Take Eurostar & TGV high-speed train from London to Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Avignon, Strasbourg, Perpignan or anywhere in France

A TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

Hotels in Paris - hotel suggestions

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This page explains how to travel by train from Paris to other cities all over Europe and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Information current for 2022

Tip:  If leaving from the Gare de Lyon, have a meal before your train at the fabulous Train Bleu restaurant or use the Big Ben bar as your VIP waiting lounge.  If leaving from the Gare du Nord, I recommend the Brasserie Terminus Nord across the road.

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  They answer 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...

bullet pointParis station guides...

Paris Gare du Nord

Paris Gare de l'Est

Paris Gare de Lyon

Paris Gare d'Austerlitz

 

Paris Gare Montparnasse

Paris Gare de Bercy

Paris Gare St Lazare


Paris to anywhere else in France...
Paris to Nice from €25, see the Paris to Nice page...

The impressive 300 km/h TGV Duplex trains from Paris to Nice take as little as 5h45 centre to centre with fares from €25.  A flight takes 4 hours of train, airport, flight, airport & bus, as well as pumping up to 10 times the CO2 emissions into the upper atmosphere.  As an experience, there's no comparison:  After speeding down the scenic Rhone Valley at up tom 186 mph, they slow right down and pass Marseille with the Chateau d'If visible out in the bay.  After St Raphael, the train skirts the Cote d'Azur past rocky headlands, yacht-filled bays and millionaires' villas.  THIS is the way to arrive!  For more information, see the Paris to Nice by train page.  And from April 2021 there's a sleeper option, too.  Scenery photo courtesy of Mike Sloan.

TGV Duplex train from Paris to Nice

A double-deck TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon...

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.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating. 360Ί photo.

Coastal views from the train between Toulon and Nice

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Paris to Corsica...

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Paris to London in 2h20 from €57...

Option 1, Paris to London by Eurostar in 2h20...

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

Option 2, by train & ferry...

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Paris to Dublin from £88.50...

Option  1, Paris to Dublin via a direct France-Ireland ferry...

Train from Normandy at Paris St Lazare

Step 1, take a double-deck TER train from Paris to Cherbourg, seen here at Paris St Lazare. Courtesy of Nicholas A Milligan.

1st class on Le Havre to Paris Train Nomad   2nd class on Le Havre-Paris Train Nomad

1st class seats on the Train Nomad TER trains, upper deck.

 

2nd class seats on the Train Nomad TER trains, upper deck.

Irish Ferries' WB Yeats

Step 2, 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...

Option  2, Paris to Dublin via London...

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Paris to Brussels, Antwerp or Liege from €29...

Option 1, Paris to Brussels & Belgium by high-speed Thalys train - fastest, most frequent, most comfortable...

A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

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

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

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

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

Option 2, Paris to Brussels by low-cost train operator izy.com from €10 - a no-frills budget airline on rails...

Update:  All Izy services will cease from 10 July 2022, in future all Paris-Brussels services will operate under the Thalys brand.

Option 3, Paris to Brussels by classic trains in 3h47 for €50.60, even bought on the day...

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Paris to Bruges or Ghent from €35...
A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

1. Paris to Brussels by Thalys, seen here at Paris Nord.  See panorama photos inside a Thalys trainMore info about Thalys.

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

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

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

Belgian intercity train from Brussels to Bruges

2. Brussels to Ghent or Bruges by Belgian intercity (IC) train, seen here about to leave Brussels Midi.  Some cars on this route are now double-deck.

2nd class on a Brussels-Luxembourg train 1st class on a Brussels-Luxembourg train

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

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Paris to Amsterdam from €35...
A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

A Thalys at Amsterdam Centraal.  See panorama photos inside a Thalys trainMore info about Thalys.

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

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

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

Dutch windmill!

You'll know when your Thalys reaches Holland!  North & South Holland are two provinces of the 12 that make up the Netherlands.  To understand the difference between Holland and The Netherlands, watch this nifty video...

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Paris to Luxembourg from €39...
TGV Duplex at Luxembourg

A TGV Duplex at Luxembourg...

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

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

 

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

An TGV Duplex at Luxembourg   First class on board a TGV Duplex

A TGV Duplex at Luxembourg.

 

1st class seats on upper deck. 360Ί photo.

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Paris to Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Basel, Zurich from €29...
TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV-Lyria euroduplex train at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deck trains now operate all TGV-Lyria services.

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

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

 

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

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria for Geneva, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Scenery along the Haut-Bugey line, seen from the Geneva to Paris train

The Paris-Geneva route has the nicest scenery of all the TGV-Lyria routes.  For the last hour or so into Geneva, the train snakes through the hills on the wonderfully scenic Haut-Bugey line...

Scenery along the Haut-Bugey line, seen from the Geneva to Paris train

More scenery as the TGV from Paris to Geneva heads through the hills along the river valley between Bourg en Bresse & Bellegarde.  The best views are on the right hand side, so keep a good lookout, although you can't pick sides when booking.

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Paris to Turin & Milan...

Option 1, Paris to Turin & Milan by French Railways TGV - direct trains, 3 per day...

Option 2, Paris to Turin & Milan by Trenitalia Frecciarossa - direct trains, 2 per day......

Option 3, Paris to Milan via Switzerland...

Option 4, Paris to Milan via the fabulous alpine Bernina  route - slower but incredibly scenic & well worth considering...

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Paris to Verona & Venice...

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Paris to Florence...

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Paris to Rome & Naples...

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Paris to Genoa, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Livorno...

Option 1, Paris to Genoa, Cinque Terre, La Spezia, Pisa & Livorno in a single day...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Milan by high-speed Frecciarossa, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 07:26 daily, arriving Milan Centrale at 14:07.

    It's a scenic & relaxing journey on a modern air-conditioned train with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see for yourself on the Paris-Milan by train page.  It's an initial dash at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) along the Paris-Lyon high-speed line, but south of Lyon the train slows right down and snakes through the mountains into Italy.

  • Step 2, travel from Milan to Genoa & beyond by air-conditioned Intercity train leaving Milan Centrale at 16:05, arriving Genoa Piazza Principe 17:44, Monterosso (Cinque Terre) 19:05, La Spezia 19:21, Pisa 20:17 & Livorno 20:35.

  • How much does it cost?

    Paris to Milan starts at €29 in standard (2nd) class, €36 in business (1st) class or €165 in Executive class.

    Milan to Genoa, La Spezia or Monterosso starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class. 

    Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • How to buy tickets...

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, whichever you prefer.

    Booking opens up to 4 months ahead, it's ticketless, you simply print out your booking reference or show it on your phone.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.

Option 2, Paris to Genoa & Cinque Terre in a single day, afternoon departure...

Option 3, Paris to Genoa, Cinque Terre & Pisa with an overnight stop in Milan...

  • How much does it cost?

    Paris to Milan starts at €29 in 2nd class, €44 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Milan to Genoa, La Spezia or Monterosso starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

  • How to buy tickets...

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, whichever you prefer. 

    Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  For a TGV you print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.  For Frecciarossa and onward Italian trains it's ticketless, you simply print out your booking reference or show it on your phone.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.

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Paris to Sicily...

There are many ways to travel from Paris to Sicily with various possible stopovers on the way.  But the simplest is as follows:

  • Day 1, travel from Milan to Sicily on Italy's longest train ride, an epic direct sleeper train leaving Milan Centrale at 20:10 every night and arriving next day (day 2) at Catania 14:32, Siracuse 15:48 with another portion to Palermo arriving 16:56.

    This train has 4-berth Comfort couchettes and a sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments.  It is ferried across the Straits of Messina to Sicily on a train ferry, a unique experience and one of the few places in the world where trains go onto ships.  See the Trains to Sicily page for more information, photos & travel tips.

    Fares start at €39.90 with a couchette, €59.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, €89.90 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.

    Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.comBooking opens up to 4 months ahead, you print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.

Coastal view from the Palermo to Milan sleeper train

Room with a view...  The Milan to Sicily sleeper travels overnight from Milan, then speeds along the coast of Italy in daylight, often right next to the water, before being shunted onto a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina to Sicily.  Courtesy Philip Dyer-Perry.

2-bed sleeper, night mode, on the Milan-Sicily sleeper  

Milan-Sicily train on board the train ferry

2-berth sleeper.  It converts to a sofa by day.  Larger photo

 

Yes, the train goes onto a ferry!  This is the Milan-Sicily sleeper train on board the train ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina. Photos courtesy of Andrew Harris.

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Paris to Barcelona from €39...

Option 1, Paris to Barcelona, Girona, Figueres by high-speed train from €39...

  • Two 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex trains link Paris with Barcelona every day all year round, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 10:14 & 15:12, taking around 6h25 to Barcelona Sants, see the Paris-Barcelona timetable here.

    The afternoon 15:12 TGV should run all year round, but due to covid-19 it will only run from 14 June to 30 September 2022.

    All these TGVs also call at Figueres Vilafant station (for the excellent Salvador Dali museum) & Girona.

    A flight from Paris to Barcelona will take up to 5 hours once you include ground transportation, check-in and airport security hassle, it's far more interesting and relaxing to take a Paris-Barcelona TGV train from city centre to city centre while you chill out on board, and in reality it takes hardly any longer.  It's an enjoyable and scenic trip, see here for the sights to see from the train on the way.  I recommend booking an upper deck seat for the best views on these impressive 320km/h (199 mph) double-decker trains.  There's a cafe-bar on board and all seats have power sockets.

  • Fares start at €39 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead, you print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

    You can also book at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com or Spanish Railways website renfe.com with no booking fee, but both these sites are more fiddly to use and have been known to reject some overseas credit cards.  About RaileuropeAbout Trainline.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

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 & microwave-style hot dishes.

 

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

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

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

Option 2, Paris to Barcelona by overnight train via Latour de Carol...

  • The Paris-Barcelona Elipsos sleeper train was discontinued in 2013, but you can still travel overnight, using the French overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol, then a local train through the scenic Pyrenees to Barcelona Sants.  Departure from Paris around 21:00, arrival in Barcelona around 14:00 next day.

  • See the Paris to Barcelona by sleeper train page for full details, prices, tips & how to buy tickets.

Option 3, Paris to Barcelona by overnight train via Perpignan/Cerbθre...

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

An intercitι de nuit sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Chilling in the corridor...  Courtesy Dan Chester.

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Paris to Madrid...

Option  1, Paris to Madrid by high-speed train, via Barcelona - the fastest option, from €77...

  • How to buy tickets...

    You can book this journey as a Paris-to-Madrid transaction at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee. These websites connect to both SNCF and Renfe ticketing systems so you can buy tickets for both trains together in one place.

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead,  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies.

    If you want to stay overnight in Barcelona, simply book Paris to Barcelona, add to basket, then book Barcelona to Madrid for the following day and add to basket, and check out. 

    Alternatively, you can book the Paris to Barcelona TGV at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com in €, then book the Barcelona to Madrid AVE separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com also in €, although booking this way obviously takes more effort. Renfe also has some quirks to negotiate and may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice on using it.

Club class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   An S103 AVE train at Madrid Atocha station

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

 

An S103 AVE train as used between Barcelona & Madrid, seen here at Madrid Atocha station...  See virtual tour

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

Standard class (2nd class) on the AVE train.

 

Comfort class (1st class)  seating.

Scenery between Barcelona & Madrid

Scenery from the high-speed AVE between Barcelona & Madrid.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Madrid Atocha station - the tropical garden in the old trainshed   At Madrid Atocha, high-speed trains depart from a modern extension.

Madrid Atocha station...  One of my favourite stations, the grand old trainshed has been preserved and turned into a tropical garden complete with turtle pool.  See the Madrid Atocha station guide.

