The best trains in Italy:  A Eurostar Italia ETR500 power car

To buy train tickets from Florence to other Italian cities, use www.italiarail.com or Italian Railways' own website www.trenitalia.com.

bullet pointI want to go from Florence to...

      

      Click here for journeys starting in another city

      See COVID-19 information & update

      See Florence SMN station information

This page explains how to travel by train from Florence to other cities all over Europe, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Train information is current for 2021.

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...

Which station in Florence?  See map...

The main station in the city centre is Firenze Santa Maria Novella, usually abbreviated to SMN.  It's a terminus, with easy level access between street, concourse and all platforms so no problem with luggage. To save reversing in the SMN terminus, some trains by-pass Florence SMN calling at Firenze Campo di Marte which is a taxi ride away, just on the edge of the city centre.  In the text below Florence means Firenze SMN unless it says otherwise.  A third station, Firenze Rifredi, is also not as central as SMN.  See map of Florence showing stationsSee Florence Santa Maria Novella station information.


Florence to other Italian towns & cities from €9.90, www.italiarail.com...
  • Most trains in Italy are operated by Trenitalia, the trading name for Italian State Railways.  Tickets for all Trenitalia long-distance trains come with a seat reservation automatically included, so yes, in theory trains can sell out although although there are so many trains & seats it's easy to buy tickets at the station on the day if you like, the real issue is price.

    Trenitalia has airline-style variable pricing, so tickets are significantly cheaper booked in advance with a cheap Economy or Super-Economy advance-purchase fare, specified train only, limited or no refunds or changes to travel plans.  If you buy on the day the Base fare applies, which is flexible and can be changed to another departure up to 60 minutes after the departure of the train you originally booked.  So pre-book if you can.

    Local, suburban and regional trains don't require reservations and have one fixed price called Ordinaria which you can pay at the station on the day and just hop on the next train, remembering to validate the ticket.  There is no need to pre-book regional trains and no advantage in doing so other than saving a few minutes at the station.

Florence to Rome, Naples, Milan, Turin & Venice...
  • Nobody flies any more...

    Florence to Rome takes as little as 1h32 by hourly Frecciargento or Frecciarossa high-speed train, city centre to city centre with zero check-in and a departure once or twice an hour.  Florence to Venice takes just 2h05, again with trains once or twice an hour.  Florence to Naples takes as little as 2h29.

  • A choice of operator...

    On the premier Naples-Rome-Florence-Milan-Turin & Rome-Florence-Venice routes you have a choice of operator:  State-owned Trenitalia or privately-owned Italo.  Both are excellent, indeed red-hot competition has driven quality up & fares down, see my advice on which operator to take.

    Trenitalia uses Frecciarossa 500s & Frecciarossa 1000s on the Naples-Rome-Florence-Milan-Turin route and a mixture of Frecciargento, Frecciarossa 500 & Frecciarossa 1000 on the Rome-Florence-Venice route.  Italo operates a train every hour or so, using its original AGV trains on the Naples-Rome-Florence-Milan-Turin route and mostly its new EVO trains on the Naples-Rome-Florence-Venice route, see the Italo page for more details.  I can recommend all of these trains!

    Both operators use Florence's main station, Firenze Santa Maria Novella = Florence SMN.

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Rome or Venice starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Florence to Naples starts at €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.

    Prices vary like air fares, so book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Super-economy & Economy = advance-purchase fares with limited or no refunds or changes to travel plans. 

    Base = what you pay at the station on the day, refundable, changeable up to an hour after departure. 

    All tickets are for a specific train and come with a reserved seat.  But there are almost always places available on the day, if you're happy paying the most expensive Base fare.  These are Trenitalia's fare types, but it's a similar story on Italo.

Florence to Pisa...
  • Regional trains link Florence SMN with Pisa, one Regional Veloce (Regional Express) every hour taking between 49 & 60 minutes then at least one regular Regionale every hour taking between 1h11 & 1h21.  The fare is around €8.70 each way.

  • No reservation is necessary or even possible, tickets for regional trains have a fixed price and unlimited availability so you can turn up, buy a ticket & hop on the next train.  All these regional trains are 2nd class only, they have toilets and plenty of room for luggage, most are now modern and air-conditioned.

  • Tip:  Visiting the Leaning Tower?  Pisa Centrale is 25 minutes walk from the famous Leaning Tower, but some trains go beyond Pisa Centrale to Pisa San Rossore which is 12 minutes walk from the Leaning Tower, see advice for visiting the leaning tower of Pisa.

  • Check train times at www.raileurope.com, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com, but you can just buy regional train tickets at the station from the staffed ticket office or from the self-service machines, there is no advantage in buying in advance other than saving time at the station.

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train at the station they give you an open ticket, so you need to validate it before you board the train in the little green validator machines, see the photo here.  Once validated, tickets are good for any train in the next 4 hours. 

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train online it comes pre-validated for 4 hours starting from the time of the train you buy it for, no changes, no refunds - so if you miss that train, or change your mind and want a later one, you can simply hop on any train leaving up to 4 hours after the train you originally selected.

Florence to Siena...
  • Regional trains link Florence SMN with Siena every hour, journey time 1h28, fare around €9.50 each way.

  • No reservation is necessary or even possible, tickets for regional trains have a fixed price and unlimited availability so you can turn up, buy a ticket & hop on the next train.  All these regional trains are 2nd class only, they have toilets and plenty of room for luggage, most are now modern and air-conditioned.

  • In Siena, the station is at the foot of the hill and it used to be a steep trek up to the old town.  However, there's now a series of modern escalators and moving walkways that ferry you almost painlessly to the top of the hill, from where it's just a minute or two's walk to the Porta Camollia at the entrance to the old town.  From the Porta Camollia it's a pleasant 15 minute stroll to the famous Pizza del Campo.

  • Check train times at www.raileurope.com, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com, but you can just buy regional train tickets at the station from the staffed ticket office or from the self-service machines, there is no advantage in buying in advance other than saving time at the station.

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train at the station they give you an open ticket, so you need to validate it before you board the train in the little green validator machines, see the photo here.  Once validated, tickets are good for any train in the next 4 hours. 

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train online it comes pre-validated for 4 hours starting from the time of the train you buy it for, no changes, no refunds - so if you miss that train, or change your mind and want a later one, you can simply hop on any train leaving up to 4 hours after the train you originally selected.

Florence-Siena regional train at Siena

A regional train from Florence to Siena, arrived at Siena.  This train is of a type called Minuetto...

Florence to Lucca...
  • Regional trains link Florence SMN with Lucca once or twice per hour, journey time between 1h19 and 1h45, fare around €7.90 each way.

  • No reservation is necessary or even possible, tickets for regional trains have a fixed price and unlimited availability so you can turn up, buy a ticket & hop on the next train.  All these regional trains are 2nd class only, they have toilets and plenty of room for luggage, most are now modern and air-conditioned.

  • Check train times at www.raileurope.com, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com, but you can just buy regional train tickets at the station from the staffed ticket office or from the self-service machines, there is no advantage in buying in advance other than saving time at the station.

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train at the station they give you an open ticket, so you need to validate it before you board the train in the little green validator machines, see the photo here.  Once validated, tickets are good for any train in the next 4 hours. 

    Tip:  If you buy a ticket for a regional train online it comes pre-validated for 4 hours starting from the time of the train you buy it for, no changes, no refunds - so if you miss that train, or change your mind and want a later one, you can simply hop on any train leaving up to 4 hours after the train you originally selected.

Florence to Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi...
Florence to Palermo, Catania, Siracuse & Sicily...

Option 1, by daytime train.  Florence to Sicily in a single day, an epic ride...

  • Fares start at just €39.80 in 2nd class or €59.80 in 1st class.  Book ahead for Trenitalia's cheap Super-Economy and Economy prices.

  • Buy tickets at either www.raileurope.com, www.italiarail.com or Italian Railways' own site www.trenitalia.com.

    Tip:  I'd allow at least 45 minutes between trains in Rome or Naples, if necessary book each train separately.

    All 3 sites sell the same tickets, all offer ticketless travel for Italian intercity & high-speed trains, you simply quote your booking reference on board the train.  Booking opens 120 days ahead, except when the mid-June & mid-December timetable changes are imminent when the booking horizon shrinks to less than this with some trains loaded before others.

    1.  www.raileurope.com is easy to use, in plain English, in €, £ or $, small booking fee.

    2.  www.italiarail.com is also easy to use, in plain English, in €, £, $ & Aus$.  They charge a €3.50 booking fee but they'll refund this if you email seat61@italiarail.com afterwards.  It can be cheaper than Trenitalia.com for 2 or more people travelling together as explained here.

    3.  www.trenitalia.com is fairly easy to use but it uses Italian-language place names and has a few quirks so see this advice on using it.

Option 2, by high-speed train to Rome then overnight sleeper.  The time-effective option...

  • Step 1, take an early-evening Frecciarossa high-speed train from Florence SMN to Rome Termini in as little as 1h19.

  • Step 2, take one of the two direct sleeper trains from Rome to Palermo, Catania or Siracuse, one usually leaving Rome Termini around 21:05 weekdays or 21:31 weekends, the other around 23:00.

