Traveling by train is one of my favorite things about being in Europe. During my three months in Europe last Fall, I managed to take the train 30 times (and yet just one delay!). I love the ease of traveling by train and getting to see the landscape roll by. And there is just something about those grand European train stations that an airport can’t match.
It was for these reasons that I caught myself snapping photos of almost every single train station I went to. Some qualified as those grand stations while others were little more than a single platform and a small building with a vending machine, a ticket booth, and a toilet. There were stations that took my breath away (Madrid’s Atocha station is one) and others that I couldn’t wait to get out of.
The Grandest – Antwerp: There are people everywhere taking photos in this beautiful station (especially in front of the staircase). But the beauty of this place is almost immediately forgotten when you walk outside and into a very ugly street scene.
Marseille: My one and only train delay was during a transfer in Marseille. Even though it was raining, I decided to walk around and admire this gorgeous station. It’s best viewed from the outside (especially the beautiful steps leading up to the station).
Cologne: I spent just a few hours in Cologne between Brussels and Colmar. I went out of my way to visit the city which is easy to do if you travel by train. Many of the main sights, including the famous (and massive) cathedral, are right near the station. The platforms of this station are the epitome of Euro train travel (in my opinion).
Rotterdam: Another quick stop, this time between the Netherlands and Belgium. I had the unfortunate experience of getting my luggage stuck in a locker which was far from ideal, but this was resolved with time to spare (and to explore the city). The station’s exterior is quite striking! And it’s easy to get from the station to points around the city if you’re only visiting for a few hours.
Madrid: The Atocha station is remarkable for its greenery. I was blown away when I first walked in and it remained one of my favorites. (Tip: Don’t buy a coffee before going through security – you will have to dump it out!)
Brussels: Brussels Nord and Brussels Centraal are not really that grand, but they are quite beautiful in their own way.
Toledo: This train station is not large, but it is incredibly beautiful and designed with Moorish details. I was one of many snapping photos after arriving here. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in this place waiting for their train back to Madrid?
Strasbourg: Best seen from the outside which features artwork by FAILE.
Salon de Provence: The car park is about 4x the size of the station. This was the typical small-town station (of which I saw many: Narbonne, Lezignan, Antibes, Colmar…).