Option  2, Paris to Madrid in a day via San Sebastian - a cheaper but slower route, from €42...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Hendaye by TGV Duplex Ocιane, leaving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 10:11 and arriving Hendaye at 14:47.

    The TGV Duplex travels at up to 300km/h, with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Personally, I'd book the earlier 07:52 from Paris and have lunch in San Sebastian.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views, any seat number over 60 is upstairs.

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

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.  You can also book at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com, in €, same fares, more fiddly, no fee.

  • Step 2, transfer from Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren metro, every 30 minutes, journey time 37 minutes...

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

    In San Sebastian it's a 10-minute walk from Euskotren's Amara station to the mainline Renfe station, see walking map.

  • Step 3, travel from San Sebastian to Madrid by Alvia train, leaving San Sebastian Renfe station at 17:03 arriving Madrid Chamartin 22:03. 

    The modern air-conditioned Alvia train has a cafe-bar & power sockets at all seats, a pleasure to travel in.  There's great scenery winding down out of the Pyrenees.  These trains also have an interesting party trick:  Half way through the journey they pass slowly through a shed, and axles adjust from Iberian gauge (5'6") to standard gauge (4'8½") before taking the modern high-speed line to Madrid.

    Fares start at €17 in 2nd class (standard) or €22 in 1st class (comfort).

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com and print your own ticket.  You can avoid paying a booking fee by using Renfe.com, but this is much more fiddly to use and may reject some overseas payment cards.

Option  3, Paris to Madrid with overnight stop in San Sebastian...

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish border by TGV Duplex Ocιane, using any departure you like...

    On Mondays-Fridays you can take any departure up to the 16:11 TGV from Paris Gare Montparnasse arriving Hendaye at 20:47.

    On Saturdays & Sundays you can also use the 18:11 TGV from Paris Montparnasse arriving Hendaye 22:47, as Euskotren run later late-night trains from Hendaye to San Sebastian on those evenings, check that there are late enough trains at www.euskotren.eus.

    The TGV Duplex Ocιane has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

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

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.  You can also book at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com, in €, same fares, more fiddly, no fee.  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Day 1, transfer from Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren metro, every 30 minutes, journey time 37 minutes...

    Simply walk out of Hendaye station and turn right, the little Euskotren station is in a corner of the main station forecourt.  Buy a ticket for €2.75 at the Euskotren station from the machines or staffed counter and hop on the next half-hourly Euskotren metro from Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara station, journey time 37 minutes.  The last train leaves Hendaye around 22:30 on weekdays, but later trains run at weekends.  See the Paris to San Sebastian page for more information, photos & tips.

    In San Sebastian it's a 10-minute walk from Euskotren's Amara station to the mainline Renfe station, see walking map.

  • Stay overnight in San Sebastian - a lovely city, well worth a longer stop.  The Pension San Ignacio Centro is just 10 minutes walk from San Sebastian Renfe station and gets great reviews.  If you want somewhere in the old town try the Pension Garibai or Pension Alameda.

  • Day 2, travel from San Sebastian to Madrid by Alvia train, leaving San Sebastian Renfe station at 09:02 arriving Madrid Chamartin 13:56.

    If you need to be in Madrid earlier, on Mondays-Fridays an Alvia train leaves San Sebastian at 05:02 arriving Madrid Chamartin at 09:57.

    If you'd like a day in San Sebastian, the afternoon Alvia train leaves San Sebastian at 17:03 arriving Madrid Chamartin at 22:03.

    These smart air-conditioned Alvia trains have a cafe-bar and power sockets at all seats, a pleasure to travel in.  There's great scenery winding down out of the Pyrenees.  These trains also have an interesting party trick:  Half way through the journey they pass slowly through a shed, and axles adjust from Iberian gauge (5'6") to standard gauge (4'8½") before taking the modern high-speed line the rest of the way to Madrid.

    Fares start at €17 in 2nd class (standard) or €22 in 1st class (comfort).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com and print your own ticket.  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but it varies.  You can avoid paying a booking fee by using Renfe.com, but this is much more fiddly to use and may reject some overseas payment cards.

Comfort (1st) class seats   Alvia train at Madrid Chamartin

Comfort class (1st class)

 

An Alvia at Madrid Chamartin...

Standard (2nd) class seats   The cafe bar

Standard class seats (2nd class).

 

The cafe-bar does an excellent cafe con leche...

Scenery between San Sebastian & Barcelona

The train descends from the foothills of the Pyrenees onto the plain below...

Option 4, Paris to Madrid using an overnight train to the Spanish border...

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Paris to Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz from €79... 

Option 1, Paris to Andalucνa with overnight stop in Barcelona...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 15:12 and arriving Barcelona Sants at 21:54.

    This afternoon Paris-Barcelona TGV should run all year round, but due to covid-19 it will only run from 14 June to 30 September 2022.  If it isn't running, either leave Paris on the earlier 10:14 Paris-Barcelona TGV or use option 2 below.

    The impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  It's a scenic & comfortable journey, see an account of the sights you see on the way.

    Fares start at €39 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Stay overnight in Barcelona.  Hotels close to Barcelona Sants station with good or great reviews:  Hotel Barcelo Sants (4-star, great reviews, directly above Barcelona Sants station itself, recommended), AC Hotel Sants by Marriott (4-star, just 50m from the station), Hotel Catalonia Roma (3-star), Hostal Baler (2-star), Hotel Transit (1-star), Meeting Point Hostel (inexpensive private rooms & dorm beds).

  • Step 2, now travel from Barcelona to Andalucνa by AVE high-speed train.

    For Cordoba & Seville:  An AVE-S112 high-speed train leaves Barcelona Sants at 08:30 arriving Cordoba 13:11 & Seville Santa Justa at 14:04.

    For Malaga:  Leave Barcelona Sants at 08:30 by AVE-S112 high-speed train and change at Cordoba onto a high-speed AVE/Avant train arriving Malaga Maria Zambrano at 14:56.

    For Granada:  An AVE-S112 high-speed train leaves Barcelona Sants at 08:30 arriving Granada at 14:52.

    Or spend a morning in Barcelona and book the direct afternoon train instead, leaving Barcelona at 15:45 and arriving Cordoba 20:30, Seville Santa Justa at 21:20 and Malaga Maria Zambrano at 21:46.

    Advance-purchase fares for all these trains start at around €45. 

  • How to buy tickets... 

    You can book this journey at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.  These sites connect to both the SNCF & Renfe ticketing systems so you can buy the tickets for both trains together in one place, in plain English. 

    Step 1, book Paris to Barcelona looking for the direct afternoon TGV, and add to basket.

    Step 2, book Barcelona to Cordoba, Malaga, Seville or Granada for the next day, add to basket & check out, paying for both tickets together.

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead, you print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies.  You print your own ticket.  More info on when train bookings open.

    Alternatively, you can book the Paris to Barcelona TGV at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com in €, more fiddly, no fee), then book the Barcelona to Seville/Malaga/Cordoba AVE separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (much more fiddly, in €, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice for using it).

Complimentary at-seat meal in Club class & Preferente Class   AVE Club class on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga

AVE S112 as used from Barcelona to Malaga & Seville...  Known as a pato (duck), no prizes for guessing why!

 

AVE Comfort class...  Leather reclining seats, all with power sockets...

AVE Tourist class seats on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga   AVE Preferente seating on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga

AVE Standard class...  Comfortable seats, 2 abreast each side of the aisle, mainly unidirectional but some bays of 4 around a table like this...

 

AVE Comfort class...  Reclining seats, power sockets for laptops & mobiles, mainly unidirectional but some tables for 2 and tables for 4...

Option 2, Paris to Andalucνa using a French overnight train - especially useful if the afternoon Paris-Barcelona TGV isn't running...

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Paris to Valencia or Alicante from €65... 

Option 1, Paris to Valencia or Alicante by high-speed train in a single day...

  • Step 2, travel from Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante by fast EuroMed train, leaving Barcelona Sants at 18:15 & arriving Valencia Joaquin Sorolla at 20:55 and Alicante at 22:42.

    Fares from Barcelona to Alicante start at €26.

  • How to buy tickets...

    You can book this journey as one simple Paris-to-Valencia/Alicante transaction at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.  These sites connect to both the SNCF & Renfe ticketing systems so you can buy the tickets for both trains together in one place, in plain English.

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead, for Spanish trains normally 60 days ahead, but this varies.  In the search results, look for the option with just 1 change.  You print your own tickets.

    Alternatively, you can book the Paris to Barcelona TGV at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, more fiddly, but no fee), then book the Barcelona to Valencia/Alicante train separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (in €, much more fiddly, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice on using it.

Option 2, Paris to Valencia or Alicante by high-speed trains with overnight stop in Barcelona...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Barcelona by high-speed TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 15:12 & arriving Barcelona Sants 21:54.

    This afternoon Paris-Barcelona TGV should run all year round, but due to covid-19 it will only run from 14 June to 30 September 2022.  If it isn't running, either leave Paris on the earlier 10:14 Paris-Barcelona TGV or use options 1 or 3.

    The impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  It's a scenic & comfortable journey, see an account of the sights you see on the way.

    Fares start at €39 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Stay overnight in Barcelona.  Hotels close to Barcelona Sants station with good or great reviews:  Hotel Barcelo Sants (4-star, great reviews, directly above Barcelona Sants station itself, recommended), AC Hotel Sants by Marriott (4-star, just 50m from the station), Hotel Catalonia Roma (3-star), Hostal Baler (2-star), Hotel Transit (1-star), Meeting Point Hostel (inexpensive private rooms & dorm beds).

  • Step 2, now travel from Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante by EuroMed train.  Take any departure you like, one leaves Barcelona Sants at 08:15 Mondays-Fridays arriving Valencia Joaquin Sorolla 10:55 & Alicante 12:45 or at 10:15 every day arriving Valencia Joaquin Sorolla 12:55 & Alicante 14:48.  By all means spend a morning in Barcelona and book a later train instead, they leave regularly throughout the day.

    Fares from Barcelona to Alicante start at €26.

  • How to buy tickets... 

    You can book this journey at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.  Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead, for Spanish trains normally 60 days ahead, but this varies. 

    Step 1, book Paris to Barcelona on the train you want, and add to basket.  Step 2, book Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante for the following day, add this to your basket and check out, paying for both tickets as one transaction.  You print your own tickets.

    Alternatively, you can book the Paris to Barcelona TGV at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, more fiddly but no fee), then book the Barcelona to Valencia/Alicante separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (in €, much more fiddly, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice on using it.

Option 2, Paris to Valencia or Alicante using a French overnight train to the Spanish border & onward trains...

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Paris to Bilbao
  • Step 1, travel from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye on the Spanish border by high-speed TGV Duplex Ocιane.

    This takes only 4h36 and there are a range of departures through the day, all with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

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

    Book at either www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.comBooking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.  There's a small booking fee. 

    You can also book at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com with no booking fee, although it's a little more fiddly and has been known to reject some overseas payment cards.

  • Step 2, travel from Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara by Euskotren metro.

    Walk out of Hendaye station, turn right and walk over to the little narrow-gauge Euskotren station.  Take the metro service from Hendaye (Hendaia in Spanish) to San Sebastian Amara station.  This runs every 30 minutes from early until late and takes around 35 minutes.  No reservation is necessary or even possible, just turn up and go.  Remember that San Sebastian is Donostia in Basque, and San Sebastian-Donostia Amara station is often shown as simply Amara.

    Click here to see the illustrated guide to travelling by TGV and Euskotren from Paris to San Sebastian.  But instead of buying a ticket from Hendaye to Amara, you can buy a through ticket from Hendaye to Bilbao for around €6.

  • Step 3, travel from San Sebastian Amara to Bilbao Matiko by Euskotren...

