Lonely Planet Writer

Layover tours are latest travel trend for exploring cities

Layover tours are the latest trend to hit bored travellers caught between flight connections with nothing to do.

Swedish people ranked first in a study of English proficiency in countries around the world.
. Image by Gwydion M. Williams / CC BY 2.0

Emmanuel Rosenblum was caught in a layover in Warsaw and decided to go out and explore the area. Finding he was stressed and anxious by the whole experience, the idea came to him to set up a type of tour for people caught in between places in airports.  He set up Trip Aside with his business partner in Paris, a bespoke “stopover tour” that caters to the amount of time each traveller has and brings them to the nearby countryside or city.

On board a tour bus in Barcelona.
On board a tour bus in Barcelona. Image by John Seb Barber / CC BY 2.0

Trip Aside opened in Paris in March 2015 and was an instant hit, soon going on to open similar tours in Frankfurt, London, Brussels, Rome and Madrid. Its most popular tour, the Paris Tour, costs €230 per person and is for people with at least seven hours in between flights. It involves a tour around Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and a string of little patisseries.

Dozens of similar companies have set up around Europe with a few having some success in the US as well.

Top of the Tour Montparnasse, Paris.
Top of the Tour Montparnasse, Paris. Image by Vinicius Pinheiro / CC BY-SA 2.0

Many of the clients are business travellers, covering long distances and travelling frequently. Rosenblum estimates that these travellers make up 40% of his business. Trip Aside’s success lies in its ability to cater to any taste for any amount of time. “One time we had a business traveller from the US on his way to South Asia,” Rosenblum told the BBC. “And he just wanted to be picked up and brought to a restaurant to eat steak frites.”