Bet you thought those hours between flights were for handy-wipe showers and napping in a corner didn’t you?
Well, they can be, if you so chose, but what if we told you there were stopovers that were actually kind of… nice? Heck, a lot of carriers between Australia and Europe will allow you to book a stopover (up to one night) free of charge, so why not chuck another getaway—or recharge sesh—in there?
Munich International Airport | Germany
We’re going to come out and just say it: Munich International Airport does not get enough credit. And we’re not just saying that ‘cause they have their own brewery, although that is 76 per cent of our reasoning. Airbräu, the airport’s on-site brewery, not only has all the beer and schnitzel you’d expect of a German airport, but the tavern and beer garden boasts live and local entertainment.
If that still isn’t enough to wow your compression socks off, Munich International also has unlimited free Wi-Fi, a Christmas market—including ice skating rink—and Napcab, self-service sleep pods that are perfect for a quick recharge. There’s also an enormous, and largely free, Visitor’s Park full of continent-themed attractions for kids (and kidults) including rope slides and mini putt-putt. Oh, and did we mention they have surfing via a stationary wave machine? Seriously, is there anything this place doesn’t have?
Incheon International | South Korea
If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Silly Billies! South Korea isn’t a stopover’ then good news, you’re totally wrong. The South Korean capital is actually utilised as a stopover with Korean Air flying from Sydney and Brisbane via Seoul to London and ten other European cities. And not only is Incheon International an option, it’s also a pretty darn cool one.
The largest of South Korea’s airports, Incheon provides cultural performances and pretty nifty museum for travellers as well as a movie theatre, year-round ice-rink and… drumroll please… an 18-hole putting course over seven gardens. In. An. Airport.
Dubai International Airport | UAE
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a little gaga for Dubai and the UAE right now. Who could say no to a whirlwind adventure and world-class service (see: water slides)? Dubai International Airport is every bit as luxurious as you’d expect with a smorgasbord of shops, the world’s largest duty-free store, a 24-hour gym, pool, Zen Garden and something glorious called a snoozecube which is essentially a clean lil’ hidey-hole for one.
The airport itself is pretty, well… pretty too with glimmering pillars, ponds, gardens and a number of relaxation areas. If you’ve got a little longer to spend, may we suggest popping out to Atlantis the Palm water park? We hear it has some pretty nifty water slides.
Changi Airport | Singapore
Changi Airport has officially raised the standard of airports everywhere. In fact, we’re so enamoured that the next time we rock up to a terminal and it doesn’t have a rooftop pool, we’ll march back home, 14-hour flight be damned. And if a pool weren’t enough to sway you then settle in, ‘cause Changi Airport also has an entertainment area, movie theatre, complimentary tours of Singapore and the world’s only airport-based butterfly garden.
Aside from the 1,000-strong butterfly garden—complete with waterfall—the airport has the Shilla Beauty Loft where you can not only buy luxury skincare products, but get treatments too. Once pampered, head up to the rooftop pool for just $17SGD. The cost will also get you use of the showers, a towel and complimentary non-alcoholic drink.
Still not relaxed and pampered enough for the airport? Let The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck treat you to well-crafted local and international dishes before popping into the Crown Plaza Changi Airport. The World’s Best Airport Hotel (that’s not hyperbole, they legit won that title) has day rooms for stopovers under eight hours as well as a 24-hour fitness room, spa treatments, restaurants and lounges. Seriously, can we just holiday there?
Taoyuan International Airport | Taiwan
If you have aversion to the colour pink, look away now ‘cause Taoyuan International Airport is not afraid of colour and kitsch. In fact, the themed areas of the Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan have achieved worldwide fame, particularly their Hello Kitty offering which includes a shuttle, check-in, lounge, amenities, gate and yes, even plane. It has to be seen to be believed, by trust us when we say Taoyuan International is hella pink.
Hong Kong International Airport | China
Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, is a frequent stopover for us poor souls all the way over here in ‘Straya. Thankfully, it’s also one of the more popular with a plenty of restaurants, advanced infrastructure and oh, just some casual virtual golfing, no biggie. Visit GreenLiveAir to play a 9-hole or 18-hole game in the indoor simulator between flights or, if so inclined, the IRL golf course, Sky City Nine Eagles, near Terminal 2. Wrap up your stopover with a screening at the IMAX Theatre and you’re laughin’.
Zürich Airport | Switzerland
Zürich Airport features the holy mecca of long-haul travellers: free showers (hallelujah!). Aside from a chance to get squeaky clean, Zürich also has loads of restaurants, duty-free shops and plenty of places to buy the country’s world-famous choccies. If you’ll be floating ‘round for an extended period, Zürich Airport also offers bicycle and inline-skate rentals and excursions to the Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne. For aviation fanatics/those with an Instagram to fill, the airport has rooftop terraces from which you can observe the tarmac and nearby Alps.
P.S. while there are currently no airlines that fly into Zurich via Australia, if you’ve been globetrotting, then this won’t be a problem. Swiss Airlines operates out of major hubs like Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Easy as.
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