I have just returned from a mini Euro tour for my 30th birthday, and it was fun all around. I flew from Lagos [Nigeria] on Turkish Airlines for two reasons:
- I battled in my head, and went back and forth because I really wanted to do Virgin Atlantic, mainly because of my miles [trying to hit flying club gold asap, ya know?]. However Turkish Airlines was more attractive because of the layover in Istanbul with the option of the free tour. I’m of the opinion that if you can throw in a new city/country on a trip elsewhere, you should definitely go for it!
- It was very cheap; and I wanted to have as much money as possible to actually enjoy myself on the trip.
I really wasn’t interested in going to London again [even though I still ended up in London at some point, *lol*]. So I bought a ticket on Turkish Airlines to Paris, and picked the flight with a 13.5hr stoppover in Istanbul. The flight cost a total of about N123,000 [around $700] which was definitely a steal.
We arrived Istanbul around 7am on a Saturday morning, and went straight to the “Hotel Desk”. That’s where you sign up for the free tour [stoppover of at least 6 hours] or get a free hotel room [stoppover of 10 or more hours for economy, less for business class].
You have the option of the 6 hour tour [9am – 3pm/12pm – 6pm] or the 9 hour tour [9am – 6pm]. Both have free breakfast and lunch inclusive. And the difference is 1 or 2additional sites/attractions on the 9 hour tour, including the Grand Bazaar. Of course I didn’t want to miss any of the attractions, so I opted for the 9 hour one.
The flights were okay. I unfortunately couldn’t sleep through the Lagos to Istanbul leg of it because I was sick. My friend however slept through it, so I guess it was a decent flight. The wanderer in me decided to change my travel plans, because I found myself in Amsterdam at the very last minute and I hadn’t planned to go there. I asked Turkish airlines if I could fly back to Lagos through Amsterdam instead of Turkey, and they charged me 60euros for that. Not bad at all! I was quite pleased with that. They initially charged 100, then they called me back that they needed my card to process a refund of 40euros. Every dollar/euro counts!
- You need to have an international transit flight through Istanbul to get the free tour.
- You can get more information on the dedicated website.
- Also, if you’re traveling with a Nigerian passport, you can buy a visa on arrival which costs around 35euros. In order to qualify for a visa on arrival, you need to have a valid British, Schengen or American visa [multiple entry] that you have used at least once [with a Nigerian Passport] AND you MUST travel by Turkish airlines.
- You can also get an e-visa on the Turkish Embassy website before you travel
I’ll do a very detailed post next on the very interesting day I spent in Istanbul. Read HERE about my experience of getting lost in Istanbul.