Guide to Traveling on Europe's Sleeper Trains
Cameron & Justin Tempest
Digital Nomad Travel
Food & Wine
There is something romantic and historic about traveling city-to-city in Europe by sleeper train. It's also efficient, sustainable and comfortable. The experience might just be a highlight of your trip. We're living in a true renaissance for overnight train lovers, as low-cost carriers recently threatened to eliminate sleepers entirely. Now, new routes are flourishing, classic city pairs are back and train operators are investing in state-of-the-art train cars with smart amenities and modern touches. Driven by a loyal fan base and an important focus on sustainability, you'll find getting from capital to capital super easy, and a perfect addition to your European journey.
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Where to stay
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin
Stately property with posh rooms and four restaurants located just a short walk from the Berlin Wall.
Hotel de la Ville
Sophisticated hotel set in a converted 18th-century palace with lavish suites, two restaurants/bars and a spa.
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Park Hyatt Zürich
Chic property in the heart of Zürich with sophisticated rooms and suites.
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Overview of Europe's Overnight Trains
ÖBB Nightjet (Austrian Railways)
ÖBB Nightjet sleeper trains are part of Austrian Railways' network, serve more than 25 cities across Europe and offer key city connections such as Rome to Vienna and Zürich to Amsterdam. We often build itineraries for clients and for our own family with a Nightjet train or two in mind. Imagine easily boarding your train in the city center in the evening, settling into a comfortable sleeper cabin, and arriving in your next city right after a light breakfast.
The Nightjet sleeper trains have been so popular in recent years that next-generation train cars are arriving throughout 2023. Like the current trains, there will be standard seating, couchettes and sleepers which accommodate 1-4 people. Solo travelers will also have the innovative "Mini Suite" as an option. Modern amenities include USB charging ports, free Wi-Fi and in-cabin toilet/shower facilities.
The newest kid on the sleeper train block is Swedish Rail's service that starts in Stockholm and works its way to Denmark via Copenhagen, and then on to Hamburg, Germany. The full trip takes around 11 hours. As with many European sleepers, SJ's service offers options for standard seating, couchettes and various sleeping cars including private cabins with a bathroom, two beds and comfortable duvets. With an arrival in Hamburg, you'll have direct access to Deutsche Bahn's excellent German train network, along with the potential to continue your night train adventures on other lines like ÖBB Nightjet (see above).
The demand for sleeper trains is leading to new start-ups across Europe. European Sleeper is a Belgian-Dutch company starting its first service in May 2023 between Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin. Offering comfortable seats, couchettes and full sleeper options, European Sleeper also lets you bring pets and bicycles and choose from a variety of catering options. There are also plans to extend service to Dresden and Prague.
The French company Midnight Trains is worth watching for the future. Billing itself as a "hotel on rails", their plans call for luxury trains that include a full restaurant, concierge service and rooms inspired by fine hotel stays. Although specific destinations have not been announced, Paris will be the hub, and will likely connect the City of Light with 10+ European cities. Midnight Trains has a clear focus on sustainability, emphasizing carbon reduction and green travel throughout its marketing.
Places to eat & drink
Places to eat & drink in Rome
Cantina e Cucina - A casual, cozy restaurant within walking distance of major sites like Piazza Navona, Campo de'Fiori and the Pantheon. Their Italian staples include everything from Spaghetti Carbonara and various Pizzas, to delicious Tiramisu and local wines. Our favorite choice is always one of the "Tagliere" or cutting boards that include mouth-watering selections of cheese and salami.
Shiroya - While you may not initially think to try a Japanese restaurant in Rome, you'll be glad you did. Shiroya is just a few blocks from Piazza Navona, but a world away. They serve authentic sushi, tempura, donburi and other Japanese specialties. The service is attentive and friendly, while the atmosphere is a welcome escape from the busy Roman streets.
Places to eat & drink in Zürich
Le Dézaley - If you visit Switzerland, you must have fondue. When in Zürich, Le Dézaley is the perfect spot. Located in the Altstadt or "Old Town", steps from the famous Grossmünster church, this authentic Swiss restaurant serves a great example of cheese fondue, as well as our personal favorite: Grisons air-dried beef.
Zeughauskeller - A block from the fashionable and very central shopping street Bahnhofstrasse, Zeughauskeller serves traditional Swiss dishes and amazing beer in a 15th-century building. The platters are what keep many locals and tourists coming back, including Veal/Pork Cordon Bleu and various sausage combinations. If you're brave, order the "Mayor's Sword" - grilled steak wrapped around a full-size sword!
Places to eat & drink in Vienna
Figlmüller - Home of the original Wiener Schnitzel, Figlmüller feels like a mandatory stop for your Vienna visit. Both locations hit the mark (located one street apart), however Bäckerstrasse is slightly more elegant.
Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina - As the name suggests, it's located right next to the museum. It's a simple sausage stand, but so much better! Often with a fast-moving long line, it's open late and is the ultimate on-the-go meal. We highly recommend the Käsekrainer - a delicious sausage made with cheese that's an Austrian specialty.
Places to eat & drink in Amsterdam
Café Restaurant Amsterdam - Located only a block from the picturesque and lively Westerpark, this brasserie has been a local favorite for more than 25 years. There's truly something for everyone, with a huge menu that covers everything from sandwiches, pastas, and steaks, to seafood platters and tempting desserts.
Café De Klepel - Only a 10-minute walk over lovely canals from our recommended hotel, Kimpton De Witt, Café De Klepel has often been described as a "go-to French bistro". Mostly a dinner spot, with lunch offered on Fridays, the wine is front and center and the food is excellent. Make sure you reserve in advance, as the room is intimate and tables go quickly.
Places to eat & drink in Berlin
Alt Berliner Wirtshaus Henne - It's not every day you can dine at a restaurant that only serves one main course: a fried half chicken. They do it so well they've served it up since 1908. There's a beer garden along with the traditional indoor space, and you can dig into your chicken with a variety of sides like potato salad or various sausage choices.
Wen Cheng Hand Pulled Noodles - During the past few years, Berlin has seen quite a few excellent Asian restaurants pop-up. Wen Cheng is one of the best. Specializing in "Biang Biang Noodles" originating in Shanxi Provence, China, this hot spot will give you a chance to try the dish known for its soy and chili-based flavors. The noodles are long, thick and can be served with beef, lamb, tofu or eggplant. About a 15-minute walk from Alexanderplatz.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out The Best of Visiting Vienna, Austria.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Europe.