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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.  Information current for 2024.

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 buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or a €35 point-to-point ticket?".  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 destinations in Germany

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Hamburg to London & UK

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Hamburg to Dublin & Ireland

Option 1, Hamburg to Dublin via London & Holyhead - daily departures

Option 2, Hamburg to Dublin via Paris & Cherbourg - several times a week

Irish Ferries' WB Yeats

Sail from Cherbourg to Dublin aboard Irish Ferries' WB YeatsWB Yeats photos courtesy of Irish Ferries.

Irish Ferries' WB Yeats club cabin   Irish Ferries' WB Yeats deluxe cabin

Club cabin on the WB Yeats with shower & toilet.

 

Deluxe cabin on the WB Yeats with shower & toilet.

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Hamburg to Paris from €39.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Paris in a single day

Option 2, Hamburg to Paris with overnight stop in Cologne - the time-effective overnight option with an evening in Cologne

Option 3, Hamburg to Paris using a Nightjet sleeper train, the most time-effective option

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Step 1, Hamburg to Karlsruhe by NightjetMore about Nightjets. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on the 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

Nightjet couchette car.

 

6-berth couchettes.

 

4-berth couchettes.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

Step 2, Karlsruhe to Paris by TGV Duplex. More about TGV Duplex.

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.  360º photo.

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

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

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

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Hamburg to Strasbourg

Option 1, Hamburg to Strasbourg by daytime trains

Option 2, Hamburg to Strasbourg by sleeper

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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 Mannheim or 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.  360º 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. 360º 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, Hamburg to central & southern France with overnight stop in Brussels

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Hamburg to Brussels & Bruges from €39.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Brussels or anywhere in Belgium with a DB through ticket

Option 2, Hamburg to Cologne by InterCity train, then Cologne to Brussels by Eurostar (formerly Thalys).

ICE4 at Hamburg Altona

Step 1, Hamburg to Cologne by ICE4.  These come with a waiter-service restaurant car, cafe counter, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  More about ICEs.

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

1st class on an ICE4.

 

Restaurant car on an ICE4.  Sample menu.

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

Bar counter at the other end of the kitchen.

 

2nd class seats on an ICE4.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

Step 2, Cologne to Brussels by ICE3, seen above at Brussels Midi.  Restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  More about ICEs.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china, metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant area on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

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Hamburg to Amsterdam from €32.90
ICE4 at Hamburg Altona

Step 1, Hamburg to Osnabruck by ICE4.  These come with a waiter-service restaurant car, cafe counter, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  More about ICEs.

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

1st class on an ICE4.

 

Restaurant car on an ICE4.  Sample menu.

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

Bar counter at the other end of the kitchen.

 

2nd class seats on an ICE4.

Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train

Step 2, Osnabruck to Amsterdam by Intercity train, seen here arrived at Amsterdam Centraal.  Power sockets at all seats and a refreshment trolley.  More about these Intercity trains.

1st class compartment on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   1st class compartment on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train

1st class seats are in 6-seat compartments.

 

2nd class is open-plan.

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Hamburg to Luxembourg from €24.90
ICE4 at Hamburg Altona

Step 1, Hamburg to Koblenz by ICE4.  These come with a waiter-service restaurant car, cafe counter, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  More about ICEs.

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

1st class on an ICE4.

 

Restaurant car on an ICE4.  Sample menu.

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

Bar counter at the other end of the kitchen.

 

2nd class seats on an ICE4.

Double-deck train between Koblenz, Trier & Luxembourg

Step 2, Koblenz to Luxembourg by double deck regional train.  This is a CFL double-decker at Luxembourg.

1st class on a Koblenz-Luxembourg train   1st class on a Koblenz-Luxembourg train

1st class on the upper deck. Larger photo.

 

2nd class on the upper deck.  Larger photo.

Scenery along the Moselle between Koblenz & Luxembourg

Scenery along the Moselle between Koblenz & Luxembourg in the morning sun, the mists still clearing.  For the best river views, sit on the right hand side of the train going east from Luxembourg, left hand side going west from Koblenz.

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

Option 1, Hamburg to Switzerland by sleeper train - the time-effective overnight 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 the 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

Nightjet couchette car.

 

6-berth couchettes.

 

4-berth couchettes.

Option 2, Hamburg to Switzerland by high-speed ICE train - the fast daytime option

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.

Option 3, Hamburg to Switzerland by classic train along the Rhine Valley - the slower scenic option

EuroCity train from Zurich

EuroCity train at Zurich HB.

2nd class seats on Munich-Zurich EuroCity train   Restaurant car on EC9 Hamburg-Cologne-Zurich train

2nd class seating.  Larger photo.

 

The Swiss restaurant car:  Treat yourself!  Larger photo.

Swiss panorama car, Munich to Zurich train   1st class seats in panorama car, Munich to Zurich train

Panorama car with 1st class seats, available on train EC9.  Make sure you reserve a seat in car 263 as there is just one 1st class panorama car and two other regular 1st class cars.  See advice on booking it.

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle seen from the train

Pfalzgrafenstein castle on the Rhine.  See the Rails Down the Rhine page for more information.

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Hamburg to Venice from €60

Option 1, Hamburg to Venice using the Stuttgart-Venice Nightjet sleeper train - the most time-effective option

ICE second class   High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

 

Step 1, Hamburg To Stuttgart by ICE.

ICE2 restaurant car   ICE2 bar car

Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

 

Bar car.  Larger photo.

ICE2 at Berlin   ICE first class

Boarding an ICE2.

 

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper train from Munich to Venice at Munich Hbf

Step 2, Stuttgart to Venice by Nightjet sleeper trainMore about Nightjets.

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

2-berth deluxe sleeper.

 

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, Hamburg to Venice using the Hamburg-Innsbruck Nightjet sleeper & scenic daytime train to Venice - great scenery & 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 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.

