The world’s 7 best metros

Richard Mellor

Catching the underground doesn’t have to be a chore when there are Roman baths, chandeliers and heated seats to enjoy. Take a ride with us through the world's best metro networks. 

Athens

athens
Athens underground. Image via International Travel News

Just like the rest of the city, Athens’ metro is full of historical wonder. Over 50,000 ancient artefacts were unearthed when the subway was dug in the early 1990s, and today six stations form a de-facto museum.

Hence Syntagma’s Roman baths and 2,000-year-old beehive, or the Parthenon sculptures casually visible at Acropolis.

“What’s that?” “Oh, just the ruins of a sub-Mycenaean cemetery. No big deal. When’s the train arriving?”

 

New York City

NY metro

Instantly recognisable from its appearances in films and TV shows, the Big Apple’s metro is huge. Weighing in at 24 routes and 468 stations, it’s the world’s most extensive and, arguably, most confusing network.

On the plus side, those air-conditioned cars run 24/7 (this is the city that never sleeps, after all), the buskers are often excellent, and you can ride from Queens to Coney Island via Central Park, Times Square and Chinatown on the Q Train alone.

 

Moscow

moscow metor
Komsomolskaya station

How many metro stations have chandeliers? Only Moscow’s. Frescoes, watercolour paintings and stained-glass windows are also found amid Europe’s busiest underground system and certain stops are unbelievably ornate.

Take Kropotkinskaya: intended as an underground hall, it contains ten-sided columns inspired by Egyptian temples. Teatralnaya’s porcelain figures of musicians honour the Bolshoi Theatre while art deco Mayakovskaya has pink marble pillars and oval mosaics.

 

Hong Kong

hong kong

Spotlessly clean, perfectly signposted (including English), reliable, regular, cheap and far-reaching: meet the metro without flaws.

As efficient as undergrounds come, Hong Kong’s subterranean system also has free Wi-Fi in many stations, and mobile coverage in them all. Buying tickets is a breeze and they cost a pittance.

The best part, though, is the Octopus card. Not only does it cover the metro, but it can also be used in convenience stores, restaurants and gyms.

 

Seoul

Seoul metro

The trains rattling beneath South Korea’s capital are climate-controlled with air conditioning in summer and warmed-up seats during winter.

It’s the underground equivalent of a hot-water bottle. Not that you’ll be drifting off, rather you’ll be watching the carriages’ TVs, which show international news and football highlights. Or checking emails. Or taking phone calls.

It’s all so comfortable that you’ll probably be reluctant to get off.

 

Stockholm

stockholm

Is it an underground station or is a crimson-coloured cave? Both, actually.

Over 90 stops along Stockholm’s Tunnelbana (T-bana) network can boast their own works of art.

140 artists have contributed to this huge gallery, with notable contributions including the giant bronze tulips at Högdalen and Fridhemsplan’s glass-encased sailing boat.

 

Dubai

jellyfish
The jellyfish chandeliers of Khalid Bin Waleed Station

Like most things in Dubai, the city’s metro is new, lavish, pioneering and unabashed.

The driverless train are segregated. Gold Class’s leather seats and armrests are reserved for high rollers while the Women and Children Class offers a different brand of exclusivity.

The stations, meanwhile, have been created to resemble one of the four elements. The best is water-themed Khalid Bin Waleed Station, where jellyfish chandeliers reference Dubai’s pearl diving and fishing heritage.

 

Feature image: Moscow metro, Kievskaya station

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