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.

I want to go from Florence to...

      

       Click here for journeys starting in another city COVID-19 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 2020.

Before 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.

European 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 central station 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 = Italian State railways.  All Trenitalia long-distance trains have airline-style pricing with a seat reservation automatically included with every ticket, 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 dynamic airline-style pricing, so tickets will be much cheaper if 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 possible.

    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.

  • Buy Italian train tickets online at either Raileurope.co.uk, www.italiarail.com or Italian Railways' own site www.trenitalia.com.

    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 for high-speed trains 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.  Raileurope.co.uk is easy to use, it's written in plain English, it can be used in €, £ or $, a small booking fee applies.

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

    3.  Trenitalia.com is fairly easy to use but you need to use Italian-language place names and it has a few quirks especially if booking a sleeper so see this advice on using it.   There's no booking fee.

  • For more information, including how to reach places such as Sorrento, Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi see the Train travel in Italy page.

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

    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 are dynamic like air fares, so book early for the cheapest rates.  On Trenitalia, Super-economy & Economy fares = advance-purchase, 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.  Trains are all-reserved, tickets are for a specific train and come with a reserved seat.  But there are always places available on the day, if you're happy paying the most expensive Base fare.  It's a similar situation 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:  Pisa Centrale is 25 minutes walk from the famous Leaning Tower, but a few 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 Raileurope.co.uk, 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 €9.30 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 Raileurope.co.uk, 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 €7.80 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 Raileurope.co.uk, 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 Raileurope.co.uk, 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.  Raileurope.co.uk is easy to use, it's written in plain English, it can be used in €, £ or $, a small booking fee applies.

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

    3.  Trenitalia.com is fairly easy to use but you need to use Italian-language place names and it has a few quirks so see this advice on using it.   There's no booking fee.

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.  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 Raileurope.co.uk 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...

Option 1, by Eurostar & TGV...

Option 2, using the Thello sleeper train...

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Florence to Paris from €49...

Option 1, Florence to Paris in just an afternoon & evening, by high-speed train from €49 - the fastest & cheapest option...

  • How about an afternoon in Turin?   Turin is a wonderful place, 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 Job...  I highly recommend 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, to see the scenery in daylight, use high-speed trains from €49 with an overnight stop in wonderful Turin - the option I'd recommend!

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 to Paris.  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, by high-speed train from Florence to Milan then Thello sleeper train from Milan to Paris - the most time-effective option...

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

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

 

Sleeper with beds folded away.  Larger photo360.

 

2-bed sleeper.  Larger photo360 degree photo.

Thello couchette compartment   Boarding the Thello sleeper train at Paris.

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

 

A couchette car on the Thello train from Paris to Venice, at Paris Gare de Lyon.  More Thello info here.

Option 4, 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...

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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 Marseille & Nice to Milan, at Marseille St Charles   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

The Milan-Nice-Cannes-Marseille Thello train at Milan...  See more photos & information about these Thello trains.

 

1st class seats on Thello.  All seats have power sockets.  Plenty of luggage room on racks & between seat backs...

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Cafe counter on the 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.

 

The small cafe-bar counter on the Milan to Nice & Marseille Thello train serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.

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...

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 €79...

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

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

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 21:55, arriving Munich Hbf 08:19.

    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, deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower are also available.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.

    Book this at www.trainline.eu (in various currencies, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Brussels by luxurious ICE train & Thalys from €29+€19, leaving Munich Hbf at 10:51, change in Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Brussels Midi at 17:35.

    Book this at the German Railways site www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or load it into the DB Navigator app & show on your 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 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 using an Italian high-speed train to Bologna or Verona then an Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car for dinner through the scenic Brenner pass to Munich Hbf.

    You can leave Florence SMN as late as 14:20, change at Bologna Centrale, arriving Munich Hbf at 22:27, but by all means take an earlier train and spend a pleasant evening in Munich.

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90, Bologna or Verona to Munich starts at €39.90.

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich at Raileurope.co.uk, but (this is important) click More options, enter Verona (any station) as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  Now re-run the enquiry with Bologna (any station) as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, once or twice per day it does.

  • 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 08:48, change in Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, arriving Brussels Midi at 15:35.  ICE trains have a bistro-restaurant, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, Thalys have a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Fares start at from €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

    Book this at the German Railways site www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or load it into the DB Navigator app & show on your smartphone.

Option 5, by high-speed train Florence to Milan, Thello sleeper train to Paris & high-speed Thalys train to Brussels... 

