When I was backpacking solo in Europe early this year, there was one thing that I realized: traveling across Europe is made so much easier using the railway system!
Of course, it can be expensive, too, but it’s cheaper sometimes than taking the plane, and definitely faster than taking the bus.
Except in a few cities, I did try to take pictures of the train stations in Europe that I passed through. Here are some of my favorites (or at least the memorable ones!).
I arrived in Bremen via carpooling, and the driver dropped me off at the railway station. My friend Elma had given me directions on where to go, telling me to take Tram 21 to her house just a few stops away.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that she said “tram,” and I went inside the station, desperately asking one person after another to direct me to the right ride. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t speak English.
I stayed on this spot for at least an hour, trying unsuccessfully to find someone who could understand me. The 6th person I asked finally told me that I was in the wrong place, and that the trains passing by here were for regional trips.
I had never felt so helpless before, but still, it was memorable because I realized how easier things could have been if only I spoke a bit of German.
I arrived in Copenhagen at 5 in the morning via Eurolines. The bus dropped me off at a bus stop (they didn’t have a bus terminal there), a little bit dazed from having woken up suddenly and afraid that I had slept through my stop and arrived all the way to Oslo.
When I got off, I realized that it was drizzling and I didn’t have an umbrella, and getting wet is definitely not fun at dawn (or any other time) on a winter month!
At 5 a.m., it was still very dark, and I didn’t know where to find the central railway station where my host in Copenhagen, Nis, was supposed to meet me. I just walked in the same direction the bus had taken, and I was very glad to see the station after a few minutes.
One reason why I liked this station was that there were so many restaurants open already around that time, not to mention it protected me from the cold. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy anything, not even coffee, because I didn’t realize the Danes use kroner and not euros and I didn’t bother changing my money.
As with most metro stations in Europe that I had visited, Vienna’s make it so much easier to go around and see the city’s sights.
This is where I got off when I went to see the Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a must-see for all visitors to Vienna.
The Roma Termini is the biggest station I’ve been to in my travels in Europe. It has almost 30 platforms and kilometers to walk from the first to the last platform.
From where I get the tickets, for example, to the platform where I usually take my ride to my Couchsurfing host’s place in Acqua Acetosa, I had to walk for more than 500 meters.
Once, I arrived an hour earlier than my scheduled trip, so I sat reading for a while, waiting for the announcement of which platform my train was going to be.
Unfortunately, I got so engrossed in my reading (as well as thinking about the fountains in Rome that I’d seen that day) that I only had 3 minutes to spare to catch my train!
I ran all the way to the platform but it was so far that I missed it. I had to take another train to a different station that had me walking the rest of the way to my host’s house, not really a fun thing to do at 10 p.m., especially since I didn’t have a map and had to rely on street signs to guide me.
Prague, Czech Republic
I loved the designs of the metro stations in Prague. Somehow it reminds me of Lego blocks. Most of the stations I’d seen there were of the same look, only differing in color.
One interesting thing about the Náměstí Míru station is that it has the longest escalator in the European Union at 87 meters. There are 533 steps, and if ever the electricity goes off, it would be a great way to work out!
While ordinary-looking, Athens’ metro stations are wonderful. There are artworks and sculptures everywhere, especially in the Acropolis station. It was also in Athens when I experienced being given a free ticket.
A lot of people buy tickets that are good for a day, and when they’re going home, they just give them out to people who are just about to buy one.
Coming from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Austria, I was really very surprised when I arrived in Budapest.
Their metro system looked really old and decrepit by comparison! There were railway employees as well who manually checked our tickets, something that I was definitely not used to in Europe. I remember thinking, “Is this a 3rd world country?”
After spending a day there, though, I managed to let go of my preconceived notions about what European countries should be and learned to appreciate the charms of this old city.
And finally, here are my favorites!
I only stayed a day in Dresden but I really loved the city.
I spent most of my day exploring the old town, and I remember thinking that if I were given a choice of where to live, I’d do so here.
Hamburg is one of the richest cities in Europe, and you can see that in their buildings and commercial structures. Their central station looks pretty cool (and busy), with a shopping center and other facilities inside.
I also loved it that they played classical music there, which I later learned was a strategy to drive away drug dealers and users from the area. Weird eh?
Antwerp Central is one of the most beautiful stations in the world, and it is my favorite. While the facade is already a beauty, it is even more wonderful inside. It has lavishly decorated interiors composed of 20 kinds of marble and stone, and its dome, arches, and glass materials have made it known as the “Railway Cathedral.”
Antwerp is also famous for its diamonds, and inside the station are around 30 diamond shops as well as a diamond gallery.
How about you? What’s your favorite train station?