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.

Colorful wide angle view of Giant waterfall in Jewel, Changi Airport at night, Singapore
Getty Images

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

Departures hall at Changi Airport in Singapore
Miguel Vidal/Getty Images

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.

Score: 93.45
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2. Istanbul Airport

Large open waiting space in Istanbul's modern international airport, with passengers walking throughout the area prior to boarding their flights from nearby gates - Istanbul, Turkey
Nate Hovee/Getty Images

Score: 91.17
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3. Incheon International Airport, South Korea

People transit the Incheon International Airport, South Korea
Subodh Agnihotri/Getty Images

Score: 89.15
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4. Dubai International Airport

Dubai Airport, Dubai Metro trains and Highway at night
Harith Samarawickrama/Getty Images

Score: 89.04
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5. Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar

Many tourists are in the Hamad International Airport Terminal with Big Yellow Bear Sculpture
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Score: 87.43
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6. Haneda (Tokyo International) Airport

Tokyo Haneda International Airport in the sunrise time
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Score: 87.14
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7. Hong Kong International Airport

Passengers enjoy their meals at the departure hall of Hong Kong International Airport
Ivan Abreu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Score: 85.79
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8. Narita International Airport, Japan

Vehicles parked outside the Terminal 1 building at Narita Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Score: 83.22
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9. Zurich Airport, Switzerland

SBB train at Zurich Airport railway station in Switzerland.
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Score: 82.19
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10. Osaka International Airport, Japan

Osaka International Airport Itami in Hyogo prefecture of Japan
Taro Hama/Getty Images

Score: 82.07
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See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.

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