Pushed aside by the rise of low-cost airlines, sleeper services are making a significant comeback in Europe amid growing interest in slow travel and energy-efficient modes of transport. In recent months we saw the launch of a new Hamburg to Stockholm sleeper service that ultimately connects London with the Swedish capital, another that links Brussels with Prague, and now the latest to be announced is an overnight train from Amsterdam to Barcelona.
Why is it happening?
The announcement of the Amsterdam to Barcelona line is particularly significant because there is currently no direct rail service between the two cities. If you were to make the journey now, it would take about 17 hours, and you'd most likely have to switch trains in Paris - making a dash from Gare du Lyon in the southeast of the city to Gare du Nord in the north for your connecting train.
But Dutch-Belgian start-up, European Sleeper, aims to simplify that process after getting official backing from the European Union earlier this month to improve north-south rail connections. According to European Sleeper, its new overnight train will depart Amsterdam in the evening and stop in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Lille, Avignon, Montpellier, Perpignan, Figueres, and Girona before arriving in Barcelona the following day.
The journey time hasn't been established yet, but it's likely to be long, with plenty of time for sleeping and sightseeing from your carriage.
Amsterdam to Barcelona night train itinerary
The new service will undoubtedly come in handy for anyone exploring two of Europe's most exciting cities through a slower and greener form of travel. You can start your holiday by strolling through the tree-lined canals, coffee houses, and tinkling bicycle bells of Amsterdam before ending it with beaches, tapas, and modernist architecture in the Catalan capital.
Should you want to break the journey up into bite-size pieces, nearly every stop on the line will take you to a destination rich in art and architecture. Rotterdam is famous for its modern design, like the Erasmus bridge and its cube houses; Antwerp is home to Belgian's newly-renovated Museum of Fine Art; Avignon is filled with medieval buildings and is only a short distance from UNESCO–listed Arles; and Figueres - the birthplace of Salvador Dalí - is where you'll find his Theatre-Museum.
When will the service launch?
The service was due to launch in December 2023, but it was confirmed earlier this week that the project won't actually take off until 2025.
In the meantime, European Sleeper is introducing a new sleeper service between Berlin and Amsterdam on May 25, 2023, with an extension to Prague planned for December 2023. Even better, passengers can use the Berlin-Amsterdam service to travel to London, Paris, and Warsaw with only one change of train required.
Prices start from €49 for a seat (the cheapest option) and €159 for a bed in a single-bed sleeper (the most expensive option) with varying price points and sleeping arrangements in between. Tickets go on sale on February 20, 2023.