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Exploring Europe through these 27 Cities during Long Layover Flights
Exploring Europe during long layover flights is a great way to see those extra cities. Maybe you are worried you may never ever make it back to Europe or that particular city? So, if you have at least a 6-hour layover (maybe even 5 hours if you are feeling game) and visa requirements allow why not leave the airport and enjoy a new city. I mean let’s be honest it is better than being stranded in an airport.
So, why are long layovers a Luxury Travel Hack? Check out my article on:
BELGIUM – Brussels
By Live In 10 Countries
Written by Danni @ Live In 10 Countries
Looking for more information on this beautiful city? Check out this one-day itinerary of Brussels.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Prague
By Studying The World
The compact size and easy airport connections make Prague a perfect city for a long layover. The journey from the Vaclac Havel international airport to the city centre takes about half an hour on public transport. There are two options: you can either take the bus 119 until the Nádraží Veleslavín station for metro line A, or the bus 100 until the Zličín station for line B. There is also an airport express bus, which runs to the main train station in around 35 minutes making Prague layovers perfect.
Once in town, you have plenty of interesting attractions and activities to choose from, from exploring the city on a free walking tour to sampling the famous Czech beer in one of Prague‘s many atmospheric pubs. Whatever you do, however, do not miss the historic centre – it is a Unesco World Heritage site for a reason! The best place to start is the Old Town Square, with its colourful houses and the world-renowned astronomic clock. From there, just follow the cobblestone streets wherever they take you. You won’t be disappointed: the old town is one of the most beautiful in the world and makes a layover in Prague a fantastic opportunity.
Written by Liza @ Studying The World
DENMARK – Copenhagen
I had a brief 48 hours in Copenhagen earlier this year. If you are arriving from a Schengen country you will only need to clear customs, however, no immigration making a layover in Copenhagen even easier. The train station into the city is also located right outside the airport and the train ride is only 13 minutes. My advise would be to buy your train ticket from a machine before you clear customs. The queue at the ticket machine near the train station can be a bit of a wait.
Once you get into the city you have the option to choose between going to see the Little Mermaid Statue, Freetown Christiana, do a short cruise. If you want to save some money do the city cruise where you aren’t able to hop off, it is cheaper. Alternatively food snobs would definitely want to visit Noma a two star rated Michelin restaurant (One guy caught the train all the way from Mongolia to eat here). Further options are visiting Tivoli (the second oldest amusement park in the world), Rosenberg Castle, or ample museums. Copenhagen is a beautiful city with much to offer for a long layover. You will enjoy it so much that you no doubt you will want to book another trip there.
Written by Petro @ Worldmission196
ENGLAND – London
By Outside Suburbia
Any time we fly British Airways and connect through London and I find myself making a mad dash to Pret A Manger at Heathrow Airport to get some sandwiches and settling in the lounge before our connecting flight. We have been on family trips to London a few times now and there is no way you can see all of London in a few hours let alone few days. But if that is all you have, here is how to make the most of a long layover in London, specifically a Heathrow Layover.
Whether you have a 12 hour layover in London or an 8 hour layover in London arrange for a transfer from the airport to the city or catch one of the black cabs (they tend to be more expensive) to ensure you maximise time. Hop-on hop-off buses are a great way to see a city like London. You can learn and see all the places and save some walking between all the landmarks. You can hop-off at the places you like to explore more, and then hop back on again. It is fun to sit at the top level and see London from above street level. You can pick just one or two places to visit, I would recommend the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels and one museum depending on your interest. London has a variety of Museums with stunning collections and most of them are free. If you are an art lover you might like to visit National Gallery or Tate Modern. If the weather is good in London you can people watch at Hyde Park, there are all sorts of things to do here including visiting the Kensington Palace and Gardens where Princess Diana lived and you can have some afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Tea Room before heading back. Make sure to purchase your tickets upfront so that you don’t spend your precious time waiting in lines.
