Train transport allows passengers to not only travel efficiently, but enjoy a scenic ride while doing so. Train travel may not be as fast as hopping a flight, but it certainly offers a more inspiring journey — especially if you pass through one of these historic and beautifully-crafted stations.
These are our picks for the world’s most stunning train stations.
Antwerp Central Station, Antwerp, Belgium
This stoic, stone-clad train station has been in operation in Antwerp since 1905. The exaggerated domed ceiling lends a prominent air and the spacious interior is downright regal. Local architects Jan Van Asperen and Clement van Bogaert along with Louis Delacenserie are credited with the station’s design — a style so eclectic that experts find themselves hard-pressed to define it. Whatever its classification, the Antwerp Central Station is regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium and has been voted one of the most beautiful train stations in the world by Newsweek and Time.
São Bento Station, Porto, Portugal
The exterior of the Sao Bento Station is a striking example of 20th century French Beaux-Arts architecture, but it’s the interior walls, which are composed of 20,000 blue and white hand-painted ceramic tiles (known in Portuguese as azulejos), that really steal the show. Jorge Calaco — the artist credited with creating the jaw-dropping masterpiece — took 11 years to complete the floor-to-ceiling murals that depict the history of transportation as well as some of the country’s most epic battles.
Atocha Station, Madrid, Spain
When the original terminal went out of service in 1992, Spain’s capital train station was reinvented with the addition of a nightclub, a gorgeous tropical garden menagerie and a couple of cafes. Passengers pass through the old terminal to enter the new steel and glass concourse — now the largest railway station in Madrid — which serves commuter trains, intercity and regional trains along with high-speed trains from Barcelona, Seville and Valencia.
Gare Du Nord, Paris, France
A prime example of the Beaux-Arts architectural style, this train station’s façade is adorned with 23 statues representing the European cities it serves. It claims the title of busiest train station in Europe with 222 million people passing through annually. Completed in 1864, Gare du Nord is the brainchild of French architect Jacques Hittorff, but the finished project was truly a group effort; many other artists’ works are represented in the sculptures. The interior of this train station is just as impressive, especially when the rays of sun beam through the arched windows. Its overall attractiveness has earned it cameos in many movies and TV shows, including The Bourne Identity, Ocean’s Twelve and Gossip Girl.
Grand Central Terminal, New York City, New York
This world-famous landmark, glimmering in gold and shimmering in marble, has served as one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks since its opening in 1913. Grand Central Station is so much more than Midtown Manhattan’s transportation hub — with 60 shops, 35 restaurants and a calendar full of events, it’s an American cultural experience. The elegant architectural design has been a source of pride for New Yorkers for over 100 years, solidifying the station as one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. While the lofted ceilings and spacious layout is breathtaking on its own, it’s the meticulous attention to detail that has most folks in awe. From the zodiac ceiling mural, ornamental inscriptions and the elegant chandeliers, to the bronze statues and the stone carvings, the entire structure is a work of art.
St. Pancras International, London, England
Welcoming travelers arriving on the Eurostar from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and all over the U.K., St. Pancras International is a bustling transportation hub with good looks to boot. The façade is an endless wall of red brick with towering turrets that frame the London skyline. To put it into perspective, this train station was the largest enclosed space in the world upon its completion in 1868. Although its interior size has been surpassed, St. Pancras still stands as one of London’s most prized buildings.