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See extra cities for free

Why not add a FREE STOPOVER (any connection that’s more than four hours domestically and 24 hours internationally) to a flight you’ve already paid for? Some airlines — and you’ll have to check first — offer free stopovers, generally in their hub city, meaning you can visit an extra destination or two without purchasing any extra tickets. This is especially great if you do it on a business trip while using a company-paid flight.

free stopovers

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Zurich layover guide: Make the most of your Swiss stopover

Layover highlights

  • Zurich airport’s proximity to the city and good rail link make a city visit essential on a stopover
  • It’s a 10-minute trip from the airport to the town center, and trains are reliably punctual
  • Situated on a lake, the city has great scenery and extensive art offerings

Facing a layover of a few hours in Zurich?

Zurich layover guide: Make the most of your Swiss stopover

Don’t waste it in the airport lounge. Check in your suitcase and zip into the city for a brief encounter with a European cultural capital that’s set amidst idyllic natural surroundings.

Getting around

Zurich airport, voted the world’s seventh best in the recent World Airport Awards, is a mere 10-minute train ride from the city center, with trains leaving about every 10 minutes. You can safely venture into the city without fear of missing your connection — this being Switzerland, the trains run like clockwork.
The Swiss are among the world’s biggest users of trains, second only to the Japanese, and insist on rail services that are reliably punctual. Zurich’s hyper-efficient Glattalbahn tram network is also invaluable for the time-pressed traveler. The number 10 service runs every seven to 15 minutes and connects Zurich Airport with the city’s centrally located main railway station.
Situated at the northern tip of Lake Zurich, with a view of the Alps in the distance, Switzerland’s largest city has a rich history as a center of European high culture. With a heritage stretching back to Roman times, it is home to grand historic buildings and more than 50 museums, meaning travelers will find plenty to occupy themselves with.
None of it comes cheaply though: Zurich recently overtook Tokyo to become the world’s most expensive city, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. To mitigate those expenses, even those on a flying visit will likely find it worthwhile buying a ZurichCARD, which can be bought at the service center at the airport or the railway station.
The card, which costs 20 CHF ($21.60) for a 24-hour option, offers free travel on the city’s comprehensive public transport network of trains, trams, buses and boats, free admission to museums, and significant discounts on guided tours and other attractions.
Given that the return train fare from the airport to the city center is 12.80 CHF ($13.80), and the entry to the Kunsthaus, the city’s modern art museum, is 15 CHF ($16.20), even if you only have time for one activity, the card will more than likely pay for itself.

City tours

Tours of the postcard scenes of the city’s historic Aldstadt, or Old Town, take two hours and run every day, while other tours visit key sites that give an insight into the city’s history — the rise of guilds in the 14th century, or how the city became a stronghold of the Reformation. Another option visits Zurich West, the city’s former industrial district between the Limmat River and the railway, which is now a hip, grungy home of designer retailers and eateries.
But if you prefer to go at your pace, most of the city’s attractions are concentrated in the Old Town, around the river and lakefront, with the rest easily accessed on Zurich’s celebrated public transport network, the world’s densest.


For a culture fix, head to the Kunsthaus, Switzerland’s most significant art collection, representing the important periods of European art from the Middle Ages. Just a few minutes walk away, toward the banks of the Limmat River, is the Grossmunster, a Romanesque-style protestant church that is one of the city’s three great churches. Climb the tower for a great view of the city.
Five minutes walk across the Limmat is one of the city’s other major churches, the Fraumunster, featuring stained glass windows by celebrated Russian artist Marc Chagall.
Behind the Fraumunster runs the Bahnhofstrasse, a mile-long shopping street that is one of the world’s most exclusive (and expensive).
If you have a few hours to spare before your flight, and feel like a bracing trip on the water, the ZurichCARD also allows for free travel on the boats plying Lake Zurich. Boat cruises on 90-minute round trips depart from the Lake Zurich Navigation Company‘s depot on the waterfront at Burkliplatz, about five minutes walk from the Fraumunster.

Fast food

Sightseeing can work up a hunger and some of the city’s most distinctive dining experiences are to be had in the Old Town, housed in halls that were formerly home to the guilds that wielded power in the city.
But on a tight time frame, it might make more sense to grab something on the go. Follow the crowds to the Sternengrill — a mobile bratwurst vendor that is a city institution. Other Swiss specialties include soft, baguette-like pretzels loaded with savory fillings — available citywide from pretzel chain Brezelkönig — and fresh-cooked crepes smeared in apple sauce, which you can pick up from countless roadside vendors.
Sated on street snacks and sightseeing, head back to the train station and make the short ride back to the airport content in the knowledge you’ve done something more stimulating during your stopover than check your email.


