Best airport layovers for 1 – 3 hours
It’s not an overwhelming airport, so Amsterdam Schipol Airport is fine for a short layover. There’s a small extension of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum housing some 17th century Dutch classics switched out from the main museum. Holland Boulevard is also home to the Airport Library if you want rest and relaxation on your airport stopover.
Alternatively, if your ticket allows it, take a 20-minute train ride into Amsterdam city and explore the Dutch Capital. You’ll need to check your visa requirements beforehand, and we don’t recommend you do this if you’re only stopping over for a few hours!
Zurich Airport is all about giving its visitors an experience to remember. The airport offers tours in various guises – bus, guided, helicopter, bicycle and rollerskates!
There’s also a specific night tour, if you arrive after dark, and a flight simulator for the over 12s. If you have an airport layover for a few hours but just need to rest, book into one of the rest areas at one of the Transit Hotel which have reclining chairs, blankets and lockers.
Free WiFi, designer shopping and airport lounges are standard in most international airports. San Francisco International Airport has a few extra perks, making it one of the best airports for a short stopover.
In true San Fran style it has free yoga studios in T2 and T3! They’re open 24 hours a day and are free to access. There’s also the Berman Reflection meditation room in the main terminal hall if you want even more quiet time. If you need to keep kids occupied, take them to the Aviation Museum & Library or one of the play areas dotted all around the airport.
Best airport layover for 4 – 6 hours
If you have a relatively short layover, Seoul Incheon International Airport is a good place to be. It’s one of the best airport stopovers if you like to keep busy because it has a 72-hole golf club. Burn some excess energy at the driving range, or take on the full 18-hole golf course a shuttle ride away.
There’s also an ice rink, which opens daily from 10am through 8pm, a museum, cultural center and almost 100 duty free shops to explore including lots of stores selling Korean skincare brands. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take one of eight Seoul tours including temple, seaside and traditional. They are paid-for, but cheap, and ideal for visitors with more than four hours to spare.
The Hong Kong International Aiport is regularly voted one of the best airports in the world, with good reason. It has plenty to keep you busy and you could easily kill a full day here. Catch a movie at the IMAX cinema in T2, or try your hand at a flight simulator at the Aviation Discovery Center, or take on the golf course at the Nine Eagles golf club.
More off-the-wall activities include the Dream Come True Maker workshop which holds classes on making personalized gifts! For culture, visit the Legend of Hong Kong Toys Exhibition at T2, or the From Claypot to Teapot tea ware exhibition at T1. The airport has all the usual facilities including free showers, nursing rooms, airport lounges and places to sleep.
Best airport layover for 7 – 10 hours
There’s lots to keep you busy in and around Tokyo Narita Airport. Some of the top things to do on your airport stopover include visiting the airport’s oxygen lounge which serves up tanks of flavored oxygen!
There are also nail stations, massage chairs, a shopping mall to explore and single and double nap rooms to rent by the hour. There are paid-for tours which take between three and six hours and include culture, food and shopping tours.
To see what might be included on the tour, read our article on the Top 15 attractions and things to do in Tokyo.
It’s pretty easy to get into London from London Heathrow Airport, and you won’t need to move around the city much to see some of the best sights. So if you have at least six hours to kill, London Heathrow is one of the best airports to stopover. Hop on the Heathrow Express (ticket and visa permitting) and check out some top London sights.
Alternatively, if you want to stick to the airport, there’s lots to keep you entertained. The best way to enjoy the time is to book into one of the many lounges. You’ll find yoga classes, fancy spas, business centers and lots of free food and drink. The main airport also has more than 100 duty free stores (including a Harry Potter shop!). Who needs Oxford Street?
For inspiration on what to see in the city during your stopover, click here.
Best airport layover for 10+ hours
China’s 72-hour visa-free transit rules mean certain passengers can spend up to three days in China without a visa. So if you want to break up a long-haul flight, Beijing is one of the best cities to stopover. Book yourself into a hotel and see the best of what Beijing has to offer, without the hassle of applying for a visa. Check the rules of the visa here.
This huge airport handles more than 62 million passengers each year so it makes sense that it has lots going on to keep them occupied. It has four terminals, and is just under 20km from the main city.
There’s a ton to do there, including exploring its four gardens (including a butterfly garden), sliding down a 12m slide, watching a movie, or getting a massage.
It’s a great airport for kids with more than one movie theater, entertainment deck, playgrounds, and an Enchanted Garden with motion sensors. If your Singapore layover is between 5.5 and 24 hours, you can take a free 2.5 hour of the city, with two photo stops. Choose either the Heritage Tour of the City Sights Tour.
*This article was published February 2019. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.