Last updated on January 7th, 2022
Places worth lingering in
By Marin Scotten, Editorial Intern, JourneyWoman
No one likes a layover, but on some trips, it’s unavoidable. Luckily, some of the world’s international hubs have put a lot of thought into the overall experience, creating little pockets of traveller joy to counterbalance the pain of long layovers.
We asked JourneyWomen to share their top airports to linger in, and what they look for ranges from variety in food options (that are also open all night), amenities designed with comfort and convenience in mind, and easy access to the nearest city centre for exploring.
Below are the top 10 best airports for travel layovers, as ranked by our readers.
Why JourneyWomen Love It: Schiphol scores top marks for comfort, amenities, variety of shops and its proximity to the city. JourneyWomen Bev Boates and Suzanne McConaghy both say a Schiphol layover is great for exploring Amsterdam.
COVID Testing: Schiphol offers on-site testing with a booked appointment.
Distinctive Offerings: One of Shiphol’s standout offerings is the Rijskmuseum, a smaller version of Amsterdam’s world-famous art gallery. Here you can explore a sampling of famous 19th century Dutch paintings. There is also a meditation centre and library where travellers can pray, meditate or just relax in silence. For those who’ve had extra stressful journeys, Schiphol’s XpresSpa offers massages, facials or manicures to freshen up.
Food & Beverage/Shopping/Lounges: The airport’s 62 restaurants offer options for every style of traveller, from health food markets to upscale dining experiences.
Nearby Hotel Options: Both The Hilton and The Sheraton are just a five-minute walk from Schiphol and offer comfort without breaking the bank. If you don’t want to leave the building to get a good night’s rest, YOTELAIR Amsterdam Schiphol is located inside the airport’s terminal and is accessible to everyone.
Distance from city centre: Downtown Singapore is about a 45-minute subway ride from Changi Airport, but with just one transfer it is relatively easy to navigate.
Nearby Hotel Options: Changi offers a variety of accommodation for travellers. There are three transit hotels available, the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel, The Ambassador Transit Hotel and the JetQuay CIP Terminal.
COVID Testing: Changi offers testing and now requires passengers to test upon arrival.
Distinctive offerings: For travellers’ entertainment, there are many different gardens and art displays across the airport. There is even a butterfly room, which is a highlight for JourneyWoman Leanna Chewy. “The butterfly room and cinema make Changi a standout from the rest,” she says.
Food and Beverages: Changi also has over 250 shops and 160 restaurants to choose from, with an option for every traveller.
“So much to see and do. Wonderful food, butterfly room, theatres and so much more. It has a brilliant shopping centre attached to it. For the locals a trip to the airport is an enjoyable day out & management encourages people to do so,” Fiona Robe says.
Why JourneyWomen Love it: JourneyWomen love Hamad Airport for its comfort, service and high-quality food between flights. Kristin Griffith says the food in the business class lounge is amazing.
COVID Testing: Hamad temperature screens all travellers upon arrival but does not provide on-site testing.
Distance from city centre: Hamad International Airport is located 14 km outside of Doha and is a short 15-minute metro ride to downtown. Single-use metro tickets cost around $1 CAD.
Nearby hotel options: Oryx Airport Hotel is the hotel in closest proximity to Hamad Int’l, located inside the airport’s terminal. It offers both luxury and convenience for travellers looking to unwind before their next flight.
Distinctive Offerings: One of the most relaxing things to do at Hamad International is visit The Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre. Inside there is a 25-metre swimming pool, fully equipped gymnasium, hydrotherapy tub and shower room. The entrance fee is 175 QAR, or around $60 CAD.
Shopping: Hamad International showcases its culture to visitors, with many Middle Eastern shops such as Al Motohajiba and Bazaar Souvenirs, where you can find a ‘little slice of Qatar.’ There is also shopping for the luxury traveller in designer shops like Burberry and Gucci.
Why JourneyWomen love it: “I had a 12 hour layover at the Hong Kong airport after a flight from NYC. They had wonderful private showers and sleeping rooms in addition to shops and restaurants,” Janet Harrell says.
COVID Testing: Hong Kong provides COVID testing at two different locations, both in terminal 1. Tests are provided by Prenetics and Raffles Medical Group. Passengers must book in advance.
Distance from City Centre: Hong Kong International’s Airport Express train allows travellers to reach the city centre in just 24 minutes. Tickets cost approximately $18 CAD.
Hotels nearby: There are three hotels within close proximity to Hong Kong International. Novotel CityGate Hong Kong and the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott both offer a complimentary shuttle service to the airport. Regal Airport Hotel is directly connected to Terminal 1 if you prefer convenience.
