My dear travelers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to a new post on the Mr.M blog. I would like to thank you for the many messages and emails you have sent me regarding the adventure in China. I am pleased to know that you liked your adventure in China and that you enjoyed my travelogues during May. Today’s story will be dedicated to the new service of the leading Turkish airline, Turkish Airlines, with which you will have the opportunity to enjoy the charms of Istanbul.

If by any chance you missed reading travelogues from China or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

  1. Letters from China: Explore the Peal of the Far East with Turkish Airlines
  2. Letters from China: The Peninsula Beijing, explore the first luxury hotel in the heart of Beijing
  3. Letters from China: Tiananmen Square, let’s explore The Gate of Heavenly Peace together
  4. Letters from China: The Temple of Heaven, the Imperial Sacrificial Altar in the Heart of Beijing
  5. Letters from China: The Summer Palace and The Great Wall of China

As I promised you in the first travelogue from China, today I will explain in more detail the new Turkish Airlines program called – Stopover in Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines is the Turkish national airline, which from 2022 operates regular flight services to 340 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, which makes it the largest major carrier in the world by the number of passenger destinations. Interestingly, Turkish Airlines serves more destinations with direct flights from one airport – Istanbul, than any other airline in the world and flies to 126 countries, more than any other airline.

Today I will introduce the Istanbul Stopover program, which offers all Turkish Airlines passengers the opportunity to explore Istanbul. Passengers connecting via Istanbul Airport can enrich their trip by discovering the history and cultural life of the city with the Istanbul Stopover program and enjoy free accommodation in partner hotels.

What exactly does the Stopover in Istanbul program enable? Turkish Airlines provides 1 free night in a 4-star hotel for economy class passengers and 2 free nights in a 5-star hotel for business class passengers on a bed and breakfast basis. Free accommodation in the Istanbul Stopover program is available for flights from different cities, so you can check the LIST and find Stopover departure & destination points.

NOTE: If you are traveling to distant destinations, you can contact Turkish Airlines and find out about the possibility of using this program depending on the final destination.

Conditions that must be met in order to be able to use the Stopover in Istanbul program:

  • Travelers who wish to take advantage of this benefit of free accommodation in Istanbul should choose a connection with a minimum 20-hour waiting time.
  • Free accommodation is only valid for passengers who purchase a return ticket and can only be used in one direction during the trip, on the way out or on the way back.
  • Free accommodation is only valid for Turkish Airlines flights with tickets.
  • The entire procedure of booking and issuing the hotel voucher must be completed 72 hours before the trip.
  • The costs of the transfer between the airport and the hotel and the Turkish visa (if required) are covered by the passenger.
  • Travelers using the free accommodation service cannot use the TourIstanbul service at the same time.
  • The departure and return country of the round trip must be the same for a stopover to apply.
  • The boarding pass and hotel voucher must be shown when checking in at the hotel.
  • Travelers who do not have a hotel voucher with them cannot use the free accommodation service.
  • Passengers with reissued tickets due to flight cancellation or any other irregularity cannot use this service.
  • Free accommodation is subject to hotel availability and Turkish Airlines has the right to change conditions at any time.

Turkish Airlines has two programs for passengers TourIstanbul and Stopover in Istanbul. What is the difference between these programs?

The Touristanbul program is for all Turkish Airlines passengers who have an international flight with a stopover in Istanbul and the connection time is between 6 and 24 hours. In that case, you can take advantage of Turkish Airlines’ free Touristanbul service to discover Istanbul. You can choose one of the eight tours offered by Touristanbul according to the time frame that best suits your flight’s arrival and departure schedule. During the tours, you can visit the most prominent historical sights of Istanbul and enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine. In the city that never sleeps, Touristanbul offers an unforgettable experience. After landing at Istanbul airport, a vehicle will pick you up and return you to the airport at the end of the tour. Although the tour time is carefully arranged and planned, if the guest is unable to take the flight in cases that are our responsibility, we will ensure that the passenger arrives at the destination smoothly on the next flight.

The Stopover in Istanbul program provides a free overnight stay in partner hotels on a bed and breakfast basis. Turkish Airlines provides 1 free night in a 4-star hotel for economy class passengers and 2 free nights in a 5-star hotel for business class passengers on a bed and breakfast basis.

THE DIFFERENCE: Touristanbul is a program of a short visit to Istanbul with a provided meal and a tour of Istanbul, while Stopover in Istanbul is a program that exclusively provides bed and breakfast in partner hotels without the tour of Istanbul, you are free to discover Istanbul on your own.

