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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 Turin, Milan, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples

  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

  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) (advice on using it).  NTV Italo:

 Buy Italian train tickets: 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  Paris métro:  Circumvesuviana Railway (Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento):  Bus & metro: Rome  Milan.  Venice waterbuses:



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:





£1 = approx 1.11 euros  Check current exchange rates

 Tourist information:     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:

7 November 2018. Train times valid 10 June to 8 December 2018.

London to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples



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...



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.



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 wide choice of routes from the UK to Italy by train, some fast and 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 Turin or Milan...  

  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 late evening, stay overnight and take a high-speed train to Florence, Venice, Rome or Naples the 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 can get into London early enough for the 05:40 Mondays-Fridays departure, it's possible to travel from London to Florence, Venice, Rome or even Naples in one day. 

This route is usually the most inexpensive way to reach Italy by train, with Paris-Milan fares from just £25.50 (€29) each way.  It's also 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 the Swiss Alps 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 with lots to see, well worth a stopover.  Indeed, 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...

 London ► Italy

 Eurostar (30 min check-in):

Mondays to Fridays



 London St Pancras depart:










 Paris Gare du Nord arrive:










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

 Paris Gare de Lyon depart:










 Turin Porta Susa arrive:










 Milan Porta Garibaldi arrive:










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

Always check times for your specific date at or, as times can vary. 

IMPORTANT:  The 10:41 will leave an hour earlier, at 09:41, from 15 July to 9 September, too early for any connection from London.

IMPORTANT:  The 05:40 London to Paris Eurostar will not run from 29 July to 1 September 2018.

*  Following day, overnight hotel in Paris necessary.  Southbound, why not book an earlier Eurostar and have dinner in Paris?  Northbound, why not book a later Eurostar and have a leisurely breakfast in Paris?

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

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

 Italy ► London


Mondays to Fridays



 Milan Porta Garibaldi depart:










 Turin Porta Susa depart:










 Paris Gare de Lyon arrive:










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

 Paris Gare du Nord depart:










 London St Pancras arrive:










Southbound journeys in detail...

London  ► Italy, leaving 05:40 on Mondays-Fridays (not 29 July to 1 September)

If you can get into central London early enough, remembering Eurostar's 30 minute check-in, it's possible to travel from London to Florence, Venice, Verona, Rome or even Naples in a single day, at least on Mondays-Fridays.  Remember that you can also join the weekday 05:40 Eurostar to Paris at Ebbsfleet or Ashford.

London ► Italy, leaving 09:22 every day...

This service has a convenient mid-morning departure from London, and you can reach Turin or Milan in the evening the same day.  You'll need to stay overnight in either Turin or Milan then travel on to Florence, Venice, Rome or Naples next day.  Personally, I'd stay overnight in Turin as it's only 5h37 from Paris so you get more time for dinner there, and it's a wonderful & under-rated city even if you're not a fan of the 1969 Michael Caine film The Italian Job.  Why not build in some time next morning to have a wander around?  On the other hand, if you stay on the TGV all the way to Milan and overnight there, it's a shorter onward journey to Florence or Rome or Venice next day, so you'd arrive at your final destination a bit earlier.  It's your call!

London ► Italy leaving 20:01, overnight in Paris, then 06:29 or 10:41 TGV to Italy...

This service is useful if you need an evening departure from London, after the end of the business day.  You stop overnight in a hotel in Paris, then take a morning TGV to Turin or Milan with arrival in the early afternoon, change in Turin or Milan for onward trains to Venice, Florence or Rome that same day.

Northbound journeys in detail...

Italy ► London, by daily 06:00 TGV from Milan or 07:39 TGV from Turin...

Italy ► London, by daily 08:45 TGV from Milan or 10:15 TGV from Turin...

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

This service is useful if you need to be back in London in time for the start of the business day.

What 's the journey like?

London to Paris by Eurostar from £44 one-way or £58 return.  See the Eurostar guide

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 Turin or Milan by TGV from €29...

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.

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

Departure from Paris Gare de Lyon...   The train to Italy leaves 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? 

TGV bar car   TGV from Milan to Paris

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


The 14:41 TGV to Milan at the Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, just be on board at departure time...

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 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

TGV from Paris at Turin Porta Susa   Turin Porta Susa station

The train calls at Turin Porta Susa.  Photos courtesy of

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.

Frecciarossa 1000 standard class   A Frecciarossa 1000 train at Milan Centrale

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


Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale.  More about Frecciarossas

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

'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:



 Full-price child fare:



 Railpass fare one-way:



 Domestic animals (see here):



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 or

 3. Milan to other

      Italian cities...

One-way fares booked at or

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 or

How to buy tickets online...



For hotels...

Try my two favourite hotel sites...

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

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

Option 1, buy online at

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:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

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, Italy next morning...   See the Thello 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 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

For Eurostar information, see the Eurostar page...

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 Venice or Verona

 by sleeper train, per person:

 In a couchette

 In a sleeper






 Smart fare






 Go fare






 Flexi fare






 Imminente fare






 Child under 15, Flexi fare*






 Child under 15, Imminente fare*






 Children under 4 sharing a berth

Children under 4 free, no ticket necessary

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper, 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper, 4 tickets in 4-berth couchettes and so on.

All fares are one-way.  Round trip = two one-way fares.

* An adult Smart or Go fare is usually cheaper if booking in advance.

