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Your favorite train station?

A post from Nelly, a self-proclaimed train geek, got me thinking about how much I love train stations in Europe!

What are your favorites, and why?

Some of mine are:

Milano Centrale for architecture, size, all trains on one level, and that big city vibe of lots of people going places for a million different reasons.

Antwerpen for architecture and the fact that diamond stores in the terminal outnumber the chocolate shops (although I can only afford the chocolate).

Roma Termini because it gets me to Roma (but also, sadly, away from it), and for the ruins of ancient walls nearby and at the lower level of the station.

Koln for its proximity to the Cathedral and the river.

Venezia Santa Lucia for the view from the steps as you leave the station.

Posted by
28842 posts

My number one by a long mile is the newly rebuilt Antwerpen Centraal. I have never before seen trains on 4 levels, and so many ways to go between levels. Besides which, there's a Media Markt right outside.

I like Basel SBB because of the very airy feel of the bridge floor between platforms, excellent tram service to it, a neat town, and the far end of the station has a full sized Media Markt.

The newly reopened extremely airy and full of shops Birmingham New Street is fabulous, but somebody needs to rethink the three departure lounge idea which doesn't work - oh they are, whew....

Any and all stations along the line of the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. Absolutely amazing.

I love the way that several stations in Switzerland have multi mode transport in or immediately adjacent to the stations, including ships and trams. Interlaken Ost, Luzern, Zug, Brig, amongst others.

The old heavy imposing facades and platform covers of many British stations - St Pancras, Marylebone, Paddington, York, Shrewsbury.

And Luzern, already mentioned, for its facade.

Gare de Lyon for the murals, and who would ever expect 2 separate sets of tracks on one level in the same station? Basel SBB gets another look in with their murals.

And for sheer old wooden beauty, and some murals and ancient signs, Haarlem.

Posted by
13541 posts

Not in Europe, but the Kyoto train station is amazing.

Posted by
6589 posts

I'll jump onboard (pun intended) with Antwerpen. It's the most amazing train station architecture I've ever seen. I had a great photo that I took there enlarged and framed and hanging on my wall at home. One of my favorite photo memories of Europe.

Posted by
1938 posts

Also not in Europe, but... Union Station in Washington, DC. It's absolutely gorgeous. It has a baggage check room. When you walk out, you see the Capitol dome, and you have an easy walk to the Mall, with all the free museums. I once took the train from Raleigh, NC to Portland, ME - attended pottery workshop, with instructor who was greatly influenced by Southeast Asian pottery - took the train back. On the way back, realized that there was an 8 hour layover in DC. Checked my bag in Union Station, walked to the Mall, went into the Sackler Museum, found two rooms-full of ancient Southeast Asian pottery, the likes of which had influenced my instructor. Really made the trip.

Posted by
13396 posts

Some of the interesting train stations I like are: St Pancras, Berlin Hbf. Potsdam Hbf, Gare Montparnasse (Paris), Budapest Keleti pu, Leipzig Hbf, Kiel Hbf ( for a smaller station). I used to find Lüneburg train station had a special charm with its old fashion "Bahnhofsgaststätte"...all gone after the station was remodeled.

Posted by
1218 posts

Julio Prestes station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, now mostly converted in a concert hall
Zürich Hauptbahnof
The recently rebuilt Innsbruck Hbf
Reggio Emilia AV (Mediopadana), incredible design by Santiago Calatrava
Madrid Atocha

And a few stations deep in my hearth:
Firenze SMN (not bad at all as modernist architecture)
Shinagawa Station (ugly but sporting several very beautiful shopping malls)
Disentis, Switzerland (the old design was way better than the present one)

Posted by
4932 posts

Hi Zoe,

What a great post, thank you!

My favorite train station(s)?

Milano Centrale is so beautiful, as you already mentioned, for it's architecture, size, & all the people hustling to & fro.

I think the Toledo (Spain) train station is magnificent!
Even though the station is small, I love the Mudejár architecture, the stained glass windows, the tile decorated floor & walls,
the original ticket stalls (no longer in use) with it's tiny windows, with wrought iron & wood detailing.
Even the ceiling is a work of art, with it's carved wood decorations & the wrought iron chandeliers hanging down from it.
The station also has a great clock tower!

Madrid's Puerta de Atocha train station is also beautiful, for it's massive size, the tropical garden in the midst of the ground floor, & the exterior facade's architecture.
This station is much larger than Milano Centrale, so I found it a bit overwhelming when trying to figure out which level to go to!
Their luggage storage facility is such a great deal, especially if you want to travel to Toledo without your luggage for a day or for a week!

