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

Should you visit Dubai or Istanbul?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Dubai and Istanbul can help you decide which place is right for you.

Dubai

Dubai is a modern, glamorous, and opulent city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and live music.

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.

How is Dubai different from Istanbul?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Museums and Historical Sights?

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

Many visitors head to Dubai specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The city's most famous landmark is the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. Head to the observation deck for stunning views.

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.


Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Food?

Foodies will find both Dubai and Istanbul both to be unique destinations.

Dubai has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The national dish in the area is khuzi, or ghuzi, which is a meal of roasted lamb or mutton, prepared with rice vegetables and nuts.

Known for it's food scene, Istanbul is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. 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.

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Nightlife?

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find comparable options between Dubai and Istanbul.

People head to Dubai just to party. Frequented by the wealthy and opulent, the city has world class night clubs and DJs that travel from around to world to perform.

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.

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Shopping?

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

Many people travel to Dubai specifically to go shopping. With its many malls, souks, and shopping areas, this is the place to go for luxury shopping. Popular items to purchase include gold and diamond jewelry, shawls, and Persian rugs.

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.

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Families?

You'll find kid-friendly activities in either Dubai or Istanbul.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Dubai. This city has family-friendly resorts, skyscrapers with spectacular views, and amusement parks that are fun for the whole family. There are also plenty of fountains that the kids can splash around in.

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


Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Couples?

Both Dubai and Istanbul are good destinations to visit as a couple.

Dubai is a good city for couples to visit. From the spectacular views to the high end resorts, couples can enjoy a romantic retreat to the city.

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

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Students?

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

Students come from all over the world to visit Dubai. Many major universities from around the world have campuses in this city, making this a top destination for international students.

Istanbul is a great city to visit as a student. Students appreciate the city's vibrant neighborhoods, constant activity, and diverse population.

Is Dubai or Istanbul better for Public Transit?

Istanbul has better public transit to get you around.

With a huge network, the transit system in Istanbul can get you around easily. It has a comprehensive and diverse public transit system that includes buses, trams, minibuses, ferries, funicular, and more.

Dubai has a few public transit options. The city's public transportation system includes buses, water buses, a monorail system, and a metro.

Is Dubai or Istanbul a more walkable city?

Istanbul is more walkable than Dubai.

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

Dubai is generally not very walkable. It is one of the less pedestrian-friendly cities around the world. There is lots of road work, even in the more walkable areas, so getting around on foot can be challenging.


Dubai and Istanbul: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty


Should I spend more time in Istanbul or Dubai?

How long in Dubai or Istanbul?

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


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

One day in Dubai or Istanbul?

Dubai is a big city with plenty to do. It's also a relaxing resort destination. 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.

In Istanbul, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this historic big city offers. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Dubai or Istanbul?

Dubai is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Istanbul. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Dubai or Istanbul?

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

Istanbul is a fun place to experience. Visiting the old town is also a must. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Dubai or Istanbul?

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

In Istanbul, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this beautiful big city offers. Plenty of people spend one week here when traveling. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Take your pick from the many activities offered around the area. One week is often enough time to spend here.

Which city is cheaper, Istanbul or Dubai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Dubai is $198, while the average daily cost in Istanbul is $47. 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 Dubai and Istanbul in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Dubai $136
    Istanbul $29
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Dubai $272
    Istanbul $58

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Dubai $10
    Istanbul $2.75
Typical Local Transportation prices in Dubai

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $12
  • Airport Taxi
    $12
  • Sea Taxi
    $0.54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dubai

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

  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from city centre to Dubai Airport DXB: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Dubai Airport DXB to city centre: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Dubai Airport DXB to Jumeirah Beach: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Jumeirah Beach to Dubai Airport DXB: $8.73
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Ski Dubai/Wild Wadi: $15
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Dubai to Dubai Airport (DXB): $17
  • Private Airport Transfer: Dubai Airport (DXB) to Dubai: $17
  • Private Transfer to/from Dubai Airport (DXB): $17
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Dubai Frame: $18
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Aquaventure/Lost Chamber: $18
  • Sharing Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Dubai Mall (Burj Khalifa, VR Parks, DAUZ): $18
  • Shopping Tour with Sharing Transfers: $19

Typical Local Transportation prices in Istanbul

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


  • Ferry
    $0.16
  • Local Bus
    $0.18

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 Dubai or Istanbul?

Prices for flights to both Istanbul and Dubai 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
    Dubai $45
    Istanbul $12
Typical Food prices in Dubai

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


  • French bread
    $0.95
  • Sumo salad in Dubai Mall + Juice
    $10
  • Lemon Mint Tea
    $4.36
  • Coffee & Cake
    $6.53
  • Smoothie
    $5.44
  • Shawarma
    $1.91

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Dubai

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

  • Romantic Dhow Creek Dinner Cruise With Live Shows and International Buffet: $17
  • Sightseeing Dhow Cruise Dinner: $18
  • Dubai Deira Cruise with International Buffet Dinner with Live Shows: $19
  • Cruising with Dinner and Live Shows at Dubai Creek: $20
  • Dubai Creek Dhow Cruise Dinner: $20
  • Dhow Dinner Cruise at Dubai Creek (Without Transfers): $20
  • Sail along the Dubai Creek Dhow cruise with a delectable Dinner from AED 60: $21
  • Sightseeing Romantic Dhow Cruise Dinner: $21
  • Dhow Cruise Dinner Dubai: $22
  • Dhow Cruise Dinner on Dubai Creek: $22
  • Evening Dhow Dinner Cruise in Dubai: $22
  • Dubai Creek 2-Hour Romantic Dhow Cruise Dinner: $23

Typical Food prices in Istanbul

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


  • Juice
    $0.12
  • Turkish Delight
    $0.04
  • Dessert
    $0.50
  • Pastries
    $0.09

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.
    Dubai $15
    Istanbul $17
Typical Entertainment prices in Dubai

For Dubai, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Visit to the Dubai Museum
    $0.82

Tours and Activities in Dubai

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

  • Global Village Entry Tickets: $4.11
  • Dubai Full-Day Global Village Tickets: $4.11
  • Global Village Entry Ticket: $4.19
  • Skip the Line: Global Village Ticket: $4.32
  • Global Village Dubai (Ticket): $4.85
  • Dubai Global Village Entrance Ticket: $5.20
  • Dubai Marina: Explore its activities & attractions on this audio walking tour: $5.50
  • Ethnic Emirati Dining Experience: $12
  • Resident Marina Sightseeing Tour: $12
  • Dubai City Tour, Dubai: $12
  • Dubai Virtual City Tour With Live Video Chat Commentary: $15
  • Flying Cup Experience Ticket Dubai: $17

Typical Entertainment prices in Istanbul

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


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    $1.17
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    $1.17
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    $0.58
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    $1.75

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
    Dubai $18
    Istanbul $4.21
Typical Alcohol prices in Dubai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Dubai:


  • A Couple Drinks
    $25

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 Dubai and Istanbul, we can see that Dubai is more expensive. And not only is Istanbul much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. Since Dubai is in Middle East and Istanbul is in Europe, this is one of the main reasons why the costs are so different, as different regions of the world tend to have overall different travel costs. 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 Dubai would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Dubai than you might in Istanbul.

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Dubai vs. Istanbul Travel Comparison

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