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Free Airport Layover Tours


Must Knows

Free Airport Layover Tours

  • You don’t need a visa to take airport free layover tours as you’re considered an “in-transit” passenger. Often you may need to hand over your passport for the length of the tour. But you should always ensure beforehand that your passport is not an exempt country, as some countries are not allowed to have in-transit passengers.
  • Double check for extra costs such as museum entries which may not be covered.
  • Consider bringing a packed meal e.g. it may be cheaper to buy a sandwich at an airport food court chain than a museum. Alternatively if seeing a market, you may wish to hold out for stall food.
  • Check what documents you need to board a tour. Commonly you may need to show the airline ticket of your previous and upcoming flight.
  • Consider where to store your luggage if applicable (some tours may not have room or allow you to bring your luggage with you).
  • Take note of when you need to arrive for tours – some require you to show up 30 minutes to an hour beforehand.


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The difference between a stopover and layover, and why you should care

chauffeur services

Stopover vs Layover

At times, the aviation industry seems to have its own language, and many of the terms used by airlines are regularly misunderstood — such as the difference between a direct and nonstop flight. Another pair of words that always seems to be misused is layover and stopover. Despite sounding similar, they are actually quite different and the nuances are important when travelers decide to redeem their miles.

A layover is a broad term that means any connection between flights. This could include a stop as short as 30 minutes (depending upon the airport) or as long as four hours (or up to 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights). Airline crew use this term, slightly differently. For them, a layover means an overnight stay while a connection refers to a shorter stop, but for fliers and travel providers, it’s ok to use these two terms interchangeably.

However, while it’s fine to use the term layover when you really mean connection, you should know the difference between a stopover and layover. A stopover can be a layover, but it can also be a much longer stop — often a second destination on part of a multi-stop itinerary. If traveling domestically, a stopover typically qualifies as anything that lasts longer than four hours. So if you fly from Palm Springs to Dallas/Ft. Worth and on to New York, and you have a domestic connection of longer than four hours, that is called a stopover.

Stopover vs Layover

Why should you care? Well, unless you’re booking an award ticket, you shouldn’t. But if you’re redeeming miles for a flight, airline agents will reference this terminology. Many airlines, like Delta, impose a no stopover restriction on most award tickets.

When traveling internationally, a stopover refers to a stay that lasts longer than 24 hours. Savvy frequent fliers know that they can build in extended or even overnight stops at many hub cities like London, Paris, or Amsterdam, and not get charged additional miles as long as they leave within 24 hours to their final destination, thereby avoiding a stopover. This time stipulation keeps the stop in the layover category, as if it were a simple connection, while allowing travelers enough time to get a full day and night in a city.

You cannot add unlimited layovers to an award ticket, but it’s reasonable to assume you can include one or two. Want to stop in Egypt to see the pyramids on the way home from Kenya? You can do that. Want to visit the Louvre traveling back from Istanbul? That’s also possible.

Airlines like British Airways manage their programs based upon distance, so it might mean a layover will cost you more money than a direct flight, but the good news is that you can often turn that layover into a stopover at no extra cost. Additionally, while American and Delta recently quit allowing free stopovers on award tickets, United still permits one stopover per roundtrip journey, which means you can stay for days or even months in an additional city on your itinerary. Want to turn that Egypt detour into a week long trip? Or spend the spring coworking in Paris before returning home? You should probably fly United on your award ticket.

While the layover and stopover sound the same, it can pay off to know the difference if you want to extract added value from your miles.


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Atlanta Layover Tour (ATL)

Atlanta Layover Tour

Atlanta Layover Tour

“What should I do during my <N> hour layover at the Atlanta airport?”

At the airport 

Atlanta Layover Tour: In general, if your layover is less than three hours, you shouldn’t even think about leaving the airport — the chances of missing your connecting flight are just too great. Most of the more popular attractions in Atlanta are far enough away that it’s going to take you some time to get there and back, and you’ll need to allow time to get back through security and get to your gate.

If you’re staying at the airport, you can find complete listings of the shops, restaurants, and services in each concourse and in the terminal building at Hartsfield-Jackson’s Shop, Dine & Explore page.  It is not necessary to go through security again to pass between any of the concourses (T, A, B, C, D, E, and F), so you’re not limited to the options in the concourses for your arriving and departing flights. For shops/restaurants in the terminal/atrium area, however, you will have to exit the secure area and re-enter, so factor time for that into your planning.

