First of all let’s clarify what I mean by transatlantic stopover destination.
A stopover is an airfare hack that can double your vacation and is not to be confused with a layover. Still the word stopover often is met with ” we prefer to fly directly, nothing worse then being stuck in a random airport waiting for your connection”, but that is not what a stopover is about at all. Stopovers allow you to visit a country, leave the airport to go and explore at no additional airfare costs. Layovers mean you will be spending a lot of time at an airport . Several airlines are offering stopover fares which allow their passengers to enjoy their hub city for a few days at no extra airfare costs to them before flying on to their final vacation destination. Did you know that en route from Europe to North America there are 2 airlines that offer Transatlantic stopover options? Yes,there are two major international airports en route to Europe ⇔ North America.
THE BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL TRANSATLANTIC STOPOVER DESTINATIONS
I am sure you will easily guess Transatlantic stopover destination number 1. Yes that it is right it is Iceland! Iceland- the land of Ice and Fire. The country that has been on everyones travel wishlist and is popping up on Instagram daily. It is a very unique place with amazing nature, hot springs, plenty of volcanos and glaciers. And IcelandAir is doing a great job at promoting Iceland as a Transatlantic stopover destination.
But then you scratch your head and think -there is only a lot of water between North America and Europe and there is no other major airport on the way…maybe Bermuda (part of the United Kingdom, about 2 hours flying to New York)…but no, that is not what I am talking about. Have you ever heard of the Hawaii of Europe? Say What? The Hawaii of Europe that is right- The Azores! The Azores are still very much flying under the radar, but trust me once you see pictures you will be visiting the website of AzoresAirlines to book your trip.
On your next journey across the Atlantic, take advantage of the option to stop in Iceland or on the Azores (Island of São Miguel or Terceira Island) for up to 7 nights at no additional airfare.
Iceland vs Azores
Both destinations are breathtakingly beautiful and well worth visiting. Another thing both of these isolated Transatlantic stopover destinations have in common is that they have both been breaking their own tourism records continously since 2016, in that year the Azores started to permit lowcost carrier flights, from airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet. Iceland, was once a rarely-visited island but has now grown into one of the most popular countries in the entire world for travelers.
Award Winning Destinations
Both are award winning destinations which offer unspoilt nature, volcanoes, amazing hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, whale watching and are mainly heated by geothermal energy. The Azores have won” the most beautiful landscapes of Europe by Best Destination”, are continously listed as “one of the Global Top 100 Most Sustainable Destinations” and The Azores were considered “the most beautiful place in the world by Belgian Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveller”. When googling ‘Iceland the most beautiful place on earth’ google has no less than 1.720.000 results listed. While the beaches of Iceland are cold and stormy, the Azores are more of a beach destination and also when it comes to exquisit food, the Azores beat Iceland hands-down, unless you consider the Icelandic inofficial national dish of hot dogs and ice cream, haute cuisine.
Some facts about Iceland
- Foreign overnight visitors to Iceland was around 8 million in 2016, a 40.1% increase from 2015 , compared to less than 500.000 visits in 2010!
- Population : +/-335.000
- Currency: Icelandic Krona
- Language: Icelandic
- Iceland is an independent country
SOME Facts abot the Azores
- January to September 2016, the archipelago’s hotels recorded 1.2 million overnight stays.
- Population : +/-245.000
- Currency: Euro ( TIP: Very handy when travelling on to the Eurozone!)
- Language: Portuguese
- The Azores (9 islands) are an autonomous region of Portugal
I will let the pictures speak for themselves to show you just how beautiful and unique both Transatlantic stopover destinations are:
While all the Iceland images are my own, the ones from the Azores. I got from the VisitAzores Instagram account.
Lets compare the 2 Airlines THAT OFFER THE STOPOVERS
I have been to Iceland and flew Icelandair and have nothing but good things to say about the country and the airline! When looking for reviews on the airline for this article, to confirm my positive experience, I found that the general consensus about Icelandair is that it serves yummie food, has good service on board, a modern fleet (fleetsize: 33) and load of travellers praise them for their outstanding service.
Azores Airlines, formerly known as SATA Internacional, on the other hand seems to be a solid reliable airline (fleetsize: 7) without much glamour and some growing pains. They are more of a low cost carrier it seems when reading the reviews. We have a flight booked with them in spring 2018 and I will be able to report back on my actual experience them then. Stay tuned.
FLIGHT TIMES & ROUTES
Both Airlines have various international connection options in Europe and North America.
IcelandAir offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and free access to a personal in-flight entertainment system in the seat in front of you. A good selection of food and drinks is for sale (with a complimentary meal for children), as well as Wi-Fi access on all flights.
Azores Airlines, seem to have old planes. The in-flight entertainment seems to be some mediocre movies screened on overhead screens. One review I read sums the airline up nicely:” Its a budget airline. Bring your own water, some nibbles and a tablet, try to sleep and remember that the destination [The Azores] is so worth those tiny seats. And you will not mind the short flight.”
Stopover T & C
For up-to-date Terms & Conditions visit the airlines websites:
Have you ever been to Iceland or the Azores?
Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.
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