ICE train at Berlin Hbf

A German ICE train.  More about ICEs.

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This page explains how to travel by train from Cologne or Düsseldorf to other key European cities, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Train information is current for 2020.

Before you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

European train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to InterRail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


Cologne or Düsseldorf to other German towns & cities...
ICE second class ICE first class High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

ICE1/2, 2nd class

ICE1/2, 1st class

A Cologne-Berlin ICE2 at Berlin.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to London...

Option 1, by Eurostar...

Option 2, by ferry from Hoek van Holland - a useful alternative, cheaper than Eurostar at short notice...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Paris from €35...
A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

A Thalys at Paris Nord.  See panorama photos inside a Thalys trainMore info about Thalys.

1st class (Comfort & Premium) seating on Thalys   2nd class seats on a Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam

1st class (Comfort & Premium) seats, 2+1 across the car...

 

2nd class (Standard) seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Lyon, Nice, Marseille & other destinations in France...

Option 1, changing in Paris...

Option 2, changing in Brussels & by-passing Paris...

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Cologne or Dusseldorf to Brussels, Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp from €19...
ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train from Cologne to Brussels, at Brussels

ICE3 2nd class.

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.

ICE at BrusselsSee ICE info.

Second class seats on board a 'Thalys' high-speed train to Cologne 1st class seats on Thalys A Thalys for Amsterdam about to leave Brussels Midi...

2nd class (Standard) seats...

1st class (Comfort or Premium).

Thalys at Brussels.  See Thalys info.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Amsterdam from €19.90...
High-speed ICE3 train at Amsterdam   ICE2 train, 2nd class

An ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal platform 2...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro car.  See sample menu.

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Cologne or Dusseldorf to Luxembourg from €19.90...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Basel, Zurich, Geneva & Switzerland from €39.90...

Option 1, by daytime trains...

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Cologne to Venice from €60...

Option 1, by ICE train to Munich, then Austrian Nightjet sleeper train from Munich to Venice - the most time-effective option!

The Nightjet train from Vienna to Venice, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia

The Nightjet sleeper train from Munich, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia.  See more nightjet information, photos & video.

Nightjet deluxe sleeper, 2-bed   Nightjet deluxe sleepe toilet & shower   4-berth couchette compartment from Cologne to Vienna

2-berth deluxe sleeper.  More info about Nightjet trains.

 

...en suite toilet & shower.

 

4-berth couchettes...

Sunrise as the sleeper train crosses the causeway into Venice

Sunrise as the Munich-Venice Nightjet crosses the causeway over the lagoon into Venice.  Courtesy of Andreas Wiedenhoff.

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train to Innsbruck & scenic daytime train to Venice - time-effective and great scenery next day.

Option 3, by day trains via the Brenner Pass with overnight stop in Munich - if you prefer day trains, scenery & a hotel to sleepers...

ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train at Cologne

ICE3 2nd class.  All seats in both classes have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

ICE3 1st class, with real leather seats.  Staff provide at-seat service of drinks & food.

Step 1, ICE from Cologne to Munich.  More ICE info.

  InterCity 2nd class   InterCity 1st class (6-seat compartment type)

Step 2, Munich to Verona & Venice by EuroCity...

 

EuroCity 2nd class, mainly 6-seat compartments but some open-plan seating.  There's also a restaurant car...

 

EuroCity 1st class, open-plan.  Sometimes available in 6-seat compartments.

Mountains between Munich and Innsbruck   Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route

Vineyards & mountains...  Scenery on the Brenner route.

Option 4, via Zurich & the Bernina Express through the Swiss Alps - the ultimate scenic route... 

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Cologne to Florence, Rome, Milan, Verona or anywhere else Italy from €39.90...

Option 1, via the Austrian Nightjet sleeper train from Munich to Milan, Bologna, Florence & Rome - the most time-effective option...

ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train at Cologne

ICE3 2nd class.  All seats in both classes have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

ICE3 1st class, with real leather seats.  Staff provide at-seat service of drinks & food.

Step 1, ICE from Cologne to Munich.  More ICE info.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Vienna   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Munich to Milan, Florence & Rome.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.  Larger photo.

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train to Innsbruck & scenic daytime train to Venice - time-effective and great scenery next day.

Option 2, by daytime trains through the Swiss Alps - Cologne to Italy in a single day with great Alpine scenery!

ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train at Cologne

ICE3 2nd class.  All seats in both classes have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

ICE3 1st class, with real leather seats.  Staff provide at-seat service of drinks & food.

Step 1, ICE from Cologne to Basel SBB.  More ICE info.

Lake Maggiore, seen from a Milan to Basel train   Lunch in the Swiss-run restaurant car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel

You'll pass a lake or two...  This is Lake Maggiore, seen from the dining-car of a Milan to Basel EuroCity train over an excellent lunch of salmon tagliatelle & excellent (but expensive!) Swiss red wine.

