A charming train ride through the countryside is the stuff of every traveler's dreams, especially if the station you're traveling to resembles a Victorian-style castle, like London's St. Pancras, or is perched on a picturesque mountaintop, as Switzerland's Jungfraujoch Station is. Even though train travel isn't as commonplace now as it was a century ago, tourists still flock to railway stations around the globe to marvel at these historical and futuristic artworks alike. Some cities have preserved these edifices since the early days of locomotive transportation while others continue to revolutionize train station design today.
From the 19th-century traditional masterpieces that decorate Europe's ancient railways to more contemporary designs found in Japan and New York City, these are 20 train stations that will remind you that—contrary to the cliché quote that occupies most of our Pinterest boards—life isn't always about the journey; sometimes it is, indeed, about the destination, too.
20 Grand Central Terminal, New York City,USA
The iconic train station that takes up 48 acres of Midtown Manhattan is New York City's second most visited landmark, behind Times Square. Open since 1913, Grand Central Terminal sees about 750,000 visitors per day, according to its website, whether to catch the subway, dine at one of its 35 eateries, shop in its 60 stores, or simply to ogle at the magnificent features that make it world famous: the century-old clock that's been valued at more than $10 million, marble staircases designed after the ones at Paris Opera House, and the regal chandeliers that hang in Vanderbilt Hall, each holding 132 bulbs and weighing 2,500 pounds, according to CNN.
19 Madrid Atocha, Madrid, Spain
Who wouldn't want to take a quick breather in the jungle between busy train commutes? Inside of the Madrid Atocha in Spain's capital city is a lush botanical garden full of towering palms and tropical flora almost as tall as the station's soaring arched skylight. The 40,000-square-meter oasis sits in the oldest part of the station, dating back to 1851. Other parts of the station were damaged by a fire in the late 1800s and have undergone a series of renovations over the past century, but the original, oldest section has been transformed from the bustling terminal it once was to a modern hub for shopping, dining and enjoying the great outdoors (inside, that is).
18 St. Pancras International, London, England
The red-brick facade of St. Pancras International is an iconic piece of London's history, first unveiled in 1868. Its grand frontage, marked with rows of arched windows and neo-Gothic spires, seems quintessentially English. Tourists visit just to gawk at the romantic-medieval mastery of it. And although standing outside of the station might teleport you to the Victorian era, a step inside will bring you back to modern times, because St. Pancras offers everything from retro dance classes to high-end shopping, surprise concerts by John Legend and Elton John, and more. If that's not reason enough to visit, the terminus is also home to Europe's longest champagne bar.
17 Jungfraujoch Station, Jungfraujoch, Switzerland
Sitting amidst a sea of snowy peaks in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland's Junfraujoch Station is like something out of a fairytale. Known as the "top of Europe," Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in the continent, looking out over a UNESCO Natural World Heritage region featuring breathtaking glaciers and a world-renowned mountain range. Jungfraujoch isn't one that you would casually come by on a daily commute, though. With the cost of boarding the cogwheel train up to this scenic platform starting at $150, the station is an alpine attraction in itself.
16 Antwerpen-Centraal Station, Antwerp, Belgium
Belgians call Antwerpen-Centraal "spoorwegkathedraal," meaning "railway cathedral," and that's precisely what this one-of-a-kind train station looks like. In the heart of Antwerp, Central Station—as it's casually called—is not a place to merely come to and go from in haste, but instead a tourist attraction in itself. The architectural design of this colossal building is so distinctive that experts haven't assigned it any particular style, Mashable says. Its luxe interior features a massive dome ceiling over the waiting area and 20 kinds of marble and stone, according to The Telegraph. Walking into the foyer, one might actually forget they aren't a character in the Harry Potter series.
15 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Station, Mumbai, India
While Switzerland's Jungfraujoch Station boasts views of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one. UNESCO calls it "an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture" that blends "themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture." The pointed arches and turrets are reminiscent of an Indian palace. A remarkable octagonal stone dome—the first of its kind in India—towers over the main atrium, lending a unique feature to the Gothic-style building. Meanwhile, gargoyles around the exterior and intricate ironwork on the inside add detail to the masterful design of this massive landmark.