Written by Priya @ Outside Suburbia
FINLAND – Helsinki
By A Rai Of Light
You could spend quite a bit of time exploring Helsinki and the surrounding archipelago, but the main sights can be seen on a layover in Helsinki because it is one of those ideal cities for a long layover. The Finnair city bus or the regular public bus gets you into the city centre in 30 minutes for under €10. Alternatively, a taxi is an additional option.
Once here, head to Senate square. Here you will get the best view of the Helsinki Cathedral, quite possibly the city’s most famous monument and attraction. Following that a two-hour walk in the surrounding neighbourhood will provide a good feel for the city. Be sure not to miss out on the world-famous Finnish coffee and a box (or two) of Korvapuusti before going back to Helsinki-Vantaa airport because both are delicious and a great memory of your Helsinki layover.
Written by Rai @ A Rai Of Light
FRANCE – Paris
By My Feet Will Lead Me
I usually hate layovers, and when I realised I’d booked a ticket home from Morocco that left me in Paris from 10pm to 10am, my first thought was “crap.” But then I remembered I am known for making the most of my time so I reached out to tour companies who offer private and unique tours of Paris. I contacted Cedric’s Paris Tours to see if they’d be willing to consider a slightly unconventional tour that would go into the wee hours of the morning. Their personalised response and eagerness to make my night in Paris a perfect one solidified my decision to choose their company for my Paris Layover Tour.
Arriving at the airport, I took a taxi to the city centre, but the train or bus are other options as well when doing a layover in Paris. I was enthusiastically greeted at our midnight meeting point by my driver/tour guide, Chris. He opened the door to his stunning green 1977 2CV, helped me into the backseat, offered me a blanket, and gave me a box of Pierre Hermé macaroons. Our first stop was to grab a crêpe for the road and then we were on our way.
Everywhere we cruised, I was able to pop out of the roof to take pictures, and since there was very little traffic, we could stop when we wanted. Chris explained all the history behind the monuments and places we visited, including some secret facts about landmarks that many Parisians don’t even know. His enthusiasm and passion for his city was contagious!
Our 2CV Paris tour took us to a rather unknown viewing spot of the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine (complete with a bottle of champagne), the Louvre, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the “love lock bridges,” and much more. It was magical seeing everything at an hour when almost no one was around.
All of Cedric’s Paris Tours are done in an adorable old 2CV with a Parisian guide, can vary from 1-3 or more hours and can be taken day or night. The four-car fleet is owned by the guides and they never use advertisement on their vehicles. If you can fit in a few hours to take one the most special and personalized private tours in Paris you won’t regret it.
Written by Jessica @ My Feet Will Lead Me
Wanting to know the best place to photograph in Paris? Check out these Instagrammable locations in Paris.
FRANCE – Strasbourg
By Expedition Wildlife
Strasbourg is an ideal quick layover destination – I spent 24-hours in the city during my downtime traveling to the island of Corsica. The TER train is a short, 5-minute walk from the airport exit, and typically departs for Strasbourg city center every hour, only taking 10-minutes to arrive at Gare Centrale. From the train station, walking into the main part of town is very easy, as is navigating the streets, however, meandering around the cobblestone streets is half the fun. All of the main sights are located fairly close together, so a day-trip is the perfect amount of time to visit Strasbourg. The airport has city maps, but if you forget to snag one on your way out, swing by the tourist center just next to the main Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg to get a good layout of the town. Don’t miss stepping inside the Cathedrale to see its stunning architecture and the astronomical clock tower, or walking down the Ill River past the Eglise Saint Thomas and into Petite France, where Franco-Germanic buildings make you feel as if you’ve stepped back into time. You can also see the city from the river by hopping on a boat tour at the Palais Rohan. For the most luscious coffee and breakfast, grab a seat at Café Bretelles. In the evening, grab a beer and watch pedestrians stroll by at Les BerThoM Strasbourg, or check out the exclusive Bar Code, where mixologists turn their cocktails into art. Stay at the Hotel des Tonneliers directly on Rue des Tonneliers – this street is centrally located among all the top sites as well as many
delicious restaurants, such as La Cloche a Fromage.