    Change trains at Amara onto the hourly narrow-gauge Euskotren train from San Sebastian Amara to Bilbao Matiko.  This runs every hour, at xx:50 past each hour at the time I write this.  The last train leaves Amara at 19:50 so you'll need to leave Paris at lunchtime at the latest.  You can check times at www.euskotren.eus, remembering that San Sebastian to Bilbao will be listed as Amara-Donostia to Bilbao Matiko as those are the station names.  The adult one-way fare is shown as 'ida'.  The journey time is 2h35 to Matiko station (the end of the line, 18 minutes walk from the Guggenheim Museum) or just 2h29 to Zazpi Kaleak station which is further from the Guggenheim (22 minutes walk) but closer to both the old quarter and the 19th century new town.

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Paris to San Sebastian from €29...

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

Option 1, Paris to Galicia with an overnight stop in San Sebastian...

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish border by TGV Duplex Ocιane, leaving Paris Montparnasse at 12:11 arriving Hendaye at 16:47, or leaving Paris Montparnasse at 16:11 (Mon-Fri & Sun) arriving Hendaye at 20:47.

    The TGV Duplex Ocιane has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  You may not have heard of Hendaye, but it has had its moments, Hendaye station is where Hitler met Franco on 23 October 1940.  You'll be treading the same platforms...

    Fares start at €25 in 2nd class or €45 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares so book ahead.

    Buy a ticket at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com (both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee).  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.  You can also book at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, more fiddly).

  • Day 1, transfer from Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren metro, every 30 minutes, journey time 37 minutes...

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

    In San Sebastian it's a 10-minute walk from Euskotren's Amara station to the mainline Renfe station, see walking map.

  • Stay overnight in San Sebastian.  The Pension Regil is close to the old town with great reviews, 10 minutes walk from the Renfe station, 7 minutes walk from the Amara Euskotren station.  If you want something in the old town itself, try the Pension Garibai or Pension Alameda.  If you want to push the boat out, San Sebastian's most venerable hotel (which I can recommend personally, having stayed there) is the Hotel de Londres y Inglaterra, on the sea front.

  • Day 2, travel from San Sebastian to Madrid by air-conditioned Alvia train, leaving San Sebastian (Renfe station) at 09:02 arriving Madrid Chamartin at 13:56.

    The high-speed Alvia trains have a cafe-bar and standard & comfort class seats.  It's a lovely run down out of the Pyrenees onto the plains.  For the first part of the journey the train uses classic lines, then it passes slowly through a shed and automatically changes track gauge from Spanish 5'6" broad gauge to standard gauge 4' 8.5".  It then joins the high-speed line for a final dash at up to 250km/h (155 mph) to Madrid.

    Fares start at €23, fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com (keeping both bookings together in one place) or use the Spanish Railways website renfe.com, although this is more fiddly and may reject some overseas credit cards.  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies.  You print your own ticket.

    Have a late lunch in Madrid.

  • Day 2, travel from Madrid to Galicia by air-conditioned Alvia train.

    An Alvia train leaves Madrid Chamartin at 16:00 and arrives Vigo Urzaiz at 20:12.

    Another leaves Madrid Chamartin at 17:45 & arrives Santiago de Compostela at 21:28 & A Coruna at 21:59.

    The high-speed Alvia trains have a cafe-bar and standard & comfort class seats.

    Fares start at €23, fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com (keeping both bookings together in one place) or use the Spanish Railways website renfe.com, although this is more fiddly and may reject some overseas credit cards.  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies.  You print your own ticket.

  • Alternatively, there's a later departure from San Sebastian, depending on the day of the week.  An Intercity train leaves San Sebastian at 12:13 every day arriving Vitoria/Gasteiz at 13:58.  This is a guaranteed connection into the Barcelona-Galicia Alvia train leaving Vitoria/Gasteiz at 14:16 every day.  On Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays it goes to Vigo Guixar arriving 23:12.  On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays it goes to Santiago de Compostela (arriving 22:06) and A Coruna (arriving 22:38).

Alvia & Intercity trains at Vittoria

The connection at Vitoria-Gasteiz:  On the right, the Intercity train from San Sebastian has arrived at Vitoria/Gasteiz.  On the left, the Alvia train from Barcelona to Galicia picks up passengers.  These Alvia-S130 trains are nick-named Patito (little duck) by staff, no prizes for guessing why.  They have adjustable axles so can run on standard-gauge high-speed lines at up to 250 km/h or on Iberian broad gauge classic lines at lower speed. Photo courtesy of Ekain Munduate.

Turista seats on the intercity train   Turista Plus seats on an Alvia train

Standard class seats on the Intercity train, 2+2 across the car width.

Comfort class seats on an Alvia train, 1+2 across the car width.

Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

Scenery as the train enters Galicia on its way to Vigo.  Photo courtesy of Martin Hill.

Option 2, with overnight stop in Barcelona - Easier than option 1, though it takes a fraction longer and costs a little more.

  • Day 2, travel from Barcelona to Galicia by high-speed air-conditioned Alvia-S130 train with cafe-bar.

    On Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays it leaves Barcelona Sants at 09:30 and goes to Vigo Guixar, arriving 23:12.

    On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays it leaves Barcelona Sants at 09:30 and arrives Santiago de Compostela 22:06 & A Coruna 22:38.

    Fares start at €25 in Standard class or €29 in Comfort class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets... 

    You can book this journey in one place at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.  About RaileuropeAbout Thetrainline.  You print your own tickets.

    Step 1, book from Paris to Barcelona looking for the direct afternoon TGV, and add to basket. 

    Step 2, book Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela, A Coruna or Vigo for the following day, looking for the direct Alvia train, add to basket & check out, paying for both TGV and Alvia tickets together.

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead, for Alvia trains normally 60 days ahead, but it varies.  More about when bookings open.

    Alternatively, you can book the Paris to Barcelona TGV at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com in €, more fiddly, but no fee), then book the Barcelona to Galicia Alvia train separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (much more fiddly, in €, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice for using it).

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Paris to Ibiza & Mallorca...

Option 1, Paris to Menorca or Mallorca by ferry from Toulon - the most comfortable & convenient option, several times a week April-October...

  • Step 2, cruise overnight from Toulon to Menorca or Alcudia (Mallorca) with Corsica Ferries.

    Sailings operate several times a week, April to October, typically sailing around 18:00 & arriving around 09:00, some going to Menorca and others to Alcudia.  Their comfortable ships have bars, restaurants, and private cabins with en suite toilet & shower.

    Fares start at around €25 for a foot passenger + a private cabin from around €32,  Fares & cabin charges vary by date.

    Check times, fares & buy tickets at the Direct Ferries website or see www.corsica-ferries.co.uk.

Option 2, Paris to Ibiza or Mallorca via TGV to Barcelona...

Option 3, Paris to Ibiza or Mallorca using a French overnight train...

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Paris to Gibraltar...
  • Stay overnight in Madrid.  The classic Hotel Mediodia is across the road from Atocha station with good reviews, or try the NH Hotel Madrid Atocha or Only YOU Hotel Atocha, also across the road from the station.

  • Day 2, travel from Madrid to Algeciras by Intercity train, leaving Madrid Atocha at 08:35 and arriving Algeciras at 14:38.

    The air-conditioned Intercity train is an articulated Talgo train with cafe-bar.  There's great scenery both on the high-speed line between Madrid and Cordoba through the mountains and on the classic line twisting through the hills to Algeciras, the Spanish town across the bay from Gibraltar.  See a video of the journey here.

  • Day 2, take a bus or taxi from Algeciras to la Linea & walk into Gibraltar.

    A taxi from Algeciras railway station to La Linea costs €24.75 and takes about 22 minutes.  Taxis don't use the meter on this run, and aren't normally allowed to cross the border into Gibraltar.

    To go by bus, cross the roundabout outside Algeciras railway station and enter the San Bernado bus station, then take bus M-120 to La Linea for around €2.50.  Bus M-120 runs every 30 minutes Mon-Fri at xx.00 and xx.30 past each hour or every 45 minutes at weekends, journey time about 45 minutes to La Linea, for bus information see siu.ctmcg.es.

    La Linea is the Spanish town outside the border crossing to Gibraltar, and La Linea's bus stop and taxi rank are right outside the entrance to Gibraltar.  Walk through the Spanish then UK passport checkpoints into Gibraltar (5-10 minutes).  Then either (a) keep walking straight ahead of you into Gibraltar town, it's takes about 15 minutes to the centre or (b) take a frequent local Gibraltar bus from the border into town or (c) look for the taxi stop on the right just after the passport check and wait for a taxi to your hotel for a few pounds - Gibraltar taxis will accept euros.  The walk from the border to Gibraltar's Main Street takes you across Gibraltar airport's runway, though they stop cars and pedestrians when an aircraft is landing or taking off!   Map of Algeciras - La Linea - Gibraltar area.

    Alternative via San Roque-La Linea station:  The closest station to Gibraltar is actually San Roque-La Linea, and all trains to Algeciras call here around 20 minutes before arriving at Algeciras.  So if you prefer, you can get off here and take a taxi to La Linea, or walk the 1.6 km (1 mile) to the Bar La Redonda bus stop on the main road on the M-120 bus route from Algeciras to La Linea.  Buses run to La Linea every 30 minutes weekdays, every 45 minutes weekends.  Taxis are usually available outside San Roque station, San Roque to the La Linea/Gibraltar border is about 16 km (10 miles) and it takes just over 30 minutes depending on traffic.

  • How much does it cost?

    Paris to Barcelona starts at €39 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.

    Barcelona to Madrid starts at €38 in Standard class or €45 in Comfort class.

    Madrid to Algeciras starts at €25 in Standard class or €38 in Comfort class.

    Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • How to buy the train tickets...

    You can buy all your tickets together at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.

    First book from Paris to Madrid, add this to your basket, then book Madrid to Algeciras for the following day, add to your basket & check out. 

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead, but for the AVE & Intercity train 60 days ahead, but it varies.  You print your own tickets. 

    Alternatively, you can book from Paris to Barcelona at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, same fares, more fiddly, no fee) then book Barcelona to Madrid and Madrid to Algeciras at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (in €, much more fiddly, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice on using it).

Madrid-Algeciras train at Madrid Atocha

An Intercity train (formerly branded Altaria), at Madrid Atocha.

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

Cafe-bar, with bar stools...

 

Comfort class seats...

Turista seats on Madrid-Algeciras train   Algeciras station

Standard class 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.

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Paris to Lisbon & Portugal...

Option 1, Paris to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid - the fastest option...

Option 2, Paris to Lisbon via San Sebastian, Vigo & Porto - slower, but can be cheaper...

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hendaye by TGV Duplex Ocιane, leaving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 16:11 Mondays-Fridays & Sundays, arriving Hendaye at 20:47.  On Saturdays, leave Paris Gare Montparnasse at 18:11, arriving Hendaye at 22:47.  By all means take an earlier train for more of an evening in San Sebastian, Paris-Hendaye trains leave Paris every few hours.

    The impressive double-deck TGV Duplex Ocιane has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views, any seat number >60 is upper deck.  Hendaye is on the French side of the Spanish border.

    Fares start at €25 each way in 2nd class, €40 each way in 1st class.  The price varies, book ahead for the cheaper prices.

    Book this at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee. These websites connect to both SNCF and Renfe ticketing systems so you can buy tickets for both trains together in one place.

    Booking for the TGV opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Day 1, transfer from Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren metro, every 30 minutes, journey time 37 minutes...

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

    In San Sebastian it's a 10-minute walk from Euskotren's Amara station to the mainline Renfe station, see walking map.

