The world's most surprising airport attractions

Hedge mazes, golf courses, on-site breweries—these nine airports are destinations in their own right.

This story was adapted from a version originally published in the National Geographic Almanac 2019.

Many travelers view airports as no more than a stopping-off point on the way to something better—and who could blame them, with delayed planes, security requirements, and maddening crowds all part of the routine? But these nine hubs have set out to change that with eyebrow-raising attractions, uber-trendy concessions, and local flair. [Make the most of your layover in the top ten busiest airports.]

Hong Kong

At HKG, you’ll find a nine-hole golf course, one of Asia’s biggest IMAX screens, virtual car racing and basketball, and a Muji store.

<p>This composite image was created at London Heathrow Airport's runway 09L between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Mornings at Heathrow are typically some of the busiest times for arriving aircraft, as waves of widebody jets from Asia and North America complete their long haul flights to London.</p>

This composite image was created at London Heathrow Airport's runway 09L between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Mornings at Heathrow are typically some of the busiest times for arriving aircraft, as waves of widebody jets from Asia and North America complete their long haul flights to London.

Photograph by Mike Kelley

Incheon

Seoul’s ICN boasts a year-round skating rink, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, and a culture center with Korean crafts and music.

Changi

The new 10-story Jewel expansion at Singapore’s SIN has a hedge maze and a giant bouncing net. Indoor playgrounds, rides, and a reading corner make it family-friendly. [Step into the futuristic cities designed around airports.]

Munich

No surprise: MUC has an on-site brewery, Airbräu, and an Audi showroom. It also hosts indoor surfing and mountain bike events.

San Francisco

SFO has an aviation museum, a branch of the Steinhart Aquarium, and a public transit stop right in the airport.

Schiphol

Amsterdam’s AMS houses an oxygen bar with aromatherapy, a library, and two 24/7 mini museums: Rijksmuseum (art) and Nemo (science).

Vancouver

YVR takes advantage of its expansive spaces with large-scale native art and aquarium exhibits that are home to over 5,000 creatures.

Zurich

Healthy travelers will like ZRH’s on-site grocery store and the chance to get some fresh air by renting in-line skates, bikes, or walking poles.

Detroit

Move in style from one concourse to another through DTW’s Light Tunnel, illuminated glass panels that throb in time with space-age music.

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