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These New Airports Are Making Bucket-List Destinations More Accessible

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The most difficult leg of a trip—especially on long international journeys—is making that last flight connection or lengthy ground transfer to your final destination. Those final couple hours in transit, when the effects of jet lag are rearing up and patience is running thin, can be laborious and time-consuming, but are often necessary in order to reach some of the world's most remote destinations.

Now, a new crop of well-located airports seek to make some of these historically out-of-the-way regions more accessible to international travel. Forget about the shuttle bus or puddle-jumper flight: these eight new airports—which have either just opened or are currently under construction–will make it that much easier than ever to reach bucket-list destinations around the world.

Previously, most international travelers flew into Cancún and drove two hours in order to reach Tulum.

Aerial view of the Akumal Bay in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Caribbean Sea, coral reef, top view. Beautiful tropical paradise beach

Previously, most international travelers flew into Cancún and drove two hours in order to reach Tulum.
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Tulum, Mexico

Thanks to the new Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport, it is easier than ever for international travelers to reach the seaside escape of Tulum, one of Mexico's most popular tourist hubs. The airport officially opened to domestic flights in December 2023 and will welcome international airlines beginning March 28, 2024. Multiple routes from American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue, and Spirit will launch throughout the year. Previously, travelers would typically need to fly into Cancún and drive about 80 miles south to access Tulum, a two-hour road trip that the new facility will mercifully eliminate for many passengers.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

In November 2023, Cambodia inaugurated a brand new airport in Siem Reap, the gateway city to Angkor Wat, the UNESCO-listed ancient temple complex that’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The new airport, which replaces an older Siem Reap facility built in the 1930s, is about 25 miles east of the Angkor Wat temple complex. That’s further away from the archeological site than the original airport, which sat just over three miles away, but the new airport will make it easier for more tourists to access Angkor Wat. Thanks to its size, it can handle larger planes used on nonstop international flights and accommodate up to seven million passengers annually, with plans to grow that capacity to a whopping 40 million people per year by 2040.

The new Amalfi Coast airport opens this July, with the first flights operated by the Spanish airline Volotea.

Pier and cityscape in Amalfi, Campania, Italy

The new Amalfi Coast airport opens this July, with the first flights operated by the Spanish airline Volotea.
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Amalfi Coast, Italy

Starting this summer, visiting the candy-colored buildings perched high above the azure waters of the Amalfi Coast will be less of a headache for travelers. That's because the popular tourist spot in Southern Italy is finally getting its own commercial airport. The town is converting what used to be a military airport, and later a private airport, to a facility to be used by everyday travelers. The first flights are set to take off on July 11 and will be operated by Spanish airline Volotea, with routes from Nantes, France, and Cagliri, Sardinia, according to CNN. However, the complete renovation is not scheduled to be complete until 2026, and other airlines and routes will be added along the way.

Nuuk, Greenland

In one of the country’s most significant moves to enhance tourism, Greenland is debuting a major expansion of the airport in its capital city, Nuuk. The new airport’s runway will be double the size of the old one—big enough to handle nonstop flights from destinations in North America and Europe. That means much more simplified travel for international visitors, who would previously have to transit through the small town of Kangerlussuaq. The new terminal building is expected to be operational by May 2024, with the full facility up and running by the end of November.

Dominica's first international airport is scheduled to complete construction by 2026.

Dominica, Caribbean, Freshwater Lake in Morne Trois Pitons National Park listed as World Heritage by UNESCO

Dominica's first international airport is scheduled to complete construction by 2026.
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Dominica

The “Nature Island” of the Caribbean—Dominica—started construction on its first international airport in late 2023. It’s set to be one of the island’s largest construction projects ever. When it’s completed by 2026, the new airport will replace the current regional facility that has just three gates. By contrast, the international airport is slated to serve more than 20 airlines from the Caribbean, Europe, and North America, each of which will be able to fly directly to Dominica, the country’s prime minister said in 2022, making it easier for far-flung tourists to access the island without needing to make a connection.

Dominica is one of our Best Places to Go in North America & the Caribbean in 2024, part of our global guide to the Best Places to Go in 2024—find more travel inspiration here.

Western Sydney, Australia

‌A second airport in Australia’s capital is set to bring a host of advantages when it starts operations in 2026. The Western Sydney airport, also called Nancy-Bird Walton airport, is currently being constructed further inland from Sydney's current airport. For locals who live farther on the outskirts, that means not having to trek all the way into eastern Sydney to catch your flight. For visitors, the airport’s location on the western edge of the city will be an ideal gateway for travelers wanting to explore the nearby Blue Mountains National Park, known for its striking cliffs, waterfalls, and unique sandstone formations. Plus, it could mean less crowded airport spaces, too. The facility on the opposite side of the city will also take some capacity pressure off of the current Sydney airport: Western Sydney airport will be able to handle 10 million passengers a year when it launches.

The Chinchero airport will serve as an international gateway to Machu Picchu, but it is not without its controversies.

Machu Picchu Inca ruins in the Andes Mountains

The Chinchero airport will serve as an international gateway to Machu Picchu, but it is not without its controversies.
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Peru's Sacred Valley

For the more than 1.5 million travelers who visit Machu Picchu every year, a simpler transit option will be available starting in 2026: Chinchero airport, located smack dab in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Currently, international visitors to Machu Picchu usually must fly into Lima and connect to Cusco, which doesn’t accommodate many international flights and sits about 46 miles away from the archaeological site. They then must take a train the rest of the way. Chinchero airport will be able to serve nonstop flights from North America and major cities throughout South America and act as a direct gateway to Machu Picchu. The project is not without its controversies, however. Critics of the Chinchero airport say its construction is endangering ancient Incan archaeological sites, as activists voice concerns that the noise pollution from the planes and subsequent traffic will cause irreparable damage to the fragile environment.

Gelephu Mindfulness City, Bhutan

The Himalayan Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan has announced it’s building a second international airport as part of an ambitious project to create a brand new modern city from scratch. The sustainable community, called Gelephu Mindfulness City, will see the construction of a new 1,000-square-kilometer economic and tourist hub near the current town of Gelephu, which sits on the country’s southwestern border with India. In addition to the new international airport, the large city will feature a new university, spiritual and cultural centers, and healthcare facilities. Although there is not yet a set date for the completion of the airport, when it opens it will be an important new option for tourists wishing to explore the southern and western regions of Bhutan, home to attractions like Royal Manas National Park and Phrumsengla National Park.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler