Jet-setters from across the country — and around the world — shared with us their favorite airports worldwide. This list features the best of the best from outside the United States; read more here for our readers’ favorite airports within the U.S.
Gorgeous views, expansive shopping and dining options, lush green spaces — these are just a small taste of why each of our international winners made this list. We hope your favorite airport made the cut, and if not, be sure to nominate it next year!
1. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) (Winner)
This year, our readers selected London Heathrow as their favorite airport outside of the U.S. Originally built in 1929 and known simply as London Airport, the footprint of this highly trafficked international airfield has grown steadily over its nearly 100 years of use. Gates are split between four passenger terminals: T2, T3, T4, and T5. When flying in or out of Heathrow, pay careful attention to which terminal you will need to ensure you do not miss your flight.
Conveniently located on the London Underground, all four passenger terminals connect to the heart of London via the Piccadilly line. If you plan to journey further by train, you are in luck as the Piccadilly line also makes a stop at King’s Cross train station, providing an easy transition from air to rail.
Heathrow is the primary hub for both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, two well-known international airlines recently named the best in the world by our readers. International travelers will not feel out of place in this bustling depot, as the majority of flights from Heathrow are destined for cities outside of England and the United Kingdom.
All four terminals include an array of eateries and shops from Tiffany & Co. and Dior at the high end to souvenir shops for the must-have London tchotchkes and apparel at the more budget-friendly end. For those at Terminal 5, you might even stumble upon The Harry Potter Shop, where you can step into the immersive world of Rowling’s UK-based books.
2. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)
When Amsterdam Airport Schiphol first opened in 1916, it was solely used for military purposes — first as a military airstrip during the First World War, and then a brief stint as a German airstrip during the Second World War. It has been serving the greater Amsterdam region as the primary airport since 1949.
Schiphol operates using one terminal with all services, shops, and gates under one roof. The terminal is divided into three main departure halls, each with its own gates. For the most part, once through security, it is possible to move between all of the gates with ease, though border control does separate gates flying within the Schengen Area from those servicing airports outside of this European free-travel area.
Browse the shops in the pre-security shopping area known as Schiphol Plaza. Enjoy coffee or a cocktail at Crossroads, savor the sweet flavor of bonbons at Leonidas, and don’t forget to stop at Bloem! for souvenirs. Once through security, a number of airport lounges and restaurants are available as you await departure.
Make your way to Schiphol’s Panorama Terrace, an outdoor viewing area on the top floor. Experience unhindered views of flights taxying, taking off, and landing. You will also find a KLM Fokker 100 that passengers are able to board and have a look around on display.
3. Paris-Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG)
The Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, just 14 miles northeast of Paris, opened to travelers in 1974. Originally called Roissy Airport due to its location near the town of Roissy-en-France, it later took the name of World War II leader Charles de Gaulle. The airport consists of three terminals interconnected by shuttle. Terminal 2 is the biggest of the three, with six sub-terminals connected by walkways, and one satellite sub-terminal reachable by shuttle.
Terminal 2 also houses a transit station for both passenger transit to Paris as well as regional high-speed train service around France. This hybrid model means you can be on your way to Bordeaux or Marseille via rail without ever having to leave the airport itself.
Enjoy French cuisine at The French Taste, a Michelin restaurant within the airport. Browse the offerings at the various high-end shops littering the concourse, such as Prada, Cartier, and Gucci. Satisfy your sweet tooth at La Maison du Chocolat for mouth-watering French chocolates, or drop into the M&M’s store for a more laid-back treat. Once you’ve had your fill, find your gate and prepare for your flight.
4. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
Singapore Changi Airport services the island nation-state of Singapore at the tip of the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia. Four terminals are currently in use, with a fifth under construction to serve the ever-growing traffic of this popular airport. Changi was named the world’s best airport eight years in a row by Skytrax, from 2013 to 2020.
The signature feature of this world-renowned airport has to be Jewel Changi Airport, a combination entertainment and art space at the center of one of the busiest airports in the world. Take a hike — yes, you read that correctly — through the walking trails of the indoor Shiseido Forest Valley. Gaze transfixed at the seven stories of cascading water that make up the HSBC Rain Vortex. Immerse yourself in the interactive art of the discovery slides, meander your way through a hedge maze, or grab a bite to eat in the adjoining food hall. Jewel welcomes guests to Singapore in a truly unique manner.
5. Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Opened in 1948, Zurich Airport in Switzerland quickly grew to become the primary international airport for the country. Terminals A and B are connected to the main airport facility while Terminal E is located a distance away and connected to the rest by underground rail.
Sign up for a guided tour of the airport to better understand its history. Or head to either of the two observation decks for excellent views: Observation Deck B is open to the public while Observation Deck E requires a boarding pass as it is beyond the security checkpoint. Deck B even includes a miniature airport play area for children.
The city center of Zurich is just 8 miles away, so you won’t have to wait long to get to your final destination. Bus, train, and tram are all available to get you to where you need to go, and quickly.
6. Rome–Fiumicino International Airport/Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport (FCO)
Leonardo da Vinci International Airport — also known as Rome-Fiumicino International Airport — opened to the public in 1961 and has become the busiest airport in all of Italy. The layout of the airport has experienced many changes over the years, with an ebb and flow of terminal usage. Today, you will find four terminals; however, only two are currently in use: Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. The others are either in the midst of renovation or demolition to make way for further expansion of other terminals.
You will find over 50 different shops and restaurants, many featuring products sourced within the country itself for a truly made-in-Italy experience. Sample fine Italian wines and pasta, or treat yourself to the latest fashion and jewelry trends at one of the boutique shops.
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