Recently we rode the ÖBB Nightjet from Munich, Germany to Rome, Italy for a unique European travel experience: 17 hours in our own deluxe private cabin on an overnight sleeper train!
We shared our entire adventure in the Youtube video below, including a complete “room” tour featuring everything you might want to know about our journey in our private train cabin.
But it just wouldn’t feel right to show you our OBB Nightjet train experience without helping you fulfill your train travel dreams, too. So, we’re sharing our favorite apps and resources for traveling by train in Europe. And we hope they will come in handy when you plan your next trip. All aboard!
Best Resource for Researching Train Travel in Europe: The Man in Seat 61
I’m not kidding when I tell you this is the very first place I start EVERY TIME I’m considering train travel in Europe. Seriously, if you have a question about train travel, you’ll probably find an answer there!
If you look up the route you’re considering taking, you’ll find tons of helpful information:
- Options for connecting the route by train, if there are more than one
- Starting costs for the journey(s) described
- Departure and arrival times, plus length of journey
- Change stations, if multiple train segments are required
- How to buy train tickets for the journey
- Pictures and descriptions of the trains covering the route, classes, food, amenities, scenery along the way, etc.
In addition to researching everything you’d ever want to know about a specific train journey, you’ll find The Man in Seat 61 to be a great general resource with FAQ’s and tips covering every aspect of train travel you could ever imagine!
Best Resource for Comparing Various Methods of Travel: Rome2Rio
If you run a search for “How to get from _________ to __________,” Rome2Rio is certainly going to show up as one of the top results. And for good reason: it’s one of the best ways to quickly see the transportation options available for your chosen route.
If we search for our example route of Munich to Rome on Rome2Rio , it shows that there are options by train, plane, bus, and car. But it goes a step further by displaying the approximate cost and length of each journey. Finally, of all the available choices, you’re given their best recommendation (probably the best mix of train ticket cost and train journey length) plus the cheapest option. And all of this can be seen without even clicking to another page!
Sometimes we’re willing to endure a longer trip to save money, but other times we just want to get to our destination as quickly as possible. Rome2Rio helps us easily compare which method of transportation is the best option for our European trip.
Best Resource for Booking Train Tickets in Europe (outside of Switzerland): Trainline
All that research using Seat 61 and Rome2Rio does you no good if there’s not a simple, clean way to actually book your transportation — long-distance buses included! And our favorite option for doing so is Trainline.
Within Europe, there are seemingly hundreds of different train and bus companies, often more than one for every single country! What Trainline does so well is aggregate many of those options into one simple platform, allowing you to book journeys on one or more companies on a single ticket.
In our opinion, Trainline offers the greatest variety of routing options, often allowing you to book train tickets for cheaper than you could using a national carrier. It allows booking in over a dozen languages and currencies, making it a viable option for nationals of just about any country.
You won’t find coverage for every possible train journey in Europe. But it’s worked for us so many times that we now start every search for a long-distance train or bus with Trainline!
Best Resource for Booking Train Travel in Switzerland: SBB Mobile App
Truthfully, I had pretty low expectations when I first downloaded this app. But let me tell you: I was blown away! It just works, which — frankly — isn’t usually the case with a lot railway company apps.
It’s so easy to use, and after you add a credit card as a payment option, you’ll find booking tickets to be so quick and easy that you’ll joyfully max out your credit limit by riding trains all over Switzerland!
In all seriousness, this app has saved us so much time during our Switzerland vacations. We no longer visit ticket offices to buy train tickets, get stuck wondering when the next train will come, or walk back to a station only to wait 30 more minutes for the next train.
The app is so helpful (and the efficiency of the Swiss transportation system is certainly a part of this!) that we recommend downloading the SBB Mobile App even if you’ll be using a rail pass and won’t need to purchase individual train tickets. While you’re munching on fresh alp cheese and taking in sweeping mountain views, you’ll no longer have to stress about wondering when the next train arrives and how to buy train tickets in Switzerland. A quick glance at the SBB app tells you everything you need to know, allowing you to forget the stress of logistics and simply enjoy your Swiss vacation!
Best Resource to follow your journey while on the trains in Europe: Google Maps (offline)
When we were travel rookies, we paid for data in order to navigate with Google Maps. When we were cheapskates, we used to write out directions in advance to avoid paying for data. (Anybody remember the days of Map Quest?!?)
Now? We use Google Maps. For FREE!
Did you know you can download Google Maps for use offline? Seriously, try it. Doing so will allow you to navigate between two locations in the downloaded area even if your cell or data connection is completely turned off. (Traffic data won’t work, but honestly, how important is that when you’re on a train?!)
When you take your next train ride, navigation won’t be necessary to reach your destination. But it sure is fun to follow your journey on the map to see what nearby towns you’re passing through!
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What Else Do You Need for Your Train Trip?
The resources listed above have been extremely helpful for our train travel in Europe — and we know they will help you get from Point A to Point B way more efficiently! But what should you bring with you on your next train trip?!
We’ve listed every item we travel with on Our Gear page. But let me highlight just a few that could be particularly useful for train travel (DISCLAIMER: all links in this section and on our gear page are affiliate links):
- How to carry all your crap with you on the train? Away Travel Carry-On Suitcase
- How to get work done on the train? Skyroam Solis Hotspot
- How to charge all your gear in that one outlet? Foval International Travel Adapter
We hope this list will save you time when you plan your next European adventure and make your journey even more enjoyable. Which of these resources do you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to watch our entire OBB Nightjet ride from Munich, Germany to Rome, Italy on our YouTube channel!