44

Inspired by this, but the complete opposite: What is the most remote airport from the center of the city it supposedly serves?

Personally, I can't think of anything closer than Adelaide Airport (ADL), only 6.0km from Tarntanyangga to the Terminal Dropoff point (as close as you can get to the terminal with a car).

Hong Kong's old Kai Tak would have been close (depending on where you count the 'centre' of Hong Kong to be) but that's long gone.

Are there any others that even come close?

(The only rule I'll stipulate is that it has to be a decent-sized city, 50k+ population; rural towns with 5 houses and a dusty airstrip in their backyards don't count.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez May 3 at 17:42
  • San Jose CA. Airport is pretty much in the middle of the city. – David Jones May 3 at 23:16
  • Unprotected following this Meta question: travel.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5088/… – Willeke May 4 at 8:13
  • How do you determine the centre of a city? On my previous trip I walked from my hostel in Taipei to Songshan International Airport in about an hour. It's also roughly an hour's walk to the main train station, the town hall, and the main post office. The boundary of the city extends far to the north, south, east, and west of where the airport is. – hippietrail Jul 29 at 11:24

30 Answers 30

45

San Diego, California and SAN: about 1.5km from downtown to the airport perimeter, and just over 3 km to the main passenger terminal.

  • 4
    YTZ to downtown Toronto is comparable, as is LAS to the Strip. It's a much more pleasant walk for much more of the year in San Diego, however, so this gets my vote. If they ever rebuild Meigs Field, though, I think KCGX would beat them all. – choster May 2 at 5:14
  • 1
    Proof of how close it is: planes landing into SAN have to fly very close to the buildings in downtown San Diego to approach the runway. – gparyani May 2 at 5:16
  • youtu.be/C48UzJvvL8M (there are many others on Youtube). – pr1268 May 4 at 2:23
  • You'll just be driving down the street, and suddenly there's a plane. – jme May 4 at 21:41
40

Your best bet is Eilat, Israel.

The airstrip and the terminal is literally at the city centre.

enter image description here

Eilat's population as of 2017 is 50,724, so it satisfies your condition of a decent-sized city.

  • 17
    The airport is officially closed now en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eilat_Airport#End_of_operations – Rsf May 2 at 7:37
  • 5
    @Rsf that's great. During the last time I've been there, the noise from the airport was quite bothering while I was sitting in the pool enjoying a drink. Anyway, the answer is still useful because it closed less than two months ago, so it's still very recent history. – Gimelist May 2 at 8:09
  • 3
    Even Sde Dov is right in Tel Aviv too. – Zach Leighton May 2 at 9:02
  • 2
    @ZachLeighton yea, but it’s not at city centre, it’s at the northern residential suburbs. In Eilat, you literally step out of the terminal and cross the street. – Gimelist May 2 at 10:49
  • Noise? that reminds me of a funny little story. Someone was selling their home near the end of the runway in Chicago. They advertised the house as "Close to public transportation". ha. – zipzit May 4 at 13:57
31

It's 1,5 km on foot (1,23 km in a straight line) from the Gibraltar International Airport terminal to the beginning of the Main Street. Although Gibraltar's population is officially only 32k, so I don't know if it's decent-sized enough for the purpose of the question ;)

Google Maps

Gibraltar Airport

  • 1
    Gibraltar was already mentioned in the comments... – Glorfindel May 2 at 7:43
  • 3
    @Glorfindel I guess I didn't expand all comments before posting or simply didn't read it. It's not a "rural town" so I think it deserves a mention in an answer. – Adam Michalik May 2 at 8:15
  • 3
    If you add (and I hope this comment doesn't provoke an international incident) the immediately adjacent Spanish population of 60,000+ people in La Línea de la Concepción, the population of those living on either side of the airport is much larger than 50k, though there is a border crossing in between. – Zach Lipton May 2 at 8:53
  • Since the comment in question got moved to chat, here's a permanent link to it: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/50155693#50155693 (cc @Glorfindel) – gparyani May 4 at 18:22
30

Billy Bishop airport in Toronto is less than a 200m from the Toronto central waterfront. How far it is from the city center depends mostly on how you define city center.

