These are the 15 airports with the most spectacular views upon landing

(CNN) — There are many things to enjoy while traveling. Get to know a new culture. Eat well. Stay in the best hotels… Land at the new airport.


Of course, not all airports are the same. Some have amazing services. Some facilitate access to the city. Some people make connections a nightmare.

And there are some dream scenes.

There are many spectacular airstrips, but the most popular are often located in remote locations. That's why we better appreciate some of the beautiful arrivals from major destinations with a seat on the side of the plane.

Rio de Janeiro (SDU)

Saints Dumont

Santos Dumont Airport offers panoramic views of Guanabara Bay. Credit: Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/Light Rocket/Getty Images

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world because it has mountains, green hills, fine sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.

While international flights land at Galeão International Airport outside the city center, the city's smaller airport, Santos Dumont, serves many domestic destinations (including connecting flights to Sao Paulo).

It allows you to enjoy incredible views not only in the center of the city, but also in the middle of Guanabara Bay, on land reclaimed from the sea, when entering or leaving. Sit right to see Rio icons like the Pão de Açúcar mountain.

Sit on the right.

Male (VIA)

Maldives Airport

Enjoy classic Maldivian views as you enter and exit Male. Credit: Pan Zhiwang/Imaginechina/AP

Expect a spectacular entry into the Maldives, and that's what you get at Velana International Airport, a short drive from Male on the island of Hulhule.

When it was first built in the 1960s, it had a steel slat track; Today it's a standard asphalt surface, though there's nothing standard about the views of the atoll-dotted Indian Ocean upon landing.

Sit anywhere.

Venice (VCE)

Venice

From the air, Venice's network of canals shimmers in the sunlight. Credit: Mattia Ozbot/Socrates Images/Getty Images

Seen from the air, Venice looks like a fish, its tail bobbing against the Adriatic towards dry land. It cannot be seen from the ground, but can be seen on the mainland, north of the city center, when landing at Marco Polo Airport.

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Seated on the right side of the plane, see the city below your feet, from MOSE fog barriers and Lido Island to terracotta rooftops, burly bell towers and views of the Grand Canal. In the last seconds of the flight, you will see the islands of Burano and Torcello before descending on the salt flats of the North Lake.

Sit on the right.

Cape Town (CPT)

City end

Cape Town is another stunning setting… with an amazing visit. Credit: Sergi Reboredo/VWPCS/AP

Surrounded by two oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic, and backed by Table Mountain, Cape Town ranks with Rio de Janeiro for spectacular scenery.

Keeping to the right, if you come in a northwesterly direction, you will pass Table Mountain looming above the clouds. You can also see Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula, or fly directly over the sea and back to the city, where you'll get views of the water on both sides.

Sit on the right.

San Francisco (SFO)

San Francisco

Lucky passengers can catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge while flying from SFO. Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

With its mix of beaches and mountains, San Francisco ranks with Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro for natural beauty.

The best views are available on departure, with views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge to the left before heading east. On landing, both sides offer views of the sea to the left and the bay to the right.

Sit on the left.

Genoa (GOA)

Genoa

Aerial view of Genoa airport and harbor from an airplane. Credit: Andrea Izzotti/Alamy Stock Photo

There are few better ways to enter the Mediterranean than by landing at Genoa Airport, whose runway is a peninsula of land reclaimed from the Ligurian Sea just outside the city center.

Which side you choose depends on whether you prefer sea or city views: if you want to see the brightly colored houses of central Genoa slide down the cliff, the mountains rising behind them, sit to the right; If you want the sparkling Mediterranean and the feeling of landing in the water, choose left: you'll see the runway just before you touch it.

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Sit right to see the city, left to see the water.

London Heathrow (LHR)

The Thames

The route to London's Heathrow Airport offers outstanding views of the River Thames. Credit: Frédéric Soltan/Corbis/Getty Images

Heathrow Airport may be a long way from central London, but if you fly the much-used eastern approach, you'll get a bird's-eye view of the British capital to your right as you fly over its landmarks on final approach.

