7 of the best airports in the world for a layover with a difference

Long layovers were once the worst part of travelling. Now they can be one of the best experiences of your holiday. More airports are turning their terminals into an incredible adventure, with cinemas, golf courses, ice skating rinks, pools, aquariums, lush gardens, waterfalls, gourmet eateries, luxury lounges and cosy sleeping pods. Next time you’re facing a long connection on your flight, consider routing through one of these 7 best airports in the world for a layover. You won’t want to leave!

1. Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)

 
 
 
 
 
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They say that you don’t even need to leave the airport to have an unforgettable holiday in Singapore. And with features like an entertainment deck with video games, a pool and a Jacuzzi where you can watch planes pass by, we can see why. They’ve even got the world’s tallest airport slide that takes you to your gate!

Skytrax has named Changi the best airport in the world seven years in a row, and it truly is the best place in the world for a layover. The airport recently opened the Jewel complex, with a five-storey garden (including a butterfly garden), 11-cinema Imax theatre, and the Rain Vortex, the world’s largest indoor waterfall, complete with night light shows.

There are also plenty of art sculptures and traditional-style shophouses where you can find local embroidery and jewellery. There’s also over 280 food outlets gourmet restaurants. If you can tear yourself away from the airport, you’ll find a convenient 30-minute train that takes you straight into the city.

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2. Dubai International Airport (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

 
 
 
 
 
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Dubai is known for its grand extravagance and even the airport follows suit. It’s one of the world’s busiest airports and an extraordinary place for a layover, from luxury shopping at the world’s largest duty-free shop (where you can buy actual gold bars), to a 24-hour gym with a pool and showers.

Take a walk through the open-air Zen Gardens with mist machines, relax in the Snoozecubes (soundproof pods with a bed, music and a touch screen TV), or visit the swanky in-airport hotel. If you’ve got time, you can even go on a buggy ride in the nearby dunes.

3. Munich International Airport (Munich, Germany)

 
 
 
 
 
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A layover isn’t so bad when you get to taste some of the best brews at one of the best airports in the world. Munich Airport has several spots to sample beer like Airbräu, a Bavarian tavern. It has its own beer garden, live music, and an on-site brewery where you can go behind the scenes to watch the brewmaster in action.

After enjoying a drink, head to the visitor’s park for mini-golf, free showings of aviation movies, historical aircrafts, and a viewing platform. If you’re travelling during the winter months, you’re in for a treat. The airport transforms into a festive Christmas market. There’s an ice skating rink, carousel and markets with handmade crafts, mulled wine and free hot chocolate, tea and coffee.

If you need a break after all the fun, head to the relaxation centres. You’ll find comfy nap pods with charging ports, reclining seats, free showers, and free WiFi.

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4. Hong Kong International Airport (Hong Kong)

 
 
 
 
 
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High-tech Hong Kong offers an airport with endless futuristic fun. There’s the world’s first airport IMAX theatre, an outdoor nine-hole golf course, and the iSports simulator for car racing, basketball and soccer.

The airport’s Aviation Discovery Centre explores aviation history in Hong Kong with attractions like the SkyDeck and Cockpit Simulator. You’ll even find some magic mirrors that allow you to see what you look like with different makeup and clothing styles.

Got plenty of time to fill? Why not take a quick trip to Disneyland? It’s just 30 minutes away on the MTR subway train. They also have a kiosk where you can store your luggage while you get a thrill on the roller coasters.

If you get hungry back at the airport, you can treat yourself to some fine dining. There are several Michelin-star restaurants scattered throughout the terminals.

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5. Vancouver International Airport (British Columbia, Canada)

 
 
 
 
 
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Vancouver International Airport is the best airport in Canada, where art and nature meet in a fantastic way. The airport features the world’s largest collection of Northwest Coast native art and has its own curator.

You’ll also discover an underwater world at the permanent aquarium inside the international terminal. The Vancouver Aquarium runs a 114,000-litre exhibit with over 5,000 sea creatures including sea stars, wolf eels, sea urchins and anemones. Another 1,800-litre aquarium is home to jellyfish.

There’s even a tranquil creek that runs through the airport, with plenty of comfortable seating, cushioned chairs and mini sleeping areas. Vancouver city is just a short train trip away, but you’ll probably want to stay and explore this amazing airport on your layover.

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6. Incheon International Airport (Incheon, South Korea)

 
 
 
 
 
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Incheon is the largest airport in South Korea and a favourite for travellers since it’s jam-packed with fun. You can go to a movie theatre that plays Korean hit films, go skating at the ice rink, or have a swing at the 18-hole putting course on top of the airport.

There’s also a cultural centre with experiences like watching harp performances or learning the art of traditional Korean paper craft. Wander through the impressive museum, relax in one of the seven lush gardens, go shopping at over 90 different duty-free shops, or get pampered at the spa and sauna.

If you’re after some free amenities, you’ll find laptop spaces, showers, and WiFi – perfect for the weary traveller. Or, if you prefer to get outside on your layover, you’ll find several tours that leave directly from the airport. They’ll take you to visit nearby temples, palaces, and historic attractions.

7. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

 
 
 
 
 
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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is over 100 years old, making it one of the oldest airports in the world. Since the first aircraft landed at Schiphol in 1916, the airport has evolved into one of the world’s best places for a layover.

You’ll find the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum with free admission, so you can explore famous works by Dutch artists. Schiphol also has the world’s first airport library with books printed in 29 different languages.

You can sip champagne around a saltwater aquarium at the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar. Or tuck into all the cheese, frites and stroopwafels you want at the food courts. Relax at the indoor park with the sound of singing birds and a viewing terrace, and kick back on the beanbags and massage chairs. If you need to stretch your legs, hop on the exercise bikes that charge your phone while you peddle!

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Have you visited any of the world’s most beautiful airports? Where was your best airport layover? Let us know in the comments below…

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