EuroCity train arrived at Innsbruck

Step 2, Innsbruck to Verona, Bologna or Venice by Austrian EuroCity train.  This is a EuroCity at Innsbruck.

2nd class seats in an open-plan car   Austrian first class seats

2nd class seats, some in open-plan saloons like this, some in 6-seat compartments.

 

1st class leather seats.  You'll also find seats in classic 6-seat compartments.

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, Hamburg to Venice via the Brenner Pass with overnight stop in Munich

EuroCity train from Munich to Innsbruck & beyond

A EuroCity train at Munich Hbf.  More about these Austrian EuroCity trains.

2nd class seats in an open-plan car   Austrian first class seats

2nd class seats, some in open-plan saloons like this, some in 6-seat compartments.

 

1st class leather seats.  You'll also find seats in classic 6-seat compartments.

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 Italy using the Nightjet sleeper train from Munich to Bologna, Florence & Rome - the time-effective option

ICE second class   High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

 

Step 1, Hamburg To Munich by ICE.

ICE2 restaurant car   ICE2 bar car

Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

 

Bar car.  Larger photo.

ICE2 at Berlin   ICE first class

Boarding an ICE2.

 

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Rome

Step 2, Munich to Florence & Rome by Nightjet sleeper train, seen here boarding on platform 11 at Munich Hbf.

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 photoVideo of deluxe room

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Munich-Amsterdam sleeper

6-berth couchettes.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

Couchette car.

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

ICE4 at Zurich HB

Step 1, Hamburg to Zurich by ICE. This is an ICE4 at Zurich HB.  Click on interior images for larger photos.

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

1st class on an ICE4.

 

Restaurant car on an ICE4.

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.

EuroCity train from Zurich to Milan at Zurich HB

Step 2, Zurich to Milan by EuroCity train.  This is an Giruno train at Zurich HB.  More about these EuroCity trains.

1st class on Giruno   Restaurant car on Giruno

Giruno, 1st class.  Larger photo.

 

Restaurant car with bar counter. Larger photo.

2nd class on Giruna   Bar counter in the restaurant car

Giruno 2nd class.  Larger photo

 

Level boarding. Note the destination screen in the door. 

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train

The Zurich to Milan trains take the Gotthard main line through the Swiss Alps, past Lake Lugano.

Option 3, Hamburg to Italy using the Hamburg-Innsbruck sleeper, 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 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

 

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.

EuroCity train arrived at Innsbruck

Step 2, Innsbruck to Bologna by Austrian EuroCity train.  Above, a EuroCity train at Innsbruck.

2nd class seats in an open-plan car   Austrian first class seats

2nd class seats, some in open-plan saloons like this, some in 6-seat compartments.

 

1st class leather seats.  You'll also find seats in classic 6-seat compartments.

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.

Option 4, Hamburg to Italy via the scenic Brenner Pass, with overnight stop in Munich

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Hamburg to Barcelona, Madrid & Spain from €79

Option 1, Hamburg to Barcelona & Spain with overnight stop in Paris

Option 2, Hamburg to Barcelona & Spain using a French sleeper train between Paris and the Spanish border

Option 3, Hamburg to Barcelona & Spain with overnight stop in Marseille - avoids crossing Paris

Frankfurt to Marseille TGV

Step 1, Frankfurt to Marseille by direct TGV Duplex, seen here ready to leave Frankfurt am 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.  360º 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. 360º photo.

 

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

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 Girona to Perpignan, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

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Hamburg to San Sebastian

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Hamburg to Lisbon, Porto & Portugal

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Hamburg to Andorra
Intercite de nuit overnight train at Paris Austerlitz

Paris to Toulouse or l'Hospitalet by Intercité de Nuit sleeper train More about Intercités de Nuit.

Intercite de Nuit 2nd class 6-berth couchette   Intercite de Nuit 2nd class couchette

2nd class 6-berth couchettes.

 

A cosy 2nd class couchette.

Intercite de Nuit 1st class couchette   Intercite de Nuit 1st class 4-berth couchette

1st class couchette, made up for the night.

 

1st class 4-berth couchettes.

The castle at Foix

If you choose to go via l'Hospitalet, you stay on the sleeper train as it climbs into the Pyrenees south of Toulouse.  This is Foix, between Toulouse & l'Hospitalet.  The castle is on the right just south of the station.

Mountains in the Pyrenees

Beyond Foix, the sleeper train climbs higher into the mountains.

Mountain   l'Hospitalet station

...and arrives at Andorre-l'Hospitalet station, pictured above right.

Bus station next to Toulouse Matabiau station   Bus station next to Toulouse Matabiau station

Road transport to Andorra.  This is a Toulouse to Andorra bus at Toulouse bus stand 15.

 

The bus station in Toulouse Matabiau forecourt.  Photo courtesy of Andrew McIntyre.

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Hamburg to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €37.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Vienna by daytime train

An ICE train at Vienna Hbf

An ICE-T arrived at Vienna 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 a Frankfurt-Vienna ICE.

Option 2, Hamburg to Vienna & Innsbruck by sleeper train - the time-effective option

New-generation Nightjet train

A new generation Nightjet train at the Siemens factory in Vienna.  More about new-generation Nightjet trains.

Comfort Plus sleeper in new generation Nightjet train   Comfort sleeper in new generation Nightjet train

Comfort Plus sleeper with shower & toilet.

 

Comfort sleeper with shower & toilet

4-berth couchette in new generation Nightjet train   Mini-cabins in new generation Nightjet train

4-berth couchettes.

 

Mini-cabins - enclosed individual capsules.