    In the morning these sleeper trains are shunted onto a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina, a unique experience, have your camera ready.  They arrive in Sicily in the morning.

    The sleeper trains have Comfort couchettes with 4-berth compartments, ideal for families.  They also have sleeping-cars with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin.  The couchettes convert to seats for daytime use, the sleepers convert to a private sitting room with sofa.  There's no restaurant car (although morning tea or coffee is provided), so bring your own picnic and bottle of wine or beer.  One of the trains normally has an Excelsior sleeper with a few deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower.  See more information & photos of Italian domestic sleeper trains.

  • Florence to Rome starts at €19.90, then Rome to Sicily starts at €39.90 including a Comfort couchette or from €79.90 with a bed in a cosy 2-bed sleeper.  Book ahead for Trenitalia's cheap Super-Economy and Economy prices.

  • Buy tickets at either www.raileurope.com or www.italiarail.com.  If you'd like longer in Rome between trains (perhaps plan to have dinner there, or an afternoon wander) book each train separately, it makes no difference to the price.

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Florence to London from €105...

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Florence to Paris from €49...

Option 1, Florence to Paris in a day - fastest, cheapest and scenic...

  • An afternoon in Turin?   Turin is a wonderful city, I reckon it's one of Italy's most under-rated cities even if you're not a fan of the 1969 Michael Caine film The Italian JobI suggest taking an earlier Frecciarossa or Italo train and having lunch in Turin and an afternoon exploring the city.  This also breaks up the trip nicely...

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Turin starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Turin to Paris starts at €29 in 2nd class or €44 in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

Option 2, Florence to Paris with an overnight stop in Turin - the option I'd recommend, with all the scenery in daylight...

Florence to Turin by Frecciarossa...

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.

Turin to Paris by high-speed TGV...

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

A Milan-Turin-Paris TGV 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

Turin to Paris by high-speed TGV...  Above left, the cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & hot dishes  Above right, the cheese platter from the cafe-bar.  Larger bar photo.

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

A table for four in 2nd class on the TGV.  360 degree photo.

 

1st class seats on the Turin-Paris TGV.  360 degree photo.

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy

Take a good book, a bottle o' red, and enjoy the scenery from Italy to Paris with your feet up.  These are mountains in France...  Watch the Paris-Milan TGV video guide.

Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin

...And these are mountains in Italy.  Scenery between Oulx and Turin, courtesy of www.discoverbyrail.com.

Option 3, Florence to Paris via the Bernina Express & Swiss Alps from €96 - much slower, but the ultimate Alpine scenic experience...

First class seats   Bernina Express panormaic cars

Bernina Express 1st class seats...

 

the Bernina Express uses panoramic carriages...

The train descends from the Bernina Pass

The Bernina Express descends from the Bernina Pass...

The Italy to Paris Thello sleeper train was suspended in March 2020 and has yet to resume.

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Florence to Nice from €34, Florence to Cannes, Monte Carlo, Marseille, Avignon...

Option 1:  Using new Thello train from Milan direct to Nice, Cannes, Marseille - the best option, if the timings suit you...

Thello train from  Nice to Milan, at Milan Centrale

A Thello train to Nice about to leave Milan Centrale.  More photos & information about Thello trains.

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

2nd class seats on the Thello train.  All seats have power sockets, with plenty of luggage space on racks and between seat backs.

 

1st class seats.  All seats have power sockets.  There's plenty of room for luggage on racks & between seat backs...

Coastal scenery from the Thello train from Nice to Italy

Views from the train, along the Ligurian coast between Milan and Nice.  Photos courtesy of Lucas Martin.

Yachts seen from the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Coastline seen from the Thello train from Nice to Milan

Option 2:  Using Italian trains to Ventimiglia, and a French local train - a useful option if the Thello timings don't suit you...

  • If option 1 using the new Thello train doesn't suit, no problem...  Simply take the hourly regional train from Florence SMN to Pisa Centrale, a Frecciabianca or InterCity train from Pisa Centrale to Genoa Piazza Principe, then a regional or InterCity train along the scenic coastline of the Italian Riviera to Ventimiglia on the French border.  Local trains then run from Ventimiglia to Monte Carlo, Nice & Cannes every 30 minutes or so throughout the day, journey time 48 minutes from Ventimiglia to Nice.  Change in Nice for trains to Marseille, Avignon and beyond.  Take a picnic, bottle of wine and a good book and enjoy the journey.

  • There are various possible daily departures... 

    Leave Florence at 07:28, change Pisa & Genoa, arrive Ventimiglia at 12:58, hop on the 13:20 local train arriving Nice around 14:24. 

    Leave Florence at 09:53, change at La Spezia and Genoa, arriving Ventimiglia at 18:03, a local train gets you to Nice at around 19:54. 

    Leave Florence at 13:28, change at Pisa & Genoa, arrive Ventimiglia at 20:03, then local train to Nice arriving around 21:25.

    These are just examples, simply go online and check for your date of travel following the how to buy tickets advice below.

  • How much does it cost? 

    Florence to Ventimiglia starts at €26.90 in 2nd class or from €46.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Ventimiglia to Nice costs just €8 or so, bought at the station on the day.

  • How to buy tickets...  The trick is to only book to Ventimiglia!!

    Step 1, book from Florence SMN to Ventimiglia (you can book this all in one go) using either www.italiarail.com (easy to use, recognises English place names, small booking fee will be refunded if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways own website www.trenitalia.com (sometimes more fiddly to use, requires Italian language place names, no booking fee, read this advice on using it first).  Look for a cheap super-economy or economy fare.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board the train.

    Step 2, you can't pre-book the Ventimiglia to Nice, Cannes or Monte Carlo local train, and you don't need to, you can simply turn up at Ventimiglia and buy a ticket at the station, no reservation necessary or possible, and hop on the next train.  Easy!  If you want to check train times from Ventimiglia to Monte Carlo, Nice or Cannes just do this using www.raileurope.com.

    Step 3, if you want an onward train from Nice to Marseille, Avignon, Perpignan and so on, pre-book this at either www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com with print-at-home or collect-at-station tickets, and cheap fares from €15 if you pre-book.  Just make sure you allow plenty of time to connect in Ventimiglia and in Nice in case of any delay, as your ticket from Nice onwards will only be valid on the specific train you book.

Italian InterCity train at Milan   6-seater compartment on an Italian InterCity train   TER regional train Nice to Ventimiglia

Italian InterCity trains link Milan & Genoa with Ventimiglia on the French/Italian border.  Most cars are of the traditional side-corridor type with 6-seater compartments (pictured above).

 

Double-decker regional trains like this link Ventimiglia with Monte Carlo, Nice & Cannes every 30 minutes.

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Florence to Brussels & Bruges from €57.80...

Option 1, by high-speed train with an overnight stop in Paris...

  • How to buy tickets...

    Buy tickets for each of these trains at www.raileurope.com, booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  Add each ticket to your basket, then check out.  www.raileurope.com connects to the Italian & French booking systems so you can easily book all these trains together in the same place, in €, £ or $.  .  You'll get a print-at-home or show-on-mobile ticket for TGV & Thalys, it's ticketless for the Frecciarossa, just quote the booking reference on board.  There's a small booking fee.

    Alternatively, more work and usually the same prices, you can book the Italian train at Trenitalia.com, the French TGV & Thalys at the French Railways website en.oui.sncf, with no fee.

Option 2, by high-speed train with an overnight stop in Turin...

  • How much does it cost? 

    Florence to Turin starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Turin to Paris starts at €29 in 2nd class or €44 in 1st class.

    Paris to Brussels starts at €29 in 2nd class or €55 in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets...

    The easiest place to buy tickets is at www.raileurope.com as it connects to both the Trenitalia and SNCF ticketing systems so you can book all your tickets together in one place, in plain English, in €, £ or $.  Booking usually opens 120 days ahead.  There's a small booking fee.

    First book Florence to Turin and add to basket.  Then book Turin to Brussels for the following day, add to basket & check out.

    Tip:  Before running the Turin to Brussels enquiry, click More options and enter Paris (any station) as a via point with a stopover duration of at least 1 hour to ensure a robust connection.  If you don't do this, the system allows cross-Paris connections as tight as 40 minutes, which I consider too tight.

    The Italian train is ticketless, you just quote the booking reference on board.  For the two French trains, you print your own tickets or can select a mobile ticket to show on your smartphone.

  • How to buy tickets, advanced...

    Alternatively, you can book each train separately, more work, more fiddly, same fares, but saves the booking fee.  First book the Italian train at www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, $ or £, they'll refund the €3.50 booking fee to seat61 users if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com afterwards) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, more fiddly, requires Italian-language place names, see advice on using it), then book the TGV & Thalys at the French Railways website en.oui.sncf.

Option 3, using the Florence-Munich Nightjet sleeper train - an easy & time-effective option with no need to cross Paris... 

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Munich by excellent Austrian Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47, arriving Munich Hbf 09:21.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Brussels by ICE train, leaving Munich Hbf at 10:45, change at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Brussels Midi at 17:35. ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Florence to Munich.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 4, by day trains with overnight stop in Munich - if you prefer day trains to sleepers, also avoids crossing Paris...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Munich, leaving Florence SMN at 14:20, changing at Bologna Centrale and arriving Munich Hbf at 22:27.

