A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Moscow vs. Istanbul for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Moscow 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 Moscow 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.

Where Should I go: Moscow or Istanbul?

Moscow

Moscow is the capital of Russia and is notable for its important role in history. It's a very sprawling city with many museums and fascinating buildings. Ten percent of Russia's population lives in this capital city and it's a financial and political center for the country. The Moskva River weaves its way through the city and you will find most of the city's sights and attractions on the northern side of the river.

Istanbul

Istanbul is strategically located on the Bosphorus and is split between Europe and Asia. It truly is a city where east meets west. Istanbul is the cultural and financial hub of Turkey, and also the most populous city. The sites are countless and there's something for everybody, whether you're interested in art, music, food, or adventure. You can pass many days exploring both the residential and commercial pockets of this city. Much of the appeal is hidden away along back alleys or within corner shops.

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


Which place is cheaper, Istanbul or Moscow?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Moscow is $63, while the average daily cost in Istanbul is $126. 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 Moscow and Istanbul in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Moscow $40
    Istanbul $47
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Moscow $80
    Istanbul $94
Compare Hotels in Moscow and Istanbul

Looking for a hotel in Moscow 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 Moscow


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: Istanbul Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Moscow $6.18
    Istanbul $55
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Moscow

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


  • Two Metro Passes
    $1.47

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Moscow

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

  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Tengkerang Barat: $41
  • Private Transfer from Tengkerang Tengah to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $41
  • Private Transfer from Wonorejo to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Pekanbaru City: $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru City to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Kampung Bandar: $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Kota Baru: $43
  • Private Transfer from Labuh Baru Barat to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $43
  • Private Transfer from Simpang Tiga to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $43
  • Private Transfer from Tanah Datar to Pekanbaru Airport (PKU): $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Delima: $43
  • Private Transfer from Pekanbaru Airport (PKU) to Tampan: $43

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:

  • İstanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport Transfer (SAW) To Istanbul Hotel: $62
  • İstanbul Private Airport Transfer: $140
  • İstanbul New Airport Transfer : $88
  • istanbul airport & sabiha gokcen airport transfer by private car: $50
  • Two Ways Sabiha Gokcen Airport VIP Transfer: $88
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Istanbul HTL-APT (IST): $43
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Istanbul APT-HTL (IST): $43
  • Transfer from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport(SAW)to Istanbul Port: $31
  • Transfer from Airports in Istanbul to Hotels by Private Eco-Sedan: $50
  • Sabiha Gokcen Airport transfers to Sisli hotels: $77
  • Sabiha Gokcen Airport transfers to Kadikoy hotels: $55
  • Sabiha Gokcen Airport transfers to Besiktas hotels: $77

Is it cheaper to fly into Moscow or Istanbul?

Prices for flights to both Istanbul and Moscow 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
    Moscow $14
    Istanbul $31
Typical Food Prices in Moscow

For Moscow, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $6.00
  • Lunch in the Center Market
    $3.27
  • Breakfast for 2
    $11

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.

  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Turkish Night Show All inclusive: $17
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Turkish Night Show from Istanbul: $17
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise with All inclusive Dinner and Belly-Dancer Show : $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
  • Cooking Class in Istanbul - Home Cooking with a Local: $33
  • Half Day Sunset Luxury Yacht Dinner Cruise Tour in Istanbul: $33
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Entertaintment & Private Table & Wi-Fi: $33
  • Bosphorus Night Cruise with Dinner, Show and Private Table: $35
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Tour: $38
  • Luxury Dinner & Traditional Dance Bosphorus Cruise: $39

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Moscow $16
    Istanbul $79
Typical Entertainment Prices in Moscow

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Moscow's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Theater Tickets
    $13
  • Kremlin Entry (2)
    $11

Tours and Activities in Moscow

For Moscow, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Custom Private Tour in Palembang with English Speaking Driver: $85
  • 2-Hour Private Guided Walking Tour in Bengkulu: $144

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 Small Group Gallipoli and Troy Tour from Istanbul: $219

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Moscow $7.94
    Istanbul $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Istanbul

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Istanbul:

  • Istanbul Wine Tasting at Home with Local Family: $80


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Moscow and Istanbul, we can see that Istanbul is more expensive. And not only is Moscow much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Moscow would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Moscow 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 Istanbul would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Istanbul than you might in Moscow.

