For those who just watched The Polar Express on Christmas night, it’s time to enjoy the full fantasy. Let’s book a sleeper train for your next vacation.
There is nothing more relaxing than watching the world go by from the comfort of night trains in Europe. The sound of revving engines, meeting new people from all over the world, luxurious services and tasting some of the best food in the house are some of the memorable experiences you can expect if you travel Europe on sleeper trains.
European sleeper trains are highly regarded for their long routes, comfortable compartments and elegant cabins that make for an enjoyable journey whether traveling alone or with a group of friends or family.
The reason why travelers love sleeper trains in Europe is that it is the sixth largest continent in the world, covering some of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has one of the largest rail networks, spanning 44 countries and several major cities in different time zones.
Whether you fancy an adventure or want to see just how glamorous these popular transport options in Europe can be, here’s everything you need to know about traveling Europe on sleeper trains.
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A look at some of the best sleeper trains in Europe
ÖBB night jet
Operated by Austrian Railways (ÖBB), Nightjets offer some of the most comfortable ways to travel across Europe’s beautiful cities. With its 12-hour night route connecting the Netherlands with Switzerland via Cologne and Frankfurt in Germany, the Nightjet train with sleeping car takes its passengers through more than 25 cities.
Travelers who opt for ÖBB Nightjet can choose between three accommodations: seat car, bunk and sleeping cabin. While those looking to travel with other passengers, make new friends and have a gala moment can choose Seating Carriage, those looking to immerse themselves in a luxurious experience can choose Sleeper Cabin. In addition, budget-conscious passengers, who wish to travel alone, in groups or with the family, can opt for the Couchette.
Of the three, Sleeper Cabin offers luxury services to make your trip a pleasant experience. Its standard compartments feature a sink, while its deluxe variant has a bathroom, which includes a shower, sink, and towels, among other amenities.
In addition, the Sleeper Cabin offers accommodation through its three types of compartments: single, double and triple. While the single has enough space for one occupant, the double offers separate beds for two people and the triple has capacity for three passengers in three separate beds. These cabins have a menu, hot and cold drinks, as well as à la carte breakfast.
La Couchette offers four- and six-berth compartments, which include amenities such as blankets, sheets, and a pillow for each berth, Viennese breakfast which includes tea/coffee, a roll, butter and jam, as well as a food menu listing other delicious drinks and snacks.
Finally, the cheapest way to travel on an ÖBB Nightjet is to opt for a Seating Carriage that has six seats in one compartment, a common bathroom on the coach, and a menu of snacks and drinks.
While the Nightjets do not have Wi-Fi connectivity, affordable fares can be expected. The price for a standard cabin with second class seats starts at around 29 EUR.
Itinerary: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Croatia and Sweden
Caledonian Sleeper offers sleeper train services between London and Scotland. It is one of two mainline trains that runs six nights a week, covering a round trip from London Euston to Scotland.
Trains take you via two main routes: Highlander, which travels through popular Scottish destinations such as Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. While the Lowlander route takes you to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Regarding its amenities and features, all Guest Lounges have access to en-suite showers and toilets, and it has a sink in the room and Wi-Fi access in all sleeping compartments. The train also offers a fare without excess baggage so you can enjoy your trip without losing anything.
Seats are divided into four categories: Caledonian Double, Club Room, Classic Room and Comfort Seats. While passengers who like to sleep comfortably can take the Caledonian Double as it offers a double bed with Glencraft mattresses, youngsters and students can opt for the Club Room as it offers twin berths with everything else in the Caledonian Double.
The Classic Room has the same features as the Club Room, except for the bathroom, shower, and complimentary breakfast. As for the latter, Comfort Seats, passengers can expect individual seats with footrests, a courtesy sleeping kit, charging points, and lockable storage compartments.
All seats have free Wi-Fi access and individual lighting systems, so you can customize your late-night journeys without disturbing other passengers. Passengers can purchase their tickets online as well as at nearby ticket stations.
Ticket prices range from EUR 65 to EUR 114 for local travel, while seat charges for international travel can be as high as EUR 474 or more, depending on the route and seat type.
Itinerary: England and Scotland
Trenhotel is a long-distance European night train service of the Spanish rail network operator Renfe Group. It operates on international routes, covering cities in Spain and Portugal.
Offering world-class amenities and seating arrangements with separate rooms, compartments, private toilets and showers, the train runs on six different routes in the Trenhotel network. Covers cities in the north and center of Spain before crossing Portugal and stopping in Porto and Lisbon.
