ICE train at Berlin Hbf

A German ICE train...

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This page explains how to travel by train from Hamburg to other key European cities, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Train information is current for 2021.

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all 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.

bullet pointEuropean 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...


Hamburg to other German towns & cities...

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Hamburg to London...

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Hamburg to Paris from €39.90...

Option 1, by daytime trains in a single day...

Option 2, by day trains with overnight stop in Cologne - the time-effective overnight option with an evening in Cologne... 

Option 3, using a Nightjet sleeper train, the most time-effective option if you don't mind the early start.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Germany with Paris...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

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

1st class seats on upper deck, a club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

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

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Hamburg to Strasbourg...

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Hamburg to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Cannes, Nice & other French cities...

Option 1, Hamburg to Lyon, Avignon or Marseille in a day with one easy change in Frankfurt - no need to cross Paris!

Frankfurt to Marseille TGV

The TGV Duplex from Frankfurt to Lyon, Avignon & Marseille, about to leave Frankfurt (Main) Hbf...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV Duplex at Frankfurt

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

The TGV to Marseille, boarding at Frankfurt am Main Hbf.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Option 2, Hamburg to anywhere in France with an overnight stop in Paris...

Option 3, with overnight stop in Brussels...

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Hamburg to Brussels & Bruges from €39.90...
High-speed ICE3 train at Brussels Midi   ICE2 train, 2nd class

An ICE3 at Brussels Midi platform 5...

 

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.  See current month's menu.

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Hamburg to Amsterdam from €39.90...
A DB InterCity train at Hamburg Hbf

A German Intercity train at Hamburg Hbf.  More information about Intercity trains.

Beef ribs and Spatburgunder red wine on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   Inside the Amsterdam to Berlin bistro car

Dinner in the bistro...

 

Bistro car.  See current month's menu

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

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Hamburg to Luxembourg from €24.90...

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Hamburg to Basel, Zurich, Geneva & Switzerland from €35.90...

Option 1, Hamburg to Switzerland by Nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective option...

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

The safe & comfortable Nightjet to Zurich.  This is a double-deck sleeping-car arrived at Zurich HB. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 2, Hamburg to Switzerland by high-speed ICE train in a single chill-out day...

ICE4 at Hamburg Altona

An ICE4 at Hamburg Altona.  Most Hamburg-Switzerland ICEs are now ICE4.  Click on the interior images below for larger photos.

1st class on an ICE4 train   Restaurant car on an ICE4 train

1st class on an ICE4...

 

Restaurant car.  See current month's menu

Bar counter car on an ICE4 train   2nd class on an ICE4 train

The bar counter, other end of the restaurant car.

 

2nd class seats on an ICE4...

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Hamburg to Venice from €60...

Option 1, Hamburg to Munich by ICE train, then Nightjet sleeper train to Venice - the most time-effective option...

Option 2, Hamburg to Innsbruck by Nightjet sleeper train, then scenic daytime train to Venice - great scenery & a morning free in Innsbruck.

The Nightjet sleeper to Vienna at Cologne Hbf

Step 1, Hamburg to Innsbruck by Nightjet sleeper train Above, a Comfortline sleeping-car on a Nightjet train at Innsbruck.  More information about Nightjet trains.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photo Video of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

Step 2, Innsbruck to Verona, Bologna or Venice by Austrian EuroCity train.  This is the restaurant car on a EuroCity from Innsbruck arrived at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this...

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

Second class seats, mostly in 6-seat compartments with side-corridor like this, but some cars are open-plan saloons...

 

First class leather seats.  On a few trains you'll find 6-seat compartments too....

Mountains on the Brenner route...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here.

Option 3, by daytime trains via the Brenner Pass with an overnight stop in Munich...

The restaurant car on a EuroCity from Munich, arrived at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this.  More photos & information about these Austrian EuroCity trains.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

Second class seats, mostly in 6-seat compartments with side-corridor like this, but some cars are open-plan saloons...

 

First class leather seats.  On a few trains you'll find 6-seat compartments too....

Mountains on the Brenner route...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here.

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

Option 1, Hamburg to Munich by ICE train then Nightjet sleeper train to Bologna, Florence & Rome - the time-effective option...

