Instead of counting sheep, close your eyes to the beautiful European landscapes passing you on one of these five overnight train rides in Europe.
In an era where immediacy and speed are watchwords, slow travel has taken a different turn and is establishing itself as a trend. Taking the time to slow down and acquaint yourself with a new culture is what slow travel is all about. An overnight train ride fits quite well with this philosophy. Aside from adding a somewhat outdated but quite charming twist to your journey, traveling on an overnight train will save you one night’s hotel fare as well as precious time. You might even get to meet other travelers for an enriching cultural and social exchange. And don’t forget that trains are much more environmentally friendly than planes and cars.
So, instead of boarding a flight that won’t give you enough time to open your book between takeoff and landing, why not travel on an overnight train? Fall asleep in Paris with a macaron in your hand and wake up beside the Venetian lagoon to sip a cappuccino near Piazza San Marco. Leave Madrid while you’re still swooning over Picasso’s Guernica and reach Lisbon in the early morning, then relax on the beach with a hot pastel de nata in your hands. Here are five overnight train trips in Europe worth experiencing.
1. Paris to Venice on the Thello
Close your eyes in the heart of the French capital and reopen them facing the Grand Canal in Venice. The Thello line linking Paris to Venice in a single night is a nifty means of transport to La Serenissima from the City of Light. The night train lets you avoid the stress of traveling to and from the airport, and saves you the security check queues. Arrive in the center of Venice early enough in the morning to enjoy a rare moment of peace and quiet in La Serenissima before the arrival of the other tourists.
2. Berlin to Malmö on the Berlin Night Express
Three times a week, from mid-June to mid-August, the Berlin Night Express connects the German capital to Malmö, Sweden in just ten hours. The journey, which includes a ferry ride across the Baltic Sea, occasionally runs on weekends and public holidays from April to June. So, while you’re still digesting your last Berlin currywurst, why not immerse yourself in the Scandinavian atmosphere in Malmö. Enjoy the modern city’s beach and parks, and don’t miss the famous twisted Turning Torso skyscraper.
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3. Madrid to Lisbon on the Trenhotel
Trenhotel is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most luxurious night trains, literally offering its passengers the comfort of a hotel room on wheels. Trains operate daily with national and international connections between Spain, France and Portugal. Over the course of a night, go from the colorful facades of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor to the soft, intimate and authentic atmosphere of Lisbon‘s narrow cobbled streets where the 28 tram will take you to discover the Portuguese capital’s old world charm.
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4. Warsaw to Vienna on the Euronight
From Warsaw, cross the Polish countryside and its landscapes to Vienna. The Austrian capital is splendid any time of the year. During winter, let the Christmas atmosphere and the famous Viennese hot chocolates will envelop you in a veil of sweetness and magical enchantment. The summer clime allows you to fully enjoy the hidden gardens of the restaurants and cafés in the Spittelberg district. Artists’ cafés, art galleries, trendy restaurants and workshops animate the romantic alleys of this heartwarming boho district. If you can, don’t miss the town’s most popular Christmas market.
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5. Moscow to Saint Petersburg on the Trans-Siberian Railway
If you’re going to Russia, you cannot visit Saint Petersburg without visiting Moscow and vice versa. However, Russia is huge! More than 400 miles separate the two cities. Train travel is part of the national culture and although an express train covers the journey taken by Anna Karenina many times over in less than 4 hours nowadays. Yet, it is still half a day of traveling. Why not embark on an overnight journey? The mythical Trans-Siberian Railway route just sounds evocative enough to inspire you to write about this very special journey through Russia?