Travelling by night train is both convenient and economical.
Practical, because the night train has the advantage of being able to sleep there for most of the journey. Economical, because you can travel to a distant city without spending too much money.
In some countries, high-speed lines have been able to replace some night train lines. But night trains are becoming more and more popular again, also because of their unusual nature.
Travelling by night train saves one night's accommodation once you arrive. So there is no need to spend more on a night in a hotel or hostel!
The night train is also much cheaper than the car when you count gas and tolls. It is also a much smarter choice in terms of ecological footprint. That is why countries such as Sweden and Scotland are investing in new night train lines.
The price of night train tickets depends above all on the level of comfort chosen. The majority of passengers take tickets offering a berth in a shared compartment. You can opt for a reclining seat and then you will get the cheapest price.
Finally, some companies offer a private compartment with shower and washbasin for maximum comfort. But beware, prices can rise quickly, so take care to book your night train journeys as early as possible.
This is undoubtedly the main reason today why travellers opt for night trains: To live a unique experience. While the concept itself is nothing new, the night train makes the journey a real experience, as opposed to an ordinary journey on a high-speed line. One could see a similarity with youth hostels, in which it is not uncommon to meet people, most of them ephemeral, but sometimes very rewarding, just for the time of an evening.
Night train journeys will also be an opportunity to contemplate the landscape in a new way, especially abroad. And then, you must admit that the idea of falling asleep in one place and waking up hundreds of miles away in a completely different climate is quite attractive, isn't it? We think it's very nice too.
The primary purpose of night trains is to transport passengers over long distances, and the fact that these journeys take place at night naturally makes it possible to sleep there and therefore the journey goes much faster.
As a result, bunks are available in the different carriages, but also bed linen, ear plugs or even toilet and wash basin areas for some companies. Enough to spend a trip in a perfectly decent comfort.
For night train activities, you will be able to plug in your electronic equipment using the electrical outlets provided. Sometimes you can even have a television at your disposal, as is the case with the "Trenhotels" of the Spanish company Renfe.
A little extra in some night trains: there are sometimes compartments reserved for ladies, to ensure their safety and comfort, as offered by the Intercités de nuit in France or the Thello in Italy.
Of course, travelling by train at night is not the same as staying in a hotel in terms of comfort. While in principle the trains offering these services are fairly well equipped, lack of space, sharing a cabin with other passengers or spending a whole night in a reclining seat can be constraining aspects.
In order to ensure a minimum of comfort during your next night train trip, we therefore advise you to bring the following personal items with you: pyjamas, shower towel or padlock to protect your luggage when you are away or during the night.
Also be sure to locate controllers close to you so that you can easily find them if you have a problem to report.
The range of night trains in Europe today makes it possible to travel through almost twenty different countries. Thanks to the various companies that have understood the issues involved in using night trains, it is therefore possible to travel through the following countries and cities:
Night trains in France: SNCF offers 2 night train lines in France: Paris - Briançon and Paris - Rodez. These two routes originate from Paris Austerlitz station, and leave at around 8.30 pm to arrive in the morning, about 10 hours later at their destination. Ideal thus for holidays all the more unusual in the Alps or the Pyrenees thanks to the night trains. The night train service is available outside peak periods, from 40€.
Night trains in Spain: Renfe offers both national and international night train lines. The three lines it offers allow you to reach the Galicia region from Barcelona or Madrid, but also to reach Lisbon from the Spanish capital. These routes allow you to cross the country from east to west in very well equipped night trains.
Night train in Italy: For trips in Italy, Trenitalia and Italo allow you to reach the main cities of the country such as Milan, Turin, Rome, Venice by night train. Thello, one of them, specializes in connections between France and Italy and offers night trains from 50€. Convenient for romantic stays between Paris and Venice.
Night trains in Eastern Europe: The national and international Euronight service allows passengers to take night trains to countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic or Russia thanks to its many operating partners.
Night trains in Northern Europe: Most countries will be served by night trains by companies such as ÖBB or Deutsche Bahn. You will be able to reach cities such as Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Kraków, Brussels, but also Stockholm and Helsinki thanks to the new ecological lines of the Finnish and Swedish partner companies. And all this at very attractive prices (a trip from Berlin to Krakow in standard class costs around €30).
In France the SNCF offers 2 night train lines with its night Intercité trains. Although in the shadow of the high-speed lines, many people are campaigning for the return in force of night trains, recommended for their economic, practical and ecological aspects.
Thello is a young company offering routes between Italy and France. It proposes in particular to join Venice from Paris or Dijon thanks to their night train offer. At Thello, you will have the choice between 6-berth cabins and private compartments. Thello's night trains do not offer any offer with reclining seats.
As for Renfe, the Spanish company offers its "Trenhotels" (hotel trains in French) with different offers depending on the destination:
- Reclining seats
- The "turistas" bunks composed of 2 bunk beds with 4 berths
- The "preferente" bunks, compartments for single persons or for sharing, including sink and toilet accessories. There are also so-called "super reclining" seats in the preferente class.
- The Gran Clase bunks, designed to guarantee a night train stay worthy of a hotel, with shower, washbasin, toilet and also linen and toilet accessories. You will find 1 to 2 single beds.
Trenitalia also has several night train offers to save time and money without sacrificing comfort:
- The single cabin, a compartment designed for one person.
- Double cabin T2
- T3 Triple cab
- Comfort Class C4
All these offers offer a good level of service: toilets, washbasin, razor socket, reading light, hot drink in the morning and Italian press. The comfort class is soundproofed, air-conditioned and offers compartments for ladies, which are quite frequent on night trains.
Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, offers 5 different night train lines on board its ICE and IC trains. However, you will not find sleeping or personal compartments as with the other companies. You will have at your disposal a conventional seat (more seats in first class), as in the traditional lines travelling during the day.
ÖBB and its Nighjet offer is probably the most popular in Europe. With 1.7 million passengers a year, Nighjet also offers the widest range of services: with cabins with seats, single and shared berths, but also with the option of booking an entire compartment. The Nightjet night trains also offer compartments for ladies and wheelchair users. With its Nightjet brand, ÖBB offers a total of 6 different offers to travel throughout Eastern Europe at all prices. ÖBB is also a partner of other train companies in Europe offering night trains thanks to companies such as SJ in Sweden, VR in Finland or NSB in Norway.
It is also thanks to the national and international night travel service in Europe Euronight that these journeys are possible. Thanks to numerous partnerships with companies such as Thello, ÖBB, or RZD for journeys to Russia, Euronight ensures the continuity of this type of transport, which is very popular in Europe.
But the journey doesn't stop there, since it is also possible to take night trains to other continents. This is the case in the United States with its Amtrak company, in Canada with night trains through the Via Rail company, or in Russia. Given the size of these countries, night train journeys can take several days (far from Paris - Briançon or Brussels - Vienna...). Numerous levels of comfort are thus proposed. These night trains sometimes even house luxurious suites.
In Asia, China offers several types of night trains and in theory non-stop trains between the departure station and the terminus. These night trains are defined by 4 distinct classes: hard seats, soft seats, hard berths, and soft berths.