Layover. The dreaded term gives rise to images of maddening hours of boredom and desperate attempts to grab a few hours of fitful sleep in impossibly uncomfortable airport chairs. But the wait between connecting flights doesn't have to be all bad. Airport lounges can offer some respite for weary travelers but the real way to ensure you enjoy your layover is by getting out of the airport and exploring—even if just for an hour or two—a new destination. Here are some cities that will make it easy to love your long layover.
The cosmopolitan and exotic city of Dubai is a growing international airport hub so it's likely that globetrotters will land here at least once within their world travels. If you do find yourself with a lengthy layover, head out of the airport and take the Dubai Airport metro into town. Though you can tour on your own, there's so much to see that a half-day tour via bus is the best way to see the most in a condensed amount of time. Some of the tour companies (like this one from Viator) will pick you up and drop you off at a hotel so just pick a hotel that's closest to the airport. Most tours offer an intriguing mix of both traditional and modern-day Dubai and include highlights like Burj Khalifa the highest building in the world, the spice market and Jumeirah Mosque.
Cross your fingers that it's not raining and go spend a few hours in one of the world's most cosmopolitan and historically interesting cities. Be warned: The fastest way into the city is not the Underground (which can take over an hour) but rather the Heathrow Express, which will get you to Paddington Station in less than twenty minutes. Once there you are just minutes from Hyde Park or go a few more stops to Westminster Tube station where you can take a ride on the London Eye, as well as see Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. If you're really pressed for time just head to the nearest pub and grab a quick pint or find a hole-in-the-wall fish and chips joint to say you partook in a quintessential English experience.
There's perhaps no country in the world that's easier to see in a short amount of time than Singapore. The sovereign city-state gives new meaning to the word “compact” and is an ideal opportunity for travelers hoping to get a taste of Asia. It's less than 15 miles into the city center from the airport, and you can get there via bus, taxi or public transit. To get a real feel for the country in a short time hit highlights like the Singapore Zoo or Cloud Forest (both are great options if you're traveling with kids and want to distract them), the Maxwell Road Food Center for the most authentic food stalls in the city or take in the lovely waterfront area.
Even the most novice of travelers would likely relish a layover in the City of Lights. Speedy train and Metro service make it easy to get into the city in a flash. No matter where you go in this magical metropolis you'll be able to fit in as many or as few sites as your layover time allows. One of the favorites of Paris connoisseurs is St. Germain, the 6th arrondissment (neighborhood). This famous Left Bank district is well-known for its cafés, bakeries, shopping and lovely meandering streets. You'll also be close to must-see stops like the Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre Dame and the Musée d'Orsay. Or just make a beeline for the 7tharrondissment to see the Eiffel Tower.
Ok, granted, if you arrive in the middle of winter on a layover then you may well be tempted to bundle up and stay indoors at the airport—but don't. Resist the urge to snuggle into an airport seat and head out to discover why Iceland is one of the planet's hottest destinations. To situate yourself head to Tjörnin, a centrally located pond. You'll find many of the city's best sites, such as City Hall and the Reykjavik Art Museum nearby. Or just walk around the pond and randomly walk down streets to get a true sense of the everyday beauty of Reykjavik. It's worth noting that depending on your route, IcelandAir permits layovers of up to a week at no additional cost.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Sandra MacGregor and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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