Go to sleep in one country and wake up in another thanks to Nightjet, European Sleeper, Midnight Trains and other new and modern train companies.
As flight-free travel gains momentum, European train journeys are experiencing a renaissance.
Sleeper trains are especially popular, with new routes launching all the timeacross central and western Europe. And from 25 March 2024, night train start-up European Sleeper will extend its Brussels-Berlin service to Prague.
Changing the way you travel is one the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. As an example, flying from London to Paris emits 14 times more CO2 than travelling by train.
Luckily, countries across the EU are investing in railways that provide better – and faster – connections than ever before.
From budget-savvy night trains to cross-country tracks, here are all the latest European railway routes.
How to book trains in Europe
One of the reasons that planes have been more popular than trains is because there are plenty of well-known websites where you can research and book flights. This hasn’t historically been the case with trains, especially when you want to cross borders.
But this is quickly changing. Here are some of the best website for booking train travel:
- Omio is a train, bus, flight and ferry search engine. They work with 1,000 different transport companies so they should have you covered. They also have a free app so you can research and book on the move.
- Rome2Rio is a popular and easy-to-use travel research and booking website.
- The Man is Seat Sixty-One is a long-standing authority on train travel all over the world. An essential website to visit before booking a train journey anywhere in the world.
Of course, all routes are available to book via train operators’ websites- they shold provide the cheapest tickets.
If you are doing multiple train journeys, it’s worth looking into rail passes, such as the famous Interrail pass, as these can save you money and time.
Vienna to Brussels with Nightjet
Austrian national rail firm ÖBB has been trailblazing Europe’s sleeper train revival with Nightjet since 2016. In late 2021, it launched a new route between Vienna and Paris via Salzburg and Munich.
The journey takes 14 hours and runs three times a week in both directions, with prices from around €30 for a seat to €120 and up for a private compartment.
A new service has just launched from Vienna to Brussels in Belgium. Departures are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving Vienna at 19.38 and arriving at Brussels Midi at 09.56.
In summer 2023, Nightjet launched new-gen trains featuring wireless charging stations, free wifi, bicycle and snow sports equipment storage, and private compartments with their own showers and toilets.
Vienna to Genoa and La Spezia with Nightjet
Nightjet’s new 2023 timetable saw its Vienna/Munich service to Milan extended to Genoa and La Spezia in Italy. From here, you can take trains on to Monaco, Nice and Cinque Terre.
Brussels to Berlin via Amsterdam with European Sleeper and Nightjet
The long-teased European Sleeper, a Belgian-Dutch social cooperative, launched its first route – from Brussels to Berlin via Amsterdam – on 25 May.
With only one change, passengers on the European Sleeper can travel on to Paris, London, Prague and Warsaw. From 25 March 2024, the service will be extended to Dresden and Prague.
A new Nightjet service connects Paris with Berlin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Leave Berlin Hbf at 20.18 and arrive Paris Est at 10.34. The service will become daily from October 2024.
Liège to Aachen and Maastricht with Arriva, SNCB and NS
A new three-country train service will link Aachen in Germany, Liège in Belgium and Maastricht in the Netherlands.
The project is a collaboration between Arriva (part of Germany’s Deutsche Bahn Group), SNCB (the National Railway Company of Belgium) and NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen).
This line was reported to launch in December 2023.
Berlin to Brussels with Nightjet
ÖBB’s Nightjet has just launched a Brussels-Berlin service. It’s starting with three trips per week, calling at Halle, Erfurt, Cologne and Aachen in Germany along the way.
The service runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing Brussels Midi at 18.48 and arriving Berlin Hbf at 08.26.
Prague to Zurich with ČD
In December 2022, the Czech Republic’s national rail operator České dráhy (ČD) launched a new sleeper service linking Prague to Zurich, with stops at Frankfurt and Basel along the way.
The overnight journey, a revival of a service that closed down in 2017, will take slightly less than 14 hours. Travellers will have a number of different fare options, from six-bed couchettes to deluxe sleeper compartments with en-suite toilets and showers.
Tickets for a berth in a six-bed couchette start from €49.90.
Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice with Ouigo Grande Vitesse (December 2023)
Escape to the Alps this winter with the return of Ouigo‘s Paris-Bourg train. The service will run from 14 December until 24 March.
Leave Paris Gare du Lyon at 10.42 and arrive at Bourg Saint Maurice at 16.27.
Bourg lies at the foot of the Les Arcs skiing area. A funicular railway takes you from the town to Arc 1600 ski resort in just seven minutes.
Paris to Aurillac with SNCF (December 2023)
The Paris-Aurillac night train, which came out of service in the early 2000s, is set to make a comeback later this year.
