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Self-Guided Metro Tours


What are the most interesting things to see in a city, metrowise, if you had a day to spend? What are the must-sees for a "metro tourist"?

Find here: Short tours of the most interesting metro stretches and stations. Most spectacular stations to visit. Things to watch out for like works of art, historic station details, or technical oddities. Some special booklets or items to pick up from the metro operator's souvenir shop. The cities' attractions outside the metro systems are not listed here as you can find them in every travel guide book.

Contribution of readers is always welcome, especially here in this section. Residents know best where their metro is most interesting. Recommend a concise tour of your city's metro system!

For expert-guided tours, see the Guided Metro Tours section.


AmsterdamLine 53 was the first metro line and still has the most manifest metro characteristics. There's a viaduct several storeys tall between the stations Ganzenhoef and Gaasperplas. Line 50 has a massive flying junction near Van der Madeweg station. Line 50 has originally been planned as a ring line. The missing short stretch between Sloterdijk and Centraal Station can be travelled by suburban rail.
BeijingThe short line 8 has the most interesting stations. Line 5 also has some. From December 2016, ride the Maglev line S1.
BerlinThe S-Bahn between Alexanderplatz and Savignyplatz provides a good overview of the city. Note Hauptbahnhof station on the way for the modern glass architecture. Walk 500 m south-east through Grolmannstraße to Uhlandstraße station and walk or take line U1 to Wittenbergplatz. Take a look at the restored Historism-style station from outside and inside, then take line U3 from there to the vaulted Heidelberger Platz station. Continue to Krumme Lanke open-air-station and walk a kilometer south to the spectacular Art Nouveau-style Mexikoplatz S-Bahn station. Take line S1 to Potsdamer Platz. The concourse from 1939 is notable for its interestingly lit columns. Take line U2 to Alexanderplatz for some good examples of architecture by Alfred Grenander and change to line U8 to Herrmannstraße for more examples. For Pop-Art stations by architect Rainer G. Rümmler, take line U7 and watch out between Fehrbelliner Platz and Rohrdamm. For Rümmler's lavish 1980s style, continue to Rathaus Spandau or take line U8 from Franz-Neumann-Platz to Wittenau.
BochumLine U35 as a light rail is almost a real metro and has some decent underground stations, but priority should be given to visiting the modern underground stations of Lohring, Rathaus (Süd), and Bochumer Verein on tram lines 302 or 310. An interesting technical detail on line U35 is the door mechanism that opens a door automatically when someone stands close to it.
BostonOn the Red Line you get a good view over the Charles River on the Longfellow Bridge between Charles/MGH and Kendall.
BrusselsExplore the artworks in almost every station, pick up a copy of the 184-page book "When Art Takes the Metro..." for only 5 euros from metro operator STIB's "Bootik" at Rue de l'Evêque 2 (De Brouckère station) or in a bookstore and explore the art in the metro stations. Visit the Transportation Museum for its metro exhibits.
BudapestRide line M1 (the oldest line) and visit the two metro museums.
CataniaRide the at-grade part of the metro line along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
ChangshaThe Airport Express is one of the very few metros in the world using Maglev technology. Must ride!
ChicagoThe famous downtown subway Loop runs through urban canyons and provides spectacular views of the world's first and most famous skyscrapers. Stop at Quincy station as it has been restored inside and outside to its original appearance of 1897. Jackson, Monroe, and Washington underground stations on the Blue Line have a long common platform. You can walk along that platform from station to station, which is very special. The same is true for the stations of the same name on the Red Line one block further east. The modern O'Hare station on the Blue Line with its illuminated glass walls was designed by Helmut Jahn, who also built the Unites Airlines Terminal.
ChongqingThe monorail offers a nice view.
CologneExplore the diversity of the Cologne Light Rail, going underground (lines 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18), elevated (line 13), overland on abandoned railway routes (lines 16, 18 to Bonn; line 7 partly), on roads far out into suburbs (lines 3, 4), on roads using low-floor vehicles (lines 1, 7, 9).
DortmundFor some interesting stations, ride line U43/U44 between Unionstraße and Ostentor and change at Reinoldikirche. Take line U42 to Möllerbrücke. To get to the H-Bahn suspended monorail, take line S1 from Hauptbahnhof to Universität.
DublinThe suburban metro line called DART runs partly along the coastline and thus offers exceptionally nice views of the Irish Sea coast.