    Or take an earlier train and spend a pleasant evening in Munich - you'll find earlier departures arriving Munich at 16:26, 18:27 or 20:26, for example - just check times at www.raileurope.com.

    You take an Italian high-speed Frecciarossa to Bologna (or on some departures, Verona) with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, then a comfortable Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car for dinner through the scenic Brenner pass to Munich Hbf.  The journey is worth doing in daylight.

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Bologna or Verona to Munich starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich Hbf at www.raileurope.com, but (this is important) click More options, enter Bologna Centrale as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  Now re-run the enquiry with Verona Porta Nuova as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, which it will be on some departures.

    Booking normally opens 120 days ahead for Italian trains, which are ticketless, you simply quote the booking reference on the train.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead for the Austrian EuroCity trains, you print your own ticket or can show them on your laptop or smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Munich.  Try the Sofitel Munich Beyerpost, Eden Hotel Wolff, InterCity Hotel or (budget) the Pension Locarno, all these hotels are right next to the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Munich to Brussels by ICE train, leaving Munich Hbf at 08:45, change in Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Brussels Midi at 15:35.

    ICE trains have a bistro-restaurant, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at from €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

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Florence to Amsterdam from €64...

Option 1, Florence to Amsterdam in a single day - daily except Saturdays...

  • Incredibly, it's now possible to get from Florence to Amsterdam in a single day using top-quality high-speed trains, with some wonderful views of Italian & Swiss lakes.  It's a long day, however, so consider using a sleeper (option 2) or breaking up the journey with an overnight stop at Zurich or Munich (options 3 & 4).  But here's how to cross Europe in comfort by train in a single day...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Milan by high-speed Frecciarossa, leaving Florence SMN at 07:55 every day arriving Milan Centrale at 09:50.

    The Frecciarossa has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • Step 2, travel from Milan to Frankfurt by ETR610 EuroCity train leaving Milan Centrale at 11:20 and arriving Frankfurt (Main) Hbf at 18:44.

    The EuroCity train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  It's a lovely ride through the Alps past Lake Maggiore and via the famous Simplon & Lφtschberg route.  Treat yourself to lunch as the lakes & mountains glide by.  You'll also pass through the world's longest rail tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, though the transit takes just 20 minutes.

  • Step 3, travel from Frankfurt to Amsterdam by ICE3, leaving Frankfurt (Main) Hbf at 19:29 and arriving Amsterdam Centraal at 23:28.

    This train runs daily except Saturdays and a few other dates.  ICE3 trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Milan starts at €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.

    Milan to Amsterdam start at €59.90 in 2nd class or €119.90 in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets...

    Step 1, book the train from Florence to Milan at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.  Booking opens up to 4 months ahead.  it's ticketless, you just quote the reference on the train.

    Step 2, book from Milan to Amsterdam at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.  See suggested hotels in Amsterdam.

ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale

An ETR610 at Milan Centrale, as used on the direct Milan-Frankfurt EuroCity train.  More information about ETR610 trains.

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

Table for 4 in 2nd class, ideal for families...

 

1st class seats on the ETR610 EuroCity train...

Lake Maggiore, seen from the train

Lake Maggiore, seen over lunch in the restaurant car...

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

The restaurant car on an ETR610...

 

Dinner in the diner...

Option 2, Florence to Amsterdam using the Florence-Munich Nightjet sleeper train - an easy and time-effective option... 

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Munich by excellent Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47, arriving Munich Hbf 09:21.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Amsterdam by luxurious ICE train, leaving Munich Hbf at 11:45 with one easy change at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Amsterdam Centraal at 20:28.  These ICE trains have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months aheadTip:  Before running the enquiry, change Duration of transfer from standard to at least 45 minutes.  You print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.  See suggested hotels in Amsterdam.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Florence to Munich.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

High-speed ICE3 train at Amsterdam   ICE2 train, 2nd class

An ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal platform 2...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro.  See this month's menu.

Option 3, Florence to Amsterdam by day trains with overnight stop in Zurich - if you prefer day trains to sleepers...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Milan by high-speed Frecciarossa train in 1h40 then from Milan to Zurich by EuroCity train in 3h17.  It's a lovely ride along Lake Maggiore and through the Alps, see the Milan to Zurich video here.

    You can leave Florence SMN as late as 16:55 arriving Zurich HB 22:50, but by all means take an earlier train for an evening in Zurich.

    Florence to Milan starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Milan to Zurich starts at €29 in 2nd class or €49 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Check times and buy tickets as one journey at either www.raileurope.com (in €, £ or $, small booking fee) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, more fiddly, requires Italian-language place names).  Booking for the EuroCity trains normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you simply quote the booking reference on the train.

  • Stay overnight in Zurich.  For something special, look no further than the superb five-star Hotel Schweizerhof, just across the road from Zurich HB - they'll even send a uniformed commissionaire to meet you at the station and carry your bags from the train.  For something cheaper but also near the station with great reviews, try the Hotel du Thιatre or Hotel St Gotthard.  If you're on a tight budget you can book inexpensive private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station using www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Zurich to Amsterdam by ICE, leaving Zurich HB 08:00, changing at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Amsterdam Centraal 17:28

    By all means book an earlier or later ICE, they leave every 2 hours.  ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com (in €, £ or $, small booking fee), or book direct with German Railways at www.bahn.de (in €, no booking fee).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

Option 4, Florence to Amsterdam by day trains with overnight stop in Munich - Another option if you prefer day trains to sleepers...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Munich, leaving Florence SMN at 14:20, changing at Bologna Centrale and arriving Munich Hbf at 22:27.

    Or take an earlier train and spend a pleasant evening in Munich - you'll find earlier departures arriving Munich at 16:26, 18:27 or 20:26, for example - just check times at www.raileurope.com.

    You take an Italian high-speed Frecciarossa to Bologna (or on some departures, Verona) with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, then a comfortable Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car for dinner through the scenic Brenner pass to Munich Hbf.  The journey is worth doing in daylight.

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Bologna or Verona to Munich starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich Hbf at www.raileurope.com, but (this is important) click More options, enter Bologna Centrale as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  Now re-run the enquiry with Verona Porta Nuova as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, which it will be on some departures.

    Booking normally opens 120 days ahead for Italian trains, which are ticketless, you simply quote the booking reference on the train.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead for the Austrian EuroCity trains, you print your own ticket or can show them on your laptop or smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Munich.  Try the Sofitel Munich Beyerpost, Eden Hotel Wolff, InterCity Hotel or (budget) the Pension Locarno, all these hotels are right next to the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Munich to Amsterdam by ICE, leaving Munich Hbf 07:45, change at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Amsterdam Centraal 15:28.

    By all means choose an earlier or later departure.  ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

The restaurant car on a EuroCity to Munich, seen at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this.  More photos & information about these Austrian EuroCity trains.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

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

 

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

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads from Verona to Innsbruck...

Mountains on the Brenner route...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here...

Option 5, Florence to Amsterdam via Paris - if you want to stop off in Paris... 

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Florence to Luxembourg...

Option 1, Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train then daytime trains to Luxembourg...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 every night and arriving Munich Hbf at 09:21.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, a bit more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Luxembourg, leaving Munich Hbf at 10:28 by ICE train, change at Mannheim, Saarbrucken & Trier, arriving Luxembourg at 17:24.

    ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €32.90 in 2nd class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book from Munich to Luxembourg at the German Railways website www.bahn.de, allowing at least 1 hour between trains in Munich.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  Tip:  To avoid buses and get an all-train journey, click Add intermediate stops and enter Igel as a via station.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Florence to Munich.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Zurich...

  • Stay overnight in Zurich.  For something special, look no further than the superb 5-star Hotel Schweizerhof, just across the road from Zurich station.  One of my favourite hotels, they'll even send a uniformed commissionaire to meet you at the station and carry your bags from the train.  For something cheaper but also near the station with great reviews, try the Hotel du Thιatre or Hotel St Gotthard.  If you're on a tight budget you can book inexpensive private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station using www.hostelworld.com.

  • Step 2, travel from Zurich to Luxembourg on any service you like, for example, leaving Zurich HB at 07:59, changing at Mannheim & Trier, arriving Luxembourg at 15:24.

    Or have a leisurely breakfast and take the easiest departure with just 1 change, leaving Zurich HB at 10:59 by direct EuroCity train EC8 to Koblenz, time for coffee in Koblenz, then the 17:06 from Koblenz direct to Luxembourg arriving 19:24.

    These are all comfortable air-conditioned trains and they all head along the scenic Rhine Valley route between Mainz and Koblenz past vineyards, castles, river boats & the legendary Lorelei Rock - see the Rails Down the Rhine page - then along the pretty Moselle river to Trier.  The whole journey is made on a through ticket, so no worries about connections, they normally go like clockwork.  There are earlier or later departures, too, just check online.

    Tip:  EuroCity train EC8 has a Swiss 1st class panorama car, to book it, see the advice on the Rails Down the Rhine page.

    Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book from Munich to Luxembourg at the German Railways website www.bahn.de & print your own ticket or show it on your smartphone.

    Tip:  To get an all-train journey and avoid journeys with a bus, click Add intermediate stops and enter Igel as a via station.

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Florence to Geneva, Zurich, Luzern, Basel & Switzerland from €49...

Choose between fast, comfortable & scenic (option 1, using mainline trains) and slow, comfortable, fabulous world-class highlight-of-your-trip scenic (option 2, via the Bernina Express).

Option 1, by high-speed train from Florence to Milan, then EuroCity train from Milan to Brig, Geneva, Bern, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence SMN to Milan Centrale by Frecciarossa with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi in just 1h40.

  • Step 2, travel from Milan Centrale to Switzerland by fast EuroCity train with restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    There are hourly EuroCity trains from Milan Centrale to Lugano & Zurich (3h17).  There are regular EuroCity trains from Milan Centrale to Brig, Montreux, Lausanne & Geneva (4h00).  There are several daily EuroCity trains from Milan Centrale to Bern, Lucerne, Spiez and Basel.

    The Milan-Zurich EuroCity trains use the new Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world.  Look out for great scenery on the routes from Italy into Switzerland, past lakes and mountains.  Watch the video:  Milan to Zurich by EuroCity train.

  • Step 3, take a Swiss connecting train if necessary, for example from Brig to Zermatt or from Spiez to Interlaken.

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Milan start at €19.90 in 2nd (standard) class or €29.90 in 1st (business) class.

    Milan to major Swiss cities by direct train start at €29 upwards in 2nd class or €49 upwards in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets, the easy way...

    Buy tickets from Florence to anywhere in Switzerland at either www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.  Both are easy to use, in €, £ or $ (www.thetrainline.com can also sell in CHF), overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee.

    www.thetrainline.com connects to both the Italian and Swiss ticketing systems.  www.raileurope.com connects to the Italian system and can sell full-flex Swiss tickets through an arrangement with French Railways.  That means both sites can sell from Venice to anywhere in Switzerland, at least in principle.  Each handles the data slightly differently, so I'd check both sites.

    Booking for Italian trains & the EuroCity trains opens 120 days ahead.  However, booking for Swiss domestic trains only opens 60 days ahead.

    Italian high-speed trains & the EuroCity trains are ticketless, you simply quote the booking reference on the train.  Swiss domestic tickets can be printed out or a mobile ticket can be shown on your smartphone.

  • How to buy tickets, advanced...

    Now for the science bit.  Trenitalia's ticketing system can sell tickets for the international EuroCity trains between Italy & Switzerland, and obviously for its own trains within Italy, but cannot access SBB's ticketing system so cannot sell any journey involving a Swiss domestic train.

    Meanwhile, the Swiss ticketing system can sell Swiss domestic tickets & tickets for the international EuroCity trains to Italy which it jointly runs with Trenitalia, but it cannot access Trenitalia's ticketing system so cannot sell Trenitalia's cheap fares within Italy.

    Step 1, run an enquiry on the all-Europe online timetable provided by German Railways at www.bahn.de.  Look for a suitable journey, ideally with as few changes as possible.  Note down the trains you want, identifying the Italian train, the EuroCity train and any Swiss domestic train.

    For example, say you ran an enquiry from Florence to Zermatt.  You'd pick a journey that suits you:  A high-speed Frecciarossa from Florence to Milan, a EuroCity (EC) train from Milan to Brig, then a Swiss train from Brig to Zermatt.  Then you'd split the booking like this:

    Step 2, book the Italian train and EuroCity train using the Italian ticketing system at www.thetrainline.com or www.raileurope.com (both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, $ or £, they'll refund the €3.50 booking fee to seat61 users if you email them afterwards at seat61@italiarail.com) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, more fiddly, requires Italian-language place names, see advice on using it).

    In our example, you'd book from Florence to Brig.  Booking opens 90 days ahead.  Italian high-speed trains and the EuroCity are ticketless, you just quote the booking reference on board.

    Step 3, now add a Swiss domestic ticket separately using either www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in CHF, €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Swiss Federal Railways site www.sbb.ch (in €, no fee).  Regular Swiss tickets are fixed-price, cannot sell out, and are good for any train that day, so this bit isn't as crucial.  You could buy at the station on the day if you like!

    In our example, you'd book from Brig to Zermatt.  Booking opens 60 days ahead (if necessary, wait to book this bit).  You print your own ticket.

ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale

An EuroCity train at Milan Centrale, about to leave for Switzerland.  More information about these EuroCity trains.

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

Table for 4 in 2nd class, ideal for families...

 

1st class seats on the ETR610 EuroCity train...

Restaurant car of a tilting 'Pendolino' train from Geneva to Milan.   Meal on a Swiss EuroCity train between Switzerland & Milan

Restaurant car on an ETR160...

 

Lunch!

Lake Maggiore, seen from the train

This is Lake Maggiore, seen from the restaurant car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel EuroCity train over an excellent lunch of salmon tagliatelle & excellent Swiss red wine...

Sion castle, see from the train to Venice

Sion castle, as seen from a Milan to Geneva train.  This route train passes through the famous Simplon Tunnel, opened in 1906, on the very route used by the celebrated Simplon Orient Express of Agatha Christie fame.

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train

This is Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan-Zurich EuroCity train...

Option 2, Florence to St Moritz, Chur, Zurich via the Bernina route.  This is much slower and a little more fiddly to book, but it's an amazing experience, arguably the best Swiss Alpine train ride of them all...

  • This is a slow local route, with part of the journey on the fabulous narrow-gauge Bernina Railway.  But it's one of the most scenic routes in the Alps, or anywhere for that matter.  Watch the video:  Milan to Zurich via the wonderfully scenic Bernina route.

  • Step 1, take an early high-speed train from Florence to Milan, arriving any time before 09:40.  Book this at either www.italiarail.com & www.trenitalia.com.

  • Step 2, take a local train from Milan Centrale to Tirano.  The 10:20 from Milan connects with the Bernina Express itself, with time for a sandwich and beer in Tirano, see the Bernina Express page.  However, these trains run every 2 hours throughout the day, fare around €12, you can check train times at www.trenord.it.  No reservation is necessary or even possible, you just buy a ticket to Tirano from the self-service machines at Milan Centrale and hop on the next train.  At Tirano, the Italian railways station is right next to the Rhδtische Bahn one on the same town square. 

  • Step 3, now take one of the regular Rhδtische Bahn trains from Tirano to St Moritz & Chur.  This is the fabulous Bernina route over the Bernina Pass.  You can check times & prices from Tirano to St Moritz, Chur or Zurich at the main Swiss Railways website www.sbb.ch.  If you take one of the regular normal local trains, no reservation is necessary or possible, just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.  Only if you want to use the once or twice daily Bernina Express with its special all-reserved panoramic carriages do you need a seat reservation, see www.rhb.ch and the seat61 Bernina Express page.

    How to buy a cheap ticket from Tirano to Zurich from €29.90...  Normal Swiss fares are expensive, so see my instructions for buying a cheap advance-purchase ticket from Tirano to Chur or Zurich here.

  • Step 4, on arrival in Chur, simply cross the platform to the waiting half-hourly InterCity or InterRegional train to Zurich.  Again, no reservation necessary or possible, if you're bound for Zurich simply buy a ticket to Zurich in Tirano.  You can check times and fares from Tirano to Zurich at www.sbb.ch.

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Florence to Barcelona, Madrid & Spain from €89...

Option 1, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Marseille...

  • Stay overnight in Marseille.  Inexpensive hotels with good reviews just outside Marseille St Charles station include the Ibis Marseille Centre Gare St Charles, Holiday Inn Express Marseille St Charles.

  • Day 2, travel from Marseille to Spain by AVE-S100, leaving Marseille St Charles at 08:02, arriving Barcelona Sants 12:34 & Madrid Atocha 15:41.

    The AVE-S100 high-speed train has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  You'll pass Bιziers cathedral, flamingos on the lakes in the South of France between Montpelier & Perpignan, the historic Fort de Salses right by the tracks, and get great views of the imposing 2,784m Mt Canigou as the train rounds the southern end of the Pyrenees, see the photos & information here.

  • Day 2, travel from Barcelona to other Spanish cities by high-speed train:  There are regular trains from Barcelona Sants to Valencia or Alicante, there's a 15:50 direct AVE from Barcelona Sants to Cordoba, Malaga & Seville arriving in the evening, and a 15:30 Alvia train from Barcelona Sants to Pamplona & San Sebastian, arriving in the evening.

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Milan starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Milan to Marseille starts at €30.

    Marseille-Barcelona starts at €25 in 2nd class or €49 in 1st class.  Marseille-Madrid starts at €35 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.

    Barcelona to Malaga or Seville starts at around €45.  Barcelona to Pamplona or San Sebastian starts at around €28.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets...

    Go to www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.  Book from Florence to Marseille on day 1 and add it to your basket.  Then book from Marseille to Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Seville, Malaga or wherever for day 2, add it to your basket and check out.

    www.thetrainline.com & www.raileurope.com both connect to the Italian, French & Spanish rail ticketing systems, so you can buy all these tickets together in one place, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem.  There's a small booking fee.