It has super comfortable reclining seats with four sleeping cars and Grand Class double suites. The Trenhotel comes with 136 seats that offer a custom control area for reclining the backrest and footrest, as well as an adjustable headrest.
Other features included in the seats are a reading light, a magazine rack, an individual audio system, a baby changer, a personalized luggage rack with an anti-theft system and a button to call the staff on board.
The large buffet car area on the train offers a la carte dinners and breakfasts and seats 10 tables seating 30 passengers. Each seating space is separated by a tempered glass screen, keeping guests’ privacy concerns in mind.
The train also offers a 15-inch screen entertainment system that allows passengers to listen to music and watch up to eight movies, free of charge.
The train operates at a speed of 220 km/h and offers five domestic and two international routes, covering multiple cities at night.
Itinerary: Spain and Portugal
Every Francophile dreams of traveling to France by train and local bus. And Intercités de Nuit makes this experience even better. The train allows you to discover Paris, Toulouse, Latour de Carol and all the way to Briançon in the Alps, near the Italian border.
Intercités de Nuit is the local name for night trains operated by France’s national railway company, SNCF. You can take three main trains to travel France like a local – TGV, TER and Intercities.
Intercités de Nuit offers three types of seats, reclining, a six-bed bunk and a four-bed bunk. Preset seating makes sleeping compartments a comfortable experience via First Class four-berth berths, Second Class six-berth berths and reclining seats.
However, you can reserve the entire berth compartment (four first class berth tickets or six second class tickets) for private use only with enhanced benefits.
The average price of a reclining seat is around EUR 9, while a six-bed bunk and a four-bed bunk are priced from EUR 19 to EUR 25 and EUR 19 to EUR 25, respectively. However, seat prices may change depending on the time, season, and train occupancy.
As for their amenities, all Intercités de Nuit trains have air conditioning as standard, luggage racks, power outlets and vending machines. In addition, passengers can inquire about their trains through the tourist information center; in which one can change or upgrade their seats accordingly.
Santa Claus Express would hurt fans of double-decker trains. It’s a 12-hour night train that runs through the capital of Finland and into the heart of snow-covered Finnish Lapland.
The trains offer some of the best views, including the chance to see the midnight sun or the northern lights (depending on when you travel).
It has all the necessities, including en-suite bathrooms, a dining car where passengers can buy food and drinks, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning in each cabin, and power outlets to charge electronic devices.
The train makes a stop in Rovaniemi, believed to be the home of the fictional character Santa Claus, and then continues to Kemijärvi, its final destination.
The Santa Claus Express has five main seating systems: seat, double bed, single bed, deluxe ensuite double bed and deluxe ensuite single bed.
To use the main seat package, passengers have to pay 10 EUR. Double sleeper and single sleeper cost 40€ and 100€. The two most expensive packages, the Deluxe Double Sleeper with Private Bathroom and the Deluxe Single Sleeper with Private Bathroom, cost around EUR 49 and EUR 119, respectively.
Itinerary: Helsinki and Rovaniemi
Of course, we have saved the best for last. The Orient Express is probably one of the oldest luxury trains running from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul) since 1883. According to a report by CNBC, these luxury trains once fell into disrepair and the company stopped their services in Europe.
Fortunately, the train is making a comeback in 2023, covering 15 itineraries through Italy, Paris, Istanbul, etc. The company will launch 6 of these luxury trains in 2023, covering the famous La Dolce Vita routes while crossing 14 Italian regions and two different routes. extending beyond the border with Paris and Split in Croatia.
Offering haute cuisine with national and international chefs and bartenders on board, passengers can enjoy fine dining with the highest standards of luxury and the best Italian wines sourced from renowned sommeliers. All this while dedicated staff will be there to assist you throughout your journey.
Exuding Italian elegance, the train’s design will focus primarily on celebrating ‘La Dolce Vita’, a historic moment in Italy between the 1960s and 1970s, as well as retaining the old world charm of terracotta paint touches and ceilings. tongue and groove The standard packages within the Italian itineraries will cover 1 to 3 nights, with a total occupancy of 62 passengers in 12 luxury cabins and 18 suites, a restaurant and an honor suite.
Seat reservations will start soon in 2023 on the Orient Express website. The starting price of each place/night is 2,148 EUR, which may vary depending on availability of places and season. By 2024, the company will also offer a stay at the historic Orient Express themed hotel in Rome.