Please sign in to post.

Overnight train, Munich-Venice w kids, too uncomfortable?

How is it on a train w a family of four? Privacy, safety, comfort? Interested in your feedback...

Posted by
1057 posts

Our family of four votes unanimously: NEVER AGAIN. We did Venice-Paris overnight for the novelty a few years back, and expected some discomfort. Got a lot more discomfort than novelty, sadly. Several reasons: the day train Munich - Venice takes 7 hours. The night train takes 10 hours. Why? First, the sleeper trains are old and rattly - not the smooth high-speed trains that run daytimes. So they chug and bang along more slowly. Then, to avoid arriving at 4 am, they park the trains on a siding for a few hours. The engines shut down (and usually are decoupled and taken away). The ventilation shuts down with the engines. We woke up in our little box soaked in sweat and gasping for air. Spent the rest of the parked time standing in the aisle trying to find a breeze and holding the door open on our cubicle to get some cross-ventilation. Finally, in 2nd class, there is one toilet per car...for ten hours. For about fifty people. 'Nuff said. Unless you're popping for 1st class with private lavs, spare yourselves the "experience". Then, when we staggered off the train in Paris, dirty, sweaty and tired, we quickly abandoned our plans for a day's sightseeing before heading out to our place in the country. Wasted the rest of the day getting to the place, showering and sitting around being grumpy. But we thoroughly enjoyed every day time train ride we took on our trip, whether high-speed or regional, when we could see the scenery, talk to people, and move around. We strongly recommend taking the day train. On the up side, we had no security issues. I think that's less common now that you don't have border controls during the night so you don't expect to open the door.

Posted by
8245 posts

That's not to say that a trip during daylight will take you through the breathtaking Austrian Alps, through the Brenner Pass and through the Italian Dolomites into Venice.
It's a beautiful trip during the daytime.

Posted by
38 posts

God I love the travelers in the know! Thanks to you I'll be staying in a hotel, drinking wine and studying the map of Northern Italy for the next days travel...

Posted by
1840 posts

We have taken three night trails all the way from the train to aitch-e-double-toothpicks to one pretty nice. They stop often, wherever there is a milk can setting by the tracks. I DO NOT like night trains and can't imagine having kids along. We have found that kids tend to be more adaptable than adults once the situation is explained so your's may do well. You should not depend on a good night's sleep, however.

Posted by
818 posts

My family took the 7:30am departure from Munich to Verona - stopped for night and to Venice the next day. Very pretty ride. You could take taxi into Verona for lunch and then back to train and continue on to Venice. I have planned the overnight train but for us we would be miserable waiting for that 10:30 departure.

Posted by
2393 posts

I have to say that "popping" for the Premier class makes it an entirely different journey. I have always traveled Premier class or Grand Class depending on the train and have always arrived at my destination rested & refreshed. It is a little piece of train travel from days gone. We would have a nice dinner in the dining car - some trains it is included - breakfast in the morning. Private WC. basin & shower in the compartment. You would have to connecting ones for the children. But you will also pay dearly for the experience - over $1400 for the 4 of you - there are no child's fares so they are charged as adults.

Posted by
8700 posts

The only night train I have taken was Nice-Paris. Since I can sleep anywhere, it worked fine for me. I shared a 6-person couchette with strangers. In the future I would pay a little more for the extra space for both people and luggage in a 4-person couchette. Doors on couchettes and sleepers lock from the inside. If you book all the bunks in a four-person couchette, you'll have complete privacy and no security issues. From what I've read, CNL trains (like Munich-Venice) are the best night trains in Europe. According to bahn.de, the train makes no stops until it gets to Tarvisio Boscoverde at 05:33.

