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Click a destination or route for train times, fares & tickets...

Route map, London to italy by train

 
UK to Italy from £69
by Eurostar & TGV details here...
TGV train from Paris to Turin & Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, tea in the Alps, dinner in Milan, and not an airport security queue in sight.  This is the The 14:41 TGV to Milan about to leave Paris.  Find out more...

 
 

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, dinner in Italy...

Travel to Italy in a single day, London to Paris by Eurostar from £44 then Paris to Turin or Milan by high-speed TGV train from €29, with a glass of wine to hand and not an airport security queue in sight.  Great scenery, room to breath, loads of legroom, no baggage fees, no airport taxes, no seatbelt signs, no 2-hour check-ins at remote airports and under 4s go free.  It's much more environmentally-friendly, too. It's amazing some people still think you need to fly.  See for yourself, watch the video...

Next morning, Italian Frecciarossa high-speed trains whisk you from Milan to Florence in 1h40 and Rome in 2h55 from as little as €29.90, or take a Frecciabianca train to Venice in 2h35 from €19.90.  This page explains all you need to know to plan & make a flight-free trip to Italy, including the cheapest way to buy tickets either online or by phone.

Choose your destination...    

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples

  London to Turin, Verona, Bologna

  London to Lake Como

  London to Lake Garda

  London to Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Modena, Ravenna

  London to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, Elba

  London to Salerno & the Amalfi coast

  London to Genoa, Cinque Terre & La Spezia

  London to Civitavecchia for cruise connections...

  London to Rimini, San Marino, Ancona, Pescara

  London to Foggia, Bari, Brindisi & Lecce

  London to Trieste

  London to Palermo, Catania, Siracuse & Sicily

  London to Sardinia

  London to Italy via ferry from Harwich

  UK to Italy via ferry from Newcastle or Hull

  Starting your journey from other UK towns & cities

  London to Italy by Venice Simplon Orient Express

Train travel within Italy..

  Train travel in Italy - a beginner's guide

  How to use Trenitalia.com

  How to make a day trip to Pompeii

  Milan Centrale station guide

  Venice Santa Lucia station guide

  City maps showing stations...

    Map of Milan   Map of Venice   Map of Florence

    Map of Rome   Map of Naples   Map of Turin

International trains to & from Italy...

  Other European cities to Italy by train

  Rome to other European cities

  Florence to other European cities

  Venice to other European cities

  Milan to other European cities

 Naples to other European cities

  Paris to Turin & Milan by TGV high-speed train

  The Thello sleeper train from Paris to Italy

Other useful information...

  Country information - currency, dial code, time zone

  General information for European train travel

  Luggage on trains & Left luggage at stations

  How to cross Paris by metro, taxi or transfer

  Taking your bike - Taking your dog - Taking your car

  Child age limits & travel with kids

  Eurail passes - the railpass for overseas visitors

  InterRail passes - the pass for European residents

  Travel in a wheelchair

  Holidays & tours to Italy by train

  Hotels in Italy & hotel price comparison

  Travel insurance, EU Health Card & SIM cards

  Car hire in Italy

  Cruises from Venice & Cruises from Rome

Video guides...

  London to Paris by Eurostar video

  Crossing Paris by metro video

  Paris to Italy by daytime TGV video

  Paris to Italy by Thello sleeper train video

Route map...


Useful country information

 Train operators in Italy:  

Trenitalia (Ferrovie dello Stato) www.trenitalia.com (advice on using it).  NTV Italo: www.italotreno.it.

 Buy Italian train tickets:

 

www.italiarail.com or www.loco2.com in €, £, $ or Au$.

 Other useful links:

 

Train times for almost any journey in Europe Eurostar times & faresThello website (Paris-Italy sleeper trains).  To check for problems affecting trains from Paris to Italy (in French) see www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic.  Paris métro: www.ratp.fr.  Circumvesuviana Railway (Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento): www.eavsrl.it.  Bus & metro: Rome  Milan.  Venice waterbuses: www.actv.it.

 Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

 Time zone:

 

GMT+1  (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).     

 Dialling code:

 

+39

 Currency:

 

£1 = approx 1.11 euros  Check current exchange rates

 Tourist information:

www.enit.it    www.tripadvisor.com     Recommended guidebooks

 Hotels & guesthouses:

Finding accommodation in Italy      Escorted tours to Italy by train

 Motorail & car hire:

How to take your car to Italy with Motorail    Car hire in Italy

 Page last updated:

19 May 2019. Train times valid 9 Dec 2018 to 14 Dec 2019.


London to Italy

 

Rome...

Take the train to Italy..!  The Trevi Fountain, Rome.

Rome's famous Trevi fountain is just 20 minutes walk from the Stazione Termini, where you arrive by train from Paris & London...

 

Florence...

Take the train from London to Italy.  The view from the top of the Duomo in Florence....

The best view of Florence is from the top of the Duomo's dome.  €8, 463 steps, no lift, just 10 minutes walk from Florence SMN station.

 

Venice...

Take the train to Italy..!  The Rialto bridge, Venice...

The Rialto Bridge, just 15 minutes walk from Santa Lucia station.  This photo was taken on a short break to Italy, without flying...

  Santa Lucia railway station in Venice...

Venice Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal, a stroll from the Rialto Bridge & St Mark's Square.  Or take a vaporetto (water bus, seen here), water taxi, or (if you're loaded) a gondola...

Which route to choose?

There's a choice of routes from the UK to Italy by train, some fast & direct, some slower but amazingly scenic, some using a sleeper train, some using daytime trains. Browse this summary, then click on whichever option appeals most.  By all means go out one way & come back another, or stop off on the way, as each train is ticketed separately.

Back to top


Option 1:  By Eurostar & TGV

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, dinner in Italy...  

  Table for two on the train to Italy
 

To Italy in an armchair... A cosy table for two in 1st class on the Paris-Turin-Milan TGV...

Watch the video

Buy train tickets to Italy

Every day, three 186 mph TGV trains run by SNCF French Railways link Paris with Turin & Milan, with connections to Florence, Venice, Rome & Naples.  Leave London in the morning, have lunch in Paris, reach Turin or Milan in the evening, stay overnight then take a high-speed train to Florence, Venice, Rome or Naples next day.  Or leave London in the evening, stay overnight in Paris and travel from Paris to anywhere in Italy next day.  In fact, if you take the early 05:40 Monday-Friday departure, it's possible to travel from London to Florence, Venice, Rome or even Naples in a day.

This route is usually the most inexpensive way to reach Italy by train, as Paris-Milan starts at just €29 each way.  It's a scenic option, marked in dark blue on the route map above, see the video guide, although not as scenic as the more expensive route via Switzerland in option 3 or the ultimate scenic Bernina Express route in option 5.  Milan is a great city, with the best onward connections to other Italian cities, but Turin is even better and well worth a stopover.  It could be Italy's most under-rated city even if you're not a fan of the 1969 Michael Caine film The Italian Job.  Why not take an earlier Eurostar and have lunch at the famous Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon before catching your TGV to Italy?  Perfect!

  Summary timetable southbound

  Summary timetable northbound

  Train times in detail southbound

  Train times in detail northbound

  What is the journey like?