ETR610 EuroCity train from Switzerland at Milan Centrale   2nd class seats on an ETR610 EuroCity train to Italy

Buongiorno Milano!  When the EuroCity from Zurich reaches Milano Centrale, you've reached Italy with no airports & no flights...

 

2nd class seats on an ETR610, all with power sockets.  See panorama photo.

Option 3, by day trains via the Brenner Pass with overnight stop in Munich - if you prefer day trains, scenery & a hotel to sleepers...

ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train at Cologne

ICE3 2nd class.  All seats in both classes have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

ICE3 1st class, with real leather seats.  Staff provide at-seat service of drinks & food.

Step 1, ICE from Cologne to Munich.  More ICE info.

  InterCity 2nd class   InterCity 1st class (6-seat compartment type)

Step 2, Munich to Verona & Venice by EuroCity...

 

EuroCity 2nd class, mainly 6-seat compartments but some open-plan seating.  There's also a restaurant car...

 

EuroCity 1st class, open-plan.  Sometimes available in 6-seat compartments.

Mountains between Munich and Innsbruck   Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route

Vineyards & mountains...  Scenery on the Brenner route.

Option 3, via Zurich & the Bernina Express through the Swiss Alps - the ultimate scenic route... 

First class seats   Bernina Express panormaic cars

Bernina Express 1st class seats...

 

the Bernina Express uses panoramic carriages...

The train descends from the Bernina Pass

The Bernina Express descends from the Bernina Pass...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Barcelona & Spain from €74...

Option 1:  Cologne to Barcelona by high-speed train in a single day.  Overnight stop in Barcelona.  Onwards to Malaga, Seville, Alicante & so on next morning.

Option 2:  Cologne to Spain by high-speed train with overnight stop in Paris...

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 200 mph double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

 

2nd class table for 4 on TGV Duplex upper deck...

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex at Barcelona Sants.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the right all the way from Perpignan to Girona, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CanigouMore photos of what to see on the Paris-Barcelona train journey.

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Cologne or Dusseldorf to Lisbon, Porto & Portugal...

On board the Sud Express from Hendaye to Lisbon:  See more photos & information...

To Morocco by train...   En route to Morocco by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Morocco by train: Gran Classes 2-bed sleeper (night mode)   Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel: Gran Classe sleepers have a private shower and toilet

The Sud Express, about to leave Irun on the Franco-Spanish frontier, bound for Lisbon...  Courtesy of Ron Baker See panorama photo...

 

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

....return from the bar to find the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase private toilet & shower...

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...    

The trainhotel's café-bar serves drinks & food.  Grab a barstool early, it gets crowded later on!

 

4-berth tourist class sleepers (Turista Cama) are cosy & inexpensive.  They convert from beds to seats as shown.  See panorama photo of 4-berth tourist sleeper.

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Cologne or Dusseldorf to Andorra...
 

The intercité de nuit overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol has 1st class 4-berth & 2nd class 6-berth couchettes, each with lightweight sleeping-bag & mineral water...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €39.90...

Option 1, by comfortable daytime trains...

Cologne to Vienna ICE-T train

An ICE-T at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.  These superb ICE-T trains run direct from Cologne to Vienna twice a day.

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant.  In 1st class you can choose to be served at your seat.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Scenery from the train

You'll glimpse the Inn and Danube rivers from the Frankfurt-Vienna ICE...

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train - the safe, comfortable, time-effective option that saves a hotel bill...

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Vienna   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Dusseldorf & Cologne to Vienna & Innsbruck.  More information about Nightjet trains.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.  Larger photo.

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Copenhagen, Odense & Denmark from €39.90...
Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

The late afternoon Hamburg-Copenhagen IC3 leaving platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...

2nd class seats on a IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

An IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg.

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö...

Sadly, the Cologne-Copenhagen City Night Line sleeper was discontinued in 2014.  But here are the daytime options...

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on a Danish IC3 train

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train...

2nd class seats on a Danish IC3 train   IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg

2nd class seats on an IC3 train...

 

Boarding a train to Copenhagen in Hamburg.

125 mph tilting 'SJ2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station SJ2000 2nd class seats

A Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train boarding at Copenhagen main station...

 

2nd class seats on an X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

SJ2000 train   SJ2000 buffet car seating area   SJ2000 self-service buffet car.

X2000 bistro car...

 

X2000 bistro car seating area...

 

Bistro self-service...

Winter scenery fro a Copenhagen-Stockholm train

Winter scenery from a train between Copenhagen & Stockholm. Courtesy of Radoslav Sharapanov

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Oslo & Norway...