14 São Bento, Porto, Portugal
Observing the animated walls inside Portugal's São Bento is almost like admiring fine art in a museum. The 20,000 ceramic tiles for which this famous train station is known not only add vibrant color to its interior, but also depict significant scenes of Portugal's past. Inside these blue-and-white tiles, guests see stories of royalty, wars and transportation throughout Portugal's history. It took artist Jorge Colaço 11 years to finish the tilework, according to Travel and Leisure, from 1905 to 1916, and his artful pieces draw crowds into the station still today.
13 Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa, Japan
A stark contrast to the Gothic-style terminals around Europe, Japan's Kanazawa Station is easily recognized by its "Tsuzumi-mon," or "drum gate," a characteristic architectural feature at the East Entrance. The Tsuzumi-mon is comprised of two pillars that are designed to resemble Japanese drums traditionally played in Kaga-Hoshou, a performance unique to the region. These pillars hold up a vast glass dome, dubbed the "hospitality dome," that provides shelter from the snow and rain. Its 3,019 geometric pieces of glass help keep commuters occupied while waiting for the train.
12 Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The old KL Station, as it's been nicknamed, is no longer Malaysia's main railway station, although local commuter trains do still chug through its terminals today. The newer-but-not-nearly-as-handsome KL Sentral replaced the original 1910 terminus as Kuala Lumpur's primary transit hub in 2001, but you can still find crowds outside of the old station, marveling at its Moorish design and meandering through the museum that occupies the edifice today. White plaster walls bedeck the exterior of this colonial-style building, with stacked rows of keyhole arches, domes and distinctive umbrella-like elevated pavilions, called "chhatris," all designed by renowned British architect AB Hubback, according to Afar.
11 Helsinki Central Station, Helsinki, Finland
With about 20,000 visitors daily, Helsinki Station is Finland's most visited building. The landmark is defined by its 48.5-meter-tall clock tower—at which, according to the My Helsinki tourism website, 400,000 passersby look up to check the time daily—and the pairs of sizeable statues on either side of its entrance of men holding globe-shaped lanterns, which are romantically illuminated at night. Inaugurated in 1919, the Finnish granite facade features a grand, window-clad arch over the entranceway and rich blue-green verdigris copper details. The architect behind this Art Nouveau masterpiece is Eero Saarinen, who also designed the TWA Flight Center at New York City's JFK Airport.
10 Gare de Metz-Ville, Metz, France
Metz is a dream-worthy cathedral city of gardens and picture-perfect promenades in the northeast Grand Est region of France. It is home to the Gothic Metz Cathedral, Musée de la Cour d'Or and the Gare de Metz-Ville, one of the most stunning railway stations in the world. It's only fitting that the railway station here would be as architecturally artistic as the several other impressive buildings that continuously cause people to swoon over Metz. Built in 1908 and declared a historical monument in 1975, the Gare de Metz-Ville features a 40-meter clock tower, stained glass windows and the sloping arches characteristic of Art Nouveau style.
9 Haydarpasa Terminal, Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul's Haydarpasa Terminal not only holds a significant place in the city's skyline, but it also holds a nostalgic place in Turkey's history. When young soldiers were shipped off to World War I, they departed from this world-renowned station, and when families from rural parts of Turkey sought a better life in the city, they arrived here, too. The station has been closed to long-distance trains since 2012, but it remains a strong symbol of Istanbul's past. An example of Renaissance Revival style, the Haydarpasa Terminal is covered in textured sandstone and is located right on the beautiful Bosphorus waterway.
8 Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New Zealand
The Southern Hemisphere deserves a spot on our top train stations list, too. In the idyllic Otago region of New Zealand's South Island, the university town of Dunedin is home to an enormous, historic edifice that the locals think looks like a giant gingerbread house. In fact, George Troup, the architect behind the mansion, earned the nickname "Gingerbread George" after designing it, according to New Zealand Tourism. Outside, the Renaissance-style building features white limestone and black basalt rock. Inside, 750,000 porcelain tiles make up an impressive mosaic floor. Looking up at Dunedin Railway Station's grand embellishments makes hordes of tourists happy—and hungry, perhaps—on the daily.