Posted by
715 posts

Honestly I love them all. It means I am traveling. I especially love the small ones for small towns, love the cafes in them as well, nothing fancy just people going about their day mixed with a wide variety of travelers. I enjoy people watching while I wait.

Posted by
4637 posts

Hard to choose. There are so many. O.K. Two of them are not in Europe. Union Station in Washington D.C. and Grand Central in New York. In Europe: super modern Hauptbahnhof in Berlin and small pretty station painted with folklor ornaments in Uherske Hradiste which won the first price as the most beautiful train station in the Czech Republic.
http://www.cestovani.idnes.cz/nejkrasnejsim-nadrazim-v-cesku-pro-rok-2011-je-uherske-hradiste-ptv-/po-cesku.aspx?c=A110617_101430-igcechy_tom

Posted by
8889 posts

Venice Santa Lucia
Not for the station itself, that is a fairly bland concrete terminus, but for what you see when you step outside.
If you walk out the front of King's Cross or St Pancras, you see the Euston road solid with traffic, Gare du Nord or Gare de Lyon the same (though the architecture is distinctly Parisian). Milano Centrale is imposing, but surrounded by Italian traffic.
You step out the front of Venezia Santa Lucia and in front of you is the Grand Canal, full of boats of all shapes and sizes. It is a total what-the-f##k visual slap in the face.
This is what you see: https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6159/6217423863_ab5f1ea8be_z.jpg
And a photo in the other direction: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8318/8021827849_5378d8e7b8_b.jpg

Second choice, Amsterdam Centraal: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Amsterdam_%286578785683%29.jpg

Posted by
13396 posts

I forgot to add Paddington to my list...very interesting with a good deal of features.

Posted by
15326 posts

With Priscilla - the 2 that came to mind immediately were Toledo and Madrid. Guess my all-time favorite is the Orsay, though.

Posted by
3936 posts

I'm with Chris and Zoe on Venice. I instantly fell in love with Venice when I walked out the train stn doors on our first trip and the grand canal was laid out before me. Three subsequent trips - two of which involved arriving by train - and I still got that tingle and thrill walking out the station doors.

I've been thru a lot of train stations but not many of them leap out in my mind. They are usually so full of people that I miss enjoying them. I did enjoy our time in St Pancras one early morning. We'd arrived about 7am or so to Heathrow and had to go to St P to catch the Eurostar. Not a whole lot of people around at that time of morning (I have a photo of the clock - it was 8:30am) and we basically had to sit and relax and wait for our train, so we did some admiring. Waterloo as well - probably because of the huge open space and the proliferation of trains and just the people passing thru from all corners of the world!

But I'm usually so worried about which track the train is on, I fail to look at the architecture!

Posted by
8013 posts

I'm with Keith, the big men outside Helsinki's central train station, and the lettering, and the directional words in several languages embedded in the floor . . .

Have a soft spot in my heart for Budapest's Nyugati palyaudvar, as it was "my" train station for arriving in and leaving Budapest when I was teaching English in Kecskemét (and an Eiffel creation, to boot!).

I'm curious to check out Marylebone station now that Nigel mentions it.

And I like Chani's point about the Gare d'Orsay, as well! Also agree about arriving in Venice by train. There's something about arriving there as normally as you do anywhere else, and then stepping outside to another world altogether.

Fun question Zoe! I'm sure others will come to mind, but those two for me are immediate.

Posted by
18 posts

For me it will always be Gare du Nord in Paris.

Between the ages of 2 and 13 (beginning in the mid 70's) I had spent so much time travelling thru there that it had almost became a second home and I knew the entire complex like the back of my hand.

To say the least, my sister and I did not have the most ideal childhood...mom would pack us up and leave to France from America whenever she would pick a fight with our poor dad; or whenever the mood would strike to visit our grandmother (sounds like fun and adventure but it truly wasn't)...so every couple of weeks or months we would be back on a plane crossing from either SFO (my favorite airport) or LAX to Paris and then on to Lille and Roubaix in the north.

Gare du Nord has beautiful architecture inside and out with a vast hall leading to tracks and tracks of trains with the smell drawing you closer to your travels - it was so inviting when I was a small child; and I remember well when you could sit in enclosed waiting rooms so quiet from the bustling noise outside that one can attempt to nap...and I remember the luggage lockers - trying to find a group of them to fit all of ours (mom traveled like a movie star)

I know the grander of the place has long ago been gone; I know I will no longer be able to wonder the passages, lost in adventure. I know it is no longer the safe place it once was...but the memories make me want to go back 'home'