Most of us try to spend as little time in airports as possible. The crowds, noise, and general discomfort can leave anyone a bit cranky. Runways are, for the most part boring, straight, and wide. Amenities like restaurants, shoeshine stands, and shops generally come standard. However, these awesome airports prove that flying isn’t always a snooze! While some of them may be in obscure locations, you may be able to have some once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Crazy, exotic, or downright amazing — no matter how you spin it — some of these 8 airports take flying to a whole new level.
Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan)
This unique airport is built on a 2.5-mile-long island located in Osaka Bay. The terminal of Kansai International Airport (KIX) stretches over a mile long and is appropriately shaped like a wing. While the city of Osaka is known for its cornucopia of street food, you’ll find plenty of delicious food offerings at KIX. If you take cheap international flights to Japan, you can indulge in a big bowl of steaming authentic ramen soup, fresh sushi, and Japanese pastries right when you land.
Barra Airport, Scotland
If you want to land on the north tip of the island of Barra in Scotland, in the Outer Hebrides, you’ll need to prepare for a sandy landing. The short runway offers a particularly memorable experience as flights use a beach landing strip. Concrete is not required to land small planes at the Barra Airport, which is proud to be the only beach runway in the world to handle scheduled airline service. Flights are at the whim of the tides, and as such, flight times have been known to vary.
Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is a jewel of British Columbia. This airport is distinguished by its two massive marine exhibits that are operated by the world-famous Vancouver Aquarium. Here, you can discover a variety of sea life that are native to the region, including jellyfish, wolf eels, and stunning coral. If sea creatures are not your thing, be sure to check out the exclusive collection of art displays. In addition to the standard runways, the YVR also offers a floatplane terminal. The onsite Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Airport is a luxurious place to grab a bite to eat or a drink before your plane departs. Be sure to grab a bag of iconic Tim Horton Timbits donut holes for your flight.
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McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)
There is no shortage of fun to be had at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS). This expansive airport is home to an aviation museum that honors the industry and its impact in Las Vegas. The eighth-busiest airport in the world also features a number of exciting dining options. The airport also boasts its own brewery, providing the perfect place to kick back with a local beer before or after your flight.
It comes as no surprise to learn that Munich Airport (MUC) is an excellent place to grab a pint or two of beer, celebrating the city’s rich Oktoberfest history and earning this hub a spot on our list of awesome airports. If you need to burn off some energy, try the man-made standing wave, the mini-golf course, or a ride on the big slide in the aircraft experience. MUC also offers weary visitors the opportunity to catch some zzz‘s at the private sleeping cabins. The stunning glass architecture provides the perfect backdrop for your time at this modern airport. You will never run out of things to see and do at MUC.
London Heathrow Airport
As one of the busiest airports in Europe, London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) is unlike any other. This airport is best known for its amazing shopping opportunities, including a wide array of duty-free shops and high-end fashion. The Harry Potter Shop is an especially popular shopping stop on your tour of LHR. The airport’s art gallery is home to a permanent exhibit of various art forms, including sculptures and paintings. When hunger strikes, you’ll enjoy the choice of a myriad of food options, including genuine British pubs, quintessential European cafes, and quick service options for food on the go. Popular options include the Wagamama noodle shop and Caffe Nero.
Changi Airport (Singapore)
Singapore’s Changi Airport can only be described in one word, extravagant. A destination in itself, the airport might not have dangerous runways but it takes matters to an extreme level with its amenities. Filled with unusual services and features, passengers waiting between flights can visit indoor nature trails, a butterfly garden, or even take a dip in the rooftop pool and jacuzzi!
With several movie theaters, shopping malls, and additional gardens, Changi Airport is often considered its own Singapore attraction. Kids can even appreciate a ride down the world’s tallest airport slide at Changi Airport.
Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport (DIA) opened up to much fanfare in 1995. DIA sits at over 33,000 acres, making it one of the largest in the U.S. in land size. DIA also boasts the country’s longest runway, coming in at 16,000 feet. While at DIA, you can relax with a gourmet meal, browse the extensive collection of artwork, or check out the state’s renowned craft brew scene. Elevate your ordinary airport dining experience to something extraordinary with a trip to John Elway’s namesake upscale steak restaurant. Or, simply gaze out at the majestic Rocky Mountains in the distance. The ultra-modern airport also features an underground tunnel used to move luggage.
Have you been to any of the airports on this list or any other extreme airports? Share your experiences in the comments below.