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Florence to Amsterdam from €64...

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

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... 

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 car.  See sample menu.

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

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

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 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).  With the daytime trains increasingly fast, there are no longer any sleeper trains between Italy & Switzerland.

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

  • How to buy tickets if your journey involves a Swiss domestic element, e.g. Florence to Zermatt, Interlaken, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen & so on...

    OK, here's the problemwww.italiarail.com & www.trenitalia.com can book the direct EuroCity trains from Milan to key Swiss cities, but they can't book journeys which involve a change of train within Switzerland onto a Swiss domestic train, because Italian Railways cannot sell tickets for the Swiss domestic part of the journey.  And although Raileurope.co.uk can book such journeys, it doesn't connect directly to the Swiss system so can't do print-at-home Swiss domestic tickets, conventional tickets have to be posted and will only be posted to UK addresses.

    Now here's the solution.   Use the journey planner at www.bahn.de to find a suitable journey, note where the change is within Switzerland.

    First use Raileurope.co.uk or www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com to book from anywhere in Italy to that interchange point.

    Then use the Swiss Railways website www.sbb.ch to buy a print-at-home ticket for the Swiss domestic journey from the interchange point to your final destination.  Or you can buy at the station as there's one fixed price and no reservations necessary for Swiss domestic trains, but buying a print-at-home ticket in advance saves time so you can hop on the next available connection.

    So for Florence to Interlaken, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, you'd book from Florence to Spiez at Raileurope.co.uk or www.italiarail.com using a direct Milan-Spiez train, then buy a separate ticket from Spiez to Interlaken Ost, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald either in person at Spiez station or online at www.sbb.ch with print-at-home tickets.

    For Florence to Zermatt, you'd book Florence to Brig at Raileurope.co.uk or www.italiarail.com, then Brig to Zermatt at the station or online at www.sbb.ch with print-at-home tickets.

    For the record, Swiss Railways, www.sbb.ch can book from Italy to anywhere in Switzerland as one transaction with print-at-home tickets, but it cannot access the cheaper economy & super-economy fares for Trenitalia trains south of Milan, it will always charge you the most expensive base fare for the Italian domestic leg.  So for journeys from Venice to Switzerland I'd recommend booking as above, and not with sbb.ch.

ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale

An ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale, about to leave for Switzerland.  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...

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 route may be much slower and a little more fiddly to book, but it's an amazing experience, arguably the best train ride of them all through the Swiss Alps...

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

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

Milan to Marseille by Thello train...

Thello train from Marseille & Nice to Milan, at Marseille St Charles   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

The Thello train from Milan to Marseille at Milan Centrale.  See more photos & information about these Thello trains...

 

1st class seats on Thello.  All seats have power sockets.  Plenty of luggage room on racks & between seat backs...

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Cafe counter on the 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.

 

The small cafe-bar counter on the Milan to Nice & Marseille Thello train serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.

Coastal views from the train between Toulon and Nice

View from the train between Nice & Marseille...

Marseille to Barcelona & Madrid by AVE high-speed train...

 

A Spanish S100 AVE train at Barcelona Sants.  See more photos & information about these AVE-S100 high-speed trains.

 

2nd class seats, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  Panorama photo of 2nd class

 

Cafe-bar on an S100 AVE serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

1st class seats on an S100 AVE.  Panorama photo of 1st class

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...

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Florence to Lisbon & Portugal...
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 a private toilet & shower...

 

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

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Florence to Munich, Berlin & Germany from €39...

Option 1, Florence to Munich by Nightjet sleeper train and onwards to anywhere in Germany - the time-effective option...

  • Step 1, a comfortable Austrian Nightjet sleeper train leaves Florence SMN at 21:55 every night and arrives Munich Hbf at 08:19 next morning.

    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 .  Deluxe sleepers with shower & toilet are also available.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.

    Book this at www.trainline.eu (in various currencies, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, now book an onward train from Munich to anywhere in Germany at www.bahn.de from €19.90 upwards, allowing at least 1 hour between trains in Munich.  You print your own ticket.  For example, you can leave Munich Hbf at 09:54 by high-speed ICE train and arrive Berlin Hbf at 14:25.

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 Munich & Germany via the Brenner route - a scenic daytime option...

  • Take a high-speed train from Florence to Verona Porta Nuova in 1h30, then a comfortable EuroCity train with restaurant car from Verona Porta Nuova to Munich via the Brenner Pass in around 5h10, see the Brenner Pass scenery video here.  The Verona-Munich EuroCity trains run every couple of hours and it's a lovely run up the Brenner with a meal in the elegant restaurant car.