Between 6 am and about 9 pm, nearly all of the shops and restaurants are open. After 9 pm, things begin to close down for the night, and after 11 pm there’s not much open on the concourses (particularly C and D). Atlanta Bread Company is open 24 hours in the Atrium area of the terminal (outside security). There aren’t, however, any newstands or other shops selling sundries after 11 pm, so if you need something to read, an aspirin, a travel pillow, or a souvenir t-shirt, get it before they close or wait until morning.

With two exceptions, none of the dining options in the airport are particularly noteworthy — there’s typically the same sort of chain eateries you’d find at most other airports, though there are a lot of them and the sheer volume means more variety than a lot of other airports, especially since you’re not constrained to one concourse. Menus tend to be somewhat limited because of the constraints on having any sort of cutlery that will actually cut anything inside the secure area.

One exception to the above is One Flew South, which would be a worthwhile dining option anywhere, but is nearly unbelievable as an airport restaurant. The menu features sushi as well as a diverse and interesting range of farm-to-table entrees, appetizers, sandwiches and soups. OFS is located in Concourse E, near the elevator/escalators to the transportation mall and the central food court. In the F Concourse, referred to as the International Concourse,  you will find Ecco, an upscale, modern Italian influenced restaurant that is an off-shoot of a critically acclaimed restaurant in midtown of the same name.

Most of the concourses have some sort of larger book/magazine store near the center where the escalators from the transportation mall are located — this tends to be where most of the stores selling larger/higher-dollar items are located as well.

If the boredom of hanging out at the airport gets too intense, you can try to while away the time with one of the displays of art and other artifacts in various spots. In the transportation mall between Concourse A and the T-Gates, there’s a permanent installation of about 20 stone sculptures from Zimbabwe, displayed between the moving sidewalks so that you can take in a full 360-degree view of each. There are also displays of art created by Atlanta youth through the airport, as well as more conventional art displays in other locations, including the T Gates and Concourse E. The airport’s website describes its art program here.

Atlanta Layover Tour

Atlanta Layover Tour

Leaving the airport

BEST OPTION: Book in advance a Private Layover City Tour

If you have more time, and decide you want to leave the airport, have a plan. Know how much time you have to work with, and make sure your plan includes some contingency time to cope with unanticipated delays — your airline’s not going to be very sympathetic if you miss your outbound flight. There are no longer any facilities to store bags/luggage at the Atlanta airport.

Before you plan to leave the airport, consider the time of day and the current wait times for the security lines. At most times, the security lines move quickly, rarely taking more than 10-15 minutes to get from the end of the line through the security checkpoint. But at particularly busy times, they can be much longer, taking an hour or more (2.5 hours is about the absolute worst case, but that rarely happens). Keep in mind also that even once you’re through security, you still have to get to the gate, which at ATL can be as much as a mile away, and can take 10-15 minutes for far-flung gates on E or F concourses. The TSA checkpoints at ATL have become very efficient in the last few years, and even if the lines for the main checkpoint snake back through the atrium and around toward or into the baggage claim areas, it rarely takes more than 15-20 minutes to get through and on your way to the gate. Nevertheless, there can always be exceptions, so make sure you feel comfortable that you’ll have time to get back through security before exiting the secured areas.

Your options for venturing outside the airport boil down to cab, MARTA, and rental car. One thing you absolutely must consider is that while getting a cab from the airport to practically anywhere else is no problem at all, getting a cab back could be a challenge — hailing a cab on the street, even from major tourist attractions, is pretty hit-and-miss (mostly miss). If you take a cab out and plan to take one back, you should get the number of the company, make arrangements to have someone pick you up again at an appointed time, and leave at least an extra hour for them not to show up and for you to call and nag them. If missing your flight is going to cause a hardship, you’d be well advised NOT to rely on a cab to get back.

HOWEVER: The opening of the new International Terminal has complicated the situation somewhat for determining whether you should leave the airport and what you’ll have time to do if you do. The International Terminal is NOT directly connected to MARTA or the SkyTrain (for access to the rental car facility), nor is it directly served by most shared shuttle services. Thus, if you are arriving on an international flight and have to claim bags at the International Baggage Claim area and recheck to your final destination, you will need to allow time for the shuttle to the main Domestic Terminal if you’re heading into town on MARTA or via rental car (the International Terminal is served by cabs directly). That makes cabs a more appealing option from the International Terminal, particularly if you have time constraints. If your outbound flight is domestic or is on Delta, you can check in/go through security at either Terminal, particularly if your checked bags are already checked through to your destination, so you can take either MARTA or a cab back to the airport.

