For some travelers, airports and runways are just a means to an end – a necessary stop on the way to their destination. But for others, they are an attraction in their own right. From breathtaking mountain vistas to perilous descents over water, the world’s most scenic and unusual airports and runways offer a unique experience for aviation enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike.
1. Paro Airport, Bhutan
Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, Paro Airport in Bhutan is surrounded by towering peaks and deep valleys, making it one of the most scenic airports in the world. But its beauty comes at a price – the runway is only 6,500 feet long, making it one of the shortest commercial runways in the world. Pilots must navigate a narrow valley and make a steep descent to land safely.
2. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba
If you’re looking for a truly unique airport experience, look no further than Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on the Caribbean island of Saba. With a runway just 1,300 feet long, it’s one of the shortest commercial runways in the world. But what really sets it apart is its location – the runway is perched on a narrow strip of land between towering cliffs and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
3. Courchevel Altiport, France
If you’re a skier, you’ll love Courchevel Altiport in the French Alps. Located at an altitude of 6,588 feet, it’s one of the highest airports in Europe. But what makes it truly unique is its runway – at just 525 meters long and with a gradient of 18.5%, it’s one of the most challenging runways in the world. Pilots must make a steep descent onto the runway and then quickly brake to avoid overshooting the end.
4. Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
For many aviation enthusiasts, Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten is a bucket-list destination. That’s because planes must make a perilous descent just feet above the heads of beachgoers at Maho Beach. It’s a thrilling experience for passengers and spectators alike, but pilots must be skilled to pull off such a dramatic approach.
5. Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar
Gibraltar International Airport is one of the few airports in the world where the runway intersects with a major road. In fact, traffic must stop when planes take off or land. But what makes Gibraltar truly unique is its location – the airport is located on a narrow strip of land between Gibraltar’s famous rock and the Mediterranean Sea. Pilots must navigate changing winds and turbulent air currents to land safely.
- Whether you’re a seasoned aviation enthusiast or just looking for a unique travel experience, these airports and runways offer something for everyone. So why not add them to your bucket list and experience the thrill of landing in some of the world’s most scenic and unusual locations?