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

Should you visit Istanbul or Madrid?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Istanbul or Madrid, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a high-energy, historic, and diverse 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. Other reasons to visit include museums, nightlife, and food.

Madrid

Madrid is a authentic, cultural, and diverse city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and live music.

Istanbul and Madrid: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Blue Mosque
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Istanbul or Madrid?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Istanbul than Madrid, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Istanbul is more popular for its museums, historical sights, and impressive beauty, while Madrid is known for its music and shopping. Istanbul is more touristy than Madrid and is popular for its world class historical sights, stunning mosques, and dynamic energy. It is also home to The Blue Mosque. Madrid is popular for its art and architecture, its tapas and culinary scene, and its lively flamenco dancing.

How is Istanbul different from Madrid?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Istanbul or Madrid?

Istanbul
Madrid

Istanbul is renowned for its historical sights. Also, Madrid is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its sights and museums.

Travelers visit Istanbul from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. 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.

Madrid offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are a number of cultural sights in the city including Museo Nacional del Prado, the Royal Palace and Gardens, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.


Is the Food Better in Istanbul or Madrid? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Istanbul
Madrid

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Istanbul and Madrid can be difficult as they are each first-rate in their own way.

Known for it's food and restaurant 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. You'll also find many tourist-centered restaurants in the touristy areas but if you get away from the main sights, you'll find more local options that let you sample high quality food for affordable prices.

Many restaurants in Madrid have been singled out for their culinary prowess. The city has a mix of flavors that come from all of Spain. There are amazing markets where you can grab a meal or snack. There are also many high quality restaurants around town where you're guaranteed a good meal. Local favorites include roast suckling pig, Spanish omelette, and meat and chickpea stew.

Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Nightlife?

Istanbul
Madrid

Evening events are high quality in both Istanbul and Madrid.

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. If you're looking for dance clubs and alcohol, your best bet is to head to the Beyoglu district.

Madrid has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. Many tourists and international students hang out in the Huertas area, while Malasaña has a bohemian, hipster vibe with small clubs that play indie music. Chueca is a fun area that's known for being gay-friendly with many good bars. Finally, you'll find that the area around Avenida de Brasil is where famous DJs often perform.

Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Music?

Istanbul
Madrid

Madrid is an amazing city to visit for live music. However, Istanbul is not a live music destination.

Madrid is a world class music destination. Rock, jazz, and flamenco are all popular in the city. Some of the most well known music venues include Sala Caracol, Sala Clamores, and Costello Club.

Istanbul is not a live music destination.


Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for its Old Town?

Istanbul
Madrid

Istanbul is renowned for its historic old town. However, Madrid does not have a historic old town.

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.

Madrid does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Istanbul or Madrid?

Istanbul
Madrid

Madrid is an amazing city to visit for shopping. Also, Istanbul is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping opportunities.

Madrid is a famous shopping destination with plenty of stores. Gran Vía is a main thoroughfare in Madrid that is also popular for shopping. Calle Fuencarral is where you'll find the fashion shops and Calle Preciados is a fun pedestrian area to explore.

Istanbul is well-known for its shopping. 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 Istanbul or Madrid Better for Families?

Istanbul
Madrid

Istanbul and Madrid are both high quality destinations for the whole family.

Istanbul is a very family-friendly place to visit. The city has several kid-friendly museums, a couple of aquariums, and fun theme parks. If the kids need a break from the city, you can spend a day at Vialand Theme Park or LEGOLAND Discovery Center Istanbul. Food in Istanbul is also very kid-friendly with many affordable dishes that young ones will enjoy.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Madrid is very family-friendly. Kids love splashing around at Madrid Río, taking a ride on the cable car (Teleférico), and exploring the city's many parks and playgrounds. There's even a maze at Sabatini Gardens. Restaurants around the city are also very kid-friendly.


Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Couples?

Istanbul
Madrid

Istanbul and Madrid are both high quality to visit 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. The city lights up at night and there are many rooftop dessert cafes where you can take in the view. The waterfront setting is the perfect place to watch the sunset and there are many places to walk and soak up the atmosphere.

Madrid makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Fun and romantic activities around town include taking a boat ride at Casa de Campo, riding a bike in one of the many parks, and enjoy dinner and show in the evening.

Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Istanbul
Madrid

Istanbul is renowned for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Madrid is not as popular, but is still a nice city for backpackers.

Many backpackers frequent 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.

Madrid is a great city to visit for backpackers. The many hostels around town make it easy for backpackers to find affordable accommodation while also meeting other travelers.

Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Students?

Istanbul
Madrid

Madrid is an amazing city to visit for students. Also, Istanbul is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Madrid is a great destination for students. With several great universities, this city is popular with international and study abroad students. The city also has a diverse population and an active nightlife that appeals to students.

Students come from all over to stay in Istanbul. Students appreciate the city's vibrant neighborhoods, constant activity, and diverse population.


