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Travel by night train

Everything you need to know about Europe's night trains

Wake up to the benefits of night trains in Europe 

 

Want to make the most of your next Interrail or Eurail adventure? Travel by night train to cover long distances by night and have more time to explore Europe by day. After all, when daylight hours are short in winter, your time is much better spent sightseeing or enjoying outdoor activities.

 

Even when it's cold outside, you'll be warm and cosy inside the train. You can curl up with a good book, meet new friends or stay under the covers as you watch the world go by. What's more, European night trains made a comeback recently, and Nightjet and other carriers have fully restored the romance and comfort of sleeping on the move.  

 

Here at Eurail, we believe the journey is just as important as the destination. And these overnight routes will whisk you to the very heart of Europe's best cities. 

 

Ellie Kingswell

Writer @Interrail

Santa Claus Express in Finland

As the festive season approaches, who can resist watching the Polar Express while taking a ride on the actual Santa Claus Express? 

 

Get ready to board this direct overnight sleeper to follow the route from Helsinki in the south to Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi in Finnish Lapland (be sure to stop in Rovaniemi if you want to visit Santa Claus and Rudolf at Santa Park).

 

You'll find yourself in a magical winter wonderland with freshly fallen snow, perfect for winter sports like dog sledding and snowboarding when you're not hanging out with Santa. Plus, the further north you go, the more likely you are to see the magic of the Northern Lights dancing in the sky. 

 

Not everyone wants to go in the direction of Rovaniemi, so check out the other routes here

 

walking-to-train-in-the-snow

Back in action: Stockholm to Berlin 

Always wanted to travel back in time? Well, here's your chance! 

 

Snälltåget's line from Stockholm to Berlin is the first overnight service between Sweden, Denmark and Germany since the 1990s (we told you night trains in Europe have made a comeback). En route to Berlin, the train stops in Stockholm, Malmö, Copenhagen and Hamburg. 

 

What's more, you can enjoy a meal in restaurant Krogen ("The Pub") or snacks from the kiosk. You can also take advantage of free WiFi. 

 

Guess what? Pass holder reservations are available too.

night-train-in-the-snow

Innsbruck to Amsterdam & Vienna to Amsterdam with Nightjet

ÖBB has increased its impressive overnight portfolio by including the routes: Innsbruck-Munich-Amsterdam and Vienna-Passau-Amsterdam

 

Nightjet operates on these newly reinstated routes, and you will arrive the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to explore the destination - right in the city centre. 

 

Don't forget to grab a Pass holder reservation

sj-night-train-in-the-winter

Returned to service: Amsterdam to Zurich with Nightjet

We hope you're as excited as we are to hear that the Austrian, Swiss and Dutch rail operators (ÖBB, SBB and NS, respectively) joined forces to reinstate the overnight service between Amsterdam and Zurich.

 

This former and much-loved CityNightLine route was scrapped in 2016 (to the dismay of train enthusiasts everywhere - including us). Luckily, in part to the sustainable travel movement, European night trains are back in fashion, and this route was reinstated and adopted by our good friends at Nightjet

 

On its way to Zurich, the train stops at Cologne, Frankfurt and Basel. Get ready to see the Light Festival in Amsterdam or snowboard in a Swiss winter wonderland. 

nightjet

Other destinations in the Nightjet network:

You can travel to over 25 European cities with Nightjet for less with your Interrail or Eurail Pass discount, and here's a sample of where you can go on this comfortable night train: 

 

Austria: Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck 

Belgium: Brussels 

Germany: Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Munich 

Italy: Florence, Rome, Verona, Milan, Venice 

Switzerland: Zurich, Basel 

The Netherlands: Amsterdam

 

woman-waiting-for-a-train-in-germany

Even more reasons to get excited about night trains:

Save travel days 

You only use one travel day with your Pass on night trains (the day of departure). For example, if you travel on a night train from 4 to 5 January, you only record 4 January (more info below). 

 

Make new friends 

Travelling by night train is the perfect way to socialise and make new friends. You're not connected to your seat or compartment and have the freedom to walk around the train. 