How to apply for the Stopover in Istanbul program through the Turkish Airlines office? At least 72 hours before the first flight, all Turkish Airlines passengers who meet the above conditions of this program can make a reservation by emailing their first and last name, reservation code (PNR) and ticket number, desired dates of accommodation, desired room type , phone number and e-mail address. For all departures, you can check the LIST and find Stopover departure & destination points and contact information.

When Turkish Airlines receives your request, you will receive a hotel voucher that must be presented at hotel check-in.

If you want to apply for this program through the Turkish Airlines website, you can do so at this LINK.

Partner hotels participating in this program are:

Stopover in Istanbul partner hotels for Turkish Airlines passengers with economy class tickets (1 free night with breakfast):

Stopover in Istanbul partner hotels for Turkish Airlines passengers with business class tickets (2 free nights with breakfast):

Since you have successfully qualified for the Stopover in Istanbul Turkish Airlines program, I would like to share with you some suggestions of what you should visit during your visit to the city on two continents that never sleeps – Istanbul.

Misir Bazaar – Spice Bazaar – Egyptian Bazaar

One market, many names, a place where all your senses will delight. This market is one of the biggest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminonu district of Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi). Why was this bazaar named “Egyptian bazaar”? It got this name because it was built with revenues from the Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt in 1660. The word mışır has a double meaning in Turkish: “Egypt” and “corn”. That is why the name is sometimes wrongly translated as “Corn Bazaar”.

The bazaar was (and still is) the center of the spice trade in Istanbul, but in recent years shops of other kinds have gradually replaced the spice sellers. The building itself is part of the New Mosque complex. The income obtained from the rented shops in the bazaar building was used for the maintenance of the mosque. The structure was designed by the court architect Koca Kasım Aga, but construction work began under the supervision of another court architect, Mustafa Aga, in the last months of 1660, after the Great Fire of Istanbul in 1660.

After the fire, a major restoration and reconstruction began in the city, which included the continuation of work on the construction of the New Mosque in 1660, the work was temporarily stopped between 1603 and 1660, the construction of the mosque was finally completed in the period between 1660 and 1665. and the beginning of the construction of the mosque. the construction of the Spice Bazaar in the same year, as well as all the buildings in the Kulliie New Mosque, including the Spice Bazaar, was ordered by Sultania Turhan Khatija, Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of Sultan Mehmed IV.


Sultanahmet Square, once known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople, is today a square in Istanbul, in the immediate vicinity of which are the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Previously, it was a circus that was the sports and social center of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (ippos) – horse and dromos – road. For this reason, it is sometimes called Atmeidanı (“Horse Square”) in Turkish. Horse and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world, and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.

The Blue Mosque of Istanbul, also known by its official formal name, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a historic Ottoman-era imperial mosque located in the center of the old part of the city. A functional mosque, it also attracts a large number of tourists. It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the reign of Ahmed I.

Its Kulije contains Ahmed’s grave, a madrasa and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the interior walls of the mosque, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight side domes. It is located next to Hagia Sophia, the main mosque in Istanbul until the construction of the Blue Mosque and another popular tourist spot. In 1985, the Blue Mosque was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Historic Areas of Istanbul”.

Hagia Sophia (literal translation ‘Holy Wisdom’), officially the Great Mosque Hagia Sophia is a mosque and the main cultural and historical site in the old part of the city. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Orthodox church that lasted from 360 AD until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. It served as a mosque until 1935, when it became a museum. Two years ago, in 2020 to be exact, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again.

The current building was built by the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as a Christian cathedral in Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, and was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralus. The official name of the church was the Church of the Holy Wisdom. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is considered to have “changed the history of architecture”.

The current Justinian building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, since the previous one was destroyed in the riots in Nicaea. As the episcopal seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years, until the Cathedral of Seville was completed in 1520. Beginning with later Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic form of the Orthodox Church and its architectural style modeled on Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as “occupying a unique position in the Christian world” and as an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Orthodox civilization.


Eminonu, historically known as Perama is a predominantly commercial coastal area in Istanbul within the Fatih district near the mouth of the Golden Horn with the southern entrance to the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. It is connected to Karaköy (the historic Galata Tower) via the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn. From 1928 to 2009 it was part of the Sultanahmet district when Sultanahmet was absorbed into Fatih. The bustling main square of Eminonu is overlooked by the New Mosque (Ieni Cami in Turkish) and the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Carsısı in Turkish). Eminonu is an important transport hub.

Several ferries have terminals along the Eminonu coast, and the T1 tram has a stop here. In the southeast, Eminonu flows into Sirkeci, while in the northwest it joins the commercial areas of Tahtakala and Kuchukpazar. Inland from Eminonu is another shopping district, Mahmutpaşa. In Turkish, Eminonu means “in front of justice” (“emin” meaning “justice” and “onu” meaning “in front”). The name probably came from the Ottoman courts and customs houses on the docks; “Emin” was the title of an Ottoman customs official.

