Finding the biggest European airport.
While the largest airport in the world is actually King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, and many of the other biggest airports worldwide are located in the United States, Europe boasts some incredibly expansive air terminals packed with extensive facilities.
While most major European cities offer a fully equipped International Airport to facilitate travel from around the globe, there are several that stand out above the rest for both the surface area they cover and the amount of daily traffic they receive.
Below we break down both the largest airports in Europe by size and the number of daily passengers and explore some of the ultra-modern, comfortable facilities they provide.
List of the Biggest Airports in Europe by Size
As of 2020, the biggest airport in Europe remains Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, named after the former Prime Minister of the country. Located around 15 miles outside of Paris, this French airport consists of 3 terminals and 4 runways and covers approximately 12.5 square miles of land in total.
The list of the biggest airports in Europe also includes:
- Leonardo da Vinci International Airport – Italy’s largest airport, Leonardo da Vinci is situated roughly 12 miles outside of Rome and first opened in 1960 to serve the Rome Olympic Games of that year. it covers a total of 18 square miles, spread out over 2 operational runways, and 3 large terminals.
- Frankfurt Airport – The biggest airport in Germany, Frankfurt is a major hub for international travel, with almost 60 million passengers passing through in 2013 alone. Spread out over 2 large terminals, it covers a total surface area of over 14 square miles, and an additional terminal is expected to be completed by 2023. However, it may soon have some competition from Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which is still under construction.
- Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport – The second-largest airport in France, Lyon Saint-Exupéry currently covers over 9 square miles of land, including 3 passenger terminals. There is also an additional 5 square miles of undeveloped land on which a new terminal building and runway are expected to be built.
Europes’ fifth-largest airport, Paris Orly, is also located in France, but its status as the main transport hub for the French capital has been overtaken by Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The Busiest Airports in Europe
Although it may be smaller in surface size, the busiest airport in Europe is not actually the largest. That honor falls to London Heathrow Airport, situated around 14 miles outside of the British capital.
Despite only covering around 7 square miles of land, Heathrow welcomes over 80 million passengers annually and is the second busiest airport in the world after Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.
Europes’ largest airport, Charles de Gaulle, comes in a close second to the busiest, with over 72 million annual arrivals. Third-busiest is Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, which, despite only having one huge terminal building, welcomes over 70 million passengers every year.
Other air hubs at which international passengers are likely to arrive in Europe include Frankfurt Airport (69 million annual arrivals), Turkey’s Istanbul Airport (67 million), and Spain’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (57 million).
Best Large Airports in Europe
Some of the largest airports in Europe are also some of its most luxurious. A number of the biggest transport hubs offer a range of modern and comfortable facilities within their terminal buildings.
These include airport mini-suites and pod hotels, exhibition spaces, and even luxury spas, as is the case at Amsterdam Schipol, London Heathrow, and Copenhagen Airport in Demark.
Visitors to Helsinki Airport in Finland are able to relax on a scenic outdoor terrace between their flights, and those with more time to kill can browse the on-site art gallery and aviation museum.
Istanbul Airport boasts an even more expansive exhibition space: the “Treasures of Turkey: Faces of the Throne” Museum. Displaying over 316 artifacts borrowed from museums throughout Turkey, it gives visitors a full overview of the extensive history of the country.
Many of Europe’s biggest airports are also incredibly family-friendly and equipped with more than enough activities to keep even the most restless kids busy during transit. Zurich Airport in Switzerland offers a ‘Family Services’ room stuffed with toys and games, and Munich International Airport in Germany even has a mini-golf course to keep little ones entertained.
And, although much smaller than some of the other air hubs mentioned in this article, Tallinn International Airport in Estonia also offers some great entertainment options if transiting with kids.
Boasting a free library, self-serve cafeteria, and extensive play zones, Tallinn Airport also occassionally gives the children an opportunity to read out announcements over the loudspeakers: not a bad way to spend time between flights!