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These free transit tours will have you wishing for “bad” flight connections

By David Derrick, Director of Air Product at Airtreks

Often the best option to fly between cities will be via another city.  Most people will just want to make the quickest connections they can. If you’re curious and have some spare time, you can always explore stopping over for a few days. But if you are stuck with a long layover before your next flight, what better way to kill time than to venture out on a free tour?

Here’s our list of the best free tours available for transiting passengers:

Istanbul, Turkey

Drop by Hafiz Mustafa for baklava or Turkish delights

Istanbul is one of the top cultural and historic destinations in the world. For more than 2,000 years the city has been a crossroads between Europe and Asia. If you fly in and out of Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport and have a 6 to 24 hour layover you can take these tours for free!

Seoul/Incheon, Korea

Seoul, Korea – Busy Insadong Street

If your layover in Incheon Airport to another country is under 24 hours you have eight free tours to choose from depending on how much time you have. 

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar – Enjoy an Arabic coffee with a view of the skyline near the Museum of Islamic Art

If you’re flying on “world’s best airline” Qatar Airways, why not take the opportunity to venture out on one of their free four-point tours of the city? Included is the amazing Museum of Islamic Art, Tripadvisor’s #5 thing to do in Doha.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan – Witness the “supertall” skyscraper, Taipei 101

As a hub for both Eva Air and China Airlines, Taipei’s Taoyuan Int’l Airport sees millions of transit passengers per month. If your transit is more than seven hours, you have a choice of two free half-day tours.  Highlights: Mega skyscraper Taipei 101 and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall & Park

Narita, Japan

Narita, Japan – It can take hours to get into Tokyo from NRT, but you can visit Narita-san Temple in just minutes

Go with a volunteer guide or take a self-tour of the Narita area, outside of Tokyo. There are some pretty cool options including a walk in the countryside, a Japanese culture experience at the 1100 year old Narita-san Temple, visiting the “Fermentation Market” and my favorite, dressing up in Edo Period costumes and walking around Boso no Mura Sakae town.


Singapore – Venture out of the airport to see the fantastical Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s Changi Airport is consistently rated the best in the world. With movie theaters, nature trails, The Slide, as well as world class shopping and dining options, you would be forgiven for spending your entire day here. But if you have at least 6 hours between flights you can take advantage of one of their free two-and-a-half hour city tours. The Heritage Tour takes you to Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam while the City Sights Tour shows you some of the amazing modern marvels that make this city stand out.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty, Kazakhstan – Pay just $1 for your hotel and hit the slopes for free!

OK, technically this is not free, but for only $1, this might be the best deal on the list. Flying Air Astana and transiting Almaty makes you eligible for a night’s hotel as low as $1.  But it gets even better!   You also get to choose between a three hour spa at the lovely Arasan Spa or a free day at Shymbulak Ski Resort including a lift ticket, equipment rental and a gondola ride to the resort.

All of these programs are subject to change, have eligibility and visa requirements, and are subject to availability. Be sure to verify what works for you.   

More articles on stopovers by Airtreks:

How To Plan And Book A Stopover – AirTreks

Stopovers: Adding Value to your Around the World trip – AirTreks

Top 8 Places to Take an Extended Stopover – AirTreks Travel News

If you would like to try to make a free layover tour part of a round-the-world or multi-stop journey, be sure to check our Airtreks Tripplanner for ideas and prices or call one of our Travel Planners at 1-877-AIRTREKS

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