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

Hamburg to Copenhagen by EuroCity train.  From June 2023, these trains are temporarily being operated by former German Railways intercity cars and a Danish electric locomotive, until new trains being built by Talgo arrive in 2024.  The current trains have 1st & 2nd class, power sockets at seats, but no catering so bring your own food & drink.  More about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seats are almost all open-plan like this.  There are a handful of 6-seat 2nd class compartments in one of the coaches, but only a few.

1st class comparment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train   1st class 6-seat compartment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train

The 1st class car has 6-seater compartments like this. Larger photo Larger photo.

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Hamburg to Aarhus & northern Denmark

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Hamburg to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö & Sweden from €59.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Stockholm by sleeper train, daily all year round

The inaugural Hamburg-StockholmSJ EuroNight at Hamburg Altona   6-berth couchette on the Hamburg-Stockholm SJ night train

The inaugural Hamburg to Stockholm SJ EuroNight train in Hamburg on 1 September 2022. The author rode this first departure.  More about this sleeper train.

6-berth couchettes.

Larger photo.

Standard sleeper, set up as a double   Hamburg-StockholmSJ EuroNight at Padborg

2-bed sleeper.  Larger photo.

The inaugural train from Hamburg to Stockholm calls at Padborg, just after entering Denmark.

Scenery from the Hamburg to Stockholm train

Typical Swedish scenery on the morning run into Stockholm.

Option 2, Hamburg to Malmö, Gothenburg & Stockholm by year-round daytime trains

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Copenhagen

Step 1, Hamburg to Copenhagen by EuroCity train.  From June 2023, these trains are temporarily being operated by former German Railways intercity cars and a Danish electric locomotive, until new trains being built by Talgo arrive in 2024.  The current trains have 1st & 2nd class, power sockets at seats, but no catering so bring your own food & drink.  More about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seats are almost all open-plan like this.  There are a handful of 6-seat 2nd class compartments in one of the coaches, but only a few.

1st class comparment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train   1st class 6-seat compartment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train

The 1st class car has 6-seater compartments like this. Larger photo Larger photo.

An X2000 train at Stockholm Central

Step 2, Copenhagen to Stockholm by tilting 200km/h X2000, seen at Stockholm CentralMore about X2000 trains.

1st class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train 2nd class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

1st class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train   Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

Bistro seating on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

 

Bistro on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

On the Oresund link!

Crossing the impressive Öresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden.

Option 3, Hamburg to Malmo & Stockholm by Berlin Night Express, daily except Saturdays 1 April to 3 November 2024

The Snalltaget sleeper toHamburg & Berlin, at Stockholm Central

The Snälltåget sleeper from Hamburg to Stockholm.  This is in fact the southbound train at Stockholm Central the day the new service was launched, about to make its inaugural departure.  Courtesy of Robert Enskog.

Stockholm-Berlin couchette, day mode   Stockholm-Berlin couchette, night mode

The Snälltåget sleeper train uses ex-German Railways couchettes, sold as a whole private compartment for up to 6 people.  Bedding is provided, toilets & washrooms are at the end of the corridor.  Photos courtesy of Snalltaget.

Option 4, Hamburg to Gothenburg using Stena Line's Kiel-Gothenburg overnight ferry

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Hamburg to Oslo & Norway

Option 1, Hamburg to Oslo by train - in a single day

Seats on the  Norwegian train from Gothenburg to Oslo   The Norwegian train from Gothenburg to Oslo, arrived at Oslo Central

Gothenburg to Oslo by Norwegian trainCourtesy of @Marcos Castro

 

The train arrived at Oslo Sentral.  Photos courtesy of @Marcos Castro.

Scenery from the Gothenburg to Oslo train

Scenery between Gothenburg & Oslo. Photo courtesy of @Simply_Railway.

Option 2, Hamburg to Oslo with overnight stop in Copenhagen - also by train all the way

Option 3, Hamburg to Oslo with overnight stop in Gothenburg - also by train all the way

Option 4, Hamburg to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo cruise ferry - the most luxurious 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 5, Hamburg to Oslo using the DFDS overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo - cheaper than Color Line

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.

Suite on the ferry   Suite on the ferry

Commodore Class suite with double bed on board the DFDS superferry to Oslo.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Sunset at sea on the DFDS ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

Scenery in Oslo Fjord on the voyage to Norway.  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan.

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Hamburg to Helsinki & Finland

Option 1, Hamburg to Helsinki by daily ferry from Travemünde in Germany - the easiest option

Finnlines ferry Travemunde-Helsinki

Finnlines operate the m/v Finnstar, Finnmaid & Finnlady on the Travemünde-Helsinki route.  Photo courtesy of Hubert Bartkowiak.  Photos below courtesy of Chris Russell.

Cabin on Finnlines ferry Travemunde-Helsinki   Gym on Finnlines ferry   Sauna on Finnlines ferry

Standard cabin.  Larger photo.

 

Gym with a view.

 

Sauna.

Option 2, Hamburg to Helsinki, by train to Stockholm then ferry

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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.  More about these EuroCity trains.

First class on Prague to Budapest traiin   2nd class compartment on Prague to Budapest traiin

1st class seats.

 

2nd class seats in a compartment 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.

More cliffs along the river Elbe

Scenery along the Elbe river between Dresden & Prague.

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Hamburg to Bratislava from €46.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Bratislava by EuroCity train - the direct daytime option

The EuroCity train Hungaria about to leave Berlin Hbf for Budapest

The EuroCity train Hungaria calls at Berlin Hbf.

1st classopen-plan seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   1st class compartment on a Hungarian EuroCity train

1st class.  You can choose to sit in a 1st class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 1st class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest

2nd class.  You can choose to sit in a 2nd class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 2nd class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.   Larger photo.

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

Lunch on the Hungaria.  There are no table reservations, just go along & sit down.  Courtesy of @_DiningCar.

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria Larger photo.  Photo courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Dresden & Prague the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Option 2, Hamburg to Bratislava by day trains - alternative daytime options

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 1, Hamburg to Vienna by ICE train.  This is an ICE-T arrived at Vienna Hbf.  More about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler .

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 car.  I highly 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.

The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

Step 2, Vienna to Bratislava by regional express train More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Option 3, Hamburg to Bratislava using the Hamburg-Vienna sleeper

New-generation Nightjet train

Step 1, Hamburg to Vienna by Nightjet.  Above, a new generation Nightjet train at the Siemens factory in Vienna.  More about new-generation Nightjet trains.

Comfort Plus sleeper in new generation Nightjet train   Comfort sleeper in new generation Nightjet train

Comfort Plus sleeper with shower & toilet.

 

Comfort sleeper with shower & toilet

4-berth couchette in new generation Nightjet train   Mini-cabins in new generation Nightjet train

4-berth couchettes.

 

Mini-cabins - enclosed individual capsules.

The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

Step 2, Vienna to Bratislava by hourly Regional Express train, seen about to leave Vienna Hbf.  Behind the locomotive is a smart Slovakian air-conditioned intercity coach, whilst the rest of the train consists of more basic non-air-con Austrian City Shuttle carriages, with interiors as shown in the photo above right.  Find a seat in the more comfortable Slovakian car if you can!

Option 4, Hamburg to Bratislava using the Berlin-Bratislava sleeper

EuroNight sleeper train from Berlin to Budapest

The Berlin to Budapest sleeper train Metropol, boarding at Berlin Hbf.  More about this sleeper train.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Berlin   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper, set up as a 2 bed.  Larger photo.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

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Hamburg to Budapest from €46.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Budapest by EuroCity train - the direct daytime option

The EuroCity train Hungaria about to leave Berlin Hbf for Budapest

The EuroCity train Hungaria calls at Berlin Hbf.

1st classopen-plan seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   1st class compartment on a Hungarian EuroCity train

1st class.  You can choose to sit in a 1st class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 1st class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest

2nd class.  You can choose to sit in a 2nd class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 2nd class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.   Larger photo.

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

Lunch on the Hungaria.  There are no table reservations, just go along & sit down.  Courtesy of @_DiningCar.

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria Larger photo.  Photo courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Dresden & Prague the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Option 2, Hamburg to Budapest by day trains - alternative daytime options

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 1, Hamburg to Vienna by ICE train.  This is an ICE-T arrived at Vienna Hbf.  More about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler .

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 car.  I highly 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.

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

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by railjet.  This is a railjet on platform 9 at Budapest KeletiMore 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.

Option 3, Hamburg to Budapest using the Hamburg-Vienna sleeper - the time-effective option

New-generation Nightjet train

Step 1, Hamburg to Vienna by Nightjet.  Above, a new generation Nightjet train at the Siemens factory in Vienna.  More about new-generation Nightjet trains.

Comfort Plus sleeper in new generation Nightjet train   Comfort sleeper in new generation Nightjet train

Comfort Plus sleeper with shower & toilet.

 

Comfort sleeper with shower & toilet

4-berth couchette in new generation Nightjet train   Mini-cabins in new generation Nightjet train

4-berth couchettes.

 

Mini-cabins - enclosed individual capsules.

EuroCity train from Vienna to Budapest, at Budapest Keleti

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by EuroCity train.

1st class seats on a Hungarian EuroCity train   2nd class seats on a Hungarian EuroCity train

1st class is usually in 6-seat compartments.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class, open-plan saloon type, modernised.  Larger photo.

Option 4, Hamburg to Budapest using the Berlin-Budapest sleeper - another time-effective option

EuroNight sleeper train from Berlin to Budapest

The Berlin to Budapest sleeper train Metropol, boarding at Berlin Hbf.  More about this sleeper train.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Berlin   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper, set up as a 2 bed.  Larger photo.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 5, Hamburg to Budapest using the Prague-Budapest sleeper

EuroCity train to Prague about to leave Berlin

Step 1, Hamburg to Prague by EuroCity train, seen here calling at Berlin Hbf.

First class on Prague to Budapest traiin   2nd class compartment on Prague to Budapest traiin

1st class seats.

 

2nd class seats in a compartment 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.

More cliffs along the river Elbe

Scenery along the Elbe river.

The sleeper train from Budapest to Prague

Step 2, Prague to Budapest by sleeper, seen here at Budapest Nyugati.  CD are deploying some nicely-refurbished sleepers like this on this route.

Washbasin in Prague-Budapest sleeper   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague

Washstand, soap & towels provided.  Larger photo.

 

Czech Railways 2-bed 'double' sleeper on the Prague-Budapest route.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.  Larger photo.

 

The corridor.  Each compartment locks securely.  Larger photo.

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Hamburg to Brasov & Bucharest from €98

Option 1, Hamburg to Romania via Vienna - the fastest & most comfortable option

Dacia Express sleeper at Vienna   Dacia Express 2-bed sleeper

The Dacia Express sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.  Interior photo courtesy of Jose Carlos Barbosa.  Larger photo.

Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest   Dacia Express couchette car

The Dacia Express couchette car, boarding at Vienna Hbf.  Larger photo.

Scenery in Transylvania

Transylvania:  The Dacia Express crosses rural Transylvania.  Courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom.

Dacia Express Carpathian mountains

The Carpathian mountains:  Almost Alpine scenery between Brasov & Bucharest. Courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom

Option 2, Hamburg to Romania via Budapest

  • Step 3, travel from Budapest to Romania on the sleeper train Ister leaving Budapest Keleti at 19:10 and arriving Brasov at 08:50 & Bucharest Nord at 11:30 next day.

    The Ister has a Romanian air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, and a Romanian couchette car with 4 & 6-berth compartments.  Take a picnic and bottle of wine as there may not be a bar car until the train gets to Romania.  It's a really scenic journey in the morning, as the train passes through the Carpathian mountains between Brasov & Ploesti, have your camera to hand!

