Review: A Day in Istanbul Turkey; Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul E-Tour


Turkish Airlines offers a free guided tour for its connecting passengers that have between six and twenty four hours in the city. The Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul is a free complimentary tour that provides a guided tour with all meals (dependent on time) and all museum entries included. Would the tour stand up to a regular commercial offering ? Read on to discover our experiences.

This post is one chapter on our trip to the Republic of Tanzania and the Islands of the Seychelles. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and enhanced through World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: A Day in Istanbul Turkey; Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul E-Tour

Turkish Airlines also offers a free semi guided tour of varying lengths. The Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul E-Tour departs from the airport to the airport. Since we had a 10 hour connection, it was the perfect escape and attraction to keep us occupied instead of waiting out the connection solely in the lounge.

Booking the Turkish Airlines E-Tour:

The first step of booking the Turkish Airlines E-Tour is to make sure that you can enter Turkey. In our circumstances, I had arranged our e-visas for entry to Turkey on the Turkish government website the day we departed the Seychelles. This is completely separate from the tour offering so you’ll have to make the necessary inquiries to determine your eligibility in order to enter Turkey.

The Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul does not require an advance reservation. They have tours of varying lengths. It is recommended to review the schedule to align yourself with a tour that meets with your travel times, while allowing sufficient time to re-clear security.

We just presented ourselves at the Turkish Airlines E Tour Desk for booking. We located the Turkish Hotel Desk where we signed up for the 8:30 AM tour at about 7:35 AM. Our onward boarding cards were collected, and we were told to be back for 8:30 AM.

We ended up spending some time in the Turkish Airlines Arrivals Lounge Istanbul Atatürk prior to the tour. At about 8:15 AM, we headed back outside for our tour. Our names were called and we were each given a sticker identifying us as being on the tour. Our boarding cards were also given a sticker with a contact phone number in the event of an emergency. All in all, it was well organized.

A nice peaceful environment (laughing)

I was surprised at the amount of people doing the tour. All in, there was a full coach of 48 people, in addition to a small van of 15 passengers. We lucked out and got in the small van, which made the trip go much better.

We started off on the coastal road. We ended up heading to the Galata bridge. It was a beautiful sunny day in Istanbul, which made the sights along the way all that more pleasant.


Visiting the Galata Bridge:

We parked directly on the Galata bridge where we had a fifteen minute photobreak. One of our younger youthful travellers mistook this bridge for the Bosphorus bridge and set off running end to end so that she could have a foot in Europe and a foot in Asia. She was late getting back to the van but it meant all that much more time for us to breath in some Turkish air.

Visiting the Dolmabahçe Palace:

After the Galata Bridge, we hopped back in the van and headed up the road to Dolmabahçe Palace. It was a nice spot to stop right on the water. The palace served as served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922

There was also a nice café on the shores of the Bosphorus although we didn’t indulge today.


Visiting the Dolmabahçe Mosque:

Right around the corner from the palace was the Dolmabahçe Mosque. It was commissioned in 1885 and was a beautiful spot. It was free of charge to enter, although MrsWT73 had to wrap. Scarves were provided free of charge.

We hopped back in the van for the last time for the drive back towards the airport. Instead of the coastal drive, it was direct through the city toward the airport area.

We were dropped off at the departures level. Overall, it was a pleasant way to spend 6 hours instead of being cooped up in a room with stale air. We got to leave with more pleasant memories of Istanbul. This was after stepping through the smoke pits at the grotty entrance to the Istanbul Atatürk Departures Hall.

We headed inside to eventually get onto our Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul – Toronto flight back to North America.

My Thoughts on the Turkish Airlines E-Tour at Istanbul:

The Turkish Airlines E-Tour is a great way to spend a long connection time. In addition to it being completely free except for your visa entry into Turkey, it beats spending time inside an airport waiting for your flight. The tours are set up to maximize your limited time in Turkey. I found the experience to be rewarding for a day tour, and since we had nice weather, it made for a pleasant day.

If you’ve taken advantage of the Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul, did you find it worth your connection time ?

10 Comments on “Review: A Day in Istanbul Turkey; Turkish Airlines TourIstanbul E-Tour

    • Rone,

      We took this trip in Spring of 2018. I’ve been getting my posts on line thanks to the down time of the pandemic, so there has been a slight delay.

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Turkish Airlines has re-instated the Istanbul ETour as of yet. One day hopefully…

      Thanks for reading.


  1. Yes, they have started Touristanbul again on 1st July 2022 after a break due to pandemic.


  2. Hi!

    I’m trying to understand something and I emailed Touristanbul but I don’t think they understand what I meant.

    I’m planing on arriving in Turkey at 11.45 pm on the 28th November and take the 8.30 am tour on the following day. Can I leave the airport to sleep at an hotel and then come back on the 29th to join the tour? I’ve been in that airport before, but I don’t recall where the desk is, so I don’t know if I leave the airport I can go to the Tours desk again. Do you know?

    Thank you


    • When I participated in the tour, it was from the old Istanbul Atatürk Airport. My understanding is that the set up is similar at the new Istanbul International Airport.

      When I went through, they were only checking both boarding passes and connection time. As a result, assuming you have enough connection time, you’ll likely be able to select any tour you want.

      Travel safe! Hope that helps…


  3. Hi,

    I have the same situation in a couple of weeks- could you ket me know how it Worked?

    Many thanks,



    • Hi!

      We did it this week.

      We arrived at 11.45 pm, get off the airport, went to an hotel nearby, got back on the following morning and met the touristambul at the arrivals floor. It was a great day. We got back to the airport around 5.30 pm, we had plenty of time till our next flight 🙂


    • I’m glad to hear that Cátia Barbosa has confirmed it.

      When I went through, they didn’t really appear to be too concerned with the departure date; only that your ticket included an “inbound” and “outbound Turkish Airlines flight and that you met the allowable connection time.

      Assuming it is open, I might recommend stopping by the desk on your way to the hotel, so that your sleep time isn’t wasted unnecessarily.

      Travel Safe!


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