Getting to the airport early before a flight used to be a dull chore. These days, however, many airports have vast shopping centers, spas, or swanky airline lounges. Some airlines or airports even offer free city tours for those with longer layovers (Doha, Istanbul, Salt Lake City, Seoul, and Singapore, to name a few) But, it’s not just about shopping, drinking, eating, and sightseeing anymore. Check out the cool airport features near these global runways.
1. A Museum
Amsterdam Schiphol has plenty of tulip stands, but that’s not the only thing of beauty to see in this airport. The on-site satellite of the famous Rijksmuseum puts some of the world’s most famous masterpieces on display right in the airport’s transit area. Frequent fliers will be glad to know that there are rotating works of art, although at the moment, it is closed due to airport construction with plans to reopen soon. In Manchester, England, hop the bus from the terminal to visit the airport’s Concorde Museum. Visitors get an up-close and personal look at the world’s fastest airplane as well as a small museum of artifacts and souvenirs.
3. Fitness Facilities
Doha Hamad International has an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, squash courts, and whirlpools that sporty travelers can enjoy.
4. A Sauna
If you’re not a swimmer, Helsinki Vantaa International has just the thing: its own sauna with windows overlooking the runway and nearby Kolvanki Lake.
Honolulu’s airport is known for its gardens interspersed between the terminals where travelers can sit in the sunshine or around koi ponds as they await flights.
Practice your swing at the new PGA facility in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which offers an interactive golf and dining experience. Golf simulators, virtual driving ranges, a putting green, and instructors allow players to work on their aim while waiting for their next flight. There’s also a pub menu with drinks and snacks for duffers.
8. (Real) Beer Garden and Brewery
Munich International has a large public outdoor square between terminals and is the site of many exciting events like a Christmas market and Oktoberfest festivities. It is also home to the world’s only airport beer garden. A guided tour of the brewery, which includes a chat with the brewmaster, is the perfect reason to schedule a longer connection.
9. Hot Springs
Sapporo’s New Chitose International airport in Japan has its own hot springs and public onsen baths. Soak in the mineral waters of varying temperatures to improve circulation after a long flight.
10. A Butterfly Garden
Singapore Changi International is known for its swimming pool on the rooftop and butterfly garden with more than 1,000 butterflies. There’s nothing like getting a little fresh air between long flights. Bonus: In case you missed the latest flicks on your flight, the airport also has a free cinema screening popular movies.
11. A Hostel
Aviation buffs can spend the night in a 747 at Stockholm Arlanda International. Although it’s located outside of the airport terminals, the Jumbo Stay Hostel is still a great alternative to the classic airport hotel. It has a variety of room types, but the premium experience is booking the cockpit for an overnight snooze.
12. An Aquarium
Vancouver International is known for its interior gardens and waterfalls, but it is the 30,000-gallon aquarium that really gets attention. Starfish, jellyfish, and sea urchins are just some of the marine life that live at the airport.