  • Stay overnight in San Sebastian.  The Pension Regil is close to the old town with great reviews, 10 minutes walk from the Renfe station, 7 minutes walk from the Amara Euskotren station.  If you want something in the old town itself, try the Pension Garibai or Pension Alameda.  If you want to push the boat out, San Sebastian's most venerable hotel (which I can recommend personally, having stayed there) is the Hotel de Londres y Inglaterra, on the sea front.

  • Day 2, travel from San Sebastian to Vigo on one of these two possible departures:

    Morning departure, every day:  Travel from San Sebastian (Renfe station) to Madrid by Alvia train, leaving San Sebastian at 09:02 and arriving Madrid Chamartin at 13:56.  Then travel from Madrid to Vigo by Alvia train, leaving Madrid Chamartin at 16:00 and arriving Vigo Urzaiz at 20:12.  The comfortable high-speed Alvia trains have a cafe-bar, standard & comfort class.  Vigo Urzaiz station is a 1.1 km 15-minute walk from Vigo Guixar station, see walking map.

    Afternoon departure, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays only:  Spend the morning in San Sebastian.  An Intercity train leaves San Sebastian (Renfe station) at 12:13 arriving Vitoria/Gasteiz at 13:58.  This is a guaranteed connection into the Barcelona-Galicia Alvia train which leaves Vitoria/Gasteiz at 14:16 on Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays arriving Vigo Guixar at 23:12.

    Tip:  There's a lovely relaxed cafe-bar at San Sebastian Renfe station, accessible from the forecourt or the near-side platform, just north of the main station building, ideal for a cafe con leche before your train.

    San Sebastian to Vigo starts at €23 each way.  The price varies, book ahead for the cheaper prices.

    Book this at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.  Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies.

    Tip:  If using the daily departure with a change in Madrid, you might need to treat San Sebastian-Madrid & Madrid-Vigo as separate bookings.

  • Stay overnight in Vigo. The NH Collection Vigo hotel & cheaper Hotel Atlantico Vigo are both near the station with great reviews.

  • Day 3, travel from Vigo to Porto by air-conditioned regional train, leaving Vigo at 08:58 arriving Porto Campanhγ at 10:20.  If you'd like to spend some time in Vigo, there's a later train leaving Vigo at 19:56 arriving Porto 21:18.

    The fare is €14.80, fixed price.

    This can also be booked at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.

  • Day 3, if you're travelling to Lisbon you can take any suitable onward train from Porto to Lisbon, for example the 11:40 Alfa Pendular arriving Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 14:30.  Fares start at €15.  Book this at the Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt (in €) or at Omio.com (in €, £ or $).

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Paris to Porto...

Option 1, Paris to Porto via Barcelona & Vigo - fastest option, currently running...

Option 2, Paris to Porto via San Sebastian & Vigo - slower, but can be cheaper.  Currently running normally...

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Paris to Faro & the Algarve...

Option 1, Paris to the Algarve using a bus from Seville to Faro...

Option 2, via Lisbon, the all-train option, slower...

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Paris to Andorra...

Option 1, Paris to Andorra using a Toulouse-Andorra bus...

TGVs to the Spanish border at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique

Step 1, take a high-speed TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Toulouse, with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

 

1st class on TGV Atlantique, showing semi-compartments.  Courtesy Rafal Tomasik.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV bar car

2nd class seats on the TGV.  Most are unidirectional, some are in bays of 4 like this.  See 360° photo

 

The cafι-bar car, serving drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  See a typical menu here...

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

Step 2, Toulouse to Andorra by bus, seen at bus stand 15.  Toulouse bus station is right next to the rail station.

 

Bus station in Toulouse Matabiau forecourt.  Photos courtesy of Andrew McIntyre.

Option 2, Paris to Andorra by overnight train to Toulouse then bus, or by overnight train to l'Hospitalet then taxi...

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

Step 1, Paris to Toulouse or l'Hospitalet by Intercitι de Nuit, seen here at Paris Gare d'AusterlitzMore information about Intercitιs de Nuit Watch the videoPhoto courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Chilling in the corridor...  Courtesy Dan Chester.

InterCite de Nuit 2nd class upper berth couchettes   InterCite de Nuit couchette

Upper berths, 2nd class, showing compartment lighting & temperature controls above door.  Courtesy of Dan Chester.

 

Each couchette is provided with pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, bottled water & kit with ear plugs and eye mask.

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 l'Hospitalet-pres-l'Andorre station, pictured above right...

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

Step 2, 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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Paris to Berlin from €39.90...

Option 1, Paris to Berlin using the Karlsruhe-Berlin sleeper train - the time-effective option...

Option 2, Paris to Berlin by high-speed train from €39.90 - in a single chill-out day...

An ICE3 (class 407) at Paris Gare de l'Est

A Paris to Germany ICE, at Paris Gare de l'Est More information about Paris-Frankfurt ICEs.

Bistro-restaurant on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch in the bistro on an ICE train

Bistro-restaurant car...

Lunch in the restaurant car...

2nd class seats on a class 407 ICE3   Class 407 ICE3 1st class seats

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats...

Cafe-bar on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch served at a 1st class seat on an ICE train

Cafe-bar, at the other end of the restaurant car...

Meal served at my seat in 1st class...

Option 3, Paris to Berlin with overnight stop in Mannheim...

Option 4, Paris to Berlin lo-cost option:  Paris-Cologne by Thalys from €35, lunch in Cologne, Cologne-Berlin by Flixtrain from €9.99.

Option 5, Paris to Berlin with an overnight stop in Amsterdam...

  • This is a round-about route, but Amsterdam is such a great place for a stop and the journey so easy, fast & convenient, it's worth considering.  The stations are all incredibly central, you can stroll from Amsterdam Centraal to most city centre hotels, and can walk from Berlin Hbf to the Reichstag or Brandenburg Gate in 10-15 minutes.

  • Day 1, travel from Paris Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal by 300 km/h (186 mph) Thalys train in 3h18.

    There's a departure every couple of hours through the day, you can leave central Paris as late as 19:25. 

    Thalys trains have 3 classes, a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see more information about Thalys.

    Fares start at €35 in 2nd class (standard) or €72 in 1st class (comfort).  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee, using this means you can book everything in one place) or www.thalys.com (in €, more fiddly, no fee).  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Amsterdam.  Suggested hotels with good or great reviews:  The Park Plaza Victoria Hotel is across the road from Amsterdam Centraal station and gets great reviews.  Other mid-range hotels include the Hotel Luxer, 7 minutes walk from the station & Hotel Sebastians, 10 minutes walk from the station.  Cheaper hotels include the fun floating boat hotel AmiciA, just 15 minutes walk from the station.  If you want to push the boat out, the top end famous Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam is 10 minutes walk from the station. 

    Incidentally, there's no reason why you can't do the journey in one day if you like, with a few hours in Amsterdam.  But an overnight stop breaks up the trip nicely.

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Paris to Hamburg from €39.90...

Option 1, Paris to Hamburg in a single chill-out day...

  • You can travel from Paris to Hamburg city centre to city centre in a day, for example:

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 07:20 by TGV Duplex, change at Karlsruhe & arrive Hamburg Hbf 15:35.

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 09:06 by TGV Duplex, change at Mannheim onto an ICE train & arrive Hamburg Hbf 17:35.

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 10:55 by ICE3 train, change at Karlsruhe onto another ICE & arrive Hamburg Hbf 19:37.

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 13:55 by TGV Duplex, change at Karlsruhe onto an ICE train & arrive Hamburg Hbf 21:39.

    You travel from Paris to Karlsruhe or Mannheim on either a top quality high-speed ICE3 train with restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, or an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  On TGV Duplex I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views, and seat number >60 is upper deck.

  • 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 www.bahn.de, look for journeys with 1 change rather than 2.

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

Option 3, Paris to Hamburg using the Karlsruhe-Hamburg sleeper train...

  • The most time-effective way from Paris to Hamburg is taking an early-evening high-speed TGV to Karlsruhe then the Nightjet sleeper to Hamburg, as explained in this option.  It's comfortable, civilised, allows a full business or sightseeing day and Paris followed by a full business or sightseeing day in Hamburg, it gives time for dinner in Karlsruhe and saves a hotel bill into the bargain.

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Karlsruhe by TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 17:55 and arriving Karlsruhe at 20:25. 

    This double-deck high-speed train has 1st & 2nd class seats, a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views, and seat number >60 is upper deck.  You've time for dinner in Karlsruhe.

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

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.de, Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Step 2, travel from Karlsruhe to Hamburg by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Karlsruhe at 23:06 and arriving Hamburg Hbf at 07:54.

    The comfortable Austrian-run Nightjet train has two double-deck sleeping-cars with 1 & 2-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, 1 & 2-berth compartments with washbasin, and a few 3-berth compartments with washbasin.  The sleeper attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train also 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 accommodation, travel tips & photos.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 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 fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

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Paris to Munich from €39...

Option 1, Paris to Munich by direct TGV, every afternoon...

  • An impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex links Paris with Munich every day.

    On Mondays-Fridays & Sundays it leaves Paris Gare de l'Est at 15:55 arriving Munich Hbf at 21:36.

    On Saturdays it leaves Paris Gare de l'Est at 17:55 arriving Munich Hbf at 23:29.  Times may vary, so check them online at www.bahn.de.

    There's a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the TGV Duplex video here.  I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views, any seat number greater than 60 is upper deck.

  • 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 www.bahn.de, looking in the search results for a journey with 0 changes.

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

  • Tip:  You can also buy tickets at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com, but here's some advice...

    When booking the direct Munich-Paris TGV, check both sites!  I've seen www.bahn.de want €44.90 non-refundable when www.sncf-connect.com wanted only €39 for exactly the same train, refundable less €15 up to 3 days before departure.  And www.sncf-connect.com would let me hold the ticket at that price without payment for a week while I completed my planning.  So I bought from www.sncf-connect.com!  Also, www.sncf-connect.com normally lets you choose an exact seat from a plan when travelling 1st class on the TGV, a feature not available when using www.bahn.de.

    If you have kids, it's better to use www.bahn.de as then the more generous German child age limits apply, under 6 free, under 15 child rate.  Furthermore, DB have a permanent offer, children under 15 go free when accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian using a Sparpreis advance-purchase fare.  If you buy from the French, under 4s go free, under 12 get the child rate and there's no kids-go-free deal.  So if you have children, it's a no-brainer to buy from the Germans.

Option 2, Paris to Munich using other departures through the day...

  • In addition to the direct train there are other departures through the day with one easy change...:

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 06:55 by ICE3 train, change at Stuttgart and arrive Munich Hbf at 12:27.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 07:20 by TGV Duplex, change at Mannheim and arrive Munich Hbf at 13:27.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 09:06 by TGV Duplex, change at Mannheim onto an ICE train and arrive Munich Hbf at 15:28.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 10:55 by ICE3 train, change at Stuttgart onto another ICE and arrive Munich Hbf at 16:27.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 13:55 by TGV Duplex, change at Stuttgart onto an ICE train and arrive Munich Hbf at 19:27.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 15:55 by TGV Duplex (not Saturdays), direct, arriving Munich Hbf at 21:36.

    Paris Gare de l'Est depart 17:55 by TGV Duplex, change Stuttgart (direct on Saturdays), arriving Munich Hbf at 23:29.

    Times may vary, check your date online at www.bahn.de.

  • Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Prices vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Buy tickets at the German Railways website www.bahn.de, looking in the search results for journeys with 1 change. 

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

    For journeys involving a change of train, I recommend www.bahn.de over booking with French Railways www.sncf-connect.com for two reasons:

    First, the German system prices the whole journey from €39.90 even if you have to change trains.  The French system can't do this, it'll apply a price from €39.90 to the direct Paris-Stuttgart train, then add a separate fare, perhaps another €40 for the Stuttgart-Munich connection.  That can make a huge difference to the price.