SNCF Voyageurs announced that Le Pyrénéen and L’Occitan night trains will link the French capital with the south-central commune from December 2023.
A daily train will serve the city of Cantal during holiday periods, and on Friday and Sunday evenings in each direction the rest of the time.
This is part of a wider initiative to relaunch the country’s night trains, which has so far included the Paris-Nice and Paris-Lourdes services.
Paris to Berlin with Nightjet (2023) and TGV (2024)
Nightjet, Austrian rail operator ÖBB’s night train arm, has just relaunched its Paris-Berlin service after a nine-year break.
This route runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Leave Berlin Hbf at 20.18 and arrive Paris Est at 10.34. The service will become daily from October 2024.
Meanwhile, France and Germany have announced a new TGV train route between Paris and Berlin that is due to start running in 2024.
Currently, a trip between the two capital cities requires travellers to change at a separate station such as Cologne or Frankfurt. The new high-speed link would allow passengers to make the journey in around seven hours.
Paris to Madrid with Trenitalia (late 2024)
In December 2022, FS Italiane Group – the owner of Italy’s national state-owned railway Trenitalia – announced plans for a new high-speed Frecciarossa train connection between Paris and Madrid.
The new train will link Paris and Barcelona, where the existing high-speed service already runs to the Spanish capital. It is projected to launch in late 2024, with hints that further services could connect Madrid with Italy via France.
Paris to Venice with Midnight Trains (2025)
French startup Midnight Trains is set to connect France and Italy with a new night train service from Paris to Venice via Milan from 2025, backed by the European Commission. This will make it faster and simpler for UK travellers to take the train to Italy.
Berlin to Stockholm with Snälltåget
Swedish railway company Snälltåget has rerouted its Berlin to Malmö train service through Hamburg and Denmark, while extending it to Stockholm. The full journey takes just under 17 hours with prices for the direct service from around €50.
Munich to Genoa and La Spezia with Nightjet
Nightjet’s new 2023 timetable saw its Vienna/Munich service to Milan extended to Genoa and La Spezia in Italy. From here, onward travel to Monaco, Nice and Cinque Terre is possible.
Stuttgart to Zagreb and Rijeka with Nightjet and EuroNight
In its new 2023 timetable, Nightjet extended its sleeper train service from Munich to Venice, Ljubljana and Zagreb to start in Stuttgart, Germany.
Seasonally, the route will also run to the coastal Croatian city of Rijeka, with a total journey time of around 15 hours.
The Nightjet to Venice travels via Munich, Salzburg and Treviso, while the service to the Croatian and Slovenian capitals is run by Croatian Railways HŽ and Slovenian Railways SŽ under ÖBB’s EuroNight.
Brussels to Berlin with European Sleeper
Munich to Warsaw with ÖBB (2024)
In 2024, an ÖBB Nightjet train will connect Munich in Germany with Warsaw in Poland, passing through Rosenheim in Germany, Salzburg, Linz and Vienna in Austria, and Krakow in Poland along the way.
The Nightjet service from Vienna to Berlin, meanwhile, will follow a new route via Breclav and Prague in Czechia, and Dresden in Germany.
Liège to Aachen and Maastricht with Arriva, SNCB and NS (December 2023)
Genoa to Naples with NTV Italo
In late 2021, Italian high-speed rail company NTV Italo launched a Genoa service linking the previously poorly connected port city in Italy’s northwest to the south of the country.
The journey from Genoa to Naples takes just under seven hours and costs from around €80 return.
Milan to Paris with Frecciarossa
Also in late 2021, Frecciarossa – the high-speed arm of Italian national train operator Trenitalia – launched a swanky new train between Milan and Paris.
Faster and more luxurious than previous services on this route, the train takes just under seven hours. Tickets are as cheap as €29 – though splash out on an ‘executive’ fare to travel in a comfy armchair.
Rome to Pompeii with Frecciarossa
In July, Italy launched a new, direct high-speed train service from Rome to Pompeii and back.
It connects the capital with the popular archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region in under two hours, leaving Rome at 8:53am and departing Pompeii at 6:40pm.
At first, it will only run on the third Sunday of every month, but this may increase in future.
Porto to Lisbon and Vigo with the Iberian high-speed rail network (construction starting in 2024)
Portugal has approved plans for a high-speed rail line between Lisbon, Porto and Vigo. It will be part of the wider Iberian high-speed rail network uniting the country and connecting it with Spain.
Currently it takes almost three hours to travel by train between Porto and Lisbon. The new rail link will slash the journey time to just 1 hour 15 minutes. Ultimately, the new line will connect the Portuguese cities with Vigo in Spain.