    Fares start at €39 with a couchette in 6-berth, €46 with a couchette in 4-berth, €69 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €84 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €162 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  All prices per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro.  Click EN top right for English.  Booking opens up to 90 days ahead.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.

    You can also book at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu, see my advice on using it.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  You show your ticket in the MAV app on your phone.

2-berth sleeper on the Ister   The Ister at Bucharest Nord

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

 

The sleeping-car (vagon de dormit) on the westbound Ister at Bucharest.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The vagon cuseta (couchette car) on the westbound Ister, boarding at Bucharest.  Couchettes convert from bunks at night to seats by day.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com .

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 3, Hamburg to Romania with overnight stop in Budapest - if you prefer daytime trains & hotel to sleepers

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest has modern air-conditioned Romanian carriages.  Three cars travel all the way, additional cars are attached whilst in Hungary, and additional cars and a bar car are attached between Drobeta Turnu Severin & Bucharest.

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   2nd class on the Budapest to Bucharest train

On the left, the daytime train to Bucharest is about to leave Budapest Keleti.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the Budapest to Bucharest train.  There are power outlets under the tables.  Larger photo.

Bar stools on the Budapest to Bucharest train   Bar car on the Budapest to Bucharest train

A bar car is attached between Drobeta Turnu Severin & Bucharest.  Photos courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com.

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Hamburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb from €39.90

Option 1, Hamburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb using the Stuttgart-Zagreb sleeper - the most time-effective option

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Stuttgart by high-speed ICE train leaving Hamburg Hbf at 13:24 and arriving Stuttgart Hbf 18:38.

    The ICE has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, put your feet up & enjoy the ride.

    Times may vary, from 16 July until December 2024 arrival is half an hour later at 19:08.  Check times for your date and book a train that arrives in Stuttgart no later than 19:30.  By all means leave Hamburg an hour or two earlier to have more time for dinner.

    Fares start at €17.90 in 2nd class or €31.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at the German Railways website int.bahn.de.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Step 2, travel from Stuttgart to Ljubljana & Zagreb by sleeper, leaving Stuttgart Hbf at 20:29, arriving Lesce-Bled 07:13, Ljubljana 08:09 & Zagreb 10:39.

    The sleeper train Lisinski has a modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car with comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin and a modern Croatian air-conditioned couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, see the photos below and the Croatian sleeper video.

    From 31 March to 2 September 2023, there's also a direct Croatian sleeping-car to Rijeka, arriving Rijeka 11:25.

    Fares start at €49.90 with a couchette in a 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in a 4-berth, €66.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €86.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same prices).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

ICE second class   High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

 

Step 1, Hamburg to Stuttgart by ICE.

ICE2 restaurant car   ICE2 bar car

Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

 

Bar car.  Larger photo.

ICE2 at Berlin   ICE first class

Boarding an ICE2.

 

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Munic to Zagreb, boarding in Munich

Step 2, Stuttgart to Ljubljana & Zagreb by sleeper train.  Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb.  It has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as 1, 2 or 3 berth, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert to a private sitting room for evening or morning use.  A light breakfast is included in the sleeper fare.  The Croatian couchette car is the next vehicle to the right, also modern & air-conditioned with 4 & 6 bunk compartments, ideal for families.  Couchettes convert from bunks to seats for evening or morning use.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360º photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

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

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

More scenery along the river Sava.

Option 2, Hamburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb in a single scenic day, or with an overnight stop in Munich

  • You can travel from Hamburg to Ljubljana or Zagreb in a day, Leaving Hamburg Hbf at 04:54 Mondays-Saturdays only, change at Munich, arriving Lesce-Bled 17:50, Ljubljana 18:32 and Zagreb at 20:45.

    The scenery through the Austrian alps is superb, as is the scenery along the lovely River Sava between Ljubljana and Zagreb.  Check times online for your date of travel.

  • Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Buy tickets at the German Railways website int.bahn.de.

    Before running the enquiry, click Stopovers, enter Munich with a length of stay of 45 minutes.  This ensure a safe connection in Munich.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time. 

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 3, Hamburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb using the Hamburg-Munich sleeper then scenic onward daytime train

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Hamburg Hbf at 20:10 and arriving Munich Hbf at 07:06.

    From the timetable change on 10 December 2023 this train is due to be operated by a new generation Nightjet train with 1 & 2 bed sleepers all with shower & toilet, 4-berth comfort couchettes, individual mini cabins and ordinary seats, see the new generation Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips & photos.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers, couchettes & mini cabins.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €89.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €109.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €159.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same prices).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Ljubljana or Zagreb, leaving Munich Hbf at 08:16 by railjet train, make a quick & simple cross-platform change at Villach onto the waiting Slovenian & Croatian EuroCity train Sava, arriving Lesce-Bled on Lake Bled at 13:50, Ljubljana 14:31 & Zagreb 17:10.

    This is a really lovely journey, through the mountains of Austria then along the Sava river between Ljubljana and Zagreb.  The railjet train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  The Sava has no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    If you'd like a morning in Munich, there's a later 12:18 EuroCity train direct to Lesce-Bled, Ljubljana and Zagreb.

    Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at the German Railways website int.bahn.de, or you can use www.thetrainline.com to keep all your bookings in one place.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can log on at any time and check or reprint tickets.  

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

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper, leaving Hamburg Hbf at 20:10 every evening, arriving Vienna Hbf 09:17.

    Until 9 December 2023, this comfortable Austrian Nightjet sleeper train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    From the timetable change on 10 December 2023 this train is due to be operated by a new generation Nightjet train with 1 & 2 bed sleepers all with shower & toilet, 4-berth comfort couchettes, individual mini cabins and ordinary seats, see the new generation Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips & photos.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers, couchettes & mini cabins.