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

Summary timetable southbound

 London ► Italy

 Eurostar (30 min check-in):

Mondays to Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 London St Pancras depart:

05:40

09:24

20:01

**

09:24

20:01

**

09:24

20:01

 Paris Gare du Nord arrive:

09:17

12:47

23:17

**

12:47

23:17

**

12:47

23:17

 Cross Paris by metro to the Gare de Lyon for the TGV train to Italy...

 Paris Gare de Lyon depart:

10:37

14:41

06:29*

10:37

14:41

06:29*

10:37

14:41

06:29*

 Turin Porta Susa arrive:

16:20

20:18

12:23*

16:20

20:18

12:23*

16:20

20:18

12:23*

 Milan Porta Garibaldi arrive:

17:50

21:50

13:50*

17:50

21:50

13:50*

17:50

21:50

13:50*

Change in Turin for Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Verona & Venice, see the Journeys in detail section below.

*  Following day, overnight hotel in Paris necessary.  Why not book an earlier Eurostar and have dinner in Paris?

** There's no sufficiently early Eurostar connection, but why not take a Eurostar the night before and stop over in Paris?

IMPORTANT:  The 05:40 London to Paris Eurostar did not run from 29 July to 1 September 2018 and probably won't run for a similar period in 2019. 

Always check times for your specific date at www.loco2.com or www.trainline.eu, as times can vary. 

How much does it cost?   How to buy tickets   What's the journey like?   Paris-Milan TGV video guide   Map of Milan showing stations

Summary timetable northbound

 Italy ► London

 TGV:

Mondays to Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 Milan Porta Garibaldi depart:

06:00

08:44

14:40

06:00

08:44

14:40

06:00

08:44

14:40

 Turin Porta Susa depart:

07:36

10:11

16:11

07:36

10:11

16:11

07:36

10:11

16:11

 Paris Gare de Lyon arrive:

13:19

16:11

22:31

13:19

16:11

22:37

13:19

16:11

22:31

 Cross Paris by metro to the Gare du Nord for Eurostar (30 min check-in)

 Paris Gare du Nord depart:

15:13

18:13

 07:13*

15:13

19:13

08:13*

15:13

18:13

 07:13*

 London St Pancras arrive:

16:39

19:39

 08:32*

16:39

20:39

09:30*

16:39

19:39

 08:32*

For connections from Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Verona & Venice, see the Journeys in detail section below.

*  Following day, overnight hotel in Paris necessary.  By all means book a later Eurostar and have a leisurely breakfast in Paris.

IMPORTANT:  The 08:44 Milan to Paris TGV will not run from 8 April to 23 June 2019 due to track work.

Always check times for your specific date at www.loco2.com or www.trainline.eu, as times can vary. 

How much does it cost?   How to buy tickets   What's the journey like?   Paris-Milan TGV video guide   Map of Milan showing stations

Train times in detail southbound...

London  ► Italy, leaving 05:40 Mon-Fri

London ► Italy, leaving 09:24 daily

London ► Italy leaving 20:01 daily with overnight stop in Paris...

Train times in detail northbound...

Italy ► London, leaving Milan 06:00 or Turin 07:36...

Italy ► London, leaving Milan 08:44 or Turin 10:11...

Italy ► London leaving Milan 14:40 or Turin 16:11 daily, overnight stop in Paris...

What 's the journey like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar guide

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier seats. Larger photo.

Lunch in Paris at the Train Bleu restaurant?

The trains to Italy leave from the magnificent Gare de Lyon in central Paris.  Why not have lunch (or at least a drink in the bar) at the fabulous Train Bleu Restaurant inside the Gare de Lyon (pictured above right) before catching the train to Turin or Milan? 

Paris Gare de Lyon, from where the TGV trains to Barcelona leave   The Train Bleu restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon

Paris to Turin or Milan by TGV...

SNCF (French Railways) operates three daily 186 mph TGV trains from Paris to Turin & Milan.  Previously operated by Artesia, a consortium of Trenitalia & SNCF, they are now operated entirely by SNCF, officially via a new Italian subsidiary, Società Viaggiatori Italia.  On leaving Paris they sprint over the high-speed line at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) as far as Lyon St Exupéry, but they then slow right down to meander through the scenic Alpine foothills on conventional lines via Chambéry, crossing into Italy at Modane and heading through Turin to Milan.  These TGVs have 1st & 2nd class seats and are fully air-conditioned, with new interiors designed by Christian Lacroix.  There are power sockets for laptops and mobiles at every seat and there are baby-changing facilities and designated spaces for passengers in wheelchairs.  There's a cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & light meals, or feel free to bring your own food & wine along for the journey.  In first class you can order a 3-course meal with wine, served at your seat.  You can now buy Paris metro tickets from the bar car, too.  1st class TGV passengers can use the Grand Voyageurs 1st class lounge at Paris Gare de Lyon.  Incidentally, SNCF's experienced in-house designer still hasn't forgiven Christian Lacroix for breaking the unwritten rule and using warm colours in 2nd class, cooler colours in 1st class, so see what you think!

Seating plan for the Paris-Milan TGVs:  See seating plans here.

TGV train from Paris to Milan about to leave Paris Gare de Lyon

The afternoon TGV to Turin & Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, just be on board at departure time...

TGV bar car   Food on board the TGV from Milan to Paris

The cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, hot & cold snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  Larger photo.

 

The cheese platter bought from the cafe-bar as the mountains swept by...

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  360 degree photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  360 degree photo.

The fields of rural France from the train to Italy   Rural France

The TGV leaves Paris behind & speeds across rural France at up to 186 mph, past fields, woods, pretty villages...

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy

...it calls at Lyon St Exupery then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

2nd class on the TGV from Paris to Milan   TGV from Milan to Paris

The TGV crosses the Alps via Chambéry and Modane, passing through the 13.6 km (8.5 mile) long Fréjus Rail Tunnel, also known less accurately as the Mont Cénis tunnel.  The tunnel transit takes just 7 minutes, during which the train enters Italy.  Opened in 1871, this the oldest of the large tunnels through the Alps, and was the longest tunnel in the world from 1871 until 1882 when the Gotthard tunnel opened on the Zurich-Milan route.

Moresnow-capped mountains from the TGV train to Italy

 

More mountains...

Now we're in Italy, leaving the Alps behind...

Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin   Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin

Scenery between Oulx and Turin...  Photos courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

TGV from Paris at Turin Porta Susa   Turin Porta Susa station

The train calls at Turin Porta Susa.  Photos courtesy of Discoverbyrail.com

The TGV arrived at Milan Porta Garibaldi   Milan Porta Garibaldi station

Arrival on time at Milan's modern Porta Garibaldi station.  Porta Garibaldi is a 10-minute €6 taxi ride or 25 minute walk from Milan's main Centrale station.

Video guide:  Paris to Milan by TGV...

The video takes you on a journey by TGV from Paris to Turin & Milan, showing you both the train & scenery...

Turin to Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples by Frecciarossa from €29.90  See info & video

Frecciarossa trains now have not two but four classes:  Standard (2nd class), Premium (premium 2nd class), Business (1st class) and Executive (premium 1st class).& Premium & Business classes include snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, Executive includes hot or cold meals and soft and alcoholic drinks.  Some but not all Frecciarossas have a restaurant car, though they all have a cafe car and all have free WiFi.  See the Frecciarossa information page for more details & a video guide.  The new Frecciarossa 1000 trains started entering service from June 2015 and now operate an increasing share of departures on this route, although some departures are still Frecciarossa 500.

A Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale

A Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale More information on Frecciarossas & explanation of the 4 classes.

Frecciarossa 1000 standard class   A Frecciarossa 1000 train at Milan Centrale

Standard class seats, 2+2 across width.  Larger photo.

 

Executive class, 1+1 across width.  Larger photo

Frecciarossa 1000 Business class seats   At-seat meal on Frecciarossa 1000

Business class seats 1+2 across car width, with tables for 2 and tables for 4 and complimentary prosecco. Larger photo.

 

In business class you can order a meal at your seat, around €18.  More information about Frecciarossas.

...or try the competition, NTV's Italo:   Italo information page   Watch the Italo video

Trenitalia now has competition.  A private company called NTV now runs Italo trains between Milan and Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, in competition with State-run operator Trenitalia.  On Italo there are 3 classes:  Smart (2nd class), Prima (1st class) & Club (premium 1st), all with Poltrona Frau leather seats and free WiFi.  For more information about Italo, see the Italo page and buy tickets at www.italotreno.it.

'Smart' (2nd class) seats on NTV's new Italo train   One of NTV's new Italo trains at Rome Tiburtina

Leather seats in Smart class (2nd class) on Italo.

 

An Italo train at Rome Tiburtina.  More information about Italo.

How much does it cost?

Add up the cost of the three tickets you need.  The cheap fares vary like air fares, so you'll need to go online to check actual prices for your date of travel.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar: 

 From £44 one-way, £58 return 2nd class.

 From £112 one-way, £168 return 1st class.  Child & youth fares 

 

 2. Paris to Milan or

     Turin by TGV: 

2nd class

1st class

 Advance-purchase one-way:

From £25.50 (€29)

From £38.50 (€44)

 Advance-purchase return:

From £51

From £77

 Full-price one-way fare:

£121

£153

 Full-price child fare:

£43

£56

 Railpass fare one-way:

£50

£66

 Domestic animals (see here):

£29

£29

Cheap fares = Prems or Leisure = Book ahead, price varies, limited places, no refunds, no changes.

Full-price fare = Refundable and flexible.  There are no senior or youth reductions.

Child fare = Child 4-11 years (use an adult special fare if cheaper). Children under 4 free.

Railpass fare:  What you pay with a railpass (Eurail, Interrail, etc). Normal tickets are often cheaper!!

Fares may vary, on certain dates 10-20% higher fares are charged.

Check actual prices for your date of travel at www.loco2.com or www.trainline.eu.

 3. Milan to other

      Italian cities...

One-way fares booked at www.loco2.com, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com

Super-economy fare = book in advance, price varies, no refunds, limited changes.  Base fare = full-price, refundable, flexible.

Milan to Venice:  Super-Economy fares from €9.90 in 2nd class, €29.90 in 1st class.

Milan to Florence:  Super-Economy fares from €19.90 standard class, €29.90 business class.

Milan to Rome:  Super-Economy fares from €29.90 in standard class, €39.90 business class.

Milan to Naples:  Super-Economy fares from €29.90 in standard class, €39.90  business class.

Check prices to other places at italiarail.com or trenitalia.com.

How to buy tickets online...

 

 
 

For hotels...

Try my two favourite hotel sites...

(1) www.booking.com allows you to book your accommodation before train bookings open, at no risk with free cancellation.

(2) hotelscombined.com has just been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013:

Option 1, buy online at www.loco2.com...

Option 2, book each train separately...

This involves three bookings on three websites, so takes more effort and isn't necessarily any cheaper than using Loco2.  But it gives you complete control, and some people may prefer paying directly in euros.

Step 1, book your Paris-Milan TGV... 

Step 2, now buy your Eurostar ticket from London to Paris.

Step 3, buy onward Italian train tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Holidays to Italy by train...

Take an escorted tour to Italy by train...

Back to top


Option 2:  By Thello sleeper train

  The Thello sleeper train from Paris to Venice
 

The Thello sleeper train to Italy...

Lunch in London, Venice next morning:  See the video

For most practical purposes, this doesn't take any longer than an afternoon of stressful airports & soulless flights plus a night in a hotel.  Take an afternoon Eurostar to Paris and the overnight Thello sleeper train from Paris to Milan, Verona or Venice, arriving next morning.  Thello is a subsidiary of Trenitalia (Italian Railways) which started a Paris-Venice sleeper train in 2011, replacing the Paris-Venice and Paris-Florence-Rome sleeper trains run by Artesia, a consortium of Trenitalia and SNCF (French Railways).  The Thello train uses the same elderly couchettes and sleeping-cars as Artesia but with improved on-board service, no bad thing as service quality on Artesia had declined to such an extent that I had stopped recommending them.  I have tried the new Thello service and it's a fun way to reach Italy if you have realistic expectations, see the Thello sleeper video and the Thello sleeper train page.  The TGV option above is a higher-quality choice, but the sleeper is more time-effective and I've always enjoyed watching the sun set over the rolling green hills and picturesque villages of the French countryside, then waking up in my sleeper or couchette to coffee and croissant and a classic Italian landscape of red-roofed houses and poplar trees.  This is the route marked in red on the route map above Read the Man in Seat 61's opinion of Thello here.

London ► Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples

Naples, Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona, Milan ► London

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page...

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier seats. Larger photo.

What's the Thello sleeper train like?  Watch the Thello video guide

See the Thello sleeper train page for photos and a description of each type of couchette & sleeper, and for more information about this train, including the restaurant.  You can have dinner with wine in the restaurant, then settle down for the night in your sleeping-berth...  Or bring your own food and wine and picnic in your compartment, which may be the better option!  850+ miles of travel and a bed for the night, city centre to city centre.  It's always been a great trip - the scenery is excellent south of Paris as the train speeds towards Italy, with leafy valleys, small French villages and picturesque churches.  During the night, the train passes through Switzerland and the Simplon Tunnel under the Alps, running in places at up to 100 mph.  The trains can arrive late, so allow for up to a 60 minute delay in your schedule at least.  Until December 2011, the sleeper trains to Italy were run by Artesia, a Trenitalia-led consortium of the French and Italian national railways formed to run the Paris-Italy trains, from December 2011 they are run by Thello, a partnership of Trenitalia and Veolia.  The Thello service uses similar equipment to Artesia but with better service quality, with new staff and catering.  Just make sure your expectations are realistic as this is not the best-run sleeper train in the world, read the Man in Seat 61's opinion here.

Refurbished sleeping-car on the Paris to Venice 'Thello' sleeper train   1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper, in evening mode, on the Paris-Venice Thello overnight train...   2-bed sleeper, night mode, on the Paris-Florence/Rome overnight train...

A sleeping-car on the Thello sleeper train to Venice boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  More Thello info here.

 

Sleeper with beds folded away, sofa out.  Larger photo360.

 

2-bed sleeper.  Larger photo360 degree photo

Thello couchette compartment   Boarding the Thello sleeper train at Paris.

4 or 6 berth couchette compartment.  Much more comfortable with just 4 people.  Larger photo360 degree photo.

