Amazing Places

These 10 Airports Have the World's Coolest Layover Activities

A long layover can be absolute agony. What are you supposed to do if you've got six, eight, or, god forbid, 12 hours to kill before your next flight? Most of the time, your options are: A) eat an overpriced meal, B) browse an overpriced bookstore, or C) drown your sorrows in overpriced alcohol. It gets old fast. Well, you might have more choices than you think. These are the airports with amenities you'd never expect.

1. Munich Airport (MUC), Munich: Brewery Tours

Where else but in Germany would you find a not only a lively beer garden at an airport but also the actual brewery that supplies it? Airbräu is home to an award-winning lineup of cold ones and even offers brewery tours if you've got the time.

2. Los Angeles International (LAX), Los Angeles: Canine Friends

You're already anxious enough at the airport, and a long layover is bound to make it worse. Sounds like you need to take advantage of the Pets Unstressing Passengers program (PUP for short). Therapy dogs and their handlers roam the departure levels of each terminal, providing both comforting furballs and flight information.

3. Haneda Airport (HND), Tokyo: Stargazing

Got a few hours to kill between flights? Why not launch an even farther-flung journey into outer space at the Planetarium Starry Cafe. This 50-seat cafe is the first planetarium ever opened in an airport, and it might be the perfect way to zone out while you wait for your boarding call.

4. Narita International (NRT), Tokyo: Oxygen Lounge

If you're flying into Japan from overseas, you're likely to come in at Narita. That kind of trip can be extra stressful, so take a load off at Juko Oxygen Lounge. It's more than a breath of fresh air. You can have your experience enhanced with flavors like cinnamon, menthol, or eucalyptus.

5. Vancouver International (YVR): Onsite Aquarium

Your flight cut through the air with ease, and now that you're in Vancouver, you can dive down below the waves at Vancouver Aquarium's airport exhibit. You'll see wolf eels, iridescent striped seaperch, and brightly colored kelp greenlings darting among 20,000 marine plants.

6. Incheon International (ICN), Seoul: Ice-Skating Rink

There's tons of stuff to do at Incheon International, including catch a movie or check out a cultural museum. But what really sets it apart is the free ice-skating rink and ice forest, which opens seasonally. Don't worry: inline skating is available year-round.

7. Zürich Airport (ZRH), Zürich: Nature Preserve

Switzerland is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, so perhaps it's not surprising that between two of the runways at the Zürich Airport you'll find a 74-hectare (182-acre) nature preserve, complete with native wildlife.

8. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), Amsterdam: Art Museum

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is one of the most famous in the world, and you can find 10 paintings from the Dutch masters on your way to the baggage claim. That makes Schiphol the only airport in the world with a display of 17th-century art — well worth a long layover.

9. New Chitose (CTS), Chitose: Hot Springs

Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's main islands, and it's also famous for the many hot springs that dot its snowy landscape. So it's only fitting that you can visit one almost as soon as you land at the airport. Make sure you visit the sauna and spa, too.

10. Hong Kong International (HKG), Hong Kong: Golf Simulator

Hong Kong Airport used to be home to a bonafide nine-hole golf course, but it was closed in 2015 due to an expansion of the airport hotel. Still, while you're waiting for your flight, you can borrow some clubs and hit the Golfzon simulator located in Terminal 2. It's probably better for air traffic control this way.

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There is a lot more to airports than you might expect. See the strange and wonderful side of air commuting in "The Art of the Airport" by Alexander Gutzmer. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Reuben Westmaas November 13, 2018

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