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Are all the Night Trains Gone? Paris to Copenhagen or Paris to Hamburg

Hi, we are hoping to travel from Paris to Copenhagen or Hamburg (with a morning connection to Copenhagen) overnight in mid June. Are all the night trains gone? I think there was one at least until recently? We are traveling with my 70 yr old parents and our children (10, 6 and 10 months) so the fewer train changes the better. Where do I need to look to find the timetables?

Posted by
31437 posts

You can research rail journeys throughout Europe on the DB website. Travel by rail from Paris to Copenhagen will likely be a long and miserable ordeal, so a budget flight would probably be a better option on that route.

Posted by
10344 posts

Are your 70 year old parents going to be able to sleep on night trains, especially with train changes in the middle of the night on the Paris to Copenhagen route?
I know I couldn't.
That budget flight is sounding better.

Posted by
12804 posts

Hi,

The night train for this connection is the CNL, may not exist anymore in June. Much as I do night trains at least once on every recent trip, I would suggest you do the ride by day "...the fewer train changes the better." Exactly.

From Paris to Hamburg you change once depending on which route you take. I take the middle route, Paris Est to Frankfurt Hbf direct. Change to Hamburg on the ICE direct. Now if you want to continue to Copenhagen, change in Hamburg, you'll arrive in Copenhagen after 2200. Time-wise Paris-Copenhagen via Frankfurt can be done all in one day. This route has one change in Frankfurt. If you stay the night in Hamburg, (I suggest that), save taking the regional train to Copenhagen for the next morning. If one is heading north in Germany in the direction of Hamburg, coming from France or Austria, it's best to go through or change in Frankfurt. Take the early train from Paris Est to Frankfurt Hbf, then Frankfurt-Hamburg Hbf...both legs on the ICE direct.

Posted by
971 posts

As a Copenhagen resident, i would never even consider taking the train to Paris. Budget airlines are both cheaper, faster and more convenient.

Posted by
11613 posts

I would also look into flying, it will be much less tiring and give your group more time to see and enjoy your destinations. I fly from Napoli to Palermo (it's only an hour or so plus time for security, check-in, to-from airports) frequently, rather than take the train, and your journey is much longer.

Posted by
16883 posts

Not all night trains are gone, but night trains from Paris to Germany and Germany to Copenhagen were discontinued this winter. I also recommend flying; see www.skyscanner.com as one search engine.

Posted by
12804 posts

Exactly..."not all night trains are gone." Those running within Germany, ie the CNL, are still in operation (fits into my travel plans neatly): Hamburg-Offenburg, Munich to Düsseldorf, Munich to Berlin, Munich to Hamburg. Aslo, it seems the night trains going into from Germany, ie, Frankfurt to Budapest, Vienna still exist. Time it correctly you can still use one.

Posted by
18245 posts

As day trains get faster, trips that used to take all night can now be done during the day, so night trains are being used less and shortened or eliminated. CNL (City Night Line), a subsidiary of the Bahn, still runs night trains along popular routes (see here). There are also some other night train companies, some of them shown here. I don't think all of the other lines are shown. I think, for instance, there is a night train (EN) from Vienna to Venice (combines in Salzburg with one from Munich).

Posted by
12804 posts

Hi Julia,

True, that the night trains from Paris to Hamburg, etc have been taken out of service. Still, you can do one leg by night train, ie, on the CNL from Offenburg to Hamburg. Time correctly and you'll have ample time making all the connections.

First, take the TGV Paris Est to Strasbourg, ca 2:20 hrs in the late afternoon. Then the change to S-Bahn Strasbourg to Offenburg., ca 30 mins. The CNL leg Offenburg to Hamburg arrives before 09:00. It's only a matter of timing in order not to be rushed and still have time for dinner before boarding at Offenburg.

Posted by
27502 posts

On the other hand, and demonstrating the speed of modern trains, you can leave Paris at around the same time as immediately above and be tucked up in Hamburg after a nightcap at a very reasonable time.

Leave Paris (gare de l'Est) on the Frankfurt ICE train at 1309, change at 1617 in Mannheim with an hour to take in evening food for the journey at the various shops on the station, join the 1716 ICE from Basel to Hamburg and arrive with no fuss no muss at 2136 with the evening before you.

If you'd rather, the hour could be taken in Frankfurt am Main closer to the dinner hour as both trains connect there too.

If you were on the night train you would have only just boarded the night train....

Also, do not expect the

change to S-Bahn Strasbourg to Offenburg

is an usual looking S-Bahn. It is neither schnell nor frequent. It is the local train into the Black Forest - sometimes one carriage sometimes two. It will get you there though.

Posted by
12804 posts

@ Nigel...thanks for the alternative day route. I've done one leg of that, the arrival at Paris Est from Frankfurt Hbf at 16:57. My suggestion is for doing part of the Paris-Hamburg route by night, which the OP was inquiring and that one leg was still possible, ie Offenburg to Hamburg. That S-Bahn (maybe it's looks like what we call in Calif as a "light rail") runs every 50 or 60 mins, it's not very frequent, which has to be factored in.

Posted by
2432 posts

I'm surprised at all the air travel love, I'd choose a train in a nanosecond. What about schlepping out to an airport (often not a close one) and then into town, taxis, shuttles, security, cramped planes?

Posted by
4529 posts

I'm surprised at all the air travel love, I'd choose a train in a nanosecond. What about schlepping out to an airport (often not a close one) and then into town, taxis, shuttles, security, cramped planes?

I much prefer trains too, and have taken a lot of night trains. But I doubt I will ever do it again. Maybe I'm getting too old and the cost savings aren't as good as they used to be (it was a cheap way to travel). While the airports can be a hassle, I realize now that walking around like a zombie all the next day after an overnight train isn't time and money well spent.

I actually consider a train ride part of my vacation experience. I love seeing the countryside and relaxing, and would typically rather do that than lay by a pool. But if the ride is more than about 4-5 hours, it is faster to just fly in most cases.

Posted by
2432 posts

But if the ride is more than about 4-5 hours, it is faster to just fly in most cases

Interesting that this is now the case

Posted by
4529 posts

But if the ride is more than about 4-5 hours, it is faster to just fly in most cases
Interesting that this is now the case

It certainly depends on the airports and cities at each end, but after about a 4 hour train ride (assuming even high-speed), flying is likely faster.

A 4-5 hour train ride equals about a 1 hour flight, perhaps a bit longer. Check in with no checked luggage is 1 hour. Even assuming checked luggage and a slightly longer flight, that is 3 hours total. Assume about 30 minutes each end for transportation to/from the airport and you are at 4 hours total to fly.

And even taking the train requires at least an hour total extra time for transit to/from and navigating each train station. So a 4 hour train ride is actual 5 hours total, more than flying.

There are other advantages to taking the train, but most people here suggest flying after the train ride exceeds about 5-6 hours.

Posted by
12804 posts

We can be glad that CNL, nevertheless, operates sufficient routes, especially within Germany, that in spite of those routes discontinued one can still go by night train, even if it's circuitous. Thank goodness for the Streckenkarte.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you, so much for everyone's comments and advice. We're either flying from Copenhagen to Paris, renting/leasing a van or taking day trains instead. Very bummed the night train service I was looking for is gone. (My Dad is a huge train buff, and my children love them too.) Sad to say that the middle and youngest's only night train experiences may be on Amtrak. (The eldest experienced the Caldonian Sleeper London to Scotland when he was little.)