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Travel Info & Tips European Night Trains: the how and the where
A guide to European night trains

European Night Trains: the how and the where

All that's good to know including the types of accommodation and how to buy and use tickets / passes.


This guide to taking an overnight train in Europe includes the routes still taken by night trains, insights as to what you can expect on board and an explanation of how the ticketing works.

The romantic view of overnight train travel; opening the blinds following a restful sleep and seeing a stunning landscape outside the window, can still be a reality on some overnight trains.
But the appeal of taking a contemporary European overnight train is primarily practical - they’re still often the only means of arriving in a city by train before mid-morning, and between many European cities they’re the only direct trains.

If you're new to taking overnight trains there is a weight of useful info, which you may not be aware of.

As will become clear when you read the guide, the travel experience can vary between specific types of train, so what we have focused on here are the general points that are universal.
In particular we have striven to include the less obvious aspects of travelling by European overnight trains.

5 Things Worth Knowing:

1: The types of train

There are in effect now two types of overnight train which operate in Europe:

  • Sleeper trains on which you 'sleep' in a bed or a bunk because these trains convey sleeping cabins and/or couchettes; though coaches which only have seats are often attached to these trains. (Most of our notes below refer to these types of trains).
  • Trains which travel through the night, but are mainly used for daytime services, so have no sleeping cars or couchettes; these trains mainly operate on routes within Germany; as well as on some routes between Germany and both Denmark and Switzerland.

2: Sharing accommodation or travelling private

Unless you’re travelling in a group or as a couple and have therefore booked every bed in a multiple occupancy sleeping cabin, or every berth in a couchette, you’re likely to be sharing your overnight accommodation with others, who you will meet for the first time when boarding the train.
Though on some services, if you book the equivalent of a First Class ticket for a sleeping cabin with multiple beds, you will have sole occupancy.
And on the Nightjet new generation train sleeping pods are available to individual travellers.
Plus a relatively new accommodation option on many routes, is the prospect of booking a couchette for private use by a group of travellers, that's smaller than the number of berths in the compartment.

3: Introducing couchettes

Travel in a couchette and you'll sleep on your bunk in your daytime clothes, so couchette compartments can be mixed sex - some trains including OBB Nightjet trains and SJ Night Trains have female only couchette compartments, but most others don’t.

It can be a great way of meeting new travellers and swapping tips and info, but finding yourself in a couchette compartment with like-minded travellers, or other people using a rail pass etc, is not guaranteed.
If you do baulk on meeting the other travellers in your compartment, you can have a discreet conversation with the conductor, to see if you can move compartments or be swapped with other passengers.
But the chances of success in this scenario are not guaranteed.

Never assume that what looks like an alternative berth in a different compartment or cabin, will remain free for an entire journey.

4: Sleeping cabin summary

A factor for sleeping cabins being more expensive than couchettes is that the beds in sleeping cabins are fully made up, the idea is that you get ready for bed as you would in a hotel.

If you wouldn’t do this when sharing your multi-bed sleeping cabin with a stranger, so would prefer to remain in your daytime clothes, compare the cost of a cabin with a couchette.
You will be partially paying a premium in order to get into a bed, so if you don’t, you could have made a saving if you had opted for a couchette instead.

5: When not travelling solo

Multi-bed sleeping cabins are segregated into male and female cabins.
However couples are allowed to travel together in a two bed sleeping cabin and families can travel together in a multi-bed cabin.

International routes and Destinations:

Below is a list of the primary European international night train routes; as will be seen it's quite lengthy, reports of the death of European night trains have been a tad exaggerated.

Also note that specific types of trains are assigned to only some routes, some European night trains particularly in eastern Europe don't fall into the Nightjet and EuroNight categories.
Those marked with * are the only direct train services between cities at each end of the routes.
The trains make additional calls to those listed below.
Click the city names, when available, to access journey guides to taking a route, which include specific ticketing info.

Nightly routes:

Certain nights of the week only and Seasonal services:

  • Bruxelles and Liege ↔ Linz and Wien/Vienna by Nightjet*
  • Bruxelles - Antwerp - Rotterdam - Amsterdam - Deventer ↔ Berlin - Dresden - Praha/Prague by European Sleeper train
  • Paris ↔ Salzburg - Linz Wien/Vienna by Nightjet*
  • Paris ↔ Berlin by Nightjet*
  • Bruxelles ↔ Berlin by Nightjet*
  • Budapest ↔ Ljubljana
  • Beograd/Belgrade ↔ Zagreb - Ljubljana suspended until further notice; the day trains on the Beograd/Belgrade ↔ Sofia route are also suspended until further notice
  • Bucuresti/Bucharest ↔ Sofia
  • Bucuresti/Bucharest ↔ Istanbul*
  • Stockholm ↔ Berlin*
  • Munchen/Munich ↔ Rimini - Ancona (connect for Bari and Lecce) by Nightjet
  • Bucuresti/Bucharest – Sofia ↔ Thessaloniki* suspended until further notice
  • Paris Warszawa/Warsaw – Minsk – Moscow/Moskva* suspended until further notice
  • Nice Warszawa/Warsaw – Minsk – Moscow/Moskva* suspended until further notice
  • Berlin - Warszawa/Warsaw Minsk – Moscow/Moskva* suspended until further notice

This information has been taken from the European International Rail Timetable.

Nightjet and EuroNight trains:

A Nightjet train with vehicles which can transport cars while their drivers sleep through the night A Nightjet train with vehicles which can transport cars while their drivers sleep through the night

What is the difference between a Nightjet and a Euronight train?