  • ... and it can be reached by walking from the "nominal" city center at Union Station. – ZeroTheHero May 2 at 13:18
  • Even the CN Tower, an extremely good candidate for the centre of Toronto, is only 1.2km away (as the crow flies) – DJClayworth May 2 at 15:38
  • Toronto City Center would have to be on Yonge St. But I'm not sure which cross street to use. Most likely Queen, as City Hall is there. But it's a loose definition. – Chris Cudmore May 2 at 15:40
  • 2
    @DJClayworth As a Torontonian, I certainly wouldn't consider the CN Tower to be the city centre. Yonge and Queen (as ChrisCudmore says) or Bay and Queen (Nathan Philips Square) maybe. But I agree with Chris that it's not really a term that has a lot of meaning in Toronto except for in the vaguest terms. – Alan Munn May 3 at 17:29
20

In Pisa, Italy, there are less than 3 km between the airport terminal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is on the opposite side of the city.

In Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island, Azores) there are 4 km between "city center" and the terminal which is on the furthest end of the runway. But it's about 1,5 km to the closest end of the runway.

There are a lot of airports in Western Europe which are no far than 6 km from the city center they serve. Salzburg - about 3 km, Olbia (Italy, Sardinia) less than 4, Innsbruck - about 4 km, Bremen - about 4 km, Friedrichshafen - less than 5. Airports of Antwerpen, Basel, Düsseldorf, Eindhoven, Florence, Nürnberg, Rotterdam, Palermo and many other cities are within 6 km from the city center.

  • 3
    Pisa should win - it's just under 2km from the terminal to the point that OpenStreetMap considers to be the city centre (on the Ponte di Mezzo). – ecatmur May 2 at 11:51
  • 1
    Isn't Pisa the only city where the people mover doesn't connect to some public transit but to the central train station? – chx May 3 at 23:01
19

It's surprisingly close for a European city, but Reykjavík Domestic Airport (RKV) is only 2.1km from the city center; the closest edge of the airport only half that distance.

Do not confuse it with Keflavík International Airport (KEF) which most people use to fly to Reykjavik; that lies at a comfortable 50km distance.

  • 1
    And Keflavik Airport is not far from Keflavik itself (2,5 km maybe). But there are far less than 50 000 people living in Keflavik. – Neusser May 2 at 10:52
16

Honorable mention should be given to Mexico City. The international airport is about 5km from the city center. That is not the shortest distance, but Mexico City is one of the bigger cities of the world. The airport is completely surrounded by urbanized greater Mexico City. It wasn't that way when the airfield was first built.

  • 1
    the same thing happened in Vietnam. From SGN airport (serving Ho Chi Minh city) to the city center is about ~7km. But nowadays the whole area around the airport is urbanized and the city is the biggest in Vietnam (with a population of 8.7 million people and 13.5 million people in the metropolitan area) even though it was a rural area when the airport was built – phuclv May 4 at 0:52
13

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is maybe six kilometers from the White House, and less than half that to the Pentagon (which is in Arlington, as is the airport).

  • It is about 6 kilometers by road from the White House. But as the crow flies it is much closer to the city center. (Arguably it is the city center.) – emory May 2 at 15:21
  • @emory it's not even in the city; how could it be arguably the city center? The city center is around 4th and L, NW. – phoog May 2 at 15:35
  • you could argue the city center is around 4th and L NW. I could argue the city center is in Arlington. Since there is no one competent to adjudicate the argument, it will go unresolved. – emory May 2 at 15:46
  • 5
    @emory Arlington isn't part of the District of Columbia. On what would you base your argument that the center of the District of Columbia is in Arlington? – phoog May 2 at 16:03
  • The arrival end of rwy19 is also 3 km from the Washington Monument on the National Mall and 2 km from the Jefferson Memorial. – reirab May 3 at 20:13
13

Taipei's smaller, more central and less internationally known airport (Taipei Songshan Airport) is very, very close to the city center at about 3km - 4.5km depending on what you consider the center of Taipei.

