Train travel never seems to go out of fashion – whether chugging through the British countryside on an old steam locomotive or rolling through snow-caked Russian terrain on the Trans-Siberian, there are hoards of famous railway routes to fuel the travel wanderlust. But it’s not all about the journey; there are a few destinations of interest too.
These 11 railway stations have transcended the obligatory magazine kiosks and fast-food stands to offer a creative alternative to cramped subway tunnels and drab departure halls. From futuristic architecture and elaborate décor to wild and remote locations, these train stations are not merely connection points; they are destinations in themselves.
Haydarpasa Railway Station, Istanbul, Turkey
Situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, Turkey’s busiest intercity railway terminal is surrounded by water on three sides and provides a spectacular gateway to Asia. Completed in 1908, the cathedral-like building designed by German architects Otto Ritter and Helmuth Cuno is intricately decorated with carved pillars, textured sandstone and stained glass windows. Sadly, the beloved landmark took a blow late last year when a fire swept through the building, destroying much of the roof and rendering the building in dire need of restoration.
>> Read about 10 experiences not to miss in Turkey
Southern Cross Station, Melbourne, Australia
One of the busiest stations in Melbourne, Southern Cross (formerly Spencer Street) tops the cool-list for futuristic design. The award-winning creation by Nicholas Grimshaw features a unique, ‘wave’-like roof that not only looks good but is meticulously engineered to provide natural ventilation and draw smoke and diesel fumes out of the air. Pretty and clever.
>> Learn more about train travel in Australia
Central station, Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp’s ‘Railway Cathedral’ has its domed roof, iron and glass vaulted ceilings and lavishly decorated stone and marble interiors to thank for its landmark status – definitely fancier than your average interchange. Not only that but the station complex houses three levels of tracks, a shopping mall and a diamond gallery home to some 30 diamond shops.
Cascada de la Macarena station, Patagonia, Argentina
The ominously nicknamed ‘End of the World Station’ is located 8km from Ushuaia in Patagonia and is the final destination on the world’s southernmost railway line. A steam railway first built to serve Ushuaia prison, the railroad is now home to a burgeoning tourist trade, offering historical tours throughout the region.
Löwenhaus Station, Innsbruck, Austria
Löwenhaus Station is one of four in a complex of cable railway stations running between the city of Innsbruck and Hafelekar mountain. London architect Zaha Hadid is the brains behind the concept, which sees each station sculpted in a representation of a natural ice formation.
Kanazawa Station, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan
Simultaneously traditional and futuristic, Kanazawa Station features a traditional wooden ‘Tsuzumi’ gate, a domed glass and steel roof and an idyllic courtyard of blossoming trees and water features. The station was officially completed in 2005 and is on the JR Hokuriku Line.
>> Read about 11 ways to save money on your trip to Japan.
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia
Built in 1910 to a design by architect A.B.Hubbock, the Kuala Lumpur railway station is a Moorish-style building that closer resembles a grand palace than a transport hub. Today, the station has lost much of its traffic to the new KL Sentral station, but several commuter routes still pass through its historic tracks.
Atocha Station, Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s first railway opened in 1851 and remains the biggest station in the city with an estimated 16 million passengers passing through its doors each year. Despite its more macabre notoriety as the location of the 2004 ‘11-M’ bombings, the Atocha’s real draw is its spacious and airy design, featuring an indoor ‘botanical garden’ as a centerpiece.
>> Find out what you need to know about train travel in Spain.
Tanggula Mountain Railway Station, Tibet
The station itself may be little more than a platform but the Tanggula Mountain Railway Station holds the title of the highest station in the world, sitting at a nausea-inducing 5,068m above sea level. The station is set at the highest point of the Qinghai-Tibet railway that links Tibet to the rest of China.
La Gare de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
The original design by Berlin architect Johann Jacobsthal was erected in 1883 but the Strasbourg station building is most famous for the egg-shaped glass canopy added in 2007. The award-winning design features 120 meters of curved glass panels that send sunlight dancing across the façade.
>> Start planning your train trip through France.
Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, India
Named after the famed 17th century Maratha king, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of India’s busiest railway stations as well as an UNESCO world heritage site. Designed by architect Frederick William Stevens, the station features a fusion of Victorian Gothic and traditional Indian architecture and is widely acclaimed for its advanced structural design. Film geeks take note: this was the location for the concluding train station scene in Slumdog Millionaire.
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