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The World's Most Beautiful Airports That Are Worth Your Stopover

How many hours do you spend on the airport during flights? How many hours do you actually want to spend on an airport?

Airports have become little hubs of culture and aesthetics, as more and more people travel and spend their stopovers or waiting times at the airport. More than waiting areas and launch pads for your next flight, some airports have become destinations in themselves, featuring beautiful architecture, fresh concepts and ideas, and even nice food options.

If you're planning for your next connecting flight or dreading your next 4-hour layover, might as well consider going through these airports, which will make your stopover a much more enriching experience.


Wellington International Airport

The Wellington International Airport is one of the airports located inside New Zealand, beautifully designed by Studio Pacific Architecture, and Warren and Mahoney. Although the airport services limited flights, mostly around New Zealand and Australia, the airport is a beautiful piece of art that makes for a nice stopover.

Inside the airport is the popular “The Rock,” a term coined for the building after it was expanded and redesigned in 2010. The new roof lights and the freshly designed perimeter windows make for a spectacular view from inside and outside.

Images from Thermosash

In terms of facilities, the Wellington International Airport is fully equipped with beautiful dining areas, lounges, baggage centers, and duty-free shops.

Images from Thermosash


Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport that services the Chinese capital, with three terminals, hundreds of destinations, and a dedicated rail link that connects the terminals. The newest terminal, and also the most beautiful, is the airport's Terminal 3, which was completed in 2008 in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

It took almost five years for Terminal 3 to be completed, which was designed by NACO, Foster + Partners, and ARUP. The aerodynamic roof is inspired by the dragon figure, and incorporates Chinese elements into the whole building and runway. It is also one of the most sustainable buildings in China, incorporating environmental design concepts. The skylights are made to face the south-east to maximize the early morning sunlight, and the integrated environment-control system minimizes energy consumption.

Images from Archdaily

Its spectacular design and technology quickly reaped it awards from international award-giving bodies and publications, including the Best Structural Design of the Year by The Emirates Glass LEAF Awards, Favourite Airport by the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards, Best Transportation by Travel + Leisure 2009 Design Awards.

Images from Archdaily


Kansai International Airport

Image by Shinkenchi-ku-sha for Fondazione Renzo Piano

Stunning, practical, and resilient—these accurately describe what Kansai International Airport is. Located in the Bay of Osaka, the Japanese airport can handle 100,00 passengers a day, created to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, and designed by one of the most influential and renowned modern architects of his generation, Renzo Piano.

The airport took six years to complete but it was all worth it, since its clean and futuristic look was able to withstand the '95 Kobe earthquake and a harsh typhoon that plagued the region in 1998. The secret behind the building's resilience is its geometrical and mathematical model, created with 82,000 identical stainless steel panels that hold the roof, and a long and light structure that guarantees maximum standardization.

Image by Hata Yoshio for Fondazione Renzo Piano

Image by Max Wheeler/Flickr

The airport is also fully equipped with the usual traveler needs, including medical facilities, restaurants, luggage centers, accomodation, and car rental services.


Munich Airport

The Munich Airport in Germany could just be the best airport in Europe, expertly flying more than 44 million passengers a year to 266 destinations all over the world, while still offering the best service and the maintaining its architectural and design integrity. The Munich Airport was designed by Koch+Partner and was completed in 2003, and its simple but classic beauty lies in its clean white interiors and sunlight-filling design.

Images from Koch+Partner

Apart from its clean modern look, the Munich Airport is famous for elevating the usual facilities that can be found inside the airport. True to their German nature, they have their own brewery, and they're equipped with a playground, mini-golf, an ice rink during Christmas, and even a surfing area!

Image from Robert Rowe

The Munich Airport is also quite literally an aviation paradise. They have three historic aircrafts and a retired rescue helicopter that visitors can check out, a 60-seater cinema that shows aviation-related films, and a 28-metre observation platform for up-close viewing of landings and take-offs.


Singapore Changi Airport

For the last six years now, Singapore Changi Airport has amassed over 500 awards and has maintained its standing at the top of the world's best airports by the prestigious Skytrax World Airport Awards—and the recognition is only very well deserved since the Changi Airport is one beautiful and functional work of art.

The airport has undergone a number of construction phases and expansions to get to where it is now, with even bigger plans currently in the works. Announced in 2013, the Jewel Changi Airport will be a mixed-use complex that will be completed in 2019, and will feature the most luxurious and the best facilities an airport can offer: a luxury hotel, more than 300 retail and dining facilities, the 5-storey indoor gardens called the Forest Valley, and the Rain Vortex, the world's largest indoor waterfall.

Image from Changi Airport

All of this will only add value to the already valuable airport, outfitted with tasteful interiors and packed with a number of activities. These include the very first airport butterfly garden, 24/7 film cinemas, city tours for stopping-over passengers and a Balinese swimming pool.