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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Lucy White

‘The sleeper train is back’ – four fab night trains for exploring mainland Europe

La Dolce Vita Orient Express

With the advent of cheap flights came massively reduced transit times, putting train travel out of favour.

The glory days of 99c air fares are long gone, however, and the emphasis these days is more on sustainability, and enjoying the journey as much as the destination. In short, the sleeper train is back, and mainland Europe in particular is experiencing a renaissance.

Of course, travellers from Ireland will still need to take a flight to connect with continental Europe in the first place...

But here are a few routes that inter-rail with style, swiftness and sustainability in mind, for those with the gift of being able to sleep while on the move.

The Good Night Train

​The European Sleeper is a Belgian-Dutch cooperative launching The Good Night Train service on May 25, linking Brussels with Berlin via Amsterdam, with plans to extend to Dresden and Prague in 2024 – and into southern Europe and Scandinavia in the future.

Trains will depart Brussels at 19.22 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arriving in Berlin the next day at 06.48, while the return trip departs at 22.56 every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, arriving back in the Belgian capital at 09.27 the following morning.

Seats from €49, couchettes from €79, and private compartments from €109pp. Ticket sales open on February 20 at

On board Austria's Nightjet. Photo: OBB/Harald Eisenberger


Long-haul train travel doesn’t get more scenic than along Italy’s Ligurian coast – which you will wake up in time to enjoy in broad daylight on Nightjet’s sleeper trains from Munich and Vienna respectively.

Both routes go through Verona, Milan and Genoa before terminating in Liguria’s second largest city, La Spezia – which is just a separate 20-minute train ride northwest to dreamy Cinque Terre. (Nightjet is on a roll: it also has new sleeper routes linking Stuttgart with Venice and Zagreb.)

The Munich train leaves at 20.09, the Vienna one at 21.18, arriving in La Spezia at 11.10 the following day. Tickets start at €30 for a seat, €50 for a couchette and €70 for a private cabin.

SJ EuroNight Train

Go to bed in Stockholm and wake up in Hamburg with the SJ EuroNight Train, which runs on renewable energy. Launched in September 2022, the daily direct Stockholm Central to Hamburg-Altona service leaves Sweden at at 17.34 and arrives at its German destination around 13 hours later, depending on which day you travel.

Carriage seats from €25, shared couchettes from €45, and private compartments (with sink) for two people from €165. Private compartments for up to three people have their own private shower and toilet (and breakfast) starting from €205.

Note: at the time of writing, those over the age of 14 must wear an FFP2 face mask when using public transportation in Germany until April 7, 2023. This includes passengers entering Germany with SJ EuroNight.

Orient Express is launching La Dolce Vita. Image: DimoreStudio

The Orient Express La Dolce Vita

And last but never least, the che bella of train travel: the Orient Express. Not to be confused with the Belmond Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, a separate entity, Accor’s The Orient Express La Dolce Vita is an 11-carriage bonanza of high-spec ergonomic design inspired by Fellini-era Italy.

There are six itineraries throughout Italy, all departing Rome, at one and two-nights, covering wine and truffle regions in the north to coastal chic in the south.

Pre-registration for 2024 is open – and requires a 500 deposit – with trips from €2,000 per person based on two sharing.

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