The world’s most beautiful airports



Slide 1 of 31: Airports are an essential part of travel. But, far from being merely a means to an end, these spaces can be inspiring destinations and architectural feats in themselves, featuring ice rinks, water slides, waterfalls, cinemas, jungles and more. Here we showcase our favorites from our travels around the world.
Slide 2 of 31: The privately-owned airport on Koh Samui, which opened in 1989, may be small, but it’s a delight if you need to pass some time. As well as being elegantly designed and incorporating Polynesian architecture, most of the airport is open-air and there's an outside play area for children as well as a number of scenic gardens.
Slide 3 of 31: The airport buildings are made from locally-sourced wood and rattan, and boast thatched roofs and palm-tree pillars. Prior to the airport opening, visitors could only access the island by boat. 
Slide 4 of 31: Inside the airport, traditional décor abounds, plus modern touches such as an aquarium in the men’s bathroom. Weary passengers will be happy to hear that Thai massages are also readily available. 
Slide 5 of 31: With California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport serving as the gateway to California’s Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, it’s hardly surprising that a life-sized, replica sequoia forest stands majestically in the airport’s central lobby.
Slide 6 of 31: The airport is perhaps less well-known to international travelers as it offers flights mainly to domestic US destinations including Chicago, Dallas and Salt Lake City, as well as Guadalajara and Morelia in Mexico. You’ll also find regular Art at the Airport exhibitions, which feature the work of local creatives, in the terminal. 
Slide 7 of 31: Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport is most certainly one for architecture lovers. It’s designed by architectural duo Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, who won the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for the airport’s design.
Slide 8 of 31: The light-filled terminal consists of colorful yellow beams, which support an environmentally-friendly bamboo ceiling. There are also plenty of opportunities to stock up on Iberian ham, manchego cheese and Rioja in elegant surroundings before you fly too. 
Slide 9 of 31: With its futuristic design, the new international terminal at Baku airport, just outside Azerbaijan's capital is a pretty cool space to spend a couple of hours. Designed by Turkish architect studio Autoban in 2015, the triangular building is filled with natural light and leads to a check-in area scattered with trees.
Slide 10 of 31: These striking wooden cocoons, found on the top floor of the terminal, are one of the airport's many distinctive design features. The spacious structures house cafés, bars, shopping kiosks, a children's play area and luggage storage. 
Slide 11 of 31: Even if you’re bleary-eyed from an early morning flight, the walkways at Chicago’s O’Hare airport are well worth taking the time to look at, particularly the psychedelic neon-lit passageways. And, if that’s not enough to de-stress you, there's the opportunity to relax and unwind in the airport’s yoga room.
Slide 12 of 31: The airport also contains a verdant aeroponic garden, where plants are grown without soil and take carbon dioxide from the air. Here, more than 50 different kinds of vegetables and herbs thrive, from Swiss chard to habanero peppers, oregano and basil. Four of the airport’s restaurants use produce from the garden.
Slide 13 of 31: Most airports tend to be concrete jungles, but the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, named after the former president and poet José Joaquín de Olmedo, is filled with some of Ecuador’s most beautiful flora and fauna, providing a verdant escape for frazzled passengers in transit.
Slide 14 of 31: The terminal also has a tranquil botanical garden area, complete with trickling water features, pools full of fish, and a variety of native plants and flowers. It's certainly a zen place to be before a long-haul flight.
Slide 15 of 31: While it’s still a work in progress – and expected to open later in 2019 – Beijing’s Daxing International Airport is bound to scoop awards in the beautiful airport department. Designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the airport has already earned the nickname "starfish" due to its shape, and is set to be the world’s largest terminal, covering an impressive 18 square miles.
Slide 16 of 31: Ranked fifth in the Skytrax World’s Top Airports of 2019, this terminal on the island of Chek Lap Kok offers plenty to see and do. The SkyDeck roof terrace – a large outdoor platform giving way to 360° views – is a particular highlight.
Slide 17 of 31: The bright and airy airport also boasts indoor golf simulation games and an IMAX cinema, the biggest such screen in Hong Kong. You can also experience for yourself what it’s like to land a plane on a runway thanks to the Aviation Discovery Centre, which contains a professional flight simulator.
Slide 18 of 31: The words serenity, calm and nature are not commonly associated with airports, but Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport offers exactly that. For nature enthusiasts – or frazzled passengers looking to unwind – there’s an indoor jungle, complete with birdsong, real trees and even a waterfall (not real) in the center of the main terminal.
Slide 19 of 31: Pockets of green are dotted throughout the airport, and the airport even offers its own spa. True plane spotters will also find a home here as there's an outdoor plane observation deck with views of Runway 32 Left.
Slide 20 of 31: Reflective of the area's strong musical and cultural scene, Nashville International Airport offers plenty for travelers. In keeping with the city of Nashville, the airport offers live music; with six performance spaces allocated around the airport, more than 700 performances take place each year.
Slide 21 of 31: What’s more, the airport is filled with a series of eye-catching exhibitions thanks to its award-winning ‘Arts at the Airport’ program, which showcases works by local, regional and national artists.  DON'T MISS: the best and worst airlines in the USA
Slide 22 of 31: Connecting Land’s End and the Scilly Isles – flights take just 15 minutes – Land's End Airport is as idyllic (and pleasing on the eye) as it gets. Thanks to the opening of a new $1.23 million (£1m) passenger terminal in 2013, there’s now homely comforts including a wood burner, plus a café serving much-welcome all-day bacon butties.
Slide 23 of 31: On top of offering non-stop flights around the world, Vancouver International Airport is home to not one but two strikingly beautiful aquariums. The largest, a 114,000-liter tank, contains all manner of sea creatures native to British Columbia, including wolf eels, sea urchins and orange cup corals. The airport also has a mini forest, complete with a stream and a canoe!
Slide 24 of 31: With its glass-domed ceilings and Moroccan geometric designs, Marrakesh Menara Airport, completed in 2008 and extended in 2016, fuses contemporary design with traditional architecture, with impressive results. 
Slide 25 of 31: Made of white aluminum panels, this terminal’s intricately designed roof floods the airport with light. It's also designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, generating solar energy.
Slide 26 of 31: It may be compact, but Luang Prabang airport sees international flights from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Cambodia. A new runway and passenger terminal opened in 2013, and the glassy, modern terminal is a lot more pleasing on the eye than the terminal it replaced.
Slide 27 of 31: South Korea’s Incheon International Airport is a sight to behold: the roof emulates a traditional Korean temple, there’s a cultural museum filled with ancient Korean artifacts, and the airport even has seven indoor eco-gardens.
Slide 28 of 31: And if the impressive architecture and gardens aren't enough, the airport offers every activity imaginable to keep you entertained, from a 72-hole golf course to a spa, casino and even an ice rink, located in the airport’s basement. Looking to catch up on some sleep? Don’t miss the free massage chairs, dotted around the airport’s upper level. 
Slide 29 of 31: Widely regarded as the world’s best airport, Changi International Airport now has an indoor waterfall – and not just any cascade; this is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. It forms part of a stunning $1.1 billion (£951m) extension, which also boasts an indoor forest, containing 3,000 trees, as well as almost 300 shops and restaurants.  READ MORE: 8 airport hacks every savvy traveler should know
Slide 30 of 31: Changi is also home to the first butterfly garden in an airport in the world, featuring over 1,000 butterflies, alongside plants, flowers, and lush greenery: an oasis in the 19th busiest airport in the world.  NOW READ: The world's most remarkable tiny airports
Slide 31 of 31: Much more than an airport, Changi is an entertainment complex. It also contains the world’s tallest slide in an airport, 24-hour movie theaters in terminals two and three (both free) and, in terminal one, a rooftop swimming pool and hot tub. It’s enough to make you forget about going on holiday!   Time warp travel: discover the world's abandoned airports

