The Six Best No-Layover Destinations From SF

How's your Italian?

August 7, 2017 9:00 am

This year has proven to be a good one for Bay Area non-stops to points diverse, with new routes from both SFO and Oakland, on carriers both legacy (Finnair, which is in the Oneworld Alliance) and upstart (Norwegian, Airberlin).

So power up the battery chargers and download all the movies that fit: we’ve dogeared the five best new nonstops in the Bay Area, along with your marching orders for what to do once you arrive.

Or plan now for 2018, when it’ll suddenly get way easier to go from I-80 to the Appian Way. More on that below.

Manchester (Thomas Cook, SFO)
You’ve already seen London — now it’s time to consider this city in northwestern England. It’s a fantastic destination on its own, with attractions like the Imperial War Museum North (designed by Daniel Liebeskind), the Whitworth Art Gallery and Old Trafford (YMMV). It’s also a fantastic jumping-off point to exploring the heartbreakingly beautiful Lake District — begin in Windermere and don’t stop till you’ve been to top of Silver How

Helsinki (Finnair, SFO)
Quite possibly the best city in Scandinavia, Helsinki is fascinating mix of East, West, vodka, and saunas — a rougher version of Stockholm with an even better design scene. (Just ask your girlfriend and her Marimekko-print placemats.) Build in a couple extra days to take the quick ferry to Tallinn, capital of Estonia. Seasonal service wraps on September 28. 

Berlin (airberlin, SFO) 
Berlin, meanwhile, may be the best city in Central Europe: cosmopolitan, cheap(ish), and rigorously devoted to fun. This new route from airberlin — the German version of Norwegian — flies straight to Tegel — not the best airport, but it’ll do. Plan on staying a while — and adding on a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest. 

Copenhagen (Norwegian, OAK)
You gotta love small, bright Copenhagen — the sunniest of the Scandinavian capitals in spirit if not in science (Stockholm wins.) We love it as a setting-off point to explore Skagen, the northern beaches famous for their peculiar light and the painters inspired by it. (Also, mountain biking, hiking, everything else.) 

Puerta Vallarta (Southwest, OAK)
Southwest just opened this route to Puerta Vallarta, which is our port of entry to reach Sayulita, the still-charming, still-manageable beach town becoming more popular by the minute. Stay at Casa Love, the hotel at the heart of the gypset movement, and surf till it’s time to come home

Rome (Norwegian, OAK, starts 2/18)
Rome is as good as it gets: as cheap (nearly) as Lisbon, as glamorous as Paris, as historic as London — and the food is killerStay at the Palazzo Manfredi for a private view of the Colosseo from your hot tub — and then explore this hilly city the best possible way: on foot, until it’s time to stop for wine. 


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