A sloppy stopover can break a trip, or at the very least, your sanity. But inside the world’s busiest transit hubs, there’s much more on offer than a moderately stocked bookstore to help keep the momentum of movement for travellers. Here are some of our favourite ways to make a stopover work for you while waiting for that next flight.
View the great masters at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
As the only airport in the world to house its own gallery wing of Golden Age Dutch art, this on-site museum wedged between lounges two and three is an extension of its city-based sister Rijksmuseum. Free of charge, the gallery is small but mighty – there are currently 10 paintings on the other side of security accessible to the public 24 hours a day, including 17th-century masterpieces from maestri such as Jan van Goyen, Abraham Mignon and Michiel van Mierevelt.
Get a culture shock (on purpose) at Narita Airport, Tokyo
From dressing in yukata (light kimono) to taking part in a Japanese tea ceremony and making replica sushi as a souvenir, Narita Airport leaves no cultural stone unturned. This impressive range of free workshops is part of the ‘have fun at Narita’ program and they’re scattered throughout two of the airport’s terminals, with some options on the other side of passport control.
Take a whistlestop city tour from Changi Airport, Singapore
As a major global hub for travellers in transit, it’s practically inevitable you’ll spend a few hours kicking around Changi Airport at some point on your jaunts. Although there’s more to do within its confines than at many other airports (a 1000 species-strong butterfly habitat and a giant slide spring to mind), the free sightseeing tours around Singapore are too good to pass up. With a choice between a heritage and city sights tour, these 2.5-hour loops stick to strict schedules in order to fit neatly into flight layovers (though the rules state you need at least 5.5. hours between flights in case of unforseen delays) and snake through the city, exploring either modern or traditional architecture for the perfect slice of this gracefully grand metropolis.
Sleep deeply at London Heathrow, London
Airport hotels have a long-standing reputation for being overpriced and uninspired. YotelAir, the streamlined capsule-esque hotel within Heathrow’s Terminal 4 gives transiting throngs a flexible and comfortable option for getting some shut-eye. Rooms are priced in an initial four-hour block at a reasonable £40 (about A$70) – the perfect amount of time for a shower, an extended nap and to make use of the free wi-fi.
Curate a killer procrastination schedule in Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt
Frankfurt airport has devised the best way to help travel hostages get something out of their stopover – within their official app, there’s a section dedicated to ideas for killing time. In the ‘create your stay’ section, you can add a whole range of activities to your layover-list from a visit to the yoga room, an extended session in the gaming area or a 2.5-hour sightseeing trip around nearby Frankfurt.