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

    Bologna/Verona to Munich or anywhere in Germany starts at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

  • To buy tickets, book from Florence SMN to Munich or anywhere in Germany at Raileurope.co.uk, but (and this is important) click More options, enter Verona (any station) 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.  Now re-run the enquiry with Bologna (any station) as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, once or twice per day it does.

    Raileurope.co.uk can be used by anyone from any country, in €, £ or $, a small booking fee applies.  The Italian train is ticketless, you quote the reference on board.  You can print out your ticket for the EuroCity train, or receive a mobile ticket to show on your smartphone.

    Alternatively, 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 German train(s) from Bologna or Verona to anywhere in Germany at 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 3, 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 18:59.

    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!  This train runs every day (but won't run on Mondays-Fridays from 6 Jan to 30 March 2020).

    Fares from Milan to Germany start at €59.90 in 2nd class or €119.90 in 1st class.

    Book from Milan to anywhere in Germany at www.bahn.de or Raileurope.co.uk or www.trainline.eu, looking for the 11:20 departure.  You print your own ticket.

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

An ETR610 train at Milan.  One train per day runs direct to Frankfurt.  More information about ETR610 trains.

 

2nd class seats on the ETR610 EuroCity train.  Larger photo.

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.  Larger photo.

 

Dinner in the diner...

Option 4, Florence to anywhere in Germany by daytime trains with overnight stop in Munich...

  • Day 1, travel from Florence to Munich from €39.90 using an Italian high-speed train to Bologna or Verona then an Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car for dinner through the scenic Brenner pass to Munich Hbf.

    You can leave Florence SMN as late as 14:20, change at Bologna Centrale, arriving Munich Hbf at 22:27, but by all means take an earlier train and spend a pleasant evening in Munich.

    Florence to Bologna or Verona starts at €19.90, Bologna or Verona to Munich starts at €39.90.

    Book from Florence SMN to Munich at Raileurope.co.uk, but (this is important) click More options, enter Verona (any station) as a via station and a stopover duration of 45 minutes.  Look for journeys with just 1 change.  Now re-run the enquiry with Bologna (any station) as a via station also with 45 minutes stopover selected to see if this gives a cheaper or quicker 1-change journey, once or twice per day it does.

    Raileurope.co.uk can be used by anyone from any country, in €, £ or $, a small booking fee applies.  The Italian train is ticketless, you quote the reference on board.  You can print out your ticket for the EuroCity train, or receive a mobile ticket to show on your smartphone.

    Alternatively, 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 German train(s) from Bologna or Verona to anywhere in Germany at www.bahn.de.

  • 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, take comfortable ICE or IC trains from Munich to anywhere in Germany from €19.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.

    Buy tickets at bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or can load it into the DB Navigator app to show on your smartphone.

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

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

  • An excellent Nightjet sleeper train leaves Florence SMN at 21:55 every night, with a portion arriving at Salzburg at 06:15 and another portion arriving at Vienna Hbf at 08:53.

  • 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.  Deluxe sleepers with en suite toilet & shower are also available, and there's a shower for standard sleeper passengers at the end of the corridor.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment, see the Nightjet sleeper information page.

  • Book this train at www.trainline.eu (in various currencies, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

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 Vienna & Salzburg.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families...

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

  • You can travel from Florence to Salzburg or Vienna by train in a single chill-out day from €49.  And how about lunch in Venice?

  • Step 2, travel from Venice to Vienna by smart Austrian railjet train, leaving Venice Santa Lucia at 15:55 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.

    Book from Venice to Vienna or Salzburg from €29 in 2nd class, €44 in 1st class or €59 in business class (= premium 1st class, a real treat) at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, overseas payment cards no problem) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (same prices but a bit more fiddly).  You print your own ticket.

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

  • You can travel from Florence to Austria by train in a single chill-out day via the Scenic Brenner Pass. 

  • For example, if you left Florence SMN around 10:30 you'd reach Innsbruck Hbf around 16:30, Salzburg around 19:00, Vienna Hbf around 21:30.

  • Step 1, take a fast Frecciarossa from Florence SMN to Bologna Centrale from €19.90.  There's usually one around 10:00.

