Europe's eight best night trains
Amsterdam to Copenhagen
CityNightLine services are at the top of the pile for night-train standards in Europe. These carriages run on night services within Germany and connecting with other countries. These modern trains offer reclining seats and six-, four- and two-person berths. Best of all, thanks to Deutsche Bahn's SparNight promotions you can travel for as little as €29 in a seat or €49 in a bed. Amsterdam to Copenhagen via Hamburg is one of the most useful routes to travellers, and gives you a few hours of gawping at Denmark out the window before arrival.
Budapest to Split
Budapest's Keleti Station is a wonderful place to start a great journey. Split, the gateway to Croatia's central coast and islands, is a great town to arrive in. The station is over the road from the port and you can be on your way to Brac, Hvar or dozens of other sunny Adriatic rocks within minutes of arriving. In between the two you will rattle past Hungary's Lake Balaton and pause in Zagreb, Croatia's underrated capital. Note that this is a summer service only.
Prague to Kraków
This classic European journey features on most Inter-Railers itinerary, connecting two of central Europe's essential destinations. The nine-hour trip allows for plenty of sleeping off all that delicious Czech lager before arriving in Kraków ready for the Polish take on royal castles, imposing squares and atmospheric cellar bars.
Thessaloniki to Istanbul
The Friendship Express has been quietly getting on with linking Greece and Turkey for five years now. The only downside of this train, which offers connections to Athens from Thessaloniki, is that you have to disembark at the Turkish frontier at two in the morning to get your visa. But you will forget that with the thrill of arriving at Sirceki Station, once the terminal for the Orient Express.
This need not be the end of the journey. While the Toros Express service from Istanbul to Aleppo may be out of action, you can cross the Bosphorus to pick up the Trans-Asia Express to Tehran. This is a night train too. In fact, it takes four nights to travel across Turkey and into Iran by way of the Lake Van ferry.
One final word of warning. While the occasional night on a train is the stuff travel dreams are made of, using them as a nightly means of getting a cheap sleep while riding the rails around Europe can send you a little whacko. Prague to Barcelona is best done as a journey of a week or more, not a two-night sprint past some of Europe's loveliest scenery.