Passengers flying Turkish Airlines to any of their more than 200 destinations around the world normally go through Istanbul, the airline's main hub. Aside from luxurious service and delicious Turkish cuisine onboard, the airline offers transit passengers a free Istanbul guided city tour, including a lunch of Turkish delicacies.
TOURISTANBUL offers passengers with at least a six hour layover in Istanbul a free city tour, including visits to some of the city's (and the world's) great monuments. Three tours are offered, each with different lengths and starting times to accommodate different travel schedules.
There's a tour from 9 AM - 3 PM, a tour from 12 PM to 6 PM and an all-day tour from 9 AM - 6 PM. All the tours include lunch, transportation to and from the airport and they're all free, for qualified passengers. A qualified passenger is anyone with a international transit flight on Turkish Airlines, through Istanbul. Passengers must have at least six hours (and less than 24 hours) between flights and must have the free time between 9 AM and 6 PM.
What you see
The tours include all the major tourist sites in this ancient Turkish city. The Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace are all include, as is the Grand Bazaar. Tours visit the city's Hippodrome Square, Eyup Square, the Galata Tower and Dolmabahce Palace. A visit to popular shopping area Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu is included as is one to the popular Ortakoy Seaside area. The all-day tour includes all the big sites, the shorter tours offer fewer stops.
The entire tour is free, including lunch. Tours include a experienced city guide and bus transportation to and from the city's Ataturk Airport. The tours include lunch and the 9 AM starting tours also include breakfast. Even museum tickets (required for some sites) are included free in the Touristanbul package.
How to sign up
Passengers simply need to head to the "Hotel Desk" in the International Arrival Hall at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. It's after passport and customs control, next to Starbucks. Tour guests should arrive at the desk at least 30 minutes before the tour start times (9 AM and noon).
Follow travel blogger Freddy Sherman's adventures to Turkey and around the world at luxuryfred.com