Nadrid Atocha station

Madrid Atocha station

This page covers journeys starting in Madrid, Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Alicante, Valencia

To buy train tickets in Spain, the official Spanish Railways website is www.renfe.com, see this advice, but It's much easier to use www.raileurope.com (in €, £ or $) or www.petrabax.com (US$).

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     Click here for journeys starting in other countries

     See COVID-19 information & update

     Click here for Madrid Atocha station information

This page explains how to travel by train from Madrid, Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Alicante, Valencia to other European cities, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Information current for 2021, some timings subject to confirmation.

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...


Buy train tickets for Spain See the train travel in Spain page...
An AVE-S103 high-speed train at Madrid Atocha

An S103 AVE train as used between Barcelona & Madrid Atocha, seen at Madrid Atocha station..  Taking as little as 2h30, it's faster than flying.  See virtual tour

Turista class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   Preferente class on a Spanish S103 AVE train

Turista (2nd class) on an AVE S103.

 

Turista Plus (premium 2nd class)  seating.

Club class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   Madrid Atocha station - the tropical garden in the old trainshed

Preferente class (1st class) seating (formerly Club) on the AVE train.  A meal with wine is included on Mondays-Fridays.

 

Madrid Atocha station.  One of my favourite stations, the old trainshed has been preserved and turned into a tropical garden.  AVE trains arrive in the adjacent modern extension.  See the Madrid Atocha station guide.

Ferries to Ibiza & Mallorca...

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Madrid to Gibraltar...
Madrid-Algeciras train at Madrid Atocha

An Intercity train (formerly branded Altaria), about to leave Madrid Atocha for Algeciras.

Cafe-bar on Madrid-Algeciras train   Turista Plus seats on Madrid-Algeciras train

Cafe-bar, with bar stools...

 

Turista Plus seats...

Turista seats on Madrid-Algeciras train   Algeciras station

Turista seats...

 

Algeciras station, across the road from the bus station.

Bus M-120 for La Linea (Gibraltar's frontier) boarding at Algeciras bus station.   The Rock of Gribraltar, viewed from a taxi approaching La Linea

Bus M-120 boarding at Algeciras bus station

 

Rock of Gibraltar, seen from a taxi near La Linea.

Other Spanish cities to Gibraltar...

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Spain to London...

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Spain to Paris...

Madrid to Paris by high-speed TGV...

Option 1, Madrid to Paris in a single day - early departure from Madrid, arrival in Paris after lunch...

Option 2, Madrid to Paris in a single day - mid-morning departure from Madrid, evening arrival in Paris.

Option 3, Madrid to Paris with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 4, Madrid to Paris with overnight stop in San Sebastian - a slower but cheaper route, San Sebastian makes a great stopover...

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

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

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & 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, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

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

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

Dinner from the cafe-bar...

 

View from the train, passing Bιziers...

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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

Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Alicante, Valencia to Paris...

Option 1, Spanish cities to Paris in a single day...

Option 2, Spanish cities to Paris with overnight stop in Barcelona - breaks the trip up nicely, recommended...

Option 3, in a single day.  Was due to run from 29 May to 30 August 2020, 2021 dates not known.

Vigo, A Coruna & Santiago de Compostela to Paris...

Option 1, with overnight stop in San Sebastian.

Option 2, with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, by sleeper train to Barcelona, day there, then late afternoon TGV to Paris...

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Spain to Bordeaux...

Option 1, Madrid to Bordeaux in a single day.  Lunch in San Sebastian?

Option 2, Madrid to Bordeaux with overnight stop in San Sebastian.  A morning to explore San Sebastian?

From Valencia. Alicante, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga you'd take a fast train to Madrid Atocha, transfer to Madrid Chamartin by suburban train, then travel Madrid to Bordeaux as above.  Check times at either www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com or renfe.com.

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Spain to Toulouse...

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Spain to Lyon...

Option 1, in a single day...

Option 2, with overnight stop in Barcelona...

AVE S100 at Barcelona Sants

Barcelona to Lyon by AVE...  This is the morning AVE to Lyon ready to leave Barcelona Sants. 

 

1st class seats on an AVE S100.  360Ί photo of 1st class.

Cafe-bar on an AVE-S100...

AVE train at Barcelona  

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  360Ί photo of 2nd class More photos & info about AVE S100.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

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Spain to Avignon, Marseille, Cannes & Nice...
An AVE train to Seville ready to leave Madrid Atocha

Madrid to Avignon & Marseille by AVE...  This AVE high-speed train is ready to leave Madrid Atocha. 

