Europe’s best new train journeys to take in 2023 (2023)

As flight-free travel gains momentum, European train journeys are experiencing a renaissance.

Changing the way you travel is one the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. According to Eurostar, flying from London to Paris emits 14 times more CO2 than travelling by train.

Luckily, countries across the EU are investing in railways that provide better - and faster - connections than ever before.

From budget-savvy night trains to cross-country tracks, here are all the latest European railway routes.

Austria

Vienna to Paris with Nightjet

Austrian national rail firm ÖBB has been trailblazing Europe’s sleeper train revival with NightJet since 2016. In late 2021, it launched a new route between Vienna and Paris via Salzburg and Munich.

The journey takes 14 hours and runs three times a week in both directions, with prices from around €30 for a seat to €120 and up for a private compartment.

In summer 2023, Nightjet will launch new-gen trains that rival first-class flights in comfort. Expect wireless charging stations, free wifi, bicycle and snow sports equipment storage and private compartments with their own showers and toilets.

Vienna to Genoa and La Spezia with Nightjet

Nightjet's new 2023 timetable saw its Vienna/Munich service to Milan extended to Genoa and La Spezia in Italy. From here, passengers can take trains to Monaco, Nice and Cinque Terre.

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Belgium

Brussels to Berlin with European Sleeper(May 2023)

The long-teased European Sleeper, a Belgian-Dutch social cooperative, will launch its first route - from Brussels to Berlin via Amsterdam - on 25 May 2023.

With only one change, passengers will be able to travel on to Paris, London, Prague and Warsaw. From 2024, the plan is to extend the service to Dresden and Prague.

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Czech Republic

Prague to Zurich with ČD

In December 2022, the Czech Republic’s national rail operator České dráhy (ČD)launched a new sleeper service linking Prague to Zurich, with stops at Frankfurt and Basel along the way.

The overnight journey, a revival of a service that closed down in 2017,will take slightly less than 14 hours. Travellers will have a number of different fare options, from six-bed couchettes to deluxe sleeper compartments with en-suite toilets and showers.

Tickets for a berth in a six-bed couchette start from €49.90.

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France

Paris to Berlin with TGV (2024)

France and Germany have announceda new TGV train route between Paris and Berlin that is due to start running in 2024.

Currently, a trip between the two capital cities requires travellers to change at a separate station such as Cologne or Frankfurt.The new high-speed link would allow passengers to make the journey in around seven hours.

Paris to Madrid with Trenitalia (late 2024)

In December 2022,FS Italiane Group - the owner ofItaly's national state-owned railway Trenitalia - announced plans for a newhigh-speed Frecciarossa train connection between Paris and Madrid.

The new train will link Paris and Barcelona, where the existing high-speed service already runs to the Spanish capital. It is projected to launch in late 2024, with hints that further services could connectMadrid with Italy via France.

Germany

Berlin to Stockholm with Snälltåget

Swedish railway company Snälltåget has rerouted its Berlin to Malmö train service through Hamburg and Denmark, while extending it to Stockholm. The full journey takes just under 17 hours with prices for the direct service from around €50.

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Munich to Genoa and La Spezia with Nightjet

Nightjet's new 2023 timetable saw its Vienna/Munich service to Milan extended to Genoa and La Spezia in Italy. From here, onward travel to Monaco, Nice and Cinque Terre is possible.

Stuttgart to Zagreb andRijeka with Nightjet and EuroNight

In its new 2023 timetable, NightJet extended its sleeper train service from Munich to Venice, Ljubljana and Zagreb to start in Stuttgart, Germany.

Seasonally, the route will also run to the coastal Croatian city of Rijeka, with a total journey time of around 15 hours.

The Nightjet to Venice travels via Munich, Salzburg and Treviso, while the service to the Croatian and Slovenian capitals is run by Croatian Railways HŽ and Slovenian Railways SŽ under ÖBB's EuroNight.

Italy

Genoa to Naples with NTV Italo

In late 2021, Italian high-speed rail company NTV Italo launched a Genoa service linking the previously poorly connected port city in Italy’s northwest to the south of the country.

