Beautiful train stations of the world. Photo: KnowInsiders
Beautiful train stations of the world. Photo: KnowInsiders

Train travel has since fallen in and out of favor. Recently, the growth of high-speed rail has been accompanied by an interest in restoring and building iconic train stations.

Often the first sight you set eyes on in a new city, the world’s train stations and terminals are some of the best places to experience the history, culture, and style of a destination. These stunning, storied buildings see millions of travelers pass through their halls each year, and are guaranteed to lend a little vacation inspiration. Plus, learn which incredible rail journeys you can embark on to see these stations for yourself.

The List of 10 Most Beautiful Train Stations Around the World

1. Estação de São Bento, Porto, Portugal

2. Gare du Nord, Paris, France

3. Liège-Guillemins, Belgium

4. Antwerp Centraal Station, Belgium

5. Amsterdam Centraal Station – Amsterdam, Netherlands

6. Milano Centrale – Milan, Italy

7. Kanazawa Station, Ishikawa, Japan

8. St. Pancras International station, London

9. CFM Railway Station, Maputo, Mozambique

10. Estación de Madrid Atocha, Madrid, Spain

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Which are the 10 Most Beautiful Train Stations Around the World?

1. Estação de São Bento, Porto, Portugal

Photo: Historias da Historia - SAPO
Photo: Historias da Historia - SAPO

The first train pulled into the station in São Bento in 1896. Architect Marques da Silva drew inspiration from Parisian architecture for its exterior and, inside, artist Jorge Colaço spent 14 years crafting a massive azulejo tile mural.

Even those in a hurry slow down to gaze upon its 20,000 hand-painted, tin-glazed, blue and white tiles. This is a busy destination for trains heading to the suburbs of Porto, as well as to and from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon.

2. Gare du Nord, Paris, France

Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

This station in the central 10th Arrondissement is one of the busiest and most picture-perfect in Europe. The façade is sculpted with 23 statues representing Amsterdam, Vienna, and other destinations served by the Chemin de Fer du Nord company. The interior is just as lovely, especially when the sun filters through the panels of the glass and cast-iron roof to the platforms below.

How to See It: Gare du Nord looks especially fine when you pull in from Charles de Gaulle airport or from London via the Eurostar. If you can’t make it overseas, look for this Neoclassical station in movies such as Amélie and The Bourne Identity.

3. Liège-Guillemins, Belgium

Photo: ArchDaily
Photo: ArchDaily

Architect Santiago Calatrava is known for his undulating white structures, and his design for this station in Liège, Belgium, fits the mold. The open-air building, which was completed in 2009, features soaring white beams that form a massive arch over the tracks. It’s the third iteration of the station, with the first one built in the Beaux Arts style in 1842 and the second built in the International style in 1958.

The design of glass, steel, and white concrete by Santiago Calatrava has earned accolades in contemporary architecture, and the light that permeates the structure makes a long, commute much kinder.

4. Antwerp Centraal Station, Belgium

Photo: Pinterest
Photo: Pinterest

King Leopold II spared no expense in building the Antwerp Centraal Station at the turn of the 20th century. Completed in 1905, the opulent neo-Baroque station contains more than 20 types of marble and stone. A handsome antique clock marks the time for passengers waiting to catch a train under the iron and glass vaulted ceiling. Though it was originally built as the terminus of the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp railway line, the station now functions as a through-station for commuter trains, intercity trains, and Thalys high speed trains connecting Amsterdam to Paris and Lille via Belgium.

5. Amsterdam Centraal Station – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Photo: Heygo
Photo: Heygo

If Amsterdam’s Centraal Station looks familiar, it’s because it shares the same architect as the city’s famed Rijksmuseum. Pierre Cuypers designed both buildings in his signature Gothic/Renaissance Revival style. Twin turrets and stone reliefs celebrate Amsterdam’s industrial and commercial importance, and echo the aesthetic of a medieval cathedral. The most-visited National Heritage Site in the Netherlands, Centraal Station marked the city’s transition from a seafaring port to an inland economic center.

6. Milano Centrale – Milan, Italy

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Originally modeled after Union Station in Washington, D.C., after decades of construction, the imposing Milano Centrale station became a symbol of the power and dominance of Mussolini’s Fascist regime. Mythological winged creatures and Roman symbols adorn the façade, and 11,000 cubic meters of marble gleam at every turn. Every detail is meant to impress, including lofty arched ceilings in the arrival hall, and a canopy over the tracks that is large enough to cover ten football fields.

7. Kanazawa Station, Ishikawa, Japan

Photo: Nerd Nomads
Photo: Nerd Nomads

When Kanazawa’s 1898 station was upgraded in 2005, initial reactions were mixed. The addition of the ultramodern glass-and-steel dome and giant drum-shaped wood gate struck many as ill-fitting. But visitors continue to flock to the station's dramatic add-ons, and the new structures’ allure competes handily with the historic town’s other attractions, including a geisha district and former samurai quarters

The introduction of such large-scale modern architecture to this traditional town was not particularly well-received at the time but has since attracted its fair share of admirers.

8. St. Pancras International station, London

Photo: Culture Trip
Photo: Culture Trip

St. Pancras International station’s immense halls greet people arriving in London from all over the UK, France, and Belgium on the Eurostar. The station took 20 years to build, and when it was completed in 1868, it was the largest enclosed space in the world. The red brick Gothic façade remains a testament to England’s great Victorian architecture, even surviving the Blitz during WWII. During the war, it was an important escape route and meeting point for the Allied soldiers.

The imposing Victorian structure has a red-brick, Gothic facade that is unyielding. But the station softens inside, where one can grab a seat at Europe’s longest champagne bar.

9. CFM Railway Station, Maputo, Mozambique

Photo: Skyscraper City Forum
Photo: Skyscraper City Forum

The bronze dome of Maputo’s central rail station cuts an impressive silhouette against the uncluttered skyline that surrounds it. A high-water mark of Portuguese colonial architecture—built by Alfredo Augusto Lisboa de Lima, Mário Veiga, and Ferreira da Costa and completed in 1916—the station overlooks Praça dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Square). The modestly handsome structure features a mint-green-and-white exterior, wrought-iron latticework, and a display of antique steam locomotives.

10. Estación de Madrid Atocha, Madrid, Spain

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

This station’s most striking feature is the lush greenery of the tropical garden growing in its main concourse. It was Madrid‘s first and largest train station when built in 1851, but a 1992 fire forced the building of a more modern structure adjacent to the historical one.

Though trains now leave from the new building, the original Atocha station structure is alive with shops, cafes, and even a nightclub.

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