Buy Nightjet tickets at
www.bahn.de (to/from Germany)
or www.oebb.at (to/from Austria)
You simply print your own ticket.
Travel by Nightjet sleeper train...
Nightjet is the new brand name for Austrian Railways (ÖBB) comfortable sleeper trains, adopted in December 2016. Nightjets run on routes linking Germany, Austria, Switzerland & Italy, including routes taken over from German Railways (DB) when they discontinued their City Night Line trains. Nightjets save time & a hotel bill when travelling long-distance across Europe - and kids of all ages love bunk beds on a train...
Düsseldorf, Cologne, Koblenz - Linz, Vienna
Düsseldorf, Cologne, Koblenz - Munich, Innsbruck
Hamburg - Linz, Vienna
Hamburg - Munich, Innsbruck
Hamburg & Berlin - Basel, Zurich
Zurich - Linz, Vienna
Vienna - Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome
Vienna - Venice
Munich - Venice
Munich, Salzburg - Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome
Seat, couchette or sleeper, which to choose?
Sleeping-cars = 1, 2, or 3 bed compartments, either standard compartments with washbasin or deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. A sleeper is the most civilised, comfortable & romantic way to travel, with comfy beds in cosy & carpeted 1, 2 or 3-bed compartments. All sleepers have a washbasin, deluxe sleepers also have a compact en suite toilet & shower. Breakfast is included. Sleepers convert from bedrooms to cosy private sitting rooms for morning or evening use. Think of a sleeper as a travelling hotel.
Couchettes are the economy option, simple padded bunks with rug, sheet & pillow in either a 6-berth compartment (the cheapest option) or 4-berth compartment (slightly more expensive, but well worth it for the extra space per person). Couchettes are great for families or groups of friends or individual travellers on a budget. Couchettes convert to normal seats for evening or morning use. On Nightjet trains, morning tea or coffee and a roll or croissant are included. Think of a couchette as an inexpensive hostel or pensione...
Ordinary seats are usually also offered on overnight trains, but travelling overnight in a basic seat is not comfortable and the best advice is to always book a couchette or sleeper for a safe & sound night's sleep, even if you're on a tight budget. Think of seats as sleeping on a park bench...
The Man in Seat 61 says, "If you're on a budget, a couchette is fine, you sleep flat in a couchette just as well as in a sleeper. Though if you're a couple, it's worth paying for a sleeper for the extra comfort & privacy if you can afford it. If you're a family a 4-berth couchette is all you really need, although if cost isn't an issue you could book two adjacent 2 or 3 bed sleepers and open the interconnecting door - sleeper compartments which share the same first digit have a connecting door, so berths 21 & 25 connect with berths 22 & 26 next door, see the berth numbering plan."
Incidentally, ships have 'cabins', the correct term on a train is 'compartment'!
A bed in the sleeper is the most comfortable, civilised & romantic option. All Nightjet trains now use modern Comfortline sleeping-cars, except for the Hamburg/Berlin-Basel/Zurich and Zurich-Vienna Nightjet trains which use double-deck sleeping-cars and the Zurich-Graz Nightjet train which still uses an older sleeping-car. There are usually just one or two sleeping-cars on each train for a given destination.
Most Nightjet trains use Comfortline sleeping-cars, built in 2005-2006 by German Railways (DB) for their City Night Line sleeper trains. When DB discontinued all their City Night Line trains in December 2016, ÖBB bought all 42 Comfortline cars and deployed them on their Nightjet routes replacing almost all their older cars. Comfortline cars have 9 economy compartments with washbasin and 3 deluxe compartments with private toilet & shower. Each compartment is fitted with an upper, middle & lower berth and can be sold as a 1-berth (single), 2-berth (double) or 3-berth compartment depending on demand. See the Comfortline sleeping-car layout & berth numbering plan.
Deluxe sleeper with toilet & shower...
The deluxe compartments are a fraction larger than the regular compartments, but still compact. The main difference from the regular sleeper is that you get a small private toilet & shower instead of the washstand. Soap, towels, mineral water & shampoo/shower gel are provided.
Standard sleeper with washbasin. See 360° panorama...
