How to Get a Free Day Tour of Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbull, Turkey, Survive Travel Featured Picture

If you fly Turkish airlines and have a significant layover time, you can get a free day tour of Istanbul. They have various free day tours of Istanbul at different times of the day, but most start at 0900 and end either at 1500 or 1800. Some start at noon. Most of the free days tours of Istanbul do similar things.

Our time in Istanbul was a layover on the way from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Zagreb, Croatia.

We took a 0900 ā€“ 1500 tour. The bus to town is about 50 minutes and they give you a nice Turkish style breakfast. Then we walked to the attractions.

All tickets and meals were paid for by Turkish Airlines, as well as an English speaking guide.

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How to Get a Free Day Tour of Istanbul, Turkey

To get on a free day tour of Istanbul, Turkey, talk to the Turkish airlines transfer desk instead of going to the transfer lounge. They will tell you what to do.

Note: You may need to get a visa in order to enter Turkey to take the tour. Visas can be bought on entry and from the airport. They said $30 but Iā€™m Australian and the cost was $70usd.

You can also get free day walking tours at IstanbulFreeWalkingTour.com

Free Day Tour of Istanbul, Turkey, Sample Itinerary

All the places we went on our free day tour of Istanbul were the the main tourist attractions around Sultanahmet Square in the Old City. It looks like a lot to get through in only 6 hours, including lunch and breakfast, but I was happy with the amount of time we spent in each one.

These are not listed in the order that we went to them.

1. Blue Mosque

The line out the front of this is huge, but it moves quite fast. I think it really was only a 10-15 minute wait. Architecture inside is beautiful, but not as impressive as the outside (featured picture).

The outside is not blue, but it has lots of blue tiles inside which is why it is known as the Blue Mosque.

Besides being a massive tourist attractive, it is also a working mosque so it closes to tourists periodically during the day for prayer. It also means you need to respect their dress code, but don’t worry because they hand out robes before you enter.

There's cats all over the city in Instanbul

There’s cats all over the city in Instanbul

2. Hippodrome

This actually no longer stands, but a lot of the other things that where stored inside it (obelisks, sculptures etc.) remain.

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Carving in the Obelisk of Theodosius

3. German Fountain

Tjis was a gift and sits at the front (or back or side) in the square at the Hippodrome. Possible my favorite thing on this free day tour of Istanbul.

free day tour of istanbul, Turkey

This German Fountain was a gift from a Kaiser to the Sultan

4. Serpentine Column

This is an ancient bronze column built in honor of the Greeks who defeated the Persians way back when. Unfortunately the heads of the serpent are no longer part of the original sculpture. The sculpture is found in the Hippodrome. One of the heads is at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

5. Obelisk of Theodosius

Also found in the Hippodrome. It is from Ancient Egypt and was transported to the Hippodrome sometime 4th century AD. You can see where it got damaged, probably during transportation.

It’s about 25m high, so transporting it all that way is pretty impressive.

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Obelisk of Theodosius

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6. Hagia Sophia Museum

Our tour guide was a little grumpy but he had a lot of good information about this museum. There was a little construction going on inside also. It is not open on Mondays.

7. Underground Basilica Cistern

This was actually the first place we went on our free day tour of Istanbul. It was pretty impressive (unlike the terrible photo I took). It’s basically a massive underground Cistern built back in the day to supply the city with water in case of war.

free day tour of istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Basilica Underground Cistern

It was a bit rushed but a good day tour, especially for free. Iā€™m not a fan of tours, but it was a million times better than sitting at the airport. If you have the time I recommend it.

Next Stop… Zagreb, Croatia
Next I get my connecting flight to Zagreb, Croatia, where I’ll meet up with a couple of friends from Summer Camp.

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Have you been on a free day tour of Istanbul before? Help out other readers and leave your tips on things to do in Istanbul (or anything else you want to say) in the comments šŸ˜€ .

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