There are some really amazing airports around the world, offering proof that travel really is about the journey, not just the destination.
From animals roaming around, to beautiful architecture, to slightly frightening runways, take a gander at the world’s coolest airports.
1. Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport
Traveling is stressful, but less-so when you go through Madrid. The architects of this masterpiece were very precise in their usage and placement of illumination, installed glass panes instead of walls, and built domes in the roof in order to allow for natural light to pass through; all of which help to lower the stress levels of travelers.
2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
The Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport is special for many reasons. For one, every major city in the continental United States can be accessed from here within four hours.
Next, if you have a long layover and just need to escape, but don’t have the time or energy to actually leave the airport, get your fresh air fix at Founders’ Plaza. It’s here that you can go outside and sit on some grass or at a picnic table and enjoy the views of planes taking off and landing.
If you’re looking for something a little more VIP-esque, pay The Club at DFW a visit. You don’t need to pay the high price tag of an annual membership nor do you have to have acquired elite frequent flier credentials in order to enter. As long as you’re willing to pay the entrance fee you’re in. Entrance gives you access to the lounge that offers free drinks, snacks, WiFi, computers, TVs, showers, and a smoking area.
Photographer + Plane | ©Rachel Knickmeyer/Flickr
3. Singapore Changi Airport
Changi Airport was given the title of World’s Best Airport for five straight years by Skytrax, aka the Golden Globes of air travel. Changi is also one of the busiest airports for passenger and air traffic. Rooftop pools, free movie theatres (!), a butterfly garden complete with 1,000 butterflies, and a 40 ft. (12 m.) high slide between the floors of Terminal 3. Never has going from gate to gate been so much fun.
4. Los Angeles International Airport
LAX is basically a city within a city. Though this nine terminal giant is a bit behind on the times, the airport is working hard to update it so that all terminals are created equal. That being said, the LAX Art Program adds a fun flair to the airport, and offers a unique way to kill time being seeing how many installations you can spot, from rotating exhibitions, to permanent art, to live music.
5. Denver International Airport
Denver may just take the cake. Is there anything better than the love of an animal when you’re stressed out, anxiety-ridden or nervous? The Canine Airport Therapy Squad (ironically, CATS for short) is an organization that takes therapy dogs throughout the airport as a way to support fliers in need of a fluffy hug. These dogs are trained and certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and are great at their jobs: giving love to, and de-stressing travelers who are expecting everything but precious puppy love at their gate.
6. San Francisco International Airport
SFO offers a wide range of activities to help keep you busy. Breathe your travel stress away at the fully equipped yoga room. Or, if you’re traveling with children, take them to the airport’s aquarium that houses animals from rainforests and coral reefs! SFO also boasts the first accredited museum at an airport, The SFO Museum, which has a collection of aviation-related artifacts, photos and literature.
Sea Nettle Jellyfish | ©mehlam/Flickr
7. Wellington International Airport
The city of Wellington, since the debut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has marketed itself as the center of Middle-Earth. That being said, the airport has outdone itself by building massive installations throughout the property that represent iconic scenes and characters from the movies. Among them, a huge head of Smaug the dragon with BLINKING EYES and smoke, plus a massive Gandalf who is flying on an eagle with a wingspan that is an impressive 50 ft. long.
8. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
ATL offers three interfaith chapels for those who want to spend their layovers in a place of worship. The airport also has two dog parks, once of which is 1,000 square feet, and of course, there is no shortage of authentic southern food around every corner.
9. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu’s airport offers travelers several cultural gardens (Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese) to stroll through as well as free Hawaiian entertainment to give you a quick taste of life on the islands.
Honolulu Airport | ©lawrence’s lenses/Flickr
10. Courchevel Altiport
Located in the French Alps near the borders of Italy and Switzerland, Courchevel has the highest tarmacked runway in Europe. Measuring just 1,762 ft. (537 m.), it is not long enough to safely accommodate most types of planes. In addition, its difficult approach, up-slope, uneven runway, and the very close-by ski runs make it one of the most dangerous, albeit beautiful, airports in the world.