Posted by
1064 posts

Another vote for Never-Again. It's an adventure, sure, but then so is hitchhiking, and I would not want to try either again. My wife and I took the Rome-Venice-Vienna route a few years ago. If you have trouble sleeping in a plane, then don't expect a good night's sleep on a train. The bunks are supposed to make things more pleasant, but that was not our case. To see if it will work for you, put a mattress in the back of a pickup truck and have someone drive you around all night over rough country roads and through lit-up towns every hour or so, picking up passengers at truck stops along the way. With kids, I would not even consider a night train, even in a private compartment, out of fear for their safety.

Posted by
102 posts

If time and money aren't issues, sure, spend an extra night in a hotel and use most of a day sitting in a train in transit. If you're short on time and want to combine travel and hotel cost, take the night train. It's not the best nights sleep, but it won't be the worst. If you can afford it, the nicer cabins make the journey easier, but the price can be a deterrent. I've done the Munich-Venice journey and back several times and always sleep fine. You arrive early, so calling ahead to see if you can get an early check-in to drop off your bags and shower can be a huge advantage. Spend your last few hours in Munich at either the Zum Augustiner if it's cold: http://www.augustiner-restaurant.com/ Or the Augustiner-Keller Biergarten if it's warm: http://www.augustinerkeller.de/ Both are only a few minute walk from the train station.

Posted by
76 posts

We took the night train from Munich to Venice. And the convenience of 'waking' up there was great as we got to see the sunrise over the lagoon, which was totally worth it! However, it was not our favorite part of the trip and the sleep was restless and overall pretty poor. But it was a means to an end. Privacy was fine, except the neighbor who snored through the wall louder than any human I have ever heard in person. I dont know how well kids would take to that trip. If we had to do it again I would use some Nyquil.

Posted by
1057 posts

Scott, excellent choice IMO. Now you could get creative with some ideas to enjoy the transition to Venice, not just endure it. For example, you could finish your sightseeing on your last day in Munich around 5:00, pick up a picnic dinner (and that bottle of wine), and get on the 6:27 train enroute to Venice. Enjoy your dinner and the evening as the scenery rolls by, and get off about three hours later in an Austrian village (e.g., Dorfgastein - I know nothing about it, but it's a stop three hours down the line). Stay at a comfy B&B overnight, enjoy the breakfast the next morning and get back on the train after a look around. Follow Bronwen's excellent suggestion to stop for lunch and a look-see in beautiful Verona. Ease on into Venice well-rested, well-fed, and having seen a few more interesting things en route. You can probably buy one set of through tickets with the stopover at no charge. Something like this could even save you money over the night train, and will certainly save on the wear and tear. We planned three out of four transitions between locations this way on our trip, and deeply regretted not doing it for the fourth one. My older daughter insisted on the night train, having done the pampered white-gloved-porter Via Rail trip across Canada with her grandparents a few summers earlier. 2nd class was quite the shock after that!

Posted by
1172 posts

Myself and my two 21-year olds took the night train from Munich to Venice this past Christmas Eve. We loved it. Once we boarded, we were pretty tired, and of course, the purpose of the night train is sleep. We had a 3-person economy sleeper and were very comfortable. The lower berth did not allow you to sit up since you had a berth above you. The top berth had much more headroom. There was space for our luggage and we had a sink in our room, and the bathroom was at the end of the hall. Anyway, we slept like babies all the way, never waking up until the following morning. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery coming in to Venice. We arrived rested, relaxed and ready to start our day. It was one of the highlights of our trip, just for the experience. We would definitely do it again.

Posted by
102 posts

I have to say, I'm really surprised how many people have come out against the night train.

Posted by
9045 posts

Well, here is another one. We took the night train from Frankfurt to Denmark and it truly was one of the most uncomfortable nights ever. The banging of the trains as they hook up and unhook cars, the bright lights in the station, the workers calling to each other. One of the stops, the train was actually on a slant with the head of the bed tilted down. The bathrooms were yucky, and neither of us slept a wink all night. Husband is one of those guys that can sleep anywhere, but not on a night train. Personally, I would rather ride in the day time and see the countryside, and then sleep in a real bed.