 

A couchette car on the overnight Thello train from Paris to Venice.  More Thello info here.

At dinner in the restaurant car of the Paris-Venice Thello sleeper train.   A table on the thello sleeper train to Venice, laid out for dinner

The restaurant car on the Thello train.  More Thello info & photos here.  Or feel free to bring your own picnic and bottle of wine and eat in your compartment.

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar: 

 From £44 one-way, £58 return 2nd class.

 From £112 one-way, £168 return 1st class.  Child & youth fares 

 

 2. Paris to Milan, Verona or Venice

 by sleeper train, one-way per person:

 In a couchette

 In a sleeper

In a premium sleeper

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Smart fare (prices from)

€29

€47

€67

€87

€170

-

-

 Flexi fare (prices from)

€81

€108

€152

€180

€252

€208

€449

All fares are one-way per person per bed.  A round trip = two one-ways.

You get sole occupancy of a compartment if you book all the beds in it, for example 2 people in a 2-bed sleeper.

If you only book (say) 1 person in a 2-berth sleeper then you get 1 bed, the other bed may be sold to another passenger.

Fares are dynamic, they vary by season & demand.  Smart fares also rise in price as departure approaches.

Smart fare = advance-purchase fares, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Flexi fare = flexible fares, refundable until 24h before departure for €10 fee.

Children under 15 get approx 30% discount off the adult Smart or Flexi fare.

Children under 4 free if they share a bed, no ticket needed.  To give them their own bed, enter them as aged 5.

There are no youth or senior reductions.

3. Onward ticket from Milan to Florence, Rome or Naples by Frecciarossa... 

Milan to Bologna or Florence from €19.90 standard class, €29.90 business class.

Milan to Rome or Naples from €29.90 standard class, from €39.90 in business class.

Buy tickets online at www.loco2.com...

Or buy tickets online using www.eurostar.com + www.italiarail.com...

Buy tickets by phone:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

Watch the Thello video guide...

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Option 3:  Via Switzerland

London to Italy via the Swiss Alps...

The direct Paris-Milan TGVs described above are the fastest and cheapest option between Paris and Italy, and the route they take is scenic enough.  But you can also travel via Switzerland and the lovely Swiss Alps, travelling from Paris Gare de Lyon to either Geneva, Lausanne, Basel or Zurich by TGV-Lyria high-speed train in 3½-4½ hours from €25, then taking a bullet-nosed EuroCity train from any of these Swiss cities to Milan Centrale in 3½-4½ hours from €29.  Change at Mussolini's magnificent Milan Centrale for Venice, Florence, Rome or anywhere in Italy.  You can travel from London to Milan in a day this way, but I suggest breaking up the journey with a leisurely overnight stop in Geneva, Lausanne, Basel or Zurich.

Travelling via Switzerland can be a good option if you want more dramatic scenery, if you want to stop off in Switzerland on the way, if engineering work affects the direct Paris-Milan route, or simply if the timings suit you better.  It's also a good option if you want to reach Lake Como, as most Zurich-Milan trains call at Como San Giovanni station.  By all means go out one way and back another, most European trains apart from Eurostar are single-leg ticketed.

Which Swiss route should you take? 

The Paris-Lausanne-Milan and Paris-Geneva-Milan routes are almost as direct as the route taken by the Paris-Milan TGVs and the journey takes only a little longer with some superb scenery in both France & Switzerland, especially the last hour of the Paris-Geneva journey over the lovely Haut-Bugey Line via the Cize-Bolozon viaduct over the Ain gorge.  The line along Lake Leman & Lake Maggiore on the Geneva-Lausanne-Milan Simplon route is also lovely, past castles and vineyards.  In the snows of winter it's wonderful...

The Paris-Basel-Milan & Paris-Zurich-Milan routes take 2 to 3 hours more overall, but have some great scenery.  Until recently I'd have recommended the Paris-Zurich-Milan route marked in orange on the route map above as the most scenic mainline option of all, taking the wonderful Gotthard route through the Swiss Alps where the line spirals to gain height.  But from December 2016 the Zurich-Milan EuroCity trains were permanently re-routed through the new Gotthard Base Tunnel and the most wonderful scenic hour of that route is now 20 minutes in a tunnel.  A great shame, unless you are a Swiss businessman paid by the hour.

Until I can see for myself what's left to enjoy on the Gotthard route, if you want lovely Swiss Alpine scenery but still want get to Italy quickly, I'd suggest the Geneva route, either going London-Paris-Geneva-Milan in a day, or perhaps better, going London-Paris-Geneva on day 1, staying overnight, then going Geneva to Milan, Verona or Venice via the classic Simplon route in the morning of day 2.  Change in Milan for high-speed trains to Florence, Rome, Naples or anywhere else in Italy.

If it's ultimate Swiss Alpine scenery you're after, go for option 5, the fabulous narrow gauge Bernina Express, at least in one direction.  This is much slower than any of the standard gauge routes described here, Zurich to Milan on 3 trains in one amazing day instead of one train in 3½ hours - but it's worth it.

London ► Italy

Italy ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

Other ways to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

What's the journey like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page...

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier seats. Larger photo.

Paris to Geneva, Lausanne, Basel or Zurich by TGV-LyriaSee the TGV-Lyria page...

Most Paris-Zurich & Paris-Lausanne TGV-Lyrias are single deck TGV-POS trains like the one shown below, although a couple of Paris-Zurich TGV-Lyrias and some Paris-Geneva TGV-Lyrias are double-deck TGV Duplex as shown here.  The single-deck TGV-Lyrias feature interiors styled by designer Christian Lacroix, with 1st and 2nd class seats and a cafe-bar car selling drinks & snacks.  First class fares include a complimentary cold breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack according to time of day.  There are power points for mobiles & laptops at all seats.  Incidentally, SNCF's in-house designer has never forgiven Christian Lacroix for breaking the unwritten 'rule' and using warm funky oranges and purples in 2nd class, cooler greys and lime green in 1st class, but see what you think!  Lyria is a consortium of the French and Swiss national railways, see the TGV-Lyria page for more information.

TGV-Lyria at Paris Gare de Lyon   TGV bar car

A TGV-Lyria at Paris Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, you just walk up to it & get on.

 

The cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, hot & cold snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  Panorama photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  Panorama photo.

Geneva, Lausanne, Basel or Zurich to Milan by EuroCity train...

Since December 2015 all trains between Zurich & Milan have been operated by the latest (and very swish) bullet-nosed ETR610 trains, with air-conditioning, restaurant car and power sockets at all seats.  A pleasure to travel on.  See more photos & information about these ETR610 trains.

ETR610 EuroCity train to Milan at Zurich HB

A Swiss-owned ETR610 about to leave Zurich HB with a EuroCity train to Milan.  More information about ETR610 trains.

1st class table for two   1st class seats on an ETR610 train

2nd class seats, arranged 2+2 across car width.

 

1st class seats, 2+1 across car width.  Larger photo.

The restaurant car on an ETR610 EuroCity train   Meal on a Swiss EuroCity train between Switzerland & Milan

The restaurant car on an ETR610...

 

Lunch in the diner?

