10 Best Layover Cities In The World

By Seema Nande on Aug 03, 2016
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While airports at most major layover cities are entertaining and abuzz with various activities to relax you on your journey, nothing can beat the fresh air and thrill of a new city! Here’s a glimpse at some of the best layover cities in the world, for a quick exploration en route! After all the cramped seating, hours of boredom, and stale sandwiches, you certainly need a breather.

1. Dubai

Let me begin with this alchemy of profound traditions and ambitious futuristic vision. Known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene and home to the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), Dubai spells luxury. The main city is barely forty minutes from the airport, so you can certainly take up this opportunity to explore this mighty land of Sheikhs.

2. London

The third busiest airport in the world, London Heathrow in spite of having an abundance of activities to relax and entertain you, might get a little overwhelming if you have a long layover here. The location of the airport makes a day trip to London quite easy, especially if you take the quick Heathrow express that will whisk you from the airport to Paddington Station in Central London in less than 25 minutes. There is a Tube too that runs to and from the airport but will take around an hour to reach Central London. Once you are there, the relatively compact nature of London’s main attractions (St Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London and Crown Jewels) and its easy-to-use public transportation make for an efficient short trip, on a layover here. Here is Triphobo's suggestion to get the best of London on a layover.

3. San Francisco

This hometown hero indeed has some serious bragging rights, what with the Airport Museum, the Steinhart Aquarium and the Anchor Brewing Company or Vino Volo, for some thirst quenching! But the ultimate thing to do here while on a layover - Get out! You cannot be in Cali and just lounge around at the airport. The culture, food and beverages scene, the hidden gems of Chinatown and the Beatniks of North Beach are some things you can easily catch up on, for that Cali vibe.

4. Paris

Audrey Hepburn once stated 'Paris is always a good idea'. It certainly is! Making a layover bearable and enjoyable, the Charles de Gaulle International Airport will not cease to entertain you. But hey, you cannot possibly be in this city of lights and love and not venture it! With the airport being well connected to central Paris and the rest of France by a high-speed train and a local metro, you have the opportunity to visit the major sites that don’t require waiting in lines. Simply blend in the vibe of the city as you grab a to-go lunch and spend the day relaxing on the grass in its shadow, or hop on a boat cruise down the Seine. Take a clue from this tour that will guide you through Paris at leisure.

5. Delhi

PC: flickr.com/Panoramas

Stuck on a layover at the Indira Gandhi International Airport? Fret not! Located at barely 10 miles from the heart of the city, you can totally get out and explore this Indian capital. Head to the Delhi Traffic Police pre-paid taxi booths, hop on a taxi and get moving. The best thing to do is to take a quick tour of the famous attractions like the Qutub Minar, the Red Fort, and the India Gate. If you seek some culinary adventure, you must try the local nawabi cuisine. The airport too, caters to some great relaxing and entertaining activities like fine dining, high-end shopping, some great resting options and gaming zones. But you can't beat the real Delhi!

6. Istanbul

Istanbul’s Ataturk airport is the largest in Turkey and one of the top five busiest in all of Europe! Located 15 miles west of Istanbul’s city center, you can easily access some of the major attractions of this beautiful city. The gorgeous Blue Mosque, a Galata tour, Zülfaris Jewish Museum are some of the must-sees in Istanbul and can ideally be covered in about 8 hours. Before you board your flight, don’t forget to get some Turkish jewellery, Cuban cigars, and some authentic spices!

7. Singapore

PC: flickr.com/David Russo

By far one of the sleekest and easiest-to-navigate airports in the world, Changi, Singapore’s airport is one of the most implausible layover airports in the world. Incredibly easy to access all the sights and sounds of Singapore while waiting out a layover there, you can take public transportation right from the airport - the subway (a little hassle-y) and taxis (cheap and plentiful). You get the opportunity to explore the city’s hawker food stalls, Orchard Road, and even the Singapore Zoo that are within easy reach from the airport.

8. Buenos Aires

Located at 14 miles from central downtown Buenos Aires, the Ministro Pistarini International Airport is connected to the city by a fast motorway - the General Ricchiere Expressway. Since layovers can be tedious, this airport, also known as Ezeiza (EZA) in Argentina, does have activities for you to do within the airport. But far more exciting is a quick tour of the city! Cementerio Recoleta - a cemetery almost like an art exhibit, La Boca for food and gifts at a good bargain (yes! Ditch the conventional duty-free for once!), Siga La Vaca, Puerto Madera for the best local food and beverages. If you are more inclined to sightseeing and getting close to the culture of Buenos Aires, take a clue from this tour!

9. Beijing

PC: flickr.com/Jonathan Corbet

If at the Beijing Capital International Airport, your onward flight is an international one leaving within 24 hours (48 hours in Shanghai) you'll find a visa office on your way from the plane to immigration where on showing your onward ticket you should be able to get a stamp allowing you out of the airport! So get set to explore this city as much as you can. The famed and architecturally significant watch towers and parapets of the Simatai Great Wall are some things you should really look forward to on a layover at the Beijing airport. If this seems a little difficult, you could consider going to a local market for some amusement, mind you the Chinese are highly amusing in aspects like food, entertainment, and even culture! Check this guide for the best of China on a layover.

10. New York

Last, but not the least, NYC! Mention NYC and there is a different spirit that is suddenly aroused! The John F. Kennedy International Airport, located in Queens, roughly 12 miles from downtown Manhattan, makes it an accessible destination for those on a long layover. New York is huge and so are the options so explore this big apple! You could choose from a tour of the St Paul's Chapel and American Express Eleven Tears Memorial, a Brooklyn tour, a walking and food tour through the Greenwich village, or customize an itinerary like this one! Whatever you choose, do not miss the prospect to get out of the airport and seek some NYC vibe!


This is the beauty of travel, you choose one place but you are given the benefit of being in another city, never the less! With such best layover cities in the world, a layover is actually not that bad after all.


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