Is this trendy digital nomad city really worth the hype? [Boss Insurance]

Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype?

Share the article

Last update

Digital nomadism is more than just a trend; it’s a movement that redefines how and where we travel.

Since 2020, the number of digital nomads has exploded, largely due to new fully remote options for traditional jobs that were 9-to-5 office roles before the pandemic.

With over 35 million digital nomads worldwide, travel-friendly online work attracts adventurers to visit or even live in so-called “digital nomad hotspots” all over the world.

At the crossroads between Europe and Asia is one of these popular digital nomad destinations: the legendary Istanbul.

Istanbul Hagia Sophia Sultanhamet
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 21

Here, east meets west and tradition meets modernity. Digital nomads flock to Istanbul for the depth of culture amid modern conveniences.

With so many unique neighborhoods and an endless list of amazing things to see, many location-independent travelers choose to spend more time in this Turkish megacity.

Remote work fueled by Turkish coffee with a view of the Bosphorus looks spectacular; but does the reality live up to the hype?

In some ways, Istanbul is a mecca for digital nomads. However, there are some serious pitfalls that make it less than ideal for remote work.

Here are the pros and cons of traveling to Istanbul as a digital nomad:

Woman In Istanbul With Bosphorus View
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 22

Turkish coffee culture

We’ve all heard of the national obsession with Turkish tea, but that doesn’t stop Istanbul from having one of the best coffee cultures in the world.

Trendy neighborhoods like Moda and Cihangir are home to three to ten cafes per block, most of which are well suited to get the job done.

Here are some great Istanbul cafes for digital nomads:

  • Walter’s Cafe – A breaking Bad-themed cafe designed for remote working, with outlets at every table and exceptional third-wave coffee. Don’t leave without one of their decadent brownies either!
  • travel lounge – Journey’s second floor for a hidden work area is great for a long day at work, as their breakfast to dinner menu is spectacular.
  • Kava Coffee Home and Kava Coffee Roasting – This funky, bright space offers work-friendly individual seating in modern, two-story spaces in both locations. Try a Chemex and buttery treats from their bakery.
  • Cumae – The light and airy interior has many spacious and sturdy tables well suited to work.
  • History Coffee & Food – A great choice for a working brunch and seasonal specialty lattes.
  • Tiop- This plant-filled oasis has a sprawling communal table out back that’s perfect for hooking up. In addition, it is conveniently located near the main tourist sites of Galata.
  • Cukurcuma Curve – A hidden gem with WiFi as strong as its espresso, but limited seating.

Istanbul’s cafes are hubs for the thriving young professional and creative scene. Most cafes are open from morning until almost midnight, as going out for coffee and tea is an essential part of the local social fabric.

There are so many amazing cafes to work in the city that it almost makes up for the thin selections of short-term coworking spaces – but not quite.

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans for 2023 starting at $10 per week

Walter'S Coffee Istanbul With Digital Nomads Working Online
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 23

Short-term limited coworking options

Unfortunately, most coworking spaces in Istanbul only offer monthly or yearly subscriptions and lack signup rates, making it nearly impossible to access an office space while on a remote work trip. shorter here.

If digital nomads plan to stay longer than a month, they might have better luck. But even on a longer-term membership, many spaces – for example, IDEA Kadikoy – require an application process with a waiting period and appear to be limited mostly to tech industry premises.

Digital nomads are limited to a 90-day tourist visa to see the whole country, so it might be difficult to stay in Istanbul long enough for those extended coworking memberships. Turkey does not currently offer a digital nomad visa. Since the beginning of 2023, the temporary residence visa has also become almost impossible to acquire or renew for online workers.

The two main exceptions to the long-term membership coworking requirement are Impact Hub, which offers 1-10 day plans, and Daire, which charges $5/hour for a pre-booked shared office.

Both are located about 30 minutes north of Galata by metro, which means up to an hour’s journey with changes for digital nomads staying in Kadiköy, Fatih or other popular areas.

Two Workers In Line
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 24

Divided city

The fingers of the Bosphorus divide the city into three main areas and complicate travel.

