Layovers are pretty much universally known as a traveler’s worst nightmare. Combine that with being patted down as you go through security, turbulence during your flight, and lost baggage, and you’ll be itching to get to your hotel room where you can sprawl out on the bed and put your stressful travel experience behind you. To hell with, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” right?
Well, maybe not. Airports get a bad rap for being a necessary evil on the way to one’s final destination. Layovers between flights are becoming increasingly more common and longer as airlines introduce larger planes to accommodate more seats, but cut back on the number of scheduled flights as a result. To compensate, many airports around the world have expanded their offerings to accommodate the frazzled, frustrated traveler. If you find yourself at one of these six airports in your layover period between flights, consider yourself lucky! You may enjoy your time at the airport so much you’ll forget you’re not really on vacation yet- just make sure you don’t get so comfortable you miss your flight!
1.Heathrow International Airport: London, UK
The third largest airport in the world may be a bustling mecca of people in transit, but despite it’s size and volume of travelers, London’s Heathrow International Airport is a shopaholic’s dream. London is known as one of the top shopping capitals of the world, and that extends within the airport walls with an 11,000 square foot Harrod’s department store, a gallery space showcasing the works of up-and-coming British artists, and over 105 restaurants guaranteed to whet your appetite to choose from.
2. San Francisco International Airport: San Francisco, CA
Atlanta may be home to the largest airport in the world, but it’s on the West Coast that you’ll find one of the best in terms of services and amenities. The San Francisco International Airport offers travelers such wonders as a museum and museum store, a yoga studio, and even an aquarium, in addition to the more traditional amenities like a plethora of shopping and dining options.
3. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is known for its artsy, hipster scene and you will find that not just along the colorful, waterfront streets, but in its airport as well. Take a stroll through the airport’s art museum featuring paintings from Dutch masters such as Jan Steen and Ferdinand Bol or settle down with a book at the world’s first airport library- just don’t get too engrossed in whatever you’re reading and miss your flight! If you’re looking to escape all the hustle and bustle so often associated with air travel, you’ll definitely want to check out the device-free Silence Centre.
4. Changi International Airport: Singapore
If you’re looking for a sense of adventure before your vacation even begins, look no further than Singapore’s Changi International Airport where you will be entertained will a butterfly garden, free movie theaters, and a rooftop pool with waterslide. In addition to catering to your inner child, the airport helps you get down to business as well, with free airport wifi and over 500 free internet terminals. If your layover is a few hours long, you can even explore the city on a free two-hour tour! The name of the game here is free- so many fun, free opportunities abound at this airport to enjoy yourself between flights!
5. Hong Kong International Airport: Hong Kong
Would you expect anything less than awesome from one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world? This airport is home to the first airport IMAX theater, a nine-hole golf course, and a sports simulator where you can play virtual basketball or drive a virtual race car. When you’ve worked up an appetite after all that activity, you have plenty of options to chow down, including outposts of Michelin-starred restaurants.
6. Munich International Airport: Munich, Germany
This airport is practically an indoor, year-round Oktoberfest celebration. You’ll swear you’ve left the airport when you settle down with a beer and bratwurst in the beer garden while taking in the live music. If you’re feeling a little sleepy after all that traveling, you can take a nap in Terminal 2’s individual sleeping pods equipped with USB and iPhone ports. Say goodbye to awkwardly stretching out across two plastic chairs using your balled-up sweatshirt as a pillow. Munich International Airport has got the right idea!