The journey from Genoa to Naples takes just under seven hours and costs from around €80 return.

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Milan to Paris with Frecciarossa

Also in late 2021, Frecciarossa - the high-speed arm of Italian national train operator Trenitalia - launched a swanky new train between Milan and Paris.

Faster and more luxurious than previous services on this route, the train takes just under seven hours. Tickets are as cheap as €29 - though splash out on an ‘executive’ fare to travel in a comfy armchair.

Portugal

Porto to Lisbon and Vigo withthe Iberian high-speed rail network (construction starting in 2024)

Portugal has approved plans for a high-speed rail line between Lisbon, Porto and Vigo. It will be part of the wider Iberian high-speed rail network uniting the country andconnecting it with Spain.

Currently it takes almost three hours to travel by train between Porto and Lisbon. The new rail link will slash the journey time to just 1 hour 15 minutes. Ultimately, the new line will connect the Portuguese cities with Vigo in Spain.

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Netherlands

Amsterdam to Austria with TUI's Ski Express (December 2022)

Snow sport lovers are bracing for a new overnight train launching between Amsterdam and some of Austria’s biggest ski resorts.

TUI’s ‘Ski Express’ will depart from Amsterdam every Friday night between 23 December and 31 March.After leaving the Dutch capital at 5:30pm, the service will stop at Utrecht, then continue directly to Austria.

Amsterdam to Zurich with Nightjet

Austrian-led night train pioneer NightJet launched a route between Amsterdam and Zurich in late 2021. It leaves at 8.30pm and arrives at 8.05am.

Sleeping options range from couchettes (from around €60) to sleeper cabins (from around €120).

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Spain

Madrid to Alicante and Valencia with Ouigo

In November 2022, SNCF-owned Ouigo launched a new high-speed route between Madrid and Valencia. It will soon also run to Alicante. Tickets will initially be priced at €9 one-way with one suitcase, but will cost around €30 after the launch period.

In 2023, Ouigo plans to extend its service to reach Cordoba, Seville, Malaga and the Costa del Sol.

Barcelona to Madrid with Iryo

Travelling between Spain’s capital and its top tourist city got faster and cheaper in November 2022 with this new high-speed rail service from Iryo.

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Iryo -a consortium between Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Italian train company Trenitalia - runs 16 return trains daily between Barcelona and Madrid, taking as little as 2.5 hours each way and costing just €18.

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Slovenia

Ljubljana to Budapest with Hungarian Railways

Launched in December 2021, the Hungarian Railways train from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Budapest, Hungaryruns through Graz in Austria for a scenic ride. The journey takes 7.5 hours and trains depart at 5:05am and 9:35am, starting as low as €16 each way.

Sweden

Stockholm to Hamburg with SJ EuroNight

Launched in September 2022, the Stockholm Central to Hamburg-Altona night trainis powered by renewable energy. It departs daily at 5.30pm and arrives at 6.30am, passing through Copenhagen along the way.

The cheapest option is a seat in a carriage (from €25). A bed in a shared compartment starts at €45, while a private compartment for two people with a sink starts at €165.Private compartments for one-to-three people come with their own shower, toilet and breakfast starting from around €205. Pet-friendly train compartments are also available.

Combined with existing Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn services, the service can also be used to travel from London to Stockholm in less than 24 hours.

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Switzerland

Zurich to Rome with Nightjet (December 2022)

In a 2020 press conference, Nightjet announced it will launch a new night train between Zurich and Rome in winter 2022. It remains to be seen whether the plans will go ahead as scheduled. Currently, the operator’s only Rome routes include Vienna, Salzburg, Villach and Munich.

UK

London to Bordeaux with Eurostar (2027, maybe)

Eurotunnel execs have hinted at plans for a London to Bordeaux route, which they aim to launch within the next five years. They hope the new infrastructure will encourage private jet users to visit the Côte d'Azur more sustainably.

