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While non-stop flights make for compact travel time, sometimes you have no option but to stop and wait. But what if the wait was worth it? Bookmark these five best airports in the world worth a layover to make your interlude indulgent and a journey unto itself.

Changi Airport, Singapore
Changi Airport, Singapore. Airports worth a layover
The Kinetic Rain at the airport. Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

Topping charts for years now, it’s no surprise that Singapore’s solo airport features on this list of the best airports in the world. A hub for layovers, it features an indoor waterfall, a butterfly garden, and the world’s tallest slide in an airport. There’s more to keep you entertained, like three no-cost movie theatres, art installations, spa options, a swimming pool, and al fresco restaurants. Luxuriate in one of the best duty-free shopping experiences, with Hermes, Longchamp, and Ermenegildo Zegna among others. An interactive website helps you plan your layover based on the duration you’ll be at the airport and your interests.

San Francisco International Airport, United States
San Francisco International Airport, United States of America. Airports worth a layover
Museum exhibit. Image: Courtesy San Francisco International Airport

An airport and a museum? Yes, that’s right. For all art lovers out there, if you have to make a stopover, make it this one. Various exhibits scattered across the airport are punctuated by a library, two yoga rooms, and a meditation room. Extremely child-friendly, they have several self-guided tours for kids. One can also opt for the screening room showing short films, or head to the spa services. A staggering 68 restaurants will spoil you for choice, and if it’s a long layover you’re looking at, day trips to San Francisco and San Mateo County will take you to the best attractions around town.

Hamad International Airport, Qatar
Hamad International Airport, Qatar. Airports worth a layover
Art installation at the airport. Image: Courtesy: Hamad International Airport

One of the newest airports in the world, HIA has already made an impact as a luxury airport. While its stunning wave-like architecture makes a statement in itself, expect to encounter art by Damien Hirst and Keith Haring. Two dedicated squash courts, a gym that you can book in advance, hydrotherapy, and separate section for unaccompanied children — the airport checks all the boxes. Twenty five restaurants featuring six diverse cuisines welcome you, as do special ‘quiet rooms’ if you’re looking for some downtime. Feel like checking-in and stretching instead? The in-house Oryx Airport Hotel allows you to do that too.

Incheon International Airport, South Korea
Incheon International Airport, South Korea. Airports worth a layover
Masked dance at the airport. Image: Courtesy Incheon International Airport

Ice skating to kill time? Incheon let’s you that and a lot more. A balance of the traditional and modern, the airport is replete with cultural performances, as well as a luxe shopping experience. Observatory decks, mini concerts, and modern art make up the vast space. A cultural street offers traditional Korean food, dance and drama performances. Few international culinary options are there, but for a change the focus is on local food, and you don’t need to step out to get a taste of real Korea. The hub of skincare in the world, Korea’s airport too lives up to the reputation with multiple skincare labels within its doors.

Munich Airport, Germany
Munich Airport, Germany. Airports worth a layover
Christmas market, ice skating, and music concert at the airport. Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

Not only does it have one of the best airport hotels in the world, the Hilton Munich, but based on what time of the year you’re visiting, look forward to seeing Oktoberfest celebrations, Christmas markets, and ice skating here. A beer garden with live music and micro-brewery makes for a relaxed time-out. The sleeping pods with charging ports are equipped to refresh you and your devices. Step into one of the many international cafes and restaurants here and if you don’t want to hit pause on your work, their conference centre is perfect for conducting meetings and calls.

Megha Uppal
Associate Editor
An innate love for travel and food has translated into many a trips since childhood for Megha; it also fed her curiosity to know about local cultures. When not writing, she is on the lookout for three things: A great dark chocolate dessert, a beautiful pool where she can practice her backstroke, and art that she can save up for.