26 of the world’s most beautiful airports


Written by:

If the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has you yearning for not just the world’s most beautiful places (and underground spaces), but the ports in between, well, we understand. Many modern airports aren’t merely transportation hubs; they’re also design feats, full of fine dining, designer shops, cultural nods, exciting attractions, iconic ceilings and standalone works of art. From the peaks of Denver to a gem at a southern tip of the world, curb your urge to travel by “visiting” 26 of the world’s most beautiful airports. 

Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore

The world’s best airport — according to air transport rating organization Skytrax’s rankings — is, unsurprisingly, one of the most beautiful. The 135,700-square-meter Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore features lush gardens, canopy bridges (pictured), mazes, sculptural slides, hotel rooms, swanky shops and several Michelin star restaurants. 

Skynet Changi airport
bennymarty / iStock

Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore

One of the spectacular airport’s most popular attractions (yes, attractions) are the Manulife Sky Nets. One web is for walkers, but the other 250-meter net is designed to let adventurous visitors bounce among the trees.

Changi Waterfall
Chun Chang Wu / iStock

Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore

Jewel Changi’s crown jewel, however, is the HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Take a red-eye and you can catch a stunning light-and-sound show.

Hamad International Airport
Leonid Andronov / iStock

Hamad International Airport, Qatar

Qatar’s stunning Hamad International Airport opened in April 2014 and currently accommodates over 35 million passengers per year.

Hamad International airport lamp bear
uskarp / iStock

Hamad International Airport, Qatar

Its grand foyer houses “Lamp Bear,” a 23-foot yellow teddy sculpted from bronze by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. The big bear (and his desk lamp umbrella) was designed to “remind travelers of childhood or precious objects from home,” according to the airport website.

Incheon International Airport
jon chica parada / iStock

Incheon International Airport, South Korea

Incheon International, South Korea’s largest airport, doubles as an arts and culture performance venue, hosting mini-concerts, art exhibits, dance recitals and Korean history lessons.

Incheon Terminal 2

Incheon International Airport, South Korea

Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2 opened in January 2018, a few weeks before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. It’s currently undergoing an expansion, expected to be completed by 2025. 

Chhatrapati International
Shivendu Jauhari / iStock

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, India

The airport, located in Mumbai, India, has won several awards since undergoing modernization beginning in 2006, including the 2008 “Airport of the Year” award by Frost & Sullivan Aeronautical Excellence.

Mumbai ceiling
boggy22 / iStock

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, India

The airport’s Terminal 2 — or T2, as it’s affectionately known — is characterized by its 17-acre roof, designed to evoke the stone pavilions of ancient Hindu temples and the eye of a peacock feather, according to Architect Magazine. (Peacocks are the country’s national bird.)  

Abu Dhabi International
Shams / iStock

Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates

The second-largest (and only international) airport in the UAE boasts designer shops, children’s play areas, two airport hotels, numerous lounges and a 924-square-meter VIP terminal.

Abu Dhabi International ceiling
Boarding1Now / iStock

Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates

Its X-shaped central terminal was conceived as a gateway to Abu Dhabi and is characterized by ornate, colorful ceilings. 

Madrid-Barajas Airport
algarabi / iStock

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain

The second largest airport in Europe, located in northeast Madrid, has four passenger terminals, one satellite building and two docks.

Madrid-Barajas departure terminal
carlobassetti / iStock

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain

Its flagship feature, however, is the curved bamboo ceiling of Terminal 4. Designed by famous architect Richard Rogers, the sustainable bamboo canopies are supported by yellow steel “tree trunks” and span 25 soccer fields. 

Kuala Lumpur International Airport
coward_lion / iStock

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

Malaysia’s main international airport prides itself on its service and amenities — which include a 24-hour wellness spa and a premium lounge open to all passengers — so much so, it has its own brochure

KLIA ceiling
coward_lion / iStock

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

Designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the airport’s Islamic-style shading roofis also meant to evoke a Malaysian rainforest.