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FAQs

Which country has the best train system in Europe? ›

1. Switzerland. Tucked inside the small but incredibly beautiful country of Switzerland is one of the most efficient and scenic rail networks in the world.

What is the best rail journey in the world? ›

The Best Train Trips in the World: 2022 Readers' Choice Awards
  • Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland.
  • The Canadian, Canada. ...
  • Rocky Mountaineer, North America. ...
  • Inca Rail, South America. ...
  • Deccan Odyssey, India. ...
  • The Maharajas' Express, India. ...
  • Golden Chariot, India. ...
  • La Trochita (The Old Patagonian Express), South America. ...
Oct 4, 2022

Is train best way to get around Europe? ›

Train travel in Europe is generally far more comfortable than flying. At the end of the day, traveling Europe by train is immensely more comfortable than flying. There's less hassle, more comfortable seats, more ease of moving around, often better views, and more control over your environment.

Which country has best luxury train? ›

Cruise Train Seven Stars, Japan

Often referred to as the world's most luxurious train, Japan's Cruise Train Seven Stars brings old-school luxury to a technologically advanced railway. It lays claim to being the country's first luxury sleeper, with its first run in 2013.

Which is the luxurious train in the world? ›

The Maharaja Train is known as one of the world's best luxury train because it is equipped with all the facilities offering unmatched opulence.

What is the most luxurious railway in the world? ›

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE)

The Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) is the world's most authentic luxury train.

Which is the luxurious train? ›

Indian Maharajas' Train is a luxury train in India introduced by Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). A traveler gets an amazing opportunity to Experience royalty but running on wheels. Maharajas' Express Indian Luxury Train has four cabins : Deluxe, Presidential Suite, Suite and Junior Suite.

What is the best train service in Europe? ›

23 of the best rail journeys in Europe
  1. Glacier Express, Switzerland. ...
  2. Odontotos Rack Railway, Greece. ...
  3. Rhine Valley Line, Germany. ...
  4. Venice Simplon Orient-Express, UK, France & Italy. ...
  5. West Highland Line, Scotland. ...
  6. Bernina Express, Switzerland & Italy. ...
  7. Mariazell Railway, Austria. ...
  8. Inlandsbanan, Sweden.
Dec 7, 2022

Is it better to travel Europe by train or plane? ›

Trains are a fast, comfortable alternative to cheap flights in Europe, especially when you're visiting multiple destinations. A Eurail Pass gives you unlimited, borderless travel across Europe with just one ticket, so you can go a lot further with your money – and you'll be doing your bit for the planet, too.

What is the cheapest way to travel in Europe by train? ›

Cheapest way to travel Europe by train

Rail passes are great if you're going city or country hopping throughout several weeks or months at a time. There are two main types – Eurail for non-EU citizens and Interrail for passengers from within Europe. Find out more about Eurail Passes.

Where are the world's most scenic railway journeys? ›

Here, we give you a taste of each.
  • Aussie Coast to Coast on the Indian Pacific. ...
  • The Northern Belle along the Welsh borders. ...
  • Alaska Railroad's Denali Star. ...
  • The Inlandsbanan in Sweden. ...
  • The Far North Line from Inverness to Wick in Scotland. ...
  • The Tornado Steam Train from York to Edinburgh.
Oct 3, 2021

What is the longest sleeper train journey in the world? ›

The Trans-Siberian stretches 9,289km (5,772 miles) and is operated by Russian Railways. It spans a record eight time zones and it takes eight days to complete the entire journey.

What is the difference between Rail Europe and Eurail? ›

Eurail is the name of the consortium that works with all the national rail companies to create the Eurail train pass. Rail Europe is an official reseller of the tickets and passes that Eurail creates. Interrail is the same pass but for Europeans only; Eurail/Rail Europe is for non-Europeans.

What is the best way to travel between European countries? ›

Often the fastest and easiest way to travel around Europe is by plane. In Europe, you'll find heaps of budget airlines which make travelling this way that much more affordable.
...
A few budget airlines to consider includes:
  1. easyJet.
  2. Eurowings.
  3. Ryanair.
  4. Wizz Air.
  5. Vueling.

