Stopovers. They’ve long been a favorite subject of travel articles. Guide books often suggest itineraries for them, and airlines have jumped at the chance to offer them to visitors who will spend a few days cramming in all of the activities they can. And why not? For long-haul passengers, stopovers provide an opportunity to break up a potentially grueling flight schedule and sample another destination along the way -and they are particularly enticing when combined with competitively priced airfares. Here are the best stopover cities and airlines with extended layovers. Why go to one city when you can see two for the price of one!
Stopover city: Reykjavik
Icelandair’s stopover program dates back to the 1960s, well before the country was a hot destination for road trips and Game of Thrones shoots. The airline has grown with the tourism industry on the island -- annual American visitors alone now outnumber actual Icelanders. As these innovators of leisure have watched their own popularity grow, they’ve also watched the stopover’s rise. “We have seen many airlines adding the ability to stopover in their hub -- it is not only to increase tourism but also strengthen their network through the hubs,” says Michael Raucheisen, an Icelandair spokesman. Definitely check these guys out if you’re heading anywhere in northern Europe, and you can get up to seven nights there along your way -- legitimately time enough to drive around the entire country.
2. TAP Portugal
Stopover cities: Lisbon and Porto
The airline’s stopover program recently upgraded so you can explore Lisbon or Porto for up to five days (versus three). Five days in Portugal is reason enough to get on a plane, especially when the airline also offers hotel discounts and free bottles of Portuguese wine at partner restaurants. Lisbon’s the second-closest European capital (after Dublin) to North America's East Coast; the city makes a natural detour on the way to Europe or Africa.
Iberia offers the "Stopover Hola Madrid" program, providing travelers with the flexibility to extend their stay in the Spanish capital. This program allows passengers to stay in Madrid for as little as 24 hours or up to seven days and six nights, all without incurring any additional airfare charges. Travelers can easily customize their stopover by selecting the duration they prefer when booking their flights through the airline's website. In addition to the extended stay, stopover passengers enjoy a range of exclusive benefits, including a 20 percent discount on admission tickets to the Prado museum, a complimentary two-day public transportation card available for pickup at the airport, and discounted hotel accommodations offered through the airline's partner hotels.
4. Turkish Airlines
Stopover city: Istanbul
Turkish Airlines offers an exceptional stopover opportunity for travelers departing from any of its nine US gateway cities, which include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. Passengers flying to destinations in Africa, Eastern Europe, or Central Asia have the option to make a stopover in Istanbul.
Stopover city: Dubai
Emirates adopted stopovers in 2002, allowing passengers to loiter in Dubai en route to one of the airline’s 150 global destinations, including Asia and South Africa. At the time, a mere 16 million travelers passed through the Dubai airport annually. Things have really ballooned since: Last year the airport was the world’s busiest international airport, with 87 million international passengers -- almost triple the number of the top US airport, JFK. Dubai and the Emirates offer a rich array of experiences and attractions tailored to every type of visitor. This region occupies a distinctive place on the map, where traditions, culture, and innovation converge in a dynamic and captivating fusion of diversity. Whether your visit is brief or a stopover, you're assured of encountering the enchantment of this vibrant destination. From the moment you disembark from your flight, Dubai eagerly extends its warm welcome to greet you.
6. Iceland Air
For travelers considering adding a few days in Reykjavik to their upcoming vacations, IcelandAir offers a convenient option. The airline provides free Reykjavik stopovers ranging from one to seven days for passengers traveling transatlantic routes. When booking your flights, simply select the "Stopover in Iceland" option and specify the duration of your stay. While there are no additional airfare charges, it's worth noting that IcelandAir's program does not include a complimentary or discounted hotel stay, so passengers should plan for this additional expense. However, the airline's stopover page offers a range of budget-friendly suggestions for sightseeing tours, including options like a condensed tour of the Golden Circle, a Reykjavik walking tour, and a Blue Lagoon experience.