5 Airports That Offer Layover Tours

For many travellers stuck on layovers, this is what they usually think: now what? So what do we do? Spend hours clearing our emails, playing mobile games, wandering the airport and occasionally standing in one place and watching people for probably too long. It may have never occurred to us, as it does not to most travellers, that some of our layovers could be better spent exploring the city we happen to be stuck in.

So the next time your business travels land you in one of the following airports for longer than you would prefer, consider venturing out to these cities.

1. Narita Airport - Tokyo, Japan

Launched in March 2015, the Narita Transit Program gives you the option of three guided or two self-guided tours to experience omotenashi – traditional Japanese hospitality. Sign up for the tours at the NaritaTransit Program counter in Terminal 1 or 2, open daily between 9am and 12pm. All tours are free, but you will need to pay for expenses including transportation and entry fees. Tour lengths are about three hours long, so only those with at least five hours before their next flight should register.

Course 1 (guided) Travel back 1,000 years as you step inside the ancient Shinsho-ji Temple. You will also be able to stroll down the culturally-rich streets of Omotesando, where you can try traditional cuisine and purchase artisan goods.

Course 2 (guided) Already miss being on a plane? Spend your layover in a flight simulator and learn about aeronautical history at the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences. Life-size displays of aircraft and various interactive exhibits are both informational and entertaining.

Course 3 (guided) Enjoy some quality time away from civilisation with a relaxing walk in Tako's countryside. Home to rice paddies and vast open spaces, Tako also has a riverside pathway where vibrant purple hydrangeas bloom in summer.

Courses 4 & 5 (self-guided) Spend some time shopping in one of Japan's world-famous outlet malls. Course 4 gives you 2 ½ hours at Shisui Premium Outlets that is home to 120 stores, while Course 5 takes you to Aeon Mall Narita. Both tours include gift vouchers to be spent at the malls.

2. Incheon International Airport – Seoul, Korea

Enjoy sights like Haedon Yonggungsa Temple, Incheon Grand Bridge, Shinpo Market, Namsangol Hanok Village, and Gyeongbokgung Palace along the ocean side – there are a total of 14 daily departures, between 8am and 3pm, at a small fee of USD10 per person. Reserve your seat online or at the main Transit Tour desks on Level 1, in front of Gate 8 of the passenger terminal. Tour lengths vary between one to five hours so do check with the Transit desk if you have enough layover time.

3. Heathrow Airport - London, England

London Magical Tours runs its full arsenal of London sightseeing tours out of Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Each tour includes a qualified guide, chauffeur and vehicle (car, minibus or coach) to suit your group size. Tours should be booked in advance so that the representative can greet you at the airport and kick start your sightseeing experience immediately. The length and price will vary depending on the tour. Below are three recommended tours:

London Half-Day Tour (3 hours) Take in the biggest sights of London that includes Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and St James Palace. You will have numerous opportunities to get out on the street and explore the historic sites up close.

Sherlock Holmes' London (2.5 hours) Follow in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson with visits to iconic Sherlock-themed locations including 221b Baker Street, Scotland Yard and a special meeting place. Conan Doyle's Practice and the Sherlock Holmes Museum are also on the agenda.

London Night Tour (3 hours) See the city sights via car and on foot with a private guide. At night, London is beautifully illuminated with old-world street lamps and well-lit world famous buildings such as Harrods. Waterloo Bridge, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square are some of the other stops lined up for the tour.

4. Salt Lake City Airport - Salt Lake City, USA

If you have got two or more hours to spare, make the most of your time with a free shuttle bus to Temple Square. One of the city's most-visited sites, Temple Square is home to numerous eye-catching buildings including Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle and the Seagull Monument. To register for the tour, simply visit the Information Desk in Terminal 1 or 2. The shuttle bus makes hourly trips between 11am and 4pm.

5. Doha Airport - Doha, Qatar Qatar Airways offers a free city tour for travellers with at least five hours of layover time. Visit four iconic Doha landmarks during a three hour tour that includes the Museum of Islamic Art and Katara Cultural Village that showcases Qatar's fascinating culture including jewellery, spices, art and shopping. There are four tours a day, available on a first-come-first-served basis. Head to the Doha City Tour desk, located at the beginning of Concourse B, after you land.

- Flight Centre Business Travel -