The Top 10 International Airports
This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
Travelers certainly spent less time in the air over the past year, but their love of flying — starting with a world-class on-the-ground experience — hasn't waned. In fact, many of the top facilities posted higher scores this year than they did in 2020, as readers recalled the excellent service, wonderful meals, and seamless connections they've enjoyed at some of the best international airports around the globe.
Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated airports on access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.
Voters were once again impressed by airports in Asia, with six of the top 10 winners located in that part of the world. Three of those six were in Japan, including No. 6 Haneda (Tokyo International) Airport and No. 8 Narita International Airport.
Moving up two places from last year, No. 3 Incheon International, near Seoul, received high praise for having clean, comfortable facilities that make long-haul travel a little easier. "My favorite airport in the world," said one voter, who appreciated the "access to free, clean, and nice shower rooms, plus a quiet area for napping." Others called Incheon well-run and said its dizzying array of restaurants was a serious plus. One voter also mentioned the airport's "wonderful choice of city tours to make the most of a long layover."
Elsewhere, No. 2 Istanbul Airport earned high marks, as did No. 9 Zurich Airport, which posted a better score in this year's voting than in 2020. Two international hubs in the Middle East also rated highly among Travel + Leisure readers, with Dubai International Airport coming in fourth, followed closely by Doha, Qatar's Hamad International in fifth.
But in the end, it was another airport in Asia that took the top spot. Read on to learn why No. 1 Singapore Changi Airport continues to wow readers, earning its ninth consecutive first-place ranking, as well as which other international airports impressed this year.
1. Singapore Changi Airport
Considered the best of the best by T+L readers for nearly a decade, Changi continues its dominance of the World's Best Awards this year. Though the pandemic has curtailed many trips to Singapore, the city-state's jaw-dropping international airport remains beloved for its nearly flawless operations, marvelous array of restaurants (including many that serve local fare), and plenty of things to see and do, including a butterfly garden, a cinema, even a rooftop pool. "It is unquestionably the best airport in the world, with lots of shopping, dining, and fabulous areas for children," said one voter. "It really is as good as everyone says it is," added another respondent. Even travelers who weren't expecting to enjoy Changi found themselves singing its praises. "I was stuck there for three hours — thanks to my airline, not the airport — and it didn't bother me at all because there's so much to see and do," said one convert.
More information: changiairport.com
2. Istanbul Airport
More information: istairport.com
3. Incheon International Airport, South Korea
More information: airport.kr
4. Dubai International Airport
More information: dubai-international-airport.com
5. Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
More information: dohahamadairport.com
6. Haneda (Tokyo International) Airport
More information: haneda-airport.jp
7. Hong Kong International Airport
More information: hongkongairport.com
8. Narita International Airport, Japan
More information: narita-airport.jp
9. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
More information: zurich-airport.com
10. Osaka International Airport, Japan
More information: kansai-airport.or.jp
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.