Are you planning on Interrailing for the first time? You’ve sat down, picked out your route, but there is still one thing on your mind: ‘the interrail night trains’. You may find yourself asking…
Are they safe?
Are they worth it?
How do they work?
It’s natural to be a little concerned, I was too. I really didn’t know what to expect on my first sleeper train. So, that is why I have designed this post. To put your mind at ease. Let’s take a look at a real-life example of my Interrail night train experience.
How to book Interrail Night Trains
First, you must enter your desired root into the Interrail Planner App, choose your journey and activate it to your Interrail pass.
However, you must ALSO pay for your sleeper carriage. To do this, click on ‘how and when to book?’. Sometimes this will give you a few booking options, you can either secure your ticket through the Interrail website or the official rail site of the country operating the route.
If you are not sure how the booking system works, I do have youtube video explaining it.
Sleeper carriage VS Traditional Seats
When booking a ticket on a night train you have the choice to opt into a sleeper carriage. This means you will also be provided with a bed for the journey. The types of carriages vary depending on which route you choose, however, most will have a deluxe room for first class passengers, a family room, private singles & doubles and a dorm style carriage.
You can also choose to stay in a traditional seat. Although I do not advise this, I did it once and I will never forget the experience but more on this later in the post.
The price of a Interrail night train varies per route, however, I have provided the rates from my trip on a night jet service from Rome to Vienna. Please use these as estimates as of course prices will fluctuate with demand and time.
- Seat: € 3
- 6-bed couchette: € 36
- Double sleeper: € 60+
- Private sleeper: € 120+
I paid €36 euro for a 6 bed dorm, which I shared with 4 other women. One of the ladies in my room did not have an Interrail pass, and she paid €120 for the night. So, there are significant discounts for Interrail users.
As this is a post is about Interrailing, I am going to presume you are travelling on a backpackers budget, so, for the remainder of this post will be talking about the dorm style carriages.
How do Sleeper carriages work?
Once you book your ticket you are assigned a carriage for the night. When you first arrive, the seats will be in the transitional position.
I really liked this, as it gave me the opportunity to ‘get to know’ my new room mates. It broke the ice, it allowed me to feel comfortable to share room with them.
Rather, than awkwardly climbing into a bed next to strangers. The sleeping layout doesn’t really lend itself to social scenarios.
At around 10.30pm, the conductor gets the carriage ready for the night. The seats are converted into 6 beds in a bunk style layout. Passengers are provided with sheets, blankets and a pillow, which they can dress the bed with.
I’m not going to lie, the carriage can get rather cramped at this stage. So be prepared!
Once the beds are converted there is very little space for your belongings. Thankfully, on my most recent night train we only have 4 people in our room so we could place our bags on the spare bed. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what would have happened.
At this point, the conductor asks you want you would like for breakfast and discusses a wake up time to ensure you have plenty of time to depart the train.
on baord Facilities
There is no toilet or sink in the 6 person dorm style carriage. Instead, you will have to use the bathrooms at the end of the corridor.
There is nothing special about these, they are clean (well, for train standards), have a toilet, tissue paper and a wash basin.
To be honest, I’d recommend wearing what you intend to sleep in onto the train. It will make getting ready for bed a lot easier.
Believe me, it is not easy trying to get changed in a bathroom on tracks. I was terrified I was going to fall.
There is no where to store you valuable items, this is something I don’t really like about the night services. Yes, I was lucky to have reliable room mates. However, if this was not the case I would feel a little uneasy about my valuables just placed in the room as I slept.
My Interrail app said that my night train was meant to have a restaurant onboard. And maybe it did, but I certainly couldn’t find it. So, I’d advise buying some snacks to eat throughout your journey. And plenty of water!
Some trains may have free Wifi for guests to use, although, in my experience this is uncommon. You will also more than likely pass through some remote area’s on your journey so be prepared for your roaming data to be a little glitchy. I recommend downloading some movies ahead of time incase you can not sleep.
The most recent train I was on, while clean, was rather old. I could not find any charging points in my carriage. Thankfully, I had brought a power bank to keep my devices fully charged. Especially my phone. This is something to be mindful of before getting on the train.
|Check Out My Youtube Video on My Night Train Experience
|I documented my first ever solo night train experience, from arriving, meeting my new roommates, converting the seats to beds, sleep (or lack of), breakfast and the INCREDIBLE views. If you would like to see rather than read about this journey feel free to give it a watch.
Interrail Night Trains: Are They Safe?
I did not find the Interrail night trains any less safe than the day trains.
Yes, it is a little more ‘eerie’ at night, especially walking down the corridors. However, I feel this is down to it being dark and quite. Rather than being unsafe.
The trains are well staffed, so if there was any anti social behaviour I am sure it would be dealt with accordingly.
Of course, every scenario is different, however, I have been a passenger on night trains in Europe on three occasions and only once did I feel a little unsafe. And that was when I booked a traditional seat rather than a sleeper room. Which I do not advise.
Tips for staying Safe on Interrail Night Trains
However, with that being said there are a few things you can do to make your journey that extra bit safe. I have highlighted some handy tips and advice down below.
💡 Book your ticket in advance
One of the best things about Interrail is the freedom the pass gives it users. You can book your train tickets with less than 24 hours notice. Allowing you to stay longer in places you really enjoyed.
However, I do not advise booking your night train reservation at the last minute. I did, and my experience could have ended very differently because of it.
For starters, booking late runs the risk of all the sleeper carriages being sold out. And no one wants to spend 12 hours on a seat…at night..with the lights on…
Secondly, booking your ticket in advance allows you to visit the train station to request a specific gender room. This is particularly important for solo female travellers.
