10 places like Dubai worthy of an extended stopover
Add an extra day or two between flights to check out these hot stopover locations.
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Long journey ahead? You could do the hard slog and catch a couple of zzzs at the airport in between flights, or you could strategically extend that layover a day or two to break up the journey and tick another city off your list.
Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a centre of commerce and industry that features a skyline of incredible modern architecture.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is a luxurious getaway of high-rise, domed mosques and exquisite palaces. Browse its extensive and expensive mall offerings, take a relaxing dip in its cool waters or catch your breath as you gaze upon its desert expanse.
- Don’t miss: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, Yas Viceroy, Abu Dhabi Corniche and Jebel Hafeet.
- Best day tour: Abu Dhabi Day Tour
Oman’s port-side town brims with majestic wonders and startling colour.
Muscat feels like Dubai did before it was developed. The essence of the city is tradition, and it boasts few high-rise buildings, but entrances with its sandy beaches and whitewashed mosques. Like Dubai it features high-end waterfront restaurants, hotels and malls, fit for the rich and famous.
- Don’t miss: Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Al Alam Palace and Royal Opera House
- Best day tour: Day Trip to Oman’s Grand Canyon
Stroll along the waterfront and shop the street markets on a relaxing layover in the Persian Gulf.
You could spend your layover blitzing through another city, but if you’d prefer to use it as a wind-down before you return to reality, Doha offers a laidback transit stop. Its highlights include museums, a seaside promenade, parks and luxury islands.
- Airlines that offer stopovers here:
- Don’t miss: The Pearl-Qatar, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Kingdom of Aladdin and Doha Corniche.
- Best day tour: 8 Hour Cultural Doha Day Tour
Where Europe and Asia meet lies Turkey’s buzzing big city.
From the moment you step foot in this chaotic city, you’ll be enraptured by its colourful market bazaars, ornately adorned mosques and winding laneways. Similar to Dubai, Istanbul is a city that never sleeps, and you’ll find there’s no shortage of activities and late-night food outlets whenever you choose to play.
- Don’t miss: Taksim Square, Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Misir Carsisi Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Maiden’s Tower, Topkapi Palace and Sultan Ahmed Mosque
- Best day tour: Small Group Tour: Essential Istanbul
Traditional temples meet modern skyscrapers in the beautiful nation of Singapore.
Singapore is an enviable stopover point, and that’s not just because it has one of the best layover airports in the world. The city is easily accessed by public transport from the airport, is highly walkable and offers a unique cityscape of gardens, high-rise, temples, luxury condos and hawker food stalls.
- Airlines that offer stopovers here: Singapore Airlines.
- Don’t miss: Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island, Marina Bay, Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer.
- Best day tour: Singapore City Tour including Singapore Botanic Gardens
Not for the short layover, Bangkok is for those who really want a city break in between destinations.
Thailand’s glorious capital is a chaotic city of temples, rivers and shopping malls. Take the time to cruise down the river, eat from hawker stalls, scale its numerous temples and shop at the night markets which line the pavements and wheedle their way into every space imaginable.
- Airlines that offer stopovers here: Thai Airways.
- Don’t miss: Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Sanctuary of Truth, Grand Palace and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
- Best day tour: Bangkok Scooter Tour
Lebanon’s capital is a bustling metropolis of Arabesque mosques and fashionable high streets.
Once known as the Paris of the Middle East, these days Beirut is less romantic and more good chaotic fun. Like Dubai it feels both European and Middle Eastern, and a modern landscape and rich art scene thrive among ancient ruins and religious traditions.
- Don’t miss: Jeita Grotto, Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Archaeological Museum of the University of Beirut and Rene Moawad Garden
- Best day tour: Beirut, Jeita Grotto and Byblos Private Tour
This island city is a melting pot of culture, shopping and nightlife. Got a red-eye stopover? Hong Kong will still be open.
Hong Kong is the kind of stopover that you can make enroute to other Asian destinations or on the way to places such as London or Rome. This territory is so tiny that it can be covered in a few hours – though it really is worth a longer visit!
- Airlines that offer stopovers here: Cathay Pacific.
- Don’t miss: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong DIsneyland, Lantau Island, Repulse Bay and Tian Tan Buddha.
- Best day tour: Lantau Island and Giant Buddha Day Tour
For somewhere a little left of centre, make Seoul your stopover of choice.
The capital of South Korea is impossible not to fall in love with. Bursting with excitement, Seoul’s futuristic landscape comprises shopping malls, rooftop parks, restaurants and clubs that never seem to close.
- Airlines that offer stopovers here: Korean Air.
- Don’t miss: Jogye Temple, Bukchon Hanok Village, Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and N Seoul Tower.
- Best day tour: Full Day Essential Seoul Tour
China’s 72-hour visa-free transit policy means anyone flying from one of 51 countries can stop in Beijing and tour the city for three days without having to apply for a visa.
Australia, naturally, is one of those 51 countries. So why not take advantage of this policy if you’re landing in this metropolis anyway? In three days you can cover the main sights including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and, if you play your cards rights, even the Great Wall.
- Airlines that offer stopovers here: Air China.
- Don’t miss: The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven.
Which airlines offer stopovers for flights exiting Australia?
Use our table of popular airlines and destinations to help you decide who to fly with and where to make that ultimate stopover.
|Destination||Airline||Possible stopover options|
|Europe, North America||Air China||Shanghai, Beijing|
|North America||Air New Zealand||Auckland|
|North America||American Airlines||Los Angeles|
|Europe||Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong|
|Europe, North America||China Southern||Guangzhou, Beijing, Wuhan|
|Europe, North America, South America, Africa||Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi, Sao Paulo (flights to South America), Nairobi (flights to Africa)|
|Europe, North America, Asia||Garuda Indonesia||Jakarta, Bali|
|North America||Hawaiian Airlines||Honolulu|
|Asia||Jet Airways||Singapore, Mumbai|
|South America||LATAM||Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo|
|Europe||Malaysia Airlines||Kuala Lumpur|
|North America||Philippine Airlines||Manila|
|Europe, Africa||Abu Dhabi, Doha|
|Europe, Asia||Singapore Airlines||Singapore|
|Africa||South African Airways||Johannesburg|
|Africa||Turkish Airlines||Istanbul, Singapore|
|North America||United Airlines||Los Angeles|
|Europe||Virgin Atlantic||Hong Kong|
|North America||Virgin Australia||Los Angeles|
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