8 Airports Around The World Where Indian Travellers Can Turn A Long Layover Into A Free City Tour


Long layovers at airports are the most dreaded and boring aspect of travel. They usually result in wasted time, wasted opportunities and wasted money (shopping at duty free)!

However, there are some airports in the world that may inspire you to opt for a lengthy layover. These airports offer tours of nearby gardens, or have great distractions such as in-airport movie theatres, museums etc. And then there are some who offer city tours as well. And the best part – they are free!

Here are eight airports in the world that have great layover tours –

Changi Airport in Singapore is a great airport with a butterfly garden, massage chairs and a huge shopping complex. But if you don’t want to do any of those, or don’t want to be stuck inside, there is good news! If you have a layover of more than five and a half hours and less than 24 hours at Changi Airport, they offer two types of tour - the city sights tour and the heritage tour. Both are two and a half hour tours with the first one starting at 9am and the last one at 6.30pm. The city lights tour hits the usual spots such as the Singapore Flyer and Merlion Park. On the heritage tour you are taken to different neighbourhoods in the city such as Little India and Kampong Glam. You can find out more here.

How to do it: Skip immigration and head to Transfer Lounge F in Terminal 2 or Transfer Lounge A in Terminal 3. There are two city sights and four heritage tours per day. Both run on a first come, first serve basis.

PC: Changi Airport

Photo of Changi Airport Singapore Singapore by Aakanksha Magan

South Korea's Incheon Airport offers eight tours to travellers on a layover. Generally you need around 2 to 6 hours for these tours. In total, there are 14 departures per day. The first is at 8.00am and the last finishes at 3.00pm.

The shortest tour is an hour long and takes you to Yonggungsa Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 1376. For those who have two hours to spare, there is an Incheon Temple tour, which includes the Heungryunsa Temple, Incheon Grand Bridge and the Memorial Hall. And if you have 3 hours and a wild heart, then you can take the Gwangmyeong Cave Tour.

Have even more layover time? Take the Songdo City Tour, which lasts 4 hours or the Seoul City Tour, that lasts 5 hours. And if you have time but don’t want to leave the airport, you can take the Incheon Airport Culture Tour, which leads visitors to the Arrival Hall's Culture Street, then through security to a traditional craft gallery, Walk of the Royal Family, and Traditional Korean Culture Center before rounding off the tour with a classic concert.

How to do it: Reservations can be made online or at the main Transit Tour desk in immigration section B, near the KoreanAir desk, 2nd floor of the passenger terminal.

PC: Seoul Incheon Airport

Photo of Incheon International Airport, Incheon, South Korea by Aakanksha Magan

Free half-day tours are offered on a first-come first-serve basis at the Taoyuan international airport in Taiwan, and are limited to 18 passengers. You can choose between the morning tour that starts at 8.15am or the afternoon one that starts at 1.45pm. These tours get to the heart of the city’s cultural and historic attractions. The layover time needs to be a minimum of 7 hours and maximum of 24 hours.

How to do it: Book upon arrival at the Tourist Service Center in the Arrival Lobby of Terminal 1 and 2 of the Taoyuan International Airport.

PC: Pixabay

Photo of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), 航站南路, Dayuan District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan by Aakanksha Magan

Have a layover of five or more hours at Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan? You can chose from five different tours offered. The tours are of two types – self guided, which basically take you to shopping arenas of Tokyo, and guided tours that introduce you to Tokyo in a 3-hour long city tour.

How to do it: In person at Narita Transit Tourism Counter at Terminal 1 or 2 or online. Take note the desk is only open from 9am to 12pm.

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Narita International Airport, Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan by Aakanksha Magan

To enjoy the free city tours offered by Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey, you must be flying with Turkish Airlines. And if you are, well Istanbul is a beautiful city and with a free city tour lasting five hours, you can enjoy all the highlights of the city such as the Blue Mosque Taksim Square and Grand Covered Bazar. There are three tours, with two departure timings - at 9am and at 12pm. You must have a layover of at least 6 hours to enjoy any of these tours.

How to do it: You can go to the the Hotel Desk at the International Arrival Hall, which is located after passport and customs control next to Starbucks and register there. Make sure you arrive at least half an hour before a tour starts.

Important: Indian citizens require a Turkish visa to avail these tours. It can be an e-visa that you can obtain from the official site, which costs around Rs. 5000.

PC: Pixabay

Photo of Yeşilköy, Atatürk International Airport, İstanbul, Turkey by Aakanksha Magan

Travellers with a layover of at least 5 hours at Qatar Airport can take a sightseeing tour of Doha, if you are flying with Qatar Airways. You will see the Pearl-Qatar, a man-made island, Katara Cultural Village, a traditional souk and much more. There are four tours daily, lasting about 2 hours 45 minutes and are available to anyone arriving between 4am to 7pm.

How to do it: Head to the Doha City Tour desk, which is in Concourse B next to the Montblanc shop, to book your free tour.

PC: Flickr

Photo of New Doha International Airport, Doha, Qatar by Aakanksha Magan

Stuck at the Amsterdam International Airport with more than a 6 hour layover? If you’re flying with KLM, sign up for their ‘layover with a local’ program. All you have to do is fill up a questionnaire that asks about your interests and KLM then pairs you up with an English-speaking local who will show you the town! Free bus tickets and a rounds of drinks is included as well!

How to do it: Once you’ve booked your flight via KLM, check your email as there will be a link in it asking you if you’d like to sign up for the program.

Important: Transit Visa is required if you take these city tours. The cost of a transit visa is 60 euros or Rs. 4200.

PC: Wikimedia

Photo of Schiphol Airport, Evert van de Beekstraat, Schiphol, Netherlands by Aakanksha Magan

Even if you are at the Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, for just over 2 hours, you can take the free city tour! They have tours leaving every hour between 11am to 4pm and last for an hour and a half. They take you to the most iconic landmark in Salt Lake City – the Temple Square.

How to do it: The airport information desk at Terminal 1 or 2 (or ask at any ticket counter for a brochure with timings).

PC: Wikipedia

Photo of Salt Lake City International Airport, North Terminal Drive, Salt Lake City, UT, United States by Aakanksha Magan

Some important information:

1. You generally don’t need a visa but some cities such as Amsterdam and Istanbul need it, so ensure that you have one before you sign up for a tour.

2. The airports, which do not require a visa, may keep your passport with them while you are taking the tour. It is advisable to carry a photocopy and a digital copy of your passport.

3. To be eligible for the tour, apart from the minimum layover time, you also need to show tickets and boarding passes of your previous and upcoming flights.

4. Some costs, like entry to a museum, may not be included in these free tours. Please check beforehand.

5. Consider where to store your luggage. Generally the airlines you are flying with can help you store your luggage but if they can’t, figure out if you can bring it along on the tour or if you need to store it somewhere at the airport.

Know of any airports or airlines that offer interesting tours during long overlays? Or have you made use of a long overlay in an interesting way? Write about your experience at Tripoto!

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