It's also the only city on this list that is a megacity and a capital of a country.

https://goo.gl/maps/YcQjhkbsn7ddAMgaA

  • 1
    Washington, D.C. is the capital of a country and its metro area (9.76 million) is more populous than Taipei's (7.03 million.) However, the actual official municipality of Taipei is more populous than Washington, where the vast majority of people don't actually live in the official city. – reirab May 3 at 21:39
  • 1
    @reirab and if you consider the DC metropolitan area, then National airport certainly is pretty much right in the center. But that would be true for many other airports, I should think. La Guardia comes to mind, as do SFO, OAK, and SJC, especially if it weren't for that pesky bay, as well as some of the others mentioned in other answers here. – phoog May 3 at 22:07
  • Yes I walked from my hostel to this airport for my flight to mainland China in about an hour on my previous trip. It came straight to mind when reading this question but it made me wonder what would be considered the centre of Taipei since there's Taipei in every direction around the airport for miles and miles. – hippietrail Jul 29 at 11:35
12

I like the previous answers as well, but I'd put Gibraltar as a contender. It literally bisects an urban thoroughfare and I walked from the major airplane to my hotel with my luggage and could walk from the airport to any location in the city - if you happen to not be able, there are taxis, etc.

enter image description here

  • 3
    What do you think of the previous (11 hours) answer by Adam Michalik? – Henning Makholm May 5 at 1:38
11

CXH must be it. Not sure what the center of Vancouver even is, but it's 500m from Waterfront Station which is the most important transit hub in Vancouver and 800m from Vancouver City Center station which, I guess, could be called the center of the city? It is a floatplane terminal, sure, but it has domestic and international flights both. There are more than 50000 people living in Vancouver. Even the downtown peninsula has more according to census data.

It also has the distinct advantage of being a 30 minute walk from my home :)

  • 1
    If we count seaplane terminals, we should count heliports as well. The NYC Manhattan Heliport is 400 metres from Wall Street. – Claus Jørgensen May 4 at 21:49
  • Does it have international flights...? – chx May 4 at 23:13
  • @ClausJørgensen There are heliports everywhere in cities - probably right on top of some downtown buildings. – J... May 5 at 11:22
  • Robson and Thurlow where there used to be two Starbucks just has to be the city centre (-: – hippietrail Jul 29 at 11:39
10

St. Martin, population 32,000, has the airport right on the beach.

747 landing at St. MartinImage source

People have been hurt due to this.

  • 11
    Doesn't meet the question criteria. Which city is this airpot supposed to serve? There is no even a city name in the airport's name. – Neusser May 2 at 10:26
  • 5
    The whole constituent country has a populaton of just over 30k. TNCM is actually about 5km from the centre of Philipsburg, the capital, which itself has a population of a mere 1300. Arguably, the island is only about 10km across, but in that context the airport is about as far away as you can put it. – J... May 2 at 12:57
  • 1
    Yeah, if we didn't count population, Kangerlussuaq International Airport (Greenland) is basically the city, but the city population is only 300 (yet the airport serves the entire Greenland as it's international hub) – Claus Jørgensen May 6 at 3:10
10

Belize City's (57k inhabitants) Municipal airport is literally downtown.

Belize City

10

Not the closest, but from Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to what OSM calls the city center is only about 2.1 km on foot. Google map couldn't point out the true center but you'll need a walking distance of 2.5 km to the central railway station, 2.5 km to the central Dragon bridge and 3.2 km to the central market

Da Nang map example

Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam, and the 3rd largest city in Vietnam with a population of more than 1.2 million people in 2019. It's dubbed "the most livable city in Vietnam"

9

Las Vegas airport perimeter to the Strip is about two blocks/1.5km

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/36.1144423,-115.1639602/36.1007993,-115.16383/@36.1088893,-115.1689542,15.25z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e2

  • 3
    "to the strip" isn't the city center, it's maybe only one mile to the strip but 5 miles to the city center – GittingGud May 2 at 7:20
  • 10
    @GittingGud In fairness, convenience to the city center is used as a proxy for the overall convenience of the airport, but LAS is an example where the vast majority of travelers are not interested in the city at all (even the convention center is outside the municipal limits). They could put in a new airport next door to the Golden Nugget, and most people would still prefer to fly into McCarran. – choster May 2 at 15:00
  • 1
    @choster You are of course right but if you want to compare it to other locations you need a common point of reference and the official city center is the only "objective" point to be taken. And the whole point of this question is to compare it to others so you should take an objective measurement everybody can make in every city. – GittingGud May 3 at 5:18
9

Boston Logan airport's Terminal C, the farthest from the center of the city, is 3.4 km (2.1 miles) as the crow flies from Downtown Crossing.

  • This was my first thought too – nigel222 May 2 at 18:46
9

Allow me to nominate Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport. Burbank is a suburb of Los Angeles with over 100,000 population in its own right. The airport is downtown, to the extent downtown is meaningful with sprawl.

