If you’re wondering whether you can leave the airport and visit a city during a layover, the answer is usually yes! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to stay confined to the airport while waiting for your connecting flight. In fact, many airports are located just a short distance from major cities, making it easy to explore a new destination even if you only have a few hours to spare. With a little bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can make the most of your layover and experience a taste of local culture and attractions.
Depending on the country you’re transiting in, there may be certain restrictions in place based on whether or not a visa is required for entry. In such cases, you may find yourself unable to leave the airport. However, if you are required to go through immigration upon arrival, it may be worth considering taking a break from the airport and exploring the surrounding area. On one particular trip to London, Sharon and I decided to do just that. We took advantage of a layover and explored our connecting city before continuing on our journey.
Our journey started from Orlando, and we boarded the Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. The initial flight plan allowed us only one hour before we could board our next flight to London. However, based on our past experiences, we knew that our hotel in London would not be ready until check-in time, which is usually late in the afternoon. Therefore, we decided to spend our time in Dublin, instead of waiting in the hotel lobby.
I scheduled our connecting flight so we had approximately 8 hours in Dublin. At the time, all connecting passengers landing in Dublin had to go through immigration (which is no longer required for some flights). Since we’d have to enter the country anyway, why not stay in the country? It was interesting to tell the immigration officer we would be in Ireland for 8 hours, mainly for lunch (and yes, we really did say that).
Before our trip, I found a place where we could leave our luggage at the airport for a small fee. After checking our bags, we hopped into a taxi to get into town and asked to be dropped off at the Westin Dublin. It was the hotel we stayed in on our Adventures By Disney trip, and it was a landmark we knew, so it was easy to find from every place we wanted to go. What do you do on a short layover in Dublin? Well, there was the obvious…
But no, that’s not what we did (although we certainly could have). I don’t know what you would do, but for us, our itinerary was:
- Get Starbucks
- Pick up some souvenirs at a touristy shop in Temple Bar.
- As mentioned above, go to lunch at Gallagher’s Boxty House because it’s really THAT GOOD.
- Try to find the Leprechaun Museum.
- End up at a shopping mall (long story for another time)
- Head back to the Westin for a taxi to the airport
- Check in and spend time at the Aer Lingus lounge before our flight to London.
This was something we did just because we could. We did not get to see much of Dublin at all, nor had we planned to. Between the 2 taxi rides and the charge to store luggage, it wasn’t a cheap excursion. However, we had specific places we wanted to go and for that reason, it was worth it to us. Now that I’ve done it, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a way to see a new city. But if you’re stuck at the airport anyway for a long connection, I’d say it’s certainly possible.
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