Written by Christa @ Expedition Wildlife
GERMANY – Cologne
By Where In The World Is Nina
GERMANY – Frankfurt
By My Toronto, My World
Written by Lilianne @ My Toronto My World
HUNGARY – Budapest
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When we flew back from #Athens to #Romania via #budapest, we missed our train to #Arad and ended up with 4 hours to spend in Budapest. What did we do? Hopped on the metro to Deak ter and then walked to the Danube, by St. Istvan Basilica (pictured) and the Parliament before returning to the train station. Where was your favorite long layover? . . . . . #aroundtheworld #traveladdict #traveltheworld #travelblogger
The capital of Hungary, Budapest, is one of those ideal cities for a long layover. The main reasons are: excellent public transportation and many attractions are located in a compact area.Hungary is part of Schengen area, so make sure to get the visa if you require one. European Union nationals can travel freely with their Passport and ID card, without the need of a visa.
Once you get off the plane and are done with the passport control (if required, if you fly from another Schengen country, you’ll skip this step), stop at the MAV booth and get a 24h travel card. It includes the bus from the airport to the metro station and all metro lines, buses, and trains in the city, plus the HEV (which you won’t use during the layover anyway). Travel card in hand, hop on 200E and get off at the last stop (they will announce it in English so you know where it stops to change for metro). Hop on the metro (line blue) and get off at Deak Ter. This is where the blue line meets the red and yellow line and you’ll be right smack in the centre.
Now you have several choices. You can spend a bit of time on Vaci utca, the commercial street with a lot of places to eat and shop; or you can make your way to the Danube Promenade. Of course, if you are famished, you’d want to stop for a bite first. On the Danube Promenade, you get an amazing view of the Danube and Buda with the Castle, Mattihias Church, and on the Pest side, Chain Bridge and further down the Parliament. With your back to the Chain Bridge, you can see Elisabeth Bridge and Gellert Hill with Citadella on top.
With limited time on the layover, I suggest to walk to Chain Bridge, then make a right and walk to St. Istvan Basilica. You won’t have time to get to the viewing platform but you may have time to visit the interior. Then walk to the Parliament. Again, no time to tour, but plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the area. From here, walk to the Danube and see the Shoes on the Danube Memorial. Also, the panorama towards Buda is amazing! With your back to Chain Bridge again, you’ll see now Margaret Island.
It takes more than an hour to get to/from the airport (safe to calculate 1h 30 min). So that’s 3 hours easily commuting to/from the airport. I usually fly into Budapest and then take a train from here. Keleti train station is super close to Deak by metro (red).
Written by Cris @ LooknWalk
Spending a weekend in Budpest? Check out Everything You Need to Know for a Weekend in Budapest.
ICELAND – Reykjavik
By Two Restless Homebodies
If you’re heading to Europe, Iceland is all about the a great layover. Iceland is a spectacular country with a great airline, Icelandair. If you book through Icelandair’s website, they include the ability to add up to a 7-night layover, more commonly know as a stopover, to your itinerary. But if you only have a few hours to spare for a Layover in Iceland here are some suggestions.
Go to the Blue Lagoon – Few things in life top a spa visit after a long plane trip. This amazing luxury resort offers shuttles from Keflavik International Airport, a secure luggage storage area onsite – and surprisingly affordable package options for a quick visit. Just be sure to schedule your time in advance!
Explore Reykjavik – There are two separate bus systems that run regularly from KEF to the city and back. Take a bus into Reykjavik, where you can walk from one end of the city to the other in about 30 minutes, but there’s so much to see and do in between. Get in some shopping (Icelandic wool blankets, anyone?), delicious Scandinavian food (don’t try fermented shark – trust us), or museum visits. Among others, the phallic museum is of particular interest to many visitors!
Go horseback riding – If shopping and museums just aren’t your cup of tea, take a bus into the city and book a short horseback riding excursion through Reykjavik’s volcanic fields with Islenski Hesturinn. Icelandic horses are a treat to experience, so don’t pass up the opportunity.