You'll pass the River Thames through central London, Greenwich and Canary Wharf, London Bridge and St Paul's, and finally Buckingham Palace and its surrounding Royal Parks. Just before touching down, you'll catch a glimpse of Wembley Stadium. Another, less-used approach bypasses Windsor, although the best views are from the left.

Sit on the right.

Kigali (KGL)

Kigali

Flying to Kigali offers stunning views of the lush Rwandan countryside. Credit: 506 Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Rwanda is beautiful from the air, and landing in the capital, Kigali, shows the country in all its glory.
Driving from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Rwanda, you descend through green hills, red lines of houses and local dirt roads, all backed by mountains in the distance for drama. To the right, you can see Lake Kivu, which serves as the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, before you descend into the mountains.

Sit on the right

Nice (NCE)

Nice

Nice is undoubtedly a pleasant visit in the Mediterranean. Credit: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Airports such as Genoa on the coast and Santos Dumont in Rio are built on water with runways salvaged from the sea. From the left side, you can see the Côte d'Azur beach in front of you as you arrive, and to the right you will see the glimmer of the sea. If you sit on the left for departure, you can also see views of Monaco.

Sit on the left

Sao Paulo (GRU)

Sao Paulo Landing

Fly by night over São Paulo's dazzling cityscape. Julia Buckley/CNN

São Paulo, the world's largest Portuguese-speaking city of 12.3 million people, may seem intimidatingly large on the ground, but flying there is something else entirely.

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Take a night flight to see the ultimate cityscape beneath your feet: a constellation of lights that shine so brightly that even when it's overcast, the same clouds glow as if they were alive. From any seat (as long as it's not on the wing) you'll enjoy a brilliant view.

Sit on either side

Innsbruck (INN)

Innsbruck

You have to fly over the surrounding mountains to land in Innsbruck. Credit: Robert Buchel/Alamy Stock Photo

Nervous travelers will want a drink before starting their descent into Innsbruck. The main airport in the Austrian region of Tyrol is surrounded by mountains, and planes must travel a final descent before reaching the valley for landing.

It is a magnificent entry, especially in winter when the same mountains are covered with snow. Both sides are spectacular, although in the valley, the hills on the left, dotted with villages, are undoubtedly the most interesting.

Sit on the left

Queenstown (ZQN)

QueenstownIf you fly into Queenstown, you'll get spectacular views of the Southern Alps. Credit: Henning Clostein/Reuters

Weather is a major problem when flying into New Zealand's South Island's main airport, and you won't be able to enjoy the views.

But cloud permitting, landing here means enjoying spectacular views of the Southern Alps. The left offers excellent views of the mountains and coastline of the South Island.

Sit on the left

Hong Kong (HKG)

Hong Kong

Fly to Hong Kong for incredible views of the South China Sea. Credit: Nora Tam/South China Morning Post/Getty Images Hong Kong International Airport (also known as Chep Lak Kok) is built on land reclaimed from the South China Sea, so you know it's going to be another big landing. Visibility isn't usually great, but when you're below cloud level you'll still enjoy spectacular views of the South China Sea and its islands.

You will fly over container ships, fishing vessels and junks before landing near Landau Island (usually to the right) and reaching the runway.

Sit on the right

Santiago de Chile (SCL)

Santiago de Chile

Flying to Santiago allows you to enjoy unbeatable views of the Andes. Credit: Ricardo Ribas/Alamy Stock Photo

If snowy mountains are your thing, this is your destination. As you approach Santiago you get stunning views of the Andes, giving way to dry mountains and then plains, with mountains rising in the distance, as you enter the basin to land.

Stay on the left side so as not to lose sight of the Andes throughout the descent.

Sit on the left

Las Vegas (LAS)

Las Vegas

Night flights to Las Vegas show the neon of the Strip in all its glory. Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

As you land in Sin City, sit on the right side of the plane and face north for spectacular views of the famous Strip. Take a night flight to see the neon lights in all their glory, or fly during the day to explore the endless surrounding Mojave Desert.
You'll usually fly over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, while flights pass over the sandstone “hills” of Red Rock Canyon.

Sit on the right

Eden Hayes

"Wannabe gamer. Subtly charming beer buff. General pop culture trailblazer. Incurable thinker. Certified analyst."

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