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Long Layovers: Beyond the Airport

Back in February, I rounded up great reader tips for making the most of layovers. One of the ideas that came up for extra long layovers was getting out of the airport in cities like Atlanta and Tokyo. A bunch of you wrote in with more ideas about how to spend long layovers in more cities, including Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

At their best, long layovers—generally more than five hours—can be an extra mini-vacation, a chance to explore a new city or revisit an old favorite.

Here are a few airports that offer good city access and interesting ways to spend a few hours.

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Amsterdam: Reader awoodyar schedules layovers for Amsterdam, because, "In just 20 minutes (via train, right from the airport), I'm in the historic center, and can shop 'til I drop … take an hour in the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum, take a canal-boat ride, or just stroll the lovely canal-ringed center."

Boston: Take a water taxi, subway, or other transportation to downtown Boston. Once in Boston, your choices abound. The Blue Line (which connects directly to the airport) has stops close to the aquarium, Faneuil Hall, and the North End. The Boston Common is also within reach. The MBTA's Harbor Express and other water taxis drop off close to attractions as well.

Hong Kong: Reader PeterB used his 12-hour layover in Hong Kong to ride the old tram along the harbor, hop the Kowloon Ferry, and take the funicular to Victoria Peak. Hong Kong side trips work best for long layovers, since getting in and out of the airport and to the city and back can take four or five hours. Flyertalk has a list of in-airport activities at Hong Kong is your layover isn't long enough to visit the city.

San Francisco: The 30 minute BART train ride from San Francisco International Airport and Downtown San Francisco puts museums, cable cars, and other attractions in easy reach. From the Powell Street station, walk across the street to catch the cable car, or head to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Hop off at the Embarcadero station to eat well at the Ferry Building Marketplace or stroll along the water.

What other cities do you suggest exploring during long layovers? Share your suggestions in the comments section below!

And as long as I'm asking questions, here's another: What do you do when you've got the exact opposite problem? How do you deal with really short connections?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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