Rent a car and drive part of the Golden Circle – More suited to a multi day stopover, the Golden Circle is easily a multi-day adventure. Enjoy Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir and its hot springs, or simply enjoy stopping along the drive for picture after picture of the gorgeous landscape.
Written by Meagan @ The Two Restless Homebodies
Heading to Iceland in the Winter? Check out this extensive guide to Iceland in December.
IRELAND – Dublin
By The Upbeat Path
Why visit Dublin? There’s hardly anything that can put a damper on a layover in this city – aside from the rain clouds, but I would say that’s part of the character during a layover in Dublin. Dublin is an accessible destination to get your daily fixing as it’s only 6 miles (12 kilometers) from the Dublin International Airport. Getting to and from is made simple via the 747 buses known as Airlink. The Airlink costs €6 one-way for adults, €10 return. The buses are frequent, departing every 15 or 20 minutes. If you’re on even more of a time crunch, you could take an Uber instead.
Once in the city, get your caffeine boost at a local coffee spot. Dublin has some excellent coffee that is up to even our high coffee standards. Visit the historical and holy Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as it’s a staple of this city. TIP: If you’re in a hurry, avoid paying to get inside and instead walk around the outside and read up for yourself.
Next, you’re going to want to find yourself the perfect pint. No better way to do so than by touring the Guinness Storehouse. Admission costs €17.50 per person and includes a self-guided tour around the museum as well as a drink ticket for a complimentary pint. The tour takes about 2 hours to complete. Finally, enjoy a storytelling dinner at Brazen Head (but make reservations!).
While there are endless ways to experience a city, we hope this peek into our day in Dublin helps you plan your bite-sized tour of Baile Átha Cliath!
Written by Steph & Jim @ The Upbeat Path
ITALY – Milan
By Parenthood & Passports
If you have a long layover in Milan, Italy, it’s worth leaving Malpensa airport to see one of the most stunning and famous cathedrals in the world, the Duomo di Milano. The city center is accessible by train, however the journey from Malpensa airport to Milan will take roughly an hour. So, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of time between flights.
The train station is connected to Terminal 1 of Malpensa Airport. If arriving in Terminal 2 there is a shuttle that runs between the two terminals 24-hours a day. You can take this Malpensa Express train directly to the city center. However, there is also a Malpensa Airport Bus or you could also organise a Malpensa Airport transfer if you prefer. If you have limited time, your first stop should be the Milan Duomo. If you do nothing else in Milan visit the Duomo! To do so you’ll need to take the Malpensa Express to the Cadorna Station. From there it is roughly a 15 minute walk to the Duomo or you can hop on the metro or take a short three minutes cab ride.
When at the Duomo be sure to tour the inside and take the stairs or elevator to the top of the cathedral for an incredible view of Milan from the terrace.
The Galleria Vittorio is located directly adjacent to the Duomo. It’s worth strolling through, as the architecture of the building is beautiful with its elaborate glass archways. You’ll find some of the world’s top fashion brands represented in the galleria, which should come as no surprise since Milan is one of the most fashionable cities in the world.
If you have enough time and have planned in advance, The Last Supper is another popular stop in Milan. However, to see this famous work of art, you need to purchase timed tickets in advance, otherwise you’ll spend your entire layover standing in line with no guarantee of getting in to see the priceless work of Leonardo da Vinci.
As with most layovers, you will not have time to see everything Milan has to offer, but even if you only see the Duomo and The Last Supper, your layover in Milan will be well worth the long train ride from the airport!
Written by Melissa @ Parenthood & Passport
ITALY – Rome
By Travel Made Simple
Rome is a fascinating city, and while you could spend weeks there and not see everything, you can certainly enjoy a long layover if that’s the time you have. The Fiumicino Airport is well connected to the city center by a train called the Leonardo Express, which is perfect for a layover in Rome. The train takes about 32 minutes, costs 14 euros per person one way, and runs nonstop between the airport and the Roma Termini station. The ticket machines are easy to use, and you can even switch the language to English if you don’t speak Italian. Once you arrive at Termini Station, you can get to many of the city’s tourist attractions by using the metro.
