15 of the world’s most spectacular airport landings

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(Granthshala) – There is so much to love about travel. Experience a new culture. Eating great food. Staying in top-notch hotels… and landing at a new airport.

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Of course, not all airports are created equal. Some have incredible amenities. Some offer easy access to the city. Some make the connection a dream.

And some have really dreamy visions.

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There are plenty of great landing strips around, but the best-known are often located in out-of-the-way destinations. So here we’ve put together some of the most beautiful viewpoints in major destinations – plus which side of the plane to sit on so you can appreciate them.

Rio de Janeiro (SDU)

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Santos Dumont Airport offers sweeping views of Guanabara Bay.

Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket/Getty Images

Roller coasting on hills, backed by lush mountains, and beyond with sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean, Rio is one of the most naturally beautiful settings in the world.

While international flights land at Galleo International Airport, outside the city center, Santos Dumont – the city’s smaller airport – serves several domestic destinations (including shuttle flights to So Paulo).

Not only is it in the center of the city, but it is on reclaimed land, in Guanabara Bay, creating incredible views as you step in or out. Try it right-hand side for a glimpse of Rio’s icons, including Sugarloaf Mountain.

sit on the right

small (VIA)

You will get classic views of the Maldives while flying in or out of Male.

You will get classic views of the Maldives while flying in or out of Male.

Pan Zhiwang / ImagineChina / AP

You would expect a spectacular viewpoint in the Maldives; And that’s what you get at Velana International Airport, which is just a few blocks from Male on the island of Hulhule.

When it was first built in the 1960s, its runway was made of steel slats; These days it’s a standard asphalt surface, although there’s nothing standard about the atoll-splashing Indian Ocean views when you land.

sit on either side

Venice (VCE)

From the air, you can see Venice's network of canals gleaming in the sunlight.

From the air, you can see Venice’s network of canals gleaming in the sunlight.

Mattia Ozbot / Socrates Images / Getty Images

From the air, Venice looks like a fish swimming towards the mainland, flapping its tail against the Adriatic Sea. You don’t see it from the ground, but you come to land at Marco Polo Airport, just north of the city center on the mainland.

Sit on the right side of the plane and you’ll see the city below you, from MOSE flood barriers and Lido Island to terracotta roofs, stocky belltowers, and even the glitter of the Grand Canal. In the last few seconds of the flight you will see the islands of Burano and Torcello before landing among the salt marshes of the northern lagoon.

sit on the right

Cape Town (CPT)

Cape Town is another stunning environment with great arrivals.

Cape Town is another stunning environment with great arrivals.

Sergi Reboredo / VWPCS / AP

Surrounded by two oceans – the Indian and the Atlantic – and behind Table Mountain, Cape Town aligns with Rio de Janeiro for a spectacular natural setting.

Sit on the right hand side and, if you’re on the northwest approach, you should be flying over Table Mountain, looking out over the clouds. You can also see Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula, or fly directly over the ocean and back into the city – in which case, you’ll have views of the water on both sides.

sit on the right

San Francisco (SFO)

Lucky travelers can catch a glimpse of the view of the Golden Gate Bridge while taking off from SFO.

Lucky travelers can catch a glimpse of the view of the Golden Gate Bridge while taking off from SFO.

Josh Adelson / AFP / Getty Images

With its mix of coastline and hills, San Francisco is the knockout spot with Cape Town and Rio for natural beauty, and you’ll find views of the landings at SFO.

It’s best at take-off, when on the left you can often see views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge to the east. Upon landing, you should have views of the water from both sides – the sea view on the left and the Bay Area on the right.

sit on the left

Genoa (Goa)

Genoa's airport is built on reclaimed land in the Mediterranean Sea.

Genoa’s airport is built on reclaimed land in the Mediterranean Sea.

Andrea Izzotti/Alami

There are few better ways to enter the Med than by landing at Genoa’s airport, whose runway is a peninsula of reclaimed land on the Ligurian Sea, just outside the city centre.

Which side to rough depends on whether you’re a fan of the ocean or the cityscape: sit to the right, to see the brightly colored houses of Genoa city center looming under the cliff, with the mountains behind them; If you like dazzling meds, and the feeling of landing on the water, choose to the left – you’ll see the tarmac right before you hit it.

Sit on the right for the city, the left for the water views

London Heathrow (LHR)

This route in London Heathrow will give you prime views of the River Thames.

This route in London Heathrow will give you prime views of the River Thames.