Option 1, via Hamburg & Copenhagen - by train all the way...

Option 2, Cologne & Dusseldorf to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo Color Line cruise ferry - the most comfortable way to Oslo...

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

This photo is taken from the exit of Kiel station, so you can see how close the ferry is.  It's a 5-6 minute walk across the harbour, with a street lift up to a connecting walkway which takes you to the ferry terminal. If you have reserved one of what Color Line call their "5 star suites", check in at the desk rather than the machines and you'll be directed to a special lounge to wait with free tea, coffee, juice, snacks & WiFi.  You'll also have priority boarding of the ship.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

Boarding the Color Line ferry to Oslo in Kiel...

Kiel to Oslo ferry, Color Class suite   Kiel to Oslo ferry, restaurant

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to this....

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Helsinki & Finland...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Prague from €29.90...

Option 1, by daytime train - the leisurely same-day option...

Czech restaurant car on a Berlin to Prague train   Lunch in the restaurant car between Berlin & Prague

So civilised!  A meal in the Czech restaurant car as the Berlin-Prague express snakes along the beautiful Elbe river south of Dresden.  Most Berlin-Prague trains use Czech carriages like this, a few use Hungarian air-conditioned carriages.  See more photos, tips & info for the Berlin to Prague train ridePhoto courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Berlin from €39 - a time-effective option with an evening in Berlin...

Option 3, the cheapest option via Nuremburg & Cheb - from just €21 - or €30 in 1st class!

Cheb station, en route from Brussels to Prague

The easy & relaxed interchange at Cheb...  The red train on the right is the German regional train arrived from Nuremberg.  You cross to the blue Czech train on the left about to leave for Prague - although always check the departure boards as sometimes a faster train to Prague goes from an adjacent platform.

The City Night Line sleeper train from Cologne to Prague was discontinued from 11 December 2016.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Bratislava from €39.90...

Option 1, by daytime train... 

Option 2, by sleeper train...

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Vienna   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Cologne to Vienna.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.  Larger photo.

The train from Vienna to Bratislava...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

The hourly regional express train from Vienna to Bratislava Hlavna.  More about these Vienna-Bratislava trains.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Budapest from €39.90...

Option 1, by sleeper train via Munich - the most time-effective option...

The sleeper train to Budapest   Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest

The Kalman Imre, about to leave Munich...  Watch the Hungarian sleeping-car video

 

2-bed sleeper. Larger photo

6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

Option 2, by daytime trains - the leisurely daytime option...

Option 2, by sleeper train via Vienna - another time-effective option...

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Vienna   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand...

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

Step 1, Dusseldorf & Cologne to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by railjet, seen arrived on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Bucharest from €99...

Option 1, via Vienna - the fastest & most comfortable option...

Dacia Express at Vienna   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The Dacia Express couchette car at Vienna Hbf.  Always book a couchette not just a seat.  Couchettes convert from seats by day to bunks at night.

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Sleeper on the Dacia Express   Dacia Express at Sighisoara

A 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper with washbasin.  Larger photo.

 

The Dacia Express arrived at Sighisoara.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use.   Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest  

Enjoy breakfast in the bar-bistro eastbound, or an evening beer westbound, as a bar-bistro is attached in Romania to both the Ister & Dacia ExpressBar-bistro photos courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Option 2, via Budapest...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Ljubljana & Zagreb from €39.90...

Option 1, by daytime train...

Option 2, by daytime train, with overnight stop in Munich...

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

The 08:17 departure from Munich is a smart Austrian railjet across Austria to Villach on the Austrian-Slovenian border...  This is a railjet about to leave Munich Hbf...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

Railjet is Austrian Railways premier train...  More photos & information about Railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

Through the Austrian Alps...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps, the railjet snakes along between snow-capped mountains, absolutely wonderful.,,

If you use the morning train from Munich, there's a quick & simple cross-platform change of train at Villach onto a Slovenian & Croatian train called the Sava...

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

...along the Sava river in Slovenia.  Now across the border in Slovenia, the EuroCity train runs along the pretty River Sava all the way to Ljubljana & Zagreb...

 

Comfortable seats:  The 2nd class seats in the Slovenian cars are arranged 2+1 abreast, the same as 1st class!

The EuroCity train 'Sava' from Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb  

The EuroCity train Sava, arrived at Zagreb.

 

More scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

Option 3, overnight by time-effective sleeper train....

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The Lisinski sleeper train from Munich to Zagreb.  This is sleeping-car on the Lisinski arrived at Zagreb.  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  See larger sleeper photoSee the Croatian sleeper video.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See panorama photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

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Cologne or Dusseldorf to Belgrade, Sofia, Montenegro...
The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The Lisinski sleeper train from Munich to Zagreb.  This is sleeping-car on the Lisinski arrived at Zagreb.  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  See larger sleeper photoSee the Croatian sleeper video.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See panorama photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland from €39.90...