In hindsight, I would have felt extremely uncomfortable if I was in a room with all males, thankfully, it worked out for me but it would have been a completely different experience under this circumstance.
💡 Try sleep on the bottom bunk
This tip is more for those who are interrailing solo, but I recommend sleeping on the bottom bunk if possible.
I just means if a uncomfortable circumstance does occur in the middle of the night you can leave the room as quick as possible.
You will also be a lot closer to your belongings here, so it will be easier to keep an eye on them.
💡 Buy a lock for your bag
As I already mentioned, there is no safe to store your belongings on the train. Therefore, they are just placed on the floor of your carriage as you sleep.
It is a good idea to buy a lock, like this one, to keep you valuables that extra bit safe. To be honest, I’d advise this no matter what train you are on.
💡 Share you location with family or friends
Before you board the train it is a good idea to check in with someone close to you. Let them know if there are any delays and what time you are expected to arrive in the next destination.
At times, the train may pass through some remote places, so don’t be surprised if you run out of service. Sharing your location can put you loved ones mind at ease, is also gives them a window of time in which you may not be reachable.
💡 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you do feel uncomfortable on the train, discreetly find a member of staff, explain the circumstance and ask for assistance.
For example, if you do get placed in a mixed dorm, and this makes you feel uneasy, asked to be moved. You never know another berth may have some space in it for you!
My Nightmare experience with interrail Night Trains!
Ok, so now that we have broke down what you can expect from the Interrail Night Trains, I wanted to touch on my own personal experience. I have used night trains in Europe on three occasions, once as a solo female traveller and the other two with a group of friends. All experiences varied greatly.
My first European night train experience wasn’t great if I am being honest, but, that was largely down to poor planning on my part.
It was 2015, before roaming data (god that makes me sound old) and my friends and I did not do too much research before our journey.
We presumed that the sleeper carriages would be far to expensive to fit into our Interrail budget and we opted into sleeping in the normal seat style carriages instead.
This was a BIG mistake, for starters it was extremely uncomfortable, the lights where left on all night and it was not possible to lock our carriage from the inside.
Oh! and anyone can see you as you sleep which is NOT pleasant.
This resulted in two things, the first was well… creepy men peaking in at us as we slept…
And, second getting ZERO sleep as we felt on ease the entire journey. Safe to say we learned our lesson and booked to our surprise a rather affordable sleeper carriage for the journey back!
My Good experience with interrail Night Trains!
The next time I got a night train in Europe, I learned from my mistakes! It was a few years later, but this time I was a solo traveller, so naturally I had a few more concerns. I was a little nervous before boarding the train, I really didn’t know what to expect but thankfully it all worked out well.
Carriage Type: I decided to book a sleeper carriage, it was comforting to know I had a designated bed for the night. I was paired with four other ladies, we all varied in age which was nice as we could chat and tell each other stories. Having nice people in my dorm made the world of difference!
Safety: I felt really safe throughout the entire journey, both in my dorm and walking around the corridors at night. The doors in the sleeping carriages can lock from the inside, preventing others from entering. The only concern I had was storage space for my valuables. There is no safe, or place to put your bags. Luckily, my dorm mates where really nice, however, I would have been concerned for my equipment (ie, camera, laptop & phone) had this not been the case.
Staff: The conductor was incredible, so accommodating. He went out of his way to make us feel comfortable and I new if I had any issues I could bring it straight to his attention.
Sleep: However, with all this being said, I got ZERO sleep. The blind did not work in our room, so everytie we pulled up to a train station the carriage would be flooded with light. I am one of those people who NEEDS complete darkness to sleep.
Breakfast: The breakfast was actually really nice, we had fresh rolls, tea and some spreads. And the views along the way where to die for!
All, in all, I think the Interrail night train was 100% worth, yes, I didn’t get much sleep, but I got to arrive in a new country overnight, which ultimately saved me both time and money. I also go to have a new experience, and isn’t that what life is all about!
General Night Trains interrail Tips!
I wanted to end this post with some additional tips for those planning on getting an interrail night train for the first time. Hopefully, these will help you with your experience.
💡 Download movies and music ahead of time
There is a chance you may find it difficult to sleep on your journey. Therefore, having a killer travel playlist and movie selection pre downloaded can help keep you entertained!
💡 Buy some snacks for the journey
I made the mistake of waiting till the train station to buy my snacks. This was a big mistake as I was left with quite a poor selection of food. If I had of known, I would have went to a bigger supermarket and bought food that would have been nicer to eat at 3am 🤣
💡 Interact with other travellers
Don’t be afraid to chat to others sharing the carriage with you. It is a nice way to learn about other cultures and places. It also let’s the journey be less awkward and passes the time quicker.
💡 Wear clothes onto the train that you are happy to sleep in
Instead of packing pajamas for the journey, I’d advise wearing a tracksuit or soft clothing. That was you have no reason to change at night or in the morning. You can save that hassle until you reach your hostel in the next destination.
Night Train Interrail FAQ!
Yes, with the pass you can board a range of night trains across Europe, however, you still need to pay a reservation fee if you would like to stay in a sleeper carriage. This can be done on the interrail website or on the offical train site of the country that is operating the night service. The interrail app will redirect you to the correct site depending on what route you choose.
Yes, Interrail pass holders can book Night Jet trains at a reduced rate. You can start the booking process on the interrail app.
The 7 PM rule, allows you travel overnight while only using one travel day on your interrail pass. For example, if you leave after 7.00pm and arrive after midnight, you will only use one day.
Yes, I took an overnight train with interrail alone and felt completely safe. Of course, everyones experience is different but for the most part it is a completely safe thing to do.
Does Interrail do overnight trains?