Amsterdam to Austria with TUI’s Ski Express
Snow sport lovers are bracing for a new overnight train launching between Amsterdam and some of Austria’s biggest ski resorts.
TUI’s ‘Ski Express’ will depart from Amsterdam every Friday night between 23 December and 31 March. After leaving the Dutch capital at 5:30pm, the service will stop at Utrecht, then continue directly to Austria.
Amsterdam to Zurich with Nightjet
Austrian-led night train pioneer Nightjet launched a route between Amsterdam and Zurich in late 2021. It leaves at 8.30pm and arrives at 8.05am.
Sleeping options range from couchettes (from around €60) to sleeper cabins (from around €120).
Liège to Aachen and Maastricht with Arriva, SNCB and NS (December 2023)
Amsterdam to Barcelona with European Sleeper (Spring 2025)
Soon-to-launch Dutch-Belgian train operator European Sleeper hopes to launch a new night train service from Amsterdam to Barcelona in spring 2025. This would vastly improve north-south rail connections in Europe.
Amsterdam to Berlin with Qbuzz (January 2027)
Qbuzz is taking advantage of the EU’s ‘open access’ railway package by applying for three new train connections: Amsterdam to Eindhoven, Amsterdam to Berlin and Amsterdam to Paris.
If approved by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), these could be operational from January 2027.
Madrid to Alicante and Valencia with Ouigo, Avlo and Iryo
In November 2022, SNCF-owned Ouigo launched a new high-speed, low-cost route between Madrid, Valencia and Alicante. Tickets cost around €30.
Renfe’s Aryo has launched its own Madrid to Alicante service starting at just €7.
In 2024, Ouigo plans to extend its service to reach Cordoba, Seville, Malaga and the Costa del Sol.
Barcelona to Madrid with Iryo
Travelling between Spain’s capital and its top tourist city got faster and cheaper in November 2022 with this new high-speed rail service from Iryo.
Iryo – a consortium between Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Italian train company Trenitalia – runs 16 return trains daily between Barcelona and Madrid, taking as little as 2.5 hours each way and costing just €18.
The low-cost rail provider will also launch a service between Malaga, Madrid and Cordoba, with a journey time of three hours. Renfe’s Avlo also links Madrid with Malaga and Seville.
Barcelona to Lyon via Montpellier and Nimes with Renfe
Spain’s state owned rail network is launching new high-speed AVE services to France in 2023. Its Barcelona-Lyon service hit the tracks on 13 July.
The journey takes around five hours and departs Barcelona in the morning, stopping at Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier-St-Roch, Nîmes and Valence along the way. A return train is available in the afternoon.
Tickets for the full route start as low as €29.
Madrid to Marseille via Barcelona with Renfe
Renfe’s plan to extend its train services into France includes another route launched on 28 July between Madrid and Marseille.
Trains run daily. Depart Madrid at 13.25 and arrrive Marseille at 21.23.
Further routes to Paris are expected in 2024 in time for the Olympic Games.
Zurich to Barcelona with Nightjet
Night train operator Nightjet is planning to connect Zurich in Switzerland with Barcelona in Spain.
The service will call at Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Florence, Hamburg and Milan along the way, but a launch date has not been announced yet.
Ljubljana to Budapest with Hungarian Railways
The Hungarian Railways train from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Budapest, Hungary runs through Graz in Austria for a scenic ride. The journey takes 7.5 hours and prices start as low as €16 each way.
Stockholm to Hamburg with SJ EuroNight
The Stockholm Central to Hamburg-Altona night train is powered by renewable energy. It departs daily at 5.30pm and arrives at 6.30am, passing through Copenhagen along the way.
The cheapest option is a seat in a carriage (from €25). A bed in a shared compartment starts at €45, while a private compartment for two people with a sink starts at €165. Private compartments for one-to-three people come with their own shower, toilet and breakfast starting from around €205. Pet-friendly train compartments are also available.
Combined with existing Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn services, the service can also be used to travel from London to Stockholm in less than 24 hours.
Zurich to Rome with Nightjet
In a 2020 press conference, Nightjet announced it will launch a new night train between Zurich and Rome in winter 2022. It remains to be seen whether the plans will go ahead as scheduled. Currently, the operator’s only Rome routes include Vienna, Salzburg, Villach and Munich.
London to Bordeaux with HS1 (approximately 2026)
The UK’s High Speed 1 (HS1), which operates the Channel Tunnel railway line, is gearing up to launch a new route from London to Bordeaux. Currently, passengers must pass through Paris to reach the French wine region, with a journey time of almost six hours. The new line will bypass the capital and slash the travel time to around five hours.