Option 2, Hamburg to Italy in a single day - a scenic ride!

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

ETR610 train as now used on all Switzerland-Milan EuroCity trains.  More information about ETR610 trains.

 

2nd class seats on the stylish ETR610 EuroCity train...

The restaurant car on an ETR610 EuroCity train   Meal on a Swiss EuroCity train between Switzerland & Milan

The restaurant car on an ETR610...

 

Dinner in the diner, northbound...

Lake Maggiore, seen from a Milan to Basel train

This is Lake Maggiore, seen from the restaurant car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel EuroCity train over an excellent lunch of salmon tagliatelle & excellent Swiss red wine...

Option 3, by Nightjet sleeper train to Innsbruck then scenic ride through the Brenner Pass...

The Nightjet sleeper at Innsbruck

Step 1, Hamburg to Innsbruck by Nightjet sleeper train Above, a Comfortline sleeping-car on a Nightjet train at Innsbruck.  More information about Nightjet trains.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photo Video of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

Step 2, Innsbruck to Bologna by Austrian EuroCity train.  This is the restaurant car on a EuroCity from Innsbruck arrived at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this...

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

Second class seats, mostly in 6-seat compartments with side-corridor like this, but some cars are open-plan saloons...

 

First class leather seats.  On a few trains you'll find 6-seat compartments too....

Mountains on the Brenner route...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here.

Option 4, by daytime trains via the scenic Brenner Pass, with overnight stop in Munich...

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Hamburg to Barcelona, Madrid & Spain from €79...

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Hamburg to San Sebastian...
  • Day 2, travel from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish border by TGV Duplex Ocιane, leaving Paris Montparnasse at 09:52 arriving Hendaye 14:28.

    The TGV has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  An earlier 07:52 departure is also available if you'd prefer an earlier start.

    Fares start at €25 in 2nd class or €45 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com (both sites easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the French Railways website en.oui.sncf (in €, more fiddly, no fee).  French trains open for booking up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can select a mobile ticket to show on your smartphone.

  • Day 2, walk out of Hendaye station and turn right, the little Euskotren station is in a corner of the main station forecourt.  Buy a ticket for €2.75 at the station from the machines or staffed counter and hop on the next half-hourly Euskotren metro from Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara station, journey time 37 minutes.  See the Paris to San Sebastian page for more information, photos & tips.

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Hamburg to Lisbon, Porto & Portugal...
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 cafι-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 360Ί photo of 4-berth tourist sleeper.

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Hamburg to Andorra...
Intercite de nuit overnight train   Intercite de nuit couchette

The intercitι 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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Hamburg to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €37.90...

Option 1, by daytime train...

Hamburg to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.  One of these superb ICE-T trains runs direct from Hamburg to Vienna every 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 Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

A comfortline sleeping-car on a Nightjet sleeper train, arrived at Vienna HbfMore information about Nightjet trains.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photo Video of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

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Hamburg to Copenhagen & Denmark from €27.90...
Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

Step 2, Hamburg to Copenhagen by Danish IC3...  This is 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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Hamburg to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmφ & Sweden from €59.90...

Option 1, by year-round regular trains...

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

Option 2, Hamburg to Malmo & Stockholm by Berlin Night Express, twice a week March-October, daily in high summer...

Berlin Night Express at Berlin

The Berlin Night Express about to leave Berlin Hbf, see www.snalltaget.seCourtesy of Stephen Barker...

Berlin Night Express aboard the ferry   4-berth couchette on the Berlin Night Express

The Berlin Night Express after being shunted aboard the Sassnitz-Trelleborg ferry above left and a 4 or 6 berth couchette compartment, above right.  From 2021 onwards it will no longer go via the ferry.  Photos courtesy of Stephen Barker.

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Hamburg to Oslo & Norway...

Option 1, by train all the way...

Option 2, Hamburg 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....

Option 3, by train to Copenhagen then DFDS overnight cruise ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo...

DFDS ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

The huge DFDS luxury overnight cruise ferry Crown Seaways berthed at Oslo...  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan.

Atrium on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo   Standard cabin on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

The ferry is a floating hotel, with cabins, suites, restaurants, bars and entertainment.  The Pearl Seaways even features an outdoor jacuzzi but reportedly her sister ship Crown Seaways lacks this.  Courtesy of Andrew Leo.

