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Sleeper Train Could Be Cheapest Way To Travel Around Europe, Says New Report

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If you’re planning to travel around Europe on a budget, then it could be that traveling from city to city by sleeper train is a much more affordable alternative to flying. 

woman looking out of sleeper train

Traveling by train can be a great way to explore lesser-known destinations, discover how local people really live, and travel in a more environmentally friendly way.  

A new report by the UK-based consumer magazine Which? has found that not only can traveling by train reduce your carbon footprint, it can also reduce costs.  

Here’s how:  

How Much Money Could You Save?

On the surface, budget flights might seem like an affordable way to get from city to city in Europe. And they may be cheaper than sleeper trains when compared directly.  

A young woman lying on a bed in a sleeper train

But when you factor in the cost of carrying luggage on low-cost airlines and an extra night’s accommodation, which could be mitigated when traveling on a sleeper train, taking to the rails is far more cost-effective.  

The Which? study looked at the price of the cheapest private compartment on a sleeper train in the first week of August, compared with the cost of the cheapest flight and a night’s accommodation for three different routes.  

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A scenic view of a sleeper train

If you share a couchette or sleeper cabin with other travelers, then the prices for sleeper train travel will be even more affordable.   

What’s more, the more people you travel with, the cheaper your train journey will be.  

The Which? investigation found that the savings that were available increased with the size of your group. A group of four could save around $118, while a group of size or more could save up to $337.

A woman standing on a train platform

For single travelers, or those traveling as a couple, the cost of taking the train remained more expensive than the cost of traveling via a low-cost airline.  

Why Travel By Train?

Night trains are enjoying something of a renaissance in Europe. Traveling by train feels like an adventure and is a unique experience for a generation used to low-cost budget air travel.  

Train travel has a more intimate feel than air travel.  

Woman on a train watching the Eiffel Tower

Using a night train can also be a time-saver if you don’t have long to explore each city on your itinerary. You won’t waste time checking into airports or lugging your luggage from hotel to hotel. Instead, you can spend a full day in each city and sleep as you travel from one to the next. 

Train travelers don’t have to worry about turbulence or airport chaos and get to enjoy great views of new countries as they travel.  

If you struggle to pack light, then another advantage of traveling by train is that your luggage is not weighed, meaning that you can bring along as much clothing or souvenirs as you wish.  

Train on the tracks in europe

From an environmental perspective, it’s worth noting that flying from London to Berlin emits seven times more CO2 per passenger than taking the train.  

The Most Popular Routes

Some of the most popular European sleeper train routes are from Paris to Rome, Milan to Palermo, and Brussels to Vienna.  

The route from Milan to Palermo is particularly worthy of note because it offers travelers the chance to board a train that will board a ferry: a truly unique experience.  

The three journeys analyzed by Which? for their investigation were Paris to Vienna, Brussels to Vienna, and Brussels to Berlin.  

Woman Waiting On Train Platform

These are incredibly popular routes for international travelers taking the train in Europe. And there are many European train companies offering great deals on routes for international travelers.  

It’s worth noting that if you are planning to travel extensively in Europe, it may be even more affordable to invest in an Interrail pass, which offers travelers significant discounts on multi-day travel.  

This will also allow you to disembark from the train if and when you see something you want to explore and change your plans at short notice.  

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 20th of May 2023

I did this from Paris to Madrid, and will never do it again, unless I know the people I’m sharing with. The guy I shared with kept going outside to smoke and reeked of smoke. It was absolutely gross.

Al LeFeusch

Thursday 11th of May 2023

It's a much more pleasant way to travel but, as mentioned, for a solo traveler like me, it gets pricey, if I don't want to share a room/car with strangers (which I don't). It's worth the extra money sometimes, but in other cases, the cost becomes prohibitive.