Make the most out of your downtime: what to do during a long layover

Illustration of a man carrying his suitcase through an airport where a woman is laying on the chairs and another man is in the background.

Have you ever found yourself stuck in the airport for hours on end? Whether it’s a short stopover or an overnight layover, those moments of waiting can feel like forever. We’re here to change that narrative. With a few tips, you’ll be able to turn that idle time into an opportunity for exploration and relaxation. So, sit back, relax and prepare to make your airport stay more enjoyable with our top tricks on how to survive your long layover. 

2 to 4 hour layovers

For those fleeting layovers that barely give you enough time to catch your breath, efficiency is key. Use this brief window to stretch your legs, grab a quick bite to eat or explore airport amenities in the terminal of your upcoming flight. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in an airport like Singapore Changi Airport, take a quick stop at the butterfly garden to unwind and rejuvenate before your next leg. Make sure to keep an eye on the time, but don’t forget to give yourself a moment to relax before you continue your journey. 

Water fountain feature in the middle of Changi Airport Airport

4 to 8 hour layovers 

With a 4 to 8 hour layover, you have a lot more time to play with, so why not make the most out of it? If you’re in the mood to explore the city you’re in, research layover tours and see if there is one available, like this Amsterdam Layover: Airport Transit City Tour. This specific experience allows passengers with a layover of at least 4 hours to partake in a private, customized tour of Amsterdam with airport transfers included.

If you prefer to stay put, find a cozy spot and relax and catch up on some reading or work. Treat yourself to a leisurely meal at one of the airport’s restaurants and indulge in local cuisine or international favorites. 

Feeling like you need to freshen up? Check to see if your airport offers lounges that include showers. Use this extended break to decompress and recharge, knowing that your next flight is just around the corner. 

Pro tip: If you’re planning on leaving the airport grounds during your layover, make sure to check with that country’s visa restrictions and rules. You can find out this information by talking to a representative from your airline or heading to an information desk at the airport. For more information, check out this helpful guide

8 to 12 hour layovers

An 8 to 12 hour layover presents a golden opportunity to have fun. Consider stepping out of the terminal to explore the area, especially if you’re in a location like Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, which offers free tours of the city. Choose from options like golf tours, street tours and even shopping tours. You can check out all the available options here

Not looking to leave the airport? No problem. Take advantage of the amenities that are available to you. Check to see if your location offers services like spas, gyms or movie theaters (yup, that’s a thing). If there’s an outdoor area, step outside and take in the fresh air before your next flight. There are so many airports around the world that offer unique opportunities to help pass the time. And because of this, we created a list of our favorite locations worth the layover. 

Woman with backpack on walking through the street with other people around.

12 to 16 hour layovers

Whether your layover is in a bustling city like New York or a tranquil destination like Oslo, you have plenty of time to get out of the airport during this stopover. Hop in a cab or buy a ticket for the local transportation and go discover famous attractions, sample regional cuisine or take a stroll through nearby neighborhoods. 

If you don’t want to venture too far from your next flight, no worries, seek out lounges, spas or quiet areas that allow you to relax and recharge. Many hotels close to airports offer day rates, where you can book a room for a short period to allow yourself to freshen up and take a nap in a real bed (and not an airplane seat). In addition to this, some airlines, like Emirates, offer hotels for longer layovers in their home airports. Check out this list for an idea of which hotels offer day rates for travelers. 

16+ hour layovers

Ok, time to leave the airport. With a layover stretching beyond 16 hours, you’ve got plenty of time to turn it into a mini vacation. Explore local markets, eat savory foods and soak up the sights and sounds of the destination. Don’t want to lug your carry-on with you? No worries–most airports have luggage storage facilities that you can pay for by the day (check your airport’s online site in advance to find out what terminal it’s in before you arrive).

Engage with locals, learn about their favorite spots and go shop for some souvenirs. This extended break is your chance to add a new chapter to your travel tales, so seize the moment and make it count! 

Now boarding

Embrace every moment of your travels, even your layovers, with Faye.

These activities and websites are suggestions and Faye is in no way associated with them. This post is meant to give you ideas and inspiration on how to make the most out of your layover.

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