The Best Stop Over Cities in the World

If you’re going to have to do a connecting flight, why not make the most of it? These cities are worth a day or two to explore, so build in some extra layover time.

We love a good, long stopover. Why? Because it’s like a vacation in a vacation. You get double the exploration and a chance to test out a city for hours or a couple of days that you may not have thought of checking out. Here are our current favourite stopover cities that, trust us, you will want make sure you give yourself the extra time.

Istanbul, Turkey

We love when airlines know how to make the most out of a stopover for their customers. Case in point, Turkish Airlines and their stopover plan for Istanbul. With the airlines stopover program, if you have a layover of 7 hours or more, you can get a hotel and a free tour of the city (hitting up classics like the Grand Bazaar, The Blue Mosque, the Sophia Hagia, and so much more). Flying in business class will get you two nights at a 5-star hotel, flying in economy will get you one night at a 4-star hotel. Not a bad deal if you ask us. Hint: drink as much Turkish tea or coffee and eat as many Turkish Delights as possible during your stopover. Trust us, it’s worth it!

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Even if you have a 6 hour layover, there’s SO much you can do in Amsterdam. One of the advantages is that the airport is close to quick and easy things to do. Go out and grab a few pics of the canal, rent a bike and get those legs moving on a cycle, explore the buildings, grab some street food (their famous fries or even more famous waffles and pancakes). Or sit with a coffee and people watch for a bit before heading back to the airport feeling a little bit more refreshed and ready to take on the European jetlag. If you can do a longer layover, try and take advantage of KLM’s stopover program where you can get two free stopovers in Amsterdam or Paris on the way to your destination and back.

Hong Kong, China

For just about anyone in North America (even on the west coast), the journey to Asia is long. But touching down in popular connecting city Hong Kong is the perfect gate way and place to get your jet lagged legs on the ground for a day or two. First it’s relatively easy to get into the dense, compact city from the airport (look for the express train (Airport Express station). The airport and some stations also have baggage drop offs, so you don’t have to lug that around, or leave it at an airport hotel. Make sure to squeeze in time to take the famous Ferry across Victoria Harbour, take in the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and the skyline, eat street food, hit up a ritzy bar or two (like the one at the Ritz on the 100th floor), and you’ll be ready for your next Asian destination.

Zurich, Switzerland

SWISS Air recently launched their stopover plan, similar to that of Turkish Airlines and Icelandair. That means, you can make your layover in Zurich (another hot spot for connecting through to another European city). Here’s what you get with their stopover plan. The plan allows flyers on Swiss to stay up to four nights on either their inbound or outbound flight. Flights must travel from North America via Zurich and onward to select Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Asian destinations. It’s an amazing (and more affordable) way to Visit the designated Stopover Switzerland site to get full details on the options.

Brussels, Belgium

Similar to the Switzerland Stopover, Brussels Airlines wants to tap into that North American market. Their stopover plan allows you to see more of this small European country than you probably thought possible. Think beer, chocolate, cathedrals, the romance of the town of Bruges, the museums (many of which are free on the stop over), select up to two cities in Belgium where you’ll gain free access to numerous museums and tourist attractions and even free bike and scooter rentals. And since Belgium is so small and compact, it’s easy to get from city to city (most are about an hour away from each other), so you can really get a sense of the country in just a few short days.

Reykjavik, Iceland

You could say that IcelandAir was the originator of the stopover trend… When IcelandAir started promoting Reykjavik as the perfect spot to take a connecting flight (with the promise of time to get to the famous Blue Lagoon) before you headed to various European destinations, the world took notice of the small island. If you can spend more than a day, even better. You can visit the artsy side of Iceland at the galleries and eclectic shops, dine on some incredible Icelandic seafood and lamb, visit the Blue Lagoon and if time permits, trek out to the waterfalls that have become so Insta-famous. You can also do a stopover with WOW Air, too.

Dubai, UAE

Flying with Emirates will get you access to a great city stopover in Dubai. With great deals on hotels and transfers to and from the airport you’ll be set to explore and take on this one of a kind city from the grandeur to the local sooks. Part of what makes the Emirates package so easy is that you really don’t need to do any organizing… your hotel, visas and transfers will be arranged, and you just have to decide on any extra tour packages to add to it if you so choose.

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