Nightjet Trains:

These are trains operated by Austria’s national rail company, OBB, and it sets a specific and consistent standard of service for these trains on its domestic and international routes.
Brand new Nightjet - new generation trains will be introduced to the Hamburg ↔ Wien / Innsbruck routes - these trains convey sleeping cabins, all of which have showers, plus couchettes, reclining seats and individual sleeping pods.
All of the older international Nightjet trains convey compartment seats, couchettes, standard sleeping cabins (no showers) and on most routes deluxe sleeping cabins (with showers) are also available.
Nightjets also have a dedicated section on the OBB website on which tickets can now be booked.

Euronight Trains:

In contrast, ‘Euronight’ trains are more varied as they are operated by multiple national rail companies, which also explains why there is no Euronight website.
The branding was originally used as an indication that ‘Euronight’ services were superior to other alternative other night trains.
Though in reality this could mean that a Euronight train included sleeping cabins, when other trains didn’t.
Over time those other services have been discontinued, leaving the Euronight services as the only remaining trains on many routes.

Domestic routes (France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Norway, Sweden):

Not all overnight European trains are international, so here's a summary of the main domestic routes:

Within France

Nightly Intercités De Nuit trains are available between Paris and Nice.

Also on Friday to Sunday nights only Intercités De Nuit trains operate between Paris and multiple destinations in south west France, including Aix-Les-Thermes Carcassonne, Gap, Perpignan, Port Bou (for connections to Barcelona) and Rodez.

These trains convey couchettes, reclining seats and ordinary seats, but not sleeping cabins.

Within Germany

In Germany the ICE trains, which are mainly used on daytime services, also operate overnight on these routes:

  • Munchen/Munich ↔ Berlin
  • Munchen/Munich ↔ Frankfurt (Main) - Koln/Cologne - Essen - Dortmund
  • Berlin ↔ Koln/Cologne

Regular IC trains operate overnight on these routes:

  • Hamburg - Hannover ↔ Heidelberg - Karlsruhe - Baden Baden - Offenburg - Freiburg
  • Hamburg - Bremen ↔ Mainz - Frankfurt (Main)

Nightjet trains operate between these cities:

  • Berlin ↔ Karlsruhe - Baden Baden - Offenburg - Freiburg
  • Hamburg - Hannover ↔ Karlsruhe - Baden Baden - Offenburg - Freiburg
  • Munich/Munchen - Augsburg Hannover - Hamburg
  • Munich/Munchen - Augsburg Frankfurt (Main) - Mainz - Koblenz - Koln/Cologne - Dusseldorf

Within Great Britain

(1) London - Reading Plymouth - stations in Cornwall - Penzance on the Night Riviera

(2) Caledonian Sleeper trains operate between London and multiple destinations in Scotland including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fort William, Inverness and Perth.

Within Italy

A Treno Notte sleeper train has arrived in Bologna A Treno Notte sleeper train has arrived in Bologna

Trenitalia operates 'Treno Notte' overnight trains on these routes; the symbol indicates which part of the journey is overnight.

(1) Roma Trento - Bolzano

(2) Roma Venezia/Venice - Treviso - Udine - Trieste

(3) Roma - Napoli Messina - Palermo and Siracusa

(4) Milano - Piacenza - Parma - Bologna - Firenze Messina - Palermo and Siracusa

(5) Torino - Milano - Piacenza - Parma Napoli - Salerno

(6) Torino - Milano - Bologna - Firenze - Roma Villa San Giovanni - Reggio di Calabria

(7) Torino and Milano - Piacenza - Parma - Modena - Bologna - Rimini Bari - Lecce

(8) Torino - Genova - Sestri Levante - Pisa Roma - Napoli - Salerno

Within Norway

SJ Night Trains operate on these routes:

  • Oslo Trondheim
  • Trondheim Boden - Narvik

Vy operates trains on the Oslo Bergen route

Go Ahead operates trains on the Oslo Stavanger route

Within Sweden

SJ Night Trains operate on these routes:

  • Stockholm - Uppsala - Galve - Sundsvall Boden - Kiruna - Narvik
  • Malmo/Gothenburg - Stockholm Ostersund - Are
  • Malmo - Stockholm
  • Gothenberg Ulmea - Boden - Luléa
  • Stockholm - Uppsala - Galve Ulmea - Boden - Luléa

Look for a journey guide

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Couchettes explained:

A couchette is a self-contained compartment on a train with a door to a corridor.
During the day it has two sets of three seats, which face each other, but at an appropriate time the conductor will convert the compartment for night use.
The seats become beds and more beds, which had been folded away, become bunk beds - a pillow and a sheet will be placed on each bunk.
Though it’s quite likely that when you board the train that the compartment will already have been converted for night time use.

Eight Things To Know About Travelling in a couchette

(1) A key difference between travelling in a couchette and a sleeping cabin is that travellers in couchettes sleep in their daytime clothes; you simply hop on your bunk when it’s ready.

(2) Also washing facilities are always only available at the end of the train corridor outside of the cabin.
Though the WCs on couchettes cars are little different to the WCs that will be available on daytime trains; meaning that the sinks are next to the toilets.

(3) As passengers remain in their clothes, couchette compartments are often mixed sex, though OBB Nightjets and SJ Night Trains offer women only couchettes.

(4) Couchettes can be 4 berth or 6 berth, with tickets for 6 berth compartments being cheaper when both types are offered.
The top bunks in a 6 berth couchette are usually very close to the ceiling of the compartments.