 

Go green 

We know you care about the planet (we do, too) and travelling by train is the best way to reduce your ecological footprint. Lower your CO2 emissions by half compared to plane travel. 

 

Stay connected while you travel 

Keep your phone on for the whole trip! Make use of the free WiFi* or your own 4G/5G. Charge your phone, watch a movie, or connect with friends on Facebook. *Some trains still need to install WiFi.

couple-listening-to-music-on-the-train

Room for your luggage

With train travel, you can bring as much luggage as you can carry without paying extra. Although, space could be limited in couchettes and compartments with reclining seats. 

 

Save precious time and money 

On a budget? Night trains save you money and time. You can travel long distances while you sleep (and you'll be gifted extra time to explore) and dodge the expense of a hotel.

 

Arrive in the heart of the city 

Many European stations are located in the heart of the city -so get ready to explore as soon as you arrive. 

Top tip: store your luggage at the train station until your hotel check-in opens. 

 

Bring your own food along for the ride 

One of the best benefits of train travel is that you can bring your own food and beverages. Pack a romantic picnic and bottle of wine (don't forget the corkscrew). Breakfast is sometimes included.

 

father-and-son-waiting-to-board

Recommended reading: 

 

Do I need a reservation?

Reservations are compulsory for all night trains (with or without a Pass), and they guarantee you a seat or bed on the train. Depending on the train, you can make reservations online, by phone, or sometimes at the train station.

 

Night train reservations are limited and often sell out quickly. Top tip: to avoid disappointment, book your reservation at least two months in advance.

 

How many travel days do I need to use?

When travelling on a night train with an Interrail Pass, you only have to record the day of departure. For example, if you travel on a night train from 4 to 5 January, you only record 4 January in the Rail Planner app or on the paper Pass Cover. 

 

On the day that your night train departs, you can take as many trains as you like - it's on the same day, after all. Top tip: if you take another train once your night train has arrived, you will need to use a new travel day. 

 

You need a Global Pass to book cross-border night trains, plus the entire trip must take place within the validity period of your Pass. 

 

Good to know: you cannot use your Pass on its last travel day on overnight trains (the validity expires at 23.59 hours). 

 

What accommodations options are available? 

Night trains have several accommodation options, ranging from reclining seats and couchettes to single compartments -some with private bathrooms. You naturally have to pay a higher reservation fee for the more luxurious options. 

 

Reclining seats (on some night trains): 

We can't pretend that this is the best option on night trains, but you will save loads of money, meet new friends and have the most freedom to walk around the compartment (there's no turbulence on this trip). Although the seat reclines, you will be sleeping in an upright position with a bunch of strangers (it's still more comfortable than air travel). 

 

Light sleeper? Consider a couchette upgrade. 

 

Couchettes: 

Think of a couchette as a hostel on wheels! Best shared with friends or family (so you don't have to bunk down with strangers), you will find yourself in a 6-berth compartment or a 4-berth compartment - it's worth paying more for this option. Couchettes transform from a seating area in the early evening to bunk beds at night. You will get a sheet, blanket, pillow, and usually a tea/coffee and croissant for breakfast. 

 

Sleeping compartments: 

Sleeping compartments are the most comfortable way to travel. Depending on availability, you can book a 1, 2, or 3-bed compartment for your hotel on wheels. You can request a standard sleeper with a washbasin (you'll find the toilet and shower down the corridor) or a deluxe sleeper with an ensuite shower and toilet inside your cabin. Note that the beds (or berths) are sold separately - you need to book all of the beds to have your own private compartment. You will get a sheet, blanket, duvet and pillow, and breakfast is included. 

 

Please note that the comfort and quality of the accommodation on night trains can vary.

 

girl-waiting-for-train

 

Food on board 

Some European night trains don't have a restaurant car, so we recommend that you have dinner before you board. You can also bring your own snacks or picnic along for the ride to enjoy as you watch the world go by. 

 

Some last tips: 

Don't be alarmed if the train conductor wants to keep hold of your passport for the night - friendly conductors take care of border controls while you sleep. 

 

Night trains are as varied and charming as the countries in Europe and many of them offer Pass holders a sweet discount. 

 

group-of-friends-at-train-station
 
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