5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin

5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City

Check this quick layover guide to avoid getting to the airport and losing all your time spinning around your undecided self!

You have a too-long-for-staying-at-the-airport but too-short-to-see-all-of-it layover in a city. You start to do your research weeks in advance, but then your doubts get worst. So many cool things, so little time…

I’ve had many long layover opportunities before – mostly because I created them myself. Either I chose to book the cheapest flight available (usually even overnight layovers), or I decided to fly through a city that I’d never been before, just so I could lay eyes on it and relieve a bit of my curiosity thirst. It’s been now some years since I’ll willingly break down a long-distance trip.


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin


Because you know something? Must probably, if the trip already has a layover granted (when flying overseas for example) the price you’ll pay for the trip will anyway be more or so the same as the price you will pay for 2 complementary tickets. I was once flying to Brazil, from Greece. I wanted to stop in Amsterdam for a couple of days, to visit a cousin. I then booked Athens – Amsterdam – Athens, and then Amsterdam – São Paulo – Amsterdam. That allowed me to spend two days in Amsterdam, one on my outbound trip, and the second on my in bond trip. Plus it gave my body some time to rest from the long flight and to adapt to the new jet-lag, and more important, the new weather – I always get sick when moving from mid-winter to mid-summer or vice-versa. Nevertheless, whichever are your reasons for spending just some hours or a day at a city, you should consider these topics to make the best of your express visit, and leave the place feeling that you didn’t only see it through a screen:


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
Zurich Airport

The coordinates

As much as we sometimes want to cover the maximum over the minimum time, we should consider that bouncing around trams and metros to cross the city trying to make it to far away spots is not the best idea ever. Ok, I get it, wandering around is also THE coolest way to see somewhere, but again – if you have some time to spare. Stick to the same area, or at least to easy reachable places, and consider the time you must travel between one attraction to the other, and the route. Sometimes a place is better reachable by public transportation, sometimes the walk is pretty nice. Just plan it reasonably, because you don’t wanna be missing your flight, or end up doing nothing at all.


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
São Paulo’s skyline


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin

Ever-loved places

We all have dream-spots in many cities. Sometimes we don’t know so much about the place, but we know something we wanna see there. As for… the Sacre Coeur of Monmartre Basilica in Paris. It is clear that we do not want to miss the great landmarks. But sometimes you need to push really hard to do so in a day or some hours. No, I don’t wanna ruin your dreams! But always consider that those places have a huge crowd, big lines, public transportation heading there will be also packed, and all of this will make everything slower. Exception is, there is something cool around there and you want to spend all your time in just this one area. Taking again the Sacre Coeur Cathedral as example. The neighborhood around the cathedral is awesome! Paris at it’s best! So you won’t be missing much spending the entire afternoon ONLY there, see? I once made the mistake of trying to visit the Sistine Chapel while having a 12-hour layover in Rome. You would think, hey, that’s actually a lot of time. But all the time I spent de-boarding, travelling from the airport to the city, grabbing something quick to eat and considering the time I would need to travel back to the airport and go through security again… I ended up staying for hours at the line and didn’t have enough time to see the Chapel. Wrapping up, sometimes it is a wiser decision to leave it to the next time.


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
Postcards in Paris


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
Milan, Italy

(Trusted) recommendations

Ask friends, locals, or even travel bloggers that visited the city you’re going to spend your layover, what, from all the things they saw, should you NOT miss. But, here’s the trick: Make it clear that you are asking for tips of ANY place they loved. Sometimes the most unexpected things on a city are what shows its essence. So, popular markets, one hype street, an art gallery, a super conceptual store, an interesting corner… In Barcelona, for instance. There is this eatery called Can Paixano, but everyone calls it La Xampanyeria. My best friend took me there when I first went to the city, and there is no, like NO way I won’t go eat a bocadillo there, get tipsy with their 3-euro pink “champagne” bottles and go take my siesta at Barceloneta beach – every time that I will ever be in Barcelona.  These would be golden tips that you mostly can’t find in every travel guide or “10-things-you-should-not-miss-in-Mexico-city” kindda list.