Is it cheap to travel by train in Europe? ›

Train travel can be expensive—especially on high-speed trains. Furthermore, there are a lot of super-cheap flights throughout Europe so flying can often be cheaper. That said, you can get some really good deals if you're able to book high-speed trains in advance.

How much is a trip on the Orient Express? ›

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express prices start from £2,920/$3,600/€3,450 per person for a Twin Cabin, and £8,400/$10,350/€9,800 per person for a Grand Suite.

What is the dress code for the Orient Express? ›

For dinner, we ask for formal evening attire and many guests like to don black tie and wear their most glamorous finery for the occasion. Smart daywear is appropriate during the day. At lunch, for example, a jacket/tie or equivalent is suitable. Jeans are not acceptable at any time.

What is the most luxurious train in the USA? ›

Rocky Mountaineer

Distinguishing features of the ride include glass-domed rail cars to enjoy the breathtaking views in panoramic beauty, a luxury dining experience and, for those who book the Silver Leaf Plus package, an outdoor observation deck and passenger lounge car.

What is the most famous train station in the world? ›

The world's most iconic railway stations
  • Grand Central Terminal, New York. ...
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai. ...
  • Gare du Nord, Paris. ...
  • St Pancras, London. ...
  • Chicago Union Station, Chicago. ...
  • Antwerpen-Centraal, Belgium.
Jan 12, 2016

Who has the best train service in the world? ›

It probably comes as no surprise that in a global 2019 survey of railroad efficiency, the top two places went to Japan and Hong Kong, with scores of 6.8 and 6.5 (out of seven) respectively.

Which country has the best train service? ›

Quality of railroad infrastructure, 1(low) - 7(high), 2019 - Country rankings:
CountriesRailroad infrastructure quality, 2019Global rank
Japan6.81
Hong Kong6.52
Switzerland6.43
South Korea5.94
97 more rows

Is there a train like the Orient Express? ›

There is not a true Orient Express any more

The Orient Express was a service and not a particular train. While there are trains with the name 'Orient Express', each would have used different carriages throughout their lifetime as carriages were upgraded and journeys altered.

Which Rocky Mountaineer route is the most scenic? ›

First Passage to the West is one of the best Rocky Mountaineer scenic routes because it takes passengers through the historic Spiral Tunnels and provides sweeping views of the Canadian Rockies. For even more scenery, pair the First Passage to the West itinerary with another Rocky Mountaineer route on a Circle Tour.

Which train class is best? ›

1) 1A – First Class AC

AC Tier-1 is the most expensive class of Indian Railways. The ticket price of 1A coach is equivalent to the fare of an aeroplane. The AC-1 coaches have eight cabins, and the half AC first-class coach has three cabins. The coach has a staff to help passengers.

Which is best for train booking? ›

MakeMyTrip is the leading portal for booking IRCTC train tickets online which is offering the most convenient ways to book train tickets, check train schedule, train availability, and view live train status. IRCTC has been the most used website for train tickets booking.

Is first class worth it on trains in Europe? ›

Overall, First Class tickets can definitely be worth the cost. Most carriers these days offer very minimal price differences between the two travel classes. At Trainline, we'll automatically show you if there are low-priced First Class tickets available, so you can be sure that you won't miss out on any bargains.

What train goes all over Europe? ›

Eurostar high-speed train Travel between London and the rest of Europe on the Eurostar high-speed train. Transport and convenience are covered with our affordable Eurail Pass! ICE High-Speed Trains The ICE (InterCity Express) is a high-speed train that connects all major cities in Germany.

Is Eurail the best way to travel Europe? ›

Whether you use a Eurail pass or buy cheap advance-purchase tickets, the train is the best way to tour Europe in comfort, relaxed, seeing a lot in a short time.

What month is cheaper to go to Europe? ›

The late fall and winter months—from mid to late October through mid-to-late March—are often the cheapest time to fly to Europe (though fares can spike in December). It's often cheaper to fly to Europe mid-week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in particular.