 

1st class seats on an AVE S100.  360Ί photo of 1st class.

Cafe-bar on an AVE S100...

AVE train at Barcelona  

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  360Ί photo of 2nd class More photos & info about AVE S100.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

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Spain to Brussels from €68...

Option 1, Madrid & Valencia to Brussels in a single day...

Option 2, Spanish cities to Brussels with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, Spanish cities to Brussels with overnight stop in Paris...

Option 4, by high-speed TGV with overnight stop in Paris, later departure due to run from 29 May to 30 August 2020, 2021 dates not known.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

Barcelona to Paris by TGV Duplex, a 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

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

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & 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, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

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

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

Dinner from the cafe-bar...

 

View from the train, passing Bιziers...

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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

A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

Paris to Brussels by Thalys, seen here at Paris Nord.  See 360Ί photos inside a ThalysMore information about Thalys.

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

Comfort & Premium seats, 2+1 across the car.  Larger photo.

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

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Spain to Amsterdam from €74...

Option 1, Madrid & Valencia to Amsterdam in a single day...

Option 2, Spanish cities to Amsterdam with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, Spanish cities to Amsterdam with overnight stop in Paris...

Option 4, Spanish cities to Amsterdam with overnight stop in Paris, later departure 29 May to 30 August 2020, 2021 dates not known.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

Barcelona to Paris by TGV Duplex, a 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

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

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & 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, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

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

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

Dinner from the cafe-bar...

 

View from the train, passing Bιziers...

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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

A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

Paris to Amsterdam by Thalys, seen here at Paris Nord.  See 360Ί photos inside a ThalysMore information about Thalys.

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

Comfort & Premium seats, 2+1 across the car.  Larger photo.

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

Crossing the Moerdijk Bridge over the Hollands Diep

The Thalys sweeps across the Moerdijk Bridge over the Hollands Diep one lazy evening, between Rotterdam & Antwerp.

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Spain to Luxembourg...

Option 1, Madrid & Valencia to Luxembourg in a single day...

Option 2, Spanish cities to Luxembourg with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, Spanish cities to Luxembourg with overnight stop in Paris...

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Spain to Geneva, Zurich & Switzerland from €59...

Option 1, by high-speed trains with overnight stop in Barcelona...

AVE S100 at Barcelona Sants

Barcelona to Lyon by AVE...  The AVE-S100 to Lyon ready to leave Barcelona Sants. 

 

1st class seats on an AVE S100.  360Ί photo of 1st class.

Cafe-bar...

AVE train at Barcelona  

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  360Ί photo of 2nd class More photos & info about AVE S100.

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.

Option 2, Madrid to Avignon or Marseille in the afternoon, overnight stop & morning free, then afternoon TGV to Geneva...

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Spain to Milan, Venice, Rome & Italy from €81...

Option 1, by high-speed train from Madrid to Marseille, overnight stop, Thello train from Marseille to Milan.

An AVE train to Seville ready to leave Madrid Atocha

Madrid to Marseille by AVE...  An AVE-S100 high-speed train ready to leave Madrid Atocha. 

 

1st class seats on an AVE S100.  360Ί photo of 1st class.

Cafe-bar...

AVE train at Barcelona  

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  360Ί photo of 2nd class More photos & info about AVE S100.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

The Vieux Port at Marseille

Bonjour Marseille!  The Eglise Notre Dame de la Garde, overlooking the Vieux Port.

Marseille to Milan by Thello train...

Thello train from Marseille & Nice to Milan, at Marseille St Charles   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

The Thello train at Milan Centrale...  It uses comfortable air-conditioned Frecciabianca carriages, see more photos & information.

 

1st class seats on Thello.  All seats have power sockets.  Plenty of luggage room on racks & between seat backs...

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Cafe counter on the Thello train from Nice to Milan

2nd class seats on the Thello train.  All seats have power sockets, with plenty of luggage space on racks and between seat backs.

 

The small cafe-bar counter on the Milan to Nice & Marseille Thello train serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.

Coastal views from the train between Toulon and Nice

The view from the train between Marseille & Nice...

Option 2, via Lyon, from the Pyrenees to the Alps with lunch in Lyon...

Option 3, by TGV to Geneva & scenic train through the Alps to Italy...

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Spain to Lisbon & Portugal...

Madrid to Lisbon by daytime trains...

You can travel from Madrid to Lisbon on comfortable daytime trains, albeit with 2 changes, daily except Sundays.  With the sleeper train discontinued, it's now the only option.  See the Madrid to Lisbon page for details...