Pretty church & vineyards seen from a Zurich to Milan train   Pretty church & vineyards seen from a Zurich to Milan train

The Gotthard route:  The Zurich-Milan EuroCity trains take the Gotthard route through the Alps.  You'll pass through the World's longest rail tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the transit only takes 20 minutes.  You'll see plenty of mountains either side including great views of Lake Lugano (below).

The Simplon route:  Geneva-Lausanne-Milan trains take the Simplon route, via the famous Simplon Tunnel opened in 1906.  You'll see pretty Swiss villages & vineyards.  The Swiss keep their wine a closely-guarded secret and export very little, give it a try and you'll understand why they keep it to themselves.  Once in Italy, there's great views along Lake Maggiore.

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train on the Gotthard route.  On the Zurich-Milan Gotthard route you'll also pass the Zugersee & the Vierwaldstattersee in Switzerland, and if it's a train routed via Como, you'll glimpse Lake Como too.

Lake Maggiore, seen from a Milan to Basel train

Lake Maggiore...  The Geneva-Lausanne-Milan Simplon route runs alongside Lake Leman, and once in Italy it runs alongside Lake Maggiore, pictured above.  This photo was taken from the dining-car of the northbound 11:25 Milan to Basel over an excellent lunch of salmon tagliatelle & Swiss wine.  I left Milan at 11:25, changed at Basel onto the 16:34 TGV to Paris, caught the 21:13 Eurostar and was back in London at 22:36, reaching Aylesbury at 23:59.  No airports, no flights, and wonderful scenery!

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Option 4:  Via Munich

London to Italy via Munich & the scenic Brenner Pass...

You may prefer some German and Austrian efficiency on your way to Italy, as well as some great scenery, see the Brenner route video.  Travel London to Munich by Eurostar & TGV on day 1, stay overnight, then travel through the Brenner Pass to Italy on day 2.  It may look like a long way round on the route map above, but cheap fares and high-quality German and Austrian-run trains now make this an attractive option.

London ► Italy

Italy  ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

What's the Brenner scenery like?  See the Brenner Pass EuroCity page

Mountains on the Brenner route...

See the video: Through the Brenner Pass...

What are the trains like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page...

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Paris to Munich by 200mph TGV Duplex...  See the TGV Duplex video

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The TGV has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360º photo..

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Verona by EuroCity train:  See the Brenner Pass by EuroCity page...

EuroCity train about to leave Munich   Austrian first class seats

A EuroCity train about to leave Munich.  These EuroCity trains use classic Austrian cars like this.

 

First class leather seats.  On a few trains you'll find 6-seat compartments.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian restaurant car on a EuroCity train

Second class seats, mostly in 6-seat compartments with side-corridor like this, although some cars are open-plan...

 

The restaurant car.  Treat yourself to lunch, or just a beer, coffee or half bottle of wine...

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Option 5:  Via the Bernina Express

This is a much slower option than the others, but you can still leave London on day 1 afternoon, arriving Milan on day 2 in the afternoon, after a slow and fabulous journey on the narrow-gauge Bernina Express from Chur to Tirano through the Swiss Alps. 

See the Bernina Express page for details...

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Option 6: By VSOE

See the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express page...

This is the luxury option, from London to Verona or Venice aboard the fabulous Venice Simplon Orient Express.  It's not cheap, but yes, it's definitely worth it if you have the money - London to Venice costs around £2,365 per person one way including sleeper and excellent meals, wine extra.  The VSOE usually runs once weekly from March until October leaving London on Thursday mornings.  Passengers travel in restored 1920s or 1930s British Pullman cars from London to Folkestone with lunch, wine and champagne included in the fare.  At Folkestone, passengers are taken by coach to Calais via the Channel Tunnel.  Beautifully restored 1920s sleeping-cars then take passengers from Calais to Venice via Paris, the scenic Arlberg Pass, Innsbruck, the equally scenic Brenner Pass & Verona, arriving in Venice in the evening the day after leaving London.  For more details of the journey including departure dates, timetable, advice & photos, see the Venice Simplon Orient Express page.

LX-type sleeping-car of the Venice Simplon Orient Express train boarding at Calais

A sleeping-car attendant greets passengers outside his 1929-built LX-series Wagons-Lits. 

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London to Lake Como

Take the train to Lake Como...

Como is such a popular lakeside destination!  Como San Giovanni station is the mainline station on the Zurich-Milan main line, and it's also linked to Milan Centrale by frequent local train.  On the other hand, destinations on the eastern side of Lake Como, such as Lecco, Varenna (for the ferry to Bellagio), and Bellano are on a local line linking Milan Centrale with Tirano near the Swiss border.

To reach Como San Giovanni there are two basic options:

To reach Lecco, Varenna (for ferry to Bellagio), Bellano:

For Lake Como ferry services, including the ferries to Bellagio & excursions, see www.navigazionelaghi.it

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London to Lake Garda

London to Desenzano or Peschiera...

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London to Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Modena, Ravenna

  Local train from Florence to Siena

One of Trenitalia's modern Minuetto local trains used between Florence & Siena.

  Take the train to Italy!  The main piazza in Siena.

The beautiful main square in Siena.

Pisa is famous for its leaning tower, Siena for simply being a fabulous city in the heart of Tuscany.  They are easy to reach by train from London, no flight necessary...

London ► Siena, Pisa, Lucca

London ► Modena, Ravenna

Fares & how to buy tickets...

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London to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, & Elba

  Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Pompeii & Sorrento

The Circumvesuviana Railway links Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii & Sorrento every 30 minutes, see www.eavsrl.it.

  Circumvesuviana train arriving at Pompei Scavi station.

Up Pompeii!  The Circumvesuviana train from Naples arrives at Pompei Scavi Villa di Misteri.  The entrance to the ruins of Pompeii is just across the road, for visitor info see www.pompeiisites.org.

  The SNAV fast ferry from Naples, just arrived at Capri's Grande Marina

The ferry from Naples, arrived at Capri. For ferry information, see www.snav.it

Sorrento, Pompeii & Herculaneum...

Capri...

Ischia...

Elba...

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London to Salerno & the Amalfi coast...

  Amalfi

Amalfi, see from a bend in the winding Amalfi coast road.  SITA buses (www.sitabus.it) link Amalfi with both Salerno & Sorrento...

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London to Genoa, Cinque Terre & La Spezia

You can travel via Paris & either Milan or via Nice.  Both options are shown here, though the route via Nice is probably more scenic, possibly cheaper, and you won't have to get up as early!  You can also travel by daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop in either Milan, Turin, Paris or Zurich.

Option 1:  By Eurostar & TGV...

This is the cheapest, fastest and most comfortable option from London to Genoa.  The whole journey can be done in just one day.

London ► Genoa, Cinque Terre, La Spezia

La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Genoa ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

Option 2:  By Eurostar & Thello sleeper train, via Milan...

London ► Genoa, Cinque Terre, La Spezia

Genoa, Cinque Terre, La Spezia ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone or in person...

Option 3:  By Eurostar and TGV via Nice...

Train times London ► Genoa

Train times Genoa ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone or in person...

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London to Civitavecchia

Take the train not plane to your cruise ship at Civitavecchia...

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London to Rimini, S.Marino, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi

London ► Rimini, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Lecce (option 1, by Thello sleeper)

London ► Rimini, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Lecce (option 2, daytime travel + hotel)

How to reach San Marino...