    In Vienna, you've the best part of a day to enjoy the city.  Left luggage lockers are available.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €89.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €109.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €159.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, more fiddly, same prices).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Vienna to Zagreb by EuroCity train Croatia, leaving Vienna Hbf at 15:58 and arriving Zagreb at 22:20. 

    For Ljubljana, change at Maribor onto a Slovenian InterCity train, arriving Ljubljana at 22:00.

    The EuroCity train has comfortable air-conditioned Austrian coaches and an Austrian restaurant car.  In summer when it's light, enjoy the wonderful scenery over dinner in the restaurant car, including a ride over the famous UNESCO-listed Semmering Railway south of Vienna, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semmering_railway.

    Important update:  From September 2023 until further notice, you will have to make a quick cross-platform change in Graz.  The restaurant car only runs in the Austrian portion.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €49.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €).  Bookings usually open up to 90 days ahead and you print your own ticket.

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Hamburg to Belgrade, Sofia & Montenegro

Option 1, Hamburg to Belgrade & beyond via Zagreb

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Stuttgart by high-speed ICE train leaving Hamburg Hbf at 13:24 and arriving Stuttgart Hbf 18:38.

    The ICE has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, put your feet up & enjoy the ride.

    Times may vary, from 16 July until December 2024 arrival is half an hour later at 19:08.  Check times for your date and book a train that arrives in Stuttgart no later than around 19:30.  By all means leave Hamburg an hour or two earlier to allow more time for dinner.

    Fares start at €17.90 in 2nd class or €31.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at the German Railways website int.bahn.de.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Step 2, travel from Stuttgart to Zagreb by sleeper train, leaving Stuttgart Hbf at 20:29, arriving Zagreb 10:39.

    The sleeper train Lisinski has a modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car with comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin and a modern Croatian air-conditioned couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, see the photos below and the Croatian sleeper video.

    Fares start at €49.90 with a couchette in a 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in a 4-berth, €66.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €86.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same prices).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

  • Step 3, travel from Zagreb to Belgrade by train, leaving Zagreb at 11:04 and arriving Novi Beograd 18:04 & Belgrade Centar at 18:12.

    This train was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended.

    This train has air-conditioned Serbian carriages with comfortable 2nd class seats, but no 1st class.  There's no dining-car, so bring a picnic and some beer or wine.

    The fare is around €29 bought at the station in Zagreb or paid on board the train, but tickets cannot be bought online.

    While the train is suspended, take a bus from Zagreb to Belgrade

    It's a 17-minute 1.3 km walk from Zagreb station to Zagreb bus station, see walking map.

    A Flixbus leaves Zagreb bus station at 14:00, arriving Belgrade bus station at 19:30.

    The fare is around €20, buy a ticket at www.flixbus.com.

  • Step 4 for Sofia, see the Belgrade to Sofia page for schedule, fares & how to buy tickets.

  • Step 4 for Montenegro, either take the overnight sleeper Lovcen to Podgorica and Bar arriving in the morning on day 3, or stay overnight in Belgrade and take the daytime train Tara next day.  See the Belgrade to Montenegro page for schedule, fares & how to buy tickets.

ICE second class   High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

 

Step 1, Hamburg to Stuttgart by ICE.

ICE2 restaurant car   ICE2 bar car

Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

 

Bar car.  Larger photo.

ICE2 at Berlin   ICE first class

Boarding an ICE2.

 

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Munic to Zagreb, boarding in Munich

Step 2, Stuttgart to Zagreb by sleeper train.  Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb.  It has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as 1, 2 or 3 berth, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert to a private sitting room for evening or morning use.  A light breakfast is included in the sleeper fare.  The Croatian couchette car is the next vehicle to the right, also modern & air-conditioned with 4 & 6 bunk compartments, ideal for families.  Couchettes convert from bunks to seats for evening or morning use.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360º photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

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

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

Step 3, Zagreb to Belgrade by Serbian train.  There's no catering, so bring your own food & drink.

Option 2, Hamburg to Sofia via Bucharest - currently the best option for Sofia

  • Day 1, travel from Hamburg to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train, as shown above.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Vienna to Budapest by railjet train, leaving Vienna Hbf at 11:40 and arriving Budapest Keleti at 14:19.

    The swish Austrian railjet train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Budapest to Bucharest on the sleeper train Muntenia, leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:10 and arriving Bucharest Nord at 08:42.

    The Muntenia has 4 & 6-berth couchettes and ordinary seats.  A Romanian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments is attached from Arad (depart 21:04) to Bucharest.  There's no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    Fares start at €40 with a couchette in 6-berth or €47 with a couchette in 4-berth.  These are limited-availability advance-purchase fares

    Book this at the Romanian Railways international website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.

    If you want the comfort & privacy of a proper sleeper from Arad to Bucharest, (1) book a 2nd class seat from Budapest to Arad from €17 using bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.  (2) Now book berths in a 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper from Arad to Bucharest Nord at the Romanian domestic website bilete.cfrcalatori.ro and print your own ticket.

  • Day 3, travel from Bucharest to Sofia by daytime train as shown on the train from Bucharest page.  You leave Bucharest Nord at 10:55 and arrive Sofia Central at 20:10 after a pleasant day meandering across the Danube and through the river valleys of Bulgaria.  In summer it's direct, in winter you have to switch trains at Ruse.  There's no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    The fare is around €34.

    Book this at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.

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Hamburg to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland from €37.90

Hamburg to Warsaw or Krakow by train from €37.90

  • Fares start at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Buy tickets at the German Railways website int.bahn.de.

    Click Stopovers, enter Berlin Hbf and a length of stay of 40 minutes, this gives a more robust connection in case of any delay.  Look for a journey with just 1 change.

