A long layover is a traveler's worst nightmare. Well, that’s what we all think, but have you ever considered leaving the airport and exploring a new city? It’s like a vacation in a vacation!

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It doesn’t even matter if you have only a few hours, or if you choose to extend your trip with one of the many airline layover programs available. Some airports are so close to the city that you can explore stress-free, and not have to worry about sitting in an uncomfortable airport. Let’s discover 10 cities that are perfect for a quick layover. Some of them might just surprise you!

10 Lisbon & Porto, Portugal

Some may think that Lisbon and Porto are a relatively small hub, but to the surprise of many, it serves many routes across the Atlantic. Whether you are flying with TAP Air Portugal or Canada’s JetBlue, you can enjoy up to three days in either Lisbon or Porto free of charge.

Experience traditional Western European culture with a modern twist, and add a sense of sophistication to your trip! After one, two or three days, head back to the airport and hop on that next flight, having already seen one of two amazing cities.

9 Toronto, Canada

If you are traveling to Europe or Asia through Toronto with Air Canada, you can savor a stop-over for up to 7 days, absolutely free!

Perhaps 2 days in Toronto, 2 in Montreal and 2 in Vancouver sound better? Well, lucky for you, Air Canada has made this possible. You just have to speak with an agent from the airline so they can help you with the logistics! 3 mini-vacations before you even get to your destination… sounds like a dream!

8 Reykjavik, Iceland

One city that has been on the rise in recent years, the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, allows travelers to exit the airport and explore its largely undiscovered country.

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There are 2 airlines which operate out of Iceland; national carrier IcelandAir, and low-cost alternative, WOW Air. Both airlines offer stop-over options, free of charge, but there is just one catch. IcelandAir only offers this program for a minimum of 3 days, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.

7 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Now for another popular European destination, Amsterdam. The airport, Schiphol, is not so far out of the city. In fact, it is only an 15-minute drive, or 7 minute train ride from the main train station, making it a perfect city to explore for a long stop-over.

Or, if you choose to stop-over and you happen to be flying with KLM (Dutch national carrier), make sure to enquire whether your country of origin is eligible for the layover program.

6 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai was bound to pop up on this list at some point, as it is a booming city in every sense of the word. Flagship carrier Emirates offers a range of packages for an extended layover, so there is one bound to suit your preferences.

The best thing is, if you like to live life on the edge, then these packages are available up to 48 hours prior to your departure from your country of origin! Just like Changi Airport, however, Dubai International has plenty of things to do to keep you satisfied within the confines of the airport… but why not live a little, get out and about.

5 San Francisco, United States

Stop-over programs are not heard of much in the United States, however San Fran does not need one. The city is so close to the airport that it is perfect if you have a few hours to kill.

Now, just keep in mind, a few hours is not 2 or 3… please stay in the airport if that's all the time you have. If you have 6, 7 or 8 hours, however, this could be something to consider. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Embarcadero District and Fisherman’s Wharf before jumping on the plane for a birds eye view of the same attractions.

4 Brussels, Belgium

The odd one out, you say? Not really. Brussels is one of the minor gateways to Europe and if you have over 4 hours before your next flight, it is time to head in to the city and explore.

Less than 20 minutes' direct train ride from the old city, Brussels offers travelers many sights and cultural experiences in just a short period of time. You can check out the main square, Grande Place, as well as many green spaces and shopping malls.

3 Singapore

Being the hub of one of the world’s best airlines, Singapore is among the best places to take an extended layover. Singapore Airlines offers travelers a layover program which includes a hotel as well as hop-on hop-off bus tours around the city. Sounds like a perfect way to ensure you have all those gifts you promised to bring back for mom!

It is interesting to note that some travelers don’t even bother with the program, as Changi Airport offers more than enough services and amenities to kill the hours on a long, pesky stop-over.

2 Helsinki, Finland

The Finnish capital offers travelers a layover period of up to 5 days free of charge! Not only is the Scandinavia Territory a cheaper way to get in to Europe (let’s keep that a secret), you can also add a few days before you get to mainland Europe.

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While you're at it, take the chance to discover one of the cleanest and most efficient cities in the world. Not to mention the highly unique architecture and design, notable of the region.

1 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

In most Middle Eastern Countries, travelers will need a Visa to exit the airport, however the Emirati Government has made it possible for travelers to exit the airport for a layover period of up to 4 days, Visa free.

Furthermore, one of the main carriers, Etihad Airways, offers a program that includes a hotel two-for-one deal which starts at around $35 USD per person, for the two nights. If you are coming back from Europe after a cold winter holiday and need some warm, Middle Eastern sun and time by the pool, then this may be for you!

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