Turkish Airlines provides a valuable perk for those traveling with a long layover. For those flying into Istanbul and continuing onto another country, travelers have the option of getting a hotel room, or taking a tour through Istanbul which includes meals and admission fees. In order to take advantage of these perks, your layover must be over six hours, with a max layover of 24 hours
We were staying in Istanbul for more than 24 hours, so I decided to reach out to Turkish Airlines in order to see if we could take advantage of the Tour Istanbul. Much to my surprise, I was informed that I would be able to take advantage of the tour provided that I was flying into Istanbul and continuing to another country.
Since we had some time on our hands, we decided to take the 9:00 – 18:00 tour, which includes visiting the following places, per the website:
Departure from Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Hippodrome: German Fountain
Obelisk of Theodosius
Grand Covered Bazaar
Return to Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Once leaving the baggage claim area and before leaving the airport, turn right and head all the way towards the end of the airport. You will see a “Tour Istanbul” sign right next to Starbucks. I had a difficult time finding the office, as the map on the website indicated that the “Tour Istanbul” office was on the other side of the airport.
Once you place your name on the list, they will call your name when your tour is ready to depart. They call several groups, as there are several tours offered depending on the length of your layover.
They were two buses in our group, since it was rather large. The buses are clean and well maintained.
The first stop after leaving the airport was breakfast at Faith Belediyisi Nikah Salonu.
Inside, there were tables set aside for Turkish Airlines tour groups.
Breakfast consisted of several types of cheese, a boiled egg, vegetables, bread and a container of water.
Although not extravagant, it is a very generous offer.
Next was the Sultanahmet District.
This included the Obelisk, and Hippodrome, which could be seen in the background.
The Serpentine Column.
Next, was the Blue Mosque.
And the Haggia Sophia.
Next came lunch, which was at Tamara Restaurant and Café.
The meal consisted of soup, salad, entrée, dessert and a drink.
Next was the Basilica Cistern.
Next up was the Ibrahim Pasha Palace.
After that, it was back to the airport.
Overall, the tour is a great benefit offered by Turkish Airlines. If on a layover, it will provide a mini-preview of some of the historical sites of Istanbul. If you are on a long layover, I would urge you to take advantage of this benefit. It beats sitting in the airport anytime.