Is Istanbul or Madrid Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Istanbul
Madrid

Both Istanbul and Madrid offer first-rate public transit options.

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.

Madrid has an effecient and thorough public transportation system which can take you anywhere in the city. The system includes the Madrid Metro, buses, and a light rail system.

Is Istanbul or Madrid a more walkable city?

Istanbul
Madrid

Madrid is an amazing city to visit for its walkability. Also, Istanbul is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its high level of walkability.

It is easy to get around Madrid on foot. Most tourists stay in the central part of Madrid where it's compact and relatively easy to walk to most tourist sights.

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

For even more information, also check out Is Istanbul Worth Visiting? and Is Madrid Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Madrid or Istanbul?

How long in Istanbul or Madrid?

In either Istanbul or Madrid, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Istanbul than Madrid because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Istanbul, and 2-5 days is enough time in Madrid.

Families should spend more time in Istanbul than Madrid. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Istanbul, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Madrid than Istanbul. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Madrid that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Istanbul than Madrid if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Istanbul.


  • How many days in Istanbul or Madrid? Ideal Length of Stay
    Istanbul 3-7 
    Madrid 2-5

One day in Istanbul or Madrid?

Istanbul is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. 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.

The city of Madrid offers museums and nightlife. 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.


A weekend in Istanbul or Madrid?

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.

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

Five days in Istanbul or Madrid?

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.

Madrid is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Madrid, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Istanbul or Madrid?

Istanbul is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. 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.

Madrid 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 city offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in Turkey, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Turkey, The Best Contiki Tours to Spain, and The Best G Adventures Tours to Spain.


Which place is cheaper, Madrid or Istanbul?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Istanbul is $126, while the average daily cost in Madrid is $148. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Istanbul and Madrid in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Istanbul $47
    Madrid $84
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Istanbul $94
    Madrid $168
Compare Hotels in Istanbul and Madrid

Looking for a hotel in Istanbul or Madrid? 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 Istanbul


Hotels in Madrid


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: Istanbul Hotel Prices and Madrid Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Istanbul $55
    Madrid $20
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Istanbul

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


  • Ferry
    $0.09
  • Local Bus
    $0.09

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Istanbul

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Istanbul:

  • Private Bosphorus Tour on Luxury Yacht w/transfer: $537
  • From Pamukkale Day Tour With Flights and Transfers: $325
  • Private Guided Istanbul Luxury Tour (Tickets and Transfers): $284
  • Troy and Gallipoli Day Guided Tour with Transfer: $280
  • 3-Day Tours & Transfer Package: $228
  • Istanbul Airport Transfer: Istanbul to Sabiha Airport SAW in Luxury Car: $226
  • Istanbul Airport to Sabiha Airport Private Transfer or Vice Versa (1-10pax): $213
  • Full-Day Old City Tour with Lunch and Transfers: $210
  • Layover Private Guided Istanbul City Tour with Transfers: $194
  • Private Transfer from Istanbul Airport (IST) to Sabiha Gökcen Airport (SAW): $175
  • Private Transfer from Sabiha Gökcen Airport (SAW) to Istanbul Airport (IST) : $175
  • Istanbul Private Tour Designed for Layover Flight, Transfer incl.: $175

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Madrid

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Madrid

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

  • Madrid Barajas Airport: Transfer to/from Atocha Bus Station: $7.58
  • Private transfer from Atocha Station to Madrid city center: $22
  • Alcobendas Private Transfer To Madrid Barajas Airport: $26
  • Hotel Madrid City Private Transfer To Madrid Barajas Airport: $26
  • Private transfer: Barajas Airport (MAD) to Madrid City Center: $29
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Barajas Airport: $40
  • Private Transfer: Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) to Madrid: $42
  • Madrid Airport Private Departure Transfer: $43
  • Private Transfer From Madrid Barajas Airport to Madrid: $44
  • Madrid City Center: Private Transfer to Madrid Airport: $50
  • Madrid Airport: Private Transfer to Madrid City Center: $54
  • One-way Private Transfer From/To Madrid Airport: $55

Is it cheaper to fly into Istanbul or Madrid?

