It’s a new year, and already we’re thinking about our next vacation! Whether you’re taking two weeks in the summer or trying to squeeze in some fun during a business trip, you’re often routed through multiple stops on the way to your final destination. The quality and location of the airports can seriously affect your travel experience. Getting trapped at a dingy old airport can put a drag on the start (or end) of a trip. But here’s a way to turn a layover into something a little more special: take a microvacation! Depending on the airport and the length of your layover, these are the best cities and airports that make it possible for you see the city in just a few hours. Not every airport (or travel itinerary) makes this possible, but here’s a list of tip and tricks and the top airports for turning your layover into a short vacation!
Arranging a Layover
It won’t always be possible to duck out of the airport and grab a breath of fresh air. You have to arrange a layover (or take advantage of an existing connection). National carriers that fly through their home countries (airlines like Icelandair and Air France) are often amenable to arranging layovers in their home city if you get an agent on the phone. For example, if you’re travelling through to a second European destination on a national carrier, stop in London, Paris, or Frankfurt! Sometimes you’ll have to book separate tickets and arrange a stopover in a city. This can be cheaper than a round trip if you look for one-way tickets on sale or weird hours. Search engines like Kayak.com will let you select your layover, but be warned, airlines may change your layover and are under no obligation to shift your flight around. Still, if you have a multi-city booking (for business or a long-haul international flight) turn your layover into an opportunity.
Tips and Tricks
The last thing you want to do is get trapped in a different city from your destination (or your luggage!) Save yourself some time and stress and ask the flight crew about customs and baggage handling, and double-check with the ground staff when you arrive. Some airports have baggage lockers for safe storage in the airport, or check your luggage for the next flight. If you have to go through customs, always anticipate spending a lot longer than you think, just to be careful. We recommend taking public transit rather than a car to avoid traffic and unforeseen delays, and we’ve selected airports with rapid transit options. If you’re arriving late at night, make sure transit is still running. Be careful taking a car or a bus, you might get stuck and miss your next flight! Always take your ID, passport, and travel documentation wherever you go. Research your next flight and see if you’ll be connecting somewhere interesting and don’t try to figure everything out at the airport.
Coming up next is our list of the top cities and airports for turning your boring layover into a quick sightseeing tour. We’ve included the estimated travel time but you should leave extra time for arrival and departure, delays, and always check with the ground crew before leaving the airport.