Last updated: 13 March 2017
Even though the world seems a much smaller place these days, it’s still possible to find that sense of adventure. When you set foot in a busy metropolis, it’s sometimes daunting to think about how you’re going to be able to see all the sights, and discover all the hidden secrets your friends told you about.
Bus routes in foreign lands are notoriously complex and seem to only be understood by school kids and grandparents. Taxis can be expensive and depending on where you are, you don’t always know if you’re getting a fair deal. And if you drive yourself, understanding local parking zones and rules is often just guesswork.
Whether you call it a subway, metro, underground or tube, hopping under the busy streets makes the most sense. You quickly cover lots of ground, and are free to wander around and explore the city at your own pace. Plus, everyone loves to travel by train (minus the rush hour commute of course!).
I love exploring new cities by subway, so here are some of my favorites,:
This is the oldest metro system in the world, with the first trains running over 150 years ago. It hasn’t stopped since and continues to innovate, with its latest train designs having just received a prestigious design award.
It’s now possible to have a complete contactless journey experience, using either your bank card or Apple Watch, as well as London’s own contactless ‘Oyster’ cards. No need to worry about trying to understand fare zones, or which ticket to buy; just tap the gate when you enter and leave, and the optimized fare will be charged at the end of the day.
Moscow is generally recognized as having the most beautiful metro stations in the world. Once you descend the steps into this vast system, you’ll be transported by the atmosphere and magnificent decorations that adorn the stations. It’s also the busiest network in Europe, with over 2.5 billion passengers travelling on it last year. With all those people, it’s good to know you can travel contactless across the network.
Hong Kong has always been a bustling hub of activity. But no matter how crowded it gets above ground, travelling on its metro, the MTR, is really simple. You can use your mobile phone to pay fares, or even buy a super-cute collectible key ring where the contactless ticket is embedded.
Perhaps one of its best features is its connectivity with passengers able to connect to Wi-Fi and their mobile phone networks even when they’re deep underground. Maybe that’s the secret to why it’s so orderly!
The city is notorious for its traffic jams, but with the Bund Tunnel, there’s even more of a reason to escape to the metro. The tunnel runs underneath the Huangpu River and is illuminated by thousands of lights that create a spectacular effect. Plus the carriage you ride on uses maglev technology, which makes the short ride super-smooth.
Shanghai’s metro comprises 14 lines and 548 kilometers of track, making it the most extensive network in the world. Mobile NFC ticketing has been available since 2014, and you can also use your smartphone to buy tickets.
Of course there are many other charming metros around the world like Stockholm, St Petersburg, Dubai, and Paris. Are there any that you really like? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.