8 fantastic night train routes in Europe

Udo S.

In 2023, night trains in Europe have made a surprising comeback to the European night train network. With new trains on classic routes, this “recycled” mode of transport offers numerous extraordinary travel experiences in the heart of Europe.

Night trains | Not just for nostalgic reasons

The luxury sleeping and dining cars of the Orient Express, complete with excellent food and champagne, cannot be matched by the night train fleet that has been brought onto the tracks. However, the European night train network in 2023 is a unique opportunity to reach places stress-free and use the travel time for a relaxing night. The real night train relief is when train delays simply mean you can sleep in a little longer. In addition, no other means of transportation combines privacy, safety and comfort as ideally as the sleeper car.

Despite all the prophecies of doom, the well-developed rail network in Europe’s diverse landscapes offers an unforgettable experience. Here are the 8 most interesting European routes that want to be conquered by night trains:

#1 Berlin – Budapest 

Just one sleep and you’re in Budapest. The window is framed by the Instagram image of a landscape on which the last rays of the day’s sun are falling. Behind the pane of glass, forests pass by, postcard villages with church towers, lakes just a few meters away from me. The overnight train operated by the Hungarian MAV departs from Berlin every day at around 6:30 pm and arrives in Budapest at 8:30 am. When booking, you can of course choose between sitting, couchette and sleeping compartments, between a double cabin and an open-plan cabin. Of course, there are no border controls between EU countries on the train – but there are regular ticket checks. Vibrant Budapest awaits its guests with open arms… [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#2 Munich – Rome

The Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB sends numerous trains throughout Europe at night, including the Nightjet 295, which departs daily from Munich, travels via Salzburg, Bologna and Florence and arrives at Roma Termini station in the morning of the next day. During the journey from Munich to Italy, you cross the Alps, at sunrise the train travels through Tuscany, and at breakfast the hilly landscape lined with cypress trees passes by the overnight express. An incredibly romantic scenic journey.. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#3 Vienna – Paris

From the Danube to the Seine – you can keep an eye on these rivers from the window for hundreds of kilometers. The ÖBB Nightjet travels from Vienna to the French capital, crossing the heart of Europe with numerous stops in Germany. Three times a week, the City of Music is connected to the City of Love, arriving at Gare de l’Est at ten o’clock in the morning. This is a great starting point for a relaxed breakfast on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin and therefore an ideal start to a romantic weekend. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#4 Milan – Messina

Sleeping your way south: the overnight train route from Milan to Messina is operated by the Italian railroad company Trenitalia. The Italian boot is conquered in all its facets. From northern Italy to Sicily, you not only cross Lombardy, Tuscany and Calabria in your sleep, the night train also passes close to the Amalfi Coast. For the last leg from Villa San Giovanni to Sicily, the carriages are loaded onto a ferry, which then docks in the port of the destination Messina in the morning. Those who embark on this journey can enjoy a hidden gem of night train culture. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]

#5 Berlin – Amsterdam

A private start-up from Belgium and the Netherlands operates a night train between Berlin and Amsterdam. The European Sleeper takes its guests safely between Berlin and Amsterdam. This night train probably has the youngest passengers ever to offer. Hardly anyone here has a large suitcase, everyone is eager to board the train with a rucksack on their back – countless backpackers are traveling from hostel to hostel. Between the two capitals, the train window offers a seemingly endless expanse of tranquillity – pure relaxation. Tip: In 2024, the line is even set to be extended to Dresden and Prague. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#6 Trondheim – Bodø

Ready for Norway’s longest train journey? The 729-kilometre route takes just under ten hours. The most beautiful night train route in Northern Europe has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, with the Norwegian Nordlandsbanen taking you to the far north. The route from Trondheim via Fauske to Bodø actually crosses the Arctic Circle, which is not the highlight of the journey. The breathtaking fjord landscape is actually far too beautiful to drive through at night – fortunately, the midnight sun helps here during the summer months so that you can enjoy the view at any time during the ten-hour drive. What a ride! [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#7 Sofia – Istanbul

Following in the footsteps of the infamous Orient Express, the Sofia-Istanbul Express trundles from the Bulgarian capital to the Bosporus. The 560-kilometer route connects the two southeastern European metropolises of Sofia and Istanbul. The almost 600-kilometre route is just one part of the legendary luxury sleeper train between Paris and Constantinople (later Istanbul) that started in 1883. You can travel here for as little as 35 euros, but there are very few couchette seats available. Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel publisher, is enthusiastic about the night train, whether it is the fortress-like border between the two countries or the extraordinary “winding route” through the mountain passes. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]


#8 Barcelona – Vigo

With the Trenhoteles night train operated by the Spanish rail company Renfe, you can cross the entire Iberian Peninsula in just one night. The journey from Barcelona to Vigo at the western end of Galicia is particularly recommended. The route runs through the enchanting, green hilly landscape of northern Spain, which unfortunately has little else to offer tourists. If you would like to experience a more pleasant Spanish climate in summer, the Atlantic coast is very inviting. Tip: Spanish trains are now among the most modern in Europe, and the comfort and immaculate furnishings are extremely pleasant.. [Train ticket price comparison via trainline]

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According to this information, your desire for a trip on a night train should be gigantic – right?



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