Whenever one plans to visit a foreign country, the biggest issue they face is long-haul flights. Long layovers are certainly a dreaded inconvenience and many people opt to pay for expensive flights than suffer a long stay at the connecting airports.
However, if you actually think about it, long layovers can be a two-for-one deal. If you plan in advance, you can turn this dreaded affair into a fun event. You can leave the airport and get a chance to explore an extra country along the way, possibly one you’d never thought to visit! But exploring a new city, in a short span of time, can be a cause of panic, because what if you get lost, or miss your next flight? Therefore, it's necessary to have all the information in hand before you plan such a sojourn.
But before we delve into what countries allow us to turn a long layover into an interesting city tour, these are points to keep in mind –
1. How long is your layover?
It is ideally suggested that you should have a layover of at least six hours to venture out of the airport. This is because you need to take into account the time it will take you to get to and back from the city centre, the security check that you will have to go through once you re-enter the airport and the time it will take you to actually see the city. So calculate all of that and then decide whether you should venture out or not.
2. What are the hours of your layover?
If your layover starts early in the morning, you have a lot of daylight hours to explore. But if your flight lands in the middle of the night and the next flight takes off during the early hours of the morning, it makes no sense to leave the airport. Safety issues aside, most places to see will be closed. But if your layover city has a good nightlife (such as Amsterdam or Budapest) or fun clubs, it can be a nice way to pass time.
3. Do you need a visa for a layover?
There are a limited number of countries that let Indian citizens venture out of the airport without a visa. For some countries, this needs to be a transit visa, while for others you have to apply for a regular tourist visa.
4. What should you do if you eventually decide to leave the airport during a layover?
The best way to explore the city in a short time is to take a city tour. That way you won't get lost trying to figure out the routes and will get to see the famous tourist spots and sights. Another way to make use of your layover is to go on a food tour, which will help you get an insight into the food culture of the country. For those interested in neither of these, there is always shopping to do.
Now that all the basic questions are answered, let's take a look at where you can turn one vacation into two –