Posted by
2393 posts

"I have to say, I'm really surprised how many people have come out against the night train." Christopher - I was too. We have always enjoyed them - but we do do pay the extra for 1st Class. I think that makes ALL the difference.

Posted by
3941 posts

I'm ambivalent about our experience - hubby and I did Salzburg-Venice...we had a private berth...complaints - train didn't leave til like 1am (I know, not that long of a trip fr Salzburg, but not much to do fr 11pm-1am except hang out at McD's!) - other complaint - the tiny tiny pillows. I need head support - if I had known, I would have bought a cheap pillow somewhere and just left it behind. Slept some, but not the best. We had a little sink in the compartment, and I brought along giant pre-moistened towelettes like you take when camping (like a giant hand towelette) for a quick clean up (brr - they were cold...lol). Pro - arriving in Venice in the morning (and our B&B let us come early and leave our bags). Would I do it again? I appreciate not losing all the daylight hours sitting on a train, so if it was a long journey, I probably would...with kids (I don't have any)...hmm, I'd prob take a pass. But I like my privacy and would go private berth again all the way despite the cost.

Posted by
1525 posts

We have done it four times with three children. Some worked better than others. But I have to object to the idea that night trains would be difficult for children or in any way unsafe. That's simply bunk. Most children will sleep just about anywhere. Most children are game for adventure and love trains. While adults used to basic comforts can understandably find the quirks of night trains a challenge, children are fine. And there is absolutely nothing "unsafe" about night trains. I would happily take a night train again if the trip itinerary would benefit from it. Anyone should feel free to to express the opinion that they, the ONE time they tried it, personally, did not find the experience to be as comfortable as they had hoped. But trains differ greatly. Routes differ greatly. Climate differs greatly. And most importantly, PEOPLE differ greatly. To make damning indictments of all night trains based on one experience is unhelpful to someone who has never tried it.

Posted by
14580 posts

Admittedely, I have not taken this route Munich-Venice on a night train which arrives within nine hours. Other routes somewhat longer (10-12 hrs) I've taken as night trains but always as a solo traveler. The advantage in that is not having to deal with your grumpy travel partner, if that's the case. It may be harder traveling with someone else/group and choosing the night train option. For the compartment seat or, better still, the armchair suffices, which is a much better inducement for sleeping. Basically, no problems with me and night trains, the CNL and EN types, as long it's a straight ride from 2300 to 0600. Lots of people take night trains to the point I have run into a route on a summer week-end that was sold out.

Posted by
42 posts

Exactly what Randy said. I have only taken 2 night trains but the idea that they are unsafe or scary is absurd especially on a popular tourist route like munich to venice. Now as far as getting a lot of sleep, it all depends on the bed type, class, etc.

Posted by
2393 posts

I have to agree with Randy as well. I purposely schedule at least two night trains in my plan! Call me crazy - but I love it! I select my routes very carefully paying attention to the departure & arrival times - not too late & not too early!

Posted by
14580 posts

If my trip is going to be 4 weeks or more, I, too, schedule in one to two night trains on the trip. But careful planning (this is where it pays off) goes into it insofar as the routes, the stations, the type of train, and esp. the arrival time are concerned. If the train is offering only a couchette and sleeper, I'll choose another method or route, day train or flying, depends.

Posted by
2829 posts

One important note: just because a train schedule doesn't show a station with lengthy idle time, doesn't meant the train will be moving all the way. Technical stops, where the train stops, sometimes for a long time, sometimes in a siding, are not listed (often) on train schedules.

Posted by
12040 posts

Count me among the "never again" group. I've only taken one, from St. Petersburg to Vilnius. It was definately more comfortable than a flight of similar duration, but as others noted, it's really difficult to get enough sleep. It was far from my worst night ever in Europe, but not something I'd repeat again.

Posted by
42 posts

I realize this post is about the train trip from Munich to Venice why not mention the trip by air. Air Dolomite flies that route for a little over $100 dollars and does it in an hour! If you are looking forward to seeing Venice as I am, why not get there as quickly as possible?