In summer, Snalltaget offers a direct daily night train from Berlin to Malmö. This train runs from Berlin central station via Sassnitz ferry port and Trelleborg ferry port to Malmö Central, and uses the ferry - also known as the Royal Line.
UPDATE 2020: The Berlin Night Express was discontinued in spring. It will not run in summer 2020 as announced. The reason is the unsafe situation with Covid-19 and that the ferry will not take any more railroad cars. So the night train would have a different route (via Hamburg), which is not easy to set up spontaneously.
NEWS 2021: The night train Malmö-Berlin will be replaced by a night train from Snälltaget, which runs even from Stockholm via Malmö, Copenhagen (Høje-Taastrup, in the west), Malmö and Hamburg to Berlin. Wow! :) You can find all information here: night train Stockholm to Berlin
The night train D300 leaves Berlin main station at 19:25 h from track 6. Arrival in Malmö Central is the following day at 07:30 h. Outside the summer months, the night train does not run daily, only on selected dates.
In the opposite direction, the night train D301 leaves Malmö at 17:00 h and arrives in Berlin at 06:45 h the following day. It arrives in Berlin on track 6, in the bottom center of Berlin central station. As already described, the trains only run daily in summer, mostly from the end of June to the end of August. The exact dates vary every year. You can look them up on the websites of Snalltaget or Deutsche Bahn.
Snalltaget schedules 2020
Departures from Germany: April: 7, 12 / May: 3, 17, 24 / June: 14, 16, 18 / daily departures June 22 - August 30
Departures from Sweden: April 4, 8, 29 / May: 13, 20 / June: 13, 15, 17 / daily departures June 21 - August 29
Tickets are available quickly and easily on the Snalltaget website. A single ticket in a couchette car is available from 49 Euro, which equals around 499 Swedish crowns (SEK). You can also book the whole 6-person couchette compartment for yourself (or your family), which costs about 300 Euro.
Simple and understandable: There are couchettes, nothing else. There are 8 couchette compartments in a coach, each of which accommodates 6 berths, 3 of which are on each side. As described above under "Tickets", you can book either a single bed or the whole compartment.
Reservation with Interrail
With Interrail, you pay a reservation of SEK399, which is about €39. You can get it on Snalltaget's website by entering "Interrail" in the "Campaign Code" field. If this doesn't work, try the spelling "INTERRAIL" with capital letters. Optionally, you can also go to a DB travel centre, but the Internet should be faster.
The legendary ride with the Royal Line
Almost all passengers seem to arrive early. I move into my compartment with 3 girls from Switzerland and a French couple. All on the road with Interrail. The French, like me (and probably half the train), want to go straight to Stockholm. You'll find more on how that works in the text below.
Shortly before departure, a man walks through the compartments in search of a day ticket for the Berlin metro. He finds what he is looking for. Quite clever. Then we begin our journey. First through Berlin, then soon over meadows and fields. Our compartment is still in day position, 3 seats on each side. It is relatively narrow, I think. There is some luggage space over the corridor and under the lower couches, whereas there is not as much space, and also on the upper couches (but only during daytime). Water for every passenger is provided as well. I put my Interrail backpack in the hallway to be able to access it quickly.
Soon the couchette coach supervisor comes through. She goes through the compartments, checking the names, but not the tickets? I don't understand. The French, living in Stockholm, understand a little Swedish. But the conductor only talks to herself, they explain. Thankfully, announcements are usually made in all 3 languages: Swedish, German, English. The other travellers in my compartment have made their reservations online, their names are already entered on the sheet. I add mine with my date of birth, then everything is in order. Interrail passes didn't have to be shown, I don't even think I needed them for making the reservation, but I'm not sure about that any more. Anyway, I had them ready. Somewhere in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the sun is setting. We travel via Angermünde and Greifswald in the direction of Rügen. In both cities we stop shortly, but without the possibility to get in and out. You can only do this trip from Berlin to Malmö directly.
In darkness, it crosses the Rügen dam, water splashes against the windows. In Bergen, on the island of Rügen, we stop for a short time, where I kind of wanted to go to bed.