The MARTA train system will get you within easy walking distance of many of the major attractions, relatively painlessly. If you’re going to downtown attractions, Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter Mall area, or downtown Decatur, MARTA’s a good option. Trains leave the Airport station about every 10 minutes.

  • There’s only one platform, but there are two different lines operating on the same tracks. One goes from the Airport to North Springs station in Sandy Springs, stopping at all stations from the Airport to Lindbergh, then branching off to Buckhead, Medical Center, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and North Springs. The other runs the same route to Lindbergh station, then branches northeast to Lenox, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville.  For any destination in Downtown or Midtown, it doesn’t matter which train you take.
  • Time to downtown (Five Points or Peachtree Center) from the airport is about 20 minutes, to Midtown or Arts Center stations about 25 minutes, 30 minutes to Lindbergh, 35 minutes to Buckhead or Lenox, and about 45 minutes to the end of either line. In your planning, factor in the 10 minutes between trains. Note that the last train is around 1 am most days, and that if you’re going to Buckhead, Dunwoody, Perimter Mall, or points north (or if you’re coming back from there), you’ll probably have to switch trains at Lindbergh Station after 9 pm,  which will add a bit to the time required.
  • For Little Five Points or Downtown Decatur, you’ll want to transfer to the East line at Five Points station. Schedules are similar to the North-South lines — figure on about 35-40 minutes to get to the Decatur station.

If your intended destination isn’t within walking distance of a train station, you should probably resist the temptation to rely on the buses to get you the rest of the way. Bus routes in Atlanta are meandering and confusing, service is infrequent (no more than once or twice an hour on many routes), and schedules are notoriously variable. Unless you’ve built an extra couple of hours into your planning, you shouldn’t depend on the buses to get you to your train on time. MARTA’s online TripPlanner can help you figure things out if you decide to ignore this advice.  Alternatively, Google maps now lists MARTA transit information between various points.

Driving is the worst way to get around Atlanta, except for all the other ways.  If you want to go someplace that isn’t near a MARTA station, a rental car is the most reliable option. There are plenty of rental car companies at the airport, and all can be reached by the SkyTrain, a monorail that runs from the airport to CONRAC (Consolidated Rental Car Facility). Traffic between the airport and downtown tends to be heavy during the morning rush hour period (from about 7 am to 9:30) so allow plenty of time. Traffic anywhere in downtown and along I-75/I-85 south back toward the airport will also be heavy during the afternoon. Check the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Georgia Navigator site before heading out for current traffic/construction conditions. Keep in mind that for any rental car, you’ll need to allow time to pickup/return and to take the ATL SkyTrain between the rental car facility and the terminal (or a shuttle bus to one of the off-airport companies — none of the rental car lots are located at the terminal).  Also, if you’re coming and going from the International Terminal, you’ll need to allow time for the shuttle bus between the Domestic and International Terminals. Generally speaking, with a layover less than 4 hours, you probably won’t have time do much of anything once you deal with the logistics of getting and returning the car.

Attractions for the ‘Atlanta Layover Tour’

For Downtown attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, etc., you should figure on at least an hour and a half to get there and back via MARTA/walking. Driving and parking would generally be comparable — it’ll take less time to get there, in most cases, but you’ll also have to deal with parking and then walking to the venue. For a four-hour layover, planning to be back at the airport at least an hour before your outbound flight, that means only a half-hour of time to spend enjoying yourself. For points farther from the airport (Margaret Mitchell House, High Museum of Art, Botanical Garden, etc.), you’d have even less time.

If you simply want to see some of Atlanta, one option would be to take MARTA to the North Avenue station, walk a block east to Peachtree Street, and start walking north. This will take you past the Fox Theatre and through the thriving Midtown shopping/dining/entertainment district. You can get a train back to the airport from either the Midtown Station (between West Peachtree and Peachtree near 10th Street, a little under a mile) or Arts Center Station (on West Peachtree just north of 14th Street, about 1.5 miles). Note that if you are driving, you’ll pay to park (assuming you can find a place) almost anywhere in this part of town.