7 Liège-Guillemins Station, Liège, Belgium
The hard-to-miss Liège-Guillemins Station is certainly among the most modern and uniquely designed train stations in the world. It hasn't always looked like the pseudo space station that it resembles now; when it first opened in 1838, its facade was quite unremarkable. However, when high-speed trains were introduced in the late 20th century, the station was due for a remodel to match the transportation trends of tomorrow. The newly renovated Liège-Guillemins Station, which reopened in 2009, is made of glass and elegant white concrete. The contemporary, ovular exterior includes grand steel features which soar into the sky, virtually transporting tourists into the future.
6 Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal
Another modern masterpiece, the Gare do Oriente in Lisbon is enclosed by a grandiose metal skeleton that is designed to resemble a veiny tree leaf. While waiting for the train, commuters can look up to admire the sweeping, curved beams that make up the faux leaf's frame, and gaze through the glass roof to the sky. During the day, the translucent ceilings flood the platforms with natural light, while interior lights give it a sort of otherworldly glow on the outside at night. It has been reported that the unique design was intended by architect Santiago Calatrava to keep commuters from feeling claustrophobic.
5 Milano Centrale, Milano, Italy
Milano Centrale is the main railway hub of Milan and Italy's second-largest station, in terms of both size and traffic volume. The Main Arch that towers over the arrival hall stands 72 meters tall, according to the Milano Centrale website, which is the largest ever constructed in Italy. In 1912, the Roman architect who designed Milano Centrale won a national competition for designing the city's first main railway station. Now, about 400,000 people walk the marble floors of this monumental landmark per day. Ulisse Stacchini drew inspiration from the Art Deco style of Union Station in Washington, D.C., for Milano Centrale, which is decorated with mythological sculptures, neoclassical columns and grand staircases.
4 Gare de Strasbourg-Ville, Strasbourg, France
The Gare de Strasbourg-Ville is enclosed in a vast glass balloon, making it one of the most aesthetically unique train stations in the world. Behind the contemporary glass facade is the sort of Neo-Renaissance-style building that houses many of the railways throughout Europe, but it's the glass dome itself, running 120 meters above the station, that makes the Gare de Strasbourg-Ville a widely celebrated piece of art. While the original terminus was designed more than a century ago, in 1883, the one-of-a-kind dome feature was more recently added in 2007, putting the station on the map.
3 Caminho de Ferro de Moçambique, Maputo, Mozambique
In the old "baixa"—old town—of Maputo, CFM acts as more than just a train station, but also a cultural center. The century-old structure is a popular venue for live music and art events, not to mention Maputo Fashion Week. The pastel mint-green tones that paint the station's frontage pair well with clean, elegant Victorian arches, and the bronze dome sits prettily on top like a cherry on a cupcake. The station, dating back to 1916, sits on a space of its own, Condé Nast Traveler says, uninterrupted by the busy cityscapes that clutter other beautiful train stations, and overlooks the historic Praça dos Trabalhadores, also known as Worker's Square.
2 Sirkeci Station, Istanbul, Turkey
Just on the other side of the Bosphorus, across the water from Istanbul's other, older train station, Haydarpasa Terminal—also among the most beautiful in the world—sits Sirkeci Station, a former terminal for the legendary Orient Express, according to Culture Trip. The building is no longer in use due to a new underground system, but a Turkish railway museum keeps the space alive. The museum only takes up a tiny corner of the vast interior, where grandiose vaulted ceilings and charming chandeliers are on display. Inspecting the old-fashion details of this French Art Nouveau building, it's hard to believe that when it opened in 1890, it was, according to Architectural Digest, regarded as modern for its time.
1 World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York City, USA
New York City's new "Transportation Hub," completed in 2016, is a testament to the future of train travel. Even the name of it screams new-age, not to mention its revolutionary design. At the center of this 800,000-square-foot-space smack dab in the middle of Lower Manhattan is the "Oculus," a multi-level shopping and dining destination. The massive pair of winged steel ribs that adorn the outside of NYC's new station makes it impossible to overlook. Inside, natural light pours into the Oculus through a retractable roof that was opened for the first time on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks last year. "The Hub," as it's been dubbed, is an eye-opening example of where train transport—and architecture, in general—is headed to next.