The Best Airports in the World: Architecture, Facilities, and More

Airports are often viewed as uninteresting and even depressing places. They're used to get from Point A to Point B, and you often have to spend a lot of time waiting around in them. But just because an airport isn't going to be the most important part of any trip, it doesn't mean that it has to be completely boring.

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Many airports offer plenty of things to do, from viewing decks to lounges, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Some are also beautifully designed, making them fantastic for people who enjoy architecture, especially of large buildings and complexes. Some of the best airports in the world are sophisticated places with lots to offer.

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Singapore Changi

Inside the Singapore Airport

Singapore Chani is often regarded as being one of the best airports in the world. It's more than just an airport, with many things available to see and do. It has an indoor waterfall, a butterfly garden, open-air decks, and plenty of restaurants and other places to eat and drink (unfortunately, I have only been in it one time so I did not have enough to eat more than one meal!). For anyone who has a longer layover, it's also possible to take a tour of the city, use the indoor swimming pool, or take a trip to the 24-hour cinema. There are also some tech perks, like self-boarding gates, and free, fast Wi-Fi.

Beijing Daxing

Beijing Daxing Airport
Photo credit: Scott Chu

Beijing Daxing opened just last year, as the second international airport for the Chinese capital. I have only been to the original one and am hoping to check out the new one in the future! It's projected to be the busiest airport in the world, taking over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta in the US. You can find more information about the opening of the airport from a variety of sources, documenting its development and opening. The airport was designed by Zaha Hadid, who was responsible for some of the most innovative buildings around the world. The architecture does more than present a sleek building; it also helps to reduce travel times for passengers. Features include five traditional Chinese gardens in the passenger waiting areas.

Doha Airport

Axel Drainville
Photo credit: Axel Drainville

Doha's airport, serving the capital of Qatar, is another relatively new airport, having opened in 2014. The airport has children's entertainment zones and quiet rooms, plus eight premium lounges. There's an upscale hotel right next to the terminal, which offers both half and full-day rates for people with layovers. There are also great deals available on the airport's stopover program, with a night in a luxury hotel starting from only $23, making it an attractive option for a layover if you're on a long-haul journey around the world.

Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport
Photo credit: airbus777

Not all of the best airports around the world are in Asia. Of the most highly-regarded airports in Europe is Zurich. I flew through Zurich several times when I was working for a Swiss company. I flew from San Francisco to LAX then to Zurich and onto Geneva on Swiss Air a few times and it was luxurious. It's the main hub for Swiss International, which has nine lounges at the airport. More than 80 shops give passengers and visitors plenty of products to browse, and there are bars, cafes, restaurants, and more. There are even shops available for some grocery shopping. The outdoor observation deck is also a bonus for anyone who wants to watch the runway action.

A good airport can make a big difference in the quality of any trip. Some airports are even so good that they're a destination on their own.

How about you? What is your favorite airport? Do share!

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