One of my favorite sights in Rome is the Colosseum. The metro from Termini to the Colosseo station takes just 4 minutes, so it’s an easy one to get to with limited time. I recommend buying skip the line tickets to save time once you’re there. If your layover time lines up with and you have several hours, there are some fantastic tours that not only allow you to skip the line, but also take you to sections of the Colosseum that are off limits to the general public.
Another great way to experience any city is a food tour, and what better way to see Rome than through its food? There are many different options in Rome, so look for one that fits your timing and starts near public transport. You’ll get to spend your layover tasting authentic pasta, pizza, gelato, and other local flavors.
If you’re looking for something else, you could go see the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, relax at a cafe on Piazza Navona, wander along the Tiber River, or enjoy a delicious Italian meal. The key is to remember, you can’t do it all!
Since the airport train runs every 15 minutes, I recommend estimating about 45 minutes in each direction in case you just miss a train. You’ll need to get back to the airport at least an hour before your next flight to get through security, possibly even earlier if it’s an international flight. And don’t forget it takes time to get off the plane and through the airport when you arrive. With all of this in mind, you should subtract 3-4 hours from your scheduled layover time to determine how much time you have left to explore the city.
Written by Ali @ Travel Made Simple
Interested in doing more in Rome? Check out this one day in Rome itinerary.
LATVIA – Riga
By Megan Starr
I think Riga, Latvia makes for one of Europe’s best layover spots due to the city’s size and accessibility from the airport. Riga is the hub for the Baltic country and acts as a gateway to the east of Europe and even into the Caucasus region, so I have often found myself (at least six times!) on an extensive layover in Riga.
To get from into the city from the airport, you simply walk outside and hop on the Riga airport bus, which is a public bus (no.22 now, but always check to ensure that still stands before your trip) that frequently runs between the airport and city centre. The fare is always extremely affordable and will drop you off right near the city centre (11.Novembra stop is the ideal drop-off point). Otherwise a Riga airport transfer is another potential option. Once there, you can waltz around the Old Town, enjoy delicious Latvian food at the plethora of traditional restaurants in the area, and admire the Disneyland-esque architecture you’ll be surrounded by.
Once you enjoy this part of the city, I definitely recommend branching out a bit and either heading to Miera Iela, a hipster quarter with good restaurants, bars, and the Laima Chocolate Factory, or in the surrounding areas where you can admire Riga’s renowned Art Nouveau architecture scene. When you’re ready to head back to the airport, you can simply take the same airport bus from 13.Janvara stop to Lidosta Riga, or the Riga Airport. The best thing for me about having frequent Riga layovers is that I get to explore new enclaves and neighbourhoods every time I go and I am starting to learn the city like the back of my hand! Riga really is one of those ideal cities for a long layover.
Written by Megan @ Megan Starr
NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam
By Travel Hacker Girl
Amsterdam is one of those ideal cities for a long layover. We had 10 hours between flights so we decided to spend this time exploring Amsterdam. It is easy, quick and cheap to get into the city centre on a layover in Amsterdam. The best way from Amsterdam Airport to the city is to use the train. They run 24 hours a day and it takes 10 minutes to get into the centre. A one-way journey costs €3.30 and €7.80 for a same-day return journey. However, an Amsterdam Airport transfer is another option.
The city isn’t too big, so you can very comfortably walk to most places, however, I think Amsterdam is best explored by bike. I am an avid cyclist, so we didn’t hesitate to rent a bike. As you probably know the city is very bike friendly. It is a very safe and convenient way to travel.
As we had just a short time in the city we mostly just wanted to get a feel of the city. I think another must do apart from cycling is going on a boat trip. You can buy tickets all over the city and get on a boat almost straight away. The canals are really gorgeous and our guide was very informative. We learned a lot about canal boats, house prices, the history of the city and the canal system. Don’t forget to try Dutch fries and Stroopwafel while you are there!
