Stopover destinations are the best in two ways – one, they provide a lot of excitement and wonder but with a restricted time frame and two – they are a mini vacation by themselves. They provide a sneaky way to enjoy the sights of two different places at the cost of one. So, the next time you find yourself in one of these destinations, go forth and explore!
Most international flights undoubtedly come with a stopover. These pit stops may range anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days (in case of bad weather or the non-availability of connecting flights). While it is an ideal time to travel to more destinations at once, it is also a good opportunity to refresh in between flights. When planning an around the world trip or just a two-destination trip, consider these places to stop on a long layover. These listed destinations offer options that can be accessed within an hour or two of the airport and definitely make for interesting value-adds to the travel.
This one is probably one of the most popular stopover destinations thanks to its unique location and being a cosmopolitan Middle Eastern hub. There is a plethora of things to see, do, eat and of course shop.
This one is for the foodies. Friday is Dubai’s first day of the weekend and the city’s brunch scene is one to watch out for. Across the city, you can find brunches that range from being elegant, casual and others that are just one big party!
Depending on which month you are travelling in, there are a lot of epic festivals that you can choose from to attend. The Dubai International Film Festival happens in December and it serves as a premier showcase for Arab cinema while also screening films from the globe. The month of March sees the Dubai Literature Festival that lasts for 12 days and is a treat for bibliophiles. If you are a band geek, there is the Dubai Jazz Festival that happens in the month of February hosting legendary musicians from around the globe. Apart from these, there is the Dubai Motor festival in November and the ’45 days of summer’ festival in the summer months.
This one is a must if your stopover extends beyond a day. Book yourself on the Dhow dinner cruise and indulge in a sumptuous Arabic buffet dinner as you sail under the moonlight.
If you have never experienced the dessert, there is no better way and place to experience it than right here. Trained safari guides ride over the sand dunes deep into the heart of the dessert giving you an experience like never before.
All shopaholics rejoice! Dubai is beautiful, wealthy, exotic and also a shopper’s heaven. Throughout January, the Dubai shopping festival has major deals across the city that you can take advantage of. Get your shopping fix at the Dubai Mall which is the size of 50 football fields and houses around 1500 shops. So literally, shop till you drop!
Dubai offers world-class spas. Anywhere you go, you will find hamams, where you will be treated like a king with traditional massages, exclusive facials 24 hours a day. If you are pressed for time, express 30-minute treatments are also available.
Singapore has the credit of being the first city to properly celebrate the stopover industry and culture and it continues to lead this world. The lion city packs a punch offering an array of entertainment, shopping and dining options for you to choose from.
This is a buzzing historic area that shows off the best of Singapore’s Indian community. You can find bargains on clothes, perfumes, souvenirs and just about everything. Plus, there is the advantage of being in India outside India!
Singapore Bus Tour
Singapore has a super efficient and economically viable transport system. They are clean, prompt and safe. If you are a first timer and have little time to spend, choose the hop-on hop-off bus tour. The two 60-minute routes cover Singapore’s waterfront and all three ethnic neighborhoods. As a bonus, this also includes a cruise on the Singapore river!
Hop off in Chinatown to visit the monolithic Buddha Tooth relic temple. The temple has a 27-foot statue of the Buddha, and one of his teeth on display! Do not miss out on catching a glimpse of the 10,000 Buddha pagoda on the roof.
Definitely catch the sunset on the Singapore Flyer which is a Ferris wheel similar to the one in London.
For those who want to do something a little different – they call it ‘doctor fish’ for some reason! Immerse your feet in water and wait for the little guppies to do their magic.
No visit to Singapore can be complete without a healthy dose of shopping. Not just the discount museum at Little India but Orchard Street is a shopper’s paradise of all brands.
If you are lazy to go outside and explore these options or are just really pressed for time, Changi airport is good enough to indulge in some leisure time. Not an ideal hangout spot but this airport is different from the rest of the world. How, you ask? Well, it has a spree of things to do that are all free, yes free!
– Pamper your feet with free foot massages
– Browse the internet
– Watch ongoing feature movies in three screens, all for free.
– If you prefer relaxing in nature, wander through the gardens of cactus, sunflowers, orchids, ferns and butterflies. The Butterfly Garden is the world’s first butterfly garden at an airport!
– There is a 3D electronics zone where you can try out the newest games, computers, 3D TV, cameras and other cutting edge technology while you’re between flights.
– For those who need a break from electronics, try your hand at art in their interactive art spaces.
– If you are tired of exploring, Changi actually has set up several rest areas for travelers to sleep on comfy lay-back lounge chairs.
– Changi airport also has the world’s tallest indoor slide. Visitors get a free slide token with any $10 purchase!
Frankfurt is mainly a financial center that has a big city feel to it but not many people know that the city also doubles up as a layover destination. The city’s skyscrapers may all mean business but get up close to the city and you will discover energy and enchantment that is worth exploring.
If you have three hours
Take a walk on the streets of this town and admire the stone carvings of the Renaissance revival facade. If you continue eastward on the main road, you will pass the Eiserner Steg pedestrian bridge where you will see newlyweds fastening a padlock of love to the ironwork.
The banks of the river Main are a popular spot for biking, jogging, and watching the pleasure boats passing by. The cafes on the side of the roads will give you plenty of street food options to choose from.
The Dom St. Bartholomaus is a red-sandstone 15th century church whose tower is as much a part of the Frankfurt skyline as the skyscrapers. Inside, it is dark, cool and quiet where you can rest and collect your thoughts as you admire the architecture.
This is the childhood home of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s most famous writer and intellectual. Many rooms are furnished with late baroque pieces and art. Burned to the ground in the Second World War, the house was rebuilt from its original plans. Before you head upstairs, take a close look at the first four steps because they are all that remain of the original 17th-century house.
Need coffee? Take in the local tradition of kaffeeund kuchen at this atmospheric and aromatic cafe. This family run cafe is a legend in Frankfurt and this location was the first, opened in 1914. The coffee is excellent and the cakes are worth the calories. You could even pack some for the road.
If you have 5 hours or more
Jewish memorial wall
Learn a little of Frankfurt’s rich Jewish history by heading east about six blocks along Berliner Strasse. If you don’t have time to go inside Museum Judengasse, you’ll miss a chance to see just how cramped life was in this medieval Jewish quarter. You will need about two hours just to finish seeing the museum, so plan accordingly.
The memorial at Neuer Borneplatz is a wall of 12,000 cubes bearing the names of Frankfurt Jews deported and killed by the Nazis. It is quite a powerful sight which may bring a tear or two in your eyes.
There is a wrought-iron gate not far from the memorial that gives you a peek into an odd-looking Jewish cemetery. At one end are rows and rows of moss covered tombstones that are hundreds of years old. On the other end, the ground is clear except for a large stone cairn. This is the spot where the Nazis went on a grave-destroying binge but were interrupted. The circular wall of tombstones was built to try and erase the hate.
After all the heavy duty war stuff, you would most definitely need a drink. This district is known as the apple-wine district. The drink Apfelwein is refreshingly tart and poured from blue and white stone jugs in every pub and restaurant here and totally worth it.