3.5 hours… Try this:
Dublin // Book of Kells
You’ll need half an hour to reach Trinity College — pre-book your time slot for the Book of Kells and swan straight in.
4 hours… Try this:
Hong Kong // Hong Kong harbour
The world’s most famous waterfront is just 24 minutes away on the Airport Express train. One leaves every 10 minutes; even better, a day return is the same price as a single journey (£10.35). Get off at Kowloon.
5 hours… Try this:
Miami // Miami Beach
Miami’s route 150 bus (the Miami Beach Airport Express) whizzes you from the airport to South Beach for just $2.25 (£1.75) each way. It leaves every 20 minutes and takes about the same amount of time.
6 hours… Try this:
Singapore // Hawker stands
Try Singapore’s famous street food in the Downtown Core’s prettiest hawker centre, Lau Pa Sat. The Hainanese chicken rice is the perfect dish for soothing a post-long-haul flight stomach.
7 hours… Try this:
Beijing // Great Wall of China
It’s possible to take a tour from the airport to the Mutianyu section and back within four hours, in time for your connection. No visa required for stays under 24 hours. beijing-airport-transportation.com
8 hours… Try this:
Dubai // Burj Khalifa
The world’s tallest building is a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport (note: 96-hour transit visas are only available for layovers of eight hours or more; apply in advance). There’s an observation deck on the 124th-floor.
10 hours… Try this:
Chicago // Culture
The Blue Line ‘L’ train will get you to central Clark/Lake station in 40 minutes. From here, it’s a quick walk to Millennium Park, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate statue and the Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu), which easily takes up a day.
Bangkok // Tailoring
Book official transit tours with a layover of more than four hours. Narin Couture, by the Nana BTS Skytrain station, is a cut above. Pick it up on your way back.
Cities with free tours for transit visitors: Singapore, Istanbul, Doha, Seoul and Tokyo
National airlines: Many will offer hotel discounts and freebies, plus free entry to attractions
Travelling with Aer Lingus? You can save time by pre-clearing US immigration in Dublin
Plan ahead for traffic: Book flights outside of rush hour (be back at the airport two hours before your next flight)
Published in the November 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)