Railbookers’ Guide To Sleeper Trains In Europe

Uncategorized | July 22, 2016

It will likely come as no surprise that we love a sleeper train here at Railbookers! Whether you’re waking up to bounding deer and verdant pastures in the Scottish Highlands aboard the Caledonian Sleeper or taking the overnight train to Vienna for a weekend of art, opera and schnitzel, sleeper trains are practical, comfortable and adventurous – a marvellous trio indeed!

Holiday suitcase

What’s it like on a sleeper?

Great question! Although trains vary from service to service, there are a few key general factors that you can expect across the board.

 Hohenzollern Bridge and cathedral in Cologne during night - iStock_000002470548Small


When done right, sleeper trains are hotels on the rails! Most sleeper trains have a choice of three different accommodation types. Comfort is important, so we’ll always include sleeper accommodations as standard in our European packages. With a sleeper compartment you’ll often have a room of two (or three) bunk beds or a lower berth bed if you book a single compartment to yourself. Berths are cosy, and beds have mattresses freshly made up with bed linen and a pillow.


Sleeper trains also feature couchettes with four or six bunks per compartment and padded ledges for beds, or seats where you’ll need to sit up all night. We always recommend, and quote on, the proper sleeper compartments so you wake up refreshed at your destination. Sweet dreams!



There’ll likely be plenty of space for your luggage in your private sleeper compartment. Store your bags under the seats, on the rack above the window or in the recess above the door. Perfect.



In lots of cases you’ll be able to buy snacks and drinks directly from the sleeper attendant – perfect for nighttime feasts and tasty breakfasts in the morning. There will often also be a restaurant car where you can tuck into full or light meals, too. Your Travel Consultant will be able to advise you of the facilities on your particular train. We would always suggest taking enough food and drink for your journey to be on the safe side. A picnic on a sleeper train is one of the finest experiences in all of Europe – just make sure you take a corkscrew!

Calednian Sleeper

First Timer?

Get ready for a fantastic, romantic adventure aboard the rails! When you first board the sleeper, you’ll normally be greeted by a designated sleeper attendant. They’ll check your tickets and reservations and let you know the way to your compartment. Find your way and settle in! There’ll be space for your luggage and, if you’ve booked a sleeper compartment, either seats ready to be made up into beds, or beds all ready to snuggle down into, depending on the time.

Compartments have both normal and security locks that can’t be opened from the outside. There’ll likely be a wash basin in your room, and toilets will be at the end of the corridors. Soon after you’ve settled in, the attendant will come round and take your tickets (and maybe also your passport) so you aren’t disturbed by ticket checks through the night. Turn on the reading light and get comfortable as you speed to your destination!

In the morning, you may have breakfast included, but we’d recommend always having the provisions you need. If there’s a morning element to your journey, your bed will be converted back into a seat until you get where you’re going.


Sleeper Routes

We understand you’re excited. You want to take to the rails on an adventure and make the most of the time saving element of sleeper trains, too. The only question is where do they go?

We’ve got a couple of favorite sleepers here at Railbookers HQ, but of course we can tailor make any trip to include a sleeper train if there is one.

Fort William

Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William and Mallaig

Leave London after work and wake up in the Scottish Highlands! This is one of the most scenic journeys in the UK, and for that matter, the world. And for many of us, it’s right on our doorstep! Tuck in to a traditional meal of haggis, tatties and neeps in the restaurant car before retiring to your comfortable, freshly made up compartment and speeding north overnight. When you wake up, the Scottish scenery will take your breath away. Skirt the banks of Loch Lomond, trace horseshoe curves, watch the rugged landscapes tower around you and pass through tiny towns en route to Fort William.

Horse drawn carriage_iStock_000000718473Small

 Overnight Train To Vienna 

An exciting, scenic and romantic way of reaching the Austrian capital in record time! This holiday takes you from London to Cologne before sending you on your way to Vienna in optimum comfort. Pick up a picnic to have on board, or pick up a drink and a snack from the sleeper attendand on board and you’ll be doing watching Viennese Waltz and marvelling at opulent palaces before you know it. Take a boat cruise down the Danube the day after you depart the UK, relaxed, refreshed and with memories of all the great scenery you passed by train.

Dracula's Bran Castle - iStock_000011228093Small

A Transylvanian Adventure

For the really adventurous types, we love the rich mixture of culture, nature, history and myth of Transylvania in Romania. Travel to the region from London by rail and continue along the tracks to great destinations that are truly ‘off the beaten path’. Make the most of your time by travelling long distances on the sleeper train! You’ll head from Cologne to Vienna and from Budapest to Sibiu in Transylvania by sleeper in comfort. A tour of Dracula’s Castle is a real highlight of the holiday.

Alfama Lisbon Cityscape

Spain and Portugal Grand Tour

Our customers know there’s really no need to fly when the scenery is so spectacular along the rails! Spain and Portugal are two of Europe’s most colourful gems and are veritable treasure troves brimming with exciting art, architectural masterpieces and tasty cuisine. Travel from capital city to capital city on a journey from Madrid to Lisbon in a club class sleeper car. Sleeping en route gives you maximum sightseeing time – perfect when there’s loads to see and do!