DuesseldorfThere's a modern suspended monorail at the airport. Lines S1 or S7 take you to the city. You can see the older standard Düsseldorf Stadtbahn station type on lines U74-U79 between Nordstraße and Hauptbahnhof, the newer type between Hauptbahnhof and Oberbilk. A must-see is the century-old suspended monorail in the neighbouring city of Wuppertal. To catch it, take line S8 to Wuppertal-Hauptbahnhof or Wuppertal-Oberbarmen.
FrankfurtRide line U6/U7 from Hauptwache to Kirchplatz for its stations. Walk outside Bockenheimer Warte station and find the entrance that resembles a metro train that broke through the sidewalk from below.
GenoaThe only metro line has just a handful of stations, all by Renzo Piano.
HamburgTake line U3 from Landungsbrücken to Hauptbahnhof for an elevated view of the harbour on the right hand side and a steep decline into the tunnel after Rödingsmarkt station. Change to line S21 and watch out for the Alster lake on both sides of the track before getting off at the nicely preserved Dammtor railway station. Walk across the pedestrian bridge to Stephansplatz station and take line U1 to Klosterstern for its preserved Art Deco style. If you have more time, ride the circular line U3 for an overview of the city and some interesting stations. An MP3 audio tour for line U3 is available (in German) at hvv.de.
HelsinkiAt the main station (Rautentiatori) walk outside the building to admire its Art Deco architecture by Eliel Saarinen. In Kaisaniemi station, watch out for the works of art behind glass at one end of the platform. For a sightseeing tour of the city consider line 3T, which makes an 8-shaped loop. An MP3 audio tour for line 3T is available at dewhurstdesigns.co.uk.
Hong KongThe short Disneyland Resort Line has fancy trains with Mickey Mouse-shaped windows.
IncheonThe Airport Line is one of the very few metros in the world using Maglev technology. Must ride!
LisbonGet the free leaflets about station art of each metro line or visit the excellent metro bookshop at Metrotropolitano de Lisboa's headquarters (Avenida Barbosa du Bocage n°5 at Campo Pequeno station) and pick up a copy of "Public Art in Lisbon Underground" for about 15 euros.
LondonVisit London Transport Museum, the largest and most influential of its kind in the world, and browse for books or fancy metro memorabilia in the large attached museum store. Ride the Circle Line and take a special look at Baker Street, the world's first underground station from 1863. Note the tube logo, the ubiquitous Johnston typeface and the tube map, the three groundbreaking design elements that remain almost unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century. For some Modernist stations from the 1930s by metro station architecture guru Charles Holden, ride the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. Take a seat in the first row of a DLR train for elevated views of the city and the Docklands.
Los AngelesThe Red and Purple Lines are the only real metro lines and have works of art on most platforms and concourses. Book the guided MTA tour at metro.net and learn about arts in the stations.
LyonThe extension of line B (Place Jean Jaures to Gerland) and the new automated line D have the most interesting stations, planned by different architects. Visit Valmy station for its frosted glass illuminated from inside.
MadridInteresting stations on line L8 are Campo de las Naciones (one station away from Aeropuerto station, impressive mural about people from all the countries) and Nuevos Ministerios (big mural about Madrid and other works of art). Change there to line L10 and go to Chamartín (new big mezzanine for the L1 extension), Alonso Martínez (walk north to the historic Andén 0 Chamberí underground station which has been turned into a museum), Príncipe Pio (built under the Norte railway station, with nice views of the old station). Change there to line L2 and go to Retiro (nice station with tile murals by Mingote).
ManilaFrom Pedro Gil station to Central Terminal on Line 1 there is a good view of the Philippine General Hospital, Supreme Court, Rizal Park, a large Relief Map of the Philippines, the National Museum buildings, Manila Hotel, Intramuros (walled city), the Manila City Hall, and other historical landmarks and government institutional buildings. On the other hand, Line 2 is the best in all 3 lines on overall quality of trains and stations.
Mexico CityA small circular tour through some interesting stations: Pino Suárez (with a real pre-hispanic pyramid discovered during the construction of the station), take line 2 to Zocalo (mezzanine with some scale models of Tenochtitlan city), continue on line 2 to Bellas Artes (Guimard entrance and some pre-hispanic art reproductions), continue to line 2 terminal Cuatro Caminos (big mezzanine to control the crowds access in peak hours), take line 2 and then line 7 to Auditorio (a gallery with information of metros all over the world), continue on line 7 to Tacubaya (with some impressive murals about the history of the city), take line 1 to Insurgentes (with two corners decorated like the Paris and London metros), continue on line 1 back to Pino Suárez.
