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Home » This is how it works: Book tickets for night trains in Europe

This is how it works: Book tickets for night trains in Europe

1. Find a connection

Where do night trains currently run? – Back-on-Track Germany has created a map of the European rail network. The online version is always up to date (can also be ordered as an A2 poster). All regularly served destinations and important railway stations are included. This means that the night trains stop at many other places that are not included for reasons of clarity.

A connection from A to B can be found via, where almost all European timetables are included. However, the system does not specifically search for night trains, so it is best to uncheck the “Show fastest connections” box. When selecting the means of transport, night trains fall under “Interregio and express trains”.

2. A few tips in advance

Deutsche Bahn completely abolished its night trains in 2016. Thankfully, ÖBB took over the business and sent the Austrian Nightjets to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

New-generation Nightjets have been running between Hamburg and Vienna/Innsbruck since December 2023, here is our detailed report. Since March 2024 also between Vienna and Bregenz, from 9 September 2024 from Munich to Rome. Travelling by night train in Central Europe is often a little trip back in time: The last carriages were built 30 years ago, but have of course been renovated in the meantime, and you can even still open the window …

Our Back-on-Track initiative is campaigning for night trains to cover more than 1,500 kilometres in the future. Even today, long distances can be combined, for example from Munich or Vienna to Milan, Venice or Rome – and on to Sicily the following night (including a ferry journey). Or from the south to Hamburg, and after a day on the Elbe & Alster to Stockholm, and from there again to the Arctic Circle …

The Man in Seat 61 offers a comprehensive page with photos and descriptions of many night trains and compartment types.
If you want to look around in a specific carriage, enter the train number at Vagonweb, see the scheduled carriages and click on the camera to see the interior.

3. Book a train

Our night train map lists the operators’ websites. We also recommend travel agencies specialising in rail travel, which often have a deep bag of tricks and are worth any booking fee (their commission on tickets is manageable to non-existent).

Booking a one-day connection abroad works well on Watch out: If the night train also has an Intercity section, this can be booked – but you will end up in a seating carriage. Otherwise, you end up on a separate page for international connections, which is due to receive a necessary update in 2026.
Other operators are hardly available, not even in the travel centre. Back-on-Track supports calls for DB’s dominant platform to also sell tickets from other providers.

Mind your connection: For passenger rights, it is important that all affected connections are booked together.
Example Berlin-Rome: The complete booking is possible with DB and ÖBB, i.e. Berlin-Munich on the ICE and onwards to Rome on the Nightjet. If the ICE is delayed and the Nightjet is cancelled, you are entitled to compensation (in case of doubt: hotel accommodation and onward travel the next morning, plus further refunds). In the meantime, it may be cheaper to book both separately – but then the connection risk lies with the passenger.
Example Dortmund-Stockholm: This connection cannot be booked continuously online. So if you book the night train with SJ or Snälltåget and a DB ticket, you are unfortunately responsible for changing trains yourself and should allow plenty of buffer time.

Interrail: The combination with Interrail can be worthwhile. Passes valid from 4 days to 3 months are available for everyone, and are cheaper for young people and senior citizens. Here too, travel agencies know most of the tips.

4. Our experience with the providers

ÖBB / Nightjet

ÖBB regularly receives enquiries as to whether their booking system is broken when it says “Ticket not available”. There can be two reasons for this: Either couchette and sleeper coaches of the Nightjets are fully booked – or not yet bookable at all. The normal advance booking period is 6 months, but currently it is more like 1-2 months. And here ÖBB would also like things to be different, and would like to get to at least 3-4 months. The reason for this is construction work on the networks, which is often carried out at night. And until these are planned, a night train does not get a timetable.

Now it is in ÖBB’s very own interest to sell tickets. And so the “provisional timetable” was developed – bookings subject to the proviso that times may still change. This concerns times of less than one hour. If greater deviations are to be expected, sales will only start once the timetable has been allocated. ÖBB wants to indicate by mid-2024 whether a train cannot yet be booked or is already sold out. This can happen quickly: The Berlin-Vienna/Zurich and Hamburg-Zurich Nightjets each consist of 2 sleeper and couchette carriages (Berlin-Zurich 1 sleeper carriage).

From 9 June to 8 September 2024, there will be no Nightjet between Munich/Vienna and Bologna/Rome – due to construction work, the train would arrive at around 2 pm and have to return at 4 pm. This is not in the interests of travellers, nor is it possible to make all the beds in the rolling hotel so quickly. For travellers to Italy: The Nightjet to Milan/La Spezia will be extended, and an additional ticket is required when changing to the day train.

If you are travelling with more than one person, be prepared for a certain price roulette: ÖBB now sells different price levels, depending on capacity utilisation. If one of these is no longer available for all travellers, the big shuffle begins. The Bahncard is credited towards some offers. There is the non-cancellable “Sparschiene”, the “Sparschiene Komfort”, which can be cancelled free of charge up to 15 days before departure (then 50%, up to 1 day before departure) and the standard ticket, which can be returned free of charge up to 1 day before departure. Statement from Back-on-Track: “We understand that it is difficult to earn money with night trains and that prices rise when demand is high. However, the 10-year-old booking platform is so unsuitable for the new price “system” that we are also urgently awaiting the adjustments announced for 2024.

With the website, ÖBB also has a parallel system where it is easier to check availability and prices.
Interrail can be selected as a discount card.

If you are planning your holiday and your preferred connection is available: Book, as a comfort or standard ticket – what you have, you have, and you can cancel it 1-15 days before departure free of charge. Conversely, seats may become available again, so keep checking back.

Families are best off in couchette carriages, with small children the “old” seating carriages are also suitable as private compartments: the seats can be pushed together to form a large sleeping area, bring blankets & good night.
Travelling like this is a great experience for children if you’re on a budget: DB’s Sparpreis Europa often includes children in daytime travel, while the ÖBB Nightjet offers the gradations “up to 5 years without own seat = free”, or with own seat 0-5, 5-9, 10-14 years).

Other operators

  • SJ has a very exemplary app for connections to Sweden. For onward journeys within Sweden, book as far as possible to the final station, due to passenger rights at the connection. Snälltåget sells on its own website (English, couchettes only).
  • Trenitalia: Even non-cancellable (Super)Economy tickets can be refunded up to 90% if you add the corresponding “Opzione tiRimborso” for €1/€2. Comprehensive information on Trenitalia’s Intercity Notte at
  • The European Sleeper between Prague/Bad Schandau Dresden/Berlin and Brussels (via Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp) has its own simple booking system. If you are travelling from Brussels-Midi to London on the Eurostar: allow sufficient time for the changeover, including the security check.
  • Interrail/Eurail Passes are recognised on these connections and are also available for adults; reservations must be paid for separately. At SJ under “Add SJ Prio/period ticket” (enter any number for price enquiries). With Trenitalia, a separate, direct booking is often cheaper; the Interrail reservation system will give you the comparative price.
  • We cannot recommend commercial booking portals such as Trainline and Omio, as many connections are missing and in some cases only seats on the night train are sold.
  • Croatia: The train to Rijeka/Zagreb from Munich/Zurich can be booked via ÖBB, the Zagreb-Split route in the couchette coach via HZPP, sleeper coaches via
  • European passenger rights apply: 25% compensation between 60 and 119 minutes delay at destination, 50% beyond that.

More information about our Europe-wide initiative for more night trains – and how you can support us!

Nachtzug TrenitaliaTrenitalia Intercity Notte on 13 March 2023 in Milano Centrale / Arrival of an Intercity Notte to Siracusa in Taormina-Giardini on Sicily | Patrick Neumann