(5) Couchettes are more basic (and less comfortable) then sleeping cabins, so they’re also much cheaper.

(6) 'Private' couchette compartments are now typically available on Nightjet trains and CD Night train for use by families or a group of friends.
They have a reservation fee for the entire compartment, but they are not a money saving option, particularly if they will be occupied by three or four people.
When four or six people are travelling together, the info on the OBB website makes it clear that they will not automatically be assigned every available space in compartments with 4 or 6 berths - so in effect a premium now has to be paid to ensure privacy.

(7) On other trains with couchettes when four or six people are travelling together, you will typically be assigned all of the berths in a compartment - if they are still available, so it's best to book as soon as possible to maximise your chances of this scenario.

(8) If you’re in a group of less than 4 or 6 people, it’s likely that you’ll be sharing a compartment with people that you don’t know.
It can be a great way of making new travel companions and swapping tips, but be aware of security and keep valuables hidden and locked if possible.

Sleeping cabins explained:

A key distinction between couchettes and sleeping cabins, is that the bed/bunks in sleeping cabins are fully made up, as they would be in a hotel, the bedding is prepared by the attendant on the train.
You can get ready for bed as you would if you were staying in a hotel, and then get into the bed between the sheets.

Ten Things To Know About Travelling in a sleeping cabin/compartment

(1) If you will be making an international journey in a sleeping cabin, you will hand your passport, tickets and other travel documents to the sleeping car attendant, when you board the train.
Then when the train crosses a border, the attendant will deal with the border staff on your behalf, thereby ensuring that you're not disturbed in the middle of the night.

(2) The beds are usually more comfortable and slightly larger than the berths in couchettes, though the difference can be marginal.

(3) In most sleeping cabins the beds are placed vertically, bunk style; as they are in couchettes.

(4) The majority of beds in sleeping cabins on European overnight trains will be single beds, they can rarely be converted into doubles - though double beds are available if two people are travelling together on the Calednonian Sleeper trains between London and Scotland.

(5) The other key difference compared to couchettes is that sleeping cabins with more than one bed are segregated into male or female only - see the notes below re: booking as a couple or family groups, as exceptions are allowed for these scenarios.

(6) The fewer the number of people occupying the cabin, the higher the overall cost, but when travelling alone consider you are very likely* to be sharing a multiple bed cabin with someone you have never met before, if you don't pay a higher price for sole occupancy.
Though on the Nightjet new generation trains, mini sleeping pods are available for individual use.

*The train operating companies understandably attempt to ensure that the only travellers with a cabin to themselves, are those that have paid a premium to guarantee their privacy.

SJ Night Trains are an exception to this rule - on those trains if you book a bed in a 1st class cabin and will be travelling alone, you will have sole occupancy according to the SJ website.

Also if you make a booking for one person, for the types of multi-bed cabins on the new Caledonian Sleeper trains, you won't be sharing the cabin, but will be paying the full reservation cost for the cabin.

On the Intercity Notte trains in Italy the reservation fees are also based on the cabin and not the beds, so places are automatically assigned according to how many people are travelling together.
Therefore if you travel alone you will be the sole occupant of which ever type of cabin you opt for, but will have to meet the full reservation cost of the cabin (or couchette) compartment.

(7) There is USUALLY little difference between a single bed cabin and multiple bed cabins in terms of facilities offered.
When you pay a premium price to travel in a single berth cabin, or to have sole occupancy of a multi-bed cabin, you will primarily be paying for the privilege of not having to share it with anybody else.
The other beds in the cabin will usually be folded back or simply left vacant.

(8) One or two bed cabins may not be made available at all on some routes, particularly at times of high demand.
On most trains the sleeping cabins contain three beds, so the rail companies can accommodate more travellers per departure, if they make every bed on the train available for sale.
Don't assume that's because it's often possible to travel in a one or two bed cabin on a type of night train, such as Nightjet, that they will automatically be available for the journey you want to take.

(9) The other reason for one or two bed cabins not being available to book, is that they were available, but have sold out.
They can sell out months ahead for travel at times of high demand - Fridays, dates either side of holidays, summer weekends...

(10) The difference between 1st and 2nd class is not universal.

On some trains/routes the key difference between the equivalent of 1st and 2nd class is how many people will be occupying the cabin; 1st class = 1 OR 2 people; 2nd class = 3 or 4 people.
On other trains the equivalent of 1st class means that there will be a shower available in the cabin, and 2nd class indicates there won't be.

However, this is fluid as many night trains often don't use 1st and 2nd class terminology.

Though if you travel 1st class, or the equivalent you'll usually receive other benefits, which can include more generous breakfasts, complimentary washing kits and access to 1st class lounges at stations.

Aside from the beds what other facilities are available in a sleeping cabin?

This varies depending on the train/route, but these three things are universal:

1: What you won’t find in a sleeping cabin is a TV, minibar/fridge etc.
2: Not all sleeping cabins have WCs in the cabin, though those that are classed as Deluxe or Premium will have them.
3: Some form of washing facility will be available in the cabin, but it may only be a basin; showers are the exception rather than the rule.

Also worth knowing:

  • This may seem a tad bizarre, but sleeping cabins are often categorised depending on the washing facilities available in the cabin.
  • On certain routes, including most Nightjet services, some sleeping cabins have sinks/basins, while others also have showers.
  • On trains when BOTH types of cabin are offered, the cabins with a shower are classed as Deluxe or Premium class etc and are inevitably most expensive of all.

Travel in seats:

On some overnight routes within and to/from Germany, travelling in a couchette or sleeping cabin isn't an option.
That's because the same trains that are used for daytime IC services, now also operate on some routes.