This so-called “Golden Horn” separates Beyoğlu (including Karaköy and Galata) in the north from Fatih and Eminonü in the south. It also draws the line between Europe and Asia, with Kadıköy and Üsküdar to the east.

Although the ferry rides look cinematic, they are also very slow. Most of the time, getting around Istanbul means an hour underground on the metro, not enjoying the sea or wandering the spice-lined streets.

The metro doesn’t connect to the Asian side very well either, meaning you wait for vintage trams to cruise the hills and take you somewhere near your destination or catch city buses in epic traffic.

On the other hand, public transport is very affordable in Istanbul. Ferry, subway, bus and tram rides are all under $0.80. A rechargeable Istanbulkart can be purchased at all metro and ferry stations and at some bus stops for around $2.

Türkiye Istanbul Roof
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 25

Endless exploration

While Istanbul can be difficult to get around, the trade-off is that the city is so large and diverse that you’ll always have something to see.

Digital nomads could spend weeks in Istanbul, visiting a different neighborhood and working in a different café every day.

Explore Hagia Sophia during your lunch break or take a Bosphorus cruise after work. There are many amazing cultural and historical sites, so you will never get bored traveling and working online in Istanbul.

Kuzguncuk District In Istanbul
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 26

Expensive data

Digital nomads value staying connected while on the go. Mobile data also typically serves as backup Wi-Fi for critical business tasks.

Unfortunately, the prices of SIM cards in Istanbul have tripled over the past few years. A short-term tourist SIM currently starts at 5-20G plans for $40-55. This means that a teleworker visiting Istanbul for a few days will pay the same price for data as someone staying for a few weeks.

Turkish carriers also often limit data speeds, even on “unlimited” plans. On the other hand, unlimited Whatsapp messaging is usually included.

Woman Using Phone
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 27

Excellent international access

A key feature of a great digital nomad city is convenient international access.

With Istanbul’s mega-hub airport, remote workers can fly across Europe and Asia without breaking a sweat. The city’s new airport metro stations also make it easier than ever to get to your flight.

Nomads can fly to European destinations like Venice, Budapest, Paris, Barcelona, ​​and Athens for $50-100. Trips to Gulf destinations like Dubai are very cheap, while popular Asian destinations like Thailand and the Maldives can be reached for less than $200.

Istanbul also offers an overnight express train to Sofia, Bulgaria. From there, travelers can connect to the European rail network.

Istanbul Airport With Planes From Turkish Airlines
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 28

Accommodation struggles

While working travelers may start from a hotel, long-time digital nomads often prefer to rent an apartment for a week or a month. Unfortunately, it’s tricky in Istanbul these days.

First, is blocked inside Turkey, so anyone trying to book accommodation after arriving in the country will need to use a VPN.

Second, Airbnb prices have skyrocketed to reflect the housing shortage in the city these days. Rental sites offer very few entire apartments and mostly list private rooms in shared apartments. (Keep in mind that some Airbnb hosts in Istanbul sleep in the living room of the apartment and omit that information from the list.)

As of summer 2023, digital nomads can expect to pay $150-200/week or $500-600/month for a room, and around double that for a private apartment. Although this may seem cheap compared to US prices, the rents are out of proportion to the cost of living in general.

Inflation, currency instability, an influx of Russian tenants and a rapidly changing housing market mean that the accommodation situation in Istanbul is subject to frequent change, making travel to Istanbul a little less predictable for digital nomads.

Galata Tower In Istanbul, Türkiye
Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 29

It is true that Istanbul has some issues for remote workers to address. Although it doesn’t quite live up to the hype, this Turkish megalopolis is still a must-see for travelers and digital nomads.

Traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

↓ Join our community ↓

THE Travel Off Path Community FB Group has all the latest reopening news, conversations and daily Q&As!

Is This Trendy Digital Nomad City Really Worth The Hype? [Boss Insurance] 30

Enter your email address to subscribe to the latest travel news from Travel Off Path, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on