This blog post was updated on October 29, 2018.
Public transportation is a necessary part of most trips. During my travels through Europe I, like many others, have experienced the good, bad and ugly of public transportation.
Here are my votes for the top 5 public transportation systems in European cities.
My judging criteria included ease of use, cleanliness and general cultural gestalt.
Paris’ Métro (France): Though it doesn’t win many points for cleanliness, Paris’ Métro has charm and cultural appeal galore (cue the street musicians nestled in the stations’ corners). Thematic stations (I’ve finally started reading the historical plaques as I wait for my train), regular trains and easy navigation make le métro an easy favorite.
Bilbao’s Metro (Spain): The fishing town of Bilbao on Spain’s Basque region was the last place I expected to find a state-of-the art metro system. Several new lines were added in 2009, as well as updated user-friendly ticket kiosks. Since the population of greater Bilbao is relatively small (compared to major European cities), the metro is rarely crowded.
Munich’s Untergrundbahn “U-bahn” (Germany): Munich’s U-bahn is considered to be one of the best transportation systems in Europe thanks to its short travel times, ease of transfer, low costs and lengthy operating hours. The city’s commitment to frequently updating metro cars and stations to make them more efficient and user-friendly has definitely paid off.
London’s Underground “The Tube” (U.K.): The London Underground boasts the title of Europe’s longest subway system (with over 250 miles of track). I find London’s Tube to be one of the easiest systems to navigate in Europe. I also love the endorphin rush I get after huffing it up the 193 steps at the Covent Garden station instead of using the elevator.
Copenhagen’s Metro (Denmark): Copenhagen’s clean, efficient driverless metro opened in 2002. It was named the World’s Best Metro by MetroRail in 2010 because of its high customer satisfaction (this customer included) and reliability.
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