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The 6 best stopover destinations en route to Europe

Jumeirah and Burj
Hong Kong
Hawaii Bag and Beach
Nanjing Rd Shanghai
singapore city skyline

The 6 best stopover destinations en route to Europe

story by: Jo Wedlock

Experiencing the best that Europe has to offer is not only becoming more affordable, but much easier and pleasurable to get to. Sometimes getting there can be almost as fun as the holiday itself.  Nowadays, the stopover options can create an exciting ‘mini-break’, helping you arrive at your final destination much more refreshed.

House of Travel are specialists in knowing all the best stopover cities you should check out – not just for the shopping, but for spending sunny Saturdays in the farmers markets, knowing which are the great hotels close to the airport but not too far away from the action, and where you can really enjoy a great stopover to compliment your European holiday.

Here is our pick of some of the top places to stopover on your way to Europe – the list is certainly not definitive and often narrowing down the choices of which cities to visit in your limited amount of holiday time is the hardest part, so speak to your HOT Specialist who can tailor the holiday to individually suit you.

LA or Hawai'i
Air NZ fly regularly to LA and it’s always a fantastic place to stopover for a quick shopping trip on your way North.  Consider taking a cab or shuttle service and getting out of the city itself and head down to Santa Monica for a night or two.  The beauty of this is you get the Santa Monica boutique shops as well as the high street shopping. However, you also get the beach and the famous Santa Monica pier which is a great option to wear out the kids before they have to get back on a plane to head north.

House of Travel have several options for hotels or apartments, either by the airport or in Santa Monica, so speak to your HOT specialist about what is going to be the right size or location to suit you.

As an alternate to stopping in LA, fly via Hawai'i! With the launch of Hawaiian airlines flying out of NZ three times a week (Mon, Wed and Fri) , you could fly a short 9 hours into this beach paradise to break up the flight.  You’ll then hop across to LA and hook up with your flight to Europe – easy as that!  Don’t stop there though, as there is no point being in Hawaii and staying at the airport hotel – instead, get a short $40 cab to Waikiki and really enjoy the tropical island at its best!

A long time stopover favourite, Bangkok showcases culture combined with great food, markets and super cheap shopping.  While you may have travelled through Bangkok before, there is so much to experience that you might not be aware of these great things to do when you are on a stopover:
  • The Floating markets are amazing!  It’s a very iconic Bangkok activity that you often see in pictures of the city and is not only a great cultural experience but a lot of fun!
  • Visit the numerous temples such as the Grand Palace with its ornate gold stupas and beautiful carvings – amazing!
  • If you are a fan of the Hangover II movie then make sure you have a sunset cocktail at Sirocco in the Lebua Hotel – site of the famous scene!
Of course there are countless places to stay in different areas. It’s pretty easy to get around Bangkok so even if you only have a short stopover you can get out of the airport area and experience life here.  A common area to stay is the ‘Central’ area which has access to all the big malls and the high street and market shopping.  If you've done that before, then try Sukhumvit, which is slightly more traditional and has loads of authentic restaurants and markets.

Hong Kong
While all the stopovers offer a wonderful holiday opportunity, Hong Kong arguably combines the best of all them. If you are travelling with kids, then just a very short train trip, direct from the airport terminal, is Disneyland!  If it’s just a single day stopover, you can stash your bags at the airport and spend the day running around kid’s heaven!  Or, if you have a bit more time, stay at the Disneyland Hotel!  Located on the harbour and inside the Disney resort grounds, you’ll find a stunning outdoor pool with kids’ slides, kids’ playground, a full maze and of course Mickey and Minnie joining you for breakfast or dinner.

If you don’t have kids or don’t want to endure the Disney experience, then it’s just a short trip into Hong Kong proper where you can stay in some of the lovely hotels and shop, eat and explore to your heart’s content.  Head further around the harbour for the markets and get up the mountain for the view – what a great stopover!  Public transport is a breeze (get the official red taxis to be sure) and take it all in before heading back to the airport to reconnect to your flights.

While flights to China are not new by any means – this has become one of the selected stopover preferences for many who want to explore new destinations.  Shanghai has long since held a fascination in our hearts as the oriental capital of the world.  The airport is a fair distance out of town, so I wouldn’t recommend this as a stopover visit if you only have a couple of hours.  If you have an overnight or two on your way to Europe however, this could well be the opportunity for you. Cosmopolitan and exciting, Shanghai is a great mixture of old world Chinese and modern day city!  It’s a fascinating and rather beautiful city and you’ll enjoy exploring the restaurants and shops as well as the markets.

If you usually travel up to Europe via stopovers such as Singapore or Bangkok, then maybe it’s time you travelled up via the Middle East.  Emirates Airlines has their stopovers in the most modern ‘man made’ city around – Dubai and is truly is something to behold.  With very extreme heat in summer (it’s the desert after all), it’s nicest to go in the Dubai winter where temperatures are a comfortable mid to late 20’s (rather than mid to late 40’s in summer!).    Even a short stopover can be amazing in Dubai and some of the great activities you’ll be able to fit in are:


  • Dune Dinner Safari – this is exactly as it sounds – dinner in the dunes on a desert safari!  A true desert experience and not to be missed.
  • City of Merchants Tour –in Dubai there are several different market places – spices, gold and much more.  Take a tour of the different options and then go back later to spend time browsing the areas you liked the best.
There are numerous different regions to stay in, each offering a different Dubai experience.  Stay in the Al Basha which is close to the huge mall of Emirates, which is so large it contains an entire indoor ski slope!  If you prefer to be by the ocean then staying at Jumeriah Beach might be for you. There are several amazing hotels with pools and beach access on this waterway and in winter is perfect to sit outside on the water front to dine – you can even take a camel ride along the beach at sunset!

Singapore has long been a popular stopover for travellers on their way to or from Europe, whether it be for relaxation, adventure or shopping. Vivo City has been a staple for shoppers showcasing a great selection of shops, with many European brands that we don’t have in New Zealand.

There’s plenty of new attractions to keep Singapore stopover veterans interested. There is a lot of hype around Resorts World Sentosa, which has six hotels, including some family orientated options. There’s plenty of entertainment options, such as Hard Rock Café, Universal Studios, Massive Marine Park, SEA Aquarium, Dolphin Island and more. Another new attraction in Singapore is the beautiful 250 acre Gardens by the Bay. Also, the new River Safari is next to the well-respected Night Safari and is themed on famous rivers of the world and their inhabitants.

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