Are you feeling ‘flygskam’ (ashamed of flying) or simply scared? Do you have time to kill and can travel slowly? Do you love going on scenic routes and making stop overs along the way? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Follow us on our train journey from Stockholm to Paris – and save 363Kg of CO2 (Flying equates to 503Kg CO2 vs 140Kg by train)!
There was a time when it was possible to board in Paris and disembark in Copenhagen, without changing train. With the democratisation of flying, long train lines were dismantled. Will and patience are needed to cover the same distance and continue to Stockholm. But it is possible! We share with you here our travel experience.
Many many connections
Here is our journey in mid-September:
- Paris-Gare du Nord — Lille-Europe
- Lille-Europe — Brussels-Midi
- Brussels-Midi — Cologne
- Cologne — Hamburg
- Hamburg — Rødby: the train boards a ferry at Puttgarden. The crossing lasts 45 minutes during which you can leave the train, get some fresh air on the deck, eat or shop. Once in Rødby, Denmark, the train continues to Copenhagen… unless engineering works are planned (as it was until the end of October 2019), then you need to take buses:
- Rødby — Copenhagen (night stop)
- Copenhagen — Stockholm
|Journey||Times||Duration||Price||Price with pass Interrail|
|Paris-Lille||07:46-08:45||59 min||TGV 30 €||10 €|
|stop over||23 min|
|Lille-Bruxelles||09:08-09:43||35 min||TGV 30 €||10 €|
|stop over||38 min|
|Bruxelles-Cologne||10:25-12:15||1h50||ICE 72 €||-|
|stop over||54 min|
|Cologne-Hambourg||13:09-17:14||4h05||IC 30 €||-|
|stop over||14 min|
|Hambourg-Rødby||17:28-20:13||2h45||EC 30 €||4 €
|stop over||12 min|
|Rødby-Copenhague||20:25-22:40||2h15||bus 24 €||-|
|stop over||1 nuit|
|Copenhague-Sthlm||08:23-13:39||5h16||X2000 21 €||7 €|
|Total||20h06||237 €||31 €|
From Paris-Gare du Nord, you can reach Cologne directly with Thalys, or with a change in Brussels. If you want to avoid the Thalys’s high fare, you need to take 2 TGVs, as we did.
A cheaper option to the X2000 is the Snälltåget, leaving Malmö at 9.18am (arrival 2.10pm). It costs 150 kr (or 50 kr with the Interrail Pass, see below), but you’d add another connection. Book it on SJ website or Snälltåget.
You might prefer an overnight journey between Copenhagen and Stockholm, or Malmö and Stockholm, for a total trip lasting 23h42.
- Paris — Cologne, 6.13am-9.48am (Thalys from 35€ if you book early)
- Cologne — Hamburg, 10.09am-2.14pm (26€)
- Hamburg — Kolding, 2.52pm-5.59pm (30€)
- Kolding — Copenhagen, 6.06pm-8.31pm (14€)
- Copenhagen — Stockholm, 9.27pm-5.55am (41€ with a seat or 53€ for a bed)
- Or: Copenhagen — Malmö, 9.07pm-9.46pm (11€)
- Malmö — Stockholm, 10.32pm-5.55am (29€ for a seat or 42€ for a bed)
This option will cost you 146€ for a seat and 158€ for a bed.
Trainline also offers an overnight journey between Paris – Mannheim – Hamburg in a 6-seat compartment (no extra fee) or a 6-sleeper (add 20€) or 4-sleepers (add 30€):
- Paris-Gare de l’Est — Mannheim 7.06pm-10.17pm (3h11)
- Mannheim — Hamburg 11.59pm-7.53am (7h54)
- Hamburg — Copenhagen 9.28am-2.26pm (4h58)
- Copenhagen — Stockholm 4.23pm-9.36pm (5h13)
From 128€, for a 26h30 trip, including stop overs.
How to book tickets
To cross Germany and Denmark, visit Deutsche Bahn’s website or DSB (Danske StatsBaner). With the Interrail Pass, book here to reserve a seat (mandatory for Hamburg-Rødby because of the ferry crossing).
For the Swedish journey, SJ is the go-to site. There, you can also book a seat with Interrail. There is no specific webpage, you just enter your pass number (as shown below) and it’ll automatically calculate the right price (if you have a SJ prio card, you will earn points).
The Interrail Pass
The Global Interrail Pass is favourable if you plan a return journey. Take a 5 day-pass over a month. This provides you with the freedom to board any train that doesn’t require reservations (very useful when your train is delayed, which is bound to happen on such a long trip).
On German trains without reservation, any booked seats will be clearly marked. If you take one of those you’ll be asked to move. But if it remains empty 15 minutes after departure, it is yours! You might spend some of the journey standing or sitting on your luggage in the corridor. However, there are many stops and seats free up along the way.
If you travel with Thalys, book your seat many weeks in advance as Interrail tickets are limited. Generally, express or high-speed trains require a reservation.
A 3-day Interrail Pass costs 168€ for a youth ticket (12-27yo), 218€ for adults or 196€ for those over 60. A 5-day Interrail Pass costs 217€ (12-27yo), 282€ for adults or 254€ (60+).
Purchase your Global Pass here. Allow 3 days for delivery by the Swedish post. You can also reserve your seats, for a fee, via Interrail but you need to book at least 8 days before travelling.
Even if you don’t have an Interrail Pass, we recommend their planning tool to organise your trip. They also have an app which will come in handy on the road if you need to reschedule part of the journey.
Take the opportunity to discover Northern Europe!
If you aren’t in a hurry and believe that the journey is part of your holiday experience, why not explore Northern Europe en route?
On your way north, stop in Cologne and visit the famous cathedral, a few steps away from the station – and enjoy the local fragrances. Or in Hamburg, stroll around the historic quarter or view the world’s largest model railway (Miniatur Wunderland).
On your way back, you can choose to visit Lübeck, Düsseldorf or Hanover. Then, you can still spend time in Holland or Belgium…This train journey to or from France offers multiple touristic variations which will make each trip unique and more memorable.
A few tips
For those who have decent Swedish, join the Facebook group Tågsemester. For general topics, run a search in the group, and only ask specific questions if you haven’t found an answer. This is a dynamic group and you will get responses and advice in no time.
Final tip, there is no weight or amount limit for luggage on the train (unlike on plane). But you will be the one carrying or dragging your suitcases from one train to another. And when you only have 15 minutes to change, and the next train waits on the other side of the station, you will be wishing that you had spent more time in the gym or travelled lighter! Thankfully, however, most train stations are now equipped with lifts and escalators.
NB: prices stated in this article are for indication only and can vary according your travel and booking time.