Regularly voted one of the best airports in North America, Portland Airport is an enjoyable place to pass a long layover. Enjoy its friendly vibe, cool atmosphere, and local shops and eateries, and make the best of your time with these ten things to do on a layover at Portland Airport:
1. Enjoy some good cooking
The dining scene here in Portland is well-curated. While there aren’t dozens of options, you will find some classic food options and unique, high-quality dishes. Several restaurants are also locally owned and focused on locally sourced food and many craft beers, including Capers Cafe et Le Bar, the Country Cat, and Laurelwood Public House and Brewery. The many TVs at Henry’s Tavern are perfect for catching the big game during your layover. Mexico, sushi, Vietnamese, and even farm-to-table delis are also available. Oregon chain Burgerville serves fresh burgers and shakes, but you’ll also find Starbucks, Mcdonald’s, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea.
2. Hang out in a lounge
A long layover is the perfect opportunity to try out an airport lounge. If you are an economy class traveller flying on Alaska or United, you can purchase a day pass to use one of their lounges. For a single price, take advantage of unlimited food and drinks, WiFi, comfortable couches and seating, and TV – in a quiet setting conducive to work or relaxation. Our Portland Airport Guide lists locations and details.
3. Go shopping
Similar to the dining scene, the shops aren’t endless, but they do offer a good range of products, particularly those with ties to the area. You’ll find outposts of locally-owned, internationally-known brands like Columbia, Nike, and Pendleton. Everyone’s favourite independent bookstore, Powell’s Books, has a shop here. Made in Oregon is perfect for souvenirs or gifts (we won’t judge if you keep them all for yourself). You’ll also find stores selling travel goods, last-minute items, and locally-made spirits and wine. Shopping in this airport comes with two significant bonuses: Oregon has no sales tax, and the airport maintains a pricing policy, which means shops can’t price-gouge – something we’d love to see more airports adopt!
4. Pamper yourself
Sometimes, a manicure or a massage is all you need to feel more like yourself after air travel.
The Dragon Tree Spa in Concourse C offers various spa services, including manicures, pedicures, and chair, foot, and full-body massages.
5. Get a haircut or shave
Freshen up with a clean haircut or old-fashioned shave at The Barbers, which is open daily.
6. Watch a movie
Chill out in the small, 17-seat theatre, which plays short films about the Pacific Northwest that are entertaining, educational, and kid-friendly. Located in Concourse C, the theatre runs films in a 1-hour loop; entrance is free. Rather watch on your own laptop or mobile device? Visit a Digiboo kiosk to download your movies (multiple locations).
7. Take in some art
Seek out the rotating art exhibits or check the airport schedule to see if any live music performances are happening while you’re there.
8. Go sightseeing
If you’ve got a long layover, you might not be interested in hanging out in any airport, no matter how cool it is. Instead, head into Portland for some city exploring.
Make sure your layover is at least 6 hours long – a taxi or shuttle ride to the city center takes about 30 minutes, and the public transit MAX Red Line light rail, which departs every 15 minutes, takes about 50 minutes.
Are you ready to explore? Head towards the nearby Pearl District, known for great shops and dining. Powell’s City of Books, their largest store, is located here, and several great breweries, like Deschutes and Rogue, are nearby. Near the Portland Art Museum and Oregon History Museum are smaller museums with world-class exhibits. Stroll along the Willamette River Waterfront, a lovely promenade that shows why one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridge City. For a cultural experience, head to the Portland Japanese Garden, known for its dense greenery, zen gardens, and traditional teahouse. If you want to explore more of Portland’s art districts, ride a bike or hire a taxi to reach Hawthorne, Alberta, or Mississippi.
However you spend your layover, return to the airport in time for that next flight!
Spend your layover catching up with the internet thanks to free WiFi.
You shouldn’t have any problem catching up on sleep during your layover, thanks to the friendly staff and the endless amount of arm-free benches (which are curved, so it’s not the world’s perfect situation, but then again, you are sleeping in an airport). Look for rows of seats behind ticket counters, like at Gates C19 and C21: lighting is lower, and there’s a bit of privacy. If you are camping out overnight in the public pre-security area, head to the benches in the International area’s baggage claim, but do expect security guards to ask for ID and proof of your next flight. Prefer to splurge for a hotel? There are several nearby hotels, many offering free airport shuttles. See our Portland Airport Guide for details and locations.
These are just a few things to do on a layover at Portland Airport. Visit our Portland Airport Guide for more information about the services and facilities available, such as food, WiFi, mobile charging, luggage storage, nearby airport hotels, and much more.