Atlanta Layover Tour For Shopping: the easiest option would be to take the Northeast MARTA line to Lenox, which would put you next to the Lenox Square mall, Atlanta’s flagship mall destination for the last 40 years. Despite its age, it’s been frequently renovated through the years and is more up to date than many malls built in the last decade. On the opposite corner from Lenox Square is Phipps Plaza, which a somewhat smaller, somewhat more upscale cousin to it (Tiffany, Lord and Taylor, Saks, etc.). The same management company operates both and provides a free shuttle service between them. There’s also a free shuttle service, the BUC, throughout the Buckhead retail/hotel/dining district that makes it relatively easy to get around its service area at peak times on weekdays; it doesn’t run between 9:30 and 11:30 am, between 1:30 and 3:30 pm, or after 7 pm. Saturday service is from 10 am to 9 pm, every 30 minutes. There’s no BUC service on Sundays.

Unless you have the better part of a day to spend, don’t try to take on Zoo Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Piedmont Park, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, etc. They’re not readily accessible from the train, and most will require more time than all but the the lengthiest layovers. Book now a private and custom Atlanta Layover Tour

Atlanta Layover Tour

Atlanta Layover Tour

 Attraction MARTA Rail Accessible? (Station or Stations) Travel Time (total round trip)  Time to visit 
Georgia Aquarium Yes (Omni/GWCC, Peachtree Center)  1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  zero to several hours
World of Coca-Cola Yes (Omni/GWCC, Peachtree Center)  1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  one to several hours
CNN Center Yes (Omni/GWCC, Peachtree Center)  1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  studio tour = 55 minutes
Centennial Olympic Park  Yes (Omni/GWCC, Peachtree Center)  1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  zero to several hours
Westin Peachtree Plaza View Yes (Peachtree Center) 1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  0 to 1 hour
 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site  Yes (King Memorial station)  1.5 hrs MARTA or Car  zero to several hours
 Nearby Shopping at Camp Creek MarketplaceCamp Creek Marketplace Map  Ride 1 stop to College Park, grab bus 82 over to Camp Creek  apx 20:00  Depends on your shopping/dining desires
 Midtown bar/restaurant/shopping district  Yes (Midtown station, or North Avenue or Arts Center stations)  50-70 mins on MARTA, (50 mins+ by car or taxi)   zero to several hours


Atlanta Layover Tour: As with attractions, the Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead areas within walking distance of MARTA are going to be the best options. There aren’t a lot of particularly attractive options close to the airport, though a few probably merit special mention. There are two somewhat upscale restaurants close to the College Park MARTA station (first stop after leaving the airport, close enough for a cab ride despite the advice above): The Feed Store and The Pecan.

The Manchester Arms (a British-style pub) on Virginia Avenue also gets a lot of positive reviews, but isn’t really an easy walk from the MARTA station — if you decide that’s more your speed, a cab is probably in order. Finally, no mention of the food options near the airport would be complete without referring to the Dwarf House — Chik-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy’s original restaurant, where it all began. Located on Central Avenue in Hapeville (also Jeff Foxworthy’s hometown), the Dwarf House is open 24 hours and offers both a full table-service menu (including hamburgers, though apparently no one told the iconic Cows) and the more familar fast-food counter service Chik-Fil-A menu. Not accessible by MARTA, though, so either get a car or take a cab (and plan to call for a pickup when you’re done).

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Get Two Vacations for the Price of One

The secret to getting two vacations for nearly the price of one? Free stopovers.

Free Stopovers

What’s better than a vacation to a European city? Why, a vacation to two European cities or even three, of course! Get the biggest bang for your buck by booking Europe flights with flagship carriers that offer free stopovers, even for multiday layovers. Various airlines offer free stopovers; among them are Icelandair with stopovers in Reykjavik, Turkish Airlines with stopovers in Istanbul, Air France with stopovers in Paris, and Finnair with stopovers in Helsinki.

A lot of major airlines offer free or low-cost stops in hub cities to flyers continuing on to other end-point destinations. Tiresome layovers or breakneck connections these are not. Stopovers are overnight or multi-night stays in destinations—mini sojourns on the way to other parts of the world. They allow for exploration as well as relief from long-haul air travel, and they often come at no or low additional cost to travelers.
Some carriers, such as Icelandair, plainly advertise their free-stopover programs. Others quietly allow customers to book multicity itineraries for round-trip prices, give or take a few bucks. Depending on the carrier, you might have to do some groundwork to arrange a free stopover. Dialing up the call center may be necessary, or a simple spin on an airline’s multicity booking page might suffice. Either way, we’ll show you the way.
Remember that some of the best airlines offer free (or almost free) stopovers in major destinations!!!