Turkey is one of our favourite countries in the world. We’ve experienced some of our most memorable highlights in this meeting point of east and west: hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, living in a luxury cave, eating Turkish delight in the Grand Bazaar, and even getting soaped up in an authentic Turkish bath.
Getting your bearings in a new country and new city always requires a bit of research and preparation. So when I was recently introduced to the new free Unlock Turkey (iOS, Android) mobile app, I was very interested. In addition to a bunch of handy guides for tourists, it offered 1 killer feature: easy access to free Wi-Fi.
When you’re travelling internationally, if you don’t have a portable hotspot or local SIM card, using roaming data can be the quickest way to rack up an eye-popping mobile bill when you return home. So finding free Wi-Fi locations are a must for planning your day-to-day adventures. Fortunately, the Unlock Turkey mobile app (which was created by Garanti) provides 300 minutes of free Wi-Fi, plus 100 extra minutes every time you withdraw cash from a Garanti ATM. Pretty sweet deal.
Here’s the key benefits you need to know about:
1. Free Wi-Fi hotspots
Easily find the supported free hotspots on an interactive map. The app will detect your location and list the closest locations, with the nearest first. All you have to do is walk (or catch a taxi).
2. Offline guide
When you’re not within reach of Wi-Fi and need to look up an attraction, restaurant, shopping or entertainment venue, then never fret. You’re only 1 tap away from all the info you need including: address, map, photos, description and tips on how to get there.
3. Get organised with lists
Easily fill up one (or more) lists with places you want to go for easy vacation planning. Adding your desired location to a list from the online guide is easy and only takes a tap. For example, add one list for “places to eat” and another for “things to see” – it’s up to you.
4. ATM finder
Naturally you want to collect more free Wi-Fi minutes so tracking down a Garanti ATM is simple with an interactive map. It will detect your location using GPS and sort the closest ATMs at the top of a list. Easy peasy.
5. Currency converter
No need to rack your brand while bargaining in the Grand Bazaar. Just use the built-in currency converter tool to quickly change from Turkish Lira to your local currency.
6. Special Offers
Receive up to 20% off a select number of tours as well as other unique discounts. Each offer provides all the information you need: a description, length of tour, pricing (including discount), discount code, and reservation phone numbers.
Other nice features:
- App is available for both iOS and Android, and as a universal app it looks lovely on tablets too.
- Seek and ye shall find – use the search tool to find a specific location. And autocomplete helps avoid needing to spell some names that might be tricky.
- The offline guides are grouped by city. Use the drop-down menu at the top of the home screen to switch to other popular cities: Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, Mugla, Cappadocia, Aydin, Pamukkale, Ayvalik.
The “Useful Info” section includes important phone numbers, hotels, rental agencies, e-visa details and cultural tips. Just like a mini guidebook in the palm of your hand.
Are There Any Gotchas?
Come on! There has to be a catch, doesn’t there? Well, no the free Wi-Fi offer is really free. But you need to know a couple things to take full advantage of this mobile app:
- To access special offers as well as your unique Wi-Fi access username & password, the app must validate your phone number. Do this before you travel to Turkey to avoid any possible costly roaming charges (assuming your international roaming is enabled). You can download the app right now, wherever you are in the world.
- The interactive maps are handy, but there’s no Google Maps-style navigation directions. So if you don’t have a strong sense of direction, be careful before blindly walking around Istanbul. The roads in the older part of the city are like a maze!
- Although the offline guide is handy and the photos are beautiful, it’s no Frommers or Lonely Planet guide. Although the English is readable, it’s not always eloquent. But if you need the basic info to get around, it does the job effectively.
The Bottom Line
While this handy app isn’t a replacement for a fully-fledged guidebook, it has all the essential info and tools you need for a fun and well-planned trip to Turkey. Best of all, unlike a bulky guide, this companion fits neatly in your pocket.
But the free Wi-Fi deal is definitely the key feature which makes this app a must-have tool before you step on board for your flight to Turkey.