  • Step 2, take a comfortable Austrian EuroCity train with restaurant car leaving Bologna Centrale at 11:52 for Innsbruck Hbf via the scenic Brenner Pass, see the Brenner Pass scenery video here.  Fares from Bologna to anywhere in Austria start at €39.  Treat yourself to a meal in the restaurant car as the mountains glide by...  Change in Innsbruck for trains to Salzburg, Linz & Vienna.

  • To buy tickets, first book the 11:52 from Bologna Centrale to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna or anywhere in Austria at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, overseas payment cards no problem) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (same prices but a bit more fiddly).  You print your own ticket.

    Now add a suitable connecting train from Florence SMN to Bologna Centrale at www.trainline.eu (easy to use, in €, no booking fee) or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, in €, £, $ or Au$) or www.trenitalia.com (in €), making sure you have at least 40 minutes between trains in Bologna 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.

  • Earlier or later departures are possible, but with a change in Verona Porta Nuova rather than Bologna, as trains link Verona and Innsbruck every 2 hours, only one or two a day start back in Bologna.  In this case, you'd first book Verona to Austria using www.trainline.eu, then add a Florence to Verona ticket at either www.trainline.eu or www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com, again making sure you allowed at least 40 minutes between trains in Verona.

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...
  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Munich by excellent Austrian Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Florence SMN at 21:55, arriving Munich Hbf 08:19.

    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 if you book well in advance.  Deluxe sleepers with en suite shower & toilet are also available, and there's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in regular sleepers.  Breakfast is included in the fare in couchettes & sleepers, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet information page.

    Book this at www.trainline.eu (in €, £ or $, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

    If you'd prefer a daytime journey with an overnight stop in Munich, use the Florence to Munich in a single day option above.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Copenhagen leaving Munich Hbf at 10:21 by luxurious ICE train, making one easy change in Hamburg onto a comfortable Danish IC3 intercity train arriving Copenhagen at 21:33.

    If you're only going as far as Copenhagen, book Munich to Copenhagen from €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class at the German Railways site www.bahn.de and print your own ticket.

  • Step 3 if you're going to Malmo, simply take a regular Φresund train from Copenhagen to Malmφ in 39 minutes with passport check off-train at Kastrup, these leave twice an hour.  You can book through from Munich to Malmφ from €39 at www.bahn.de and print your own ticket.

  • Step 3 if you're going to Stockholm or Gothenburg, stay overnight in Copenhagen then travel to Stockholm in just 5h15 by X2000 high-speed train or to Gothenburg in 3h53 by Φresund train.

    You can book tickets from Copenhagen to anywhere in Sweden at the Swedish Railways site www.sj.se, but there's a cleverer way to book if you are coming from Munich.  Use this special link to bahn.de to book from Munich to Stockholm from €39.90 with an overnight stop in Copenhagen programmed in using the Add intermediate stops feature - just enter your date of travel from Munich.  Adjust the intermediate stopover time as necessary to get the trains you want, or if no fares show up initially, it may take a bit of trial & error to get the trains you want.  This method works to book from Munich to Gothenburg, too - you'll find bahn.de lists Gothenburg as Gφteborg Central.

  • Step 3 for Oslo, stay overnight in Copenhagen and travel from Copenhagen to Oslo by train next day as shown here.  Or spend the day in Copenhagen and take the overnight DFDS cruise ferry to Oslo as also shown here.

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 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 overnight on the comfortable Austrian Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 21:55 and arriving at Vienna Hbf at 08:53 next morning.

    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 if you book well in advance.  Deluxe sleepers with en suite shower & toilet are also available, and there's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in regular sleepers.  Breakfast is included in the fare in couchettes & sleepers, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet information page.

    Book this at www.trainline.eu (in €, £ or $, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

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...

 

Step 1, take the comfortable Austrian Nightjet train from Florence to Vienna.  More information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families...

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 186mph Frecciarossa high-speed train, making one quick & easy change at the magnificent Milan Centrale station onto a bullet-nosed ETR610 EuroCity train along Lake Maggiore and through the Swiss Alps arriving in Zurich HB at 18:50.  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 Raileurope.co.uk, www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com.  Florence to Milan starts at €19.90 then Milan to Zurich starts at €29.  Just 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 each train.

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

  • Step 2, now take the Zurich to Prague sleeper leaving Zurich HB at 21:40 every night and arriving next morning at Ceske Budejovice at 08:51 & Prague Hlavni at 10:57.  The train has a modern Czech sleeping-car, some deluxe sleepers have an en suite shower & toilet, there's a shower for standard sleeper passengers at the end of the corridor.  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.

