Turkish Liras & Money in Turkey

The unit of Turkish money is the Turkish Lira (Türk Lirası, TL or TRY). A unique symbol was introduced by the Turkish Central Bank to denote the Turkish Lira.

Banknotes are in denominations of TL1 (rare), 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 liras.

Turkish Lira SymbolThe lira is divided into 100 Kuruş (koo-ROOSH), with coins in denominations of Kr 1 (rare), 5, 10, 25 and 50 (Kuruş). More...

Where to Obtain Liras

It's usually best to obtain your Turkish liras in Turkey rather than before you leave home, as the exchange rates outside Turkey are usually not as good as those inside the country.

The easiest way to get cash liras is to stick your home bank card or credit card into a Turkish ATM (bancomat/cashpoint, cash machine). More...

You can exchange foreign-currency cash at a Currency Exchange Office (Döviz Bürosu). Note that exchange rates at international airports in Turkey are usually less good than rates in city centers. More...

Credit Cards, Travelers Checks

Credit and debit cards are widely used in Turkey, but there are special situations you must know about. More...

Travelers Checks are a bother, and not recommended. More...

When to Use Cash Liras

Although some large travel expenses such as hotel rooms and car rentals may be denominated in US dollars or euros, they may also be denominated and paid in Turkish liras.

Some establishments offer discounts for payment in cash (because then they need not pay a percentage to the credit card company).

When paying with foreign currencies, euros are most readily accepted, US dollars are good, UK pounds sterling are accepted in some places, but no Scottish notes! Other currencies should be exchanged at currency exchange offices. More...

How to Recognize Counterfeit Turkish Lira Notes

Believe it or not, I've seen counterfeit Turkish lira notes being sold on a street corner in Istanbul. You need to know how to avoid counterfeit notes—not just Turkish liras, but US dollars and euros as well. More...

Carrying Cash

Should you carry a lot of cash? That's up to you. Except for pickpockets, Turkey is a relatively safe country, but nowhere is completely safe. I would say the chance of loss is remote if you carry your stash underneath your clothing in a waist belt, neck pouch, etc. Most hotel rooms of 3 stars or more have small private safes in their guest rooms for valuables. More...

Small Notes, Big Notes

Many people in Turkey will not accept large bills/notes for small payments, so it's good to juggle your TL cash-on-hand so that you always have some smaller amounts. Get in the habit of paying with bills/notes that are about equal to twice the amount you're paying (so pay for a TL48 meal with a TL100 note, which gives you TL52 in change). If you give notes that are three times or more than the price, you're liable to get a dirty look and a request for smaller notes.

Lira, not Lire

Lira (LEE-rah), from the Latin libra pondo ("a pound by weight"), is the name of Turkey's currency.

In Turkish, lira is used for both singular and plural amounts: TL1 = bir lira; TL5 = beş lira.

Lira was also the name for Italy's pre-euro currency. The Italian plural of lira is lire, but this is Italian, not Turkish. (In Turkish, the former Italian currency is the liret, lee-REHT.)

In English, the usage is lira and liras: TL1 = one lira; TL5 = five liras.

Old Liras, New Liras

From 2005 through 2008, Turkey's currency was called the New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası, YTL or TRY). In 2009, new banknotes were introduced. More...

As of January 1, 2009, the "New" (Yeni) has been dropped. The currency is again simply called the Turkish Lira, although the international 3-letter sign (ISO 4217) continues to be TRYHere's how the 2009-series notes/bills look.

Old pre-2005 Turkish Lira notes and coins and 2005 to 2008 New Turkish Liras have been withdrawn from circulation. TL1.00 is equal to (old, pre-2005) TL1,000,000 and YTL1.00. In other words, a million old liras equals one new lira, but you should not accept old pre-2005 liras or 2005 to 2008 New Turkish Liras! More...

Leftover Liras

LeftoverCurrency.com says it will buy these old notes from you. More...

Cash4Coins.co.uk will exchange your leftover Turkish lira coins and notes for GBP (UK pounds sterling) by mail. More...

The Ottoman Lira

A century ago, one Ottoman Turkish lira was worth US$5 (and that $5 was worth about US$100 in today's dollars).

—by Tom Brosnahan

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