    Booking for the Marseille-Barcelona AVE normally opens 120 days ahead, but trains within Spain only open 60 days ahead, sometimes less.

    Thello & Italian trains are ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.  For the Marseille-Barcelona-Madrid AVE & for trains in Spain you print your own ticket.

  • How to buy tickets, advanced...

    Alternatively, you can book each train separately like this, although it's more work and the fares should be the same, just no booking fee...

    Step 1, book from Florence SMN to Marseille St Charles using either www.italiarail.com (easy to use, English place names, and they'll refund their €3.50 booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways' own site www.trenitalia.com (you'll need to use Italian language place names).  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference to the conductor on board the train.

    Step 2, book from Marseille to Barcelona or Madrid at the French Railways website en.oui.sncf (in €, more fiddly).  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

    Step 3, book any onward trains within Spain at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (much more fiddly, may reject some overseas credit cards, see this advice on using it).  You print your own tickets.

Thello train from  Nice to Milan, at Milan Centrale

Milan to Marseille by Thello.  This is a train to Nice at Milan Centrale.  More photos & information about Thello trains.

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

2nd class seats on the Thello train.  All seats have power sockets, with plenty of luggage space on racks and between seat backs.

1st class seats.  All seats have power sockets.  There's plenty of room for luggage on racks & between seat backs...

Coastal scenery from the Thello train from Nice to Italy

View from the train between Nice & Marseille...

AVE S100 at Barcelona Sants

Marseille to Barcelona by AVE.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

1st class seats on an AVE S100.  360Ί photo of 1st class.

Cafe-bar...

AVE train at Barcelona  

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is an AVE-S100 at Barcelona Sants.

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  360Ί photo of 2nd class More photos & info about AVE S100.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Geneva...

  • Stay overnight in Geneva.  Suggested hotels with good reviews near the station include Hotel Cornavin Genθve, Hotel Les Arcades, ibis Styles Geneva Gare.  Hotels in Switzerland can be expensive, if you're on a budget you can book budget private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station using www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Geneva to Barcelona, leaving Geneva at 11:30 by TER regional train, change trains at Lyon Part Dieu (arrive 13:25, depart 14:28) onto the afternoon AVE-S100 high-speed train to Barcelona, arriving Barcelona Sants at 19:33.

    The AVE train has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  You'll pass Bιziers cathedral, flamingos on the lakes in the South of France between Montpelier & Perpignan, the historic Fort de Salses right by the tracks, and get great views of the imposing 2,784m Mt Canigou as the train rounds the southern end of the Pyrenees, see the photos & information here.

    The Geneva-Lyon fare is a fixed-price €29.60.  Lyon-Barcelona fares start at €39 in 2nd class or €59 in 1st class.

    Buy tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com (both easy to use, in €, £ or $, small booking fee) or the French Railways website en.oui.sncf (in €, more fiddly, no fee).  Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

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Florence to Lisbon & Portugal...

Option 1, using the Madrid-Lisbon sleeper...

En route to Morocco by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Morocco by train: Gran Classes 2-bed sleeper (night mode)   Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel: Gran Classe sleepers have a private shower and toilet   Trainhotel at Madrid

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

...return from dinner to find the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase sleepers have toilet & shower...

 

The trainhotel Lusitania from Madrid to Lisbon is an articulated Spanish Talgo train.  Seen here at Madrid Chamartin station.

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...    

The trainhotel's cafι-bar serves drinks & food.  Grab a barstool early, it gets crowded later on!

   

4-berth tourist class sleepers (Turista Cama), cosy & inexpensive.  They convert from beds to seats.

Option 2, Florence to Faro & the Algarve using a bus from Seville...

  • Day 2, travel from Seville to Faro by bus.  Buses run from Seville Plaza de Armas to Faro several times daily, journey time around 3h40, fare around €16-€20.

    Buses are run by Damas, Eva-Bus & Alsa amongst others, you can check times & buy tickets for various bus companies all in one place at Omio.com.  You print your own ticket.

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Florence to Andorra...

  • Step 2, travel from Marseille to Toulouse by Intercitι leaving Marseille St Charles at 09:31 & arriving Toulouse Matabiau at 13:14.

    Fares start at €25 in 2nd class or €45 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at either www.thetrainline.com or www.raileurope.com (both easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the French Railways website en.oui.sncf (in €, more fiddly).  Booking for French trains opens up to 4 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show a mobile ticket on your smartphone.

  • Step 3, travel from Toulouse Matabiau station to Andorra la Vella by bus.  Andbus run several buses per day taking 4 hours, fare €33.  There's a bus leaving Toulouse Matabiau station (bus stand 15) at 15:00 arriving Andorra 19:00.  Check times & book the bus at www.andorrabybus.com.  I'd allow at least an hour between train and bus in Toulouse, just in case of delay.

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Florence to Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin & Germany...

Option 1, Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train & onwards train to Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin or anywhere in Germany - the time-effective option...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 every night and arriving Munich Hbf at 09:21.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to anywhere in Germany, for example leaving Munich Hbf 10:51 by ICE train and arriving Berlin Hbf at 15:29.

    Book from Munich to any German destination at the German Railways website www.bahn.de with fares from €18.90 upwards, allowing at least 1 hour between trains in Munich.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Florence to Munich.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 2, Florence to Hamburg or Berlin using the Zurich-Hamburg/Berlin sleeper...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Milan by Frecciarossa, leaving Florence SMN at 10:55 and arriving Milan Centrale at 12:50.

    The Frecciarossa has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, requires Italian language place names, see advice on using it).  Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

  • Step 2, travel from Milan to Zurich by EuroCity train, leaving Milan Centrale at 14:10 and arriving Zurich HB at 17:50.

    The EuroCity train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  It's a lovely run through the Alps, past Italian and Swiss lakes and passing through the world's longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel.  Have dinner in Zurich, I can recommend the steak-frites and a beer at the Brasserie Federal on the main concourse at Zurich HB.

    Fares start at €29 in 2nd class or €49 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, requires Italian language place names, see advice on using it).  Booking opens up to 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

  • Step 3, travel from Zurich to Germany by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Zurich HB at 19:59 & arriving Hamburg Hbf 07:53 or Berlin Hbf 07:38.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has portions.  The Hamburg portion  has two air-conditioned double-deck sleeping-cars (1 & 2 bed compartments with washbasin, 1 & 2 bed deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, plus a few 3-berth compartments with washbasin), couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments & ordinary seats.  The Berlin portion has a Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet.  The sleeper & couchette fares include a light breakfast with tea or coffee in the morning, See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, more fiddly, same fares). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Switzerland & click nj.

Option 3, Florence to Munich & Germany via the Brenner route - a scenic daytime option...

  • How much does it cost?

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Bologna or Verona to Munich or anywhere in Germany starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets...

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich or anywhere in Germany at www.raileurope.com, but (and this is important) click More options, enter either Verona (any station) or Bologna Centrale as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change to Munich or 2 changes if going beyond Munich.

    www.raileurope.com connects to both the Italian and German ticketing systems so can source both tickets as one seamless booking.  You can pay in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, there's a small booking fee.  The Italian train is ticketless, you quote the booking reference on board.  For Austrian/German trains you can print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.

    Alternatively, you can book the Italian train at www.italiarail.com (in €, £ or $, the small fee will be refunded if you email them afterwards at seat61@italiarail.com) or www.trenitalia.com, then book the Austrian/German trains from Bologna or Verona to anywhere in Germany at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.

The restaurant car on a EuroCity to Munich, seen at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this.  More photos & information about these Austrian EuroCity trains.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

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

 

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

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Mountains on the Brenner route...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here...

Option 4, Florence to Frankfurt & Germany via the Gotthard route - another scenic daytime option...

  • Step 2, travel from Milan to Frankfurt by ETR610 EuroCity train leaving Milan Centrale at 11:20 & arriving Frankfurt (Main) Hbf at 18:44.

    The train travels along Lake Maggiore and through the Swiss Alps via the famous Simplon & Lφtschberg route.  Change in Frankfurt for Cologne, Dusseldorf and so on.  It's even possible to reach Hamburg or Berlin shortly after midnight!

    Fares from Milan to Germany start at €59.90 in 2nd class or €119.90 in 1st class.  Again, fares vary like air fares so book ahead.

    Book from Milan to anywhere in Germany at www.bahn.de or www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, looking for the 11:20 departure.  You print your own ticket.

ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale

An ETR610 at Milan Centrale, as used on the direct Milan-Frankfurt EuroCity train.  More information about ETR610 trains.

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

Table for 4 in 2nd class, ideal for families...

 

1st class seats on the ETR610 EuroCity train...

Lake Maggiore, seen from the train

Lake Maggiore, seen over lunch in the restaurant car...

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

The restaurant car on an ETR610...

 

Dinner in the diner...

Option 5, Florence to anywhere in Germany with overnight stop in Munich...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Munich, leaving Florence SMN at 14:20, changing at Bologna Centrale and arriving Munich Hbf at 22:27.

    Or take an earlier train and spend a pleasant evening in Munich - you'll find earlier departures arriving Munich at 16:26, 18:27 or 20:26, for example - just check times at www.raileurope.com.