Scenery between Badajoz and Madrid

Wonderful arid scenery on the Spanish plateau between Madrid & Badajoz.  Photo courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Madrid to Lisbon by train: Changing trains at Badajoz

Changing trains at Badajoz station.  The express from Madrid to Badajoz is on the left, the single-coach Allan Railcar from Badajoz to Entroncamento is on the right..  Photo courtesy of Giles Baker.

Madrid to Lisbon by sleeper train from €33...

IMPORTANT UPDATE: SLEEPER TRAIN SUSPENDED.  The Lusitania Trenhotel was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 and remains suspended indefinitely.  Renfe do not want to reinstate it, and it may never run again.  A direct fast daytime train may start in 2023 or 2024 when new lines are completed in both Spain & Portugal, but until the only link between Madrid & Lisbon is a 3-train combo by day, see the Madrid to Lisbon page for details...

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   Trainhotel at Madrid

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

 

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

 

Gran Clase sleepers have a private toilet & shower...

 

The trainhotel from Madrid to Lisbon is an articulated Spanish Talgo train.  Seen here at Madrid Chamartin station.

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), cosy & inexpensive.  They convert from beds to seats.

Malaga, Granada, Cordoba or Seville to Lisbon...

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Spain to Porto...

Madrid to Porto...

Option 1, using the Madrid-Lisbon sleeper train - the most time-effective option...

Alfa Pendular at Porto Capanha   1st class on an Alfa Pendular

Alfa Pendular at Porto Campanhγ...

 

Alfa Pendular 1st class.  Photos courtesy of @rexybexy

Option 2, using a Madrid-Vigo daytime train - the alternative if you prefer daytime trains to sleepers...

Alvia train

An Alvia train.  It's nick-named patito or little duck, for obvious reasons!

Turista Plus seats on an Alvia train   Alvia train at Madrid Chamartin

Turista Plus seats on an Alvia train...

 

Alvia train at Madrid Chamrtin...

 

The regional express train between Vigo & Porto.  Photos courtesy of Martin Hill.

Malaga & Seville to Porto...

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Spain to Faro & the Algarve...

Madrid to Faro...

Option 1, Madrid to Lisbon by sleeper train, Lisbon to Faro by Intercity train - the most time-effective option...

Lisbon-Faro InterCity train...   Comfortable seats inside the Lisbon-Faro InterCity train

Air-conditioned InterCity trains link Lisbon with Faro & the Algarve.  Photos courtesy of Luisfer

Option 2, Madrid to Seville by high-speed train, Seville to Faro by bus - the daytime option...

An AVE train to Seville ready to leave Madrid Atocha

Madrid to Seville by AVE...  An AVE-S100 high-speed train ready to leave Madrid Atocha. 

An AVE train to Seville ready to leave Madrid Atocha   Inside the Sala Club (1st class lounge) at Madrid Atocha.

An AVE S100 high-speed train boarding at Madrid Atocha. 

 

Cafe-bar.  All AVEs and most Intercity & Alvia trains have a cafe-bar serving snacks, hot & cold dishes, tea, coffee, beer & wine...

AVE Preferente class on an S100 AVE train   Complimentary at-seat meal in Club class from Madrid to Barcelona

Preferente (1st class) with reclining leather seats, power sockets for laptops & mobiles.

A hot at-seat meal with wine is included in Preferente on Monday-Fridays, see info above.

AVE Turista Plus class on an S100 AVE train to Seville   AVE Tourist class on an S100 AVE train from Madrid to Seville

Turista Plus (premium 2nd class) with reclining seats, power sockets for laptops & mobiles.

Turista (2nd class) with comfortable seats, power sockets for laptops & mobiles.

Malaga, Granada, Cordoba or Seville to Faro...

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Spain to Andorra...

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Spain to Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Berlin & Germany from €79...

Option 1, Madrid & Valencia to Cologne or Frankfurt in a single day...

Option 2, with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, with overnight stop in Paris...

Option 4, with overnight stop in Paris, later departure due to run from 29 May to 30 August 2020, 2021 dates not known.

Option 5, with overnight stop in Marseille - avoids having to change station in Paris...

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Spain to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €88...

Option 1, Spain to Geneva by TGV, Zurich to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train - the most time-effective option...

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

The safe & comfortable Nightjet from Zurich to Vienna.  This is a double-deck sleeping-car 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, Spain to Geneva by TGV, overnight stop, Geneva to Austria next day - the scenic option...

