10 of the Best Airports for a Long Layover

February 17, 2016

Waiting for flight connections sucks, but not when you're at one of these 10 best airports for a long layover.

Globetrotting can create some of the best experiences of your life. Seeing a new landscape, embracing a new culture and sampling new delights can be the most fun a person can have. What's not fun however can be all the stop start travelling involved.

Waiting at departure gates, queuing at check-ins and sitting around in airports can be boring and draining. The only thing worse than having to wait at a dull airport is being stuck in one. The airports below are far from dull, we've put together 10 best airports for a long layover, known for their beauty, ability to keep you busy and overall awesomeness. These are airports we definitely wouldn't mind being stuck in.

1. Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore Changi Airport Departures Hall

Crowned the best airport in the world in 2015 by the Skytrax airport customer survey, Singapore Changi seems to have it all. It's scenic, with so much plant life it is as if the architects wanted to give the airport its own ecosystem. Amenities are plentiful, a number of Tappenyaki restaurants will have you impressed and spoilt for choice. When you're not eating you can spend time in Changi's cinema, huge indoor playground, TV lounge or just relax by its 18 foot waterfall. Yes, the airport has its own waterfall!

That's far from it however for Singapores largest transportation hub. Instead of taking the lift why not move between floors in terminal 3's massive spiral slide? Terminal 3 which is Changi's newest and most fancy terminal features an automatic light modulation system which gives the whole place a relaxing glow, something to keep you calm while you navigate your way through the millions of passengers that travel through the airport every year. With all it's showstopping features Changi airport really is more of a theme park than an airport.

2. London Heathrow

London Heathrow Airport Departures

Along with having a reputation as one of the world's busiest airports, Heathrow is also one of the best equipped. Even before it's avant garde Terminal 5 was opened in 2008 Terminals 1 to 4 featured a number of shops, restaurants and amenities to keep you occupied during your stay.

Spacious, bright and stretching as far as the eye can see, Heathrow's size alone can be intimidating, but if we're going to be stuck somewhere between flights we want somewhere with lots to do and see.

If you're lucky enough to be at the airport at the right time you might catch one of the many live music performances that take place in some of Heathrow's cafes and vast open spaces. Heathrow can also brag about having a very special service that can't be found in any other airport. Every restaurant offers an in-flight picnic, giving you a specially designed package of food and drink for you to take on your flight.

3. Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing's biggest and most important airport has a history that goes back to the 50s so it's seen many changes and additions to keep passengers well entertained. The airport's showpiece is definitely Terminal 3.

Opened for the 2008 Olympic games, the terminal is a structure of architectural beauty. Before you even arrive at Beijing Capital, the view from the sky is phenomenal. Designed to resemble a dragon draped in the traditional Chinese colours of red and yellow.

Natural light floods the terminal through the lengthy skylights, its modern design touches all parts of its truly massive scale. Some Chinese ingenuity makes the whole terminal colour coded to help passengers navigate through it effortlessly. The second largest terminal in the world features two indoor gardens with fish ponds and many traditional Chinese motifs to keep you relaxed and in touch with the nation's distinctive culture.

4. Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Having a load of time on your hands at an airport is a perfect opportunity to get some work done. You could read a book, use the time to write about your travels or simply catch up on emails and keep in touch with folks back home. Malaysia's capital airport is one of the best airports in the world to be productive in.

The airport's business centre offers a tranquil, comfy place to work with free wifi throughout and a range of postal and what the airport calls secretarial services. Once you're done writing your travel memoirs and ended your Skype calls unwind in the airport's reflexology and massage centre before you continue on your trip.

5. Amsterdam Schipol

Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Not many airports in the world can boast to have their own museum let alone a museum filled with artefacts and the work of one of the world's most famous artists. Amsterdam Schipol can. Give your trip a cultural twist by visiting the Rijksmuseum and appreciate art by Holland's favourite son, Rembrandt.