9

It's probably not the sort of airport you're thinking of, but in Washington State, it's 800 meters from Kenmore City Hall to the docks of Kenmore Air Harbor. And yes, it does have an airline operating regularly scheduled flights: Kenmore Air.

(Also in the Seattle area: the docks of Lake Union Seaplane Terminal are about 1100 meters from the Space Needle, and for a more traditional airport, the perimeter of Renton Municipal is about 1300 meters from Renton City Hall.)

  • 3
    If Kenmore air counts then Vancouver's coal harbour water landing strip is also very close to downtown :) – JonathanReez May 3 at 23:05
  • 1
    How far is it from something that would be recognized as the center of Vancouver? – Mark May 3 at 23:19
  • 2
    About 800 meters from Vancouver Art Gallery, which could be considered the city center. – JonathanReez May 3 at 23:34
  • Strictly speaking Kenmore city doesn't meet the 50,000 population requirement either. ;) – JJJ May 4 at 13:03
9

Cuenca, Ecuador. Population >300k - the SW end of the runway is closer to downtown than it is to the NE end of the runway.

enter image description here

  • Was going to post this as an answer, I flew to there in January and was amazed when landing – BritishSam Jul 30 at 15:09
  • @BritishSam No kidding. And it's the international airport. Lots of places have a regional airport closer to the city center but this is one of the big ones. – J... Jul 30 at 15:58
  • I think it's just regional at the moment, only to and from Quito. Aren't they looking at building an airport outside the city to be international? It's a great city and could benefit well from South American tourism, I liked it a lot more than Quito. – BritishSam Jul 31 at 8:47
  • @BritishSam Seems you're right. The runway is quite short, but I suppose it was international at some point, given the name. Either that or someone was just having a laugh! Quito was just rebuilt in 2013, itself previously a slightly larger, but similarly sketchy strip in the middle of a city. Maybe that was partly a catalyst. Don't really know the history of this airport or what used to fly here. – J... Jul 31 at 10:56
9

Fukuoka International Airport (FUK) serves Fukuoka, a major city in Japan with a population of around 2.5 million people. It's less than 3km to the city center, and is only 6 minutes (2 stops) with the subway. Can't think of any other airport in the world where you can be in the city center in that amount of time with public transportation. The international terminal (southwest of the runway) is even closer at just above 2km.

Hakata Station to Fukuoka Airport

7

London City Airport (LCY) and Berlin Tempelhof Airport (THF) should both be in the running, though Tempelhof is closed now.

  • 2
    London City Airport to Bank station is 6.5 miles according to Google Maps (just looked it up). So unlikely to win a pure short distance competition. London is vast; Bank Station is at least the centre of the financial district. Not sure is there is an official centre, Westminster (houses of parliament) is somewhat further. – nigel222 May 2 at 18:44
  • 2
    @nigel222 the "center of London" for measuring road travel distances is usually taken as Charing Cross, which is just south of Trafalgar Square. Not quite as far away from LCY as the houses of parliament, but not enough to affect the OP's question. – alephzero May 3 at 22:33
  • 2
    The still running Berlin Tegel is barely further from the (West) centre than Berlin Tempelhof. – Konrad Rudolph May 4 at 8:23
  • 2
    "I'm from Hammersmith, in London." - 2009 Amanda ....... "I'm familiar with a Hammersmith, but it's nowhere near London." - 1813 Fitzwilliam Darcy – Harper May 4 at 12:41
6

Taillinn, Estonia (TLL) is remarkably close to the city; depending on how you count, it's about 6-7 KM to the city center.

6

Honorary mention

Trivandrum International Airport, which serves Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India is just 4 KM walking distance from literal city center, Kerala Secretariat. Straight line distance will be lot less. And the airport marks the western edge of the city.

TRV Airport

6

Does Taipa count as "downtown Macao"? If so, the Macau International Airport's air terminal is maybe about 1-2km straight-line distance from the center of Taipa. By foot or by car, the distance is closer to 3km, but still very short.