Most other European overnight trains offered seated accommodation, because coaches which only have seats are attached to the coaches which house the sleeping cabins or couchette berths; though exceptions include SJ Night and most of the Treno Notte routes in Italy.

The types of seats on night trains:
(1) Standard daytime coaches with open plan seating, which are attached to the overnight train - this the norm when daytime IC trains are also used for overnight services.
On many overnight trains to/from Germany these overnight standard coaches are branded as 'IC services' and on some routes the IC trains are now being combined with Nightjet trains.
(2) Reclining seats, these are available on the Caledonian Sleeper services.
(3) Seats in compartments with a door to a corridor.

The seats in these compartments can, in theory, USUALLY be pulled together flat to create a sort of bed, similar to how you fold down the rear seats in a car.
Though this type of compartment is becoming the exception rather than the norm.

However, to make use of this facility you need to have a spare seat opposite to yours. The compartments have six seats, but only a maximum of three adults can lie on the seats when they’re pulled flat; cosy!
So don't assume that you can make big savings on couchette/sleeping cabin prices and still have a bed for the night.
If too many seats are occupied then converting them into beds won't be possible, though you can try asking people to move seats, if you're desperate to get your head down.

Also if you have lucked out and made a ‘bed’ don’t expect to sleep on it all night.
As many overnight trains approach their destinations, they become early morning commuter trains, so it’s likely that you will have to make room for other people who will be joining the train.
The train conductors also tend to strive to make sure as many seats are available as possible at all times, so you may be abruptly woken in the middle of the night.

Even if you can make a 'bed' a good night's sleep isn't guaranteed. A friend who made several journeys in one of these 'beds' and then switched to a couchette for another journey has said that the 'couchette' felt like The Ritz' in comparison!


On most overnight train routes the era of having a meal in a restaurant car and then retiring to your bed for the night is in the past, the Caledonian Sleeper trains is a notable exception.

On some train services complimentary bottles of water are provided to all passengers and on many (but not all) overnight trains, a complimentary breakfast is served to the travellers in the couchettes and sleeping cabins.
On some services/routes a more generous breakfast tray and tea/coffee, similar to what you would expect on an airline, is brought to the passengers in the sleeping cabins.
When available, the complimentary breakfast served in the couchettes can only be a croissant and bottle of water.

If you will be travelling in a sleeping cabin on OBB Nightjet trains, a menu of non-complimentary snacks and drinks is available, so you can order from the conductor and have items delivered to you.
Other overnight trains have vending machines that sell drinks and snacks.

On Italian Intercity Notte trains, a catering attendant will take a trolley through the entire train.

However, taking your own food/drink on board with you is often a good idea, particularly if you will be travelling in the seats or a couchette, or if your train will be departing in the evening and not late at night,

Washing facilities summary:

If you travel in a seat or a couchette the washing facilities will be in the equivalent of standard train toilets, so the appeal of using them in the mornings can be diminished.
Therefore another plus of using sleeping cabins, is that the MINIMUM facility in the cabin will be a sink/basin.
So you won’t have to share it with anyone else other than your fellow occupants of the cabin; if you have any.

The ultimate luxury is the availability of a shower in the cabin, though privacy can be a tad limited.
Something else worth being aware of is that on some trains the only Deluxe Sleeping Cabins with shower offered when booking can be the three bed cabins, so if you want to book a place(s) in a two or one bed cabin, on a train equipped with Deluxe Cabins, you may not be given the opportunity to book a cabin with a shower.

Also cabins with showers are not available on all routes, many ‘EuroNight’ services don’t have them.

How the ticketing works:

Overnight train tickets differ from daytime train tickets because there are two elements to how the price is calculated:
(1) the charge for making the journey AND
(2) a reservation charge for the type of accommodation you will be travelling by.

This journey price is usually the price of travelling in a seat.
What percentage of the total cost is covered by the reservation charge can vary; it tends to be lower in Eastern Europe.

Four Things That Are Good to Know About Night Train Tickets

(1) On many booking services this cheapest seat price will be the first price displayed, you will only see the prices of travelling in a couchette or sleeping cabins, after you have initially clicked on this seat price.

(2) Some ticket booking services (such as DB) combine these journey and reservation prices, but on others (including OBB) you add the reservation fees for travelling in a sleeping cabin or couchette to your booking.

(3) If you will be travelling in Eastern Europe there may be no difference in price between booking online, or at the station; or the price difference can be the equivalent of only a few euros.

(4) Tickets to travel on most overnight trains, including all those in Western Europe, can now be booked online and there are two big pluses for booking in advance;

  1. You can increase your chances of travelling in your first choice of accommodation.
    Some types of accommodation can sell out days (even weeks) in advance, particularly in the summer months.
    So if you want to travel in a couchette or a particular type of sleeping cabin, try to avoid booking last minute at the station.
    (Though the full choice of additional fees for single occupancy etc can be hard to track down on some online ticket sites).

  2. On many routes, limited numbers of advance discounted tickets are available, as they are on day trains, so when these tickets have sold out the price rises.

What can be less clear cut is whether taking an overnight train will save you money compared to spending a night in a hotel or hostel?
A broad answer is that the ticket price (journey + reservation fee) of travelling in a couchette is usually more expensive than a shared room in a hostel, and a 1 bed sleeping cabin is more expensive than a typical 3-4* hotel room

Choosing tickets & accommodation:

These nine things are particularly worth knowing:

(1) On international routes avoid gambling on booking a bed in a multi-occupancy sleeping cabin and assuming that you may have it to yourself.
This scenario is very unlikely as it is in the train operator’s interest, to ensure that those who have paid for the privilege to have a cabin to themselves, are then the only people on the train who have that luxury.