MiamiDon't miss the automated downtown people mover to get a view of the city. You don't even need a ticket, it's free.
MontrealThere are interesting stations on all lines. Trains have no departure announcements.
MoscowRide the Ring Line and get off at every station to explore the highly decorated platforms and councourses. Don't miss Komsomolskaya station, one of the most lavish ones. Some entrance buildings are also worth noting, like Arbatskaya. Visit the Metro Museum.
MunichFind the most interesting modern stations on U1 line between Candidplatz and Mangfallplatz and between Gern and OEZ and on U2 line between Am Hart and Hasenbergl.
NagoyaMake sure to include Linimo in your tour. It's one of very few Maglev metro lines in the world. To reach Linimo, take Higashiyama Line to Fujigaoka terminus. Nagoya's Metro Museum is at Akaike terminus of Tsurumai Line.
NaplesLine M1 is the "Metro dell'Arte" with a lot of artworks in most stations. Museo station accommodates an archaeological exhibit of many objects found during metro construction.
New YorkFrom Times Sq, take the Q (Broadway Express) to Coney Island and watch for views of the skyline and Brooklyn Bridge as the train goes across the Manhattan Bridge. From Coney Island Stillwell Av take the F to Jay St with the highest elevated tracks. If you look to the harbor, you will get a view of the Statue of Liberty. At Jay St is the Transit Museum. From Hoyt Schermerhorn St take the G either to Metropolitan Av and change to the automated line L or ride the G to Court St and change to line 7, nicknamed "International Express".
At 40th St and 61st St is former "Little Ireland" with Irish Pubs and "Little Manila" along Woodside Ave. 74th St: "Little India". 82th St - Jackson Heights to 103rd St: South and Central America. Flushing Main Street: NYC's largest Chinatown and "Little Korea".
On the 6 train beyond the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall terminus it is said to be possible to stay on the train and ride the loop through the famous, ornate, abandoned City Hall station. After a few minutes you'll arrive at the opposite track of Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall again. The loop ride is said to be legal but City Hall is just dimly lit.
For other self-guided tours check nycsubway.org.
ParisMake a circular ride on the partly elevated lines 2 and 6 to get an overview of the city. In the streets watch out for Hector Guimard's Art Nouveau metro entrance structures. The biggest ones are at Porte Dauphine and Abbesse stations. Take a look into the historic ticket hall at Saint Lazare station where lines 12 and 13 meet. Other noteworthy stations are Louvre Rivoli (line 1) and Arts et Métiers (line 11). The most interesting RER line is E. Riding the modern automated line 14 is also obligatory. The most rewarding tram line is T3 that runs along the city's border.
PragueThe stations of Line A are the most interesting ones with fancy repetitive aluminium or glass tiles creating an air of science fiction.
Rhine-Main-NeckarThere's a way to go through one of Germany's most populated metro areas by means of commuter rail (S-Bahn) and light rail (Stadtbahn) only. You can go from Stuttgart to Karlsruhe and on to Ludwigshafen. From 2017 or so, you will even be able to continue to Frankfurt. Of course you can go to Frankfurt today also, but only on mainline trains. There are different routes through the region. And it can get a little confusing as in the four different S-Bahn systems involved, lines always have the same names. So each system has its own line S5 for example, but all the S5s have nothing in common except the name. From Stuttgart, there's only one way to get to Karlsruhe: Stuttgart's line S5 to the terminal Bietigheim-Bissingen. The confusion starts here as you change to a light-rail of the same name, S5. This is Karlsruhe's S5, however. From here you have different options. The quickest way is to alight at Karlsruhe-Durlach and board the (Rhine-Neckar) S3 to Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. You can also catch S3 from the main station (Hbf). If you have more time, you can stay on the Karlsruhe S5 as it passes through the city centre, change somewhere on the way to lines S51 or S52 to Germersheim. From there, catch the Rhine-Neckar S3 or S4 to Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. From 2017, in Mannheim, catch the new Rhine-Neckar S5 to Darmstadt and change there to the Frankfurt (Rhine-Main) S3 to Frankfurt.