Idyllic airports around the globe

Samui International Airport, Koh Samui, Thailand

The privately-owned airport on Koh Samui, which opened in 1989, may be small, but it’s a delight if you need to pass some time. As well as being elegantly designed and incorporating Polynesian architecture, most of the airport is open-air and there’s an outside play area for children as well as a number of scenic gardens.

Samui International Airport, Koh Samui, Thailand

The airport buildings are made from locally-sourced wood and rattan, and boast thatched roofs and palm-tree pillars. Prior to the airport opening, visitors could only access the island by boat. 

Samui International Airport, Koh Samui, Thailand

Inside the airport, traditional décor abounds, plus modern touches such as an aquarium in the men’s bathroom. Weary passengers will be happy to hear that Thai massages are also readily available. 

Fresno Yosemite International Airport, California, USA

With California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport serving as the gateway to California’s Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, it’s hardly surprising that a life-sized, replica sequoia forest stands majestically in the airport’s central lobby.

Fresno Yosemite International Airport, California, USA

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain

Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport is most certainly one for architecture lovers. It’s designed by architectural duo Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, who won the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for the airport’s design.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain

The light-filled terminal consists of colorful yellow beams, which support an environmentally-friendly bamboo ceiling. There are also plenty of opportunities to stock up on Iberian ham, manchego cheese and Rioja in elegant surroundings before you fly too. 

Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan

With its futuristic design, the new international terminal at Baku airport, just outside Azerbaijan’s capital is a pretty cool space to spend a couple of hours. Designed by Turkish architect studio Autoban in 2015, the triangular building is filled with natural light and leads to a check-in area scattered with trees.

Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan

These striking wooden cocoons, found on the top floor of the terminal, are one of the airport’s many distinctive design features. The spacious structures house cafés, bars, shopping kiosks, a children’s play area and luggage storage. 

Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois, USA

Even if you’re bleary-eyed from an early morning flight, the walkways at Chicago’s O’Hare airport are well worth taking the time to look at, particularly the psychedelic neon-lit passageways. And, if that’s not enough to de-stress you, there’s the opportunity to relax and unwind in the airport’s yoga room.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois, USA

José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Ecuador

Most airports tend to be concrete jungles, but the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, named after the former president and poet José Joaquín de Olmedo, is filled with some of Ecuador’s most beautiful flora and fauna, providing a verdant escape for frazzled passengers in transit.

José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Ecuador

The terminal also has a tranquil botanical garden area, complete with trickling water features, pools full of fish, and a variety of native plants and flowers. It’s certainly a zen place to be before a long-haul flight.

Daxing International Airport, Beijing, China

While it’s still a work in progress – and expected to open later in 2019 – Beijing’s Daxing International Airport is bound to scoop awards in the beautiful airport department. Designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the airport has already earned the nickname “starfish” due to its shape, and is set to be the world’s largest terminal, covering an impressive 18 square miles.

Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport

The bright and airy airport also boasts indoor golf simulation games and an IMAX cinema, the biggest such screen in Hong Kong. You can also experience for yourself what it’s like to land a plane on a runway thanks to the Aviation Discovery Centre, which contains a professional flight simulator.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

The words serenity, calm and nature are not commonly associated with airports, but Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport offers exactly that. For nature enthusiasts – or frazzled passengers looking to unwind – there’s an indoor jungle, complete with birdsong, real trees and even a waterfall (not real) in the center of the main terminal.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

Nashville International Airport, Tennessee, USA

Nashville International Airport, Tennessee, USA

What’s more, the airport is filled with a series of eye-catching exhibitions thanks to its award-winning ‘Arts at the Airport’ program, which showcases works by local, regional and national artists.

DON’T MISS: the best and worst airlines in the USA

Land’s End Airport, Cornwall, UK

Connecting Land’s End and the Scilly Isles – flights take just 15 minutes – Land’s End Airport is as idyllic (and pleasing on the eye) as it gets. Thanks to the opening of a new $1.23 million passenger terminal in 2013, there’s now homely comforts including a wood burner, plus a café serving much-welcome all-day bacon butties.

Vancouver International Airport, Canada

On top of offering non-stop flights around the world, Vancouver International Airport is home to not one but two strikingly beautiful aquariums. The largest, a 114,000-liter tank, contains all manner of sea creatures native to British Columbia, including wolf eels, sea urchins and orange cup corals. The airport also has a mini forest, complete with a stream and a canoe!

Marrakesh Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco

With its glass-domed ceilings and Moroccan geometric designs, Marrakesh Menara Airport, completed in 2008 and extended in 2016, fuses contemporary design with traditional architecture, with impressive results. 

Marrakesh Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco

Made of white aluminum panels, this terminal’s intricately designed roof floods the airport with light. It’s also designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, generating solar energy.

Luang Prabang Airport, Laos

It may be compact, but Luang Prabang airport sees international flights from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Cambodia. A new runway and passenger terminal opened in 2013, and the glassy, modern terminal is a lot more pleasing on the eye than the terminal it replaced.

Incheon International Airport, Incheon, South Korea

South Korea’s Incheon International Airport is a sight to behold: the roof emulates a traditional Korean temple, there’s a cultural museum filled with ancient Korean artifacts, and the airport even has seven indoor eco-gardens.

Incheon International Airport, Incheon, South Korea

And if the impressive architecture and gardens aren’t enough, the airport offers every activity imaginable to keep you entertained, from a 72-hole golf course to a spa, casino and even an ice rink, located in the airport’s basement. Looking to catch up on some sleep? Don’t miss the free massage chairs, dotted around the airport’s upper level. 

Changi International Airport, Singapore

Widely regarded as the world’s best airport, Changi International Airport now has an indoor waterfall – and not just any cascade; this is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. It forms part of a stunning $1.1 billion extension, which also boasts an indoor forest, containing 3,000 trees, as well as almost 300 shops and restaurants.

Changi International Airport, Singapore

Changi is also home to the first butterfly garden in an airport in the world, featuring over 1,000 butterflies, alongside plants, flowers, and lush greenery: an oasis in the 19th busiest airport in the world.

Changi International Airport, Singapore

Much more than an airport, Changi is an entertainment complex. It also contains the world’s tallest slide in an airport, 24-hour movie theaters in terminals two and three (both free) and, in terminal one, a rooftop swimming pool and hot tub. It’s enough to make you forget about going on vacation!

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