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Layover Bliss: Great International Airports

Traveling is fun, but airports? Not so much—until now. You won’t mind spending time in these five terminals.

Munich Airport, image
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In Munich Airport (MUC) you'll find office buildings, stores, and a biergarten.


Germany Munich Airport

Head to Munich to find an airport full of fun. Play a game of beach volleyball on the outdoor courts or sit among beautiful trees in one of MUC’s beer gardens and try brews made on-site at Airbräu, the world’s only airport brewery. If you’re traveling with kids, check out Air Berlin Kinderland. Children can get creative in the arts and crafts corner or play with giant soft LEGO blocks. If there’s time, catch a flick at the children’s cinema or challenge each other to free video games.

The Netherlands Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is the first airport in the world to have a museum. Visit Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol for free, where you can peruse 10 works by Dutch masters of the Golden Age on permanent display. But if museums aren’t your thing, skip the highbrow and try your luck at Holland Casino Schiphol Airport—and maybe even win back some of the money you spent during your vacation.

Texas Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin is known for its barbecue, and there’s no better place to enjoy it than The Salt Lick. Celebrities including David Letterman and Sandra Bullock have eaten there and swear it’s the best. The family-owned restaurant has won more than 25 awards for its original recipes, which will leave you licking your fingers. Saxon Pub, another must-see stop here, features local brews and live music every Thursday and Friday.

Singapore Changi Airport

Take a vacation on the way to your vacation at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Kick off the fun with a ride down the world’s tallest slide inside an airport, or go for a dip in the rooftop Balinese-themed pool. If you’re in search of serenity, enjoy the koi pond at the orchid and fern gardens. Be sure to take time to get some fresh air: You can stroll through the world’s first butterfly garden or, if you have 5 or more hours between flights, sign up for a free 2-hour tour of Singapore.

California San Francisco International Airport

Rest, relax and regroup at SFO’s Terminal 2, the first airport in the nation to earn LEED certification. You’ll find a quiet space for self-reflection and meditation in the Berman Reflection Room. There’s also a Yoga Room where you can stretch and rejuvenate free of charge. After you’ve unwound, discover SFO’s sustainable food focus with organic local cuisine at The Plant Café Organic and sample Pinkberry’s signature frozen yogurt.

This article was first published in July 2012 in Traveler. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.