Now, "cheating" time:

  • the New Chitose International Airport (CTS) is less than 5km to the downtown of Chitose, Hokkaido (pop. 97,458), although most passengers arriving at CTS are heading towards Sapporo;
  • the Komatsu Airport (KMQ, co-located with the JASDF Komatsu Base) is less than 4km away from the city of Komatsu, Ishikawa (pop. 106,531), although most passengers access Kanazawa.
  • Taipa does not count as downtown Macao: most residents live on the main island instead. To the Ruins of St Paul's, the straight-line distance is around 6 km, by road it is 8.3 km. – Toby Mak Jul 30 at 11:16
  • @TobyMak The main part of Macao is actually a peninsula. But yes, while now many Macao residents live in Taipa instead, it is contentious whether Taipa should count as part of the downtown. – xuq01 Jul 31 at 2:00
5

Copenhagen Airport Kastrup (pop 602k) is 6-7km from the city centre.

Lisbon Airport Portela (pop 504k) is also around 6km from the city centre.

And both are capital cities.

Some more:

Bilbao Airport, Spain (pop 345k) is also only around 4km from the city centre as the crow flies, but due to mountains it's a 12km drive.

Macapá International Airport, Brazil (pop 369k) is less than 2km from the city centre (I've personally walked to this airport)

Val de Cans International Airport (Belém, pop 143k), Brazil is around 4km from the city centre.

Similar, Fortaleza (population 862k) have the airport inside the city, around 2km from the city centre.

And the airport of Leticia, Amazonas (population ~42000) is 200 metre from the city centre. The city is intertwined with Tabatinga in Brazil (population ~59000), who also have it's own airport roughly 800 metres from the city center.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan (pop ~770k) also have a airport in the city. Now I disagree with what Google marks as the city centre, but if we're to use it, then the airport is only 12-1500 metres from the centre.

And staying in the same region, Bishkek's international airport (Kyrgyzstan, pop 900k) is about 2km from the city centre.

Basically anywhere where landmass isn't an issue, it seems airports are very close to the city centre, as building the airports and metropolisation of the cities often happened at the same time.

4

Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) is 4-6 km away from the center.

Google Maps of Marrakesh

3

Mashable has an article on living on an aircraft carrier. In it they quote a high-ranking Navy officer:

Rear Admiral Batchelder described a carrier as being like a “small floating city," of which the captain is essentially mayor.

If you'd consider a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier a city, then you'd get really close. The schematic below by the U.S. Naval institute shows the inside of a (future) Royal Navy aircraft carrier:

enter image description here

As you can see, the officers' quarters are only just below the landing deck on the right. The galleys seem to be mostly in the middle of the ship (according to the image). In conclusion, you could say the distance from the landing strip to the city is negligible, in the order of metres.

  • 3
    Obviously an aircraft carrier is not an airport. – Neusser May 2 at 19:04
  • 4
    @Neusser obviously? For example, Wikipedia lists aircraft carriers on its page on military airports: "An aircraft carrier is a type of naval ship which serves as a seaborne air base, the development of which has greatly enhanced the capabilities of modern air forces. " The same page uses the term 'military airport' synonymously with the term 'air base'. It's certainly different from a civilian airport, but it has many things in common (mainly that it's a place designed for planes to take off and land). – JJJ May 2 at 19:12
  • 2
    Airplanes taking off and landing there doesn't make it an airport, just like people living there doesn't make it a city. – Mike Harris May 2 at 20:33
  • 3
    Yes. Obviously an aircraft carrier is not an airport nor is it a city... – insidesin May 3 at 0:13
  • 6
    @MikeHarris With a crew of ~6000, I'd say it's on par at least with a small town (but clearly too small for OP's contraint of >50k pop). And what is an airport if not "a place where planes land and take off"? Just because it floats on water instead of magma doesn't really change the nature of human activity going on there. – J... May 3 at 12:55
3

The airport in Billings, MT (BIL) is on a ridge overlooking downtown. The east end of the runway is barely a mile from city hall and the courthouse (which is where many places consider the "center of town" for purposes of mileage signs, etc).

map of Billings with measurement

1

Saratov (Саратов) Airport is 1.5 km from Saratov downtown.

enter image description here

Unfortunately, there are immediate plans to tear it down in favor of new Gagarin airport.

Same, to lesser extent, with Irkutsk (stranded passengers from Europe-Asia flights that went wrong) and Krasnodar airport.

-2

Stockholm Bromma is in the running can’t be more than 1-2km from city center

  • A simple Google maps direction shows it's at least 9 kilometer. – Jan Doggen Jul 29 at 18:57
  • 1
    I make it 7 km from the geometric center of the E20 highway to the closest point on the perimeter of the airport. – Mark Jul 29 at 20:15

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