World's best airport: Munich Airport is Europe's best, and it might be the world's

There's a European airport that has its own brewery. A real brewery. It has a beer garden too, one that is actually covered by a glass roof but which still feels like it's out in the open, where beer is brewed and sausages are served and pretzels are gnawed on.

This would be a great thing in any airport in the world, except here it's even better, because it's a genuine celebration of local culture. Munich, in southern Germany, is known for its breweries and its beer gardens. And so, its airport has both of them.

At Airbrau you can get a mass – a traditional one-litre glass – of delicious weissbier. You can pair it with a pork knuckle or a schnitzel or a plate full of Bavarian sausages. You can eat and drink with the sun on your face and oompah music in your ears. Truly brilliant. You'll never want to leave.

Except, of course, you have to, because your flight is being called.

This is Munich International Airport, and it's good. It's very, very good. It's so good that you forget you're in a European airport at all, you forget the hell of Heathrow and the drudgery of de Galle and the fight of Fiumicino and you just relax and enjoy yourself.

Munich International. You want to fly through this airport. It's the best in Europe, surely. The best, possibly, in the world.

To begin with, Munich has all of the modern facilities that you would expect from a great air hub. It has wide, clean concourses, plenty of security and passport control lanes, and enough staff to keep the queues moving. Flights are usually on time, too – this is one of the world's most punctual airports.

Munich Airport has free WiFi throughout. It has lounges. It has all the duty-free shopping and dining options you need.

And then there's the really good stuff, the stuff you don't find at many other airports in the world. It has "Napcabs": private sleeping pods available for €10 an hour. It has an entire VIP wing, too, that's accessible to anyone willing to stump up the €319 entry fee (though that gets you everything from showers to food to access to the "Herrenchiemsee Castle" relaxation suite).


There's also "Kinderland", a supervised play area for children where, for €2 an hour, you can let your kids run wild while you retire to the Parents Lounge for a coffee and some internet use.

Confused about where you are and what there is to do? There are video information desks throughout Munich International. You stand in front of them, press the language you wish to converse in, and someone (a real person) appears on the screen, ready to help out.

There's a pharmacy here, plus access to doctors and physiotherapists. There's a visitors' park outside the terminal area that has an open-air playground, an observation hill for plane-spotters, mini-golf, and a few old aircraft that you're free to explore.

But even then, you're not getting to what makes Munich International really special.

The world's best airports, in my opinion, are the ones make some sort of effort to reflect the culture of the city they represent, that give visitors a travel experience even if they're just calling through for a few hours. Think Singapore Changi with its in-house hawker centre and its Gardens by the Bay-style indoor waterfall; Tokyo Haneda and its Edo-era market and second outlets of famous Tokyo restaurants; Seoul-Incheon and its golf driving range and cultural tours.

Imagine it in Australia. Melbourne airport could have tiny cafes with milk-crate seats; Sydney could have bouncers telling you to stop drinking so much. (To be fair, Melbourne Airport has had a summer pop-up beer garden in the past, and next month will indeed open Australia's first airport brewery.)

Munich, the city, is known for its beer and its beer gardens. This is the home of Oktoberfest. There are six major breweries based here, and an embarrassment of beautiful, open-air venues in which to sample their fine products.

And so it makes sense that in an ideal world Munich the airport would also have a brewery and a venue in which to drink. And the happy news is that it does.

Airbrau. Feast on a pork knuckle, be entertained by band members dressed in lederhosen and dirndls, and guzzle one of the brewery's seasonal or standard beers, brewed on-site. Sit in the sunshine. Live the dream. Oh and then, eventually, go through security and board your flight.

Munich International probably isn't, in truth, the best airport in the world. It's almost impossible to beat Changi, such is its wealth of facilities, and Haneda is also truly great.

But as far as Europe goes, where you come to expect queues and crush, expensive ground transport, the bare minimum of services and a hassle to access them, Munich is at the top. You want to fly through this airport.

The writer travelled at his own expense.

What's your favourite European airport? Are there any that can compare to the major Asian hubs? Have you been to Munich? What did you think?



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