Not every airport is a sprawling concrete jungle
Airport terminals can often be dingy, overcrowded and unwelcoming places. We believe flying should be a pleasure and not a chore, so we have put together a list of the ten most inspirational airport buildings in the world
10. Washington Dulles, USA – A timeless classic designed by legendary Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen (Gateway Arch, the Tulip chair), the 'hanging' roof takes its cue from the wings of a bird in flight.
- Direct flights to Washington Dulles are available from London, with new flights from Manchester and Dublin also starting this summer.
9. Beijing Capital (Terminal 3), China – A Lord Foster triumph highlighting that big can be beautiful (it is larger than all of Heathrow's five terminals combined).
- Direct flights to Beijing are available from London Heathrow, with new flights from Gatwick also starting in March.
8. Kuala Lumpur International (Satellite Terminal A), Malaysia – Home to most international arrivals and departures at this ultra-modern airport, Satellite Terminal A features its very own mini-rainforest.
- Direct flights to Kuala Lumpur are available from London Heathrow.
7. Helsinki (Terminal 2), Finland – A classic example of Finnish simplicity, Helsinki Airport's Terminal 2 is a perfect marriage of style and substance.
- flights to Helsinki are available from London, Edinburgh and Manchester, and also from Dublin.
6. Denver International, USA – This airport's dramatic tented roof reflects the magnificent peaks of the nearby Rocky Mountains. A unique passenger bridge over the taxiway provides great views for plane spotter geeks like the Flightmapping crew.
- Direct flights to Denver are available from London Heathrow.
5. London Stansted, UK – Lord Foster's forest of steel is a marvel of symmetry and clean lines. What a pity airport operator BAA has desecrated the integrity of the building by developing it into an overcrowded shopping mall.
- flights from Stansted operate to numerous destinations throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.
4. Paris Charles de Gaulle (Terminal 2), France – It is little wonder U2 shot large chunks of their 'Beautiful Day' video inside this terminal building. The epic sweeping roof is simply breathtaking.
- flights to Paris Charles De Gaulle are available from most major airports in the UK & Ireland.
3. Jeddah King Abdulaziz (Hajj Terminal), Saudi Arabia – Only used during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to nearby Mecca, this truly stunning structure is topped by a sea of peaks resembling traditional Arab tents.
- Direct flights to Jeddah are available from London Heathrow.
2. Riyadh King Khalid International, Saudi Arabia – Opulent even by oil-rich Middle Eastern standards, this terminal's roof structure was designed to resemble the interior of a vast mosque. Back at ground level, a host of water features makes it easy to forget that the airport is surrounded by scorching desert.
- Direct flights to Riyadh are available from London Heathrow. Visa required for entry into Saudi Arabia unless in transit.
1. Madrid Barajas (Terminal 4), Spain – The flowing roof structure and usage of vibrant colour is Lord Rogers at his best. The exposed workings take inspiration from two of the British architect's other most famous works, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyd's Building in London. What a pity that Heathrow Terminal 5, which was also designed by Lord Rogers, is so sterile in comparison.
- flights to Madrid are available from many airports in the UK, and also from Dublin - see listings for full details.