Can Paixano - La Champagneria in Barcelona - Via Efzin
Can Paixano, awesome eatery in Barcelona


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
A selfie, back from when selfies weren’t still a thing

A place for human-watching

A true gifted traveller knows that to travel is not more than to experience common, daily life IN a certain place. It sounds obvious, but so many people who I know push themselves to do and see as much as they can, without taking a second to just stay put and see life happening. The way that people interact and act in every different place can tell us a lot about who they are and how they live. Even without being able to understand the language being spoken, try spending your layover sitting on a Cafe, on a square, or walking around a park… Truly free yourself from the “guilt” of not squeezing out the most of a short time and just… be.


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
Free yoga class at Bryant Park, New York.

Self-cater for your yummy cravings

One of the most pleasant outdoor activities are picnics. Right? Right. So instead of losing time finding a place to eat, ordering and waiting for your food to come, take a trip to a supermarket or a local grocery shop and try the local real food. Really, the food served on restaurants is soooo much different from what people eat daily in every place. You can always go to ethnic restaurants in any other big city, and have the oh-so-famous dishes of every country, but you don’t wanna be missing the delicacies of the real people, what they sell ONLY in their countries. Oh, and don’t forget the wine! Or the Schnaps. Or the raki, or the cachaça.  Nham.


smoothie at mauerpark berlin
Smoothie & park: instant love in Berlin


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin
A street market in Athens


Now, you ought to excuse me for the unexciting low quality of some photos featuring this article. I retrieved them from a long-forgotten Flickr account, and I’d taken them many, many, summers ago 🙂 My composition skills were everything but creative, and I had a really bad camera… well, vintage photos be vintage photos!

Anything else that I should consider when planning a layover quick visit? Let me know, will you?

Oh yeah, and if your layover city is CopenhagenSāo Paulo or Berlin, check these articles for cool ideas on what to do!


5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City - Via Efzin

Tatiana Bastos Words and Photography. More on instagram.com/efzinblissfullife

Published by

Tatiana Bastos

Born and raised in Brasil, studied advertisement at Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo. But from a small child knew to be taken head over feet by fine arts, illustration and photography. For that reason, studied at Panamericana School of Art and Design, also in Brazil, and then ventured to study at The Art Students League of New York, in Manhattan. After years of travels, decided to be based for half of the year on an inspiring island at the center of the blue aegean sea, in Greece, and the other half of the year on electric Berlin, Germany. Still a world traveller, healthy eater, art lover, diy do-er.

37 thoughts on “5 Things Everyone Should Know To Better See a Layover City”

  1. It’s true, sometimes having a long layover in a city can be a hindrance to actually seeing that city. I had a 20 hour layover in Singapore a few years ago! I got to see the city, but it was a very rushed tour, and I couldn’t enjoy it properly! Much better to spend a few days there in my opinion!

    1. Definitely! If you have the time, there is absolutely no doubt! Just that I’m always trying to squeeze out a new destination, you know? Like “Oh, I’ll have a layover in Porto, so why not buy 2 tickets so I can stay there longer than a couple of hours? OH, and since I’ll be in Porto, why not catch the bus, in 3 hours I’ll be in Lisbon?” And there it goes. Endless. Addicted! 😛

  2. Fortunately or unfortunately I have never experienced a layover between flights. I usually travel from India to Dubai and Dubai to Manchester but the waiting time is only two hours and the security checks and finding the right gate takes most of my two hours at the Dubai Airport 😛

  3. Great advice. I can be such a lazy traveller sometimes. Even if i have 8 or 9 hours I sometimes just stay in the airport, too scared that if i leave I’ll miss my flight!!