Written by Enikő @ Travel Hacker Girl
NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam
By My Kids In Tow
Rotterdam is a post-apocalyptic futuristic city 40 miles south of Amsterdam. I understand this sounds like the opening line of a movie, but it’s real. During World War II, (1940- 1945) the city of Rotterdam experienced massive bombing raids that levelled the entire city. Nothing was left except a few homes and the St Lawrence Church. The city decided to rebuild better than it was before. There seemed to be no thought of nostalgically rebuilding the old city, as it would be at the expense of a more modern future. And modern it is. Here is why Rotterdam is the Netherlands, best-kept secret that you can explore if you have a layover in Amsterdam.
Rotterdam is only 27 Minutes from Amsterdam airport by train. The architecture is amazing and futuristic. You feel as though you’re living in the future. Don’t miss the Markaal Market, the cube houses, the Erasmus bridge, and the Euromast. Art is everywhere.
It’s great to just walk around and take in the surprises around the city. Don’t miss Witte de Witte strand, a funky artistic street with many restaurants and bars. There’s a great park in the middle of the city, an idyllic green space. There are also canals everywhere and water taxis. When in Rotterdam, you have to take a water taxi. Visit New York New York, a hotel and now restaurant where many people sailed from on their way to America hundreds of years ago.
Rotterdam is truly a hidden gem in the Netherlands making it one of the ideal cities for a long layover.
Written by Amy @ My Kids In Tow
NORWAY – Oslo
Written by Millie @ MillieGoes
POLAND – Krakow
Krakow is one of the most popular travel destinations in Poland. It is visited by all kinds of tourists: architecture lovers, history aficionados, party goers, shopaholics, you name it!
It is also perfect layover destination – Krakow has its own airport which is very well connected with the city center. When you land in Krakow Balice airport, there are several bus shuttles available to take you to the city – municipal bus lines 208 and 252, and night shuttle number 902. Such trip by bus takes about 40 minutes, depending on the traffic. There is also Koleje Malopolskie train which takes tourists to the main train station in city center – this one takes only about 20 minutes. For those who are not willing to take public transportation, there are many taxis waiting in the airport.
Krakow is not only the biggest and most famous city in southern Poland. It is a beautiful place with many well-preserved historical sites. Packed with museums, churches, exhibitions, and impressive cathedrals, Cracow allows you to get to know Polish history well.
Kracow’s main attractions are Old Town, Wawel Royal Castle and Kazimierz Jewish district, all of which were added to UNESCO heritage list in 1978. The best thing is that all those places are located close to the city center, so tourists can get there by foot. It is possible to see the most important places in Krakow in less than 24 hours.
If we look for a relaxing getaway, a must-see is Kracow’s botanical garden located on Kopernika street. Created in 1783 it is the oldest botanical garden in Poland. It is especially beautiful in the springtime, when tourists can enjoy nice weather and amazing colors of plants. Getting there from Krakow’s main train station takes only 20 minutes by foot.
Written by Joanna @ Overhere
POLAND – Wawsaw
By My Wanderlust
Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is often overlooked by tourists who prefer to visit Cracow. But Warsaw has a lot to offer too, and if you happen to have a layover here, you can use this time to get to know the city.
Warsaw Chopin Airport is located relatively close to the center. You can get there either by train or bus no 175 in 30 minutes or less. One way ticket costs 4,40 PLN (around €1 / $1,15), and both trains and buses have frequent departures.
Once in the center, you can enjoy the picture-perfect Old Town that was severely destroyed during World War 2. What you can see now is the rebuilt version that was based on the paintings by 18th-century Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto. For the best view of the Old Town and beyond climb to the tower next to the St. Anne’s Church. Stroll down elegant Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat streets where you can stop for lunch and try delicious Polish food like pierogi.