COVID Testing: Testing is available at Vancouver International, and currently required for all incoming international travellers.
Distance to city centre: Vancouver International Airport, also known as YVR is a 30-minute train ride from downtown Vancouver and only 18 minutes from downtown Richmond.
Hotels nearby: The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is the only hotel located within YVR, but there are plenty others within close proximity including the Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel and the Holiday Inn Vancouver Centre.
Distinct offerings: When strolling through YVR, you will find a diverse collection of First Nations art, as well as an aquarium and over 70 shops to browse while you wait for your flight.
Lounges: Passengers also have access to three different Plaza Premium Lounges, which are available regardless of ticket class. These lounges include luxurious furnishings, nap rooms and showers to freshen up before your next flight.
COVID Testing: Frankfurt has a COVID Testing Centre on-site.
Distance from city centre: Frankfurt Airport is located 15 km from Frankfurt’s city centre and is easily accessible by train or taxi.
Hotels Nearby: There are over 10 hotels to choose from, all within walking distance to the airport. The MY CLOUD Transit Hotel offers International passengers a place to sleep without having to leave the transit area.
Food options: If you’re looking for something healthy before the next round of airplane food, check out Natoo, Frankfurt Airport’s new, sustainable, locally-sourced cafe with a large selection of vegan and vegetarian meal options.
Why JourneyWomen love it: JourneyWoman Leila Lamara loves Dubai International for its relaxing lounges, extensive food options and variety of shops.
COVID Testing: Dubai International offers onsite COVID testing for travellers arriving from certain destinations where it is a requirement.
Distance to city centre: Dubai International is about a 20-minute metro ride and 30-minute taxi from the city centre.
Hotels nearby: For overnight layovers, there are plenty of places to sleep, from comfortable cabins to five-star hotels. Dubai International Hotel offers luxury comfort inside the terminal.
Distinct offerings: There is no shortage of things to do at Dubai International. The airport is known for its Al Majlis, which provides a luxurious, sociable space for passengers. There is also a health club with a full-length swimming pool and gymnasium, as well as several spa facilities and lounges.
Five lessons learned from my first international trip in two years, with tips on travel insurance, testing, mask etiquette and travel agents.
COVID Testing: Miami International has two different testing centres, available for walk-in and appointment booking.
Distance from city centre: Downtown Miami is easily accessible from Miami International Airport or MIA. Travellers can hop on the Metrorail Orange line and reach downtown in about 15 minutes with no transfers.
Hotels nearby: The Miami International Airport Hotel is located inside MIA and provides direct access to airline ticketing counters and departure concourses. JourneyWomen say this hotel also offers daybeds at an affordable rate.
Shopping and food options: For things to do, MIA has over 200 shops and restaurants. Passengers can also order food to go through the MIA2Go app.
Lounges: Travellers can choose from over 10 lounges to relax and unwind in between flights. There is also a non-denominational chapel for those with religious needs.
(Seoul, South Korea)
Why JourneyWomen love it: JourneyWoman Mary Buck loves Incheon International for its comfortable lounge chairs and free showers.
COVID Testing: Incheon International has a testing centre in Terminals 1 & 2.
Distinct offerings: To make the time pass during long layovers, Incheon has a very unique offering for travellers called the K-Stopover. This tour product includes a hotel, tour, performance and transportation to and from the airport. You can create your own K-Stopover or choose from existing tour packages for as little as $60 USD.
Shops and restaurants: For those with a shorter layover, there is a wide array of shops and restaurants to choose from as well as cultural experience centres located around the airport.
COVID Testing: Adolfo has a testing centre available to all travellers.
Distance from city centre: Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport is easily accessible from downtown Madrid. Passengers can take the metro or railway to the city centre in just 15 minutes and no transfer is required.
Hotels nearby: The airport has a hotel for travellers in Terminal 4, which can be booked overnight or for just a few hours. Hotel Melia Barajas and Hotel Tryp Madrid Alameda Aeropuerto are located near the airport and both offer a 24-hour shuttle service.
Lounges: There are nine different lounges to choose from, all of which offer catering services, WiFi and shower rooms.
Do you have an airport to add to this list? Share it with us, along with what makes it great for unavoidable layovers.
More Travel Advice from the JourneyWoman Community
Eight women travellers share the most unique accommodations they’ve ever booked in far-flung destinations around the world.
Take a peek into my backpack with my Camino de Santiago packing list, filled with everything you need to get ready for your pilgrimage.
Learn what savvy women travellers splurge on – and their tips to help you deepen your next travel experience, even when you’re on a budget.