I want to go to sleep in my time machine and wake up eight hours in the future.
If I write "I can only give you a brief overview", it would mean that the rest of this site is to be given to Europe's night trains!
Instead, I'll try to be as short as possible and just share my experiences and provide the "tools" I use to find suitable routes.
When I plan my tours , I build my own schedules with the night trains' schedules as a starting points. Based on this, I search for suitable connecting trains.
If you exclude the Berlin Night Express (mentioned in section "Departure") and concentrate on trains to and from central and eastern Europe (roughly) there are two operator you should pay attention to;
"City Night Line" (CNL) and "EuroNight" (EN) - please find links to their home pages to the left.
From Copenhagen you can travel to Basel SBB, Prague (new?) and Amsterdam without changing trains, but to get a brief overview it is better to start with three other nodes;
Amsterdam, Hamburg and Munich.
This list is perhaps not complete, but it gives you an idea of how it works.
There are an infinite number of combinations and variations - one example could be the Copenhagen - Amsterdam/Basel CNL. This CNL passes Hamburg, so it is of course possible to go directly from Hamburg to these destinations.
Cars to/from many different locations are connected to and/or parted from the train as it travels, so the train you wake up in is completely different from the one you boarded.
Then you have the "CNL Partners" - mostly the "EuroNights".
This is not really complicated, but it might be a little confusing. The first time I travelled with the Amsterdam-Copenhagen CNL I simply couldn't find it - the only night train I found was a EuroNight to Warsaw! It turned out to be the same train, the Warsaw cars was connected to the CNL
The main lines are:
Amsterdam - Warsaw, Basel - Warsaw, Berlin - Budapest, Hamburg - Vienna, Cologne - Vienna, Munich - Budapest, Munich - Zagreb and Paris - Moscow.
You will probably find your "favorites"
- mine is the EuroNight between Hamburg and Vienna. First a small and cozy Inter City Express from Copenhagen to Hamburg, and then the EuroNight. Nice people and breakfast included! Usually I get off in Linz - fresh and "gefrüstückt".
The night trains are suprisingly cheap - under one condition! You must be alert and book your ticket in time (see the booking section).
When I have been sloppy, or suddenly get a chance to get away, it might be more favorable to book a regular train instead of a "night train". Sometimes it's also more convinient - especially when the first class tickets are cheap. More of this in the "Routes" section!