Making the most of a speedy layover is something of a fine art. When you have just a few hours in a city and can’t resist leaving the airport to explore, you’ve got to time things just right. Here’s what to do with a single day (or even half a day) in some of the world’s most common layover cities.
Los Angeles, California
LAX might be one of the most stress-inducing airports in the world, but it comes with a rarely appreciated perk: it’s just minutes away from one of the most charming beach towns in LA. Hop in a cab and head to Manhattan Beach, your quintessential California paradise complete with palm trees, surfers galore, and a historic pier. People watch, dig your toes into the sand, and chow down at one of the fantastic restaurants near the beach. When it’s time to head back to the airport, you can get there in as little as 20 minutes - just make sure it’s not rush hour!
Seoul, South Korea
Get a feel for Seoul’s booming pop culture scene in the hip region of Hongdae. The area is a hotspot for music and entertainment - so much so that you’ll find sometimes spot K-pop inspired street performers offering a free show. Get lost in a sea of epic street food, arcades, trendy desserts, vintage shops, and some of the most jumping karaoke bars in the world.
Make the most of your jaunt into London by grabbing a meal at lively Borough Market and then heading to the Tate Modern, where you’ll find some of the most striking art in the world. If you still have time to spare after visiting the museum, grab an espresso to go and head over to South Kensington and Chelsea for a leisurely stroll among tree-lined streets.
Start your adventure with a fantastic meal and a wander through the colorful roads of Little India. Then, visit the famous Gardens By The Bay and taking in the oft-photographed Supertrees. In the evening, stop by Old Airport Road Food Centre for some of the best eats of your life. Don’t forget, Changi Airport is an adventure in itself, so save a little time to explore the terminal too!
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
As soon as your flight lands in Abu Dhabi, beeline over to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. You’ll spot countless pieces of breathtaking and thought-provoking art, including Da Vinci’s famous Salvator Mundi painting. You’ll also want to visit the stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque - its beauty is an experience you’ll never forget.
Start your adventure in Sham Shui Po in Kowloon for mouth-watering street food. Then, if you’re a sucker for postcard-worthy views, head on over to Victoria Peak for an incredible look at the city from above. Stop at Tim Ho Wan for casual Michelin-starred dim sum, and if you stay into the evening, make sure you head up to the Ozone Bar on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton. It’s one of the highest bars in the world.
The best way to see Amsterdam in a flash is to do like the locals do: see it by bike! Hire a set of wheels for a few hours and cycle through the city. Cycling here is intense, so make sure you stay safe by practicing the bike equivalent of defensive driving - this isn’t your childhood bike path! Afterward, take in some art at the world famous Rijksmuseum, and don’t leave the city without eating at least one waffle.
If you love architecture, pay a visit to historic neighborhoods like Bornheim, Sachsenhausen, or Höchst and explore on foot. Then, head over to Eiserner Steg bridge, where you’ll find a lovely view of the Frankfurt skyline. Wind down your day at an Apfelwein bar, because no Frankfurt adventure is complete without one.