1, 2, 3 or 4 berth standard cabin on the Crown Seaways with shower & toilet and satellite TV.  Larger photoCourtesy of Ivor Morgan.

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Hamburg to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, by direct ferry from Germany to Helsinki - the easiest option...

Finnlines Star class ferry to Helsinki   Cabin on the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki

One of Finnlines 3 star class ferries to Helsinki.  Courtesy of Finnlines.

 

Cabin on the ferry...

Option 2, travel to Stockholm and take a ferry from there...

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Hamburg to Prague from €27.90...
EuroCity train to Prague about to leave Berlin

Hamburg to Prague by EuroCity train, seen here calling at Berlin Hbf...

2nd class compartment on Berlin to Prague traiin   First class on Berlin to Prague EuroCity traiin

2nd class seats in classic compartments...

 

1st class seats in an open-plan car...

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.

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Hamburg to Bratislava from €39.90...

Option 1, by direct daytime train.,..

Option 2, by sleeper train via Vienna...

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Hamburg to Budapest from €39.90...

Option 1, Hamburg to Budapest by daytime train - the cheap & leisurely option...

The EuroCity train Hungaria between Berlin & Budapest

The Berlin-Budapest Hungaria with the latest air-conditioned Hungarian cars.  Photos courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   The restaurant car of the Hungaria from Berlin to Budapest

2nd class seats on the Hungaria...

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria...

Option 2, Hamburg to Budapest using the Hamburg-Vienna sleeper - the time-effective option...

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

A comfortline sleeping-car on a Nightjet sleeper train.  More information about Nightjet trains.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photo Video of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

Option 3, using the Berlin-Budapest sleeper train Metropol...

2-bed sleeper on Budapest-Berlin train   Slovakian sleeping-car

A 2-bed double sleeper (above left) in the air-conditioned Slovakian sleeping-car on the Metropol from Berlin to Budapest.  Above right, a morning view of the Berlin-Budapest couchette car (nearest the camera) and sleeping-car in the morning light, en route to Budapest...

Each sleeper compartment is fitted with 3 beds so can be sold as a single, double or triple.  Sleeper compartments convert to comfortable private sitting room for evening use.  A light breakfast is included in the fare.  See larger photo.  See more photos of this type of sleeping-car. Photos courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

Option 4, using the Prague-Budapest sleeper train...

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Hamburg to Brasov & Bucharest from €98...

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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Hamburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb from €39.90...

Option 1, by scenic daytime train in a single day or with an overnight stop in Munich...

Option 2, by Hamburg-Munich sleeper train then scenic daytime train from Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb...

Option 3, using the Munich-Zagreb sleeper train - the most time-effective option...

Austrian restaurant car between Munich and Villach   Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

An early lunch in the Austrian restaurant car as the Alpine scenery flies by.  The first stage is on a smart Austrian EuroCity train from Munich to Villach...

 

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

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

...and 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 and Zagreb...

 

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

Option 4, using the Hamburg-Vienna nightjet sleeper train, morning in Vienna, EuroCity train to Zagreb. 

This avoids the Karawanks Tunnel engineering work!  It's a slower option, if only because of the morning at leisure in Vienna, but it's straightforward & comfortable.

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Hamburg 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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Hamburg to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland from €37.90...

Option 1, Hamburg to Warsaw by in a day from €37.90 - all in one day...

Option 2, Hamburg to Krakow in a single day from €37.90...

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

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Hamburg to Vilnius. Riga, Tallinn...

Option 1, Hamburg to Lithuania with overnight stop & morning free in Warsaw...

  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Kaunas & Vilnius, leaving Warsaw at lunchtime, changing at Bialystok and arriving Kaunas in Lithuania in the evening, with connections to Vilnius, see the Warsaw to Vilnius page for details.  Warsaw-Vilnius costs around €24.

  • Day 3, for onward travel from Vilnius to Riga, see here.

  • Day 4, for onward travel from Riga to Tallinn, see here.

Option 2, Hamburg to Lithuania with overnight stop in Berlin - faster, Sundays-Fridays only, with a very early start from Berlin...

  • Day 1, travel from Hamburg to Berlin by ICE train in the afternoon or early evening.

