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Best stopover destinations between Australia and Europe

Dreading a long-haul flight to Europe with kids? Break up the trip with a stopover at one of these fabulous destinations en route – and get two holidays in one!

Happy family playing in the desert of Dubai
Happy family playing in the desert of Dubai

All travel-loving parents know how painful flying with kids can be – from restless rugrats who want nothing more than to run up and down the aisles during meal service to those determined to spend the whole flight kicking the back of the seat in front. 

Throw crossing time zones into the mix and things get even more challenging. The best way to ensure you arrive at your destination with your sanity in check is to book a stopover of at least 24 hours (as opposed to a layover, which is typically less than a day). 

The benefits of a stopover are many. As well as offering the chance to explore another part of the world, the impact of jet lag is lessened. It’s a chance to spend some extra quality time with the family and refresh and recharge, before tackling the next leg! 

Here are three unique Australia-to-Europe stopover destinations your family will love.

The Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa

Dubai

Want some major show and tell bragging rights? Take the kids for a ride to the top of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which stands at nearly 830 metres high, for epic views over the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates. 

Teens and tweens will love hitting the shops at the Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall, where you can also go snow-skiing indoors! Dubai also boasts the world’s largest water park, Atlantis Aquadventure, a LEGOLAND theme park and the international-themed Global Village Dubai

For a cultural experience, visit Jumeirah Mosque, hop aboard a traditional Abra boat to cross Dubai Creek or book a tour to fly kites in the desert.

Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai
Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai

Where to stay

Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai is the ideal place for some family fun in the sun, with two lagoon-style pools, a lazy river, epic waterslides and a splash play area for little ones. The Resort, which has more than 600 rooms and suites (some with those highly desirable bunk beds), also has three kids’ clubs catering to children of different ages and seven restaurants.

View over Nizwa fort
View over Nizwa fort

Oman

Kids will have the time of their lives sandboarding and dune bashing in the Wahiba Sands desert and exploring ancient forts, palaces and castles in the walled city of Muscat on an Oman stopover. There are also some gorgeous rocky beaches to go swimming, as well as the oasis-like Wādī Banī Khālid and incredible Bimmah Sinkhole

As the oldest continuously independent state in the Arab world, the Sultanate on the border of Saudi Arabia also offers culture and heritage in spades. Explore an Omani village and souk – and see some pretty gnarly weapons on display – at the Bait Al Zubair museum, and visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is the largest in the country.

A family room at Al Hail Waves Hotel Managed by Centara in Oman

Where to stay

Just 15 minutes’ drive from Muscat International Airport, the centrally-located Centara Life Muscat Dunes Hotel has 71 rooms and suites, a rooftop pool and restaurants offering Middle Eastern, Thai and international cuisine. 

Close to attractions like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the 152-room Centara Muscat Hotel Oman in the CBD has a rooftop pool and a separate children’s pool. 

Overlooking the ocean just five minutes’ walk from the Al Mouj entertainment hub in North Muscat with Oman’s only 18-hole PGA standard golf course, Al Hail Waves Hotel is another

Tubing at Snow Dunes in Qatar Image Visit Qatar
Tubing at Snow Dunes in Qatar. Image: Visit Qatar

Qatar

Angry Birds World, anyone? Riding the rollercoasters and other amusment rides and playing laser tag at this theme park in Doha Festival City Mall is one of the highlights of a visit to this small nation near the United Arab Emirates. 

Sail in a traditional wooden dhow to Al Safliya Island, see colourful spices, textiles and pottery being sold at the beautifully restored Souk Waqif, which is also home to a Falcon Hospital where you can learn about the birds’ cultural significance, and discover the country’s history at the National Museum of Qatar, which is housed in an architecturally-designed building inspired by a desert rose. 

You can also marvel at the impressive works on display at the Museum of Islamic Art and Qatar Islamic Cultural Center, journey into outer space at Al Thuraya Planetarium and be wowed at the Museum of Illusions.

A suite at Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha
A suite at Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha

Where to stay

Conveniently located on the Corniche promenade with rooms overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha makes a great base. Around 25 minutes’ drive from Hamad International Airport, it has a large indoor pool, a kids’ club and a range of family-friendly apartments to choose from.

Two arabian girls

Visa information

Oman
Australian citizens visiting Oman for up to 14 days for tourism may be eligible for a free-of-charge entry visa. This is subject to certain conditions and requirements.
Oman Travel Advice & Safety | Smartraveller

Qatar
Australian passport holders can apply for a tourist visa on arrival. You may be asked to show proof of your accommodation for the duration of your stay in Qatar on arrival at Hamad International Airport. Entry and exit rules can change at short notice.
Qatar Travel Advice & Safety | Smartraveller

Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Australian passport holders are eligible for tourist visas on arrival. For more information, visit UAE Federal E-Government Portal

United Arab Emirates Travel Advice & Safety | Smartraveller

Local Traditions and Customs

Familiarise yourself with local rules and laws before you go. Homepage | Smartraveller is a comprehensive resource for all information about your destination.

Observe local traditions, customs, laws, and religions at all times. Dress modestly in public areas like shopping malls—cover the tops of arms and legs and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts. Penalties, including fines and jail terms, apply to violations of public decency laws. Alcohol is currently only available to visitors at licensed hotel restaurants and bars. The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21. It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in a public place.

Social Media and Photos

Avoid commenting on social media about culture, government policy or services, and commercial enterprises. This includes reviewing hotel or restaurant experiences on social media. These activities could be considered cybercrime offences. Be careful when taking photos. Photographing airports and transport infrastructure, bridges, government buildings, embassies and palaces is illegal. Photographing anyone or posting photos of people, particularly women or their personal belongings (including vehicles) on social media without their consent is also illegal. This includes people in the background of photos.

More information

In partnership with Centara Hotels and Resorts.

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