    You take an Italian high-speed Frecciarossa to Bologna (or on some departures, Verona) with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, then a comfortable Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car for dinner through the scenic Brenner pass to Munich Hbf.  The journey is worth doing in daylight.

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.

    Bologna or Verona to Munich starts at €37.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich Hbf at www.raileurope.com, but (this is important) click More options, enter Bologna Centrale as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  Now re-run the enquiry with Verona Porta Nuova as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, which it will be on some departures.

    Booking normally opens 120 days ahead for Italian trains, which are ticketless, you simply quote the booking reference on the train.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead for the Austrian EuroCity trains, you print your own ticket or can show them on your laptop or smartphone.

  • Stay overnight in Munich.  Try the Sofitel Munich Beyerpost, Eden Hotel Wolff, InterCity Hotel or (budget) the Pension Locarno, all these hotels are right next to the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Munich to anywhere in Germany on comfortable ICE or IC trains.

    Fares start at €18.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Buy tickets at the German Railways website bahn.de.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

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Florence to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €59..

Option 1, Florence to Salzburg & Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective option...

  • An excellent Nightjet sleeper train leaves Florence SMN at 22:47 every night, with a portion arriving at Salzburg at 06:49 and another portion arriving at Vienna Hbf at 08:52.

    Each portion of this comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

  • Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

  • Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna HbfMore information about Nightjet trains...

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet sleeper train...

Option 2, Florence to Salzburg or Vienna by daytime trains - a scenic daytime option with lunch in Venice...

  • You can travel from Florence to Salzburg or Vienna by train in a single chill-out day.  And how about lunch in Venice?

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Venice by Frecciargento high-speed train, leaving Florence SMN at 12:20, arriving Venice Santa Lucia at 14:24.

    If you'd like lunch and a wander around Venice, take an earlier train from Florence, for example the 07:20, 08:20 or 09:20.  The Rialto Bridge is just 20 minutes walk from Venice Santa Lucia, St Mark's Square just 27 minutes walk, see map of Venice showing station.  There's a left luggage office at the station.  Of course if you haven't been to Venice before, I'd recommend an overnight stop, not just a few hours!

    Fares start at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee, using this means you can book all your tickets together in one place) or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €).  Italiarail will refund their booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com afterwards.

    Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

  • Step 2, travel from Venice to Vienna by smart Austrian railjet train, leaving Venice Santa Lucia at 15:52 and arriving Vienna Hbf at 23:35.

    This train takes the wonderful UNESCO-listed Semmering route, you might see something of the landscape at least in summer when it's light until ten.  The railjet train has a bistro-restaurant, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi, see the Venice to Vienna by railjet page.

    For Salzburg, change in Villach arriving Salzburg around 21:48.  Don't worry about the 5-minute interchange at Villach, this is a recognised connection which many people make, it's a simple cross-platform switch from platform 2 to platform 3.  In any case you will have a through ticket so will be looked after if there's missed connection.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €44.90 in 1st class or €59 in business class (= premium 1st).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book from Venice to Vienna or Salzburg at www.thetrainline.com (easiest to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways web site www.oebb.at (in €, more fiddly, same fares). 

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

Option 3, Florence to Innsbruck, Salzburg or Vienna in a day via the Brenner Pass - another scenic daytime option...

  • Step 2, travel from Bologna to Innsbruck by Austrian EuroCity train, leaving Bologna Centrale at 11:52 & arriving Innsbruck Hbf 16:36. 

    This train has an elegant Austrian restaurant car and travels through the scenic Brenner Pass, treat yourself to a meal as the mountains glide by, see the Brenner Pass scenery video here.

  • Step 3, travel from Innsbruck to Salzburg or Vienna by railjet train, leaving Innsbruck Hbf 17:14, arriving Salzburg 19:02 & Vienna Hbf 22:05.

    The railjet train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • How much does it cost?

    Rome to Bologna starts at €19.90 in 2nd class, €29.90 in 1st class.

    Bologna to anywhere in Austria starts at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

    Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • How to buy tickets...

    First book the 11:52 from Bologna Centrale to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna or anywhere in Austria using www.thetrainline.com (quickest & easiest to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, in €, more fiddly).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

    Now add the connecting train from Florence SMN to Bologna Centrale at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, small booking fee, using Trainline means all your bookings are together in one place), or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, or $) or www.trenitalia.com (in €), making sure you have at least 40 minutes between trains in Verona in case of any delay.  If you use Italiarail they'll refund the small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your booking reference.

    Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote the reference on the train.

The restaurant car on a EuroCity to Munich, seen at Verona.  You don't need to book a table, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this.  More photos & information about these Austrian EuroCity trains.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

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

 

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

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Mountains on the Brenner route...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here...

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Florence to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo & Scandinavia...

Option 1, using the Zurich-Hamburg sleeper...

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Zurich to Hamburg by Nightjet...  This is a double-deck sleeping-car at Zurich HB. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 2, using the Florence-Munich sleeper...

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Rome & Florence to Munich.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on a Danish IC3 train

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station.  IC3s now work all the Hamburg-Copenhagen trains.

125 mph tilting 'X2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station 2nd class seats on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm The self-service buffet on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm...

A 125 mph X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

 

2nd class seating on the X2000.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

 

Self-service buffet car on the X2000 to Stockholm.

More info on X2000 trains

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Florence to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, using a Finnlines ferry from Germany to Helsinki - the easiest option...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 and arriving Munich Hbf at 09:21. 

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Day 2, travel from Munich to Hamburg by ICE4 train, leaving Munich Hbf at 10:22 and arriving Hamburg Hbf 15:54.

    Fares start at €27.90 in 2nd class or €56.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this train at the German Railways site www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Book onward trains within Finland at the Finnish Railways website www.vr.fi.

Finnlines Star class ferry to Helsinki   Cabin on the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki

One of Finnlines 3 star class ferries to Helsinki.  Courtesy of Finnlines.

 

Cabin on the ferry...

Option 2, by train to Stockholm, then ferry to Helsinki...

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Florence to Prague from €68...

Option 1, Florence to Prague overnight via Vienna - comfortable, safe, time-effective, with a chance to see Vienna on the way...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 arriving Vienna Hbf at 08:52 next morning.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

    Tip:  If you have a sleeper ticket and/or 1st class ticket for the onward train to Prague you can use the ΦBB lounge in Vienna Hbf between trains, with complimentary refreshments & free WiFi.

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

Step 1, Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train...  More information about Nightjet trains...

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet sleeper train...

Czech Railjet train to Vienna at Prague Hlavni station

Step 2, take a smart modern Railjet train from Vienna to Prague, with economy, first & business class, restaurant car, free WiFi and draught beer on tap...

Restaurant car   Economy (2nd class) seating

Restaurant car...  Courtesy David Malone

 

Economy (2nd) class...  Courtesy Cortney Lollar

Option 2, Florence to Prague or Cesky Krumlov via Zurich - another comfortable, safe & time-effective option...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Zurich by train, leaving Florence SMN at 12:55 by 300 km/h Frecciarossa high-speed train, making one quick & easy change at the magnificent Milan Centrale station onto a EuroCity train along Lake Maggiore and through the Swiss Alps arriving in Zurich HB at 18:27.  The Milan-Zurich train takes the scenic Gotthard route, although 20 minutes of the journey is now in the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world's longest rail tunnel.

    Book from Florence SMN to Zurich HB using either www.raileurope.com, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com.  Florence to Milan starts at €19.90 then Milan to Zurich starts at €29.  Make sure you have at least an hour in Zurich to change trains in case of any delay.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

    You've time for dinner in Zurich, I recommend the steak-frites and a beer or two at the Brasserie Federal on the main concourse at Zurich HB.

  • Step 2, travel from Zurich to Prague by sleeping-car, leaving Zurich HB at 21:40 and arriving Ceske Budejovice 08:52 & Prague Hlavni 11:02.

    The sleeping-car to Prague is a modern Czech comfortline type with nine 1, 2 or 3 bed compartments with washbasin and three deluxe 1, 2 or 3 bed compartments with en suite toilet & shower.  There are toilets and a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers. Morning tea & coffee is included in the sleeper fare.  There are no couchettes on this route.

    Fares start at €45 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €59 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €112 in a single-bed sleeper.  Deluxe sleepers cost a bit more.  All per person per berth.

    Book this sleeper online at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz.  Booking normally opens 90 days ahead.  You print your own ticket.  Easy!  See my tips for using cd.cz.

  • If you're going to Ceske Krumlov, get off the sleeper at Ceske Budejovice (its former name is Budweis, that's right, where the name of the beer comes from), have a coffee at the station then take the 10:13 express train to Ceske Krumlov arriving 10:50.  In this case you'd use www.cd.cz to book Zurich to Cesky Krumlov, of course looking for the 21:40 departure with 1 change.

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

ETR610 EuroCity train as used on the Milan-Zurich route.  More information about ETR610 trains.

 

2nd class seats on the stylish ETR610 EuroCity train...

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

The restaurant car on an ETR610...

 

Dinner in the diner...