    Booking to Poland normally opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

Berlin to Warsaw train at Berlin Hbf

Berlin to Warsaw or Krakow by EuroCity train.  This is the Wawel to Krakow on platform 11 at Berlin Hbf.

2nd class car on the Berlin to Warsaw train   1st class compartment on a Berlin to Warsaw train.

2nd class.  Some seats are in compartments.

 

1st class seats on the Wawel.

Restaurant car on the Berlin to Warsaw train

Restaurant car.  You don't need to reserve a table, just go along and sit down.  Larger photo.

Food in therestaurant car on the Berlin-Krakow train   Food in therestaurant car on the Berlin-Krakow train

Zurek soup - an excellent tasty starter.

 

Kotlet schabowy, served on proper china.

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Hamburg to Vilnius. Riga, Tallinn

Option 1, by train - overland by train to the Baltic States

Warsaw to Vilnius by train:  Interchange at Mockava

Above, the Warsaw to Vilnius train service involves a simple cross-platform change at Mockava from a Polish train to a Lithuanian one.  Courtesy of Martin Kop.

Option 2, by ferry - the good-value ferry alternative

  • Step 1, take a local train from Hamburg to Kiel, these run at least hourly, journey time around 1h17.

    In Kiel, the DFDS ferry terminal is 5.3 km from Kiel Hbf, see location map.  Bus 60S runs every 15 minutes from outside the station (bus stop D2) to its last stop at Schwentinestrasse, from where you can see the terminal, a 700m 7 minute walk away.  Or take a taxi from the station to the ferry terminal, 13 minutes.

  • Step 2, sail from Kiel to Klaipeda in Lithuania with DFDS Seaways.

    A ferry sails 6 days a week, departure time varies between 14:00 & 23:00 and arrival in Klaipeda next day (day 3 from London) in the afternoon or evening roughly 22 hours later, see www.dfds.com for ferry sailing dates, times & fares.  The ferry has 2 & 4 berth cabins with shower & toilet, plus extra-comfort Commodore Class cabins with TV & minibar.  There are restaurants and bars on board too.

    In Klaipeda, it’s a short walk from the ferry terminal to the main road where bus 9 leaves from the Strėvos Street stop on the opposite side of the road roughly every 15 minutes to the city centre, taking around 11 minutes.  Fare €1, pay the driver or tap a debit/credit card on the reader.  See walking map from ferry terminal to Strėvos Street bus stop.

  • Step 3 in late afternoon (if your ferry arrives early enough on that particular date) or (if it doesn't) in the morning of the next day, take a train from Klaipeda to Vilnius, journey time around 4h45.  There are several departures daily, see ltglink.lt for times & tickets.

Ferry check-in at Kiel   Kiel to Klaipeda ferry boarding in Kiel

Ferry terminal at Kiel.

 

The ferry to Klaipeda boarding in Kiel.

Cafe on board   2-berth cabin with shower & TV

The cafe-lounge on board.

 

2-berth cabin with shower & toilet.

Meal in the ferry's a la carte restaurant   DFDS ferry from Kiel to Klaipeda

A la carte restaurant.

 

Night scene at Klaipeda.  Ferry photos courtesy of Lewis Baston & Michael Allsop.

Klaipeda station   Klaipeda to Vilnius train

Klaipeda station.

 

The express train from Klaipeda to Vilnius.

Vilnius railway station

Vilnius station.  Photo courtesy of Yuk Wah Chu

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Hamburg to Kyiv & Ukraine

Option 1, Hamburg to Kyiv using the Warsaw-Kyiv sleeper

  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Kyiv on the Kyiv Express, leaving Warsaw Wschodnia at 17:49 & arriving Kyiv at 12:17 next day (day 3).

    The Kyiv Express has comfortable Ukrainian sleeping-cars with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin.  There's no restaurant car, so take a picnic and perhaps some wine or beer.

    The fare is around €46 in a 3-bed sleeper if you manage to book via the Ukrainian Railways website.  If you have to book via Polrail it costs around €57 including a bed in a 3-berth sleeper, €66 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €110 in a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.

    To buy tickets, first see if you can book online with Ukrainian Railways at booking.uz.gov.ua/en - but please, please, please read the important notes here which explain how to book this train using that website.  If that doesn't work for you, book with reliable Polish agency Polrail at booking.polrail.com.  Tickets can be collected in Warsaw or (at extra charge) shipped to any address worldwide.  Polrail are also pretty good at arranging the return reservation back from Kyiv as they have close contacts with Ukrainian Railways.

  • Step 3, to book onward trains within Ukraine from Kyiv to Odessa or the Crimea, see the Ukraine page.

The Warsaw to Kiev train at Warsaw Centralna

A Ukrainian sleeping-car on the Kyiv Express at Warsaw CentralnaCourtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment   Each compartment has a washbasin   The Kiev Express

1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper.

 

Washbasin.

 

Kyiv Express.

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Hamburg to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia

Option 1, Hamburg to Moscow using the daily Warsaw-Moscow sleeper

  • Day 1, travel from Hamburg to Warsaw as shown above.

  • Stay overnight in Warsaw.  If your budget will stretch, the Polonia Palace Hotel is just across the road from both the Palace of Culture skyscraper and Warsaw Centralna station, and 25 minutes walk from Warsaw's old town. Opened in 1913, it was one of the few hotels to emerge unscathed from WW2, and has been used by many famous people including General (later President) Eisenhower and General de Gaulle.

  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Moscow by Russian sleeper train, leaving Warsaw Centralna at 19:15 daily and arriving Moscow Belorussky at 16:58 next day (day 3 from Hamburg).  You can check times at the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru.

    This train was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended due to sanctions & the war in Ukraine.