A railjet train about to leave Zurich Hbf for Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna

A railjet to Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna about to leave Zurich HB...

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

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

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

 

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

The mountains keep on coming, see the photos & video on the Arlberg Railway page...

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Spain to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo & Scandinavia...

Option 1, with overnight stop in Marseille & Hamburg...

Option 2, with overnight stops in Barcelona & Cologne...

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

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.

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.

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

Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000 train seen here at Copenhagen main station...

 

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

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

X2000 bistro car...

 

X2000 bistro car seating area...

 

Bistro self-service...

Winter scenery fro a Copenhagen-Stockholm train

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

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Spain to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, using a Finnlines 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, by train to Stockholm, then ferry to Helsinki...

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Spain to Prague & the Czech Republic...
The sleeper train from Zurich to Prague

By sleeping-car from Zurich to Prague, seen here ready to leave Zurich HBSee more photos, tips & information about the Zurich to Prague sleeper.  Photo courtesy of Shaiq Ali Khan

City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper   City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper in day mode   Standard sleeper compartment, washstand   Comfortline sleeper corridor
Standard sleeper set up as a 2-berth, with blind down & washstand open.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.   The same sleeper with berths folded away & seats folded out, washstand closed.  Very similar to a deluxe, but without the shower & toilet.   Economy sleeper compartments have a washstand with hot water, fresh towels, drinking water & soap.   Just like a hotel corridor...  The corridor in a Comfortline sleeping-car...

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Spain to Bratislava & Slovakia...

Option 1, by day trains to Switzerland then nightjet sleeper train.  The most time-effective option...

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

The safe & comfortable Nightjet from Zurich to Vienna.  This is a double-deck sleeping-car 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, by day trains with overnight stop in Geneva.  The most scenic option...

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Spain to Budapest & Hungary...
Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

The Zurich-Budapest sleeper at Zurich...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

6-berth couchettes...

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

2-bed sleeper.  Larger photo

 

The Zurich-Budapest sleeper, at Budapest Keleti.  Watch the Hungarian sleeping-car video...  Courtesy of Matthew Williams.

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Spain to Brasov, Bucharest & Romania...

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Spain to Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade & Sofia...

Option 1, using the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper...

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

The Croatian sleeper train from Zurich to Zagreb.  These modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-cars have 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 photo.

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

The couchette car to Zagreb has modern air-conditioned 6-berth & 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...

Option 2, via Marseille & Venice...

2nd class seats on the train from Venice to Ljubljana   The train from Trieste to Ljubljana

Inside the ETR563.  Larger photo.

 

The train to Ljubljana about to leave Trieste.  Courtesy of Marc Williams.

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Spain to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland...

Option 1, Spain to Warsaw with overnight stop in Paris - the fastest option, runs Sunday to Thursday only...

Option 2, using the Zurich-Vienna sleeper...

Option 3, with overnight stops in Marseille & Berlin - if you prefer day trains & hotels to sleeper trains...

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Spain to Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn...

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

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

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Spain to Kiev, Lviv & Ukraine...
The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass.  Photos courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Sleeper to Kiev about to leave Vienna   Ukrainian sleeper corridor   1, 2 or 3 bed Ukrainian sleeper compartment

The Vienna-Kiev sleeper about to leave Vienna Hbf... Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The sleeper corridor.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment.

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Spain to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia...

Option 1, using the Paris-Moscow Express, runs once a week - the most comfortable option, if you don't mind going via Belarus...

One of Russian Railways new international sleeping-cars   A 2-berth or 4-berth compartment in daytime mode

Standard sleepers with washbasin on the Paris-Moscow Express:  1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth.  More photos & information.

  One of Russian Railways new international sleeping-cars

VIP sleeper with en suite toilet & shower on the Paris-Moscow Express...  More photos & information

Option 2, via Paris & Warsaw - runs every day, also via Belarus...

Option 3, via Vienna & Kiev - avoiding Belarus...

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Spain to Athens & Greece...
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!

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Spain to Istanbul & Turkey...

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bullet pointRailbookers custom-made tours

If you just want to buy train tickets at the cheapest price, book online as shown on this page.  However, if you want someone to sort out your whole trip for you, arranging all your trains, hotels and transfers, and to look after you if anything affects your arrangements, talk to Railbookers.  Railbookers can custom-make a train trip around Europe to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get good reports and a lot of repeat business!  They now have offices in the UK, North America and Australia.

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk.

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website.

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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bullet pointFind hotels in Europe

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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