Taksim Square – Istikal Street

Taksim Square located in the Beyoglu area (Beyoglu) in the European part of Istanbul is a major tourist and recreational area known for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network.

Do you perhaps know where the word Taksim comes from? The word Taksim means “division” or “distribution” in Arabic. Taksim Square was originally where the main waters from the north of Istanbul collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name.) This use was established for the area by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from an Ottoman-era stone reservoir that located on one side of the square.

Today, Taksim is a cultural center with numerous places for entertainment and relaxation, that part of Istanbul never sleeps!

Istiklal Street (Independence Avenue) historically known as Pera Grand Avenue in Beyoglu (Pera) historical district, is a 1.4 kilometer long avenue, a famous pedestrian street and one of the most famous streets in Istanbul. It got its modern name after the proclamation of the Republic on October 29, 1923, Istiklal (Independence) in commemoration of Turkey’s triumph in the War of Independence. The street starts at the northern end of Galata at Tunel Square and goes to Taksim Square. This street features buildings from the late Ottoman era, mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries in a variety of styles, including Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau, and the first Turkish national architecture.

There are also several Art Deco buildings from the early years of the Turkish Republic, as well as a number of more recent examples of modern architecture. This street used to be mostly residential blocks, but today most of it is now occupied by boutiques, music stores, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, libraries, cafes, pubs, night clubs with live music, hotels, historic patisserie, chocolate bars, restaurants and a growing number international chains of well-known stores. There is even a branch of Madame Tussauds Istanbul on this street.

If you want to feel modern Istanbul and enjoy the charms of shopping, my sincere recommendation is to visit the famous Nisantasi district. Nişantaşı is an upscale, mostly secular residential neighborhood in the Şişli neighborhood on the European side of Istanbul. From Osmanbey and Pangalti in the west to the bustling Halaskargazi Caddesi, it is a popular shopping district, full of boutiques, department stores, cafes, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. Many of the streets are still lined with fine apartment blocks from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Directly to the south is the large and green park Mačka, and to the east is the city district of Besiktas.

After a successful shopping therapy, you can go down to Macka Park and enjoy the view of the beautiful Bosphorus! Yes, it is that famous landscape that we can see in many famous Turkish TV shows! Istanbul is full of wonders and believe me, every time I go there I always discover and learn something new, so I always get excited and fall in love with this imperial city on two continents!

My dear travelers, we have come to the end of this special Istanbul travelogue and I believe you will take advantage of the Turkish Airlines Stopover in Istanbul program where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this imperial city on two continents. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the world’s Turkish airline – Turkish Airlines, which allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Turkish culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey my impressions about this unusual experience from Turkey.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to cooperate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank Turkish Airlines once again for this amazing adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Turkish culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about the Istanbul Stopover program, the presentation of the imperial city on two continents? Have you had the chance to visit Istanbul yet?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

With love from Istanbul,


This post is sponsored by world airline Turkish Airlines as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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11 months ago

This is a great way to visit Istanbul, I didn’t know about this possibility. I am going to Argentina in July via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and I would like to visit Istanbul as I have never been to this city. Thank you for explaining this Stopover in Istanbul program in detail, it means a lot to people!

11 months ago

Istanbul is a beautiful city and this is good to know when you are traveling to a distant destination and on the way you want to visit Istanbul for free and enjoy your vacation. I am planning to travel to Japan at the end of this year and this is the reason to choose Turkish Airlines.

11 months ago

This is wonderful news, especially since I often travel with Turkish Airlines, and I only had the opportunity to visit Istanbul twice for a short time. Can you tell me under what conditions I can extend my stay in Istanbul if I want more nights in Istanbul?

11 months ago

Hi Marko, I bought tickets to Sydney, Australia for September in business class. As far as I understand, I have the right to 2 nights in Istanbul and I can choose it in one direction, ie. do I want to visit Istanbul on my way to Australia or on my way back from Australia? Did I understand that correctly? Where can I apply if I am departing from Amsterdam? Thank you in advance, Aart

1 month ago

Hi, nice informative post. I mailed to the stopover program mail for my specific country to confirm the hotel names. We read in some other blogs that hotels are mostly long distance from central. But, in this post we see two partner hotels which are in central. Could someone confirm the hotel list ? Is it only these two hotels or changes ? We 4 ( 2 adult + 2 kids) will travel on 19th May.

thanks !