Best Airports for Long LayoversAugust 31, 2020 | By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Long layovers can feel like unwanted delays to get to your destination, but at these airports around the world, your layover could be the best part of your trip. From airport museums to ancient temple tours, you may find yourself wishing you had even more time between flights.
Seoul, South Korea
Incheon International Airport offers free guided tours to visit some of the most popular tourist destinations in Seoul, specifically geared toward travelers with a long airport layover. Head to either the desk between gates 25 and 29 or the “Hana Tour” desk by gate 8 to discover some local options. Tours range from one hour to five hours, and some of the highlights include a four-hour tour to Jeondeungsa Temple, the Deokjinjin Fortress, or the Gwangmyeong Cave, a miracle of an abandoned mine that is now Korea’s best cave-themed park, visited by more than 1.4 million tourists each year.
Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol offers a host of activities without even having to leave the building. If you find yourself with a few hours between flights, check out “Holland Boulevard,” the airport library, the Dutch Kitchen restaurant, and the Rijksmuseum, where you can enjoy a selection of famous 17th-century Dutch paintings, which regularly rotate with the main museum’s collection. The unique airport library holds books as well as iPads and touch screens that will tell you stories through images. There is also a grand piano and comfortable seats and sofas where you can relax and escape into your imagination for a while.
Los Angeles, California (USA)
Traffic in Los Angeles is always a challenge, but if you have five or more hours to spare between flights, Los Angeles International Airport is located just fifteen minutes from the Playa Del Rey beach and just 20 minutes from Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a “mile-long strip of the latest fashion, art, and food just minutes from Venice Beach.” You can spend hours exploring shops, sunbathing on the sands of the Pacific Ocean, dining on fresh SoCal cuisine and watching the live entertainment that crowds the walkways around the beaches.
Head to the Narita Transit Program Counter in Terminal 1F of the Central Building at Tokyo’s Narita Airport to view their offerings of free guided tours designed specifically for travelers with long layovers. The tours offer a range of cultural sightseeing options including a full Japanese Cultural Experience at Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple. “Travel back in time as you explore the rows of inns, handicraft shops and restaurants leading to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. Take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and savor delicious unagi over rice. This (three-hour) tour can be customized to fit your interests and budget,” says the Narita Transit Program website.
A few hours in the Munich Airport is nothing to be bummed about. Grab a meal and a pint at the Airbrau brewery and restaurant or head to the Visitors Park where you can watch big jets like the Airbus A380 coming in for a landing or accelerating down the runway. Kids will also love the new adventure playground and the interactive exhibits for an up-close look at big planes. Depending on the timing of your trip, there are annual surf competitions, volleyball tournaments, and a Christmas market to explore, all within the airport.
Since time is of the essence, planning ahead is essential when exploring your layover options. Be sure to call and book ahead whenever possible, so you aren’t rushing back to catch your next flight.