If you still have some time you can visit one of the Warsaw museums – I recommend the Neon Museum on the other side of the Vistula river. It shows beautiful neon signs that Polish streets were full of in the Cold War times. From the museum, it’s a short walk to Warszawa Wschodnia station where you can catch the train back to the airport.
Written by Kami @ My Wanderlust
PORTUGAL – Lisbon
Compact and easy to get around, Lisbon is a fantastic city for a layover. With a little planning, most of the sights can be seen in a few hours and that includes plenty of opportunities to indulge in Lisbon’s delicious cuisine as well, making a layover in Lisbon a perfect opportunity! Getting in and out of Lisbon is straight-forward. The most cost-effective way is via metro, which typically takes around 30 minutes. A taxi or Uber takes even less time; usually 15-20 minutes.
Most of Lisbon’s key attractions are split between Lisbon City Centre and the Belém neighbourhood. Don’t miss Praça do Comércio and the Castelo de São Jorge while you’re in the city centre, two of Lisbon’s main attractions. It’s also worth taking the time to wander the streets, particularly around Alfama.
If you don’t want to stop for a leisurely lunch, the quickest thing to grab is a bifana or a prego. These two sandwiches are the closest thing that Portugal has to street food and fast food, and they’re definitely worth trying. Getting between the city centre and Belém is best done by tram (#15) or by taxi. While a tram takes around 30 minutes, a taxi or Uber takes just 15. During a layover, it’s often worth forking out for a taxi in order to save time. In Belém, take the time to visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Torre de Belém, and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Belém is also home to the original pastel de nata, which can be found at Pastéis de Belém.
After that, it’s back to the airport for your next flight. It’s a flying visit of Lisbon, but it’s much better than simply sitting in the airport.
Written by James @ Portugalist
SPAIN – Barcelona
By Serena's Lenses
Barcelona in Spain is one of the best European layover cities due to the ease of getting from the airport to city center and the close proximity of the most famous Barcelona tourist attractions.
From the Barcelona Airport, you have several options to reach city center. The easiest and fastest way is to take the Aerobus, an express bus service from the airport to Plaza Espana or Plaza de Catalunya that takes about half an hour. The bus costs EURO5.90 one way and EU10.20 roundtrip.
There is also a RENFE train from Barcelona Airport to the City Center (Barcelona Sants, Passeig de Gracia or Clot) in 30 minutes after which you can connect to the metro underground system.
During a layover in Barcelona, try to focus on one particular area instead of going very far. The best Barcelona attractions during your layover should include a walk on La Rambla, the most popular pedestrian street in Barcelona, a visit to the Gaudi houses Casa Batlo and Casa Mila and eventually make your way to La Sagrada Familia, the unfinished master piece of Gaudi.
The Gaudi houses and La Sagrada Familia get packed during the day so to make your layover as efficient as possible you should purchase tickets online so you don’t have to wait around. Give yourself enough time in case your flight is delayed or there is traffic from the Barcelona airport to city center. Spend at least an hour at each attraction to get the most out of your layover.
If you have extra time during your layover, say 24 hours in Barcelona, you can either check out Barceloneta, a popular man-made beach in Barcelona or visit the Barcelona Cathedral, a famous cathedral in the Gothic district.
Written by Serena @ Serena’s Lenses
SPAIN – Madrid
By Something Of Freedom
With flights to/from multiple destinations in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, Madrid is one of those ideal cities for a long layover. For most, immigration is a breeze, as residents of a large number of countries don’t need an advance visa. Unfortunately though, for residents of China and some smaller nations listed here, it is necessary to get a visa at least 2 weeks in advance.
Thankfully, Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is very well connected to Madrid city centre making a layover in Madrid a breeze. Between 5.58am and 10.27pm, you can catch the RENFE Cercanías train to Atocha station for just €2.60. The downside is this only runs from terminal 4, so you’ll have to catch the airport shuttle there if you’re at another terminal. A great, but slightly more expensive alternative at €5, is the 24-hour express bus service which takes up to 40 minutes to reach the city.
