International travel always involves the inevitable airport layover. And, like people, airports come in all shapes and sizes. These distinctive characteristics can either create a relaxing and enjoyable experience or a frustrating and miserable stay. Here is a list of the best airports on the planet for long layovers.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amidst the flash of modern airports around the globe, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s novelty is its age. Built in 1916, the Dutch terminals boast a library, museum, meditation room, spa, and even a grand piano that is open to public use. Also, if you’re in a need of a shower before your next flight, YOTELAIR (near the meditation room) allows access to their facilities for only 15 euro.
Chubu Centrair International Airport
Where: Tokoname City, Japan
With hundreds of millions of travelers moving through Japan on an annual basis, the country is home to some of the best airports in the world. At the top of that list is Chubu Centrair International Airport, located on an artificial island off the coast of Tokoname City. It may not be the busiest airport in the country, but whether you’re traveling internationally or domestically, it provides lounges to relax in, as well as a captivating viewing deck to take in all the action out on the runways.
Franz Josef Strauss Airport
Where: Munich, Germany
Even if you don’t have a layover there, you might want to check out the Franz Josef Strauss Airport, especially if you’re in the area during the holidays. During the month of December, you can find a Winter Market inside the airport itself, complete with hundreds of vendors and live Christmas trees. There is also an ice skating rink where you can rent skates and get some exercise while waiting for your next flight. And, depending on the season, there may be an event at the facility’s MAC Forum, where both tennis matches or pool surfing can be viewed and enjoyed.
Hong Kong International Airport
Where: Chep Lak Kok, Hong Kong
Only 25 miles from the city’s downtown area, the Hong Kong International Airport (known to locals at the Chep Lak Kok) is one of the busiest in Asia. If hunkering down for a layover, look into buying your way into some of the nicest lounges around, which are filled with tea houses and noodle bars. For a cheaper experience, though, visit the airport’s Aviation Discovery Centre, which offers flight simulations and a delightful flight deck to observe the planes outside. On top of that, there is also an IMAX theatre and 18-hole golf simulator.
Incheon International Airport
Where: Incheon, South Korea
Despite its close proximity to Seoul (roughly 30 miles), you won’t feel a huge need to leave the comfort of this airport. Packed with plenty of entertainment options and activities, South Korea’s largest airport proudly hosts local music artists to greet travelers, and features movie theaters, a golf course, and even an ice skating rink.
Portland International Airport
Where: Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland may not come up in conversation while listing the world’s most attractive cities, but Oregon’s capital provides an amazing airport experience. Representative of the city itself, Portland International Airport isn’t large by any means, but is full of quirks. The terminals offer some of the best eateries around, including Blue Star Donuts, Flying Elephants deli, and Oregon Market — a sweet tasting collection of local food carts and trucks. In addition to the food selection, there are art installations throughout the airport, as well as a branch of the distinguished Powell’s Books — a store mixed with both new and used literary treasures.
Singapore Changi Airport
Where: Singapore, Singapore
A five-star airport according to SKYTRAX, Singapore Changi Airport marvels with a myriad of attractions. Catering to roughly 60 million passengers in 2016 alone, the airport recently opened a fourth terminal for even more business. Providing visitors with a fresh air experience, there are four gardens to explore, each emphasizing a different species: cacti, orchids, sun-flowers, and butterflies. These gardens are located in different terminals, but Changi’s serviceable skytrain takes you right to all of the major attractions, like a free movie theatre and a 40-foot (12 meters) slide in terminal three.
Vancouver International Airport
Where: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
A glassy, modern structure beaming with natural light and open space, Vancouver International Airport is a stunner. The airport hosts numerous art pieces and sculptures that can be seen regardless of what terminal you find yourself in. If you’re lucky enough to be passing through on a Friday, check out Take-Off Fridays, an event that showcases musicians, face-painters, and even offers a one-hour architecture tour. Finally, if you want some fresh air, the nearby Chester Johnson Park is just outside the airport.
Where: Zürich, Switzerland
Located in northern Switzerland, the Zurich International Airport was voted the seventh best airport in the world in 2017 — and for good reason. Known for its efficiency and cleanliness, the alluring catalog of attractions include relaxing cafes filled with delicious coffee and pastries, quiet areas with comfy seats to read or relax, and plenty of outlet and boutique shops that serve as an opportunity for some retail therapy before it’s time to board.