(2) There is USUALLY a big price difference (€40+) between a two bed sleeping cabin and a single bed/occupancy cabin.
Unsurprisingly most solo travellers don’t relish the prospect of sharing a ‘bedroom’ for the night with a stranger.

However, book a single cabin and you will be primarily paying a premium for your privacy.
The bed and cabin won’t usually be any larger or any more luxurious.
More often than not, single bed cabins are no different to other sleeping cabins, the other beds in the cabin will usually be stowed away or left vacant.

However, yet again the Caledonian Sleeper trains are an exception to this, none of its sleeping cabins have more than two beds, but its Club Rooms (cabins) are more luxurious than its Classic Rooms, partially because the Club Rooms have an en-suite shower.

Also on the Nightjet new generation trains, Mini Pods are available with private individual beds,

(3) As you’d expect when sleeping cabins with a shower are an option, they’re more expensive than standard sleeping cabins, but you will be primarily be paying this premium price in order to have a shower.
The Deluxe/1st class/’Premium cabins aren’t usually otherwise more luxurious than the standard sleeping cabins.
Though the Nightjet new generation trains have Comfort Plus cabins which are larger than the other sleeping cabins on these trains.

(4) Though if you will be travelling solo and want a one-bed cabin, or will be travelling as a pair and want a two-bed cabin, don't assume that one or two bed Deluxe cabins with showers will be available for booking.
Having looked up numerous journeys, the Deluxe cabins with showers were more often than not, only available in three bad cabins.
On all of these departures a one or two bed cabin with a shower could have been offered, as they're the same cabins with the unoccupied beds folded out of use - but they weren't.

(5) Even when booking more than two months ahead, some of the sleeping cabin options typically offered on a route may not be available.
This can seem random, particularly in terms of the availability of one or two bed cabins.
But on most routes and services, there aren't special sleeping cabins on the train, which are permanently set up for solo or double occupancy.
The majority of sleeping cabins are equipped with three beds, one or two of which are folded out of use for single or double occupancy.
Hence fewer places are ever made available for one and two bed occupancy, or the operator may look at the demand for that departure and decide to only offer three bed occupancy.
Also take note if you will be travelling solo with an InterRail or Eurail pass, don't assume that because, before you booked your pass, you saw a one bed reservation fee price, that a one bed cabin will be available on the train you want to take.

(6) If you generally fall asleep when travelling long distance on a daytime train, there are coaches with ‘day’ seats attached to many overnight trains.
You may have as much sleep as you would in a couchette and you will typically save around €25, by only paying a reservation fee for the seat, rather than a couchette

(7) When booking tickets at a station booking office be clear whether you want to travel in sleeping cabin, couchette or ordinary seat.
If you don't specify the type of ticket you require, the default tickets that you may be sold may only be valid for travel in ordinary seats.

(8) On many routes, the overnight trains are much slower than daytime trains, they make longer, less direct journeys and they can’t travel on the high speed lines etc.

(9) If you want to travel as a couple in a sleeping cabin or will be travelling a group take care when booking online - hence the separate guides, which you'll find below...

Travelling as a male / female couple in a sleeping cabin

If you want to share your sleeping accommodation with a partner on a European night train, there a are a couple of things worth being aware of when making a booking.
Plus the steps you take can vary across ticket agents, hence the specific examples below.

Though certain night train operators (not featured below) have a reservation system in which the entire two bed sleeping cabin is assigned, regardless of whether one or two people will be making the journey.
So in this scenario, the two people that have made the booking, will automatically be sharing the cabin as a couple.
This is typically how reservations work on the national night trains in Britain, Italy, Norway and Sweden.

Though something to be aware of is that on some international routes, 3 bed sleeper cabins can be the only option that's ever available to book.

Booking with DB (German national railways)

Having added a second passenger on the initial booking screen, you will then be offered all of the options, which will be available on the departure you want to travel by..
At this stage of the booking path, DB won't have given you the opportunity to enter that a male and female passenger will be travelling together, so a two bed cabin won't be offered as a default.

Booking a sleeping cabin as a couple on the DB website

You will have to be proactive and select the type of accommodation which suits you, so in this example, if you want to share a two bed sleeping cabin, you will have to select the 'bed in a compartment with 2 beds' - if it is available.

Though note that DB sells its places in sleeping cabins (and couchettes) on a per bed basis, so if you are a couple and book two tickets, you are in effect buying one bed each in a sleeping cabin and not the entire two bed cabin.

Having selected the compartment with 2 beds, you'll see a screen on which you can choose the position of the beds, which will be arranged bunk style.

Couple DB 2.jpg

But the key info on this screen has been circled, because DB is in effect informing you that it will strive to ensure that you will be placed together, but it is not absolutely guaranteeing this scenario.

The caveat is here because of a scenario such as this:

  • the train has three cabins for 2 bed occupancy,
  • a solo male traveller wanted a place in a 1 bed cabin, but it wasn't available, so they compromised and booked a bed in a 2 bed cabin,
  • a solo female travellers has taken the same steps.
  • so the current reservation status is that one bed is now available to be booked in what is now a male only 2 bed cabin, and one bed is available in what is now a female only cabin - but there is also a 2 bed cabin available in which no places have been reserved.
  • When a male and female travelling together make a booking, the system doesn't know that you are a couple, so there's a possibility that you will be assigned the spare places in the other 2 bed cabins.