    Second, bahn.de applies much more generous German child age limits, under 6 free, under 15 child rate.  In addition, DB have a permanent offer, children under 15 go free when accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian using a Sparpreis advance-purchase fare.  If you buy from the French, under 4s go free, under 12 get the child rate and there's no kids-go-free deal.  So if you have children, it's a no-brainer to buy from the Germans.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris with Stuttgart & Munich...

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

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4 (or 14), serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved dishes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

Option 3, Paris to Munich by direct Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option...

  • New from the timetable change in mid-December 2021, a direct Nightjet sleeper train leaves Paris Gare de l'Est at 19:58 on Tuesdays, Fridays & Sundays, arriving Munich Ost at 05:43 next morningMunich Ost is an 8-minute S-Bahn ride from Munich Hbf, see how to transfer.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has two air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-cars each 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 a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and an ordinary seats car.  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.

  • 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.

  • Buy tickets at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in plain English, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or Austrian Railways www.oebb.at (more fiddly, in €, same fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

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

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

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Paris to Cologne (Kφln) from €35...
  • High-speed Thalys trains link Paris Gare du Nord with Cologne Hbf in just 3h29 every 2-3 hours through the day.

    This service may be reduced at the moment because of Covid-19

    Thalys trains have 3 classes: Standard (2nd class), Comfort (1st class) & Premium (1st class with at-seat food & drink included in the fare and access to Thalys lounges in Paris & Brussels).  Thalys trains have a cafe-bar, free WiFi and power sockets at all seats in all classes.  See more information about Thalys.

  • Paris to Koblenz:  The quickest way is by Thalys to Cologne Hbf then by German train to Koblenz.  The easiest way to book is at www.thetrainline.com as this can book both Thalys and German trains.  Look for journeys with 1 change.  It may help to add Cologne Hbf as a via station.

A Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris

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

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

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

 

Standard seats, 2+2 across.  Larger photo.

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Paris to Mannheim, Frankfurt, Stuttgart from €39.90...
  • High-speed TGV Duplex & ICE3 trains link Paris with Mannheim, Frankfurt & Stuttgart at up to 320 km/h (199 mph).

    Most Paris-Stuttgart trains are TGV Duplex, most Paris-Frankfurt trains are ICE3 train, with a cafe-bar (TGV) or restaurant (ICE), power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  On TGV Duplex, I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views, any seat number >60 is upper deck.

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

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

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

  • Tip:  You can also buy tickets at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com, but here's some advice:

    If you're using a direct train (without any connections within Germany), check both sites!  I've seen www.bahn.de want €44.90 non-refundable for Paris-Frankfurt when www.sncf-connect.com wanted only €39 for exactly the same train, refundable less €15 up to 3 days before departure.  And www.sncf-connect.com would let me hold the ticket at that price without payment for a week while I finished my planning.  So I bought from www.sncf-connect.com!  Also, www.sncf-connect.com normally lets you choose an exact seat from a plan when travelling 1st class on a TGV train to or from Germany, a feature not available when using www.bahn.de.

    If you have kids, it's better to use www.bahn.de as if you buy from the Germans, the more generous German child age limits apply, under 6 free, under 15 child rate.  Furthermore, DB have a permanent offer, children under 15 go free when accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian using a Sparpreis advance-purchase fare.  If you buy from the French, under 4s go free, under 12 get the child rate, and there's no kids-go-free deal.  So if you have children, it's a no-brainer to buy from the Germans.

    If you're heading deeper into Germany, it's better to use www.bahn.de as the Germans sell through tickets from Paris to almost anywhere in Germany for one inclusive price, so in principle, Paris-Nuremberg also starts from €39.90.  The French charge for each train, so that same Paris-Nuremberg journey might be €39.90 for the direct Paris-Frankfurt train + another €40 for the Frankfurt-Nuremberg train, making it significantly more expensive than buying from DB.  It's just the different way the French & German ticketing systems work!

An ICE3 (class 407) at Paris Gare de l'Est

An ICE3 to Germany at Paris Gare de l'Est More information about Paris-Germany TGV & ICE trains.

Bistro-restaurant on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch in the bistro on an ICE train

Bistro-restaurant car...

Lunch in the restaurant car...

2nd class seats on a class 407 ICE3   Class 407 ICE3 1st class seats

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats...

Cafe-bar on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch served at a 1st class seat on an ICE train

Cafe-bar, at the other end of the restaurant car.

Meal served at my seat in 1st class.

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Paris to Salzburg from €39.90...

Option 1, Paris to Salzburg by direct Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option...

  • New from the timetable change in mid-December 2021, a direct Nightjet sleeper train leaves Paris Gare de l'Est at 19:58 on Tuesdays, Fridays & Sundays, arriving Salzburg Hbf at 07:26 next morning.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has two air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-cars each 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 a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and an ordinary seats car.  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.

  • 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.

  • Buy tickets at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in plain English, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or Austrian Railways www.oebb.at (more fiddly, in €, same fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

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

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Option 2, Paris to Salzburg in a single day - fastest & cheapest route through Germany...

  • You can travel from Paris Gare de l'Est to Salzburg Hbf in as little as 7h48, for example:

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 07:20 by ICE3 train, change at Stuttgart, arrive Salzburg Hbf 15:59.

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 10:55 by ICE3 train, change at Stuttgart, arrive Salzburg Hbf 19:59.

    Leave  Paris Gare de l'Est at 13:55 by double-deck TGV Duplex, change Stuttgart, arrive Salzburg Hbf 22:02.

    treat it as a chill-out trip.  The superb German ICE3 trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  The  double-deck TGV Duplex have a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • 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 www.bahn.de.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

    Tip:  On TGV Duplex I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views, any seat number >60 is upper deck.  If you'd like a stopover in Stuttgart or Munich, simply click Stopover, enter Munich and a stopover duration in the hh:mm box, and you'll still get a sparpreis fare from €39.90 upwards with a stopover included.  You can add up to 2 stopovers each of up to 48h with Sparpreis (savings) fares.

Option 3, Paris to Salzburg with an overnight stop in Zurich - the scenic route via the Arlberg Pass...

  • OK, so this takes a couple of hours longer overall compared to the faster route through Germany in option 1 above.  But it's worth it, as this takes you via the wonderful Arlberg Pass through the Alps between Switzerland and Austria, see the Arlberg Pass scenery video here.  It's possible to do the whole trip in a day, but it's better if you break it up with an overnight stop in Zurich.

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria high-speed train, for example leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 18:22 arriving Zurich HB at 22:26.

    But by all means catch the 16:22 from Paris arriving in Zurich at 20:26, or an earlier train.  TGV-Lyrias have a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the TGV-Lyria information page.

    Fares start at €29 in 2nd class (standard) or €55 in 1st class (standard premier).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this at either www.raileurope.com (in €, £ or $, easy to use, small booking fee, about Raileurope) or www.thetrainline.com (in €, £ or $, easy to use, small booking fee, about Trainline) or at the French Railways site www.sncf-connect.com (in €, a little more fiddly but no fee).  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Zurich.  For something really special, the 5-star Hotel Schweizerhof is one of my favourite hotels anywhere, just across the road from the station.  They'll even send a uniformed commissionaire to meet you & carry your bags from the train.  For something cheaper, also next to the station with great reviews, try the 4-star Hotel St Gotthard or the excellent 3-star Hotel St. Josef, 7 minutes walk from the station, see walking map.  If you're on a tight budget you can book private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station at www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Zurich HB to Salzburg Hbf by swish Austrian railjet train in 5h23, you'll find departures at 06:40, 10:40, 12:40 and so on...

    The railjet train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi, see more information about railjets.  It's a lovely journey through the beautiful Arlberg pass with lunch in the restaurant car, see the Arlberg Pass scenery video.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class, €44.90 in 1st class, or €59.90 in business class (= premium 1st).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead. 

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

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

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

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

Soon after leaving Zurich, the railjet is cruising alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee.  The train cuts across Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through Schaan-Vaduz station - you clock up another country!

The mountains keep on coming...

Train into Austria, more scenery   Snowy peaks!

Mountain scenery and snowy peaks all the way, as the air-conditioned railjet crosses into Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

Hello Salzburg!  View of the Fortress Hohensalzburg as the railjet crosses the River Salzach approaching Salzburg Hbf....

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Paris to Innsbruck, Linz or Vienna from €49.90... 

Option 1, Paris to Linz & Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option...

  • New from the timetable change in mid-December 2021, a direct Nightjet sleeper train will leave Paris Gare de l'Est at 19:58 on Tuesdays, Fridays & Sundays, arriving Linz 08:46, Vienna Meidling 10:06 and Vienna Hbf 10:12.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has two air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-cars each 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 a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and an ordinary seats car.  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.

  • Fares are expected to 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.

  • Buy tickets at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in plain English, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or Austrian Railways www.oebb.at (more fiddly, in €, same fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

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

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Option 2, Paris to Vienna in a single day by high-speed train - the fastest option...

  • You can travel between Paris to Vienna by train in a single chill-out day across 3 countries:

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est 07:20 by TGV Duplex, change Frankfurt (Main) Hbf onto an ICE (arrive 10:58, depart 12:21), arriving Vienna Hbf 18:45.

    Leave Paris Gare de l'Est 09:06 by TGV Duplex, change Frankfurt (Main) Hbf onto an ICE (arrive 12:58, depart 14:21), arriving Vienna Hbf 20:45.

    The TGV Duplex from Paris to Frankfurt is an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck high-speed train with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Book an upper deck seat for the best views, any seat number greater than 60 is upper deck.  The ICE-T train from Frankfurt to Vienna has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  First class passengers have food & drink orders taken and served at their seats - I recommend the Erdinger weissbier!

  • Fares start at €69.80 in 2nd class or €129.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com as you can book from Paris to Vienna as one easy transaction, in €, £ or $.  There's a small booking fee.  In the search results, look for the 09:06 departure with 1 change.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own tickets or can show them on your laptop or smartphone.

  • Alternatively, you can book this journey at the German Railways website www.bahn.de in € with no booking fee, but this only sells tickets if the journey starts or ends in Germany, so you must first book the train from Paris to Frankfurt, then book the train from Frankfurt to Vienna as a second transaction.  www.raileurope.com shows the same fares as bahn.de, but has the ability to split the booking automatically.

  • Tip:  It's worth checking the price for the Frankfurt to Vienna ICE at www.thetrainline.com or the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at, both of which link to the Austrian ticketing system.  I have known this show the cheapest €29.90 price level when the fare was €59.90 on bahn.de for exactly the same train.

Frankfurt to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T from Frankfurt to Vienna, at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf...

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Scenery from the train

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

Option 3, Paris to Vienna using the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet sleeper - another time-effective option, 3 times per week...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Brussels by Thalys, leaving Paris Gare du Nord at 16:25 and arriving  Brussels Midi at 17:47.

    You can take the 17:25 Thalys from Paris to Brussels if you like, but I'd play safe and catch the 16:25.  The high-speed Thalys train has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Tip:  At Brussels Midi, the Pullman Hotel bar makes an excellent VIP waiting room.

    Tip:  Why not book an earlier Thalys and have dinner in Brussels or even a wander around the famous Grand PlaceThalys trains leave at least every hour.  In Brussels I recommend traditional moules-frites at the celebrated restaurant Aux Armes de Bruxelles, a short walk from the Grand Place, more information here.  Alternatively, the unpretentious Brasserie de la Gare across the road from the station serves Belgian beer and does a decent steak tartare, more information here.

    Fares start at €29 in 2nd class (standard) or €51 in 1st class (standard premier).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, more fiddly).  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Step 2, travel from Brussels to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Brussels Midi at 19:32 on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, arriving Vienna Hbf at 09:19.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has two air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-cars each 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 a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and an ordinary seats car.  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.

