Sleeping in Airports
Istanbul Layover Tours
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Top 6 Airports Offering Free Layover Tours!

We all know that long layovers are made infinitely better when you can get out of the terminal and check out the sights on a mini layover vacation. But, sometimes the hassle of navigating public transport, figuring out what you want to see, working through a new language AND making it back in time for your next flight is all a bit much. Perhaps mindlessly browsing luxury sunglasses isn’t so bad after all?

But wait! There’s a FREE solution. A number of airports have begun to organize tours for people with long layovers, eliminating the stress of organizing your own. Most of these tours will hook you up with an English-speaking guide who will get you to – and show you around – the best sights, while still leaving enough time to get you back for your next flight.

Heads up that no matter what tour you go on, you do need to have your immigration documents in check. This might mean pre-arranging a transit visa to enter the country for a couple of hours.

Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore Airport Layover Tours
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Got a 5.5+ hour layover in Singapore? Great news, if you can tear yourself away from the top-rated terminal! Changi offers free layover tours that take transit passengers to the city’s top sights. Daytime tours head through the colonial and business districts, before dropping passengers off for a 20 minute stroll around Merlion Park. From here, you then drive through China Town and Little India, before stopping to explore the Kampong Glam and Malay Heritage Centre. Night tours are a little longer and focus on city lights. Highlights include driving beneath the Singapore Flyer and around Marina Bay, before stopping at Merlion Park and Gardens by the Bay to stretch your legs.

How to sign up: Head to a Free Singapore Tours booth in either Terminals 2 or 3. There are 6 departure times each day, and you need to register at least an hour before the tour begins.

Cost: Free! Excludes any personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time: Tours are all 2.5 hours, meaning your layover should be a minimum of 5.5 hours (6 hours for the night tour).

Seoul Incheon Airport

Seoul Incheon Airport Layover Tours
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Stuck in Seoul? Here, you’ve got 7 different free layover tour options to pick from that last anywhere from an hour to five. Whether you nip over to the nearby Yonggungsa Temple to see a 1,300-year-old zelkova tree or you spend hours wandering Insa-dong street and the Gyeongbokgung palace, you’re sure to get at least a taste of South Korean culture. Each tour travels together on a bus, led by an English-speaking guide.

How to sign up: Visit one of the Transit Tour desks on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd floors of the passenger Terminal. Tours depart at set times daily. You can also make a reservation online in advance.

Cost: Free! Excludes any personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time: Tour choices last between 1 – 5 hours. You should make sure that your layover is at least 2 hours longer than your selected tour. This means that1 hour tour-goers should have a layover of at least 3 hours.

Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo Narita Layover Tours
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In March 2015, the Narita Transit Program launched a series of free tours designed to let transit passengers experience omotenashi – traditional Japanese hospitality. Although these tours don’t provide you with transport, they do partner you with a volunteer guide who will get you to and show you around Narita-san Omotesando road, Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple, Narita-san Park or the rural town of Tako. Alternatively, you can sign up to take a tour without a guide. While this option sounds a lot like traveling to either Shisui Premium Outlet Mall or AEON Mall on your own, signing up does get you a few free shopping or internet vouchers!

How to sign up: You can sign up for the tours at the reception desks in the arrivals lobby of Terminals 1 and 2. The desk is open from 9am – noon daily.

Cost: Free! Excludes any transport and personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time: Tours are all roughly 3 hours, meaning your layover should be a minimum of 5 hours long.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport

Taipei Taoyuan Airport Layover Tours
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Got 8 hours? Taipei’s free layover tours are by far the most comprehensive of the bunch. If you happen to jump on a morning tour, you’ll be taken throughout the countryside surrounding Taiwan, popping into ceramics museums, pottery hubs and the Zushi Temple. If you join an afternoon tour, you’ll be bussed into the heart of the city, stopping at the Taipei 101 Building (formerly the tallest in the world!), the Martyr’s Shrine, Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Both tours are said to be about 5 hours long, but traffic can delay your return time.

How to sign up: Visit the tourist center in the Airport Arrival lobby. Two tours depart daily – one around 8am and another around 1:30pm.

Cost: Free! Excludes any personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time required: Tours are between 5 – 6 hours, meaning you should have a layover that is at least 8 hours.

Doha Hamad Airport

Doha Airport: Layover Tours
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Traveling through Doha? Qatar Airways, in partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority, offers a free city tour to people with a layover of over 5 hours. This tour takes you to all of the city’s most famous sights, including the Pearl-Qatar, the Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art and Souq Waqif – a traditional Arabian market. Best of all? This whole tour happens from the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle with an English-speaking guide!

How to sign up: Head to the Doha City Tour desk. Pre-booking is not required

Cost: Free! Excludes any personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time required: 5 hours

Istanbul Ataturk Airport

Istanbul Layover Tours
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Are you traveling internationally through Turkey with Turkish Airlines? If you are, you probably qualify for the new and free Istanbul layover tour, run by TourIstanbul! This new service offers 3 different tours daily that cover the city’s most famous sights – including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern. The three tours are quite long – the shortest is 6 hours – meaning you will get a thorough overview of the city before flying onwards!

How to sign up: Visit the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals terminal at least 30 minutes before the tour starts. Tours take place from 9am – 3pm, 9am – 6pm and noon – 6pm daily.

Cost: Free! Excludes any personal expenses (entrance fees, food, etc.)

Minimum layover time required: Tour options last from 6 – 9 hours, and you must arrive back in the terminal no less than an hour before your departing flight. This means that for a 6 hour tour, you should have a 7 – 8 hour layover.

In addition to these free tours, a number of other airports are offering up layover tours for a cost. Oriental Escape offers 4 – 6 hour and 7 – 10 hour tours through Bangkok for transit passengers, and Emirates offers up a series of half-day and full-day tours through Dubai.

For more tour ideas, visit our Airport Layover Sightseeing section.

Have you taken one of these free tours? We’d love to hear feedback on whether you thought they were worthwhile or not!


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