There are so many fascinating places around the world to visit that it’s difficult to tick off as many spots on the bucket list as you’d like each year. However, sometimes a great way to see another city, even if just for a short time, is to take advantage of an airport layover. Turn a potential negative —multiple hours waiting around at an airport for your next flight — into a benefit instead, by spending that time getting a taste of the nearby sights. Whether you’re going to have some spare time in Asia, the United States, Europe or another spot in the world, you can choose to investigate the city that lies just outside the airport walls. Read on for some of the top places in the world for a fun airport layover.
1. Dubai: The Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa
Many tourists end up in Dubai on their way to regions such as Europe, Asia, or Australia. Instead of sitting around in the airport (although admittedly Dubai’s International Airport has plenty of attractions to occupy travelers) get out and explore this fascinating place. You can grab a cab from the airport and be anywhere in Dubai within just 60 minutes.
The Dubai Mall provides plenty of interesting ways to spend your time — it is one of the largest shopping and entertainment destinations in the world and is only set to get bigger with the current expansion in the works. At the Mall you’ll find more than 1,000 shops to browse including an aquarium, an ice rink, cinemas, dozens of restaurants, and even the original skeleton of a dinosaur that is over 155 million years old.
While in Dubai, also make sure you visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet and conveniently located next to the Mall. Take a tour to the 124th floor for dizzying views of the city, the desert, and the Arabian Gulf.
Also enjoy the spellbinding displays at the Dubai Fountain, set on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake. The attraction shoots jets of water up into the air that reach as high as 500 feet, or the equivalent of a 50-story building. The Fountain provides daily “water performances” set to musical numbers that include the Arab world’s top-selling dance pieces, plus the famous song performed by Andrea Bocelli, “Time to Say Goodbye.” The impressive display also features more than 6,500 incandescent fountain lights and 25 color projectors. The beam of light that shines from this site is so intense that it can actually be seen from more than 20 miles away.
2. Heathrow: London Attractions
When flying into London’s Heathrow airport you don’t need to worry about spending a long layover just at the terminal. It’s easy to catch public transportation from the airport into the city center where you can spend a half-day exploring the major attractions that draw so many tourists to the destination each year. You can catch the Tube easily and conveniently, with options such as the Heathrow Express to Paddington running every quarter of an hour.
Once in London’s center, walk along the South Bank for views of iconic Big Ben and the world-famous dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. For a modern attraction, don’t miss a visit to The Shard (formerly London Bridge Tower), a massive 87-story skyscraper that is home to an impressive glass spire designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano. The Shard also boasts many top-notch restaurants, shops, and bars.
3. Amsterdam: The Rijksmuseum
If you have wanted to book flights to Amsterdam at some stage so that you could explore the famous Rijksmuseum, you’ll be pleased to know that you can get to the venue on even a short layover. After flying into Schiphol airport, hop on a train to Amsterdam Central — the service runs every seven to 16 minutes and the trip into the city only takes around a quarter of an hour. Once there, head straight to the recently re-opened Rijksmuseum to examine Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and other iconic Dutch masterpieces. The museum finalized a decade-long renovation last year and is most definitely one of the top attractions in Amsterdam.
4. Singapore: Singapore City Bus Tour
Singapore is another destination that many travelers stop in on their way to Europe, Australia, or Africa. While Changi airport also has plenty of attractions to keep tourists occupied, don’t miss spending some time in the city itself. From the airport you can take a free Singapore bus tour that runs five times per day. The tour introduces travelers to many of the city’s key sights, such as the Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel, and the modern Marina Bay Sands resort. The trip also takes tourists to the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay park (a beautiful green space), plus provides a stopover in Merlion Park. Here visitors can see the well-known half-lion, half-fish statue — a perfect photo opportunity to remember the day.
Photo courtesy of Nicola