Schipol having its own art museum is nothing short of awesome but we can't forget its many other features that include a library, casino, massage spa, harvest market, a seafood and wine bar and number of restaurants with Silverscreen - a 1920s cinema themed eatery - a particular highlight. Whether you're connecting to another flight or Amsterdam is your destination, Schipol is never a boring place to be.

6. Munich Airport

Munich Airport Exterior

You'll need to be stuck at Munich airport for a long, long time to get through all of what it has to offer. The airport is one of a few to lay claim to its own visitor's park open all year round featuring mini golf, a kid's playground and aircraft of the past.

Go inside the airport and you'll find a huge selection of shops and restaurants as well as events that include a traditional German Christmas market. Terminal 2 features an 800 sq metre visitors terrace for plane spotters to enjoy. The flight hub also offers tours of the airport so you can get a rare behind the scenes look at how it all works. One of the best cities in the world to visit, with an airport that can boast the same.

7. Incheon Airport, South Korea

Incheon Airport in South Korea

South Korea's biggest and busiest airport. Winner of the Airport Service Quality Award by the Airport Council International for 9 consecutive years. Awarded the world's best airport for transit passengers by Skytrax. Winner of the best airport in Asian/Pacific region in 2006 through to 2014. Winner of best airport by size 2006 through to 2014 (25 - 40 million passengers) and best airport by size 2014 for over 40 million passengers. Airport people awards 2006, 2007 and 2008. Incheon's accolades go on and on.

So what makes this airport so darn great? Well it could be the airport's alluring curves that makes it a sight to behold from within or the air above. It could be it's never ending list of amenities including 24 hour bistros, its casino, its 7 indoor gardens, or maybe it's its golf course, it could be its spa or even its 2 cultural centres exhibiting the interesting customs and traditions of South Korea. The answer is its all of these things, plus its staff which are renown for their attentiveness, helpfulness and bilingual skills. Getting stuck at Incheon airport for any amount of time seems like a blessing rather than a curse.

8. Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport in Switzerland

Another airport that features high on many best airport lists leading many to claim Zurich is Europe's best airport. A beautifully grandiose airport, departure lounges are spacious, clean and charming. There's a large number of shops, restaurants and bars both before and after the departure gates so there's many ways to occupy your time and spend your money at Zurich.

Just like Munich, Zurich offers sightseeing tours of the airport grounds but also sightseeing tours by air. Take a helicopter or short plane ride to see the tremendous views of both Zurich airport and Switzerland before you depart on your journey. Events take place all year round and you can even hire out sports equipment to keep you busy during your stay.

9. San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport

The only airport we can name that boasts its own dedicated yoga room, to help you stretch out those in flight cramps you may pick up of course. This airport contains the usual amenities you'd expect to see but is also home to a number of spas, shower rooms and a medical clinic. If you're going to in this airport for a considerable amount of time, then at least you'll be comfortable.

The state has a real love for art and it starts at the airport. San Fran International is home to an incredible art museum filled with provocative pieces, new exhibits and progressive art.

10. Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport

The final airport we wouldn't mind a very long layover in may very well be the list's most extravagant. Which isn't really a surprise when you consider the airport is in Dubai. If you're lucky enough to find yourself at this airport with a load of time on your hands, make sure you explore every inch of this lavish structure.

The world's top stores and restaurants all feature, as is to be expected from the rich nation. You can also burn down time between flights by taking a dip in the airport's swimming pool, blow off steam in the sauna, relax in the jacuzzi or enjoy some time in the oasis that is the Zen garden. Alternatively if all that is too much take a nap in the airport's specially designed Snoozecubes.

Siobhan Brewood-Wyatt
After a Masters in Comparative Literature, Siobhan worked for several big-name travel companies before joining travioor. She has been hooked on travel since her teens and her biggest adventure is booking flights from Rome to Rio after a few too many beers. Follow her on Twitter @SiobhanBW