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

The Nightjet sleeper from Brussels to Vienna at Brussels

Brussels to Vienna by Nightjet...  Above, the inaugural Brussels-Vienna Nightjet is about to leave Brussels Midi on 20 January 2020, the first scheduled sleeper train to leave Brussels in 16 years - naturally, the Man in Seat 61 was on board!

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

Option 4, Paris to Vienna using the Zurich-Vienna Nightjet sleeper - another time-effective option, runs every day...

  • Compared with struggling from Paris to Vienna by air in 4 or 5 hours by train+airport+flight+airport+train, the train runs from city centre to city centre overnight taking hardly any more useful daytime time out of your schedule.  It's less hassle and much more fun.

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 16:22 and arriving Zurich HB at 20:26. 

    The impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck h TGV-Lyria has 3 classes, a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see more information about TGV-Lyria.  At Zurich HB you've time for dinner in one of the station's many restaurants.  I recommend steak-frites & beer at the Brasserie Federal!

    Always check times for your specific date online as on a few dates there's trackwork and you'll need to change trains at Basel.  On such dates, the earlier 14:22 departure may be a safer connection.

    Fares start at €29 in 2nd class or €51 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.raileurope.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee, about Raileurope) or www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee, about Trainline) or at the French Railways site www.sncf-connect.com (in €, more fiddly, no fee).  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Step 2, travel from Zurich to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Zurich HB at 21:40 and arriving Vienna Hbf at 07:58.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has one double-deck sleeping-car with seventeen 1 or 2-berth compartments with washbasin and two 3-berth compartments with washbasin, and one Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 or 3 berth compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3 berth deluxe compartments with en suite shower & toilet.  The sleeper 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 accommodation, travel tips & photos.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 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.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for this train, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 1, take a TGV-Lyria from Paris Gare de Lyon to Zurich... These 320 km/h double-deck trains now operate all TGV-Lyria services.

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

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Step 2, take the Nightjet sleeper from Zurich to Vienna, overnight while you sleep.  This is one of the double-deck sleeping-cars at Zurich. 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

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 5, by late afternoon TGV to Zurich, overnight in a hotel, then through the wonderful Arlberg Pass - the scenic option...

  • Stay overnight in Zurich.  For something really special, the 5-star Hotel Schweizerhof is one of my favourite hotels anywhere, just across the road from the station.  They'll even send a uniformed commissionaire to meet you & carry your bags from the train.  For something cheaper, also next to the station with great reviews, try the 4-star Hotel St Gotthard or the excellent 3-star Hotel St. Josef, 7 minutes walk from the station, see walking map.  If you're on a tight budget you can book private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station at www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Zurich HB to Innsbruck Hbf (3h31), Linz (6h34) or Vienna Hbf (7h50) by swish Austrian railjet train.  For example, there are departures from Zurich HB at 06:40 or 10:40, or there are later trains.

    The railjets have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  They travel through the beautiful Arlberg pass, see the Arlberg Railway page & watch the Arlberg Pass video.  A real treat...

    Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class, €54.90 in 1st class or €69.90 in business class (= premium 1st).  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, about Trainline) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, same prices, more fiddly).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

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

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

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About business class.

 

Restaurant.  In 1st & business you're served at your seat.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

Soon after leaving Zurich, the railjet is cruising alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee.  The train cuts across Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through Schaan-Vaduz station - you clock up another country!

The mountains keep on coming...

Train into Austria, more scenery   Snowy peaks!

Mountain scenery and snowy peaks all the way, as the air-conditioned railjet crosses into Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

At Salzburg, watch for this view of the Fortress Hohensalzburg as the railjet crosses the River Salzach approaching Salzburg Hbf....

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Paris to Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Stockholm & Scandinavia from €79...

Option 1, Paris to Stockholm using the Hamburg-Stockholm sleeper train, starting 1 September 2022 - the time-effective option...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Hamburg, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 10:55, changing at Karlsruhe & arriving Hamburg Altona at 19:50.

    You travel on superb ICE trains with restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Always allow at least an hour when connecting with a sleeper train you don't want to miss.  Have dinner in Hamburg.

    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 www.bahn.de.

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

    Tip:  To get a through ticket and robust connections, I recommend clicking Stopover and (a) entering Karlsruhe as a via station (leaving duration zero) and (b) changing Duration of transfer standard to at least 30 minutes.  Ignore faster connections, ignore journeys involving Thalys, which result in two separate tickets (not a through ticket) and (usually) higher prices.

  • Step 2, travel from Hamburg to Stockholm by sleeper train, leaving Hamburg Altona at 21:55 & arriving Stockholm Central 09:55 next morning.

    This train started running on 1 September 2022.  Procured by the Swedish government and run by Swedish Railways SJ, the train has sleeping-cars with compact 1 & 2 berth compartments with washbasin, several 1, 2 or 3 bed deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  The sleeping-cars are former Austrian Railways AB32s, refurbished.  More information about the Hamburg-Stockholm sleeper train.

    Update: This train is initially running only with 4 & 6-berth couchettes. Delivery of refurbished sleeping-cars & formal approval of the seats cars have been delayed.

    Fares start at €44.90 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69.90 with a couchette in 4-berth, €79.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €164.90 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  All prices per person per bed, fares vary like air fares so book ahead.

    Book tickets at either www.sj.se or (as this is a Nightjet partner route) Austrian Railways www.oebb.at.

    Booking opens several months ahead, you print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.

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

The inaugural Hamburg to Stockholm SJ EuroNight train at Hamburg Altona, 1 September 2022.  The author rode this first departure...

6-berth couchettes.

Larger photo.

Couchettes in day mode on the Hamburg-Stockholm train   Hamburg-StockholmSJ EuroNight at Padborg

Couchettes in day mode, en route to Stockholm.  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, Paris to Copenhagen & Stockholm using the Karlsruhe-Hamburg sleeper...

  • The most time-effective way from Paris to Copenhagen & Scandinavia is by early-evening high-speed TGV to Karlsruhe, the Nightjet sleeper train to Hamburg, then a daytime ICE to Copenhagen arriving just after lunch.  An onward X2000 train will get you to Stockholm by evening.  Here's that journey in detail, and how to book it...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Karlsruhe by high-speed TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est 17:43 and arriving Karlsruhe 20:25.

    The train has 1st & 2nd class seats and a cafe-bar.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views (= any seat number >60).  You've time for dinner in Karlsruhe between trains.  If you find a good restaurant, let me know!

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

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

    Tip:  On a few dates the 17:43 from Paris doesn't call at Karlsruhe.  If so, take the 17:10 Paris to Mannheim arriving 20:17, the sleeper leaves Mannheim for Hamburg at 23:42.

  • Step 2, travel from Karlsruhe to Hamburg by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Karlsruhe 23:06 and arriving Hamburg Hbf 07:54.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has two double-deck sleeping-cars with 1 & 2-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, 1 & 2-berth compartments with washbasin, and a few 3-berth compartments with washbasin.  The sleeper attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train also 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 accommodation, travel tips & photos.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 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 fares).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 3, travel from Hamburg to Copenhagen by Danish IC3 intercity train leaving Hamburg Hbf at 08:56 and arriving Copenhagen 13:33.

    The train also calls at Kolding (for Legoland) & Odense.

    An altered timetable applies from 18 June to 21 August 2022, see the timetable here.

    If you're only going as far as Copenhagen, fares start at €27.90 in 2nd class or €49.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    If you're only going as far as Copenhagen, book this train at the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone or laptop.  The Hamburg-Copenhagen trains also call at Kolding (for Legoland) and Odense.

  • If you're going to Malmφ, catch the next Φresund train from Copenhagen to Malmφ, these run every 20 minutes taking 39 minutes.  Book from Hamburg to Malmo as a through journey at www.bahn.de from €56.90.

  • If you're going to Gothenburg, travel from Copenhagen to Gothenburg by Φresund train, these run every hour, journey time 4h05.  Book from Hamburg to Goteborg Central as one journey at www.bahn.de from €56.90.

  • If you're going to Stockholm, travel from Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000 train, leaving Copenhagen at 14:10 and arriving Stockholm Central at 19:38.  Book from Hamburg to Stockholm as a through journey at www.bahn.de from €56.90.

    From 18 June to 21 August 2022, either take the 06:52 from Hamburg Altona to connect with the 12:19 from Copenhagen arriving Stockholm 17:37, or the 10:53 from Hamburg Hbf to connect with the 16:19 from Copenhagen arriving Stockholm 21:38.

Option 3, Paris to Copenhagen in a single day!  Stay overnight, on to Gothenburg, Stockholm or Oslo next day...

  • Step 2, travel from Cologne to Hamburg by InterCity train with restaurant car, leaving Cologne Hbf at 12:11 arriving Hamburg Hbf at 16:14.

  • Step 3, travel from Hamburg to Copenhagen by Danish IC3 intercity train leaving Hamburg Hbf at 16:54 arriving Copenhagen at 21:33.

    The Hamburg-Copenhagen trains also call at Kolding (for Legoland) and Odense.

    Times will vary from 18 June to 21 August 2022.

  • Step 4, travel from Copenhagen to Sweden...

    If you're going to Malmφ, catch the next Φresund train from Copenhagen to Malmφ, these run every 20 minutes taking 39 minutes.

    If you're going to Stockholm, stay overnight in Copenhagen and take any suitable X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm next morning.  There's usually a train around 08:20 arriving Stockholm around 13:35, or later trains through the day.

    If you're going to Gothenburg, stay overnight in Copenhagen & take an Φresund train to Gothenburg next morning in 3h53, trains leave every hour.

  • How much does it cost? 

    Paris to Cologne starts at €35 in 2nd class or €72 in 1st class.

    Cologne to Copenhagen starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

    Cologne to Malmφ, Gothenburg or Stockholm starts at €56.90 in 2nd class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets from Paris to Copenhagen...

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com as this can book you from Paris to Copenhagen as one simple transaction because it connects to both the Thalys and the German ticketing systems.  Prices are in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.

    Booking for Thalys opens up to 4 months ahead.  Booking for trains between Cologne & Scandinavia opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.

    Tip:  To make sure it finds the journey you want, click More options and enter Cologne Hbf as a stopover point with a 30 minute stopover time. 

    How to buy tickets, advanced...

    1.  Book the Thalys from Paris to Cologne at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com and print your own ticket or show it on your smartphone.

    2.  Book from Cologne to Copenhagen at the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or show it on your smartphone.

    Do a dry run on both sites first, and make sure there's at least 45 minutes between trains in Cologne.  Neither site charges a booking fee.

  • How to buy tickets from Paris to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmφ or Oslo...

    1.  Book the Thalys from Paris to Cologne at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com and print your own ticket or show it on your smartphone.

    2.  If you're going to Malmo, book from Cologne to Malmφ at the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or show it on your smartphone.

    3.  If you're going to Gothenburg or Stockholm, the clever way to buy tickets is to go to www.bahn.de and book from Cologne to Stockholm or Gothenburg as a through journey as you'll then see sparpreis fares from just €56.90.  However, to get the overnight stop in Copenhagen, click Stopover, enter Copenhagen in the via box and (say) 10:00 hours in the hh:mm box.  Adjust the stopover time to get the trains you want.  I have set up this link to bahn.de for you with the correct parameters, just enter your date of travel and change Stockholm' to Goteborg C if you're going to Gothenburg rather than Stockholm.