Madrid’s main attractions are within walking distance of each other, so it’s possible to explore the city on foot. If you’re really pushed for time though, make use of the local metro service. For grandiose architecture head to the royal palace, and while you’re there enjoy a stroll through the colourful gardens. If you’d prefer to soak up the Spanish sun, don’t miss El Retiro park. Hire a rowboat for a pleasant ride on the park lake or enjoy the expansive areas of greenery throughout. Should you crave more beautiful architecture, the charming Plaza Mayor is a must see. There are plenty of shops and cafes if you fancy a bite to eat, but if you’re looking for a cheaper option head to the nearby San Miguel market. With so much to do and the city easily accessible from the airport, you can’t go wrong with a layover in Madrid!
Written by Sam & Natalia @ Something Of Freedom
SWEDEN – Stockholm
By Lose The Map
Stockholm is one of the best layover cities in Europe. I have had two separate layovers there, in addition to a wonderful longer stay, and whether you have just five hours or 20 hours to see the city, it’s a great place to experience and very convenient to get to from the airport! Not to mention, Stockholm is easily walkable once you get to the city center.
Written by Joanna @ Lose The Map
SWITZERLAND – Zurich
By Wanderlust & Life
One of our favourite layover destinations in Europe has to be Zurich. If you ever book a flight with Swiss Air, then chances are, you will find yourself transiting through the airport here at the very least making a layover in Zurich easily accessible. The airport is not only the main hub for Swiss Air but also the largest international airport in Switzerland. One of the reasons it makes for a great layover is because it is so quick and easy getting into the city centre. For starters, trains from the airport into town run every 5-10 minutes all day between 5am and 12.30am. The train journey only takes 10 minutes and costs around 7 Francs. Alternatively, you can get a taxi or shuttle bus, but do keep in mind these are more expensive options.
When you arrive in the centre of Zurich, you can walk to the majority of the main attractions. This really is really the best way to experience this fairy tale city. In terms of things to do we highly recommend making sure you visit the Sprungli store for some really amazing chocolates and pastry. As well as that, you can take a walk by Lake Zurich, but if you are here in winter, be prepared as it will be quite cold, but quiet and less touristy. If on the other hand, you are lucky enough to visit in the summer, you can rent a paddle boat and enjoy the sunshine.
Another great sight is Grossmunster or the Grand Church. You will instantly recognise it because of its twin spires. If you get the chance, go inside and for a small fee climb to the top. You get some really cool views of the city from here. But our absolute favourite thing to do in Zurich on a layover is to visit Lindenhof, which is a small park with some epic city views. All in all, because it is so easy to get from the airport to the city, and the fact that Zurich is so easy to get around, we really do think this layover in Switzerland is one of the best layover cities in Europe.
Written by Lizzie & Dave @ Wunderlust & Life
UKRAINE – Kiev
By Megan Starr
One of the absolute best cities to have a long layover in is Kiev, Ukraine. The Ukrainian capital now has an express train connecting the airport to the city center and this is unprecedented as it was the most annoying and cumbersome process before. There are many things to do in Kiev for all types of travelers. The city has several museums ranging from the kitschy Chernobyl Museum to the larger than life Soviet-built WW2 Museum. Kiev has plenty of Soviet architecture if you’re into that and there are also some of the most jaw-dropping churches and cathedrals throughout the city. My favorite church is the blue St. Michael’s Monastery. If you’re looking for a good bite to eat- you won’t have to look far. There are some of the hippest cafes in Europe sitting right in Kiev and all have amazing coffee and food. One of the best things about Kiev is that it is affordable for most travelers. Getting to the city from the airport is extremely cheap and once you’re in the city, you can take the Kiev Metro around for less than $0.20 per ride… and you can even venture into the world’s deepest metro station at Arsenalna. If you find yourself with an opportunity to pass through Kiev on a long layover, take it! It is a great way to get a nice introduction to the city.
Written by Megan @ Megan Starr
So there you have it – no excuses when it comes to exploring Europe cities now! So next time you have a long layover be sure to consider leaving the city and exploring these incredible cities.