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Top 5 Airports for Layovers in Canada

Many of us will be travelling during the holidays, so inspired by fellow Blogger The Points Guy, I have decided to put together a list of top airports in Canada for layovers.

Layovers happen when you cannot obtain a direct flight to your destination and you need to make a stop at another airport before reaching your final destination. When making your booking, if you happen to have a choice on which airport you can have your layover, you can refer to this list to help you make your decision.

The list considers factors like spending time inside (features and facilities) or just outside of the airport (based on proximity of attractions).

1) Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Airport Vancouver (6)

The Vancouver Airport is probably hands down the best airport to spend your layover. I have had my fair shares of layovers in Vancouver, so I have first hand experience as well.

Inside the airport: The airport features collections of Pacific Northwest Coast Native art in the world. This includes an aboriginal art collection of wooden sculptures and totem poles The extensive use of the colours blue and green to reflect the colours of the land, sea and sky. The airport is built to have a lot of natural light.

In terms of Canadian airports, they may have the largest variety of stores and restaurants to choose from. So if you end up choosing or needing to stay in the airport, there is no shortage of stores to shop at, as well as food selections. If you prefer, they also have a host of airport lounges if you have access to the lounges.

Outside the airport: The airport is 13 kilometres (or 8 miles) away from the City Centre, which is very accessible through the Skytrain. The easy access to the Skytrain make it very convenient to visit other parts of the city very efficiently and in a timely manner, depending on how much layover time you have.

2) Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)

Airport Billy Bishop (1)

I think the only real catch about this airport is that because it is such a small airport, there may not be that many layovers flights. But if you do end up at the airport, it can definitely be very enjoyable.

Inside the airport: The main tenant at the airport is Porter Airlines (aside from one Air Canada Express flight to Montréal–Trudeau). So if you indeed flying with Porter, you can relax in their awesome lounges, which are always more comfortable than waiting at the gates to your flight.

Outside the airport: Otherwise, you are just a 90-second ferry ride to downtown Toronto. I believe the downtown Toronto is self-explanatory.

3) Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ

Airport Toronto (6)

Though the airport is down to be terribly far from downtown, it is the biggest and busiest airport in Canada, so it does have a lot of features and amenities.

Inside the airport: The airport has a lot of art exhibits throughout the airport, including dinosaurs in Terminal 1. Also being the largest airport in Canada, there is definitely not shortage of stores and restaurants to choose from throughout the airport. Otherwise, they also have the most choices of airport lounges to choose from. There is also a host of fine dining choices to choose from. There is definitely no shortage of things to do at this airport if you end up being stuck there for an extended of time.

Outside the airport: The lack of things to do outside of the airport is the main reason why this airport is not ranked higher than it is. The airport is located in Mississauga, which is a suburb of Toronto that has very little attractions. So unless you are staying 8 hours or more at the airport for your layover, you might be better off staying by the airport during the day.

4) Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

Airport Montreal (6)

The Montreal and Calgary airports are toe-to-toe against each other. They are both about the same size airports. Montreal is an Air Canada Hub, while Calgary is a WestJet Hub. I think between the two airports, it is more based on personal preference and depending on which direction you’re flying.

Inside the airport: The reason Montreal received a slight edge is because they have a better food selection and more airport lounges to choose from. There is also a decent amount of stores to shop from.

Outside the airport: Nothing to brag about. Probably not really worth mentioning. The area surrounding the airport is under massive construction and there should eventually be a convenient way to travel to downtown. Otherwise, the airport is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in terms of attractions. So unless you are staying at least 8 hours or more for your layover, it may not be worth it to leaving the airport.

5) Calgary International Airport (YYC)

Airport Calgary (3)

Calgary’s airport is going through a lot of constructions that will add a lot more facilities. Once completed, it will definitely solidify it’s place in the top 5. Otherwise, I am certain that there are those who would debate whether Calgary belongs on this list.

Inside the airport: The reason Calgary also made the list is because they are the 3rd busiest airport in Canada, so they have a fair amount of amnesties for its passengers going in and out of the airport. They have their fair share of airport lounges, stores and restaurants.

Outside the airport: The transportation access is probably better than the Montreal airport; however, Calgary’s airport is fairly far from downtown as well. So unless you are staying at least 8 or more hours during your layover, you may be better off staying at the airport.

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