Any experienced seeker of flight deals knows that when you comb through lists of fares, especially for far-off destinations, you’ll often find the lowest prices are the ones with layovers. And the longer the layover usually means the lower the fare. But while layovers may have once been seen a great inconvenience of traveling, they don’t have to be.
Many travelers have discovered that they don’t need to waste hours stuck in an airport waiting for a connecting flight and now treat a layover as a mini-vacation ripe for fun and exploring. And you can too! We’ve got a handy list of pit-stops and some important tips that will leave you actually looking forward to your next layover!
For starters, here are some tips when booking your next layover adventure:
-Check to see if any of the airlines offer hotel vouchers for long layovers. Most only do it for layovers of 8 hours or more. It’s not something a lot of airlines advertise, so you may have to ask for it, but having a hotel room to rest up and refresh can go a long way.
-Layover where it’s easy to get to and from the airport. Cities like Hong Kong or San Francisco have amazingly fast public transit to and from the airport, allowing you to get in and out of the city quick enough to make your next flight and still see a whole host of sights.
-Don’t forget to pack toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on. Seriously. It’s a rookie mistake.
San Francisco – USA
If you’re staying domestic during your layover, keep your fingers crossed and hope that you’ll end up in San Francisco. There is a ton to do even if you’re not blessed with an abundance of time, and the fast and convenient public transit makes getting around a breeze. Grab a ride on a cable car for a speedy and scenic tour of the gorgeous city, hitting famous locales like Chinatown and North Beach. Have a slightly longer layover? Grab a cab to Fisherman’s Wharf. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, Fisherman’s Wharf has incredible views and a plethora of shops and sights to keep you busy. They even offer GoCart tours, if you want your layover to pass by at maximum speed.
If you have a layover at the Hong Kong International Airport, you’re in luck. This is hands down one of the best places to have a few hours to kill. With an amazingly fast rail system, tourists can get in and out of the city quickly enough to make their next flight, while still seeing a whole host of sights. There are plenty of local layover tours to help you soak up the culture (and sample the amazing local cuisine), without having to stress about making your connecting flight.
Widely hailed as the best layover city in the world, Reykjavik has become a tourist destination in its own right — particularly for those on a tight schedule. Why is this city so popular with those on the go? It’s quick bus ride from the airport to the heart of the city, which is overflowing with historic locations, beautiful sights, and plenty of delicious food options (always much appreciated when you’re sick of airline food). Sneak off for a quick soak in the famous geothermal baths of the Blue Lagoon or get in some sightseeing. Several airlines work with local companies to provide you with a great deal (and make sure you’re back in time for the next leg of your trip).
Zurich – Switzerland
This picturesque Swiss city is among the many reinventing itself as a go-to location for layover-weary travelers. You won’t have to waste any time at the airport, as Zurich‘s city center is a mere 15-minute commute from the airport. This gives you plenty of time for a quick tour of the remarkable local museums, some fun shopping, or even a leisurely meal.
Not in the mood for sightseeing? Well, you don’t even need to leave in order to have a blast if you’re at Zurich Airport. Watch the goings-on from a high-class observation deck, or relax in one of the cozy lounges. You can drop off the kids at daycare if you need a break, and enjoy a good meal at an assortment of impressive restaurants. Zurich is one of those rare airports you’ll find yourself reluctant to leave.
Tell us your favorite places to wait out a layover in the comments below!