Layover vs stopover: Which is better for you?

Wondering what the difference is between layover vs stopover? You’re not the only one. I’ve shared the differences and pros & cons of both flight terms below.

Layover vs stopover

I travel for a living and even I get stressed out by the many travel terms. That’s why I’ve created this series of posts where I decode flight jargon.

In my series of air travel terms, I’m covering the commonly misunderstood flight and airport vocabulary.

Today, we’re taking a look at layovers and stopovers.

These two terms often get mixed up and can give you a major headache when planning your trip.

In this post, I’ll break down the differences between layovers vs stopovers, share the pros and cons, and give you some handy tips to help you choose the best option.

Let’s take a look.

🛫 In a hurry? Here’a a quick overview:

🧳 A layover is a short, less than 24-hour airport stay between flights.

🗺️ A stopover is a break over 24 hours, allowing you to leave the airport and explore.

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Layover vs stopover: Understanding the difference

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s clarify what a layover and a stopover are.

What is a layover?

A layover, also known as a transit, is when you have a connection between two flights that’s less than 24 hours.

Most layovers are between 2-5 hours long, but in principle they can be up to 24 hours.

A layover is your chance to chill, grab a bite, or even explore the city if it’s a long layover!

It’s like taking a breather on your long journey before heading to your final destination.

Layover vs stopover

What is a stopover?

A stopover is like a planned break in your travel that’s longer than 24 hours.

Unlike a layover, during a stopover, you actually get to step out of the airport and spend some quality time at a destination before you continue your journey.

It’s a great opportunity to soak up the local vibes, explore the city, and make your travel experience even more memorable!

Layover vs stopover

The difference between layovers and stopovers

When it comes to layovers and stopovers, the main difference is how long you get to spend in the destination city.

Layovers are usually short, lasting a few hours up to 24 hours at most. On the other hand, stopovers are more extended, giving you the chance to stay for a few days.

Less than 24 hoursMore than 24 hours
Stay in the airportLeave the airport
Connection between flightsBreak in travel, exploring a destination


Now, let’s talk about the cost. Layovers typically don’t add to your airfare, while stopovers might. Airlines often charge extra for stopovers because they give you the opportunity to explore a new place while taking a break from your journey.


In terms of flexibility, layovers are meant for resting and give you limited time to explore the city. Stopovers, on the other hand, allow you to really dive into the destination and discover its charms.

Flight itinerary

Lastly, both layovers and stopovers can affect your flight itinerary in different ways. Layovers can sometimes result in missed flights if there are delays, while longer stopovers require additional arrangements like finding accommodation and local transportation.

So, whether you’re on a layover or a stopover, make the most of your time and enjoy every moment exploring new places!

Pros and cons of layover vs stopover

Layovers have their perks:

  • Shorter travel time
  • Less planning
  • A chance to rest those travel legs.

On the flip side, cons include limited rest and not enough time to explore the city/country

Stopovers, on the other hand, offer exciting possibilities:

  • Exploring new destinations
  • Longer rest periods
  • Experience different cultures

Of course, there are cons too, like high visa charges, extra costs, and logistical planning challenges.

Layover vs stopover

How to choose between a layover vs stopover

When it comes to deciding between layovers and stopovers, there are a few things to think about: travel time, budget, visa requirements, and what you want to get out of your trip.

For example, if you’re a busy business traveler with limited time, a layover might be the way to go.

But if you’re looking to explore multiple destinations and take your time, a stopover could be perfect for you.

I’ve taken lots of stopovers with a duration on 1-2 days and they’re my favourite unless I don’t have the time.

Making the most out of layovers and stopovers

When it comes to layovers, you can make the most of your time by using airport lounges, taking a break at nearby hotels, exploring what the airport has to offer, and treating yourself to some delicious local cuisine.

Some airports even have rooms where you can sleep. And The Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport each have their own outdoor pool with runway views!

On the other hand, if you have a stopover, I highly recommend that you venture out and discover the new destination city, book exciting local excursions, and experience the local culture.

Istanbul, Singapore and Dubai are perfect for that!

FAQ about Layover vs stopover

What exactly are layovers and stopovers in flights?

Layovers are less than 24 hours breaks, which allow for connecting flights.

Stopovers are more than 24 hours breaks that can last from a day up to a week or more, allowing you to explore the stopover city.

Is there an extra charge for stopovers?

Yes, often there is an extra charge for stopovers, either in terms of a slightly higher fare or in terms of accommodation and living costs in the stopover destination.

However, some airlines offer attractive stopover packages that may include deals on hotels and local attractions.

Do I need a visa for a layover or stopover?

Visa requirements depend on your nationality and the country of the layover or stopover.

Some countries allow transit without a visa, while others may require a transit visa even for shorter layovers.

Always check visa requirements before planning your journey.

How do I decide between a layover and a stopover?

Your decision should factor in your travel goals, budget, and time constraints.

If you’re short on time or on a tighter budget, a layover might be best. If you want to explore more destinations and your budget allows, consider a stopover.

How can I make the most of my layover or stopover?

During a layover, you can enjoy airport amenities, try local food, or rest in lounges.

If you have a stopover, consider exploring the city, sampling local culture, and booking local excursions.

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