Option 1, to Warsaw by daytime trains a single day - the leisurely daytime option...

Option 2, to Krakow using the Berlin-Krakow sleeping-car - why not spend a few hours in Berlin?

Option 3, to Warsaw or Krakow by daytime trains with overnight stop in Berlin - this breaks up the trip nicely, and is a time-effective way to go...

Berlin to Warsaw train at Berlin

A Berlin-Warsaw EuroCity train at Berlin Hbf...

1st class car on the Berlin to Warsaw train.   2nd class open plan seating on the Berlin to Warsaw train

1st class compartment car...

 

2nd class open-plan car.  Some seats are in compartments.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Kiev & Ukraine...
The Kiev Express   1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment   Each compartment has a washbasin

Boarding in Warsaw...

 

A sleeper compartment...

 

...with washbasin.

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Cologne or Düsseldorf to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia...

Option 1, using the daily Warsaw-Moscow sleeper train...

The train from Warsaw to Moscow uses Russian air-conditioned sleeping-cars, pictured below, with compartments which can be used as 1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth (shown below right), with a shower & toilets at the end of the corridor.  See panorama photo inside one of the new Russian sleepers.

A modern Russian sleeping-car of the sort used on the Polonez   A 2-berth or 4-berth compartment in daytime mode

Option 2, using the new Berlin-Moscow Strizh (Swift) Talgo sleeper train, twice a week...

The Strizh sleeper train from Berlin to Moscow

The Strizh sleeper train from Berlin to Moscow.  It's a Spanish-built articulated Talgo train - note the relatively small size of each car, with just one axle between each pair of cars.  Photos courtesy of Jaap van Ginkel.

2-bed sleeper with washbasin, night   2-bed sleeper with washbasin, day mode   Complimentary toiletry pack in a Strizh sleeper

Standard 2-berth sleeper with washbasin, in night-time & daytime modes...

 

Complimentary toiletry pack...

Option 4, via Kiev avoiding Belarus and any issues crossing Belarus to reach Moscow...

  • Day 1, travel from Cologne to Berlin to at 15:33.

  • Day 2, travel from Berlin to Warsaw by EuroCity train, leaving Berlin Hbf at 09:37 and arriving at Warsaw Centralna at 15:33.

  • Day 2, take the Kiev Express overnight sleeper train from Warsaw to Kiev, leaving Warsaw Centralna at 18:05 and arriving in Kiev at 11:00 on day 3.  This train has comfortable Ukrainian 1, 2 & 3 bed sleepers with washbasin.  There's no restaurant car, so take a picnic and perhaps some wine or beer.  The train is jacked up at the border to have its bogies changed from standard gauge (4' 8.5") to Russian 5' gauge, an interesting experience.  See the Kiev Express photos on the London to Ukraine page.  Spend the day exploring Kiev (by all means spend a night or two here if you like).

  • Day 3, take an overnight sleeper train from Kiev to Moscow.  There are several night trains and times vary by date, but there's usually one leaving Kiev at 19:36 and arriving in Moscow Kievskaya station next morning at 10:13 (day 4 from Cologne).  2-berth & 4-berth sleepers are available.  No problems have been reported by westerners travelling from Kiev to Moscow on these trains.

  • How much does it cost?

    Cologne to Warsaw starts at €39.90.  The fare varies, book ahead for cheapest prices.

    Warsaw to Kiev costs around around €57 with a bed in a 3-berth sleeper, €66 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €110 with a bed in a single-bed sleeper, if you book through Polrail.  It's a few euros cheaper (€46 in 4-berth) if you manage to book online as explained below.

    Kiev to Moscow costs around €92 with a bed in 4-berth kupé or €180 with a bed in a 2-berth spalny vagon.  Polrail.com charge about €95 for a bed in a 4-berth sleeper.

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Athens, Corfu & Greece...

Option 1, Cologne to Athens by train & ferry via Italy - the leisurely option with an Adriatic cruise thrown in...

A 2 or 4 berth cabin on the Italy-Greece ferry  

2 or 4-berth cabin with private toilet & shower.

 

Relaxing on deck...

The ferry from Bari to Greece at sea

At sea, passing Cephalonia & Ithaca.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

Option 2, Cologne to Athens overland by train via Munich & Belgrade - a rail adventure across the Balkans...

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Cologne & Düsseldorf to Istanbul & Turkey...

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Hotels in Cologne & other cities

My favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Suggested hotels near the station in Cologne...

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

You can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card. Use code MAN61 to get £5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explained NordVPN & ExpressVPN are the two best buys and I use ExpressVPN myself.

 


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