10 Airports across the World You Won’t Mind Getting Stuck In
Nap pods, butterfly gardens, free movie theaters, and an ice skating rink -- yup, you read that right -- await at the most fun- (and amenity-) filled airports across the world, each worthy of extending your layover.
Read through the top ten selections, then scroll to the bottom to vote for your No. 1 pick for the airport you’d most like to spend your layover in.
Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)Pass the time at: The butterfly garden Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Considered the best airport in the world, the Singapore Changi Airport reflects the minimalistic design, cleanliness and green spaces that tourists will find outside the airport walls. It’s easy to see why this airport is a destination in and of itself; a two-floor butterfly garden, complimentary movies at the on-site theater, a swimming pool, wellness spa, art installations, and the world’s tallest airport slide are just some of the incredible features of this airport. For those with a five-hour layover or longer, the airport also offers complimentary guided city tours departing from and returning to the airport terminals. This airport’s offerings aren’t limited to entertainment -- Changi boasts complimentary “snooze lounges” for nappers, premium baby care rooms, business centers and even a medical clinic.
Incheon International Airport (South Korea)Pass the time at: the Cultural Museum of Korea Nuk2013 / Shutterstock.com
The scope of activities at Incheon International Airport won’t only minimize the frustration of experiencing delays or a long layover -- they’ll make you seek out some extra time to roam this sprawling space. A golf course, casino, shower rooms, ice skating rink, movie theater will make the time fly by, while the Cultural Museum of Korea will help tourists better explore and understand the country’s history. Incheon also often hosts rotating live performances, many of which showcase the musical talent of the region. But this airport isn’t all flash and attractions; it’s also also known for its low rate of mishandled baggage and quick rates of takeoff and landing.
Munich Airport (Germany)Pass the time at: Visitor’s Park AS-kom / Shutterstock.com
Traveling with kids can be a challenge -- to say the least -- but not when traveling through Munich Airport. The indoor playground is modeled after a Lufthansa aircraft, and lets kids get comfortable with flying through play; Kinderland is a daycare-style center that offers babysitting free for the first hour (and only 4 Euro per hour after); and the Visitors Park and Viewing Hill let travelers of all ages get a bird’s-eye view of the flight operations. Visitors Park is particularly notable, as the space includes historic aircrafts, a rescue helicopter, playground and souvenir shop. Back inside, adults will love the luxurious VipWing, which features private living suites, an open-air garden, meal services, shower facilities and even a cigar lounge. Although there’s plenty to do on a day-to-day basis, some of Munich Airport’s coolest offerings come up on a rotating basis; past special events include a winter Christmas market, wave machine surf competition and polo matches.
Tokyo International Haneda (Japan)Pass the time at: the Observation Deck Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
At first glance, the Haneda Airport might look like any other, clean, well-maintained and amenity-filled airport -- but its unique features truly set it apart from the competition. The observation deck is a sprawling viewing area where travelers can enjoy vistas of the aircrafts taking off and landing, all backdropped by spectacular cityscapes. The Tiat Sky Hall, a stunning theater often hosting live music, talk shows, and press conferences, takes your experience to the next level. Tiat Sky Road, a corridor filled with panels and plane models, lets visitors learn more about aviation and innovation, and boasts flight simulators. To experience the Japanese culture, visit the Tokyo Pop Town shopping area, which boasts anime character shops, or the Edo Market, which offers traditional cuisines and souvenirs.
Hong Kong International Airport (China)Pass the time at: the IMAX theater
Located on Chek Lap Kok -- an island -- the Hong Kong International Airport is known for being remarkably efficient; the facility runs as a well-oiled machine that help minimize delays or other issues for the average 1,100 flights that take off and leave from this airport daily. While adults will love the efficiency, kids will be dazzled by the Aviation Discovery Center, which provides interactive exhibits on aviation, the Dream Come True Park, where little ones can role play their dream jobs, and GreenLive AIR, which offers simulation golf courses. The airport is also home to the largest IMAX screen in Hong Kong, as well as a variety of art, culture and musical events and entertainment.
Zurich Airport (Switzerland)Pass the time on: a guided airport tour anshar / Shutterstock.com Zurich Airport has its own tourism center, which offers both airport excursions as well as guided airport tours by bus or by foot. Guests participating in these tours will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at this popular airport’s operations, attractions and views. If you don’t have enough time for airport sightseeing, guests can explore the kids lounges, showers, events and observation decks. For those looking to relax -- and get some shut-eye in -- the Transit Hotel offers private overnight stays, day rooms and communal rest areas.
Hamad International Airport (Qatar)Pass the time at: the wellness and fitness center gnoparus / Shutterstock.com
One of the most beautiful airports in the world, the Hamad International Airport is also one of the newest, having opened in 2014. To complement and accentuate the stunning design, the airport features a range of indoor and outdoor art installations curated in collaboration with Qatar Museums. The wellness and fitness center boasts hydrotherapy tubs, shower rooms, a full-service gym, and indoor swimming pool, as well as treatments and squash courts available for additional fees. Quiet rooms are geared toward travelers looking to rest, read, or nap over their layover, while the on-site hotel offers stays ranging from a few hours to overnight. This airport is also home to one of the largest duty-free shopping centers in the world, which features a range of vendors.
Chubu Centrair International Airport (Japan)Pass the time at: the bathhouse
While Centrair’s massage chairs, sky deck, lounges, and kids amenities, including play areas and nursing rooms, are all noteworthy, this airport truly shines in their relaxation facilities. The bathhouse with a view, “Fu No Yu,” is the first in Japan overlooking an airport and allows travelers to relax while taking in runway views from the floor-to-ceiling windows and/or the spa deck. The airport also boasts an onsite spa, an outlet of Grand Raffine, which offers a full menu of high-quality services, including their signature head spa treatments. After indulging in some Japanese dishes at the airport’s many restaurants, including sushi, tempura, noodles, ramen and other cultural cuisines.
Vancouver International Airport (Canada)Pass the time at: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport Volodymyr Kyrylyuk / Shutterstock.com
Canada’s notorious hospitality extends even to their airports -- particularly Vancouver International Airport (YVR), ranked the best airport in North America for seven years straight by Skytrax. To make your travel experience seamless, this airport offers customizable passenger guides, which detail step-by-step directions to navigate the terminals, and five separate parking options, for every type of need. YVR brings a taste of British Columbia to all who pass through with their Sense of Place thematic art and architecture, which features installations throughout the airport. For those with a little extra time to spare, take a quick, free ride on public transit to Templeton Station and the McArthur Designer Outlet, which features brands including Levi’s, Coach, J.Crew Factory, and Polo Ralph Lauren Factory. This same transportation system can be used to get in/out of the city center with ease.
Denver International Airport (U.S.)Pass the time at: Root Down
Unanimously considered one of the best (and most beautiful) airports in the U.S., Denver International Airport is smaller than some of those in larger metropolitans and thus has greater control over their passengers’ experiences. They offer security wait estimates online, as well as information on the current capacity of each parking structure. The airport itself is known for its cleanliness, stunning architecture, and friendly staff. It’s home to a rotating art collection, fun “wish you were here” photo stations, as well as the acclaimed Root Down restaurant -- a dining concept that will have you quickly forgetting that you’re eating in an airport.(Lead photo by Sorbis / Shutterstock.com)