top of page
  • Writer's pictureGreen Guides

The Best Sleeper Trains in Europe

Discover the best sleeper trains in Europe for a more comfortable and sustainable way of seeing the continent.

A train in Switzerland mountain scenery
Sleeper trains in Europe are making a big comeback in 2024 and beyond

Europe is renowned for its efficient and extensive train network, offering travelers a convenient and eco-friendly way to explore the continent. While day trains are popular for shorter journeys, sleeper trains provide a unique and enchanting travel experience.


From the romance of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to the affordable comfort of Nightjet, Europe offers a wide range of sleeper trains that allow you to rest and wake up in a new destination.


In this article, we will explore the best sleeper trains in Europe, their routes, amenities, and everything you need to know to plan your overnight train adventure.

Jump Ahead: The Best Sleeper Trains in Europe

  1. The Caledonian Sleeper: London to Scotland

  2. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Istanbul

  3. NightJet & Euro Night Trains: Across Europe

  4. The Santa Claus Express: Helsinki to Rovaniemi

  5. The Arctic Circle Express: Trondheim to Bodø

  6. The Night Riviera Sleeper: London to Penzance

  7. The Trenhotel Lusitania: Madrid to Lisbon

  8. Nightjet by ÖBB: Zurich to Hamburg

 

1. The Caledonian Sleeper: London to Scotland

One of the most iconic sleeper trains in Europe is the Caledonian Sleeper, which connects London with various destinations in Scotland. Departing from London's Euston Station, the Caledonian Sleeper offers routes to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William, Inverness, and Aberdeen.


This overnight journey allows you to fall asleep in the bustling city of London and wake up in the stunning Scottish Highlands. The Caledonian Sleeper offers a range of accommodations, from comfortable reclining seats to private en-suite cabins. Enjoy a delicious meal or a nightcap in the lounge car before retiring to your cosy cabin for a restful night's sleep.

A view over Edinburgh city in Scotland at sunrise
The Caledonian Sleeper whisks right through Edinburgh before taking to the Scottish Highlands

2. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Istanbul

For a truly luxurious and unforgettable experience, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the epitome of elegance and sophistication. This legendary train takes you on a journey from London to Istanbul, passing through Paris, Budapest, and Bucharest along the way.


Step back in time as you board the beautifully restored 1920s carriages adorned with wood paneling, art deco mirrors, and plush furnishings. Choose from a range of accommodations, including historic cabins with bunk beds or grand suites with marble en-suite bathrooms. Indulge in gourmet meals prepared by talented chefs and savor the ambiance of the bar car with live music. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a true masterpiece of luxury train travel.

A view of a mosque and the city of Istanbul at sunrise with a boat on the river in the foreground
The Venice Simplon-Orient Express sleeper train travels from London to Paris, Budapest, Bucharest, and Istanbul

3. Nightjet and EuroNight Trains: Across Europe

Nightjet, operated by Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), offers an extensive network of overnight train routes across Europe. Partnering with other European railway operators, Nightjet connects 25 cities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Sweden.


These sleeper trains provide affordable accommodations, including seating carriages, couchettes, and sleeper cabins. Whether you're traveling for business or leisure, Nightjet and EuroNight trains offer a comfortable and convenient way to explore Europe while you sleep.

A train travels through mountainous countryside in Switzerland
Nightjet and EuroNight are at the forefront of the European sleeper train revival

4. The Santa Claus Express: Helsinki to Rovaniemi

For a magical experience, embark on the Santa Claus Express, a double-decker night train operated by Finland's VR. This train takes you from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus. Travel above the Arctic Circle and marvel at the stunning landscapes of Finnish Lapland.


The Santa Claus Express offers four types of sleeping accommodations, including private compartments for two or four people and cabins with bunk beds. Children under 10 travel for free, making this a perfect option for families. Enjoy the journey, meet Santa Claus, and create lifelong memories on this enchanting overnight train.



5. The Arctic Circle Express: Trondheim to Bodø

Experience the beauty of Norway's scenic landscapes on the Arctic Circle Express. This train journey begins in Trondheim, a historic city known for its Viking heritage. Travel northwards for ten hours, crossing the Arctic Circle, before arriving in Bodø, a picturesque town surrounded by stunning natural beauty.


The Nordland Railway, which operates the Arctic Circle Express, offers modern and comfortable accommodations, including sleeping cabins and second-class seats. Admire the snow-covered pine forests, crystal-clear lakes, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights during the winter months.

A lone cabin sits on the edge of a fjord in northern Norway
Dreamy arctic landscapes are the backdrop to the Arctic Circle Express sleeper train in Norway

6. The Night Riviera Sleeper: London to Penzance

Escape the bustling streets of London and embark on the Night Riviera Sleeper, a train that takes you to the beautiful landscapes of Cornwall. Departing from London's Paddington Station, this overnight journey allows you to wake up in the charming town of Penzance.


Along the way, the train stops at various locations, including Exeter, Plymouth, and Truro. Enjoy the comfort of your cabin, which is equipped with hotel-quality duvets and pillows, and take advantage of the first-class lounges at Paddington, Truro, and Penzance. The Night Riviera Sleeper is a convenient and relaxing way to explore the stunning southwest region of England.

A view of Cornwall and the bay below with boats bobbing in the harbour
Southwest England is easily accessible by night train thanks to the Night Riviera Sleeper Train

7. The Trenhotel Lusitania: Madrid to Lisbon

Travel from Madrid to Lisbon in style aboard the Trenhotel Lusitania. Operated by Renfe, the national railway company of Spain, this overnight train offers a comfortable and eco-friendly way to journey between these two vibrant capitals. Departing from Madrid at 9:45 pm, you'll arrive at Lisbon's Gare do Oriente at 7:30 am the following morning.


While the train doesn't have a restaurant car, the cafe-bar onboard serves hot dishes and beverages. Choose from a range of accommodations, including sleeping cabins and seats. The Trenhotel Lusitania is an affordable and convenient option for exploring the Iberian Peninsula.


Check out the best eco hotels in Lisbon for when you arrive.

A view over Lisbon in Portugal, accessed by the Trenhotel Lusitania sleeper train in Spain
The Spanish sleeper train Trenhotel Lusitana travels overnight from Madrid to Lisbon

8. Nightjet by ÖBB: Zurich to Hamburg

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) operates the Nightjet, a sleeper train service that connects Zurich in Switzerland with various destinations across Europe. The Zurich to Hamburg route offers a unique experience, as it is one of the few routes that feature double-decker rolling stock. Travel in comfort and style as you admire the scenic landscapes of Switzerland and Germany.


Choose from a range of accommodations, including reclining seats, couchettes, and sleeper cabins. Refresh yourself in the morning with a shower and enjoy a delicious breakfast onboard before arriving in Hamburg. The Nightjet by ÖBB is a fantastic option for overnight travel in Europe.

A view of Hamburg at sunrise with the sun glinting off the regal buildings
One of the most popular Nightjet sleeper train routes is from Zurich to Hamburg

13 views

Recent Posts

See All

This article contains affiliate links to products, hotels, and tours. If you make a purchase or reservation, we receive a small commission.

 

bottom of page