Five of the Most Unusual Airports in the World

The thrill of dodging suitcases, sorting your tickets and sprinting to your gate. Does anyone even remember that indescribable feeling of being at an airport anymore? They’re not always the most stress-free of environments to begin a holiday with, but that doesn’t mean they lack quirkiness. Singapore’s Changi Airport has certainly set the bar high; with its free foot massages, butterfly garden and huge waterfall, but let’s not forget the other memorable airports across the globe!

Read on as we explore five of the most unusual around the world…

1. Barra Airport, Scotland

This unusual airport is one of the only places in the world to use a beach as a landing strip and of all places it’s in Scotland! Barra Airport is an extremely unique airport located in the Outer Hebrides and flights are dependent on tidal times. As planes arrive here from the mainland of Scotland, they use one of three sand runways in the shape of a triangle that help pilots land and take off in any winds. When the beach is open to the public it is popular for cockle picking.

A plane landing on the sand runway at Barra Airport
A plane landing at Barra Airport © Calum Macphee

2. Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar

This British Overseas Territory at the Southern tip of Spain attracts more than 10 million tourists each year, but to fly here means landing on one of the scariest runways in the world. That’s because it also doubles as a road! Winston Churchill Avenue is one of the busiest roads in Gibraltar and it just so happens that it directly intersects the runway. Which means every time a plane takes off or lands it has to be closed to cars and pedestrians. And just to make it even more nerve racking, the end of the runway extends into the sea!

Winston Churchill Avenue Road crossing Gibraltar International Airport's runway.
Cars crossing Gibraltar International Airport’s runway. © Mike McBey

3. Vancouver International Airport, Canada

There’s not many airports where you can enjoy viewing ocean creatures before jetting off to the skies! Vancouver International boasts the largest airport aquarium in the world with it’s 114,000 litre tank full of marine plants and animals. Inside the award-winning aquatic museum lives a number of sea creatures: including eels, urchins and tiger-fish, whilst the smaller 1,800 litre tank is home to jellyfish. They were added to the terminal in 2007 and were designed to showcase British Columbia’s underwater ecosystems.

Vancouver Airport's aquarium
Vancouver Airport’s aquarium © andytaylor1234567

Want some tropical goodness before stepping onboard your flight? You can get just that at Kuala Lumpur’s unusual airport jungle. Take a walk along the boardwalk to see waterfalls and the foliage inside that has spent two decades expanding into what it is today. It is perhaps a reflection of how much this international airport in Malaysia has blossomed within the last 20 years of it opening.

The inner airport jungle at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
The inner airport jungle at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) © Uwe Schwarzbach

5. Don Mueang International Airport, Thailand

How would you feel hitting a golf ball with just 20 yards to a runway? Don Mueang Airport is a commercial and military airbase in Bangkok with an extremely unique feature right in the middle of its runways… A golf course! Combining plane spotting and golfing, the Kantarat Golf Course is the only place in the world to get a fix of both. Photos and videos are strictly banned here and every player is escorted by a caddie. You even have to go through a metal security gate to get through to the course. Don’t forget your ear plugs if you ever end up teeing off here!

Golfers at Kantarat Golf Course as a plane takes off from Don Mueang International Airport
Golfers at Kantarat Golf Course as a plane takes off from Don Mueang International Airport © Tim Graves

There really are some pretty cool runways around the world that set your trips off on a high. Whether you’re a fan of flying or not, I think we can all agree that these airports are pretty unique! Let us know in the comment section the most unusual place you’ve flown out of! 

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Charlotte Barcham
Charlotte Barcham
Aviation Journalist - A 22-year-old Multimedia Journalism graduate with by-lines in the Kentish Express, Charlotte is a travel and aviation enthusiast, covering the latest news for Travel Radar. On the side she loves visual media, with a licensed video used for an Aer Lingus advert. Outside of travel, she is a third-dan black belt in Taekwondo and also enjoys running, reading and exploring!


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