Prices for flights to both Madrid and Istanbul 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
    Istanbul $31
    Madrid $37
Typical Food Prices in Istanbul

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


  • Juice
    $0.06
  • Turkish Delight
    $0.02
  • Dessert
    $0.26
  • Pastries
    $0.05

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Istanbul

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

  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Turkish Night Show from Istanbul: $17
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Turkish Night Show All inclusive: $17
  • Dinner Cruise and Entertainment with Private Table: $17
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise , Unlimited Drinks, & Show: $22
  • Bosphorus Luxury Catamaran Cruise with Dinner Show: $25
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise and Turkish Night Show: $26
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Show with Private Table: $27
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise with All inclusive Dinner and Belly-Dancer Show : $27
  • Bosphorus Boat Cruise with Dinner & Entertainment: $27
  • Dinner Cruise Bosphorus with Hotel Transfer: $28
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Unlimited Drinks and Shows: $30
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Folklore Show & Belly Dancers: $32

Typical Food Prices in Madrid

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


  • Coffee
    $2.18
  • Ice Cream
    $3.26
  • Kebabs (for 2)
    $17
  • Croissant
    $1.63
  • Lunch at Airport (for 2)
    $17

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Madrid

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

  • Madrid Sunset Walking Tour with Optional Flamenco Show and Dinner: $26
  • Flamenco Show with dinner, drinks and optional class: $33
  • Madrid Tipsy Tapas Guided Food Tour with Dinner: $54
  • Tapas Dinner Party Food Tour with Guide: $54
  • Drunken Tapas Food Tour with Dinner in Madrid: $54
  • Tapas Crawl Food Tour with 6 Tapas and 4 Drinks: $54
  • Tipsy Tapas Food Tour with Drinks and Food: $57
  • The Authentic Morning Madrid's Food Tour: $60
  • Dinner-Show La Circa de Marta Cariño! en el centro de Madrid: $61
  • Opera and Zarzuela Show and Dinner: $62
  • San Miguel Market and Street Food Tour: $64
  • Iberico Ham and Spanish Wine Small-Group Food Tour: $64

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Istanbul $79
    Madrid $37
Typical Entertainment Prices in Istanbul

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


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    $0.62
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    $0.62
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    $0.31
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    $0.93

Tours and Activities in Istanbul

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

  • 4 Hours Private Highlights Tour Of Istanbul: $276
  • All in One Day Istanbul - Historical Tour of Istanbul with Bosphorus Cruise: $166
  • Full Day Private Guided Istanbul Tour: $50
  • Hippodrome and Blue Mosque Guided Tour: $8.83
  • Istanbul Half Day City Tour (Ottoman Relics): $55
  • City Highlights Tour w/Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque: $35
  • Must - See Istanbul Stops 1: Half Day Morning Tour: $140
  • (16&Under Free)Small-Group Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Tour of Istanbul: $100
  • 1 Day Private Istanbul Guided Tour: $75
  • 2 - Hours Bosphorus Yacht Cruise: $265
  • 2 Continents Tour incl. Beylerbeyi Palace [full-day]: $221
  • 2 Days Private Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul by Plane: $613

Tours and Activities in Madrid

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

  • Madrid Essential: Free Walking City Tour: $1.08
  • Old Town Guided Walking Tour: $1.08
  • Tour Retiro Park - Madrid self-guided tour app: $2.17
  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.25
  • Madrid Mountains Free Walking Tour: $3.31
  • Escape Game and Tour: $4.34
  • App self-guided: Tour Madrid Spain: $4.34
  • History & Culture Guided Walking Tour: $5.42
  • Mapfre Foundation Entry Ticket: $5.42
  • Ticket Entrance to the Madrid Nougat Museum: $5.42
  • Wonders of Madrid City Walking Tour: $5.42
  • Wonders of Madrid Walking Tour: $5.42

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Istanbul $15
    Madrid $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Istanbul

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Istanbul:

  • Pub Crawl Istanbul-Rooftop Party Tour with Party Bus: $27
  • Party Pub Crawl with Party Bus: $31
  • Istanbul Wine Tasting at Home with Local Family: $80
  • Istanbul Wine Tasting at Home with Local Family: $89
  • Istanbul Private and Guided, Food and Wine Tasting Tour: $430
  • Luxury Wine Tasting on a Private Yacht: $856

Typical Alcohol Prices in Madrid

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Madrid are as follows:


  • Beer
    $5.44
  • Drinks and Tapas (for 2)
    $14

Sample the Local Flavors in Madrid

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Madrid:

  • Original Pub Crawl With VIP Club Entry: $9.76
  • Visit to the Winery with Wine Tasting and Appetizers in Navarra: $12
  • Pub Crawl Madrid's Night time: $15
  • Guided Pub Crawl Madrid Experience and Club Entry: $16
  • Guided Bar Crawl with Drinks and Nightclub Entry: $16
  • Pub Crawl Madrid Running since 2005 Bar Exploration: $16
  • Pub Crawl Madrid & Party: $17
  • Pub Crawl Madrid: $19
  • Pub Crawl Madrid: $22
  • Wine Tasting Experience with 4 Spanish Wines: $26
  • Wine Tour with tasting in the Natural Park of La Mata: $38
  • Wine Tasting Experience: $50


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Istanbul and Madrid, we can see that Madrid 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 Madrid would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Madrid than you might in Istanbul.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Istanbul Expensive? and Is Madrid Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Istanbul or Madrid?

Istanbul has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Madrid. When comparing the sizes of Istanbul and Madrid, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.