How to Use Stopovers to See Two Cities for the Price of One

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How to Use Stopovers to See Two Cities for the Price of One

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What's better than a buy one, get one sale? How about a BOGO trip?

Welcome to the world of stopovers, the ultimate BOGO deal in the world of travel. Free stopovers allow you to see two cities for the price of one. More and more airlines are adding free (or cheap) stopover programs to boost tourism at their hub cities. And the best news is: they're easy to book.

Meet your new best friend, the stopover.


What is a Stopover?

While domestic layovers are short and can last as long as 24 hours on international flights, a stopover is a bit different. A stopover is a stop en route to your destination city for more than 24 hours. Many airlines cap these stopovers at five to seven days.

Building in a stopover to your flight itinerary takes an added step but allows you to visit another city for a few days for free.


How to Book a Stopover

You can book a free stopover when flying an airline that has a stopover program. And the ranks of airlines offering stopovers keeps growing.

We'll get into some of our favorite airlines with stopover programs shortly, but let's go over how to book these flights first.

  • Find the airline that provides a free stopover in a city of interest to you (and flies on to a final destination you want to visit)
  • Search for a cheap roundtrip flight on that airline to that final destination using Google Flights.
  • Build a multi-city itinerary using Google Flights to book a stopover, either on your departing or return flight!

Thrifty Tip: Want alerts for the cheapest international flights? Sign up for Thrifty Traveler Premium and get instant notification of the hottest domestic and international flight deals we find each day.

For example, if I wanted to stopover in Iceland on Icelandair on my way to Paris, my multi-city itinerary could look like this:




Airlines with Free (or Cheap) Stopover Programs

Free stopover programs allow you to double-dip on destinations abroad by getting you to two cities for the price of one. So which airlines are best for working in a free stopover?

Read on to learn about some of our favorite stopover programs.



Without stopovers, there is no Icelandair.

Icelandair has created the best-known stopover program, fueling record tourism in Iceland and showing all other airlines how it's done. It's hard to pass up a free stopover in one of the most unique countries in the world on your way across the pond to Europe.

You can stop over for up to seven days in Iceland for free when flying Icelandair. It used to be easier to find and book Icelandair stopovers via Google Flights. Luckily, it's still super simple to book directly on Icelandair's website.

Want a full walk-through? Read our guide to booking a stopover on Icelandair. Never flown Icelandair before? Check out our review for a glimpse of what it's like to fly Icelandair.



Iberia's stopover program may be the newest, but it's one of the best. You can book a stopover in Madrid for up to 6 days at no extra cost. If you’re flying Iberia to one of their other European destinations and your flight has a stop or layover in Madrid, turn that layover into a stopover to get out and see Spain’s capital city.

Read more about Iberia's new Hola Madrid Stopover program and see more of Europe at no extra cost.


TAP Air Portugal

Don't sleep on Portugal.

You need to visit Portugal before this country explodes in popularity. And TAP Air Portugal allows you to visit either Lisbon or Porto for up to five days free before making your way to another European city.

Again, booking a stopover is easiest when using the multi-city feature on Google Flights or booking directly on TAP's website. The hardest part will be deciding which city to stop at!

TAP even has a “stopover app” that provides personalized suggestions of things to do during your stopover, discounts on hotels and local experiences, an offline map to the cities, and itinerary ideas.



You can stopover for up to seven days in Tokyo for just $100 more than the normal roundtrip ticket. Plan a trip to Asia on a cheap ANA flight deal, and see Tokyo as well! Check out this example below to create your own BOGO two-week Asia trip.

Thrifty Tip: Want to take advantage of ANA's stopover program? Read our guide to Tokyo to make the most of your time.


Qatar Airways

Everyone should have flying on the #1 airline in the world, Qatar Airways, on their bucket list. If that's not enough reason to fly Qatar, you can stopover in Doha for up to four days for free. 

To book, search for a multi-city trip and add a stop in Doha (DOH) on either your departure or return flight. Select a flight option with at least a 12-hour layover in Doha, and book. Then, take advantage of the four- and five-star hotel offerings. Prices for a one-night hotel stay start at just $23, and this offer is only available for stopover guests.

Read more about Qatar Airways' stopover program on their website.


Aer Lingus

Want to visit Dublin for free? Find a cheap Aer Lingus flight to Europe and build out a multi-city itinerary with a stopover in Dublin. Aer Lingus allows you to stopover for up to seven days in Dublin.



In the example above, you could spend a week in both Birmingham and Dublin for $400 in flights. Yes, it's really that easy!

Aer Lingus is stepping up its transatlantic flight game, including with new nonstop flights between Dublin (DUB) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) starting in summer 2019!

Hawaiian Airlines

Fly Hawaiian Airlines and stopover in Honolulu for $60 on your way to another island. There's no limit on the number of days you can stopover in Honolulu. You can stopover on both your departing and returning flight if you want a double dose of Honolulu!

Other Airlines that Allow Stopovers

  • Emirates: stopover in Dubai (DXB)
  • EVA Air: stopover in Taipei (TPE)
  • FIJI Airways: stopover in Nadi (NAN)
  • Hong Kong Airlines: stopover in Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Virgin Atlantic: stopover in London (LHR)
  • Finnair: stopover in Helsinki (HEL)
  • Japan Airlines: stopover in Tokyo (HND/NRT)


Bottom Line

If you haven't yet taken advantage of a free stopover on one of these airlines, it's time to try one out! Stopovers allow you to get one of the best deals in the travel world: see two cities for the price of one.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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