Asia Singapore Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool


Best stopovers from Australia to Europe

Published August 15th, 2014

“I really enjoyed sitting in one spot for 24 hours,” said nobody. Ever.  But in order to get all the way to Europe,  it’s kind of a given that Aussie travellers will clock up some serious seat time and unless you’re a serious spin class devotee, that’s a bit numbing on the bum to say the least. So before you settle in for the long haul (literally!), it makes sense to break up your epic plane ride to Europe with a sneaky stopover or two or three! With our exclusive Contiki Combos, you can have the best of both worlds – a Europe winter tour and a summer tour in Asia. And you don’t even have to take the trips back-to-back. I mean, what’s better than one holiday? Two holidays! Here’s the best stopovers from Australia to Europe to make the most of your long-haul flight.



Singapore –  the classic stopover

Until our national airline started flying to the UK via Dubai, Qantas shuttled generations of backpackers on working holidays along the original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London Heathrow via Singapore, known by the code QF1. Singapore Airlines, Swiss and Finnair stop in Singapore on the way to Europe, a six-hour leg from Sydney.

If you’ve got 24 hours in Singapore: Find yourself in Singapore’s fantasy island – Sentosa Island – full of beaches, attractions, resorts, theme parks and more.

If you’ve got longer: Make sure you stay at the Marina Bay Sands, if only to access that amazing Infinity Pool  at the SkyPark and soak up the view from the top.



Abu Dhabi  - the flashy newcomer

While not quite as in-your-face as neighbouring emirate Dubai, Abu Dhabi is gaining popularity as a stopover destination thanks to its luxe national carrier, Etihad Airways. You don’t have to be an oil mogul to get on board, though, if you’re a student, teacher or under 26, you can take advantage of our exclusive Black Market Flights airfares to London via Abu Dhabi.

If you’ve got 24 hours in Abu Dhabi: Head to Yas Island – an adult revhead playground that includes Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit and hosts the annual F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

If you’ve got longer: Stay on Sir Yas Bani Island. Not to be confused with Yas Island, half of this nature haven consists of the Arabian Wildlife Park with over 10,000 free-range animals.



Hong Kong – the shopping stop

For a sneaky side-trip to retail heaven, you can’t go past Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Swiss and Virgin Atlantic stop in at HK on the way to either Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, Amsterdam or London. Go bonkers in Honkers at whole streets dedicated to one food, multilevel department stores, night markets and high-street chains.

If you’ve got 24 hours in Hong Kong: Take the steep Peak tram up Victoria Peak at night for a panoramic view of the harbour and the Hong Kong city lights.

If you’ve got longer: If you’ve shopped ‘til you drop in HK, hop on a 24-hour ferry to Macau to visit the former Portuguese enclave and Asian gambling mecca.



Dubai – the biggest, shiniest, fastest

For superlatives on top of superlatives, Dubai is the hostess with the mostest boasting the tallest hotel, tallest building and even manmade islands in the shape of palm trees. Qantas and the national airline, Emirates, fly from Australia to a whopping 34 airports in Europe via Dubai. Told you Dubai doesn’t do things by halves!

If you’ve got 24 hours in Dubai: Cool off in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab luxury hotel at Wadi Wadi Waterpark with 30 splash-tastic rides to revive your plane-weary body.

If you’ve got longer: Get back to basics, Dubai-style, with a 4WD wadi bashing adventure through the dry desert beds (wadis). Not for the faint-hearted, these dunes are many and massive.



Bangkok –  the love you long-time fave

Aussies have an ongoing love affair with Thailand, holidaying from Phuket to Phi Phi, Samui to Chiang Mai, so it makes sense to say sawadee to a stopover here. Thai Airways and Swiss flies from Australia to heaps of European hotspots, including London, Paris, Athens, Stockholm and Copenhagen, via Bangkok.

If you’ve got 24 hours in Bangkok: If you’re visiting on a weekend, hit up Chatuchak Market, a sprawling maze of stalls selling everything from homewares to deep-fried insects.

If you’ve got longer: Do the Contiki Thai Island Hopper West – a nine-day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi and Krabi with all the beaches, local sights and scenery you can handle for the one inclusive price.


Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.