Frederick Solton/Corbis/Getty Images

Heathrow Airport may be a way outside London’s city centre, but if you’re flying on the often-used eastern approach, you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the UK capital as you head into the finals. Arrive at the sights.

You’ll follow the Thames through central London, past Greenwich and Canary Wharf, over London Bridge and St Paul’s, and finally past Buckingham Palace and the royal parks that surround it. You will see Wembley Stadium just before touchdown. Another, less used approach goes over Windsor – although the best views for it are from the left.

sit on the right

Kigali (KGL)

Flying into Kigali offers spectacular views of the lush green countryside of Rwanda.

Flying into Kigali offers spectacular views of the lush green countryside of Rwanda.

alami

Rwanda is beautiful by the air, and landing in the capital, Kigali, shows the country at its best.

Crossing into Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you’ll descend upon lush hills, with red stripes of houses and local earth roads – all backed by mountains in the distance for added drama. On the right, you should see Lake Kivu, which serves as the border between Rwanda and the DCR, before descending to the hills.

sit on the right

Nice (NCE)

Nice definitely a good arrival in the Med.

Nice definitely a good arrival in the Med.

Valerie Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Like Genoa along the coast and Santos Dumont in Rio, Nice’s airport is built on water, with the runway being built on reclaimed land. From the left, as you walk in, you’ll be seen walking past the Cote d’Azur beach, while on the right you’ll see the glistening sea. Sitting on the left for take-off should also give you views of Monaco.

sit on the left

Sao Paulo (GRU)

Sway at night at So Paulo's glowing cityscape.

Sway at night at So Paulo’s glowing cityscape.

Julia Buckley / Granthshala

The largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world, with a population of 12.3 million, So Paulo may feel huge on land, but flying in it is an entirely different thing.

Take an evening flight to see the ultimate urban landscape rolling beneath you – a galaxy of lights so strong that even in cloud cover, those same clouds shine as if they were alive. Wherever you sit (unless it’s on top of the wing) you’ll have a great view.

sit on either side

Innsbruck (INN)

You'll have to swoop over the surrounding mountains to land in Innsbruck.

You’ll have to swoop over the surrounding mountains to land in Innsbruck.

Robert Bukele/Alamy

Nervous fliers want a drink before starting their descent to Innsbruck. The main airport in the Tyrol region of Austria, it is surrounded by mountains – the mountains must clear planes on the final descent before landing in the valley.

Having said that, it is a great gateway – especially in winter, when those same mountains are covered in snow. Spectacular on both sides, though lower down into the valley, the mountains on the left, dotted with villages, are arguably the more interesting to see.

sit on the left

Queenstown (ZQN)

Fly into Queenstown and you can get great views of the Southern Alps.

Fly into Queenstown and you can get great views of the Southern Alps.

Henning Glostein / Reuters

The main issue with flying into the main airport on New Zealand’s South Island is the weather – and that means you can barely get a view.

But if clouds are playing ball, landing here means stunning views of the Southern Alps. On the left you should see the best view of the mountains and the coast of the South Island in front of you.

sit on the left

Hong Kong (HKG)

Fly into Hong Kong for incredible views of the South China Sea.

Fly into Hong Kong for incredible views of the South China Sea.

Nora Tam/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

Hong Kong International Airport (also known as Chep Luck Kok) is built on reclaimed land in the South China Sea, so you already know it’s going to be another great landing. Visibility doesn’t get much, but you’ll still have great views of the South China Sea and its islands as you drop below cloud level.

Close to Lantau Island (usually on the right) and before landing on the tarmac, you’ll swoon over container ships, fishing boats, and junk.

sit on the right

Santiago de Chile (SCL)

Flying into Santiago gives you top views of the Andes.

Flying into Santiago gives you top views of the Andes.

Ricardo Ribas/Alami

If snow-capped mountains are your thing, then this is the destination for you. You’ll have great views of the Andes as you come to descend into the basin, escaping the arid hills and then the plains, those mountains, as you head towards Santiago.

Stay to the left to see the Andes in its entirety below.

sit on the left

Las Vegas (LAS)

Night flights in Vegas show off the neon of the Strip at its best.

Night flights in Vegas show off the neon of the Strip at its best.

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

Sit on the right side of the plane and look north as you land in Sin City for spectacular views of the famous Strip. Make it an evening flight to see the neon lights at their finest, or take off during the day for the never-ending Mojave Desert views around it.

You’ll usually reach over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, while take-off will take you over the sandstone ‘hills’ of Red Rock Canyon.

sit on the right

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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