Chicago O'Hare Airport
aoldman / iStock

Chicago O’Hare Airport, United States

One of the busiest airports in the U.S. O’Hare’s most notable feature is, perhaps, its underground rainbow tunnel, connecting Concourse A to Concourse B in Terminal 1. That might change, however, as the airport is slated for a major expansion, projected to be completed by 2028.

Shenzen International Airport
ZZ3701 / iStock

Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, China

China’s fourth largest airport is unmistakable, thanks to Terminal 3’s curving, steel-and-glass canopy roof. 

Shenzhen Airport ceiling
ben-bryant / iStock

Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, China

Designed by Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, the airport’s exterior evokes a manta ray, while thousands of hexagonal skylights on the interior are meant to mimic a honeycomb. 

Shenzhen Airport color windows
c8501089 / iStock

Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, China

The flagship terminal is full of other flourishes, including polished tile floors, giant, sculptural air conditioning vents and some brightly colored windows (pictured).

Denver International Airport
arinahabich / iStock

Denver International Airport, United States

Colorado’s Denver International Airport is among the world’s busiest — and most beautiful — airports, hosting 69 million passengers in 2019.

Denver International Airport tents
tvirbickis / iStock

Denver International Airport, United States

DIA is most known for its Jeppesen Terminal, which features a peaked roof meant to evoke — and highlight — the visible Rocky Mountains. But if the terminal’s unique design doesn’t strike your fancy, maybe the many conspiracy theories surrounding the airport will. 

Istanbul International Airport
Gökçen TUNÇ / iStock

Istanbul Airport, Turkey

Turkey’s Istanbul Airport opened in October 2018 and was recently certified as a five-star airport by Skytrax

Istanbul Airport waiting area
Elen11 / iStock

Istanbul Airport, Turkey

The airport’s massive single terminal can host up to 200 million passengers, who can visit local and designer shops, 150 eateries, several salons and a spa specializing in massage packages. 

Istanbul Airport control tower
Czgur / iStock

Istanbul Airport, Turkey

Its iconic control tower, designed by firms AECOM and Pininfarina, was inspired by tulips, “which have been associated with Istanbul for centuries and represented a significant cultural reference in Turkish history,” according to the airport’s website

Haneda Airport Edo Market
kuremo / iStock

Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan

Another of Skytrax’s five-star airports, Tokyo Haneda International Airport is a trip itself, housing Edo Koji, a shopping center modeled after a typical street in 17th-century Japan.

Haneda airport bridge
kuremo / iStock

Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan

The Edo Market includes a giant replica of the original wooden Nihonbashi Bridge, surrounded by decorative folding screens from the National Museum of Japanese History that depict life during its era.

Munich Airport
Boarding1Now / iStock

Munich Airport, Germany

The splashy, five-star Munich Airport is home to two terminals, 56 eateries, 137 stores, free relaxation areas and coffee stations and its very own brewery. 

Munich Airport event space
hitsujikumo33 / iStock

Munich Airport, Germany

In non-pandemic times, it doubles as an event space, thanks to the spectacular roof designed by architect Helmut Jahn that connects the two terminals. In 2019, the airport hosted the Southern German Skateboarding Championships and a winter festival that included an ice rink. 

Daocheng Yading Airport
Mumemories / iStock

Daocheng Yading Airport, Tibet

Elevated 4,411 meters above sea level, Daocheng Yading Airport is currently the world’s highest civilian airport.

Marrakech Menara Airport
Leila Melhado / iStock

Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco

The modern airport, opened in 2008, is designed to showcase the ancient city “where classical traditions of the arts, crafts, music, and food are as vibrant today as they were centuries ago,” according to its website

Marrakech Menara Airport ceiling
Peacefoo / iStock

Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco

Here, again, the ornate, glass ceilings are a real highlight, flooding the airport with plenty of natural light to accentuate the modern and cultural flourishes.