Smart & Go fares = limited availability, limited or no refunds or changes, valid for adult or child.

Flexi fare = 90% refundable up to 24h before departure.  There are no senior or youth reductions.

Imminente fare = applies within 24 hours of departure. + €15 fee if bought on board the train on the day.

The same prices apply whether you're going to Verona or Venice.  To Milan, slightly cheaper Go & Flexi fares apply.

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

Or buy tickets online using +

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

Watch the Thello video guide...

Back to top

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 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 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:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

What's the journey like?

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

Paris to Geneva, Lausanne, Basel or Zurich by TGV-LyriaMore info on TGV-Lyria...

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 trains.

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 Zurich-Milan EuroCity trains take the Gotthard route through the Swiss Alps.  Geneva-Lausanne-Milan trains take the Simplon route.  You'll see lots of 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...

Lake Maggiore, seen from a Milan to Basel train   Lunch in the Swiss-run restaurant car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel

You'll pass a lake or two...  The Zurich-Milan route passes the Zugersee, the Vierwaldstattersee and Lake Lugano, all in Switzerland.  The Geneva-Milan route runs along Lake Leman, and both Geneva-Milan and Basel-Bern-Milan routes pass Lake Maggiore in Italy.  This is Lake Maggiore, seen from the dining-car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel over an excellent lunch of salmon tagliatelle & excellent (but expensive!) Swiss red wine.  Incidentally, on this particular occasion I left Milan at 11:25, changed in Basel onto the 16:34 TGV to Paris, caught the 21:13 Eurostar and was back in central London at 22:36, reaching Aylesbury Vale Parkway at 23:59.  No airports, no flights, and wonderful scenery!

2nd class seats on an ETR610 EuroCity train to Italy   ETR610 EuroCity train from Switzerland at Milan Centrale

2nd class seats on an ETR610, all with power sockets.  See panorama photo.


Buongiorno Milano!  When the EuroCity from Zurich reaches Milano Centrale, you've reached Italy with no airports & no flights...

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Option 4:  Via Munich

London to Italy on quality trains 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...

Video: Through the Brenner Pass...

What are the trains like?

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

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   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

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...


2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

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

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.


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

Munich to Verona by EuroCity train:  See the Austrian 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

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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

  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

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

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

Sorrento, Pompeii & Herculaneum...




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London to Salerno & the Amalfi coast...


Amalfi, see from a bend in the winding Amalfi coast road.  SITA buses ( 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).

Eurostar City train from Bologna to Bari, seen at Bologna.   Eurostar City 1st class seats   Eurostar City 2nd class seats

The Milan to Bari Frecciabianca train runs along the seaside for much of the way...


This is 1st class, less crowded and more spacious.


...and this is 2nd class. 

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 or

 2nd class fares from €29.90 each way.

 1st class fares from €39.90 each way.

 Milan to Ancona

 by train:

 Booked online at or

 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 Advice for using

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 an Italian InterCity train like?...

InterCity trains are fully air-conditioned, with 1st & 2nd class & often a refreshment trolley. Seat reservation is now compulsory on all InterCity trains. 1st class has power sockets for laptops, 2nd class usually doesn't.

An air-conditioned InterCity train in Italy...   A second class compartment on an Italian InterCity train.   A first class compartment on an Italian InterCity train.

Italian InterCity train, as operated between Rome, Naples & Sicily...


2nd class 6-seat compartment.  Some cars have open-plan seating.


1st class open-plan seating.  Some cars have 6-seat compartments.

What is the Rome to Sicily sleeper train like?

Standard sleeping-car on Italian overnight train   1- 2- or 3- berth sleeper on Italian overnight train - daytime mode  

First class single sleeper

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 evening/ morning mode, with beds folded away.


Sleeper in night-time mode, set up as a 2-berth.

There are also 4-berth Comfort couchettes, see the photos here.

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 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

 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 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, 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 and the Paris-Milan TGV separately at, 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 (they'll refund the small booking fee to seat61 users if you email them at with your PNR) or Italian Railways' own site, 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, is in plain English and happily accepts English place names, whereas 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

  • 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 & 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?  I don't recommend Dover-Calais...

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.  If you want to do this, see the London to Paris by train & ferry page, and 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 do not recommend it unless you happen to live near Dover, as it is now very inconvenient, lacking any integrated ticketing or timetabling and involving awkward bus or taxi transfers between stations and 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 of Norway about to sail overnight from Newcastle to Amsterdam...

  A Commodore Deluxe cabin on DFDS Seaways

A Commodore deluxe cabin on DFDS ferry King of Scandinavia 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.  Italy is one of their most popular destinations, and they get a lot of repeat business!

  UK call 020 3327 0761,

  US call free 1-888-829-4775,

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910,

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526,

  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


01904 730727

Great Rail Journeys,, 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,, 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 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 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 or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from

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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 with shipping worldwide.

Click the images to buy at

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


Favourite hotel search & price comparison: 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: 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.

Budget backpacker hostels:

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Car hire

Take the train to Italy, then hire a car:

Italian city centres and cars don't mix, so stick with the train to see the cities.  But if you want to get out of the cities and into the countryside, for example Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast, then hiring a car can be a great idea.  Start with Holiday Autos,, they're part of so are reliable and have a wide range of locations and very good prices.

Compare 50 different car hire companies:

The award-winning website 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 to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 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  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 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.


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