The flight between Europe and Australia/New Zealand is a long one! Breaking up the journey with a stopover for a day or two is a great way to make the journey easier as well as enjoy a mini break. You can see and do a lot on a multi-day layover as well as help ease the transition into a new time zone.
I have put together a list of the best stopovers on the way to Australia and New Zealand from my own experience.
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Stopover in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a place close to my heart as I lived there when I was younger, and my dad worked for Cathay Pacific as a pilot so spent a lot of time there. There is a lot to see and do in Hong Kong from the bustling city to the beautiful islands to the stunning landmarks.
Shopping is a must-do activity in Hong Kong. From the expansive, stylish malls, to the fascinating local markets, there is something for everyone.
A trip out to Lantau for the markets and to see the Big Buddha is another highlight. You can take the cable car which has stunning views and is fun for the kids.
There are also beautiful beaches to visit across Hong Kong. With more than 450 miles of coastline, there are over 100 beaches to choose from with lovely warm waters. Some of the top beaches include Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay, Repulse Bay Beach and Long Ke Wan Beach.
For the active family, there are fantastic hikes that you can take across the mainland and the islands with stunning views.
Then of course there are the theme parks – Ocean Park and Disneyland which are a great day out for the kids.
With so much to see, do and experience, Hong Kong is one of the best stopovers on the way to Australia and New Zealand.
Stopover in Dubai
Dubai is another great option for a stopover on the way to Australia and New Zealand. For me, it is one of the best stopover flights to New Zealand for two reasons; 1) You get to fly with Emirates, one of the best airlines, and 2) you have a short 7-hour flight and then 17 hours from Dubai to Auckland, which I found easier to manage with my daughter as she slept for a huge portion of the flight.
In terms of hotels in Dubai, you really have the choice of the more pricey beachfront resorts or a city-based hotel. It’s easy to get around Dubai with the smooth-running, air-conditioned Metro.
Dubai is extremely hot a lot of the year so you either need to be near water or in one of the huge, beautifully air-conditioned malls. Dubai Mall is a must-visit with the aquarium and a range of children’s activities on offer. It is also the location of the impressive Dubai Fountain show which takes place between 6-11pm every evening. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world is also located by the mall and is a must-do when visiting Dubai.
The Mall of the Emirates is also a great mall to visit, with its indoor ski slope and a huge range of shops and restaurants. There are several theme parks to visit in Dubai; Legoland, Motiongate, IMG World of Adventures, and KidZania.
For a bit of middle eastern culture then head out to the old town and visit the souks for some shopping. You can also take a 4×4 or quad biking desert safari for a unique experience (do check the age restrictions on these activities).
Stopover in Los Angeles
LA is one of the best stopover destinations and gives you the option of flying the other way around the world 😉 It has a fantastic climate and there is so much to see and do there.
To get around you are most likely going to need a car as LA is a sprawling city, and the public transport links aren’t great. You will have to put up with the notoriously terrible LA traffic but just factor that into your plans.
Some of our highlights when visiting Los Angeles included: Santa Monica pier – the kids will love the rides; Venice Beach – for some people watching; Malibu – gorgeous beaches and lovely cafes and restaurants; California Science Centre – a brilliant interactive museum which has the Endeavour space shuttle; Wayfarers Chapel – a gorgeous glass chapel with jaw-dropping views; and of course Disneyland and Warner Bros Studios!
I loved Los Angeles way more than I thought I would. It is a unique place with a lot of fun activities on offer.
Stopover in Singapore
Singapore is one of the best stopovers on the way to way to Australia and New Zealand. It is often one of the cheaper routes and nicely splits the journey into two manageable flights. The bustling city also has a lot to offer, from sampling the delicious food to admiring the beautiful cityscapes.
Singapore is very easy to get around using the extensive MRT and bus route. Taxis are also easy to pick up from the airport.
There is so much amazing food to try in Singapore from street markets, to food courts to Michelin star restaurants, there is something for everyone. Just wondering around this amazing city is a great way to spend your time, from the old to the new there is so much to see and do.
Raffles Hotel is an iconic location where you can have a Singapore Sling in the bar and admire the resplendent old-style decor. Then for contrast head to Marina Bay Sands hotel and Garden by the Bays to admire the architecture and enjoy the stunning city views. In the evenings, there is a fantastic Spectra light and water show, in front of the hotel, set to music that the whole family will enjoy.
Another great way to spend a day is by visiting Sentosa Island. There you can find Universal Studios, a water park and many other attractions but if you don’t fancy that it is well worth a visit to walk around and enjoy the beaches.
Other great things to do in Singapore include Singapore Zoo and taking a River Safari. There is so much to do, you will be spoiled for choice!
Other stopover destinations
There are a number of other stopover destinations to consider on your journery to Australia or New Zealand including:
– Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
– San Francisco, USA
– Shanghai, China
– Seoul, South Korea
– Abu Dhabi, UAE
How to book a flight with a multi-day stopover
There are a few different ways to find flights with stopovers. These are my tried and tested methods:
1) Search for flights using Skyscanner’s multi-city search function
Using Skyscanner search for flights for the destination and dates you are hoping to travel.
Find the different connecting destinations for the flights. Then choose a few to have a look for flights with layovers using the multi-city search function. Put the layover destination in and your final destination then play around with the dates.
I did this recently with flights to London from Auckland. I looked at the different options for stopovers and had a play with the dates and layover destinations using Skyscanner. I then managed to find a great flight with a three-day layover in San Francisco. It was at least $2,000NZD cheaper (for our family of four) than all the other flights I had looked at. So it really is worth doing your research.
2) Find a flight with a long layover.
If you don’t mind just spending a day in a layover destination then you may be able to find a flight with a really long layover. This means you can just book one flight and can just leave the airport for a few hours and see your layover destination.
I have done this in Hong Kong. As our bags were checked in to go through we were able to take our carry-on bags and go out and see some sights.
3) Book a layover deal with an airline.
Many airlines offer deals for layovers such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Just search for the flights you are looking for then contact the airline to book their stopover deal.
4) Book through a travel agent.
To get the most out of booking through a travel agent it is best to do your own research about flights as I have found they don’t always find the cheapest options. But they do offer advantages such as deals for hotels, flexible payment options and good insurance deals.
Now get planning!
Hopefully, this guide on the best stopovers on the way to Australia and New Zealand will help you with your planning. If travelling with kids you might find my tips on travelling long-haul with children useful.
Several airlines such as Emirates and Singapore airlines offer deals that include a longer stopover in Dubai or Singapore respectively so do check those out when looking at your options.
Of course, do check the current COVID-19 rules before planning a long stopover in any of the mentioned destinations as well as the visa requirements.