What is the best strategy for ticket to Ride Europe? ›

With that said, the most optimal strategy is:
  1. At the beginning of the game, dump any Western Europe tickets.
  2. Claim the 8-car track and any viable 6-car tracks.
  3. Complete your routes.
  4. Get down to 2 cars left as fast as possible by claiming 4-car tracks.
May 16, 2014

Do they check passports on trains in Europe? ›

Although in most European countries there are no passport border checks, companies can refuse to board you if you do not have a travelling passport (or some other ID proving that you are in Europe legally).

How to save money on train tickets in Europe? ›

Booking European train tickets in advance is definitely the best way to ensure you got the cheapest fares. Like planes, European trains (by and large) work in tiers – so the cheapest tickets go on sale first, and when these are all gone, prices shift up a tier and so on.

How can I save money on train travel in Europe? ›

Content
  1. 1: Avoid the countries in which you HAVE to reserve on express trains.
  2. Take alternative routes:
  3. 3: Take the more expensive trains at the start or end of your trip:
  4. 4: Your overall savings will be greater in 1st class:
  5. Go long - distance:
  6. Mandatory seat reservations can be good value:

Can you take luggage on trains in Europe? ›

Aside from that, you're free to take what you like. There are no strict luggage limits on trains in mainland Europe. Eurostar allows each adult two pieces of luggage each, each measuring up to 85cm, so large suitcases are no problem.

What is the most scenic place in Europe? ›

The Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Towering mountains, alpine meadows, soaring cable cars, historic cogwheel trains, scenic walking trails, quaint villages and hamlets…the Swiss Alps tops the list as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe.

What is the most scenic Orient Express route? ›

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Look outside and you'll be treated to views of leafy vineyards, the dramatic Swiss Alps and the sparkling Venice Lagoon.

Which is better Eurail or InterRail? ›

Eurail and InterRail are both rail passes, and while they are similar there is one critical difference - who can buy them. Eurail Passes are only for non-European citizens or residents. InterRail Passes are only for European citizens or residents.

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in Europe? ›

1. Eiffel Tower, France. The Eiffel Tower is one of France's most famous sights. Sitting in the heart of the Champ de Mars in Paris, the wrought-iron tower was originally built to serve as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair.

What is the number one tourist destination in Europe? ›

1. France – 89.4 million visitors. The world's most visited country, France, is not all about the Eifel Tower, museums and wine. For more than a decade now, the country has lured the highest number of visitors, more than any other European or world country.

What is considered the most beautiful city in Europe? ›

1. Florence, Italy. The capital of Italy's region of Tuscany is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. After visiting a handful of times over the years, I've gotta say I wholeheartedly agree.

How many days do you need for the Orient Express? ›

The traditional and most popular route between London and Venice takes two days, with one night on board.

Is there a dress code on the Orient Express? ›

You can never be overdressed on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. For dinner, men should wear a suit and tie and women dress in smart attire, but many guests like to don tux / black tie or evening dress for the occasion. During the day, the dress code is smart-casual.

Do you have to share a toilet on the Orient Express? ›

In standard twin cabins and cabin suites there is no shower and the toilets are shared with one at each end of a carriage. However, those upgrading to a Grand Suite will have their very own en suite, complete with toilet and shower and kitted out in rich marble and a Murano glass sink.

What is the 7pm rule? ›

The old 7pm rule obliges a customer to fill in the date of arrival if he boards a direct overnight train after 19:00h (7pm), provided the train arrives at its final destination after 04:00h (4am).

Can US citizens use Interrail? ›

Americans can travel with Interrail if they reside in Europe for more than six months. This must be proven with official documents. Otherwise, a Eurail Pass must be purchased, which is today almost the same as the Interrail Pass.

Which is better Eurail Pass or Swiss pass? ›

The Eurail Pass does not have the same validity as the Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass has a larger area of validity within Switzerland. It also includes the Swiss Museum Pass, which grants you admission to more than 500 museums throughout Switzerland.

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