The beds and the decor in a standard sleeper (sometimes called an economy sleeper) are exactly the same as a deluxe compartment, the only difference is that the floor space is a fraction smaller (but not so's you'd notice) and there's a washstand instead of an en suite toilet & shower. Toilets and an excellent hot shower are available at the end of the corridor - take your plastic ving-card key with you to the shower as you may need it to unlock the door (the lock stops couchette passengers from the car next door getting free showers!). There is shower gel in the shower, but take a towel from your compartment. See the Comfortline sleeping-car layout & berth numbering plan.
Doppelstock cars are used on just two Nightjet routes, Hamburg-Berlin-Zurich & Zurich-Vienna. Built in the 1990s, they come in two versions: One with regular sleeper compartments on both decks, each compartment usable as single-berth or 2-berth plus two 3-berth compartments, one at each end. And a mixed regular/deluxe version with 4 deluxe compartments on the upper deck and regular 1 or 2-bed compartments on the lower deck, plus a 3-berth sleeper at each end. See the double-deck sleeping-car layout & berth numbering plan.
Deluxe sleeper with shower & toilet. See 360° panorama...
ÖBB's double-deck sleepers operate on the Zurich-Berlin-Hamburg Nightjet route, and the Zurich-Vienna Nightjet route. A corridor runs along one side of the car at normal floor level, with a short flight of steps down to each pair of lower compartments and a short flight of steps up to each pair of upper compartments. There are just four deluxe compartments, all on the upper deck, featuring upper & lower berth at one end, a small table & chairs in the middle (see photo below) and a very compact en suite toilet & shower at the other end (located in the corner behind the camera in the photo below right). There's a power socket for laptops or mobiles. The deluxe sleepers are popular and can sell out. The deluxe compartments take up two window bays, a regular sleeper just one.
Standard sleeper with washbasin...
These are on both the upper & lower deck, but mostly lower deck. Each compartment can be used as a 2-berth or (with the upper berth folded away) as single-berth, each compartment has a washbasin and a power socket for mobiles or laptops. The regular sleepers on these double-deck cars are very compact, especially on the lower deck where there's limited headroom. There are two 4-berth compartments with washbasin, one at each end of the car at normal floor level, currently being sold as 3-berth, for some reason OBB decided not to use the fourth berth. See the double-deck sleeping-car numbering plan.
Travelling by sleeper, all types...
Nightjet breakfast: All sleeper & couchette passengers get a complimentary light breakfast with tea or coffee. In sleepers when you board, you'll be asked to choose which 6 items you want for breakfast from a list.
Berths are sold individually, one person = one ticket = one bed. If you book 2 people in a double sleeper, you get the whole compartment as you are booking both beds and gender is irrelevant. If you book 1 person in a double sleeper you'll get one bed and the other bed will be sold to another passenger of the same gender. Passengers have shared sleeper compartments in this way for over 100 years! It means that solo travellers don't have to pay for an expensive single-bed sleeper if they don't want to, they can pay for one bed in a 2 or 3-bed sleeper and share with other civilised sleeper passengers of the same sex. Once snug in your berth you cannot see the people above or below you, giving you all the privacy you need.
The sleeping-car attendant greets you at the door to the sleeper, checks your reservation and directs you to your compartment. He or she will come round shortly afterwards to take your rail tickets, so you will not be disturbed by ticket inspections. Your tickets will be handed back to you at the end of your journey. These days they don't normally take your passport, as Schengen means there are usually no border checks anyway.
Each sleeper compartment is cosy, big enough for a bed and space to stand next to it. There are 12 compartments in a 26-metre Comfortline car, so please don't expect to play tennis in your compartment, it is simply not economic to transport excess empty space around. The photos above were taken standing in the corridor & pointing the camera through the door into the compartment, they accurately show the size of the compartment. What you see is what you get...
Each bed has fresh clean sheets, a fluffy pillow, snug duvet, and its own individual reading light.
A complimentary glass of prosecco is included to welcome you aboard. The sleeper attendant can provide 'room service' of tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks & light snacks during the journey, but feel free to take your own bottle of wine or picnic on board.
Breakfast is included in the fare, served in your compartment - in the evening you fill in a form to select 6 breakfast items from a list.
You take all your bags into the compartment with you, so have access to them throughout the journey. In Comfortline sleepers there's room for luggage under the bottom berth, on the racks above the window or in the recess above the door projecting over the corridor ceiling. Or just use the floor if that's easier. In the double deck sleepers, luggage usually goes on the floor.
All compartments have 220V power sockets for laptop computers & mobiles - in Comfortline sleepers, look below the bed near the door.