The sleeper train from Zurich to Prague

The sleeping-car from Zurich to Prague, ready to leave Zurich HB.  Courtesy of Shaiq Ali Khan

City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper   City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper in day mode   City Night Line deluxe sleeper, private toilet & shower   Comfortline sleeper corridor

Standard sleeper set up as a 2-berth, with blind down & washstand open.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.

 

The same sleeper with berths folded away & seats folded out, washstand closed.  Very similar to a deluxe, but without the shower & toilet.

 

Deluxe sleepers are similar to standard ones, but with a bit more floorspace & compact shower & toilet instead of washstand.

 

Just like a hotel, the corridor in a Comfortline sleeping-car.  There's a shower at end of the corridor for standard sleeper passengers.

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Florence to Bratislava & Slovakia from €64...
  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 arriving Vienna Hbf at 08:52 next morning.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, a bit more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

    Tip:  If you have a sleeper ticket you can use the ΦBB Lounge at Vienna Hbf between trains, with complimentary refreshments & free WiFi.

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Florence to Budapest from €68...
  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 arriving Vienna Hbf at 08:52 next morning.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

    Tip:  If you have a sleeper ticket and/or 1st class ticket for the onward train to Budapest you can use the ΦBB lounge in Vienna Hbf between trains, with complimentary refreshments & free WiFi.

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

Step 1, Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train...  More information about Nightjet trains...

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet sleeper train...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 2, Vienna to Budapest by railjet, seen arrived on platform 9 at Budapest Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Florence to Bucharest, Brasov & Romania...
  • Step 2, take the overnight sleeper train Ister leaving Budapest Keleti at 19:10 and arriving Brasov at 09:54 & Bucharest Nord at 12:33 next day. 

    This comfortable train has an air-conditioned Romanian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, and a Romanian couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, see the photos on the London to Romania page.

    Fares start at €39 with a couchette in 6-berth, €46 with a couchette in 4-berth, €69 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €84 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €162 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  All prices per person per berth.

    Book this train at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro.  Click EN top right for English.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  It can book seats, couchettes or sleepers.  For Hungary to Romania journeys you print your own ticket.

    You can also normally book at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu, see my advice on using it.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  You show your ticket in the MAV app on your smartphone.  However, since MAV revamped its website in 2020, it can't book couchettes or sleepers, only seats, though this should be fixed at some point.

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Florence to Ljubljana & Zagreb...

Option 1, using the Florence-Austria Nightjet sleeper train - the most time-effective option.

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Bruck an der Mur by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 and arriving Bruck/Mur at 06:39.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, a bit more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, travel from Bruck an der Mur to Ljubljana by EuroCity train Emona, leaving Bruck/Mur at 09:59, and arriving Ljubljana at 13:59. 

    Change at Zidani Most for Zagreb, arriving 17:12.

    It's an enjoyable ride with some great scenery.  The Emona  has air-conditioned cars and a restaurant car, treat yourself to lunch.

    Fares start at €19.90.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book from Bruck/Mur to Ljubljana or Zagreb at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same prices).  You print your own ticket.

Option 2, using daytime trains on the direct route through Trieste...

2nd class seats on the train from Venice to Ljubljana   The train from Trieste to Ljubljana

Inside the ETR563.  Larger photo.

 

The train to Ljubljana about to leave Trieste.  Courtesy of Marc Williams.

Scenery between Trieste and Ljubljana

Scenery in Slovenia, seen from the train from Trieste to Ljubljana...

Option 3, with overnight stop in Austria - a useful alternative...

Until at least 30 July 2021, while repair work in the Karawanks Tunnel continues, only to Zagreb...

  • Step 2, travel from Venice to Bruck an der Mur in Austria by comfortable Austrian railjet train, leaving Venice Santa Lucia at 15:52 and arriving Bruck an der Mur at 21:44.  Book this from €19 at either www.thetrainline.com (easiest) or Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at.  You print your own ticket.

  • Stay overnight in Bruck an der Mur - try the Hotel Landskron, 14 minutes walk from the station.

  • Step 3, travel from Bruck to Zagreb by train, leaving Bruck an der Mur at 06:20 and arriving Zagreb at 11:27.  2nd class only, bring your own food & drink along.  Book this from €29 at either www.thetrainline.com or www.oebb.at and print your own ticket.

From 31 July 2021, to both Ljubljana & Zagreb..

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Venice by Frecciarossa high-speed train, leaving Florence SMN at 12:20, arriving Venice S. Lucia 14:34.

    If you'd like lunch and a wander around Venice, take an earlier train from Florence, for example the 07:30, 08:30 or 09:30.  The Rialto Bridge is just 20 minutes walk from Venice Santa Lucia, St Mark's Square just 27 minutes walk, see map of Venice showing station.  There's a left luggage office at the station.  Of course if you haven't been to Venice before, I'd recommend an overnight stop, not just a few hours!

    Fares start at from €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €).  Italiarail will refund their small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your booking reference.  Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

  • Step 2, travel from Venice to Villach in Austria near the Slovenian border by comfortable Austrian railjet train, leaving Venice Santa Lucia at 15:52 and arriving Villach at 19:11.

    Fares start at €19.90.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this at www.thetrainline.com (quickest & easiest to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, same prices, a bit more fiddly).  You print your own ticket.

  • Stay in Villach overnight - try the Hotel Goldenes Lamm or Hotel City, both near the station with great reviews.

  • Step 3, travel from Villach to Ljubljana & Zagreb, leaving Villach at 06:28 & arriving Lesce-Bled 07:28, Ljubljana at 08:11 and Zagreb 10:43.

    Buy this ticket at the station, likely to be around €20 to Ljubljana, €40 to Zagreb.

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Florence to Dubrovnik & Split...

Option 1, by train via Zagreb...

  • Step 1, travel overland from Florence to Zagreb by train as shown above.

  • Step 2, take a train from Zagreb to Split (daytime or sleeper) then a bus Split to Dubrovnik (4 hours, lots of buses). 

Option 2, it's more time-effective to take a train to Ancona or Bari, then a comfortable overnight ferry to Croatia.

  • Step 1, book an overnight ferry with comfortable en suite cabin either from Ancona to Split or from Bari to Dubrovnik.

    www.jadrolinija.hr sails on both routes several times a week, leaving 19:45-22:00 and arriving 07:00-08:00.  You can choose a private cabin or cheaper berth in a shared cabin.  There are also reclining seats, but I always recommend a bed in a cabin for a safe & secure night's sleep.  Make sure you're on deck with your camera ready as the ship approaches the beautiful Croatian coast!

  • Step 2, now add a train ticket from Florence SMN to either Ancona Centrale or Bari Centrale using www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €).  Italiarail will refund their small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your booking reference.  Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board. 

    You should choose a train which arrives in Bari or Ancona at least 3 hours before the ferry sails, to allow for transfer to the port and check-in.  In Bari it's a 25 minute walk via Bari's pleasant old town to the ferry terminal, or a 10 minute taxi ride.  In Ancona, take a taxi from station to ferry terminal.

Ancona to Split ferries in Split Harbour   Deluxe cabin onm Ancona to Split ferry

Blue Line & Jadrolinija ferries in Split Harbour...  Above right, a deluxe cabin on the Blue Line ferry, which comes complete with an en suite jacuzzi...  Courtesy of Andrew Leo.

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Florence to Belgrade & Sofia...

Until at least 30 July 2021, with overnight stop in Bruck an der Mur, Austria - the cheapest and simplest option...

  • Step 2, travel from Venice to Bruck an der Mur in Austria by comfortable Austrian railjet train, leaving Venice Santa Lucia at 15:52 and arriving Bruck an der Mur at 21:44.  Book this from €19 at either www.thetrainline.com (easiest) or Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at.  You print your own ticket.

  • Stay overnight in Bruck an der Mur - try the Hotel Landskron, 14 minutes walk from the station.

  • Step 3, travel from Bruck to Zagreb by train, leaving Bruck an der Mur at 06:20 and arriving Zagreb at 11:27.  2nd class only, bring your own food & drink along.  Book this from €29 at either www.thetrainline.com or www.oebb.at and print your own ticket.

  • Step 4, travel from Zagreb to Belgrade by train.  Until 31 July 2021 it leaves Zagreb at 13:04 arriving Novi Beograd 20:17 & Belgrade Centar at 20:25.  2nd class only, with two comfortable Serbian air-conditioned cars.  There's no catering, so bring your own food & drink.  This train cannot be booked online, just buy at the station or on the train for around €29.

  • Step 5, if you're going to Sofia, spend the night in Belgrade, I recommend the historic Hotel Moskva.  Travel from Belgrade to Sofia by daytime train, see the Belgrade to Sofia page for full details.  From mid-June to mid-September there's a direct train called the Balkan which leaves Belgrade Topcider station at 09:12 and arrives Sofia Central Station at 20:30.  2nd class only, bring your own picnic and bottle of wine as there's no catering.  At other times of year you leave Belgrade Centar station at 06:10, change at Nis & Dimitrovgrad arriving Sofia at 19:00.  Buy this ticket at the station for €20.60, there are always places available, even on the day.  It cannot be booked online, and there's no need.

From 31 July 2021, with overnight stop in Villach, Austria - the cheapest and simplest option...

