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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.