On longer routes where there's a significant evening or morning part of the journey, the attendant can fold the beds away and convert the compartment into a private sitting room with sofa and small table.
There's CCTV in the corridor for security, and in Comfortline cars all compartments have a hotel-style ving-card lock with plastic card key plus an additional security deadlock which cannot be opened from outside, even with a staff key, so you'll be both safe and snug. The double-deck cars also have both a regular lock and a security deadlock.
If there's a small group of you in a Comfortline car, ask to book a pair of adjacent sleeper compartments with an inter-connecting door, which opens to make a suite for 2 to 6 persons. There are regular sleepers which connect with regular sleepers, and each deluxe sleeper can be connected to a regular sleeper, although you cannot connect a deluxe to another deluxe, as you can see from the Comfortline floorplan.
The sleeper attendant, the in-sleeper catering and bed linen on Nightjets are provided by a company called Newrest on behalf of Austrian Railways (ÖBB). Newrest is a subsidiary of the famous Wagons-Lits Company. That's right, the company that used to operate the Orient Express from 1883 until 1977, they still exist! Albeit in much reduced form, and as a contractor not a concessionaire...
Berth numbering: Berths aren't numbered sequentially, which often worries people. I'm often asked if (for example) berths 21 & 25 are really together in the same 2-bed compartment! Yes they are, see the Comfortline sleeping-car layout & berth numbering plan.
Couchettes are inexpensive sleeping accommodation with simple flat padded bunks in shared compartments. A corridor runs along one side of the car, off which open 9 cosy compartments. You can book a bunk in a 4-berth or a 6-berth compartment - a bunk in a 6-berth is cheaper but a bunk in a 4-berth gives much more space per person so is well worth the extra cost. Each berth comes with a fresh clean pillow, sheet & blanket, and has its own reading light. Blinds cover the window at night. There are washrooms and toilets at the end of the corridor. There are compartment lighting & temperature controls above the door.
You take all your bags into the train with you, so you have access to them throughout the journey. There's plenty of space for your luggage under the bottom bunks, on the racks above the window and in the large recess above the door which projects over the corridor ceiling.
All couchette compartments have a normal lock and a security lock on the door which cannot be opened from outside even with a staff key, so you'll be both safe and snug. The sexes aren't segregated in couchettes as you don't normally fully undress to sleep, so men and women share the same compartments. However, women travelling alone can usually ask for a berth in a ladies-only compartment.
For the evening & morning part of the journey, couchettes convert to seats, the middle & lower bunks convert to a 3-seat sofa facing another 3-seat sofa.
On Nightjet trains, couchette passengers get a light breakfast with tea or coffee included in the fare.
I'm often asked if berths 41, 42, 45 & 46 really together in the same 4-berth couchette compartment, and yes they are, see the couchette numbering plan.
You'll usually also find regular seats on a Night jet train, usually in 6-seat compartments with side corridor. However, travelling overnight in a seat with nowhere to lie down, no attendant on duty and no lock on the compartment door, is not recommended. It's a false economy, the equivalent of trying to save the hostel fee by sleeping on a park bench. Always book a couchette or sleeper for a comfortable and safe journey.
This shot of a Comfortline deluxe sleeper gives an impression of the compact size - don't expect to play tennis!
Don't worry that your ticket doesn't show all passengers' names as names aren't important. Just one name is enough to prove that a self-print ticket is yours, however many people it is for.
Berth numbering: Berths aren't numbered sequentially, which often worries people. I'm often asked if (for example) berths 21 & 25 are together in the same 2-bed sleeper compartment, or 41, 42, 45 & 46 really together in the same 4-berth couchette! Yes they are, see sleeper & couchette berth numbering.
Have dinner before you board: There's no restaurant car on Nightjet trains, so have dinner before you board or feel free to take a picnic & bottle of wine with you into your sleeper or couchette!
In Munich, there are restaurants inside the station or just outside, try www.augustinerkeller.de at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf for great Bavarian food & beer.
In Cologne, try the Brauhaus Sion (www.brauhaus-sion.de) 5 minutes walk from Cologne hauptbahnhof, or the Malzmuehle restaurant (www.muehlenkoelsch.de) 10-15 minutes walk away, or the Schweinske (www.schweinske.de) inside Cologne Hauptbahnhof itself.