    4. If you're going to Oslo, book from Cologne to Gothenburg at bahn.de: Click here to open bahn.de all set up with the correct parameters.  Then add a connecting train from Gothenburg (= Goteborg) to Oslo S at either www.vy.no or www.sj.se.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Copenhagen station

Hamburg to Copenhagen by Intercity train seen here at Copenhagen.  More about Hamburg to Copenhagen trains.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

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

 

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

An X2000 train at Stockholm Central

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 Φresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden...

Option 4, Paris to Copenhagen & Stockholm by comfortable daytime trains with overnight stop in Hamburg...

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hamburg, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 13:55 every day by TGV Duplex, change at Karlsruhe onto an ICE train arriving Hamburg Hbf at 21:39.  By all means book an earlier departure for a pleasant evening in Hamburg.

    The double-deck TGV Duplex has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  The ICE train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

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

    Buy a ticket at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • If you're going to Stockholm, travel from Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000, leaving Copenhagen at 14:10 arriving Stockholm Central 19:37.

    Book from Hamburg to Stockholm as one transaction from €56.90 using this special link to bahn.de, looking for a departure with 1 change.

    From 18 June to 21 August 2022, either take the 06:52 from Hamburg Altona to connect with the 12:19 Copenhagen-Stockholm (arriving Stockholm 17:37), or the 10:53 from Hamburg Hbf to connect with the 16:19 Copenhagen-Stockholm (arriving Stockholm 21:38).

  • If you're going to Malmφ or Gothenburg, travel from Copenhagen to Malmφ or Gothenburg by Φresund train, these run every 20 minutes to Malmo, journey time 39 minutes, and once an hour to Gothenburg, journey time 3h53.  Book from Hamburg to Malmo or Gothenburg as one transaction at www.bahn.de with fares from €56.90 - Gothenburg is listed as Gφteborg Central.

  • If you're going to Oslo, travel from Copenhagen to Gothenburg as shown above.  Trains then run 3-4 times a day from Gothenburg to Oslo, you can check times at www.bahn.de and buy at the station or at www.sj.se or (if you have any problems) www.acprail.com or www.snalltaget.se.

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Paris to Oslo & Norway...

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

Option 2, Paris to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo cruise ferry - the most luxurious way to Oslo...

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Kiel on any suitable train, for example leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 10:54 arriving Kiel Hbf around 21:44 with one easy change in Stuttgart.  Though the 09:06 arriving 18:44 would give you an evening in Hamburg or Kiel.

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

    Buy a ticket at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Stay overnight in Kiel.  The InterCity Hotel Kiel gets good reviews, is relatively inexpensive and is right next to the station and a few minutes walk from the ferry.  The B&B Hotel Kiel City is also next to the station with good reviews, and is even cheaper.  For something upmarket, the Atlantic Hotel Kiel gets great reviews and is in Bahnhofsplatz in front of the station.

    In Kiel the Color Line ferry terminal is just a 5-6 minute walk from Kiel Hbf.

  • Step 2, sail from Kiel to Oslo by luxurious overnight Color Line ferry, with a full range of en suite cabins, suites, bars, restaurants and lounges.  The m/v Magic or m/v Fantasy normally sails at 14:00 arriving Oslo at 10:00 next morning.  The scenery as you sail up Oslo Fjord next morning is superb.

    Book the ferry using the Direct Ferries website or at www.colorline.com.

    Make sure you're on deck next morning as the ship sails through spectacular scenery up Oslo Fjord.  The ship docks at the modern Color Line terminal about 2 km from the city centre.  Color Line provide transfer buses to Oslo Sentral station costing 55 krone, or there are plenty of taxis.  If you have light luggage it's possible to walk.  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

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

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

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

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

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to this....

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Paris to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, Paris to Helsinki using a Finnlines ferry from Germany - the easiest route...

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hamburg, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 09:06, change at Mannheim, arriving Hamburg Hbf 17:35.

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

    Buy a ticket at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  Look for a journey with 1 change.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

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, Paris to Helsinki by train to Stockholm, then ferry...

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Paris to Prague from €55...   Paris to Cesky Krumlov...

Option 1, Paris to Prague using the Zurich-Prague sleeper - this is the most time-effective option...

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 1, Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria... A 320 km/h double-deck TGV Duplex is seen above at Paris Gare de Lyon.

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

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

The Zurich to Prague sleeping car boarding at Zurich HB

Step 2, Zurich to Prague by sleeping-car, seen here at Zurich HBMore information about the Zurich to Prague sleeper.

Czech Railways standard (economy) 2-berth sleeper   Standard (economy) sleeper in day mode   City Night Line deluxe sleeper, private toilet & shower   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.  Larger photo.

 

The same sleeper with berths folded away & seats folded out, washstand closed.  Very similar to a deluxe, but without the shower & toilet.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe sleepers are almost identical to regular ones, a bit more floorspace with shower & toilet instead of washstand.  Larger photo.

 

Just like a hotel, the corridor in a Comfortline sleeping-car.  There's a shower at end of the corridor for standard sleeper passengers.

Option 2, Paris to Prague in a single day from €55 - yes it can be done in a day and it's usually the cheapest option...

TGV Duplex from Paris Gare de l'Est to Stuttgart & Munich

Step 1, Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex, an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.

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

Cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4 (or 14), serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved dishes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

The Czech EuroCity train from Prague to Munich

Step 2, Munich to Prague by air-conditioned express train with smart modern Czech Railways open-plan cars & comfortable Lδnderbahn Alex compartment cars, power sockets at all seats, refreshment trolley & free WiFi...

2nd class compartment in a Landerbahn car   2nd class open saloon car

In 2nd class, choose a Lδnderbahn compartment...

 

...or a Czech Railways 2nd class open-plan car.

Option 3, Paris to Prague using the Paris-Linz Nightjet sleeper 3 times a week - another time-effective option

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 1, Paris to Linz by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

A train from Linz to Prague

Step 2, Linz to Prague by Czech EuroCity train.  The train has a bistro car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi

2nd class open saloon seats   First class car on train from Prague to Linz

2nd class seats.  Most are in open-plan cars like this, but there are often one or two cars with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments.

 

1st class seats are open plan, in half of the bistro car, with the steward taking bistro orders at your seat.

Czech bistro car

The combined 1st class & bistro-car.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.  Interior photos courtesy of Dominik Brόhwiler & Discoverbyrail.com.

Czech bistro car   Lunch or dinner in the bistro car

Most of these trains have a bistro car.  2nd class passengers may use the seats nearest the counter if they order a meal...

 

An inexpensive lunch in the bistro car with wine or draught beer served in cooled tankards...

Scenery seen travelling from Prague to Salzburg by train

Between Linz and Prague the train snakes through farmland and occasional forest.  It calls at the southern Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice - more familiar by its former German name, Budweis - home of the original Budweiser beer.

More scenery going from Prague to Salzburg by train

The Bohemian countryside keeps on rolling by...

Option 4, Paris to Prague with overnight stop in Munich from €55 - same as option 1, but with an overnight stop...

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Paris to Bratislava & Slovakia...

Option 1, Paris to Bratislava in a single day, via the scenic Arlberg Pass...

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 1, Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria... Above, a 320 km/h double-deck TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon.

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

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Railjet train from Bratislava to Zurich

Step 2, Zurich to Bratislava by railjet train, this is the westbound train seen at Bratislava Hlavna.  Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About business class.

 

Restaurant.  In 1st & business you're served at your seat.

First class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy (2nd) class.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet runs alongside the Zόrichsee, then the Walensee.  It clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

The mountains of Austria...

Option 2, Paris to Bratislava using the Paris-Vienna Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option, recommended...

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 1, Paris to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

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 seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Option 3, Paris to Bratislava using the Zurich-Vienna nightjet sleeper - another time-effective option, every day...

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Paris to Budapest from €79...

Option 1, Paris to Budapest using the Zurich-Budapest sleeper - the most time-effective option, runs every day...

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 1, Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria, a 320 km/h double-deck high-speed train.

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

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

 

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

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Hungarian sleeper train

Step 2, Zurich to Budapest by Hungarian sleeper train.  Above, the sleeper attendant waits to greet passengers outside his sleeping-car at Zurich HB.  Some complimentary Hungarian sparkling wine awaits you in your sleeper...

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

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

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

Option 2, Paris to Budapest using the Paris-Vienna Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - also a time-effective option...

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 1, Paris to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by railjet. with restaurant car & free WiFi.  More information about Vienna-Budapest trains.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

A Railjet train at Budapest

The railjet has landed...  A railjet arrived spot on time on platform 9 at Budapest Keleti station, built 1881-1884.

Option 3, Paris to Budapest in a single day...

Option 4, by high-speed TGV to Munich then sleeper train to Budapest -Similar to option 1, but using the Munich-Budapest portion of the Kalman Imre...

TGV Duplex from Paris Gare de l'Est to Stuttgart & Munich

Step 1, Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex, an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.

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

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4 (or 14), serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved dishes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

The sleeper train Kalman Imre from Munich to  Budapest

Step 2, Munich to Budapest by sleeper train, boarding on platform 12 at Munich Hbf.  More information about this train.

The sleeper train from Zurich to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

Option 5, Paris to Budapest with an overnight stop in Munich...

Option 6, Paris to Budapest via the scenic Arlberg Pass, with overnight stop in Zurich - the all-daytime scenic route...

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

A railjet about to leave Zurich HB...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

Soon after leaving Zurich, the railjet runs alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

The mountains keep on coming...

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Paris to Brasov, Bucharest & Romania

Option 1, Paris to Romania using the Paris-Vienna sleeper - the most comfortable option...

Dacia Express sleeper at Vienna   Dacia Express sleeper

The Dacia Express sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.  Sleeper photo courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom.  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

  Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest

Enjoy lunch and a beer in the bar car, as a bar-bistro is attached to the Dacia Express in Romania between Simeria & Bucharest.  Photos courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom & @_DiningCar.

Dacia Express Carpathian mountains

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

Option 2, Paris to Romania using the Budapest-Bucharest sleeper - daily departures...

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, Paris to Romania using daytime trains with overnight stops - if you prefer day 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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Paris to Ljubljana or Zagreb from €73...

Option 1, Paris to Ljubljana & Zagreb using the Munich-Zagreb sleeper - the most time-effective option, recommended...

TGV Duplex from Paris Gare de l'Est to Stuttgart & Munich

Step 1, Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex, an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.  This is a Paris-Munich TGV at Paris Gare de l'Est.

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

Cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4 (or 14), serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved dishes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Step 2, Munich to Zagreb by sleeper:  Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb is boarding on platform 12 at Munich Hbf.  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. 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

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

Option 2, Paris to Ljubljana & Zagreb with overnight stop in Munich - the scenic option, if you prefer day trains to sleepers...

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

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

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

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

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

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

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

 

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

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

More lovely scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb...

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

EuroCity train Sava, arrived at Zagreb.

 

More scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

Option 3, Paris to Ljubljana & Zagreb using the Paris-Salzburg Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week...

Not the fastest option because of the time between trains in Salzburg, but what's not to like about a morning in that wonderful city?  With just 1 change, a high-quality Nightjet sleeper train and a lovely scenic journey in the afternoon across the mountains of Austria, this option is worth considering.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 1, Paris to Salzburg by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

Step 2, through the Austrian Alps from Salzburg to Ljubljana & Zagreb...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps on the Tauern route, the train snakes along between snow-capped mountains, absolutely wonderful.

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

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

 

Comfortable seats:  This is a Slovenian car, the afternoon train is in fact Austrian.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

More lovely scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb...

Option 4, Paris to Ljubljana & Zagreb using the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper - similar to option 1, but with sleeper from Zurich rather than Munich...

The Zurich to Zagreb sleeper train boarding at Zurich HB

The Zurich-Zagreb sleeper train boarding at Zurich HB as the sun sets on a summer day.  That's the Croatian couchette car on the right, the Croatian sleeping-car on the left.  See the Croatian sleeper video.