Though this is an unlikely scenario, as this caveat is displayed regardless of the combination of travellers and its more pertinent to a situation in which two male friends or two female friends will be traveling together

Though if, for example, you are two business colleagues travelling together who definitely don't want to share a cabin, its best to make two separate bookings.

At the next stage you then have the opportunity to inform DB that you will be travelling together as a male and a female, but note the emphasis that DB places on the 'warning' to solo travellers that its sleeping cabins are typically separated into male only and female only.
Booking sleeping cabins on the DB website

Though this message is displayed regardless if more than one person is travelling; the emphasis is on solo travellers because this segregation isn't applied if a male and female are booking together - and both beds in a two bed cabin are available.

However, having told DB that a male and female are travelling together, you have to trust that DB has placed you in the same cabin, prior to making the payment.

Screenshot (698).jpg

Note that DB is telling you that you are about to book 2 beds in a sleeping cabin, it doesn't tell you in which cabin(s) those 2 beds will be located.

Booking with OBB Nightjet

If you will be travelling on a Nightjet service and use the Nightjet website - when you enter 2 travellers as a male and female, you will automatically be given the option to book a 3-bed cabin for the sole use of the two of you = the 'double' cabin option.
So you will be in the cabin together with no other travellers.

Booking with OBB (Austrian national railways)

OBB operates the Nightjets so all routes by these trains can be booked on its website, regardless of whether the journey will be from or to Austria.

Having added a passenger on the booking steps, before you look up a journey, you won't have been given an opportunity to inform OBB that a male and female will be travelling together.
Therefore OBB will present you with all of the available accommodation options, from which you can make a choice:

Booking a Nightjet on the OBB website

What has been pointed out on the above screen is:

  1. Check that you have informed OBB that the booking will be for two travellers.
  2. The default is that you will want to travel in a couchette, so you will be given the opportunity to book a berth in a couchette which you will share with two or four other travellers.
  3. Some of the couchette compartments on Nightjet trains are female only
  4. If you want to share a sleeping cabin instead, you need to click here.

Then having done so you will be taken to the sleeping cabin option - note that 2 bed cabins may already have sold out

Choosing a sleeping cabin option on the OBB website

What has been pointed out on the above screen is:

  1. OBB evidently has a commitment to distributing to passengers across the smallest possible number of compartments, so you will be grouped together if you select a two bed compartment. (If you will be travelling with another male / female that you won't want to share with and no one bed cabins are available, it's best to make a separate booking).
  2. This caveat will appear on this screen regardless of the number of travellers, so what it is primarily referring to is when groups of four and five travellers will have to be split up across multiple compartments.
  3. Select the 2 bed compartment if you want to share it with your partner and nobody else.
  4. Or if a male /female will be travelling together and you don't want to share, you can choose two 1 bed cabins
  5. This is where you inform OBB whether each traveller is male or female.
  6. The beds will be bunk style, so you can choose a preference; though this is moot when a couple is travelling together, because you can choose your preferred bed when you're in he cabin.

Booking with SBB (Swiss national railways)

SBB takes a different approach to DB and OBB because it asks ticket bookers whether they are male or female prior to offering the ticket booking options.

Booking a sleeping cabin on the SBB website

What has been pointed out on the above screen is:

  1. When booking a sleeping cabin, it makes no difference to the options you are offered if you choose first or second class.
  2. Use this to assign male or female to the first traveller; the person who will be making the booking.
  3. Add the second passenger here; and repeat the gender assignment

Then because you have already assigned the gender of each passenger, you will then only be offered the most logical accomodation options, which correspond to who will be travelling.
Choosing a sleeping cabin for a couple on the SBB website

What has been pointed out on the above screen is:

  1. You can check that the booking options are for two travellers.
  2. You will be given the opportunity to book a berth in a couchette which you will share with two or four other travellers.
  3. The sleeping cabin options will include 'two passengers in a double compartment', so if you choose this you will be sharing the compartment (So when a male and a female are travelling together and you don't want to share, you will have to book two single compartments).

Booking with CD (Czech national railways)

When CD is one of the ticketing agents selling night train tickets for a route, using it is a good option if you want to share a two bed sleeping cabin as a couple.

Booking a sleeping cabin for a couple on the CD website

As can be seen above, the accommodation selection step of its booking path, includes the following;

  • an easily understood selection of a sleeping cabin (sleeper)
  • the number of people in the cabin; double = 2 beds
  • the opportunity to inform CD that a female and a male will be travelling together.
  • and most crucially you are given the opportunity to explicitly inform CD that you want to share the cabin (when a male and female don't want to share, they can avoid ticking this box; and will then be assigned places in male only and female only cabins).

Booking groups of four (and five) in sleeping cabins

Booking berths in a couchette is typically simpler than booking sleeping cabins when a small group want to travel together.
A group of four travellers can choose a couchette with 4 berths, or a group of six travellers can choose a couchette with 6 berths and you often won't have to share it with anybody else - though on Nightjet trains you will now need to specifically book a private compartment, to seemingly ensure that your booking won't be split across multiple compartments.
Male and females can travel together in couchettes, so that isn't an issue if a mixed sex group wants to share.
Travelling in a couchette in in a group of five is a tad trickier, because the only option is a 6 berth compartment, and that remaining sixth berth may be offered to another solo traveller - if booking a private compartment isn't an option.