  • Stay overnight in Berlin.  The 3-star Meininger Hotel or InterCity Hotel are ideal as they are right next to Berlin Hbf and a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag or a 15-minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate, relatively inexpensive and get good reviews.  If you want to push the boat out, try the famous & historic Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is right next to the Brandenburg Gate, 15 min walk from the station.  More hotels in Berlin.  If you're on a tight budget, see www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Berlin to Warsaw by EuroCity train leaving Berlin Hbf at 05:43 Mondays-Saturdays only arriving Warsaw Centralna at 11:11.

    The Berlin-Warsaw EuroCity train is a comfortable air-conditioned Polish train with trolley refreshment service and a restaurant car serving drinks, snacks and meals.  Treat yourself to a cooked breakfast the restaurant car.

    Hamburg to Warsaw starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €56.90 in 1st class.

    Buy tickets from Hamburg to Warsaw at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  To get the overnight stop in Berlin, click Add intermediate stops, enter Berlin Hbf and a suitable stopover duration, say 10 hours.  Adjust departure time & stopover duration to get the trains you want either side of Berlin, a little trial & error may be required.

    Tip: You may be able to buy a through ticket from Hamburg to Bialystok covering both the Hamburg-Berlin-Warsaw & Warsaw-Bialystok trains for almost the same price as Hamburg to Warsaw.  In which case, you just need to buy a Bialystok-Kaunas/Vilnius ticket at the station in Warsaw, or on board the train.

  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Kaunas & Vilnius, leaving Warsaw at lunchtime, changing at Bialystok and arriving Kaunas in Lithuania in the evening, with connections to Vilnius, see the Warsaw to Vilnius page for details.  Warsaw-Vilnius costs around €24.

  • Day 3, for onward travel from Vilnius to Riga in Latvia, see here.

  • Day 4, for onward travel from Riga to Tallinn in Estonia, see here.

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

Boarding in Warsaw...

 

1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper...

 

...with washbasin.

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Hamburg to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia...

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

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

These modern sleeping-cars run from Warsaw to Moscow...

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

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Berlin from €18.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  For example, the 14:36 from Hamburg Hbf arrives Berlin Hbf at 16:19, but by all means take an earlier train.  Book this at www.bahn.de and print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Berlin to Moscow by direct Russian sleeper train, leaving Berlin Hbf at 20:08 on Mondays & Saturdays, arriving at Moscow Belorussky station at 21:24 next day.

    This train is an articulated Spanish-built Talgo train branded Strizh (Russian for swift) which started running in 2016.  It has ordinary seats, 2nd class 4-berth sleepers, 1st class 1 or 2 berth sleepers with washbasin and deluxe 1 or 2 berth sleepers with en suite shower & toilet.  There's a restaurant & bistro car.  See photo of 2-berth sleeper on this train.

    Russian track gauge is 5', but most of Europe (including the UK) is 4' 8½", so at Brest on the Belarus frontier the Talgo train runs through a special gauge-changing shed and the axles automatically adjust to the new gauge.  Once in Russia, the scenery is rolling hills, birch tree forests, and villages of small wooden houses.  Approaching Moscow, you may glimpse the plaques on the station building marked '1812' and '1942' as the train passes through the small station of historic Borodino...

    You can book the Berlin-Moscow train at the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru and print your own ticket, it's a little fiddly but usually works, or you can easily buy it online with English language after-sales service if you need it, using the Real Russia online system here.

    Don't forget to arrange both your Russian visa and Belarus transit visa as the train runs via Belarus.  See my important update about travel to Russia through Belarus.

Option 3, via Kiev - avoiding Belarus...

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Warsaw, then take the Kiev Express to Kiev, as shown in the Hamburg to Kiev section.

  • Step 2, take an overnight sleeper train from Kiev to Moscow.

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

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Hamburg to Athens, Corfu & Greece...

Option 1, Hamburg 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, Hamburg to Athens overland by train via Munich & Belgrade - a rail adventure across the Balkans...

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Hamburg to Istanbul & Turkey...

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bullet pointHotels in Hamburg & other cities

Find hotels at Booking.comMy 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.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

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.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

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

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

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

  US flag 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 - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

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 explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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