Best destinations
for a stopover

The world’s best destinations for a stopover

Our new research has revealed that over half of Brits would prefer to turn their stopover into a small holiday. But where should you go? We’ve compared loads of layover destinations around the world to find the very best place for a little bonus trip.

To find the best destinations for a stopover, we looked at all kinds of criteria. We checked the cost and distance of a transfer from the airport to the nearest city, the type of public transfer available, the number of places the airport has flights to, airlines offering a free stopover, and the airport rating – phew! Using all of this, we calculated our overall score to reveal the best stopover destinations.

City Airport Name Airport to City Distance Public Transport to City Time to City Centre Number of Destinations rating (out of 30)
Amsterdam Schiphol 20km Train - £4.81  15 Mins 217 29
Singapore Singapore Changi Airport 20km Bus - £5.12 25 Mins 400 28
Lisbon Lisbon Portela Airport 9km Metro - £1.25 25 Mins 111 27
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport 25km Metro - £1 15 Mins 186 27
Beijing Beijing Capital International Airport 25km Metro - £2.79 20 Mins 230 26
Dubai Dubai International Airport 15km Metro- £2.50 33 Mins 211 26
Tokyo Haneda Airport 27km Metro - £4.50 30 Mins 150 26
Shanghai Shanghai Pudong International Airport 30km Train - £6.24 25 Mins 209 25
Frankfurt Frankfurt airport 12km Train- £4.14 15 Mins 240 25
Vancouver Vancouver International Airport 15km Metro - £5.40 30 Mins 98 25
Doha Hamad International Airport  45km Bus - £1 20 Mins 146 24
Toronto Toronto Pearson Airport 27km Train - £7.20 25 Mins 163 23
Helsinki Helsinki Airport 20km Bus - £4.45 40 Mins 99 23
Porto Porto Airport 17km Metro - £2.18 30 Mins 66 22
Atlanta Hartsfield- Jackson 16km Metro - £1.95 20 Mins 205 22
Madrid BarajasAdolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas 12km Metro - £4.01 12 Mins 186 22
New Delhi
New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport 16km Metro - £0.70 15 Mins 133 21
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 28km Metro - £8.22 50 Mins 300 21
Istanbul Ataturk Airport 21km Bus - £3.12 45 Mins 259 20
Sydney Sydney Airport 9km Train - £12.32 13 Mins 97 20
Rome Fiumicino Airport 32km Train - £12.46 32 Mins 174 19
Los Angeles
Los Angeles Los Angeles International Airport 24km Metro - £1.37 30 Mins 159 19
Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi International Airport 30km Bus - £1 45 Mins 120 19
Miami Miami International Airport 13km Train - £1.76 30 Mins 150 18
Hong Kong
Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport 40km Train - £11.13 24 Mins 220 18
Dublin Dublin Airport 10km Bus - £6 40 Mins 121 16
Montreal Pierre-Elliott Trudeau International 22km Bus - £8.90 55 Mins 103 16
San Francisco
San Francisco San Francisco International Airport 21km Train - £6.32 30 Mins 115 16
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport 7km Bus - £2 40 Mins 63 15
New York - JFK
New York - JFK JFK Airport 19km Metro - £6.05 60 Mins 173 15
Melbourne Tullamarine 23km Bus - £9.36 20 Mins 69 15
Auckland Auckland Airport 21km Train - £6.30 50 Mins 58 15
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur International Airport 45km Train - £6.59 33 Mins 121 14
Santiago (Chile)
Santiago (Chile) Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport 16km Bus - £2 45 Mins 51 13
Wellington Wellington International Airport 8km Bus - £6.30 30 Mins 24 13
Reykjavik Keflavik Airport 50km Bus - £11.85 50 Mins 54 11
New York - La Guardia
New York - La Guardia La Guardia Airport 13km Bus-metro - £2.93 50 Mins 65 10
Seoul Incheon Airport 50km Train - £8 60 Mins 147 9

And the winner is…

In first place on the overall list is Amsterdam. It scored big ticks in essential boxes – it’s just a short distance from Schiphol Airport to the centre of Amsterdam, and there’s a wide and well-priced variety of transport to get you there. The Netherlands’ flagship airline, KLM, also offers the option to include a stopover in Amsterdam for free as a part of some long-haul fares. So you can experience Amsterdam life before travelling on to one of the many long-haul destinations available, including Thailand, the Bahamas and Bangladesh.

Why have a stopover?

If you ever want to go anywhere exotic, long-haul flights are a necessary evil. The triple whammy of jet lag, lack of sleep and hours in a cramped seat can take its toll – sometimes it takes days to recover from.

But we’ve got good news. There’s a better way to go long haul, and it could be easier to engineer than you think. According to our research of 2,000 UK adults, making the most out of a stopover may be the answer to avoiding long-haul stress, with 54% of Brits saying they’d prefer to turn their stopover into a small holiday.

It makes sense. You can’t always choose the location of your stopover on a long-haul journey, but you can often extend it for free. That means, instead of spending several hours in the airport waiting for a connecting flight, you can take advantage of the stop and spend up to a week exploring a new place – without any added cost on your airfare. So after spotting the potential benefits, we set about finding out the best way to make a stopover work for you.

The best bits about stopovers

Extending your stopover is a great way to alleviate the most frustrating things about long-haul travel – over a quarter (28%) of respondents to our survey said feeling cramped on the plane was the worst thing about a lengthy journey, and 25% said it was the lack of space. But an extended stopover gives you a chance to feel like you’ve halved that time. You can stretch your legs and get back to the real world after just one flight.

What’s more, 21% of our surveyed fliers struggled with the poor quality of sleep and 20% claimed that boredom was the worst thing about long-haul travel. Two shorter journeys with an overnight stay (or longer) in between can work wonders, giving you a proper night’s sleep in a comfortable hotel bed. Plus, exploring a new place is a great way to avoid boredom – you’ll spend the first leg of the journey anticipating your stopover, making the second leg seem a short hop to your end destination.

The main motivation for a stopover was to break up an uncomfortable, sleep-deprived plane journey (24%) along with visiting an extra destination, regardless of where (13%).

How to make the most of a stopover

When it came to the different features our travellers wanted in a stopover destination, most cited a short distance from the airport to the city (34%). Naturally, you don’t want to spend any longer in transit, and a quick dash from airport to stopover city helps you maximise your time there.

A good choice of hotels near the airport (28%) was another must, along with the destination being compact and easy to get around (25%) to let you cram in as much sightseeing as possible before jetting off again.

Where to plan a stopover

We were pleasantly surprised by the breadth of the best destinations, with the top 10 including a wide range of destinations in Europe, Asia and North America, giving you a great spread of routes where you can maximise your layover. Want to see if you could make the most of a handy stopover on a trip you’re planning? Have a browse for flights now.

- Consumer survey from Censuswide on behalf of Netflights of 2,014 UK consumers aged 16 and over: 31/10/2018 - 02/11/2018