Booking sleeping cabins

On any European night train a sleeping cabin has a maximum number of three beds, so logic suggests that when a group or four (or five) are travelling together on the same train, that it should be possible for the travellers to assign the cabins into whatever configuration suits the group:

  • two x 2 bed cabins
  • a 3 bed cabin + a 1 bed cabin
  • 4 x 1 bed cabins etc
    But in actuality the ticket agent makes the assignment, leaving the travellers in the group to either take or leave the options that will be offered.

This is most simply managed on the Nightjet website, so it can be the best option if you will be travelling by a Nightjet train.
3 men + 2 women, or 3 women + 2 men = three beds in a triple cabin + two beds in a double cabin is what you will be offered, though the cabins will then be male and female only.
So if the combination of travellers is 1 male/female couple + 1 male/female couple and a child, you will need to make two separate bookings so that the two couples can each share a cabin.
When four Adults are travelling together you will be given the option of booking double or triple cabins.
If you select 'Double' you will automatically be assigned 4 beds in two double cabins.
Because the Triple cabins are segregated into male and female, when two women + two men are in the travel party, the two men will be sharing a triple compartment with another traveller, as will the two women
When 3 men + 1 woman, or 3 women + 1 man are the travel party, the fourth person will then be sharing a three bed cabin with two other people.

On the DB (German railways) booking service all the accommodation options will be offered, but only one can be selected.
Booking sleeping cabins for a group of 4 and 5 on the DB website

So on the example above, if the 2 bed in a cabin option is selected, all members of the group of four will be assigned places in a 2 bed cabin.
Similarly if a 1 bed cabin is selected, all members of the party will be assigned places in a 1 bed cabin.
If one or two members of the group then decided not to pay the more expensive price for a 1 bed cabin, because they'd be OK with travelling in a couchette, a separate booking will be required, in which those two travellers can select a couchette instead.

As has been highlighted above, on this particular departure, the only cabins with showers are the Deluxe 3 bed cabins, but if a group of four (or five) all want to travel in a cabin with a shower, then three of the group will be automatically be assigned places in one cabin with a shower, but the other one (or two) travellers will be assigned places in another 3 bed cabin, which they will then likely be sharing with other travellers.
If this other member(s) of the group thinks, 'I'm happy not to have a shower in the cabin, then when booking with DB or OBB, they will have to make a separate booking and make another choice.

On the OBB website, the operator of the Nightjets, it makes this splitting of the group between cabins clearer.

Group OBB 2.jpg

What has been pointed out on the above screen, for a booking by four adults travelling together is:

  1. The default is a 3 bed cabin. because it is cheaper
  2. This text makes clear that the fourth traveller will be accommodated in another cabin, which will be male only, or female only
  3. Or the group can opt for two 2 bed cabins; which has an additional cost.
  4. If the group want to take up the 3 bed cabin option, then they need to decide at this booking stage, which of them will travel separately in the other cabin, and inform OBB whether this traveller is male or female.
  5. The beds will be bunk style, this fourth traveller can choose a preference.

Though when the two bed option is selected, OBB assumes that the travellers will be able to assign places which suits them.
Group OBB 3.jpg
Hence the method of informing OBB of whether the travellers are male or female won't be available
So paying extra for the two bed cabin is the best option when:

  • two couples each want to share their own cabin
  • if a family group of four wants to travel mother with daughter and father with son
  • if a family group want to travel parents in one cabin, two children in the other.

Travelling with children:

Nightjet trains have family couchette compartments with 6 berths, which are sold at flat rate price - so are particularly good value if you will occupying 4 or more berths.

Children also travel at discounted rates in sleeping cabins on Nightjets, but the price per bed isn't particularly cheaper - but there are savings to be made if up to two children share a bed.

On other night trains:

The following broad terms and conditions CAN apply to accommodating children in sleeping cabins (not couchettes) on other night trains, but confirm when booking.

  • Child up to 4 years without separate bed = free
  • Children aged 5-10 without separate bed = no reservation charge, but the ordinary child rate for the journey is charged.
  • Children aged 1-10 travelling in a separate bed = full reservation cost for the bed, plus the child rate for the journey.
  • Children aged more than 10 years must travel in a separate bed = full reservation cost for the bed charged plus the child rate* for the journey.

*The upper age range for the child ticket will usually be same as applied to child tickets, for journeys in the country in which your journey is commencing.
So the upper age limit for child tickets can vary between 12 and 16.

  • Children up to 4 yrs sharing a bed with each other = full reservation fee cost for the bed, plus one half fare for the journey.
  • Children aged 4-10 yrs sharing a bed = full reservation fee cost for the bed, plus a minimum of one half fare for the journey - though many operators will apply child rate journey fares to both children.

Think twice if you're considering sharing a bed with your child or having two children share, the beds in sleeping cabins are much smaller than a typical single bed in a hotel.

All that's good to know about European night trains The overnight train to Bucharest awaits departure from Wien Hbf

Using rail passes:

The key thing worth knowing is that an InterRail or Eurail pass typically only covers the journey element of the costs of taking a ride on an overnight train, so what's not covered are the reservation fees for seats, berths in couchettes or beds in sleeping cabins

Therefore prior to boarding, rail pass users need to pay reservation fees to travel in a couchette or sleeping cabin; and for most overnight journeys this also applies if you want to travel in a seat.
These rail pass reservation fees can be more expensive than those that are included within the price of ordinary tickets.

The rail pass reservation fees are included within our guides to travelling by Nightjet trains and for most of the different types of EuroNight train.
Though if you want to travel in a sleeping cabin, the amount that you will save by using a rail pass, against the total ticket cost can be comparatively small.

Will using a rail pass be good value on a night train?

