istanbul mosque bridge Upgraded: Stopovers in Istanbul, with free tours courtesy of Turkish Airlines
Sure, some airlines let you work in a free stopover. But Turkish Airlines goes one step further and offers up a free city tour on a stopover as short as six hours.

Maybe getting into a shuttle bus and tooling around Istanbul after seven hours on an Airbus isn’t your cup of tea, but if you’re up for it, then focus on the key term in that previous sentence: Free!

From the website for their program,, some of the details of the six-hour tour:

If you have a transit flight from Istanbul and have more than 6 hours waiting time for your connecting flight, you can visit our hotel desk to join our free city tour and experience the glamorous city that connects Europe to Asia as land and also as culture.

After you apply to our Hotel Desk which can be found at the airport, you will be picked up by a private tour guide and get to see most significant historical places of Istanbul. There are two 6-hour tours daily; one starts at 09:00 and ends at 15:00, and the other one is from 12:00 to 18:00. You will be taken to airport after your tour ends. The transportation in Istanbul and the transportation to and from the airport will be done by free shuttles.

All your transportation, meal and museum fees will be met by Turkish Airlines. If you have any further questions, please visit our FAQ page or contact us.

All transportation, meals, and museum fees are covered? Wow.

Are you going to get a full taste of Istanbul in six hours? Of course not. Will you be tired? Quite likely. But you’ll get a brief taste of some major sights.

How viable is it to actually take advantage of this? Remember, you need to be transiting Turkey internationally, not just making a connection from an international flight. Depending on your destination, the timetable may not make it possible.

Since I’ve never participated in these tours (or even been to Turkey, yet), I can’t vouch for the quality of the tours, so don’t take this as an endorsement, per se. But I really like the idea, so hats off to Turkish for offering this. Bonus points since they’re not just doing it for business class passengers. Even economy gets in on the action.

I’m curious to hear if others have any experience with this. If anyone out there has done a free Turkish Airlines Istanbul tour, post your story in the comments.


pixel Upgraded: Stopovers in Istanbul, with free tours courtesy of Turkish Airlines
Categorized in: travel

61 Responses to “Upgraded: Stopovers in Istanbul, with free tours courtesy of Turkish Airlines”

  1. Jim Says:

    Wow. I hadn’t heard of this before either. I’d be curious as well to see what others experiences have been of this free tour. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Matthew Gulino Says:

    SQ does something similar to this – less generous benefits, but same idea.

  3. SRS Says:

    Singapore Airlines does much the same and they also have the “singapore stopover holiday” which means you can get discounts at local hotels, restaurants, shopping malls etc once you produce your SQ boarding card.

  4. Mark Ashley Says:

    The Singapore Hop-On Bus is much more of a self-service tour than the guided tours Turkish is offering. And the Singapore bus is not free. Compare:

    And the Singapore Stopover is nowhere near as generous as this. See for yourself:

    Just sayin’.

  5. Yriy Says:

    WOW. And what about visa? If I have a transit flight via Istanbul?

  6. Mark S Says:

    That is a great deal and anyone that has the chance to stop in Istanbul for a day or two should take it. Even if you only have time to see the Blue mosque and Hagia Sophia ( pronounced hi a sophia ) which are such fantastic things to see and right across the street from each other. When I was there 4 years ago I didn’t need a Visa but I would check anyway.

  7. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy Says:

    Great post and appreciate learning about these free offers by airlines on international stopovers. Would love to take up Turkish Airlines on their offer to see, even if hurriedly, the Blue mosque and Hagia Sophia, both beautiful monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Elisa Carballo Says:

    Wow…I’d never heard of such deal! I think it’s pretty awesome, maybe you dont’ get to do all the things you would if you went on your own time and space, but still, you get a little taste of this great country!! Awesome, thanks for sharing…!

  9. Danielle Says:

    My husband and I have a 9 hr layover In Istanbul, traveling from Bahrain to Prague in May, on Turkish Airlines. Would we be able to take advantage of this as well? I’ve emailed them but haven’t received a response yet.

  10. FlyingAnxiety Says:

    Turbcast is a great app for travelers.

  11. ‘Floating Dutchman’ Makes Lay Overs in Amerstdam A Lot More Fun (VIDEO | Says:

    [...] provide very-short term visitors with opportunities to spend money locally. Turkish Airlines offers similar tours in Istanbul and the StarLine Tour company offers a similar, if tackier, experience in Los [...]

  12. Nick Says:

    Not quite a free tour, but my mother was given a complimentary day-room at the Hyatt Incheon by Korean Airlines during a 6 hour stopover. Very generous of the airline since she was traveling on a discounted consolidator fare.

  13. Got A Long Layover In Amsterdam? Hop On The ‘Floating Dutchman’ | Search The Earth Blog Says:

    [...] provide very-short term visitors with opportunities to spend money locally. Turkish Airlines offers similar tours in Istanbul and the StarLine Tour company offers a similar, if tackier, experience in Los [...]

