The Best Airports for Layovers

These airports in Tokyo, San Francisco, Qatar and Singapore offer much more than the typical terminal experience.
Profile photo of Josh Garber
Written by Josh Garber

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.


While many travelers try to avoid long layovers, there are a number of airports that have so many amenities that they are destinations themselves. Think restaurants, shopping, spas and other entertainment. If you have to spend hours at an airport between flights, make it one of these standout locations.

1. Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The Singapore Changi Airport is connected to the Jewel Changi Airport — a 10-story entertainment complex that features more than 280 retail and dining options, as well as other attractions. There’s so much to do at the Jewel that the airport recommends that travelers have at least five hours between flights to experience it.

In addition to dining and shopping, here are other ways to pass the time at Jewel Changi airport:

  • Visit the HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at over 130 feet tall.

  • Get lost in Singapore’s largest hedge maze.

  • Bounce around at the Manulife Sky Net, a trampoline-like experience over 80 feet in the air.

  • Book a pedicure at the Picota Nail Spa.

2. San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco)

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has some great amenities, including an outdoor terrace, yoga room, duty-free shopping and access to local San Francisco restaurants like The Little Chihuahua and Café X. SFO is also home to lounges from United, Delta, American Airlines, Emirates, Air France and more, including an American Express Centurion Lounge.

While the amenities and lounges all help to make SFO a great airport for long layovers, what sets SFO apart is its proximity to San Francisco. With public transportation that connects directly to the airport, you can travel from SFO to San Francisco’s Mission District in about 22 minutes.

If you don’t want to drag your luggage along, you can store it at the Airport Travel Agency inside SFO for $20-$35 for a full day or $8-$10 per hour (depending on the size).

Once you’ve stored your luggage and arrived in San Francisco, you can easily spend a few hours enjoying the city’s famous sites including walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, dining on Italian food in North Beach, grabbing a drink in The Castro or eating delicious Mexican food in the Mission.

3. Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar)

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

While Qatar’s Hamad International Airport is home to one of the top airport lounges in the world, the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge, you don’t need lounge access to enjoy a long layover.

The Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre is a great place to hang out for a few hours. It's slightly cheaper than a day pass to most airport lounges and it offers a host of amenities and activities, including:

  • Pool.

  • Golf simulator.

  • Hydrotherapy tubs.

  • Full-service spa.

  • Squash.

  • Gym.

  • Shower.

Access to the facilities at Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre is about $48, though you’ll have to pay an additional fee for spa treatments, squash or access to the golf simulator. It is located on the fourth floor of the Oryx Airport Hotel inside the Hamad International Airport and it's open almost all day and night (from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.).

4. Tokyo-Haneda Airport (Tokyo)

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has a special amenity: travelers can pay to access an onsen with sweeping views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji. An onsen is a natural hot spring bath, where the water is heated underground by magma.

The Villa Fontaine Grand is a hotel with an onsen that connects to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The facility (which in addition to the onsen, includes a hot stone sauna, regular sauna and dining) is open 24/7, although the onsen is closed for cleaning daily from from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost to use the onsen is about $32 for adults and includes a face towel, bath towel, robe and access to the hot stone sauna.

In addition to having access to an onsen, travelers with long layovers at the Haneda Airport also can access several observation decks, where you can see planes land and take off, and also see some famous Tokyo landmarks, including the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.

Final thoughts on the best airports for long layovers

If you’re flying through Singapore, San Francisco, Doha or Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, you might want to give yourself plenty of time to explore these airports' unique amenities. Some of these airports have spas or other entertainment options onsite. Others have easy access to public transportation and lockers to store your bags, so you can spend your long layover exploring the city outside the airport.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Airport Lounge Cards from our Partners
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

See more Airport Lounge cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.