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The Best Airports in Europe for Pre-flight Experience

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, the airport you’re flying from becomes a vital part of your pre-flight experience. Whether you want an airport with lots of shops to browse in, like Frankfurt or Zurich, or one that will satisfy your taste buds with an abundance of restaurants to choose from, such as Amsterdam or Munich every traveler has different needs. All major international airports in Europe offer a variety of pre-flight experiences, so be sure to check out what’s available the next time you fly.

From the world-famous Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London to the bustling Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, this report ranks the busiest airports in Europe on factors such as parking costs, service quality, shops, and restaurants, to reveal the best European airports for best pre-flight experience in 2023. This report also takes a deep dive into data to reveal how the 2023 rankings compare to our 2022 European Airport Index.

1.  Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport – 9.57/10 airport score

Taking first place for the second year in a row is Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, which received an excellent airport score of 9.57 out of 10. The airport remains the busiest airport in Europe, welcoming almost 64.5 million passengers in 2022 alone. The airport also has the highest number of both shops and restaurants out of any European airport, with over 180 stores and more than 100 eateries & bars.

Despite remaining the best airport in Europe for pre-flight experience, Istanbul Airport’s service quality score has actually decreased from 8.30 out of 10 in 2022 to 7.58 out of 10 in 2023. However, Istanbul remains the cheapest airport in Europe, with four-day parking costing around 600 Turkish Lira ($22 / £18 / €21).

2.  Copenhagen Airport – 7.56/10 airport score

Despite having a slightly lower airport score this year at 7.56 out of 10 (compared to 7.63 out of 10 in 2022), Copenhagen Airport has now jumped to second place in the ranking. There are 70 shops in the airport, including affordable options such as Accessorize and WHSmith, as well as high-end options such as Gucci and Mulberry. There are also 47 different restaurants and bars available throughout the airport.

Copenhagen Airport served over 22.1 million passengers in 2022 and received a service quality score of 7.65 out of 10, which is a slight decrease from 8.10 out of 10 the previous year. Parking at the airport for four days will set you back around 696 Danish Krone ($99 / £81 / €93).

3.  Josep Tarradellas Barcelona El-Prat Airport – 7.50/10 airport score

Jumping two places and making its way into the top three this year is Josep Tarradellas Barcelona El-Prat Airport, which received an airport score of 7.50 out of 10 in 2023, compared to 6.91 out of 10 in 2022. The cost of four-day parking at the airport is around €60, which is equivalent to approximately $63 or £52.

There are 46 restaurants and bars in Josep Tarradellas Barcelona El-Prat Airport, including classic fast-food establishments, such as Burger King and McDonald’s, or for those who prefer to relax and have a sit-down meal, there are great options such as La Tramoia and Mussol.

Pre-flight Experience

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