Keen travellers are already standing in the corridor, waiting for their arrival in Sassnitz. A father with his children, a boy and a girl, maybe 10 and 7 years old, announces constantly that they're almost there. They're waiting eagerly but patiently for the ferry. Fun for the whole family. Also, he is taking the route for the first time, but seems to know it quite well. He has booked a complete compartment with his family. At 22:30 h it's finally time. We reach Sassnitz. First, the train is being relocated onto a siding right next to the ferry entrance. The locomotive is left at the front, a shunting locomotive comes from behind and takes the train away from the siding, hence, it briefly moves backwards.
Then it slowly moves forward onto the ferry. We are in wagon 101, the first of 6 wagons. The pole position, as you can see everything perfectly through the front window (which normally leads to other wagons). The children are thrilled. And not only them - the whole train seems to be standing in the hallway, eager to finally board the ferry. At shortly after 11 we are on the ship. The space of exactly one track had been kept free between the cars, to fit our train. All 6 cars, exactly one behind the other, fit lengthwise on the ship.
Some passengers get off and want to go up. My reason tells me, that I should have been in bed a long time ago, especially with my early time of arrival in Malmö. I get off briefly and take some pictures of the train on the ship. The other passengers from my compartment go up on deck, I give them the camera and the order to take some photos. At this point, a big thank you to you! I still remember how the ferry looks like from the many crossings by car or camper on the way to our camping holidays, when I was travelling with my dad.
I go to bed. At about 23:30 h, with a slight delay, the ferry leaves. A crossing time of 4 hours and 15 minutes lie before us. At about 03:45 h, the ship arrives in Trelleborg. The car drivers are already waiting for departure. For whatever reason, they have chosen these crossing times. The train, on the other hand, stays on the ferry until 06:30 h, then departs, which I barely realize, being half asleep. Sleepiness turns into being wide awake, when the train attendant announces a few minutes later, that we have just left the ferry and will reach Malmö Central at 07:30 h. Everybody knows that. I lie down again, but unfortunately I can't manage to fall asleep once more. I'm a bit angry about the "inappropriate" announcement, which probable awoke everyone.
From Trelleborg it is only a stone's throw to Malmö, and so I reach the main station in Malmö as early as 07:18 h. Everyone gets off, it is a rainy morning. I say goodbye to my compartment travellers, 3 of 6 people are travelling on to Stockholm. More about this right below.
Continuing to Stockholm or Kopenhagen
From Malmö to Stockholm, there are regional trains as well as express trains, Snabbtag, or X2000. Regional trains can be used at no extra cost with Interrail, but the next service is at 09:18 h to Stockholm, arrival at 14:10 h. The two Frenchmen opted for this alternative for their continuation, with a waiting period of two hours.
I invested about 7 Euro in an Interrail-reservation for the Snabbtag (English: speed train) to Stockholm, which departs at 08:04 h, normally, it's 08:10 h, but construction work was in progress. It only takes 4:24 h to get to Stockholm, so it arrives at the station "Central" about half past one. You can make a reservation here. You have to select "Interrail" at (Rail-)Pass and enter your Interrail-Pass-Number, which can be found in the Travel-Diary top right under "Pass Cover nr.".
During the transfer time, I take a quick look at the station and come across the lower track numbers, which are located at the bottom. In contrast to the ones at the top, they are transit tracks (not a terminus station), where the trains to Copenhagen depart from. The journey time is 35 minutes, and they always leave 13, 33 and 53 minutes after the hour, making it a 20-minute interval.
It was more of an adventure than a night train and relaxation - that's my statement and review. And that should say it all. As I said, everyone turns into a "fan" on this trip, and it is almost a must for Interrailers. By the way, when a train boards a ferry, it's called "Trajekt". This is one of the last 3 in Europe, together with the ferry to Sicily and the Puttgarden-Roedby ferry for the EuroCities Hamburg-Copenhagen.
As I said, tickets and reservations are available on the Internet via the Snalltaget website.
If you have any questions, just contact our friendly rail.cc forum. There you will get quick and honest answers from real travellers.