Rhine-RuhrFor the metro buff, it might be interesting to spend a day or even two going from city to city only by means of urban transport, including three monorail lines. Here's a tour along some interesting lines and stations. Note that the tour is very long and will be hard to do in one day. Lines with a 'U' in their name are mostly underground, some others are too. Start in Dortmund Hbf (the main station) in the morning and spend 25 EUR for a day ticket for the regional transport throughout the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia ('SchönerTagTicket NRW Single'). Take the loop of U45 and U46 via Westphalenstadion to Reinoldikirche. Take U44 to Marten Süd. Take S4 to Dorstfeld, then S1 to Universität. Ride the suspended monorail (H-Bahn) around the university campus and back. Continue S1 to Bochum Hbf. Take LRT line 310 to see the tunnel stations of Lohring, Rathaus, and Bochumer Verein. From Hbf, take U35 to Herne Hbf. Take S2 to Altenessen. Take U11 to Messe Süd/Gruga for some interesting stations and go back to Essen Hbf. Take U18 to Mülheim Hbf. Take tram 301 to Duisburg Hbf. Take U79 to Meiderich and back, continue U79 to Düsseldorf Oberbilk/Philipshalle (1 hour). Take S7 to Flughafen Terminal (DUS airport). Take the suspended monorail 'SkyTrain' to Flughafen station. Take S1 to Hbf, then S8 or S11 to Wuppertal Vohwinkel and walk the short distance to the station of the famous Schwebebahn (suspended monorail) from 1901. Ride it up to Oberbarmen. Take either S8 and S6/S11 via Düsseldorf (90 minutes) or regional express line RE7 (30 minutes) to Cologne Mülheim. Take LRT line 18 to Slabystr., then 13 to Ehrenfeld. Take 3/4 to Wolffsohnstr. and back to Poststr. Take line 16 to Bonn Bad Godesberg Stadthalle (1 hour; underground in Bonn).
Rio de JaneiroThe metro stations are not spectacular but at a closer look you'll notice that most of the underground stations on line 1 are marble-clad and of a decent design. Explore Cardeal Arcoverde station.
RotterdamFor a convenient circular tour of interesting stations, take line D from Centraal to Tussenwater. Along the way, Stadhuis station bears water flowing along vertical glass panels, and Wilhelminaplein is highly futuristic. Enjoy the harbour view near the elevated Rijnhaven and Maashaven stations. At Tussenwater, change to line C to Oostplein. Note the newer stations up to Marconiplein, the entrance structure at Blaak, the glass floors and the metro museum at Oostplein. From Centraal you can as well continue to the city of The Hague on the new line E and take a look at the modern 'fishnet stocking' viaduct and underground stops with wooden platforms between Beatrixkwartier and Grote Markt tram stops (change to the tram at Laan van Noi).
SeoulIn addition to the different subway systems in Seoul, make sure to take a look at the Incheon subway, the Incheon Airport Maglev, and the automated LRT systems in the adjacent cities of Ujeongbu (a VAL line) and Yongin (identical to the Vancouver SkyTrain).
ShanghaiThough both are not real metros, ride the Maglev to the airport at 430 km/h and take an automated cabin through the Bund Tourist Tunnel to watch the colourful light show along the tunnel.
StockholmGet the free "Art in the Stockholm Metro" booklet from the ticket booths at T-Centralen or other stations. Ride the Blue Line for the most spectacular works of art, get off and explore the stations that are painted rock caves.
The HagueTake a look at the modern 'fishnet stocking' viaduct and underground stops with wooden platforms between Beatrixkwartier and Grote Markt stops.
TokyoThe metro network is huge, clean and rather featureless. The Oedo Line is different because every station has been designed with ambition by different architects. The elevated Yurikamome Waterfront line provides nice views.
TorontoThe stations along the Spadina part of the Yonge-University-Spadina line are quite interesting, e.g. Dupont Station and the recently upgraded Museum Station with museum-themed pillars and interesting wall treatments. Ride the Sheppard Line for its interesting stations. Union Station has a small store that sells TTC mechandise.
ToulousePick a copy of the leaflet "Galeries d'Art" from a ticket couter and explore the artworks in the stations. Most rewarding are the legs of Line A between Marengo SNCF and Reynerie and Line B between Francois Verdier and Canal du Midi. As the small trains run every 3 minutes, it is easy to hop off and on at every station to take a look at the concourse levels which are also worth seeing.
ValenciaVisit Alameda station, a big cavern under the old river course architectured by Santiago Calatrava.
ViennaTo see nicely renovated Art Nouveau stations by Otto Wagner dating back to 1895, make a circular tour of lines U4 and S45 (changing at Heiligenstadt and Hüttelsdorf) and ride U6 between Längenfeldgasse and Spittelau. The entrance buildings of the stations are especially noteworthy. In the ticket hall of Stephansplatz underground station, watch out for a window in the wall through which an ancient chapel is visible that had been excavated during metro construction. Ride tram line D for a sightseeing tour of the city.
WashingtonAll underground stations have similar concrete vaults by Harry Weese architects. Note the difference between the original coffered design and a simpler design with larger concrete elements used in later stations. Metro Center as a transfer station consists of two intersecting vaults.
WuppertalExplore the unique suspended monorail line from 1901 end-to-end with its mix of historic and modern stations.


Last update to this page: 10 March 2013. Database entries may be newer.









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