Musement takes a look at five incredible cities where you should consider booking a free stopover on your next trip.
When booking a flight, it seems like a no-brainer to select the most direct option with the least possible stops. But what if you could turn your stopover into a holiday and get two trips for the price of one? Passing a few nights in connection cities is becoming an ever more popular practice among travelers thanks to airlines offering free stopovers. Who could resist? Here’s a look at five destinations where you should consider treating yourself to a free stopover.
1. Lisbon or Porto, Portugal
TAP Air Portugal, which was already offering stops in Lisbon or Porto for long-haul flights, has recently extended its offer to medium-haul flights. At the time of booking, simply select the “stopover” option, choose the city where you prefer to spend your stopover on your outward or return trip, and you can enjoy up to five days of holidays in Portugal at no additional cost.
If you choose to stay in Lisbon, don’t miss the majestic Belem Tower, one of the most visited sites in the capital, along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery, which houses Vasco da Gama’s tomb. If, on the other hand, you choose the more intimate city of Porto, you’ll have the choice of a five-day stopover. Spend an entire day exploring the incredible Douro Valley, a wine region with remarkable landscapes that will forever remain etched in your memory. In any case, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the delicious local cuisine, pasteis de nata to Francesinha, and so refuel for the second trip that awaits you.
2. Reykjavik, Iceland
One thing’s certain, Icelanders have a sense of humor as is evident in this YouTube video promoting IcelandAir’s Pass Stopover. If you fly on one of the airline’s transatlantic flights, you can book a three-to-seven-day free stopover in Reykjavik and discover breathtaking natural landscapes. A must for Game of Thrones fans who can take the opportunity to explore shooting locations from the series.
3. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong, the hub of the airline Cathay Pacific, is very good for stopovers, especially if you’re heading to Sydney. A short stay in Hong Kong will allow you to stretch your legs and shake off a little jet lag. Especially if you’re in transit in Hong Kong, no visa is needed, your American, Austrialian or EU passport will suffice. From the airport, board the Airport Express to reach the city center, but before leaving Lantau island, don’t forget to visit the Po Li Monastery, one of the most popular Buddhist temples in the world, where the famous Tian Tan Buddha statue is located. Once on the island of Hong Kong, take a ride in the central district where you can enjoy authentic dim sum and then hop on the tram to Victoria Peak, the highest peak in Hong Kong, for a 360° view of the city.
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When you book a multi-leg fight with Emirates to, say New Delhi or Bali, it’s highly likely that you will have to connect in Dubai and the airline offers you the opportunity to book a stopover in the God City. On the company website, simply select the “advanced booking” option and include Dubai as a destination for whichever part of the journey you intend to make the stop. Even if you stay for just a few hours, take the opportunity to visit some of the most iconic sites as the city is just a 15-minute drive from the airport. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world, from which you can admire the sunrise on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; or the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center in the world. You can also hop on the metro at Terminals 1 and 3, where there are designated areas to check your baggage so you don’t have to lug it around with you. If on the other hand you have the opportunity to stay in Dubai for several days (which we strongly recommend), consider Oman, the crown jewel of the Middle East, or offer yourself to a desert safari combined with a city tour and a dhow cruise on the Dubai Creek, in just two days, a broad overview of all Dubai has to offer.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Turkish Airlines ups the ante when it comes to free stopover formulas. If you make a stopover in Istanbul with the national airline from some cities listed on their website, you can enjoy a free two-night stay in a five-star hotel for business class travelers or one night in a four-star hotel for passengers flying economy. You have no excuse for missing this fascinating city’s must-see attractions such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.