May 16

29 Things You Didn’t Know About Train Travel in Europe

Western Europe

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29 things you didn't know about train travel in Europe

Did you know that…

1) There’s a Paddington Bear statue to be found in London’s Paddington Station.

2) Across the road from Gare Montparnasse you can skyrocket up to the 59th floor for the best view of Paris as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower.

3) There’s an underground city beneath the station at Bremen

4) And tiled mosaics to spot in the underground network in Istanbul.

5) The most beautiful rail journey starts in the surprisingly scenic Nuremberg and then passes through Munich, Innsbruck, Verona, Bologna and Florence before arriving in the ancient heart of Rome.

6) And speaking of scenic, you can sweep through the cool deep green of the Black Forest too.

7) Or cruise beside the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz.

8) If it’s olive groves you’re after, travel high speed from Madrid to Seville first thing in the morning to see swirls of mist snake around those twisty gnarled stems.

9) Further north, experience the novelty of double decker trains.

10) And multistorey stations (especially the dizzying overhead criss-cross in Berlin Hauptbahnhof)

11) And speaking of Berlin, did you know that you can see the glass-domed government Reichstag building from the doorway of the main station?

12) Not to mention the Kindertransport memorial at Friedrichstrasse Station. It juxtaposes the evacuation of Jewish children by train to Britain with those tracks that ran in the other direction and that ultimately led to Auschwitz.

13) Back in Berlin during the Cold War, even the underground trains became entangled within the oddity of the Berlin Wall.  Trains refused to stop at “opposing” stations and so just glided on by, offering passengers the briefest of glimpses into life on the other side.

14) On a more uplifting note, did you know about the love padlocks and handcuffs that line Cologne’s colossal Hohenzollernbrücke railway bridge?

15) Or that the Bourne Ultimatum was filmed at London Waterloo, with most harried rail passengers walking past without noticing?

16) That arriving in Zagreb’s Glavni Kolodvor station replaces urban city grit with a landscaped park and stately buildings?

17) That first class tickets make travel a luxe affair across France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and beyond (it’s a totally different experience to travel by train in the UK.)

18) You can see the iconic chimneys of the Brains Brewery from the platforms at Cardiff Central Station.

19) There’s some stunning Art Nouveau to track down in Prague’s central station (and for glimpse into the importance of its history, read this beautiful post over here.)

20) That the facade at Budapest Keleti is rather grand…

21) And the one in Antwerp…

22) And the Gare du Nord in Paris…

23) Berlin Hauptbahnhof isn’t bad…

.24) And Leipzig and Milan are quite impressive…

25) But the less said about Brussels the better.

26) Hotel Sacher, the home of the famous rich chocolate SacherTorte, is only a 10 minute walk from the station in Salzburg.

27) While it’s only five minutes from Amsterdam Centraal to In ‘t Aepjen, a genuine coffee shop that first started business in 1519.

28) And while we’re on the subject of coffee, check out Caffe Tommaseo in Trieste. Only five minutes from the station, this landmark chocolate eatery used to inspire the likes of James Joyce and Kafka.

29) That you can buy tickets for train travel in Europe online or in person from within the UK with Voyages SNCF.




 What have I missed? What other curiosities are there to find around the European train travel network?


  • I learned what hops actually look like growing in the fields on a train from Munich to Bamberg. It was an unexpected lesson in beer.


  • Hammad Tariq says:

    and the night train from Paris to Barcelona takes 12 hours and you although the train is old, you will feel like sleeping in your own bed!


    • Ooh – that’s good to know! (Provided that your own bed is comfy…) I took a night train from Istanbul to Sofia and…well…it was more like sleeping in your own shed…that’s full of strangers!


  • I didn’t know that there was an underground city in Bremen, how cool!


  • I’ve been to quite a few of the places mentioned here, yet I still didn’t know most of these. I agree with you about the facades of Antwerp Central and Gare du Nord, but how did I miss the underground city in Bremen??? I need to pay a bit more attention to the ‘details’ when I travel ;-)
    p.s. Great advert from SNCF!!


    • It’s amazing how close you can be to things and not yet realise they’re there, isn’t it?


    • By train? Depends on where you’re going. London to Paris, for example, it’s quicker by train as you don’t have the long journeys to and from the airport to contend with.


  • #1 is amusing … I grew up watching that cartoon here in Canada, so this statue in London just screams “photo op!” for me…!


  • An underground city is something I definitely would love to see. Europe is filled with amazing things. Thanks for the advice.


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