On board the Frecciabianca train...

Frecciabianca trains are fully air-conditioned, with a refreshment trolley and sometimes cafe counter, but no restaurant car - feel free to take your own picnic and maybe bottle of wine along.  Seat reservation is compulsory on Frecciabianca trains, so everyone gets a seat.  All seats in both classes have power sockets for laptops & mobiles (2-pin, 220v).

Frecciabianca train to Venice, seen at Milan Centrale   2nd class seats on a Frecciabianca

A Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale.  Frecciabiancas link Milan with Rimini, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi & Lecce...

 

2nd class seat, most with a power socket for laptops or mobiles.  There's a small bar and a refreshment trolley.  Larger photo.

1st class seats on a Frecciabianca   Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale

1st class, more spacious.  All seats have power sockets and there's a complimentary coffee from the trolley.  Larger photo.

 

A Frecciabianca at Milan.  A strange train - two modern power cars sandwich former intercity carriages.  This shows the new colour scheme.

Lecce, Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, Rimini  ► London (option 1, by Thello sleeper)

Lecce, Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, Rimini  ► London (option 2, daytime travel + hotel)

How much does it cost?

Fares for the London-Milan part of the journey are shown in the London-Milan section above.

 Milan to Bari

 by train:

 Booked online at www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com:

 2nd class fares from €29.90 each way.

 1st class fares from €39.90 each way.

 Milan to Ancona

 by train:

 Booked online at www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com

 2nd class fares from €19.90 each way.

 1st class fares from €29.90 each way.

You can check these fares & fares for other journeys using www.trenitalia.com Advice for using trenitalia.com.

How to buy tickets online for the Thello sleeper option...

This takes 3 websites, so do a dry run on all three before booking for real.

How to buy tickets online, for the daytime TGV option...

How to buy tickets by phone or in person...

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London to Trieste

One of Italy's most historic and under-rated cities...

Along with Turin, I'd say Trieste is one of Italy's most under-rated cities, figuratively left out in the cold when it comes to the Venice, Florence, Rome tourist trek.  Which is a shame, as like Turin it's a wonderful city to visit with a significant history.

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London to Sicily

UK to Sicily by train?  No problem.  You can travel all the way by train, experiencing one of Europe's last train ferries where the train is physically shunted onto a ship for the short sea voyage across the Straits of Messina to Sicily, or you can use an overnight cruise ferry to Sicily from either Genoa or Naples.  Each of these three options is explained below.

  Palermo to Milan sleeper train being taken off the train ferry at Messina
 

Gently does it...  The Milan to Palermo sleeper express is taken off the ferry at Messina.  Yes, the trains to Sicily really are direct, and really do get shunted onto a ferry to cross the straits from Villa San Giovanni to Messina. Photo courtesy of David Smith.

Watch the video

Option 1, by train all the way...

This makes for a comfortable journey from the UK to Sicily, taking just 1 night, 2 days.  The journey shown here is the fastest option, but by all means take a bit longer, stop off on the way and spread out the journey.

London ► Catania, Palermo, Syracuse

Syracuse, Palermo, Catania ► London

What is the InterCity train like?...

These InterCity trains are composed of older carriages, but comfortable and fully air-conditioned with 1st & 2nd class in open-plan carriages, 2+2 across the car width in 2nd class, 2+1 in 1st class.  There's may be a refreshment trolley, but take your own picnic & wine.  Seat reservation is now compulsory on all InterCity trains. 1st class has power sockets for laptops, 2nd class usually doesn't.

This is the Rome-Sicily Intercity train on board the ferry for the voyage across the Straits of Messina.  You can leave your heavy luggage on the train while you go up on deck for some sea air and a cappuccino...  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

InterCity train, 2nd class   InterCity train, 1st class

2nd class on the Rome-Sicily Intercity.  Larger photo.

 

1st class on the Rome-Sicily Intercity.  Larger photo.

What is the Rome to Sicily sleeper train like?

Standard sleeping-car on Italian overnight train   1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper, in evening mode, on the Paris-Venice Thello overnight train...  

2-bed sleeper, night mode, on the Paris-Florence/Rome overnight train...

Standard Italian sleeper on overnight train.  It has 12 compartments, each of which can be used as 1st class Single, 1st class Double or 2nd class 3-berth.

 

Sleeper in day mode, beds folded away, washstand closed.  Larger photo

 

Sleeper set up as 1st class 2-berth (double or doppio).  Larger photo

Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette, in evening/morning mode.   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette

A Comfort couchette car.  The economical choice, ideal for families.  Each car has nine 4-berth compartments.

 

A 4-berth Comfort couchette compartment looking through the door from the corridor.  It converts to seats by day.

Through Southern Italy & across on the train ferry to Sicily...

If you stop off in Rome, you can also take a time-effective sleeper train from Rome to Sicily.  Taking the overnight train to Sicily is quite an adventure...

A sleeper train to Sicily at a wayside Italian station   Train to Sicily boards the ferry   Sleeper train to Sicily on board the train ferry

En route to Sicily by sleeper train, at a sunny, sleepy southern-Italian station.  Photo courtesy of Edward Roland

 

At Villa san Giovanni, the train is shunted onto a train ferry for the crossing to Messina.  This is a sleeper train on board the ferry.  Photos courtesy of Edward Roland

Mount Etna, seen from a Siracuse & Catania to Rome InterCity train   Rome to Sicily InterCity train inside the train ferry   Train ferry from Sicily appraches the dock

Mount Etna, seen from a Siracuse/Catania to Rome InterCity train.  Photo courtesy of Richard Millbank.

 

The InterCity train from Sicily to Rome inside the train ferry.

 

With bow door raised, the train ferry approaches the linkspan at Villa San Giovanni.  Photos courtesy Richard Millbank

Watch the videoThe Rome-Sicily train boards the train ferry...

Travellers' reports...

Traveller Andrew Clayton reports:  "We took the daytime InterCity train from Naples to Siracuse, having first loaded up with essential supplies (water, bread, cheese, wine etc.) as there is no catering on the train.  Rather than buy at Naples Centrale where there's only limited food shopping, we went out of the station and found nearby shops that sold all we needed – at much lower prices.  There was attractive scenery - sea and mountains - almost all the way to Villa San Giovanni where the train is loaded onto the ferry to Sicily in two sections.  We were in the last coach and discovered that, if you went to the end, you could look through a glass door to see the coaches go onto the ferry and be tied down. It is safe to leave large luggage on the train during the crossing when most people go up on deck."

Traveller Kathryn Vale reports:  "Our train trip to Palermo was a success: London to Paris by Eurostar, TGV to Toulon then local train to Monte Carlo (all stops to visit family!).  Then Ventimiglia-Genoa and Genoa-Palermo all for €68 including 4 bed 'couchette promiscuo' with juice and newspaper on waking (although no food to buy on board) AND the amazing train on the boat to Messina. We had blue sea on our right shoulder from daybreak in the couchette and all round the coast and some lovely interior trips within Sicily by train too.  The trains were great, the time keeping fine (except the Genoa train which was 40 minutes late, but we caught up on the next day), the staff were helpful - even with not much English/Italian between us!"