These three things are worth keeping in mind:

(1) Some good news, particularly if you want to use the type of rail pass restricted to a set number of travel days, is that an overnight journey now only uses one of your allocation of travel days.
Meaning that you can add destinations to your itinerary without using a day of your travel allowance!

(2) If you're happy to travel in the seats then you can go a long way for a reservation fee of €5 - 15; and you could be in luck and convert a compartment seat(s) into a bed.

(3) As rail pass users only have to pay the reservation costs, a berth in a couchette can be comparable to a bed in hostel with a typical reservation fee of around €40
However, the reservation fees for a bed in a sleeping cabin can be more than €80.

So open to the possibility, that if you want to mainly travel overnight in sleeping cabins on a pan-European rail travel itinerary, using a rail pass will likely offer comparatively poor value money, compared to the train ticket costs.

How to book the rail pass reservations?

If you will be travelling with rail pass on an overnight train in Western Europe between May and October, then making reservations before you arrive at a station to take the train, is highly recommended.
Leave it to the last minute and you can discover that your first and second choice of accommodation is completely sold out.

A welcome development is that OBB, the Austrian national rail operator and provider of the Nightjet network, now enables rail pass users to book reservations online for any journey by Nightjet PLUS any other night train to/from Austria - how to do this is explained here.

Similarly the Czech national rail operator CD, also enables rail pass users to book reservations online for night trains from and to The Czech Republic - here are the instructions.

Rail pass reservations can be booked by phone for the Caledonian Sleeper services, between London and Scotland

Though the German national rail operator DB has recently withdrawn its online facility for the booking of night train reservations.
If you will be travelling through a major German station, a hauptbahnhof, towards the start of your itinerary, a good option can be booking your night train reservations at a Reisezentrum travel desk.
You won't be charged booking fees and most European night trains can be booked at these desks, including night trains which don't travel from/to Germany.

However, if you want to book reservations before you embark on your rail pass trip and will be travelling on a service/route on which the operator doesn't offer the facility for rail pass users to book specific rail pass reservations online, the only option is to use the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service - though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Also worth knowing before booking a rail pass reservation:

Whether you have a 1st class or 2nd class pass now, seemingly, usually makes little difference to the type of accommodation that you can reserve.
It used to be the case that 1st class passes were required if you wanted to travel in the most expensive types of cabin, those with showers, or to have sole occupancy of a cabin.

You can definitely choose any type of accommodation on the Nightjet trains, regardless of whether you have a First or Second class pass; and on these trains, there is no difference in the reservation fees charged to 1st and 2nd class pass users.
This is because OBB manages these trains and when rail pass users use it's booking service to book sleeper cabin reservations, it doesn't distinguish between 1st and 2nd class passes.
This also applies to Nightjet routes which don't serve Austria such as the Zurich to Berlin, Hamburg and Amsterdam services.

This lack of distinction between 1st and 2nd class pass also applies when booking rail pass reservations on night trains other than the Nightjets on other routes from Austria; and on other routes through Austria.
Non Nightjet routes which can be booked on OBB include:
Budapest and Wien/Vienna <> Munchen
Wien/Vienna <> Warszawa and Krakow

Also don't assume that because, before you booked your pass, you saw a one or two bed reservation fee price, that these one or two bed cabins will actually be available on the train you want to take.
The one and two bed cabins tend to sell out much faster than the places in the three bed cabins.
Conversely the three bed sleeping cabins may not be available on other routes.

Boarding at the station:

Three things in particular are worth knowing:

(1) Most overnight train services commence and finish their journeys joined to other trains.

For example the train that departs every night from Stuttgart Hbf is

  • the OBB Nightjet train heading to Venezia AND
  • the EuroNight ‘Kalaman Imrie’ train heading to Budapest AND
  • the EuroNight ‘Lizinski’ train heading to Zagreb.

When this is the case, the departure screens and info displays at stations normally cannot manage this scenario and only show one of the destinations.

Using the above train from Stuttgart as an example, if you were heading to Zagreb on the train departing at 23:25, you may only see a train heading to Budapest on the departure screens, but the info will also apply to your train, that will be leaving at the same time.
So keep the time of your departure front of mind.

(2) Don’t assume that overnight trains will depart just before midnight and arrive after dawn.
It’s not unusual on routes which only involve one night of travelling, for a train to depart before 21:00 and arrive at a destination before 07:00 in the morning.

(3) It’s also not unusual for trains to make station calls, in the middle of the night, but our advice is to think twice about joining a train after midnight
Most station facilities, including waiting rooms can be closed after 22:30, or even earlier.

How to travel on European night trains The Nightjet to Rome awaits departure from Vienna

Travel tips:

Eye masks, ear plugs and taking your own night pillow etc are all highly recommended even if bedding will be provided; in sleeping cabins the rule is one pillow per bed and additional bedding cannot usually be requested.

Night trains can be noisy, the trains don’t travel slowly so that passengers won’t be disturbed.
Also many trains are separated and then joined to other services in the middle of the night, so in early hours expect the noise and sensation of trains being joined together.

If you WON’T be travelling in a sleeping cabin, check whether your destination is the final stop of the train’s journey.
If it’s not you’ll have to set the alarm and make sure you’re up in time to get off the train.
Though if you travel in a sleeping cabin, the attendant will wake you.

If you will be taking a train to its final destination you MAY not have to leave the train as soon as it arrives, so it's worth checking with the conductor, you may be allowed to remain on the train another 30 mins to get yourself ready for the day ahead.

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Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.


This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.


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This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

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