Train stations near airports make your journey much easier and some cities have nailed it in terms of connecting runways with railways. Step off the plane and straight onto a train that takes you to other parts of the country. Here are our European infrastructural heroes.
Although we are not fans of flying, we understand that it is a necessity for many people. To compensate for this, we are keen to show you how easy it is to link up with trains once you arrive at airports. Especially when you can buy your ticket online in advance, before you even embark on the first leg of your journey by air. No one wants to queue up at a railway station for a ticket after a flight. Nor do they want to stand on a sweaty shuttle bus into the city centre, or drive a rented car out of their comfort zone into an unknown city and beyond.
Here are some of our plane to train favourites:
Frankfurt-am-Main airport, Germany
A seriously impressive glass dome of a station was built to house only long-distance trains, mostly ICE services along the Cologne-Frankfurt line. Called Frankfurt am Main Flughafen Fernbahnhof, pre-book your rail ticket and step off the plane into a station where you have a choice of over two hundred long-distance trains every day. From Bonn to Berlin, Basel to Baden-Baden, you can go far and wide. Located next to Terminal 1, it’s not to be confused with Frankfurt’s regional train station (Regionalbahnhof), which is in a different location, under Terminal 1. The photo above is of Berlin, by the way, not Frankfurt-am-Main. But we rather like it.
Schiphol airport, Amsterdam
Schiphol offers a smooth connection for onward train journeys with its NS train station located directly below the terminal building. You can be in Amsterdam Central station in around 15 mins, but also directly to The Hague in 50 mins, Utrecht in half an hour or Vermeer’s pretty as a picture home town of Delft in around 40 mins.
Rome–Fiumicino airport, Italy
Otherwise known as "Leonardo da Vinci" airport, its train station is located just opposite Terminal 1 where, as well as being able to take trains into Roma Termini station, you can also catch direct Frecciargento services to destinations such as Florence, Bologna and Venice.
Trieste airport, Italy
Opened in 2018, Trieste airport station is served by international high-speed, regional and intercity trains, with over 70 trains passing through. The station is linked to the terminal by a 425m footbridge. The most popular route is the train between Trieste airport to Venice, with some direct trains taking just 1 hr and 19 mins, and improving all the time. But this is a busy route, so booking in advance is highly recommended. From Trieste airport you can also travel to Slovenia and also there are some seasonal trains to Austria.
Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris
Fly in, train out. With high-speed TGV trains operating out of Charles de Gaulle Airport station, you can zip off to Bordeaux in 3 hrs 30 mins, Nice in time for an evening swim or Lyon in about the same time it can take you to get from London's Heathrow to Hoxton. The station is located under Terminal 2 and you can access it via the CDGVAL shuttle from other terminals.
Lyon–Saint Exupéry airport, France
This station, linked to the airport by a footbridge with a moving travelator, for ease of connection, was built specifically to serve France’s high-speed TGV trains. Few people think of flying to Lyon to connect with other beautiful areas of France but you can travel from the airport to Paris, Annecy, Avignon or Marseille to name but a few. Sometimes directly, or with one change depending on your time of travel. You can even head over to Turin and Milan. This is, most definitely, a little prince of an airport.
Geneva airport, Switzerland
The train station is in Geneva airport, with platforms underground so you won’t even breathe a bit of Alpine air in transit. You can get your mountain fix, however, by taking a train directly to Montreux or Brig, among many, and also an urban one by heading to Basel, Lausanne or Zürich. Trains from Geneva’s airport station will also take you to the city centre station of Genève-Cornavin in just 6 mins, with connections onto many other Swiss stunners as well as into Italy and France.
Zürich airport, Switzerland
An international hub, the railway station at Zürich airport lives up to expectations. Located underneath the airport, over 300 trains a day pass through all day, like clockwork. There is no shortage of trains heading into the city’s main station Zürich Hauptbahnhof (15 mins journey), but you will also see a wide array of destinations on the departures board which will get your feet itching for elsewhere. Wallow in that wanderlust by taking direct trains to the capital and medieval UNESCO Heritage site of Bern, or to the the lake city of Lucerne. Two other beautiful lake cities await over the border with Germany at Konstanz or on the same lake in Austria at Bregenz.
Gatwick airport, London, UK
Located in the South Terminal, which is accessible via a quick shuttle train from the North Terminal, this not only offers the Gatwick Express service to London’s Victoria station but also trains to the south coast at Brighton or Eastbourne, the South Downs National Park at Hassocks or Lewes, and also a whole other world via London of course. Book your train from Gatwick airport here.
Manchester airport, UK
Many UK travellers are starting to realise just how easy it is to get around the country from this airport in the north-west of England. As well as having a train station in Manchester airport, where you can catch a 15 mins train to Manchester Piccadilly station, you can take a direct train to the heart of the ancient city of York, to Penrith on the outskirts of the Lake District National Park or to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, gateway to the underrated and exquisite Northumberland National Park.
Birmingham airport, UK
In the middle of England, it is not surprising really that Birmingham airport train station is perfectly located for train journeys north, south, east and west. In the north you can travel direct to Glasgow, head from the skies to sea in just two hours south to Southampton or Bournemouth, south-east to the historic town of Leamington Spa or west to Shrewsbury, just 14km from the border with Wales.
Southampton airport, UK
Not only is the Southampton Airport Parkway station super near the airport the branding is pretty impressive too - boasting the fact that it is only 99 steps to the main terminal from the near-by Southampton Airport Parkway Station. Not sure if these are big steps or small ones, but it's on the doorstep anyway. Travel into Southampton city centre in 6 mins by train and London Waterloo in 69 mins.
Photo credits top to bottom: Shadow of Airplane flying in Berlin, Germany iStock ©Lisa-Blue, Train and flower fields in Holland iStock ©thehague, Modern Architecture iStock ©vwalakte, Train departure board at Zurich airport ©assalve, Red tasty caramelized apple in a copper pot with syrup iStock ©ChiccoDodiFC, Allegoric mask from Carnival of Viareggio ©bigbrush.
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