Traveller Steve Hutchinson reports:  “We picked up the Rome to Sicily sleeper after having arrived in Rome earlier that morning on the DB sleeper from Munich, enabling an interesting comparison between overnight trains! We had a T3 3-berth sleeper on the Sicily train, which was very comfortable with ample room for our luggage. Despite it being around 30c on departure at 2120 the air conditioning was working quite well, so a comfortable night’s sleep was assured. We woke in the morning as the train was running along the Calabrian coast with amazing views of mountains in the distance. The train then arrived at Villa San Giovanni around 06:00 where it was shunted onto the train ferry. It was effectively split into two portions to fit on the boat. The crossing took about half an hour. We all got off the train and went to the upper deck of the ship to see the views of Sicily on the approach and to get some coffee, which was very welcome! After arriving at Messina the two portions of the train – one for Palermo, the other for Catania and Siracuse - were hauled into the station. This gave the opportunity for anyone who’d got on the wrong portion in the hold of the ferry to change over! There were excellent views of Mount Etna as the Siracuse portion ran along the east coast of the island. The whole journey was amazing; you felt you’d actually travelled and arrived, rather than being delivered in a sterile aircraft. On the return a week later we boarded the sleeper train at Siracuse after an excellent meal at a restaurant round the corner from the station. Arrival at Rome was the following morning around 10:00, after a good night’s sleep”

Traveller Edward Rolands reports:  "We took the overnight train train to Sicily, booking a 4 berth “comfort” couchette. Booking in advance at www.trenitalia.com meant it only cost €34.  It had a lot more space than the 6 berth variety and the air conditioning was functioning a lot more effectively too making for a much better nights sleep. We woke up in the morning as the train was pacing along the Calabrian coast with some lovely views of mountains in the distance and cliffs dropping in to the sea. The train then arrives at Villa San Giovanni where it’s shunted on to the ferry, a process which takes about half an hour.  You may be shunted on to the ferry, then shunted off again, then shunted back on again, as the train is broken up so that it fits!  The crossing takes about half an hour and you can get off and go on deck to enjoy the view - and get some basic refreshments.  On arrival at Messina it takes about half an hour to reconstruct the train which will now be in two bits, one for Palermo, one for Catania & Syracuse. Our Siracuse section was shunted into the platform at Messina Centrale first, 5 minutes before its departure time.  However it was held there until the other section was reconstructed and shunted in to another platform, so we ended up leaving over 20 minutes late.  The final section along the Eastern coast of Sicily has some great views of the mountains in the distance and of course Mt Etna. The train arrived at Taormina only 15 minutes late - the staff seemed keen to make up more time as it didn’t hang around before carrying on it’s journey South.  Overall the journey was brilliant and much better than any flight!"

How much does it cost?

See the London to Rome & Naples section above for fares from London to Rome and Naples.

 Fare from

 Naples to Sicily...

 Naples to Palermo, booked at www.trenitalia.com:

 2nd class fares from €19.90 each way.

 1st class fares from €29.90 each way.

How to buy tickets online...

  • Step 1, book from London to Milan on day 1 at www.loco2.com and add this to your basket.  Booking usually opens 120 days ahead, and you'll get print-at-home or collect-at-station tickets for both the Eurostar and the TGV.  If you want a longer stopover in Paris, perhaps for lunch, simply click More options, enter Paris and enter however many hours you want.

  • Step 2, still on www.loco2.com, now book from Milan Centrale to Messina, Palermo, Catania or Siracuse for day 2.  I recommend using the specific station name 'Milan Centrale' here rather than 'Milan (any station').  Loco2 now connects directly to Trenitalia's ticketing system so sells all of Trenitalia's cheap economy & super-economy fare and you'll get a print-at-home ticket (in fact it's ticketless, you just need to quote the booking reference on board the train).  Add to basket and check out.

  • Alternatively, you can book the Eurostar at www.eurostar.com and the Paris-Milan TGV separately at www.trainline.eu, making sure you allow at least 60 minutes to cross Paris between trains southbound, 90 minutes northbound (as this must include the 30 minute Eurostar check-in).  Both sites give print-at-home tickets and accept all international credit cards.  You can then book your onward trains from Milan to Sicily at either www.italiarail.com (they'll refund the small booking fee to seat61 users if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways' own site www.trenitalia.com, looking for cheap super-economy or economy fares.  Both sites sell the same tickets at the same prices and both usually offer ticketless travel, you simply quote your PNR on board the train.  However, Italiarail.com is in plain English and happily accepts English place names, whereas Trenitalia.com requires Italian-language place names, for example 'Roma' for Rome, 'Napoli' for Naples, 'Firenze' for Florence, 'Venezia Santa Lucia' for Venice and has a few quirks, although one advantage is that it allows you to select specific seats.

How to buy tickets by phone or in person...

  • To buy tickets by phone for all these trains, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3 (UK callers), lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  Unlike some other agencies, International Rail are equipped with both the French and Italian rail ticketing systems, so can sell the cheapest fares for all the trains from the UK to Italy and within Italy.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  Eurostar, TGV & Trenitalia tickets will be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.  For more information about how to buy European train tickets, click here.

Option 2, by cruise ferry from Genoa.

London ► Sicily

This takes 2 nights from London to Palermo, not 1, but it's a more leisurely option with a cruise thrown in.

  • Leave London by Eurostar at 16:31, change in Paris onto the overnight Intercités de Nuit couchette train to Nice, and take a connecting train to Genoa, arriving lunchtime.  See the London to Genoa section for full details, and information on how to buy tickets.

  • Sail from Genoa to Palermo on Sicily on the daily Grandi Navi Veloci cruise ferry, leaving Genoa at 22:00 and arriving Palermo around 18:00 next day.  A range of comfortable cabins, bars & restaurants are available.  Book the ferry online at www.gnv.it.

  • One traveller reports the ferry as "Superb, like a cruise ship with cars.  We booked a cabin with a double bed in the prow of the ship, breakfast served in our cabin, swimming pool in the day, a very civilised way to travel!"

Sicily ► London

  • In the return direction, the ferry leaves Palermo at 22:00 and arrives Genoa at 18:00.  This is too late for the train to Nice/Paris/London, so an overnight stop may be required, continuing the next day.  Or take an evening train to Milan, stay there, and take a daytime Milan-Paris-London service, see above.

Option 3, by overnight ferry from Naples...

London ► Sicily ► London

  • You can also travel from London to Naples by train, then take an overnight cruise ferry from Naples to Palermo.  Two companies run daily ferries with comfortable cabins with en suite showers, sailing around 20:00 and arriving around 07:00, in both directions.  See www.tirrenia.it & www.snav.it for times, dates, fares & online booking.

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London to Sardinia

  A Tirrenia Line ferry arrives in Sardinia

A Tirrenia Line ship arrives in Sardinia...

London to Sardinia by train & ferry...

How to buy tickets...

Train service on Sardinia...

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London to Italy via Harwich-Hoek

  Boarding the Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland

London to Holland by Dutch Flyer train & ferry...  A train takes you from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight superferry to Hoek van Holland.  The Stena Hollandica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  See the Netherlands page for details and see the video...

  Standard inside cabin on the ferry

Cosy cabins:  The overnight Harwich-Hoek ferry is a floating hotel.  All passengers travel in a cosy private cabin with en suite shower & toilet & satellite TV. This is the cheapest 2-berth cabin...