  • Step 4, travel from Zagreb to Belgrade by train.

    From 1 August 2021 it leaves Zagreb at 11:04 arriving Novi Beograd 18:04 & Belgrade Centar at 18:12.  2nd class only, with two comfortable Serbian air-conditioned cars.  There's no catering, so bring your own food & drink.  This train cannot be booked online, just buy at the station or on the train for around €29.

  • Step 5 if you're going to Sofia, spend the night in Belgrade, I recommend the historic Hotel Moskva.  Travel from Belgrade to Sofia by daytime train, see the Belgrade to Sofia page for full details.  Buy this ticket at the station for €20.60, there are always places available, even on the day.  It cannot be booked online, and there's no need.

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Florence to Bar, Budva, Kotor & Montenegro...
  • This is an excellent way to reach beautiful Montenegro from Florence.  Make sure you're on deck with your camera ready as the ship approaches the lovely Montenegrin coast!

  • Step 1, book an overnight ferry with comfortable en suite cabin from Bari to Bar in Montenegro.  Montenegro Lines ceased trading in early 2017, but Croatian ferry line Jadrolinija (www.jadrolinija.hr) resumed with one sailing a week all year round, twice a week in high summer.  You can choose a private cabin or cheaper berth in a shared cabin.  There are also reclining seats, but I always recommend a bed in a cabin for a safe and secure night's sleep.

  • Step 2, now add a train ticket from Florence SMN to Bari Centrale from €29.90 using www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €).  Italiarail will refund their small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your booking reference.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

    You should choose a train which arrives in Bari at least 3 hours before the ferry sails, to allow for transfer to the port and check-in.  In Bari it's a 25 minute walk via Bari's pleasant old town to the ferry terminal, or a 10 minute taxi ride.

  • Trains link Bar with Podgorica and indeed with Belgrade on the spectacular Bar-Belgrade Railway.  Buses link Bar bus station with Budva & Kotor.

Montenegro Lines ferry from Bar to Bari

The former Montenegro Lines ferry to Bari at Bar ferry terminal...

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Florence to Warsaw, Krakow & Poland...

Option 1, using the Florence-Vienna sleeper...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 22:47 arriving Vienna Hbf at 08:52 next morning.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €69.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (same prices, more fiddly, in €). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the train formation, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria & click nj.

    Tip:  If you have a sleeper ticket and/or 1st class ticket for the onward train to Budapest you can use the ΦBB lounge in Vienna Hbf for an hour or so after arrival and an hour or two before departure, with complimentary refreshments & free WiFi.

  • Step 2, travel from Vienna to Warsaw by EuroCity train with restaurant car, leaving Vienna Hbf at 14:10 and arriving Warsaw Centralna at 21:24.

    For Krakow, change at Katowice, arriving Krakow Glowny at 21:10.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €59.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  You print your own ticket.

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead, but if booking Vienna to Krakow more than 60 days ahead it'll say Ticket for section only and only sell you the Vienna-Katowice train.  You can buy the connecting Katowice-Krakow ticket at the station in Katowice, or online at the Polish Railways website www.intercity.pl, booking for Polish trains opens 60 days ahead.

  • Alternatively, spend the day in Vienna, then take the overnight sleeper train from Vienna to Krakow or Warsaw as shown in the Austria to Poland page, booked online at www.oebb.at from €39 with couchette or €69 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper.

Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Vienna...

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Florence to Lviv, Kiev, Moscow...
  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train as shown in the Florence to Vienna section above, leaving Florence SMN in the evening and arriving at Vienna Hbf next morning.

  • Enjoy the best part of a day in Vienna, left luggage lockers are available.

  • Day 2, travel from Vienna to Lviv or Kiev by direct Ukrainian sleeping-car. leaving Vienna Hbf at 16:42 every day and arriving next day (day 3) at Lviv at 10:14 & Kiev at 17:21.  Introduced in 2017, this train has a Ukrainian sleeping-car with comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin, see the photos below.  At Chop on the other side of the border the through sleeping-car is jacked up to have its wheelsets changed from European standard gauge (4'8½") to Russian gauge used in Ukraine (5').

    Book the train from Vienna to Lviv or Kiev online at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.

    This will only book one-way or round trip starting in Vienna because tickets need to be collected from an ΦBB station in Austria.  They cannot be collected in Ukraine.  Booking this way you pay no fee or mark-up, just the official fare.  The sleeper has become popular, it can sell out.

    If you have any problems or want a one-way ticket starting in Ukraine, you can also book the Vienna-Kiev train via reliable agency www.polrail.com, with tickets posted or couriered to you for a small fee.  Polrail are based in Poland so charge in zlotys, but as they have access to Ukrainian ticketing system they are good for booking this train.

    Booked through oebb.at:

    Vienna to Kiev costs €80.50 in a 3-berth sleeper, €90.50 in a 2-berth sleeper or €152.90 in a single sleeper.

    Vienna to Lviv costs €62.10 in a 3-berth sleeper, €70.10 in a 2-berth sleeper or €119.30 in a single sleeper.

    Booked through Polrail:

    Vienna to Kiev costs around €138 in a 3-berth sleeper €149 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €241 in a single-berth sleeper.

    Vienna to Lviv costs around €120 in a 3-berth sleeper €129 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €207 in a single-berth sleeper.

    Booked at the station in Ukraine, Kiev to Vienna costs around €80, Lviv to Vienna around €60, in both cases with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper.

  • Day 3, take a sleeper train from Kiev to Moscow.  Train 6 leaves Kiev at around 19:36 and arrives Moscow Kievskaya at around 10:09 next day (day 4 from Italy).  Taking the route via Kiev avoids Belarus, so no need for a Belarus visa!

    The fare is around €92 with a bed in 4-berth kupι or €180 with a bed in a 2-berth spalny vagon.

    You can book tickets starting in Kiev at the Ukrainian Railways site https://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ booking from Kyiv to Moskva Kievskaya.  You collect tickets at the station in Kiev.  Feedback appreciated!

    Change in Moscow for fast trains to St Petersburg, see the train travel in Russia page.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass.  Photos courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Sleeper to Kiev about to leave Vienna   Ukrainian sleeper corridor   1, 2 or 3 bed Ukrainian sleeper compartment

The Vienna-Kiev sleeper about to leave Vienna Hbf... Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The sleeper corridor.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment.

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Florence to Athens & Greece...
  • Step 1, book a train from Florence SMN to Bari Centrale, an enjoyable and scenic ride across the spine of Italy.  Obviously, book the ferry first and work out a suitable connecting train afterwards.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (in €, £ or $, easy to use, small booking fee) or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €, more fiddly).  Italiarail will refund their small booking fee if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your booking reference.  Booking normally opens 120 days ahead.  It's ticketless, you just quote your booking reference on board.

    In Bari it's a 10 minute taxi ride or 25 minute walk to the ferry terminal next to Bari's pleasant old town.  I'd allow at least 3 hours between train and ferry in Bari, including the 2-hour ferry check-in.

  • Step 2, sail from Bari to Patras with Superfast Ferries.  The ferry sails normally daily except Sundays at 19:30 arriving Patras at 13:00 the next day (day 3).  On Sundays the ship sails at 13:30, too early to make connections from Rome but you can take a train to Bari on Saturday evening and stay overnight in Bari.

    Check ferry times, dates, prices & buy tickets using the Direct Ferries website or at www.superfast.com or www.ferriesingreece.com

    The ship is modern and comfortable, with restaurants, bars, lounges and sun decks.  You can book a deck place (a nice cheap option in summer if you have your own sleeping bag) or a reclining seat or a berth in various types of cabin, including luxury cabins with private shower & toilet.  Strolling the decks in the morning sun as the ship cruises past the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca is the nicest part of the trip, and it's a wonderful way to arrive in Greece.

    In Patras, the ferry arrives at the new South ferry terminal a few km from the town centre.  Bus number 18 links the port with the town bus station every hour on the hour, fare €1.20 or you can hop in a taxi for around €7, journey time 15-20 minutes.

  • Step 3, from Patras it's 3 hours to Athens by bus/train combo.  There's a bus/train combined timetable from Patras to Athens on www.trainose.gr but it takes a bit of finding.  Buy the bus ticket when you reach Patras, it costs around €18.

  • The Milan to Athens part of this journey is covered in more detail on the London to Greece page, just ignore the London to Milan part of the recommended journey!  You can also take ferries from Ancona or Brindisi with various companies.

A 2 or 4 berth cabin on the Italy-Greece ferry  

2 or 4-berth cabin with private toilet & shower.

 

Relaxing on deck...

The ferry from Bari to Greece at sea

At sea, passing Cephalonia & Ithaca.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

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Florence to Istanbul & Turkey...

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bullet pointRailbookers custom-made tours

If you just want to buy train tickets at the cheapest price, book online as shown on this page.  However, if you want someone to sort out your whole trip for you, arranging all your trains, hotels and transfers, and to look after you if anything affects your arrangements, talk to Railbookers.  Railbookers can tailor-make a train trip around Europe to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get good reports and a lot of repeat business!  They now have offices in the UK, North America and Australia.

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk.

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website.

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

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bullet pointHotels in Florence

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all 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.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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