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Slow travel: with the Nightjet from The Netherlands to Italy

In this blog post I want to give you a little recap of our trip with the Nightjet. We took the Nighjet – aka the night train by ÖBB – from Utrecht (The Netherlands) to Innsbruck (Austria) and then took a local train to Bolzano (Italy). This train ride including transfers is about 18 hours. And let me tell you this: it was quite an experience.

What is the Nightjet?

The Nightjet train service, launched by Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) allows an overnight train travel across Europe. The Nightjet connects numerous cities across Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and beyond. Some of the popular routes are Vienna-Munich, Zurich-Berlin, and Milan-Vienna and Amsterdam-Innsbruck. The Nightjet has regular seats, as well as sleeper and couchette cars, where you can spend the night sleeping in either a solo, four or six person cabin.

nightjet top bed in six person couchette
On our first trip, we had the top bed. This was a bad decision for a tall woman like me. In the top bed, you cannot sit up straight or lay fully stretched, because it’s the smallest bed of all.

From The Netherlands to Italy

On our way to Italy, we had many disruptions, unfortunately. The first Nightjet we were on was delayed from the start. Besides that, the climate system didn’t work, so it was extremely hot and there was no fresh air. We had to sleep with the windows open, but since it’s a train, that’s a lot of noise and since it’s winter, it was also super cold outside.

Then by 4am, once we arrived in Nurnberg and everyone was woken up, because the train had such severe operating issues, that we had to get on another Nightjet. This Nightjet had been used by other passengers before us and the beds weren’t cleaned, so we had to sleep in the used bed linen from the people before us. On the other hand, where the previous train was extremely hot, this one was super cold. This train had a broken heating, so people slept with coats and shoes on. All in all, the first trip was terrible, we slept just a few hours and we were completely exhausted upon arrival. 

However, Bolzano is extremely pretty, so our mood was boosted quickly. ❤️

From Italy to The Netherlands

Then, on our way back, we were a bit terrified because of our previous experiences. But there was no need to be terrified this time. Because the climate system worked, we were having no delays, we slept almost all night and arrived even 15 minutes earlier. A girl who also slept in our cabin, told us that this is how she usually experiences the Nightjet – comfortable and quick – and that she travels very often with this train. This gives me hope for future trips in this Nightjet.

Here are a few things I’ve learned for my next trip with Nightjet

  1. Don’t take the top bed. This one is the shortest of all and if you’re taller than 165, you will not be able to lay fully strechted. The middle and bottom bed are the better options!
  2. Bring lots of water to drink, at least two liters per person. Since the climate system is not always working perfectly, you need to drink enough water to stay hydrated and reduce headaches. 
  3. Bring something to watch or read, because time will pass much quicker. We watched the Netflix series “The Serpent” and the hours flew by.
  4. If you fancy, bring some extra toppings to add on your bread the next morning. We brought some vegan mortadella the first trip and we were very happy with that decision in the morning.

Why travel with the Nightjet?

Nightjet isn’t just about crossing borders; it’s about doing it sustainably. Despite our tough experiences, I would still reommend it as a slow and eco-friendly travel option. Opting for Nightjet means choosing a lower environmental impact. Traveling by train significantly reduces CO2 emissions compared to planes. So, when you choose Nightjet, you’re not just embarking on an adventure; you’re making a conscious choice to reduce your travel’s carbon footprint, making each journey a step towards a greener tomorrow.

Have you ever traveled by the Nightjet? If so, how was your experience? If not, do you want to give it a try?

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