbul and Bucharest 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
    Bucharest $47
    Istanbul $11

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Bucharest

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

  • Bucharest Evening Tour and Traditional Dinner - 3 hours: $80
  • Cooking Class in Transylvania - Day Tour from Bucharest: $199
  • Walking Food Tour in the Old Town of Bucharest: $199
  • Bucharest City Tour & Traditional Home-made Cooking Experience: $223
  • Private Dracula Castle Tour by night and Romanian traditional dinner: $331

Typical Food prices in Istanbul

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


  • Juice
    $0.11
  • Turkish Delight
    $0.03
  • Dessert
    $0.45
  • 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.
    Bucharest $12
    Istanbul $16

Tours and Activities in Bucharest

Here are a few actual costs in Bucharest for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Bellu Outdoor Museum Exploration Game & Tour: $5.67
  • Old Town Hidden Gems Exploration Game and Tour: $7.95
  • Museum of Senses Bucharest Entrance Ticket: $11
  • One Hour Epic Escape Room Adventure Mystery in Bucharest: $14
  • Escape Room Experience: $17
  • Half-day tour to the Mogoșoaia Palace by train from Bucharest: $20
  • Skip the line: Bucharest Parliament Palace Ticket: $23
  • Self-Guided Ruse from Bucharest Tour: $24
  • Skip the Line: Palace of the Parliament - Bucharest: $25
  • Guided Ceausescu Villa Tour: $25
  • Jewish Tour of Bucharest: $28
  • Dracula's Transylvania Virtual Private 2-Hour Live Guided Tour: $31

Typical Entertainment prices in Istanbul

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


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    $1.07
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    $1.07
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    $0.53
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    $1.60

Tours and Activities in Istanbul

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

  • Just Hagia Sophia Tour /Skip The Lines: $8.71
  • VR Dervish Experience: $10
  • Museum of Illusions Istanbul Ticket: $11
  • Piri Self-Guided Audio Tour: Istanbul, Historical Peninsula: $11
  • Old City Insider Walking Tour: $11
  • Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App: $11
  • Basilica Cistern VIP Tickets: $12
  • Vip Ticket For Hagi̇a Sophi̇a: $12
  • Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque&Hippodrome Guided Tours Everyday /No que / No line!: $12
  • Istanbul LEGOLAND Discovery Center Entrance Ticket: $14
  • SEA LIFE Istanbul Entry Ticket: $14
  • Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour: $14

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Bucharest $7.41
    Istanbul $3.84

Sample the Local Flavors in Bucharest

Also in Bucharest, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Pub Crawl in the Old Town: $23
  • Wine Tasting Tour of Bucharest Old Town: $61
  • Wine Tasting Tour at First Wine Bar: $61
  • Private Wine Tasting at Bucharest's First Wine Bar: $65
  • Bucharest City Tour and Wine Tasting – 2.5 hours: $88
  • Traditions in Village Museum & Wine Tasting: $93
  • Bike & Wine tour in Dealu Mare wineland: $96
  • Wine tasting at the mansion, Dracula's grave from Snagov & Mogosoaia Palace: $100
  • Traditions in Village Museum and Wine Tasting Tour: $100
  • Romanian Wine Tasting: $106
  • Romanian Wine Tasting Experience: $113
  • Lacerta Crama Wine Tasting: $113

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 Bucharest and Istanbul, we can see that Bucharest 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 Bucharest would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Bucharest than you might in Istanbul.


When is the best time to visit Bucharest or Istanbul?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Bucharest or Istanbul in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Bucharest and Istanbul. Many visitors come to Bucharest 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 July, Bucharest is generally around the same temperature as Istanbul. Temperatures in Bucharest average around 23°C (73°F), and Istanbul stays around 24°C (74°F).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Istanbul this time of the year. In Bucharest, it's very sunny this time of the year. Bucharest usually receives less sunshine than Istanbul during summer. Bucharest gets 289 hours of sunny skies, while Istanbul receives 333 hours of full sun in the summer.

In July, Bucharest usually receives more rain than Istanbul. Bucharest gets 64 mm (2.5 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 19 mm (0.7 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Bucharest 23°C (73°F) 
    Istanbul 24°C (74°F)

Should I visit Bucharest or Istanbul in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Bucharest as well as Istanbul. Most visitors come to Bucharest for the city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene 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.

Bucharest is cooler than Istanbul in the autumn. The temperature in Bucharest is usually 13°C (55°F) in October, and Istanbul stays around 16°C (61°F).

In the autumn, Bucharest often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Istanbul. Bucharest gets 177 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Istanbul receives 169 hours of full sun.

Bucharest usually gets less rain in October than Istanbul. Bucharest gets 32 mm (1.3 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 71 mm (2.8 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Bucharest 13°C (55°F) 
    Istanbul 16°C (61°F)

Should I visit Bucharest or Istanbul in the Winter?

Both Istanbul and Bucharest are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The winter months attract visitors to Bucharest 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.

The weather in Bucharest can be very cold. In the winter, Bucharest is much colder than Istanbul. Typically, the winter temperatures in Bucharest in January are around -1°C (29°F), and Istanbul is about 6°C (43°F).

Bucharest usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Istanbul during winter. Bucharest gets 71 hours of sunny skies, while Istanbul receives 75 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Bucharest usually receives less rain than Istanbul. Bucharest gets 40 mm (1.6 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 99 mm (3.9 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Bucharest -1°C (29°F) 
    Istanbul 6°C (43°F)

Should I visit Bucharest or Istanbul in the Spring?

Both Istanbul and Bucharest during the spring are popular places to visit. The activities around the city are the main draw to Bucharest this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Istanbul for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

In April, Bucharest is generally around the same temperature as Istanbul. Temperatures in Bucharest average around 12°C (54°F), and Istanbul stays around 13°C (55°F).

In the spring, Bucharest often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Istanbul. Bucharest gets 185 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Istanbul receives 180 hours of full sun.

Bucharest usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Istanbul. Bucharest gets 46 mm (1.8 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 49 mm (1.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Bucharest 12°C (54°F) 
    Istanbul 13°C (55°F)

Typical Weather for Istanbul and Bucharest

Bucharest Istanbul
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan -1°C (29°F) 40 mm (1.6 in) 6°C (43°F) 99 mm (3.9 in)
Feb 1°C (34°F) 36 mm (1.4 in) 6°C (44°F) 67 mm (2.6 in)
Mar 6°C (43°F) 38 mm (1.5 in) 8°C (47°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Apr 12°C (54°F) 46 mm (1.8 in) 13°C (55°F) 49 mm (1.9 in)
May 18°C (64°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 17°C (63°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
Jun 21°C (70°F) 77 mm (3 in) 21°C (71°F) 21 mm (0.8 in)
Jul 23°C (73°F) 64 mm (2.5 in) 24°C (74°F) 19 mm (0.7 in)
Aug 22°C (72°F) 58 mm (2.3 in) 24°C (74°F) 26 mm (1 in)
Sep 18°C (65°F) 42 mm (1.7 in) 20°C (69°F) 41 mm (1.6 in)
Oct 13°C (55°F) 32 mm (1.3 in) 16°C (61°F) 71 mm (2.8 in)
Nov 6°C (44°F) 49 mm (1.9 in) 12°C (54°F) 89 mm (3.5 in)
Dec 1°C (34°F) 43 mm (1.7 in) 9°C (47°F) 122 mm (4.8 in)


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Bucharest vs. Istanbul Travel Comparison

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