A different city, a different country, could be awaiting you at the end of your slumber. If you haven’t jumped on any sleeper trains yet, we totally think you should give it a try. After a hard day of exploring a new country, most of us want to hit the hay. But what if, when you opened your eyes the next morning you were somewhere new?
Here are a few of our favourite journeys…
Paris to Barcelona
Trip time: 6.5 hours
After a heady night absorbing all that the city of love has to offer, the last thing you want to be thinking about is getting to your next country. Stepping onto the night train in Paris, it’s hard to think that in just 6.5 hours you’ll be stepping out of a station in Spain’s cosmopolitan capital. Heading down the centre of France at 320km/h, you won’t catch much of the beautiful French scenery, but the modern carriages are comfortable and well equipped which will make the journey fly by.
Seat reservations are mandatory on this high-speed locomotive, so be sure to plan your journey in advance. Tickets are a steal at around £75 but, if you’ve purchased a Eurail Pass, then all you have to pay is a reservation fee.
Milan to Palermo
Trip time: 15 hours
Super sleepers don’t have to take you across borders to completely change your scenery. This trip sweeps you from the bustling metropolis Milan to the island of Sicily’s capital. Trade high-fashion, café culture for the historic and flamboyant—all with the flick of a railcard.
This journey is split between two trains. The first takes you from Milan to Napoli (4 hours) and the second overnight train from Napoli to Palermo. Tickets range from around £70 to £85.
Bangkok – Vientiane
Trip time: 14 hours
This cross-border trip is beautifully simple. The sleeper train takes you from Thailand’s capital into the northern city of NongKahi. Upon your arrival, you can walk through customs onto your connecting train to Thanaleng via the Friendship Bridge. From there, you’re only a tuk-tuk away from Laos’s capital. Tickets can be bought for around £200 all in (with a £30 visa charge).
Thai night trains are notoriously basic, so be prepared for a long, hot night of travelling, but the price more than makes up for it.
If you’re prepared to go long-haul, then a night train tour may be for you. They vary in length, from 5 days to two weeks (or more). On the tour spend days in new and exciting places, and nights travelling to a brand new destination.
While they may be more expensive, organised trips are a great investment, as guides help you make the most out of your stops. The trip from Thailand to Laos is studded with bustling cities to explore, natural wonders to observe and interesting people to meet.
Copenhagen to Budapest
Trip time: 21 hours
Both of these, somewhat overlooked, capital cities are packed with things to do. So wave goodbye to the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen and catch a sleeper to the thermal bath capital of Europe, Budapest!
This lengthier trip is broken up into two train journeys. The first stage takes you from Copenhagen’s central train station to Hamburg in Germany in a little under 5 hours. There’s enough time in between connections for you to grab a bite to eat or view a nearby landmark.
The next step is to hop onto one of the Metropol sleeper trains for the 14 hour trip to Budapest. The entire trip should only set you back around £40, so it won’t put a dent in your spending money!
Moscow to Bejing
Trip time: 6 days
The Silk Road is as long as it is beautiful. There are two possible routes you can take to your destination, depending on how much time you wish to be travelling and what you’d like to see. Using the Trans-Siberian route, you’ll arrive in Beijing after 5 nights and 6 days onboard. If you have a couple of days to spare, the Trans-Manchurian route is a great way to see more of China before arriving at the Capital.
No matter which way you travel, this iconic journey is a must-see for any well-versed traveller, just be prepared to sit tight. Tickets are moderately priced considering travel time, with a 2nd class ticket standard ticket costing around £450.
Top tips for taking a sleeper train:
• Keep your valuables with you at all times
• Bring snacks for when you wake up – there are no guarantees of a catering cart
• Be social – you’re going to have to share a cabin with new people, you may as well make new friends
• Certain trains have local and western toilets, make sure you know which one’s which and prepare
• Be aware of local customs – you don’t want to offend the people you’ll be travelling with
Let us know if you have any tips for travelling on sleeper trains in the comments.