Explore the world’s best metro lines

There are few better ways to feel like a local than to navigate a new city alongside its bustling commuters, deciphering labyrinthine transit maps to reach your destination.

But sometimes the journey is its own reward. From captivating art exhibitions to sprawling malls, there are countless reasons to enjoy the ride (and get off) of these subways around the world.

Chiyoda Line, Tokyo

Winding through the middle of the Japanese capital, the “green” line of Tokyo metro appeals to many of the city’s most famous spots, from Yoyogi and Ueno Parks to the Imperial Palace, trendy Harajuku district and nightlife freak Roppongi. (Explore these five unforgettable train journeys through Japan.)

Plan your trip: Tokyo Metro stop announcements and posted signs include English, Korean and Chinese translations to assist international visitors. Take a rechargeable Pasmo card to ride subways, trains and buses, then return it to a kiosk at the end of your trip for a refund of the card price.

Koltsevaya Line, Moscow

Built in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War, the stations in the Russian capital Circle line are renowned for their iconic Stalinist architecture. Komsomolskaya Station features a lavishly decorated Baroque vaulted ceiling while Taganskaya features ceramic panels with Red Army motifs.

Fascinating marble columns – 68 in total – are illuminated by chandeliers at one of the city’s busiest train stations.

Komsomolskaya metro station

Fascinating marble columns – 68 in total – are illuminated by chandeliers at one of the city’s busiest train stations.

Photograph by Jeff Heimsath

Plan your trip: Get into the atmosphere of the Moscow metro by reading Metro 2033, a post-apocalyptic novel by Russian author Dmitry A. Glukhovsky. Then take a guided tour to explore each station of a lavish and elegant metro designed to bring palaces to the people. (Here’s how to spend 72 hours in Moscow.)

Line 1, Paris

This first metro line includes stations for many Parisian monuments, from La Défense and the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre and the Bastille. Opened during the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris, the metro stops at several stations that feature original Art Nouveau-style entrances designed by Hector Guimard. The Louvre station offers replicas of museum pieces and a direct connection to the museum entrance.

Plan your trip: Buy your metro tickets online at The Paris Tourisme website and download a map to help you navigate the more than 300 stations of Europe’s second busiest metro.

Tamsui Line, Taipei

Extending both underground and above ground, this MRT route across Taiwan’s capital is famous for its shopping malls, art galleries and eye-catching architecture. Don’t miss Jiantan Station, shaped like a giant and futuristic dragon boat.

Plan your trip: The Taipei MRT bundles its 24, 48 and 72 hour passes with discount coupons to local cultural and entertainment attractions.

IRT Line Lexington Avenue, New York

This celebrated route under the Big Apple descends Manhattan Island via the Upper East Side, Grand Central Station, Little Italy, Wall Street and other landmarks. The line passes through several closed “ghost stations”, including the town hall with its neo-Romanesque architecture.

Plan your trip: The entire trip between Harlem and Battery Park takes approximately 30 minutes; be sure to recharge your MetroCard Pass to switch to other lines and continue your explorations. Above ground, make your way to the High Line, a stretch of elevated railway tracks converted back into a green and growing park.

Line 1, Almaty

The KGP metropolitan system of the city of Kazakhstan includes stations that blend spectacular design and architecture from the Soviet era and post-independence. Stops are decorated with stained glass, mosaic floors, and elaborate chandeliers.

Plan your trip: Simple walks on the Almaty metro costs 80 tenge (about US $ 0.25). Hop on the rails to explore the Zelyony Bazar (Green Market) before visiting the excellent folk and art museums.

Blue line, Stockholm

Larger-than-life sculptures, rock formations, mosaics, paintings, art installations and prints adorn 90 of Stockholm’s 100 resorts Tunnelbana metro system (T-bana), hence its nickname: “the longest art gallery in the world”. The blue line has some of the best jobs; among the most spectacular stops are T-Centralen, Rådhuset and Kungsträdgården stations.

Plan your trip: Travelers should look for T-bana SL Subscriptions to cover the duration of their stay, from 24 hours to seven days. Get off the metro and get on one of the shared bikes to explore the historic district of Gamla stan – don’t miss the 600-room Baroque royal palace – before finding a cafe for an afternoon fika Pause.

Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London

This futuristic surface extension of the London Underground offers passengers an aerial view of the skyscrapers, yacht havens and waterfront parks that populate the revitalized Canary Wharf and Docklands area. Opened in 1987, the DLR has 45 stations and serves several other icons of London transport: the Cutty sark clipper (get off at Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich) and the Emirates cable car (accessible from Royal Victoria station). Cutty Sark is also accessible via a Victorian pedestrian tunnel under the Thames (get off at Island Gardens).

Plan your trip: The DLR operates Monday to Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Oyster menu (good fares for buses, the DLR, and the metro itself) to visit museums, restaurants and shops before cooling off in one of the green spaces and parks that cover almost half the area of the city.

Line 1, Naples

Nicknamed “Il Metrò dell’Arte” for its permanent and temporary exhibitions, this metro line in the Italian coastal city showcases vibrant art and stunning architecture at 11 of its stations. The mesmerizing star-studded ceiling of Toledo station is most famous, but the flamboyant pop art of the Università and the classic sculptures of the Museo are just as brilliant.

Plan your trip: Three days Tutta the region Campania ArtCard includes entry to 80 tourist sites and all public transport in the Naples area. For the best weather (and thinner crowds), visit in late spring or fall. Enjoy access to monuments generally closed to the public during Maggio dei Monumenti in May or browse the vast, internationally renowned Christmas Nativity Market, which opens at the end of November.

Line 3, Athens

Built for the 2000 Summer Olympics, the “blue” line of the Athens Metro Attiko features several stations with permanent archaeological exhibits, filled with some of the 50,000 artefacts found during the construction of the metro. Among the treasures are an ancient cemetery and baths in Syntagma, everyday objects from ancient Greece in Aigaleo and the remains of a 5th century BC bridge in Elaionas.

Plan your trip: Head to Athens in the fall or winter to avoid the bustling summer crowds and scorching heat when exploring the city’s top attractions. Rechargeable plastic or paper Athens metro fare cards vary in price and use. think about your needs in advance.

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