10 Unique Airport Attractions Around the World (That You Absolutely Have to See for Yourself)

The airport is often the gateway to your final destination, but you won’t want to miss these 10 attractions before you board.
Last updated June 1, 2023 | By Ben Walker, CEPF Edited By Michele Zipp
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Sometimes seen as a necessary obstacle before arriving at your destination, airports can be much more than that. Many airports offer travelers ways to stay entertained, and you might find certain attractions could help improve your entire travel experience.

If you're already planning to splurge your hard-earned money on a trip this year, why not make the most out of the journey? Learn about 10 amazing attractions you might not expect to find at an airport.

Airport tours, Zurich Airport

Vasilis Varsakelis/Adobe waiting room

If you’re going to be at the airport, you might as well check out your surroundings. At the Zurich Airport in Switzerland, visitors have multiple options for taking airport tours, including guided or bus tours. This is a unique opportunity to see areas of the airport you might not experience as a passenger in transit.

One unique tour package involves a former airline captain guiding you around. You’ll get firsthand knowledge of the captain’s experiences, as well as dinner in the historic control tower.

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Beer garden, Munich International Airport

Courtesy of Munich Airport Brewery inside Munich Airport

Before you jet off from Germany, pay a visit to the Airbräu restaurant located within the Munich Airport. Airbräu features a covered beer garden and the world’s first airport brewery, two things you likely wouldn’t expect to find here.

The beer garden offers a relaxing atmosphere where travelers can enjoy food and drinks, though there’s plenty of space in the main dining areas as well. Airbräu has been brewing its unique beers for over 20 years.

Fitness trail, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

brent coulter/Adobe desert sunset

Phoenix Sky Harbor offers travelers an opportunity to stay active while seeing unique views of the surrounding area in Arizona. On the Sky Harbor Fitness Trail, you’ll travel a little over a mile as you move from one end of the airport to the other.

The “trail” starts at gate A30 and ends at gate A8, allowing you views of Phoenix, Piestewa Peak, Camelback Mountain, the PHX Sky Train Bridge, and more along the way.

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Indoor waterfall, Changi Airport

Freedomz/Adobe Jewel Changi Airport

It’s likely impossible to talk about airport attractions without mentioning Changi Airport in Singapore. This place is much more than airplanes, and consistently ranks as one of the top in the world because of multiple factors.

One particular attraction that’s sure to catch your eye is the HSBC Rain Vortex, which is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. This cascade of water falls down seven storeys from the ceiling in the middle of lush, green gardens with multiple walking trails.

Light tunnel, Detroit Metro Airport

Carolina K Smith MD/Adobe airport tunnel glow

If you’re moving between concourses at the Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan, you’ll likely experience the massive LED tunnel found within. It connects concourses B and C with concourse A, providing a magical route to enhance your airport journey.

With nearly 9,000 feet of glass panels illuminating the 700-foot display, this isn’t an everyday walk through terminals. The lighting is set to original music to help elevate the experience, but both the lights and sound can be suspended for five minutes at a time by pressing a button at either end of the tunnel.

Movie theater, Incheon International Airport

Courtesy of Incheon International Airport Movie theater in Incheon Airport

You’ve heard of in-flight entertainment, but what about in-airport entertainment? Rather than pulling up a show or movie on your small screen, check out the big screen at a movie theater inside an airport.

The CGV Incheon Airport theater at Incheon International in South Korea is a small movie theater, but it could still provide hours of entertainment during a long layover.

Nihonbashi Bridge, Haneda Airport

kuremo/Adobe Vermilion colored Nodategasa paper umbrella and Japanese lantern

Whether you’re connecting through or departing from Haneda Airport in Japan, it’s nice to experience bits of Japanese culture within the airport. A small replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge from the ancient city of Edo offers an opportunity to relive a small piece of history.

Haneda Airport also features “Edo Street,” or what a street may have looked like during the Edo Period of Japan.

Note: Certain shops along Edo Street may be temporarily closed.

Short films, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport

Courtesy of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport Movie theater in Minneapolis Airport

Not quite what you might imagine as a full-blown movie theater, but the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport offers a film screening room where passengers can freely view short films that have a Minnesota connection. This could mean a film is made by a filmmaker from the state, or features content about or takes place there.

The films featured at See 18 cinema could be documentaries, music videos, or other types of short films. All films are less than 10 minutes long and have “G” ratings to adhere with the family-friendly atmosphere at the airport.

Swimming pool, Hamad International Airport (Qatar)

Courtesy of Hamad International Airport Swimming pool in Hamad Airport

How does a few quick laps around the pool sound on your next layover? At some airport gyms, you have the opportunity to stay active rather than sit around for hours on a potentially uncomfortable seat.

At the Vitality Centre at Hamad International in Qatar, there’s a fully-equipped gym, hydrotherapy tub, shower room, and a temperature-controlled swimming pool. If you’re in need of some refreshing before you depart, there aren’t many airports that offer a warm dip in the pool. Massages, facials, body treatments, and squash courts are also available.

TWA Hotel, John F. Kennedy International Airport

Image courtesy of twahotel.com TWA Hotel exterior

Trans World Airlines was once a major U.S. airline that ended operations in 2001 after being acquired by American Airlines. But for a blast from the past, and a convenient airport stay, you can stay at the TWA Hotel located in New York.

The TWA Hotel offers a rooftop pool where you can watch planes take off, as well as a roller rink for loads of roller skating fun. If you’re traveling through New York, be sure to take advantage of some of the top U.S. airport lounges. 

Pro tip: Looking for airport lounge access? Check out these 7 credit cards that come with lounge privileges.

Bottom line

Markus Mainka/aDOBE TWA Hotel Terminal New York JFK Airport

Waiting around in an airport might not be the preferred way to spend your time, but it’s a common routine for many travelers. Traveling can get pricey, but if you want to improve your overall experience, consider the many attractions in different airports around the world. You may also want to consider ways to boost your wealth to help pay for upcoming trips. 

From indoor waterfalls to beer gardens, the available airport experiences could easily become a highlight of your next trip — or at least help you pass the time quicker while waiting for your flight. Remember to check what unique attractions are available the next time you’re traveling through an airport for the first time.

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Ben Walker, CEPF Ben Walker, CEPF, is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially sound decisions. For over a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben is a Certified Educator of Personal Finance and has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.