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Free Tours in Istanbul – Should You Book It?

Have you ever heard of a “free tour“? What is a free tour, after all? Have look these free tours in Istanbul.

A free tour isn’t necessarily a free tour. It is a free booking tour. Meaning it’s this new tourism model where you don’t have to pay a fixed price in advance but rather decide how much you’d like to pay at the end of the tour. They call it “tipping,” which is essentially you, as the guest, deciding the deserved price of the tour. So instead of booking a paid tour and not knowing if it will be worth it, you set the price at the end of the tour with your tip.

Why do people join free tours in Istanbul? Should you do a free tour as well?

Typically, tourists book free tours to get a general idea, an outline of the city they’re visiting. Most free tours do not include entry to any museum/tourist site. These tours are usually walking tours that contain general information and tips about tourist sites in an area. The goal is usually to cover the most amount of places in a few hours. This way, the visitor gets a general idea of what’s what and starts understanding the city. 

Many tourists later book paid tours to the sites they discovered during the free tour. Since guides doing these tours are almost always locals, they also provide many tips. Tips like when it is less crowded, what to know before visiting etc. Like the kind of tips you find on our site, 🙂

Other Reasons to Book a Free Tour in Istanbul

Getting an introduction or orientation to the city you’re visiting isn’t the only reason to book a free tour. Free tours can also include inside visits to free sites like places of worship. Or walking tours to lesser-known parts of the city. Sometimes, it can have a theme, like a culinary tour or a spiritual journey. 

Another good reason to book a free tour is enthusiasm and quality. Since the money the guide makes is directly related to the value they deliver, they do their best to give you an ideal experience. 

So ok, I am convinced, but which tour do I book?

We at tipstanbul did a little research on the highest-ranking free tours on Guruwalk (the biggest free tour platform in the world), compared the tour contents, read the reviews, and came up with our top suggestions for our readers.

Our TOP pick: Free Istanbul Old City, Historic Bazaars & Local Markets Tour

We picked this tour since it comparatively offers more sites than any other tour for Istanbul on Guruwalk in a short amount of time, so for your money’s worth, you get to see more places and cover a larger area than pretty much any other free tour in Istanbul. 

We also liked that the creator included a Turkish tea break with an AMA session (Ask Me Anything). Most free tours don’t include a break, so you have to stand for 2-3 hours. The idea of including a Turkish tea break with a chat is just brilliant. This way, you can ask any questions you may have about Turkey, Istanbul, Turkish people, and Turkish culture. It adds a lot of value to the experience. Click here to book a free walking tour of Istanbul’s Old City, Historic Bazaars & Local Markets.

Our SECOND pick: Fener-Balat Walking Tour by Art Historian

balat istanbul

Fener & Balat is a very interesting part of Istanbul, an old Jewish and Christian neighborhood. It is famous for its colorful apartments, boutique cafes, and vibrant art scene. There are dozens of small art galleries and studios in Fener & Balat. Discovering this interesting neighborhood with an Art Historian is definitely a luring offer.

Most tour guides aren’t simultaneously art historians, so we think it’s worth considering, especially in an artsy neighborhood like Fener & Balat. Click here to book a free walking tour to Fener & Balat.

Our THIRD pick: Spiritual Journey – Discovering Islam

We also picked this tour since it offers something no other tour offers: a spiritual journey. Most free tours aim to cover the city’s history, but this one is something else. This tour specifically focuses on the dominant religion in Turkey, Islam. 

It dives deep into the nitty-gritty details of the religion and its practices. They have listed every aspect of Islam that a foreigner could wonder about on this tour. The practices, the mysticism, the essence, and the message of Islam are all there. This tour also includes a visit to some very local mosques and religious sites. It truly gives you a better understanding of Islam and its cultural aspect in Turkey. Click here to book the free Spiritual Journey – Discovering Islam tour.

So how much should I tip on a free tour in Istanbul?

The internationally accepted unspoken rule of tipping on a free tour is 10€ or 10$ per person. Istanbul is no different; the guides expect you to tip at least 10€ or the equivalent in Turkish lira per person. So, for example, if you have a company of three people, the expectation is 30€ or 30$ total. Or whatever is equivalent to Turkish liras on that day. 

What other sites do free tours in Istanbul?

Other than Guruwalk, there is also; however, ironically, offers paid tours as well. Unlike Guruwalk, which ONLY offers free tours, offers both. gets less traffic than Guruwalk but has a lot more tours as it offers all kinds of paid tours and services.


Free tours are definitely worth doing. Joining a free walking tour in Istanbul can give you a great introduction before booking anything serious. Istanbul is a mega city. There are so many exciting places to see in Istanbul that it can become overwhelming. Doing a free tour first can set you on the right course before booking anything serious. For this reason, we recommend booking a free tour that covers the most places.


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