Daxing Airport exterior
suiwuya / iStock

Beijing Daxing International Airport, China

Nicknamed “the starfish” for its unique external shape, the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (it opened in Sept. 2019) is now the biggest airport in the world, spanning the equivalent of 98 soccer fields

Beijing Daxing Airport interior
Boarding1Now / iStock

Beijing Daxing International Airport, China

The interior combines futuristic elements, like swirling black-and-white ceilings and polished floors, with cultural touches, like the traditional Chinese gardens that adorn its corridors.

Beijing Capital Airport
KreangchaiRungfamai / iStock

Beijing Capital International Airport, China

Beijing Capital International Airport — the “starfish’s” next-door neighbor —has plenty of shine on its own, featuring arching skylights, red-white-and-gold ceilings and dragon statues. 

Dubai International Airport
typhoonski / iStock

Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates

Another one of the world’s busiest airports, Dubai International Airport served 86.4 million customers in 2019.

Dubai International Airport interior
aksphoto / iStock

Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates

The bustling and partially underground Terminal 3, which cost $4.5 billion to build, houses two food courts, numerous duty-free shops, and five- and four-star hotel rooms. 

Malvinas Airport
vale_t / iStock

Malvinas Argentinas Ushuaia International Airport, Argentina

Located on the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina, the small airport comes with big panoramic views.

Suvarnabhumi Airport
tomgigabite / iStock

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand

Another Helmut Jahn creation, Bangkok’s sprawling Suvarnabhumi Airport was designed to “express its pivotal importance to Thailand,” according to the Architectural Record

Suvarnabhumi interior
MJ_Prototype / iStock

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand

It also reflects its name: Suvarnabhumi means “The Golden Land,” a traditional name for the Thailand-Cambodia-Laos-Burma region.

Atlanta International AIrport
SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, United States

The world’s busiest airport doubles as an art gallery, featuring over 1,000 works of artthroughout its corridors and terminals. 

Lyon Saint Exupery airport
Thierry Perre / iStock

Lyon Saint Exupery Airport, France

The airport’s impressive concrete-and-steel railway station, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is meant to evoke a bird at the point of flight.

Baku Heydar Airport
ShevchenkoAndrey / iStock

Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan

Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport was named a five-star regional airport, by Skytrax in May 2018.

Baku Airport interior
saiko3p / iStock

Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan

Its defining feature is its stunning wooden “cocoons,” which house eateries, shops, luggage storage centers, a spa and a children’s play area.

Hong Kong International Airport interior
LewisTsePuiLung / iStock

Hong Kong International Airport, China

Also referred to as Chek Lap Kok International Airport, this sprawling airport handled 71.5  million passengers in 2019. It’s received over 80 “World’s Best Airport” awards and is certified with Skytrax’s five-star airport rating “for facilities, comfort and cleanliness, shopping, food and beverages and staff service.”

Hong Kong International Airport exterior
Michael Wels / iStock

Hong Kong International Airport, China

The airport’s distinctive scalloped roof canopies are designed for expansion — and, in fact, have already been extended three times since the airport opened in July 1998.

Ronald Reagan Airport

Ronald Reagan National Airport, United States

Designed by architect Cesar Pelli, Washington D.C.’s National airport is characterized by “54 ‘Jeffersonian’ domes that establish a connection with the architecture of the region,” according to its website.

Ronald Reagan Airport interior
martince2 / iStock

Ronald Reagan National Airport, United States

The interior features work from 30 artists, including mosaic, murals and sculpture, woven between the distinctive corridors and balustrades.

Amsterdam Airport
alessia penny / iStock

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol features relaxation areas designed to mimic a forest, complete with pre-recorded birds singing in the background. There are also nearby exercise bikes that will charge your phone as you pedal.

Lake Superior
csterken / iStock

More from MediaFeed: Thirst over the world’s most beautiful lakes

If you’re down for traveling vicariously, here are 50 photos of beautiful bodies of water all around the world.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


Jeanine Skowronski

Jeanine Skowronski is a veteran personal finance journalist and content strategist, she has previously served as the Head of Content at Policygenius, Executive Editor of Credit.com and a columnist for Inc. Magazine. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, American Banker Magazine, Newsweek, Business Insider, CNBC and more.