8 airports that make it worth the layover

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Imagining those hours of uncomfortable seating, overpriced WiFi and scarce food options make the extra cost seem like self-preservation, but sometimes a layover can actually be a memorable part of your trip!

Here are four airports that have made such an effort to make the space in between departing and arriving more enjoyable, they’ve become destinations in and of themselves:

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to relax and recharge.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)Photo Credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Leave it to a Californian airport to emphasize the importance of finding balance between the mind, body and soul. To prove it, they’ve installed purified water bottle-filling stations (body) and have become the first airport to also be an accredited art museum (mind). On top of that, they’ve built the first-ever airport yoga room (soul), complete with yoga mats and mirrored walls. Namaste.

Edmonton International Airport (YEG) to indulge in bite-sized literary treats from local artists.
Edmonton International Airport (YEG)Photo credit:

Finished your book — or worse, left it on the plane? Visit the Edmonton Airport’s Short Story Dispenser to generate randomly-selected stories on long scrolls of paper for your literary entertainment! Make your choice from a one-minute, three-minute or five-minute short story, all written by local artists. YEG is the first airport to feature one of these in Canada, and the second in the world, after the Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport in France.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) for a local arts and culture fix.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)Photo credit:

While waiting for your flight out of Minnesota, why not take in a short, local film at a terminal screening room? Or you could also stop and watch a dance performance or a theatre production to pass the time. The airport’s MSP Arts and Culture Program promotes the Upper Midwest artistic community by showcasing their talents throughout the airport; everywhere you look, there is another stunning piece of commissioned artwork waiting to be appreciated.

Munich Airport, Germany (MUC) for the best of German design, from morning to night.
Munich Airport, Germany (MUC)Photo credit:

If you’re ever stuck overnight at a European airport, cross your fingers it’s the Munich Airport. Kitted out with its own onsite brewery, enjoy a stein of beer and live music at the tavern-style beer garden, Airbräu. Afterwards, snuggle down into a spaceship-like sleeping pod equipped with USB docks, and wake up to a complimentary cup of coffee and the Financial Times before getting onto your connecting flight. Efficient and comfortable, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a German design.

Who says you have to stay at the airport during your layover? If you’ve got some time to kill, live a little! These four airports have quick and easy access to the city so you can explore while waiting to board your next flight:

Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN): fast, reliable and free.
Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICNPhoto Credit: Minseong Kim via Wikimedia Commons

As the world’s eighth busiest airport, Seoul’s air-traffic hub saw 49 million passengers pass through its gates in 2015 (it’s also the world’s fourth busiest airport for cargo traffic). With that many people rushing around, having a fast, reliable transit service is a must so they built a ultra-fast maglev train connecting the airport to the city’s subway system at Yongyu Station. It leaves every 15 minutes and is free.

Hong Kong International, Hong Kong (HKG): check your bag and hit multiple stops.
Hong Kong International, Hong Kong (HKG)Photo Credit: winhorse/iStock

Every 10 minutes the Airport Express makes its short journey (24 minutes) from Hong Kong International to Hong Kong Station. There are a few stops along the way (such as the transfer to Disneyland Resort) but it’s the most convenient way to get downtown. Your $30 CAD (179.89 HK$) fare will also get you a 24-hour bag check at their two stations.

Heathrow Airport, England (LHR): fit London into your carry-on!
Heathrow Airport, England (LHR)Photo Credit: Richard Sharrocks/iStock

Being able to zip from London’s Heathrow Airport to Paddington Station in just 15 minutes means even an afternoon layover could turn into a fun turn-around London Town. The Heathrow Express is London’s latest airport-to-city train service and while it costs a pretty penny — $56.48 CAD (£35 EUR)  return — it’s well worth it to see a few sights in between flights.

Zurich Airport, Switzerland (ZRH): frequent and cheap.
Zurich Airport, Switzerland (ZRH)Photo credit: photogearch/iStock

There is something about getting off a plane and being able to board fast, reliable public transit right there at the airport that makes you think, “This city knows what’s up!” Well, Zurich, we’re looking at you — and are very pleased. The Glattbrugg tram service (Number 12) runs from the airport to the downtown Stettbach station every 15 minutes and costs less than $5.

Take advantage of these in-house features and top-notch transit systems to get out and explore the world…one airport at a time. Happy trails!