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Destination inspiration: stopovers

You’ve checked in, passed through security, indulged in a spot of duty-free shopping and now you’re settling into your seat for a long flight. You think: there’s really nothing better than a holiday. And then you correct yourself – actually there is something better than a holiday: two holidays. Because en route to your far-flung destination you’re stopping over somewhere you haven’t been before.

What better way to break up a long flight and add a bit of contrast to your trip? Complement the laid-back vibe of Sydney with the intoxicating chaos of Hong Kong, or relax in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon before hitting the bars of New York. Stopovers are the best way to get more back for your holiday buck, so to speak. We’ve compiled a list of stopover cities that make for the perfect contrast – with a few stopover destinations you may not have thought of thrown in for good measure!



Asia is the perfect mid-way point for flights Down Under, and Hong Kong is one of the easiest stopover points for Sydney-bound flights. A fascinating fusion of east meets west, modern meets traditional, Hong Kong is a city of towering skyscrapers, bustling markets, peaceful temples and perfect gardens. Rummage through the many markets of Kowloon and Mong Kok and pick up souvenirs for the folks back home. And for the pure novelty there is the flower market bursting with colour, the goldfish market with endless tanks of goggle-eyed goldfish, the jade market, the bird garden, the dried seafood market and Sneaker Street ... all great for browsing and testing out those photography skills.

(LON – HKG 11h35m, HKG – SYD 9h10m). View flights to Sydney


If you’ve hit Hong Kong or you’re keen to discover mainland China, Shanghai is another great option for Sydney-bound stopovers. One of China’s most rapidly progressing cities, Shanghai manages to cling to the vestiges of its past – from the maze of narrow alleyways in the heart of the old city to the tree-lined boulevards, handsome mansions and the European-influenced atmosphere of the Bund area. Shoppers - get thee to Nanjing Road, one of the world’s busiest shopping streets and utterly dazzling at night when lit with kaleidoscopic neon. For something a little more sedate, explore the classic Chinese garden of Yu Yuan, tranquil with its spring bamboos, gentle streams and peaceful pavilions.

(LON – SHA 11h25m, SHA – SYD 10h45m). View flights to Sydney



En route to Auckland? Go via the Hollywood Hills. Los Angeles is a popular option for breaking up those long New Zealand-bound flights. In LA you can experience firsthand the images that are strangely familiar to us from the big screen: the fantasy worlds of Disneyland and Hollywood, the extravagance of Beverley Hills and Malibu and the sun-soaked beach culture are just some of Los Angeles’ charms. Call it the city of dreams or the city of dreamers, in LA everyone is looking to get somewhere – whether it’s their big break in a Hollywood film or a coveted table at the hippest new restaurant.

(LON – LAX 11h30m, LAX – AKL 13h00m). View flights to Auckland


In 2012, thanks to an up-tempo K-Pop song by a South Korean rapper, a new phrase entered the lexicon – a tag to describe the posers and wannabe hipsters who lust after lavish lifestyles reflective of Beverley Hills, California. Perhaps you have heard it? Of course you have – Gangham Style went viral, receiving over 700 million YouTube views. The song refers to the trendy Gangham District of Seoul, bursting with designer brand names, celebrity homes and shiny sports cars. A stopover in Seoul will have your Gangham dance moves perfected before you hit New Zealand shores. But if Gangham is not your – erm – style, the Insa-dong district of Seoul may be more your cup of tea; it’s filled with antique shops, art galleries, traditional teahouses, restaurants and bookshops.

(LON – SEL 10h45m, SEL – AKL 11h20m). View flights to Auckland



Flying indirect to New York via Amsterdam is the perfect way to get two holidays for the price of one – especially for art lovers. Amsterdam is brimming with treasures, with Van Gogh, Vermeer and Rembrandts among the greats to be admired in the galleries of this compact city. Stroll along the canals on foot, across ancient bridges and down narrow lanes between galleries of classic masterpieces and contemporary talent, before zipping over to New York to complete the artistic tour with the MoMa, the Guggenheim and the prolific independent gallery openings that the New York scene is famous for.

(LON – AMS 1h30m, AMS – NYC 8h05m). View flights to New York


Perhaps you’re more of a night owl, heading to New York to immerse yourself in pumping clubs and to sample the live music scene. Fly via Reykjavik and you can amplify this experience. The Icelandic capital is fast becoming famous for its happening and eclectic live music with concerts almost every night of the week. Don’t wait until the sun goes down – in summer Reykjavik sees over 20 hours of daylight. Most of Reykjavik’s clubs are concentrated on the city’s main street, Laugavegur, filled with revellers flitting between its lively pubs and clubs. Before heading off to New York to do it all again, rejuvenate with water therapies and treatments at one of Iceland’s steamy public geothermal swimming baths.

(LON – REK 3h00m, REK – NYC 6h00m). View flights to New York

Stay tuned for more stopover inspiration coming soon!

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 is Social Media Specialist at Flight Centre UK. Find her on Twitter here

Written by Lauren Rayner

A former Flight Centre UK writer, Lauren Rayner loves to travel! Follow her on Twitter here.

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