Top 4 Overnight Trains in Europe & How to Book Them

1. City Night Line

Sleeping Accommodations On board the CityNight Line Overnight Train

Popular route: Berlin to Zurich, 10 hours, 55 minutes

What to expect onboard: This overnight train covers more ground than any of the others: Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, and Denmark. It also offers the most varied choices for sleeping accommodations: reclining seats, couchettes for four or six travelers, double and single compartments, and deluxe double and single compartments. Have a drink in the bar (open all night on selected routes) or socialize in the restaurant car after the kids (or your friends) have gone to sleep. An overnight train on one of these longer routes is particularly useful because it saves time (you don’t need to use up a whole day on a train when you could be spending it exploring a new city!) and it also saves money on a hotel for the night, since it combines the cost of traveling with the cost of accommodation. More examples of routes covered by this train are Frankfurt to Prague (10 hours), Zurich to Amsterdam (12 hours), Copenhagen to Munich (14 hours), and Berlin to Munich (9 hours).

Traveling with a ticket: Search for this ticket in the Check Fares and Schedules section on the home page of our website. Once you click “Search” and are viewing the list of schedules and prices, click on the “Select” button below the price of the ticket you’d like to buy, and you’ll see a dropdown screen appear with details about the type of compartment and amenities offered with that ticket. Your seat or bed number will be assigned once your order is processed.

Traveling with a rail pass: Your pass will cover the ticket price of the train, but in order to reserve a specific seat or sleeping compartment, you’ll need to purchase a reservation supplement. For most of these routes, your pass only needs to include one of the countries being traveled through, but you’ll receive more of a discounted reservation rate if your pass includes most or all of the countries on the route. If you would like to book a single compartment on these trains, you’ll need to have a first class rail pass. All other compartments are reservable despite your pass’s class of service.

2. The Thello

Sleeping Accommodations On board the Thello Overnight Train

Popular Route: Paris to Venice, 13 hours

What to expect onboard: One of the newest night trains we offer, this train will take you between Paris and the major cities of Italy quickly and stylishly. Unlike the City Night Line trains, there are only two classes of service to choose from: Economy and Comfort. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the usual sleeping compartment options: four or six person couchettes, triple compartments, double compartments, and single compartments. This overnight train is particularly convenient if you’re looking for a direct route to or from Paris, as most day routes require a change along the way. And, of course, there’s the added bonus of getting to say that you’re one of the first to experience this new train. Many of us over here haven’t even gotten to ride it yet!

Traveling with a ticket: Search for this ticket in the Check Fares and Schedules section on the home page of our website. Once you click “Search” and are viewing the list of schedules and prices, click on the “Select” button below the price of the ticket you’d like to buy, and you’ll see a dropdown screen appear with details about the type of compartment and amenities offered with that ticket. Your seat or bed number will be assigned once your order is processed.

Traveling with a rail pass: Currently this train does not offer passholder rates, and so you’ll need to purchase a separate point to point ticket for this journey. The plus side is that this will leave you with an extra day to use your pass in either France or Italy – a good excuse to take a day trip just for fun.

3. The Tolstoy Train

The Tolstoy Overnight Train Helsinki to Moscow © Oleg Kuznetsov https://www.flickr.com/photos/7274581@N08/6959191474/

Popular route: Helsinki to Moscow, 14 hours

What to expect onboard: Part of the allure of this particular train is just getting to say that you’re traveling between Finland and Russia – expect a good amount of jealousy from friends and family. You’ll literally feel as though you’re traveling between two different worlds – from modern to classic – and if that wasn’t enough, the interior of the train is a little world unto itself, too. Choose between a four-person compartment in second class or a one and two-person compartments in first class, and spend the early evening hours basking in the Russian-inspired décor of the restaurant car (travel tip: the restaurant car is cash only!).

Traveling with a ticket: Search for this ticket in the Check Fares and Schedules section on the home page of our website. Once you click “Search” and are viewing the list of schedules and prices, click on the “Select” button below the price of the ticket you’d like to buy, and you’ll see a dropdown screen appear with details about the type of compartment and amenities offered with that ticket. Your seat or bed number will be assigned once your order is processed.

Traveling with a rail pass:  This train doesn’t offer passholder fares, since none of the rail passes cover travel into Russia. You can purchase a point to point ticket for the route on our website or through an agent in our booking center.

4. Paris-Moscow Train

Sleeping Accommodations On Board the Paris to Moscow Overnight Train

Popular route: Paris to Moscow, 24 hours

What to expect onboard: This is one of those routes that you travel simply for the sake of experiencing the romance of the cross-continental journey. Obviously it isn’t your fastest option between the cities, but it seems like it would make for the best story at parties.  The train passes through five countries: France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, and Russia. Second class travelers will experience the elegant three-berth compartments, while first class offers two-berth compartments. In each class, compartments are furnished with a reclining chair and wash basin. Local specialties are served in the dining car whenever you get hungry. Agatha Christie plot twists are optional.

Traveling with a ticket: Currently this train is not available for online booking, and so you can place your order with one of our rail experts in our contact center. Tickets are available about 60 days in advance.  

Traveling with a rail pass: This route does not offer passholder fares, and so you’ll need to purchase point to point tickets instead.

Travel Tip: This train does not operate every day, so check the schedules before booking any hotels or other activities in these countries. It is also the responsibility of the traveler to obtain any necessary visas for traveling through these countries.

About the Author

Jackie

Jackie is a freelance writer from Los Angeles currently living in Brooklyn. She worked as a travel consultant at Rail Europe for two years before switching over to Marketing & Community Manager (focusing on social media) in June 2014. In her free time Jackie travels whenever possible & maintains a personal travel blog at www.jackietravels.com.

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    the picture in nr. 4 is erronously of a local commuter train that travels within the great Helsinki region

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    Anyone recently taken the train from Rome to Palermo? Wondering how it was and how the sleeping compartments were. Thanks.

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