To Europe! Face-Off: Best Airport for a Layover

Posted by Fodor's Editors on June 2, 2010 at 3:00:00 PM EDT | Post a Comment

Last week's winner is Munich International Airport. Thanks to all who voted and be sure to check back later today for this week's To Europe! Face-Off.

Original post:

We're in week 3 of the To Europe! Face-off. Last week's winner was Emilia-Romagna (Italy). See the original post here.

Thanks to Iceland's volcano Eyjafjallajokull, we all have a new understanding of flight disruptions. Our editors have been debating where they would most like to get stuck. That brings us to this week's To Europe! Face-Off -- European airports for a very long layover: Munich vs. Heathrow.

Have more to say than just a simple vote? Feel free to write a comment to explain your opinion, share a memory of one of the destinations, or simply tell us we're off our rocker because we didn't include your favorite spot in the matchup. The poll will close at 12:00 PM EST Wednesday 6/9, and we'll crown week three's European Face-Off winner later that afternoon.

Munich International Airport Vs. Heathrow International Airport
Munich International Airport
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Heathrow International Airport
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Munich International Airport

Munich International Airport won the prestigious Skytrax World Airport Award for best airport in Europe in 2010 and was ranked number 4 in the world after Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong.

The airport is like a mini-city, with plenty of activities to keep you entertained during a long layover. Experience a true German tradition and have a beer from the world's first airport brewery at the Hofbräuhaus here. For a more active layover, play miniature golf, beach volleyball or soccer, or ice skate in winter. There's also a playground for energetic tykes. Live concerts and 150 shops with downtown prices draw locals to the airport as well.

If you're an airplane aficionado (and German-speaker) you can take advantage of a small cinema showing movies on aviation themes or take a bus tour of the airport's facilities, including maintenance hangars and engine-testing facilities. Looking for some R&R? The airport offers massages at the gate, relaxation zones, and napcabs (soundproof mini-rooms to nap in).

If those are not enough reasons to vote for Munich International, add to them the airport's proximity to Munich proper. Munich is just 17 miles away and is linked to the airport by excellent train service. Trains depart every 10 minutes, and the journey takes about 40 minutes. You can easily head into town and catch the views from the 14th-century Frauenkirche, explore the Deutsches Museum, sample the varied food offerings at the Viktualienmarkt, or stroll through the Englischer Garten.

Heathrow International Airport

There are those who complain about Heathrow's high security and complicated transfers, but when it comes to getting stuck at an airport, it's a pretty good place to be. Heathrow shines for its shops and earned the 2010 Skytrax award for Best Airport Shopping. With British-themed gifts from stores like Harrods and Liberty, you can save your souvenir shopping for here. And don't forget the shops featuring famous designer brands such as Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, and Paul Smith. Heathrow is a shopper's dream.

At Be Relax Spa, in Satellite Terminal 5B, you can treat yourself to a massage or manicure, or relax in one of the YOTEL's cabins, with ensuite bathrooms, free Internet access, and "techno wall" entertainment systems. What better way to refresh from an overnight flight?

Heathrow's trump card is its proximity to central London. If you have a long enough layover, head into the city with either the quick but expensive Heathrow Express or the cheaper Piccadilly Line of the London Tube. Either way you'll be in the city in less than an hour for classic London attractions such as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. You can also take a cab or bus to Windsor to explore Windsor Castle or Eton College.

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