    This train uses impressive Austrian-built sleeping-cars with 4-berth compartments built in 2014, see photos of this type of sleeper here & see panorama photo inside one of these modern sleepers.  Each compartment can be sold as 1st class 1-berth, 1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth.  The train consist of two or three sleeping-car which start their journey in Prague.  There's a bistro car in Poland and a Russian restaurant car is attached between Brest (on the Polish/Belarus border) & Moscow.

    You can book this train by contacting reliable Polish train ticketing agency www.polrail.com - their booking system is at booking.polrail.com.  Tickets can be collected in Warsaw or (at extra charge) shipped to any address worldwide.

  • Alternatively, you can book with Russian Railways at www.rzd.ru although it's a little quirky and may not accept some overseas credit cards.

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

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, Hamburg to Moscow using the Berlin-Moscow Strizh (Swift) Talgo sleeper train, twice a week

  • Step 1, travel from Hamburg to Berlin, the 14:36 from Hamburg Hbf arrives Berlin Hbf at 16:19, but by all means take an earlier train.

    Fares start at €18.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fare, so book ahead.

    Book this at the German Railways website int.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can log on at any time and check or reprint tickets.  

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

    This train was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended due to sanctions & the war in Ukraine.

    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.

    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, Hamburg to Moscow via Kyiv - avoiding Belarus

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

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

    There are several night trains, but there's usually one leaving Kyiv 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 Kyiv to Moscow on these trains.

    These trains were suspended due to Covid-19 and remain suspended due to the war in Ukraine.

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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

  • The best and most comfortable option is to pick up a ferry in Bari.  The whole scenic and relaxing journey to Athens will take around 2 nights & 3 days, depending how the connections work out on your particular date.

  • Day 1, travel from Hamburg Hbf to Verona Porta Nuova in a single chill-out day with a restaurant car for lunch & dinner.

    I'd leave around 06:30, have at least an hour between trains in Munich just in case of delay, then arrive Verona around 18:58, but there are later or earlier options.

    Fares start at from €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Check times & buy a ticket at the German Railways website int.bahn.de

     I'd change Transfer time from normal to 40 minutes  to ensure robust connections.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or phone.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can log on at any time and check or reprint tickets.

  • Stay overnight in Verona.  Hotels near the station with good or great reviews include the Corte Merighi Rooms & Breakfast, Novo Hotel Rossi, Guesthouse Verona or (a little closer to the centre but with fab reviews) the Relais Empire.

  • Day 2, travel from Verona to Bari, leaving Verona Porta Nuova around 07:50.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.

    Book this at either www.italiarail.com (they'll refund their small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com) or www.trenitalia.comBooking normally opens up to 4 months ahead.  It's ticketless, you simply print out your booking reference or show it on your phone.

  • Day 2, sail overnight from Bari to Patras in Greece with Superfast Ferries.

    The ferry sails from Bari at 19:30 on Mondays-Saturdays, arriving Patras at 13:00 next day (Day 3).

    On Sundays the ship sails at 13:30, too early to make connections.

    You can check sailing times & dates at using the Direct Ferries website or at www.superfast.com or www.ferriesingreece.com.

    You should check in at the Superfast desk on the ground floor of the cruise terminal (Terminal Crociere) at Bari port with passport & booking number to get your boarding pass, ideally 3 hours before departure in summer, although in practice 2 hours or even 1½ hours is normally fine.

    You then walk 500m from check-in to the ferry, board the ferry via the foot passenger gangway at the stern and head up the escalator to the main lounge and reception desk to get your cabin key.

    The ship is comfortable, with self-service restaurant, lounge, bar and sun deck.  You can book a deck place (a good & cheap option in summer if you have your own sleeping bag), a reclining seat or various types of cabin, all with private shower & toilet.  Strolling the decks in the morning sun as the ship cruises past the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca is the nicest part of the trip, and it's a wonderful way to arrive in Greece.

    In Patras, the ferry arrives at the new South ferry terminal a few km from the town centre.  Bus 18 links the port with the Patras bus station every hour on the hour, fare €1.20 or you can hop in a taxi for around €9, journey time 15-20 minutes.

  • Day 3, travel from Patras to Athens by Greek Railways bus/train combo.

    Hellenic Train (Greek Railways) operate an integrated bus/train service from Patras to Athens every hour or two, total journey time 3h02, fare around €18.  No prior reservation is necessary, just buy a ticket to Athens at Patras railway station ticket office.

    For example, at the time I write this, buses leave from outside Patras railway station at 14:15, 15:15, 16:00, 17:15 & 18:15, taking 90 minutes to reach Kiato railway station near Corinthos.  At Kiato they connect with a modern air-conditioned regional train taking 78 minutes to Athens Larissa Station in downtown Athens.  You can check Patra to Athens bus/train times using the journey planner at www.hellenictrain.gr.

Superfast ferry from Bari to Patras in Greece

The ferry Superfast II from Bari to Patras, boarding at Bari.  Photos courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Boarding the ferry from Italy to Greece   Lounge and reception desk on the ferry to Greece

The passenger gangway, onto the ferry.

 

Reception desk & lounge on the ferry.

Lounge & bar on the ferry from Italy to Greece   Self-service restaurant on the ferry from Italy to Greece

Lounge and bar on the Superfast II.

 

Self-service restaurant.

En suite toilet & shower on ferry to Greece   Cabin on ferry from Italy to Greece

Private cabin with en suite toilet & shower.

Scenic views from the ferry from Italy to Greece

The ferry passes Cephalonia & Ithaca then approaches mainland Greece.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

The ferry from Bari arrives at Patras

The ferry approaches the new port of Patras.

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

  • This route is not viable as there are currently no international trains to or from Greece.

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Hamburg to Istanbul & Turkey

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Hotels in Hamburg

For advice on hotels in Hamburg, see the hotels section on the Hamburg Hbf page.

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels

  • www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct 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 with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  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 money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  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, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use 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.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

 


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