What do you do when you have long airport layovers? Pay for Wi-Fi through your nose, nibble on rewarmed sandwiches or survey the crowd around from an uncomfortable seat that you are forced to rest on! Think again as there are a few International airports which have cut out a better agenda for you. They offer city tours so that travelers can utilize their time between flights and tick off more notches on their bucket list of places to visit. That painful seven-hour layover will actually look tempting.
A few airports offer tours and other countless diversions such as in- museums, airport movie theatres, musical performances or lavish gardens and all these are at your disposal for FREE, with no hassle for a visa as you are treated as an “in transit” passenger.
Tighten your seatbelts and let’s take a trip to these 8 airports!
You would need almost an eight-hour layover in Taipei, to join the free city tours organized by the airport. There are two options; Tour A transports guests to the stunning Zushih Temple, which is 14 miles outside of town, and then on a trip to shop for pottery at Yingge; Tour B takes some quick stops at Taiwan’s celebrated sites, which includes Taipei 101 the country’s tallest building, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
How to book: Manually go and register at the Tourist Service Centre in the main arrivals hall. Tours are on first-come, first-serve basis, twice a day and the timings are 8:15 a.m. and 1:45 a.m.
Transit passengers at Changi airport are fascinated by the butterfly garden, a video gaming room, free massage chairs and do not think of leaving the confines of its air-conditioned luxury. But if you want to explore, then Singapore also offers two free city tours for transit travelers who have six or more hours to kill. If you are a foodie and have time to spare then check out some of the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurants in downtown Singapore.
Salt Lake City
Many transcontinental U.S. flights have a transit at Salt Lake City’s airport and there are many travelers with layovers. If you want to skip the temple then walk to City Creek Park and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. You just need a 2-3 hour layover to visit the Temple Square, Utah which is glorious, built on a 10-acre complex.
How to book it: Go to any of the information desks in Terminal 1 or 2 and ask for a brochure for the day’s pickup and drop-off schedule. The desk agent will show you where to catch the shuttle.
A vibrant city sure to kindle your excitement, Istanbul is the hotspot. The Free tours here consist of a visit to the renowned Blue Mosque, Hippodrome Square, the irrefutably classic Grand Covered Bazaar and others. It is mandatory that you have to be flying Turkish Airlines.
How to book it: After passport and customs next to Starbucks is the Hotel Desk in the International Arrival Hall. You can sign up for any one of the five daily tour departures. Be there at least 30 minutes before the tour starts.
Tokyo’s Narita Airport has two wonderful options; sightseeing and shopping. Men can go sightseeing and the women go shopping or even vice versa. If you go out on a cultural tour, you can check out the towns of Tako or Shibayama, or go on a forest walk or even go to the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences. There is a train from the airport that takes you to two malls but think before you shop or else you would be paying for extra baggage.
How to book: The Narita Transit Program Counter is in Terminal 1F of the Central Building and this is a dedicated desk just to organize tours.
Main highlights of Seoul are the graceful temples, a powerful downtown centre, and unspoiled palaces like Gyeongbokgung Palace Layover time needed: 1-5+ hours.
How to book it: Best part here is reservations can be made online or at either of the Transit Tour desks; on 2F they’re in front of gates 25 and 29, on 1F they are desks 41 and 42 ‘Hana Tour’ in front of gate 8.
Tour schedule & info: There are 8 tours to choose from
There are morning and afternoon departures. Check the Incheon airport website. Incheon’s tours are almost free – a $10 USD is charged
Amsterdam airport has a unique system for the free city tour. You have to be flying KLM and have a layover of six hours or more then you can register for the “layover with a local” package. KLM will pair you up with an English-speaking local who has similar likes as you, give you free bus tickets to and from the airport, and also pay for the first round of drinks at a bar in central Amsterdam with your new local guide.
How to book it: When you book a KLM itinerary which has an Amsterdam layover, you will receive an automated email from the airline asking if you want to sign up for the program.
Doha is an ethereal place with its ultramodern architecture mirrored in its shimmering waters. With the free airport tours, visit the Pearl-Qatar, striking Museum of Islamic Art the SouqWaqif and Katara Cultural Village. These freebies are only for Qatar Airways travelers.
How to book it: Just register at the Doha, City Tour desk located in Concourse B.
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