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. 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

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

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Paris to Dubrovnik & Split...

Option 1, Paris to Split & Dubrovnik by train via Zagreb - the scenic overland route...

Option 2, Paris to Split & Dubrovnik by ferry from Italy - a lovely way to reach Croatia...

Ancona to Split ferries in Split Harbour   Deluxe cabin onm Ancona to Split ferry

Blue Line & Jadrolinija ferries in Split Harbour...  Above right, a deluxe cabin on the Blue Line ferry, which comes complete with an en suite Jacuzzi...  Courtesy of Andrew Leo.

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Paris to Belgrade & Sofia...

Option 1, Paris to Belgrade & Sofia using the Munich-Zagreb sleeper...

TGV Duplex from Paris Gare de l'Est to Stuttgart & Munich

Step 1, Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex, an impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck train.  This is a Paris-Munich TGV at Paris Gare de l'Est.

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

Cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4 (or 14), serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved dishes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Step 2, Munich to Zagreb by sleeper:  Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb is boarding on platform 12 at Munich Hbf.  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. 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

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, Paris to Belgrade & Sofia using the Zurich-Zagreb sleepe - similar to option 1, but using the sleeper from Zurich rather than Munich...

Option 3, Paris to Sofia via Bucharest - currently the easiest option between Paris & Sofia...

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

Step 1, Paris to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train, 3 times a week.  More information about Nightjet trains.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

A Railjet train at Budapest

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by railjet, seen here arrived at Budapest Keleti.  More information about railjets...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

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

Step 3, Budapest to Bucharest on the sleeper train MunteniaPhoto courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com .

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

A sleeping-car with 1, 2 or 3-bed compartments is attached between Timisoara & Bucharest, of the classic type shown above, bought second-hand from German Railways. Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.comLarger photo.

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Paris to Bar, Podgorica, Budva & Kotor & Montenegro...

Option 1, Paris to Montenegro by train all the way - the adventurous overland option...

Option 2, Paris to Montenegro by train to Italy then overnight ferry across the Adriatic - a lovely way to reach Montenegro, once or twice a week....

Montenegro Lines ferry from Bar to Bari

The Montenegro Lines ferry to Bari at Bar ferry terminal...

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Paris to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland from €66.90...

Option 1, Paris to Warsaw in a single day, Mondays-Fridays only...

An ICE3 (class 407) at Paris Gare de l'Est

Step 1, Paris to Mannheim & Mannheim to Berlin by ICE.  This is a Paris to Mannheim ICE3 at Paris Gare de l'EstMore information about ICE.

Bistro-restaurant on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch in the bistro on an ICE train

Restaurant car.  See current month's menu.

Lunch in the restaurant, with an Erdinger Weissbier...

2nd class seats on a class 407 ICE3   Class 407 ICE3 1st class seats

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats...

Berlin to Warsaw train at Berlin

Step 2.  Berlin to Warsaw by EuroCity train - seen here at Berlin HbfMore information bout these EuroCity trains.

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

1st class compartment...

 

2nd class.  Some seats are in compartments.

Restaurant car on the Berlin to Warsaw train

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

 

The bar...

 

Decent food, served on proper china...

Option 2, Paris to Warsaw using the Paris-Vienna Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week...

Not the fastest option because of the time between trains in Vienna, but what's not to like about a morning in the Austrian capital?  With just 1 change, a high-quality Nightjet sleeper train and an afternoon journey to Poland with restaurant car, this option is worth considering.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 1, Paris to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

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

 

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 couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Morning EuroCity train from Vienna to Warsaw

Step 2, Vienna to Warsaw by EuroCity train, change at Katowice for Krakow.  On these PKP Polish Railways cars, the green stripe above the windows indicates 2nd class.  Yellow indicates first class.  Red indicates the restaurant car.  Courtesy of Jennifer Delaney.

2nd class car on the Berlin to Warsaw train   2nd class car on the Berlin to Warsaw train

Most 2nd class cars have compartments like this with side corridor & 6-seat compartments, although one or two cars may have open-plan saloons.  All 1st class seats are in 6-seat compartments on these trains.  Click images for larger photos.

Polish restaurant car

Restaurant car...

Option 3, Paris to Warsaw or Krakow with overnight stop in Berlin...

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Paris to Vilnius. Riga, Tallinn...
  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Berlin as shown in the Paris to Berlin section above

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

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.de, Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Berlin.  The 3-star InterCity Hotel (my favourite) or Meininger Hotel are right next to Berlin Hbf, a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag or 15 minutes from the Brandenburg Gate, relatively inexpensive with good reviews.  The Steigenberger Hotel is more upmarket, also right next to the station with great reviews.  If you want to push the boat out, the famous & historic Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is next to the Brandenburg Gate.  If you're on a tight budget, the cheaper Motel One Berlin-Hbf is behind the station or see www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Berlin to Warsaw by EuroCity train, leaving Berlin Hbf at 05:43 Mondays-Saturdays only arriving Warsaw Centralna at 11:42.

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

    Fares start at €27.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Buy this at www.bahn.de, booking to Poland opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.

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

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

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

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

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Paris to Kiev, Lviv & Ukraine

Option 1, Paris to Kiev via Warsaw...

The Kiev Express has modernised Ukrainian sleeping-cars with 2-berth & 3-berth compartments.  All bedding is supplied, and washrooms and toilets are at the end of the corridor.  Berths convert to seats for daytime use.  A smartly-uniformed Ukrainian railways sleeper attendant travels with each car.

The Warsaw to Kiev train at Warsaw Centralna

A Ukrainian sleeping-car on the Kiev 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...

 

Kiev Express...

Option 2, Paris to Lviv & Kiev via Vienna...

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car boarding at Vienna Hbf.

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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Paris to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia

Option 1, ride the Paris to Moscow Express from €245!  See the Paris-Moscow Express page.

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

Standard sleepers 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, Paris to Moscow using the daily Warsaw-Moscow sleeper train...

This option may not be as glamorous as the direct Paris-Moscow Express, but it's very comfortable and runs every day.  It can be cheaper as there are advance-purchase fares for the Paris-Berlin-Warsaw part of the trip, and you can stop off in Warsaw on the way...

Option 3, Paris to Moscow via Kiev - avoiding the need for a Belarus visa and any problems reaching Russia via Belarus...

  • It's not that difficult to get a Belarus transit visa and the Paris-Moscow Express is a superb train.  But some people want to avoid the cost & bureaucracy of yet another visa, and you can easily travel via Kiev.

  • Step 1, travel from Paris to Kiev as shown in the Paris to Kiev section above.

  • Step 2, travel from Kiev to Moscow by overnight train. There are several night trains and times vary by date, but for example train 6 leaves Kiev around 19:36 and arriving in Moscow Kievskaya station next morning at around 10:09, with 2-berth & 4-berth sleepers available.  Check times for your date using www.bahn.de.  Note that there's also a direct train from Kiev to St Petersburg, but this passes through a small corner of Belarus, requiring a Belarus visa.

    Kiev-Moscow trains were suspended due to Covid-19, and are now cancelled - and the lines blown up - due to the war in Ukraine...

    Kiev to Moscow costs around €92 with a bed in 4-berth kupι or €180 with a bed in a 2-berth spalny vagon.

  • Use reliable Polish ticketing agency www.polrail.com to book both your Warsaw-Kiev and Kiev-Moscow trains.  Tickets are collected in Warsaw.

  • You can also book tickets from Kiev to Moscow at the Ukrainian Railways site booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ booking from Kyiv to Moskva Kievskaya.  You collect tickets at the station in Kiev.  Feedback appreciated!

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Paris to Athens & Greece

Option 1, Paris to Athens by train & ferry via Italy - the leisurely way in less than 48 hours, recommended...

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

    You should report to the Superfast desk at Bari ferry terminal with passport & booking number to get your boarding pass, ideally 3h before departure especially in summer - although 2 hours or even 1½ hours and you'll normally be fine.  You walk onto the ferry and get your cabin key from the reception desk on board.

    Check ferry times, dates, prices & buy tickets using the Direct Ferries website or at www.superfast.com or www.ferriesingreece.com

    The ship is comfortable, with restaurants, bars, lounges and sun decks.  You can book a deck place (a nice cheap option in summer if you have your own sleeping bag) or a reclining seat or a berth in various types of cabin, including luxury cabins 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 number 18 links the port with the town 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 bus+train combo...

    OSE (Greek Railways) buses run from outside Patras railway station to Kiato station near Corinthos every hour or two, journey time 90 minutes.  At Kiato you board a modern air-conditioned regional train to Athens, journey time 78 minutes, arriving at the mainline Athens Larissa Station.  No reservation is necessary, just buy a bus/train combo ticket to Athens at Patras station ticket office for around €18 (tickets for the bus-train combo are sold at Patras railway station, not the bus station!).

    For example, buses leave from outside Patras railway station at 14:15, 15:15, 16:00, 17:15 & 18:15, total journey time to Athens 3h02.  You can check Patra to Athens bus/train times in English using the journey planner at www.hellenictrain.gr.

  • Corfu:  The Bari-Patras ferry calls at Corfu on certain dates in summer.  It calls at Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland on all departures year-round.  If you can't find a direct ferry to Corfu, book the ferry from Bari to Igoumenitsa, then take the local ferry from Igoumenitsa to Corfu with Kerkyra Lines (kerkyralines.com).  These sail half a dozen times a day, crossing time 60-90 minutes, fare around €5-€10.  Buy a ticket at kerkyralines.com or when you get to Igoumenitsa.

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

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

 

Relaxing on deck...

The ferry from Bari to Greece at sea

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

Option 2, Paris to Athens overland by train via Munich & Belgrade - an overland adventure...

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Paris to Istanbul & Turkey
  • Paris to Istanbul is an epic and adventurous 3 or 4 night journey right across Europe into the Balkans, see the London-Istanbul video here.

  • For details of how to plan and book a journey from Paris to Istanbul by train, see the London to Istanbul page and simply disregard the London to Paris part.

  • You have a choice of two main routes, Paris-Munich-Zagreb-Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul or Paris-Munich-Budapest-Bucharest-Istanbul.  All of this journey can be booked online apart from the last Bucharest or Sofia to Istanbul leg, see the London to Istanbul page for details.

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bullet pointRailbookers custom-made tours

Have your train tour professionally arranged...

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, the people to talk to are 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 pointHotels in Paris

A special hotel for a romantic break in Paris...

  • There are the obvious choices:  The famous Paris Ritz in the Place Vendτme (€490+ a night) or the similarly famous & expensive Le Meurice, which Von Choltitz made his headquarters during the occupation of Paris in WW2.

  • But if you want a really special hotel for a luxury break or romantic weekend and can afford around €280 a night, I'd recommend the small, sumptuous, intimate L'Hotel.  It's on the bohemian left bank, walking distance from the Seine, the Ile de la Citι & Notre Dame.  Playwright Oscar Wilde spent the last days of his life here in room 16, famously quipping, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.".  Fortunately the wallpaper is now all in very good taste.  The hotel has been used by many famous people since then, from Sinatra to Mick Jagger.  Rooms are on the cosy side, but they are beautifully decorated and have character that bigger and flashier hotels lack.  Check prices & book a stay at l'Hotel.

Room 14 at l'Hotel in Paris   The stairway at l'Hotel, Paris

Room 14 at l'Hotel, next door to room 16 in which Oscar Wilde spent his last days...

 

The beautiful light well at l'Hotel with a circular landing on each floor.

Hotels close to the Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon & other Paris stations...

If you need to stay over between trains, here are some suggestions that are both very close and get good reviews:

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...

www.tripadvisor.com is a good place to browse independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels, and it has the low-down on destination sights & attractions, too.

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

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 Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.


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