First class lounges: In Vienna, Salzburg & Innsbruck passengers with tickets for any type of sleeper (meaning sleeper, not couchettes) can use the ÖBB lounge for up to 2 hours before departure or 2 hours after arrival, also with complimentary tea, coffee, beer, wine and snacks. There is now no lounge in Zurich or Basel. As all Nightjet tickets are technically 2nd class, even now for deluxe sleepers, you cannot use the first class lounges at German stations.
Where to stand on the platform: Nightjets are often long trains with cars bound for multiple destinations. There's usually a train composition poster in a display case somewhere on the platform which shows the formation of the train and where each car will be when the train arrives. If you're in car 462 and that car is shown on the plan as stopping in 'sector E' go and stand next to the big 'E' sign hanging from the platform canopy. This saves running up and down looking for your car like a headless chicken...
More information on your train formation... You can check the consist for each Nightjet train, check the car numbers and see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled in your train using the excellent Vagonweb site, www.vagonweb.cz/razeni/razeni.php?zeme=OeBB&kategorie=EN.
Rhine Valley in the moonlight? The Nightjet trains between Dusseldorf/Cologne and Vienna/Munich/Innsbruck take the wonderful Rhine Valley line between Koblenz & Mainz, passing mountains, river boats, castles, vineyards and the legendary Lorelei Rock. Times are approx 22:17-23:09 on left hand side going southbound, 06:04-07:05 on right hand side going northbound. Well worth raising the blind & switching the lights off for! History (or film) fans might also like to know that the train passes the Bridge at Remagen.
Why not climb Cologne Cathedral's tower? If you're feeling energetic and have an hour to spare between arriving in Cologne from Vienna, Munich or Innsbruck on the sleeper and taking a connecting train to London, Brussels or Amsterdam, you can climb the cathedral's south (right-hand) tower for a fantastic view over Cologne & the Rhine, 475 feet high, 533 steps, no lift. The tower is open 09:00-16:00 in winter, 09:00-17:00 or 18:00 in summer, entrance around €3, see www.koelner-dom.de. Left luggage is available at Cologne station.
You can find and download the Nightjet brochure with route map and timetable at the Austrian Railways (ÖBB) website www.oebb.at.
Fares start at €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in 4-berth, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself. Fares are dynamic, so book early as they rise as departure date approaches and the cheaper tickets are sold.
With a Eurail or InterRail pass, you can travel on a Nightjet by paying the following reservation fees: Seat €14, couchette in 6-berth €34, couchette in 4-berth €44, bed in 3-berth sleeper €54, bed in 2-berth sleeper €74, bed in single-berth sleeper €114. With 1st class pass, berth in 2-berth deluxe sleeper €94, berth in single-berth deluxe sleeper €134.
Family fare for a whole private couchette compartment: A family or small group of 1 or 2 adults and 1-4 children can book a whole private 4 or 6 berth couchette compartment for a flat rate of around €199 on Nightjet routes. Only available if you book at www.oebb.at. But also check regular fares at www.bahn.de to check what's cheapest.
How to buy tickets...
Booking for Nightjet trains can open up to 180 days ahead, although for one reason or another the booking horizon is often shorter than this, especially for dates after a timetable change on the 2nd Sunday in June and the 2nd Sunday in December.
Buy tickets at www.bahn.de: You can buy tickets for Nightjet trains to from or within Germany at the German Railways (DB) website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket. All international credit cards accepted, anyone from any country can use it. It will often also do passholder reservations, just act as if buying a ticket, click for availability, and look for the little easy-to-miss link at the bottom, book supplement only. www.bahn.de also books other trains within to or from Germany.
Buy tickets at www.oebb.at: You can book all Nightjet trains at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at and print your own ticket. All international credit cards accepted, anyone from any country can use it. www.oebb.at will also book Austrian domestic trains and daytime trains from and in some cases to Austria.
Sleeper & couchette berth numbers aren't always sequential, which often worries people. So here is the reassurance you need...
Generic European sleeper berth numbering plan... When a compartment is sold as a double, the middle berth number isn't used. So yes, berths 21 & 25 are together in the same compartment, with berth 23 out of use, and berths 22, 24, 26 in the compartment next door.
Couchette car berth numbering...
Generic European couchette car numbering plan... When a compartment is used as a 4-berth, the middle berth numbers aren't used. So yes, 41, 42, 45, 46 are all together in the same 4-berth couchette compartment, with berth numbers 43 & 44 unused.