The World's Most Scenic Airports

Who ever said the magic of flight had to begin in the sky?

Airports are an essential element of travel, but they might not be a place you associate with inspiration, especially if you tend to hang out in domestic U.S. airports – infrastructure hasn't been our thing here for a while.

Facilities and terminals notwithstanding, some airports are inspiring simply because of their geographical surroundings. Here are the most scenic airports in the world. Can you think of any I've missed?

  • 01 of 05

    London City Airport, United Kingdom

    London City Airport
    ••• The skyline of modern London makes this airport's name extremely apt. Loz Pycock via Wikimedia Commons

    When you think of modern-day airports, you think of behemoth structures located so far outside of a particular city center it's almost outside – London's Gatwick and Heathrow international airports come to mind. Ironically, it is also in London where you'll find one of the world's most scenic urban airports, the aptly-named "London City" airport.

    Located on a peninsula that jets right into the River Thames, London City enjoys panoramic views of the ever-impressive City of London skyline from the terminal and tarmac, to say nothing of the awe-inspiring approaches here – make sure and grab a window seat.

  • 02 of 05

    St. Maarten Airport, Dutch Caribbean

    Maho Beach
    ••• It's hard to tell whether San Maarten's airport is more scenic for beachgoers or airplane passengers. Krisspao via Wikimedia Commons

    Thanks to modern security requirements, an airport's worth is usually at the judgment of ticketed passengers – for better or for worse. But at Princess Juliana Airport, located on the Dutch Caribbean jewel of Sint Maarten, beauty is just as much in the eye of beholders from Maho Beach, which sits directly in incoming flights' approach paths, just feet from the end of the runway, as it is from passengers who catch a bird's eye view of the paradise island.

  • 03 of 05

    Las Vegas International Airport, United States

    Las Vegas Airport
    ••• Fabulous Las Vegas, indeed. Ken Lund via Flickr

    "Scenic" probably isn't the first word that pops into your mind when you think of Las Vegas, but when landing at the city's McCarran International Airport, scenic views are just as much a part of the fun as fantasies about all your future gambling winnings. Seeing Las Vegas in the context of the nothingness that surrounds it makes the very existence of the city seem more impressive!

  • 04 of 05

    Medellín International Airport, Colombia

    Medellín Airport
    ••• Medellín's airport welcomes you to scenic Antioquia state. Kamilokardona via Wikimedia Commons

    From a practical perspective, Colombia's Medellín International Airport is disappointing, to say the least. It's nearly two hours by car from the city it serves, which is ironic give Medellín's notoriety for its public transportation system. What Medellín Airport lacks in convenience, however, it more than makes up for in beauty. Set amid the lush mountain landscape of Antioquia, the Colombian department of which Medellín is the capital, Medellín Airport serves as an impossibly alluring welcome to the region, even if the ride into the city would give you a plenty thorough introduction on its own.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Paro International Airport, Bhutan

    Paro Airport, Bhutan
    ••• Paro Airport in Bhutan speaks for itself. Douglas L. McLaughlin via Wikimedia Commons

    Bhutan is already incredibly picturesque, what with its scenic location in the Himalaya. If you aren't already excited about traveling in Bhutan, the preview you receive upon landing at Paro Airport, the country's only international gateway, is going to tantalize you to the point where you'll want to bypass the comfort of your hotel room for an immediate hike. Make sure to book a flight that arrives during the day time to maximize your chances of enjoying the approach, keeping in mind that clouds and fog are unfortunately common occurrences around here.