  14. Kathleen C Baker Says:

    Personally, I’d take a free tour above sitting in Istanbul airport for six hours any day. A friend went there recently and did have to spend six hours in transit and related that it was overcrowded and not a fun experience.

  15. sabrina clements Says:

    This is the great opportunity of travelers… Thanks for sharing this information..

  16. Steve Says:

    The picture is awesome. I actually spent a week this past summer in Istanbul, not my favorite place, however the tour idea for layovers is a good one.

  17. Cyrus holiday Says:

    actually turkish airlines is the best airlines to do the work…amezing…….

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  18. Adrian Vultur Says:

    Istanbul is an incredible city .. if you get the chance to stop off here, make the most of it. Combining stunning architecture with modern facilities and excellent restaurants and hotels, Istanbul is one of the most amazing cities in the world.

  19. Rashid Badyari Says:

    nice photo,I like it.

    thanks for posting.

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  20. Sunaina S Says:

    Informative post! Thanks for sharing! Good choice of picture too..

  21. Greece travel advice Says:

    It is a wonderful idea and I’m sure very popular as well. What an excellent opportunity to spend the time between two flights! I would love to see Istanbul. :)

  22. algorg Says:

    Hi.this is great promo, it it still valid,if so which part of the airport is Hotel travel desk situated.appreciated if somebody can reply asap.

  23. Ziimeotravel Says:

    Wow! Istanbul is really a nice place to visit. Thanks a lot for sharing this.


  24. Ankit Ji Says:

    That is a great deal travel to a Istanbul.It’s wonderful thing to spend days in Istanbul.How viable is it to actually take advantage of this tour. We can get various choice of travel to Istanbul.In this blog the content is very clean to read it

  25. Salem Turk Says:

    This is very useful news, especially for me since I quite often have international transit flights with a stopover in Istanbul and sometimes it takes a lot of time which is so exhausting for me. And now there is a chance to make a sightseeing tour free of charge in one of the most beautiful and oldest cities in the World. Istanbul is an incredible city; it is a combination of stunning architecture with modern facilities and excellent restaurants and hotels, with friendly people. It is one of the most amazing and glamorous cites in the World that connects Europe to Asia as land and also as culture. It definitely will not be enough to see everything in six hours tour but at least you will be able to experience the beauty and uniqueness of this city. l will use this service with a lot of pleasure plus it is free…Why not?!

    Good information and I find it very interesting, Thank you.

  26. Alex Says:

    This place is similar to taj mahal in india. I like this place very much, I enjoy visiting such kind of places, nice pic

  27. Peter Sommer Says:

    An amazing service – and Istanbul is so very much worth seeing. Allow about 45 minutes each to the old historic centre and you still have a good amount of time to explore. Does anyone know of any other airline offering something similar?

    Keep up the good posts!

    Best wishes, Peter

    Peter Sommer Travels

  28. Gunnar Todal Says:

    Aha? it is a special free tourism. I’m a student heading to Uganda for 10 weeks and recently booked flights through Turkish Airways. If I have the chance fight to there, I will try it.

  29. AirAsia promotion Says:

    this is very nice information about airline.

  30. ras Says:

    this is really cool

  31. constantinopleguide Says:

    Hi, Many thanks! You just made my day. I’m looking forward to this trip very much.

    Thanks you

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  32. jaimin Says:

    Very nice offer by Turkish airline. Turkey is very beautiful place and you must visit is once in your lifetime.

  33. allensharon Says:

    To take the advantage of the Istanbul tour, all connecting flight tickets must belong to Turkish Airlines international flights and must be the first connection between those destinations.And this is very nice offer by Turkish airline.

  34. EJ Juen Jr Says:

    Really cool promo and nice picture of the dawn at Istanbul.

  35. PPJ Says:

    Really an informative and great post

  36. Istanbul Travel Guide Says:

    It is really an awesome concept and main advantage is that it is free of cost. It is really a good service by Turkish airlines and it will of course help to increase the number of visitors to Istanbul city. I have heard so many praising words about Istanbul travel attractions but I never get chance to see this beautiful city. My some of the friends have visited Istanbul and they always tell me to visit this place but unfortunately I can’t yet. I am very eager to see the Saint Sophia’s church and Topkapi palace.

  37. Genelia Martin Says:

    Amazing museum of istanbul. Thank u for posting the wonderful museum of istanbul and giving very nice offer by Turkish airline

  38. Diane Says:

    I have just come back from a trip where I was in transit inTurkey, and went on the tour that was provided. It was wonderful. We were taken to the sites, out for breakfast and lunch. I really recommend this.

  39. Avi Says:

    Being that the flights all need to be with Turkish Airlines, for International travelers that are Using the Star Alliance for flights, usually there will be a connection that’s not with Turkish Airlines. Another issue is that when the stopover is pretty long, most people would like to sleep over. Turkish Airlines offers free accommodations, but if you choose to take the tour you will not get put up in a hotel. We had a client that flew first class and had approximately an 8 hour stop over. He said it was definitely worth seeing.

  40. GK Says:

    Turkish Airlines is not the not offering cheap tickets. So, they must have to improve their services.

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