When it comes down to it, there aren’t that many things you really need out of an airport. You want to be processed quickly, to have somewhere comfy and safe to sit or sleep, to be able to eat, and to entertain yourself. Easy, right? Not quite. Many airports throughout the world struggle to provide the basic necessities important to travelers, and scathing reviews abound as a result. How hard is it to provide a few wall plugs for your visitors?
Luckily, there are a handful of airports in Europe that do it right. With cozy seating arrangements, interesting and innovative diversions, yummy (and affordable) eating options, and efficient service, these — in no particular order — are the 10 best airports in Europe to travel through.
1. Helsinki (HEL), Finland
Not very many airports contain an art gallery, barber, scenic viewing terrace, AND a book swap. As well as being comfortable, clean, and conveniently located, Helsinki Airport goes that little bit further and actually amuses you whilst you wait for your flight. Alternatively, you can nap in one of the sleep pods available for weary travellers, or use the free wifi to catch up on the latest news.
2. Copenhagen (CPH), Denmark
While this airport does get rather crowded, its staff cope beautifully with high volumes of people, and there is plenty of seating to go around. Claiming to offer some of the best airport dining in the world, the terminal itself is peaceful and clean, inviting relaxation and rest. It’s located only 15 minutes from the centre of Copenhagen city by metro, and right by the bridge to neighbouring Sweden.
3. Stockholm (ARD), Sweden
Nearly all of the Scandinavian Airports could be listed here. Oslo (OSL) is just as good as Copenhagen, ensuring guests quick service, lots of plugs, comfortable seating, and relatively efficient processing. The major downside to the Scandinavian airports is the cost of services or food once you are inside, and the potential cost of getting to them — try to ride share, and make sure you bring a snack with you, and an empty drink bottle to fill up. Also, Stockholm Airport can get quite cold — so take a sweater.
4. Munich (MUC), Germany
If there is one thing the Germans have down pat, it’s efficiency. Munich Airport is run like clockwork, and while visitors love some of the little perks of travelling here — such as free coffee and lounge-free shower access — it’s the absolute precision of this airport’s operation that makes it so well loved. It’s clean and tidy, and while food and beverages are a little on the expensive side, the speed and efficiency of processing helps to make up for this. Plus, if you are there at Christmas, you can enjoy an indoor market and an ice skating rink.
5. Vienna (VIE), Austria
If time is of the essence, Vienna claims to have the shortest minimum connection time for Star Alliance flights, at just 25 minutes. It’s also close to the city, connected by an efficient public transport system, and offers speedy (and free) wifi. If you like quality restaurant food, Skytrax reviewers noted it offered a very tasty selection, along with tidy common areas and good bathrooms.
6. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), Netherlands
Through clever design, this massive airport appears cozy, with airside libraries and lots of comfy seating. It is well connected by public transport, and offers efficient service. In saying that, the cozy feeling can be a bit misleading; it can take a long time to get to your gate. Just make sure you check out the walking times between areas, and you can then relax and take advantage of what is on offer, including a viewing terrace and pay-per-use showers.
7. Frankfurt (FRA), Germany
Frankfurt is one of the busiest airports in Europe, and it manages to move its passengers around with relative ease. Visitors noted that it was easy and straightforward to move between terminals — important when you have a short connection time — and there are lots of food and beverage outlets to choose from. While the seating is comfortable, immigration can be a bit slow, so make sure you arrive in plenty of time for your flight.
8. Tallinn Airport (TLL), Estonia
Described as an airport that feels like one big old lounge, it offers comfy seating, interesting boutiques, themed gates, a free library complete with beanbags, and a do-it-yourself sandwich bar. Because it’s very compact and the service is impeccable, you can breeze through check-in and security quickly. Best yet, it’s only four kilometres from the city of Tallinn, or a 20-minute tram ride. Some people leave for the airport early just so they can spend a little bit more time there.
9. Zurich (ZRH), Switzerland
If you have to face a long layover, the next best thing to a free airport lounge (or pod) is a comfortable bench seat. Zurich has them in droves — and there is even an in-airport supermarket, so you can find (relatively) affordable food to keep you going. It’s quiet at night, helping to increase your chance of having a decent sleep, and it’s simple to find your way around. If you really want to go all out, Zurich Airport arranges bicycle and inline skate rentals, too.
10. Dublin International Airport (DUB), Ireland
If, for whatever reason, you need to pick an airport to sleep in, Dublin is the way to go. Friendly airport police keep an eye on sleeping patrons, but you should get in early if you want to snaffle a prime sleeping spot. Friendly airport staff and a wallet-friendly food court with free wifi round out the experience at Dublin International Airport. While there is no train to the city, there is a bus service that costs around 10 euros.