    1. ahahahaha I was never scared to miss a flight, until I missed the first.. Then it’s like: “ok, this can ACTUALLY happen, there won’t be always a miracle to save me at the last minute..!”.

  4. It is definitely a good idea to check if the place you want to visit during your layover is crowded or there is a long line. I hardly ever have long enough layovers to explore a place except for London, but since l am familiar with the city, it was pretty good. Thanks for sharing the tips 🙂

  5. I have never done a layover tour before. I can see that it takes a lot of planning to makes sure everything will fall into place! However, if all goes well, it seems definitely worth it.

    1. For sure Christina! It’s not so much about the planning, I reckon, but definitely about not trying to squeeze SO much in… There will be a plane to catch, after all! 🙂

  6. I had a layover in Kenya between S. Africa and Seychelles but only like 8 hours probably. Just enough to sleep in hotel, had dinner, quick breakfast and off to the airport. Not sure what we could have done or how safe it would have been to explore at night. Should have done some research.

    This is a good guide for next time.

    1. Oh yeah, I’m not (yet) so familiarized with Africa, but I can imagine that there should be not really much to do in Kenya by nightime… Unfortunately there are some (many) places around the globe where it’s a must to get informed about what REALLY goes on regarding safety. You probably did the best thing! 🙂

  7. Nice tips on making the best of a layover. I liked the best about spending time watching the people and absorbing local culture. That is something we do a lot.

    1. Yes! So annoyed when people I’m travelling with want to be running from site to site all day…! That’s why I love to travel by myself. So hard to find people that get the real point of travelling…

  8. Cool post! I love having a long layover in a fun city and usually try to plan it that way so I can get out and see something new, even if for only a few hours. I’ve been lucky to have 23 hour layovers in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, cities I was already familiar with.

  9. Great suggestion to make it clear when asking for suggestions that you’re open to anything. I usually ask, what’s the best place to eat etc. But, I’ll have to keep that in mind =)

    1. I know the feeling.. I sometimes have to take sleeping pills because of my (unbelievable) nervousness when flying. So I miss not only the layover, but pretty much the wole of the next day as well!!! But when that doesn’t happen, I try to seize as much as I can… 😛

  10. Great post!! Some really good tips 🙂 I always try to get out of the airport whenever I can and if not I love to find a little niche somewhere to cuddle up with a book/laptop and people watch 🙂 Also, so cool you’re from Sao Paulo! I spent a week there last year and am heading back for a bit in a month as well! Such a cool city x

    1. Really? Oh, that’s incredible, I don’t know many people that have visited Sao Paulo, it is for sure a very underrated city… So glad you like it, as I know for sure that it is one of the coolest cities in the world… Have you check this article about parks in Sao Paulo? Dont miss them, there are so many good ones to see! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Wilby! 🙂

    1. Oh I’ve never been to San Francisco… Never actually been to the West Coast… I’ll make sure I read your tips before going, though! Thanks for reading, Amanda!

  11. this is EXACTLY what I do every single time I have a long-haul flight. It is one of the best travel hacks in the book!

    In my experience, these type of tickets I find to be even cheaper than the same continuous journey. Then, I just Couchsurf in each city and get to explore from a new perspective. Great tips girl!

    -Maria Alexandra

    1. You said it perfectly! The best travel hack! I also see it like this, and always wondered why more people don’t make these “stops” along the way… Like they used to do before airplane – docking on many ports until reaching the final destination..! And thank you for the Couch Surfing tip! I never used it myself, though I know some people who swear by it! Were your experiences good? Do you recommend it? Thank you for reading and contributing, Maria Alexandra! 🙂

    1. That’s awesome Maja! Thank you very much! I was reading your blog, and found out we have many things in common. 🙂 I Shared a post on Facebook and will keep posted on news from the Kingdom of Metaxia ahahahah! I’ve been to Mexico and will write posts about it soon, and Croatia has been a long lasting dream. Email me the link of your post on London and I will share it around! Cheers!