  Captain's suite deluxe cabin on the Stena Line ferry 'Stena Hollandica'

... and this is a Captain's Class cabin with double bed & complimentary bubbly in the minibar.

  ICE train to Switzerland at Frankfurt hauptbahnhof

Onwards to Switzerland by ICE high-speed train:  This is a superb 186 mph German ICE train at Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof.

2nd class seats on the ICE.  A bistro car serves meals on proper china.   Stay overnight in Switzerland, then on to Italy by EuroCity train...

By ferry instead of Eurostar?

If you want to avoid the Channel Tunnel, for example if problems are affecting the Eurostar service or if you suffer from claustrophobia, you can travel by train & ferry instead.  At first glance, the obvious route seems to be by train from London to Dover, then the short 90 minute ferry crossing to Calais, then by train to Paris, and if you want to do it this way, see the London to Paris by train & ferry page.  Once in Paris you can pick up any of the routes to Italy shown above.  But although this is the direct and traditional route, I don't recommend it unless you live near Dover as it's now inconvenient, lacking integrated ticketing or timetabling with awkward bus or taxi transfers between stations & ferry terminals on both sides of the Channel.  It now takes so long that you cannot reliably connect with the sleeper train from Paris to Italy the same day, so need to stop overnight in Paris and travel on next day.

Recommended route:  Harwich - Hoek van Holland...

Instead I suggest what at first seems a roundabout alternative, marked in black on the route map above, via the excellent overnight superferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland - see the video.  This route offers cheap combined train+ferry tickets from London to Amsterdam with totally painless train-ferry transfers on both sides of the water, then inexpensive onward tickets to Italy.  It's handy if you live in East Anglia as you can travel direct to Harwich without going through London, and it avoids France and Belgium if the French or Belgians are on strike again.  Indeed, you may simply prefer a convenient evening departure from central London, cruising overnight to Holland in a private cabin with shower, toilet and satellite TV on the luxurious Stena Line superferry, spending some time at leisure in Amsterdam, then taking a train to Cologne and the excellent Nightjet sleeper overnight to Innsbruck followed by a scenic onward train ride through the Brenner Pass to Italy.  It's both civilised and comfortable.  Here's how to do it:

London, East Anglia, Harwich  ► Italy

Italy ► Harwich, East Anglia, London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

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Scotland & the North to Italy

  DFDS Seaways ferry 'Princess of Norway' about to sail from Newcastle.

DFDS Seaways Princess Seaways about to sail overnight from Newcastle to Amsterdam...

  A Commodore Deluxe cabin on DFDS Seaways

A Commodore deluxe cabin on DFDS ferry King Seaways from Newcastle to Amsterdam, with minibar, satellite TV, shower & toilet.  See the video...

  A standard cabin on DFDS Seaways Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry.

A standard Seaways Class cabin with shower & toilet on DFDS Princess of Norway from Newcastle to Amsterdam.

You can take a train up to London and travel from London to Italy as described above, of course, and this is often the easiest and fastest option.  If you want to do this, read this advice on buying connecting train tickets up to London.  But DFDS Seaways run an excellent daily overnight cruise ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, and P&O Ferries sail overnight from Hull to Holland.  Then there's a Nightjet sleeper from Cologne to Innsbruck for onward EuroCity trains through the scenic Brenner Pass to Italy.  So why not by-pass London, and have a day in Amsterdam into the bargain before travelling on to Italy?

Scotland & the north of England ► Italy

Italy ► Scotland & the north of England

Fares & how to buy tickets...

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The Train Bleu restaurant

  Train Bleu restaurant sign

If you've time for lunch or dinner at Paris Gare de Lyon...

...or at the Gare du Nord, try the Brasserie Terminus Nord...


Holidays & tours to Italy by train

Custom-made tours, holidays & short breaks...

The following companies can arrange a short break, tour or longer holiday to your own specification, either within Italy or from the UK to Italy by train, leaving on any date you like.  As you're effectively booking a package, not travelling independently, another advantage is that they'll look after you if anything goes wrong, for example a strike or major delay...

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1-855-882-2910 (Canada)

1300 971 526 (Aust)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

Railbookers tours, holidays & breaks to Italy by train...

Railbookers are an experienced train travel specialist who custom-make tours, holidays or short breaks to travellers' own specification, with train travel, transfers & hotels all arranged.  If you tell them what you want, they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels and sort it all out for you.

Their most popular trips include UK to Venice via the Alps, UK to Lake Como via the Alps, UK to Florence via the Alps, UK to Rome via the Alps, UK to Amalfi Coast via the Alps, all of which are customisable to add extra nights or extra cities, with train travel on the outward or return journey, or by train throughout with no flying necessary, it's up to you.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk.

  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au.

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

Escorted tours...

If you prefer to travel with a group of like-minded fellow travellers with a professional tour guide taking care of you, the following companies organise tours by train from the UK to Italy and other European countries, with regular departure dates throughout the year...

 

01904 527 120

  Raildiscoveries

01904 730727

Great Rail Journeys, www.greatrail.com, 01904 527 120...

GRJ is the established market leader in escorted tours to Europe by train.  They offer five-star inclusive escorted tours to Italy, with 1st class train travel and 4* or 5* hotels.  Tours include a 14-day Grand Tour of Italy to Florence, Venice & Rome, a tour to the Bay of Naples, Capri & Amalfi, and to Lake Garda, all with travel from London to Italy and back by train.  Great Rail Journeys also offer holidays by train to other European countries.  Check the tour details & prices online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form.

Rail Discoveries, www.raildiscoveries.com, 01904 730 727...

Rail Discoveries is a sister company of Great Rail Journeys, offering similar train-based escorted tours to Italy, but with 2* or 3* hotels and travel by Eurostar and high-speed TGV in 2nd class.  For example, they offer a 9-day tour to  Florence, Venice and Tuscany  or an 8 day tour to Lake Garda.  Check details & prices at www.raildiscoveries.com and book online or call 01904 730 727.

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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Guidebooks

Highly recommended:  The Lonely Planets & Rough Guides...

If you have a decent guidebook you'll see so much more and know so much more about what you're looking at.  It's a sound investment when you remember what you're spending on the whole trip!  I think the Lonely Planets or Rough Guides are the best ones out there for the independent traveller.  My own book is an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61".  Published in June 2008 and revised April 2010, it's available from Amazon.co.uk with shipping worldwide.

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

Buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Venice - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Florence - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Rome - click to buy online

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Find hotels in Italy...

Search all the booking sites at once with Hotelscombined.com...

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

AirBnB:  www.airbnb.com...

www.airbnb.com began in 2008 when two designers who had space to share hosted three travellers looking for a place to stay.  AirBnB is a platform which connects hosts with guests, so you can now book a room in people's homes, or an apartment, flat or house which people want to rent out.  It can be nicer than a hostel, cheaper than many hotels.

Budget backpacker hostels:  www.hostelworld.com...

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Car hire

Compare 50 different car hire companies:  www.carrentals.co.uk

The award-winning website www.carrentals.co.uk compares many different car hire companies including Holiday Autos, meaning not only a cheapest price comparison but a wider choice of hire and drop off location.

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Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from ww.nhs.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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