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


Which is Bigger, Moscow or Istanbul?

Istanbul has a larger population, and is about 8% larger than the population of Moscow. When comparing the sizes of Moscow and Istanbul, 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.


When is the best time to visit Moscow 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 Moscow or Istanbul in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Moscow as well as Istanbul. Additionally, most visitors come to Istanbul for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Moscow is cooler than Istanbul in the summer. The daily temperature in Moscow averages around 19°C (67°F) in July, and Istanbul fluctuates around 24°C (74°F).

Moscow usually gets more rain in July than Istanbul. Moscow gets 92 mm (3.6 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 19 mm (0.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Moscow 19°C (67°F) 
    Istanbul 24°C (74°F)

Should I visit Moscow or Istanbul in the Autumn?

Both Istanbul and Moscow are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. 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 the autumn, Moscow is much colder than Istanbul. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Moscow in October average around 6°C (43°F), and Istanbul averages at about 16°C (61°F).

In October, Moscow usually receives less rain than Istanbul. Moscow gets 58 mm (2.3 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 71 mm (2.8 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Moscow 6°C (43°F) 
    Istanbul 16°C (61°F)

Should I visit Moscow or Istanbul in the Winter?

Both Istanbul and Moscow during the winter are popular places to visit. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Istanbul this time of year.

The weather in Moscow can be very cold. In January, Moscow is generally much colder than Istanbul. Daily temperatures in Moscow average around -8°C (17°F), and Istanbul fluctuates around 6°C (43°F).

Moscow usually gets less rain in January than Istanbul. Moscow 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
    Moscow -8°C (17°F) 
    Istanbul 6°C (43°F)

Should I visit Moscow or Istanbul in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Moscow and Istanbul. Also, many travelers come to Istanbul for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

Moscow is much colder than Istanbul in the spring. The daily temperature in Moscow averages around 7°C (45°F) in April, and Istanbul fluctuates around 13°C (55°F).

In April, Moscow usually receives less rain than Istanbul. Moscow gets 40 mm (1.6 in) of rain, while Istanbul receives 49 mm (1.9 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Moscow 7°C (45°F) 
    Istanbul 13°C (55°F)

Typical Weather for Istanbul and Moscow

Moscow Istanbul
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan -8°C (17°F) 45 mm (1.8 in) 6°C (43°F) 99 mm (3.9 in)
Feb -7°C (20°F) 37 mm (1.5 in) 6°C (44°F) 67 mm (2.6 in)
Mar -1°C (30°F) 34 mm (1.3 in) 8°C (47°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Apr 7°C (45°F) 40 mm (1.6 in) 13°C (55°F) 49 mm (1.9 in)
May 14°C (57°F) 58 mm (2.3 in) 17°C (63°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
Jun 18°C (64°F) 76 mm (3 in) 21°C (71°F) 21 mm (0.8 in)
Jul 19°C (67°F) 92 mm (3.6 in) 24°C (74°F) 19 mm (0.7 in)
Aug 18°C (64°F) 74 mm (2.9 in) 24°C (74°F) 26 mm (1 in)
Sep 12°C (54°F) 64 mm (2.5 in) 20°C (69°F) 41 mm (1.6 in)
Oct 6°C (43°F) 58 mm (2.3 in) 16°C (61°F) 71 mm (2.8 in)
Nov -0°C (32°F) 58 mm (2.3 in) 12°C (54°F) 89 mm (3.5 in)
Dec -5°C (23°F) 52 mm (2 in) 9°C (47°F) 122 mm (4.8 in)