    Book this sleeper online at the Czech Railways site www.cd.cz and print out 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...

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Florence to Budapest from €68...
  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Vienna by comfortable Austrian Nightjet sleeper train leaving Florence SMN at 21:55 & arriving Vienna Hbf 08:53.

    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 if you book well in advance.  Deluxe sleepers with en suite shower & toilet are also available, and there's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in regular sleepers.  Breakfast is included in the fare in couchettes & sleepers, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet information page.

    Book this at www.trainline.eu (in €, £ or $, overseas payment cards no problem) or Austrian Railways own site www.oebb.at.  Bookings can open up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

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...

 

Step 1, Florence to Vienna by comfortable Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families...

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's historic 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...
  • Alternatively, stay overnight in Budapest - for an inexpensive hotel with great reviews right next to Keleti Station, try the Royal Park Boutique Hotel or the inexpensive Baross City Hotel just across the road or the Elit Hotel two minutes walk away.  Next day, take a daytime train across Transylvania to Cluj, Timisoara, Simeria, Brasov or Bucharest see details here.  These daytime trains are also bookable from €29 at www.mavcsoport.hu.

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Florence to Ljubljana & Zagreb...

Option 1, by 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 2, with overnight stop in Austria - a useful alternative...

Until 3 October 2020, 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!

    Book this train from €19.90 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.  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 15:55 and arriving Villach at 19:11.  Book this from €19 at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, overseas payment cards no problem) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (same prices but 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 by direct train, leaving Villach at 06:25 and arriving Lesce-Bled 07:28, Ljubljana at 08:11 and Zagreb at 10:49.  Buy this ticket at the station, likely to be around €20 to Ljubljana, €40 to Zagreb.

From 4 October 2020, 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 15:55 and arriving Bruck an der Mur at 21:44.  Book this from €19 at either www.trainline.eu (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.trainline.eu or www.oebb.at and print your own ticket.

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Florence to Dubrovnik & Split...
  • You can travel overland all the way from Florence to Zagreb by train as shown above, then take a train from Zagreb to Split (daytime or sleeper) then a bus Split to Dubrovnik (4 hours, many buses).  But it's more time-effective to go by comfortable overnight ferry from Italy to Croatia as follows.

  • 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 and 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.  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 3 October 2020, with overnight stop in Villach, Austria - the cheapest and simplest option...

  • Step 1, travel from Florence to Venice by Frecciarossa high-speed train, leaving Florence SMN at 12:30, arriving Venice Santa Lucia at 14:35.

    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!

    Book this train from €19.90 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.  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 15:55 and arriving Villach at 19:11.  Book this from €19 at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, overseas payment cards no problem) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (same prices but 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 Belgrade by train, leaving Villach at 06:25, switching trains at Zagreb (arrive 10:49, depart 11:03) and arriving Belgrade Centar station at 18:07.  There's lovely scenery along the River Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.  You can buy the ticket at Villach station, fare around €97 if bought on the day, there are always places available.  To reduce the cost, pre-book a Villach to Zagreb advance-purchase sparschiene ticket from €29 at either www.trainline.eu or the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at, but you'll then need to ask the Croatian conductor to sell you an onward ticket from Zagreb to Belgrade, likely to be about €29, or break your journey in Zagreb for a day to buy a new ticket.  Zagreb is a city well worth a stopover!

  • Step 4 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.

From 4 October 2020 onwards, 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 15:55 and arriving Bruck an der Mur at 21:44.  Book this from €19 at either www.trainline.eu (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.trainline.eu or www.oebb.at and print your own ticket.

  • Step 4, travel from Zagreb to Belgrade on the daily train, leaving Zagreb at 13:04 and arrives Novi Beograd at 20:17 & Belgrade Centar at 20:25.  The fare is around €29, it cannot be bought online so buy at the station or on board the train.

  • 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.

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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) will resume shortly 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 and 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...

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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 from €29.90 at www.italiarail.com (easy to use, recognises English place names, the small booking fee will be refunded if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways site www.trenitalia.com (needs Italian language place names, no booking fee, read this advice on using it first).

    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 across the Adriatic from Bari to Corfu, Igoumenitsa or Patras in Greece aboard a luxurious cruise ferry booked at www.superfast.com.  She normally sails daily except Sundays at 19:30 arriving 13:00 next day.  There are a range of cabins, bars, restaurants on board, it's a lovely voyage, see the photos below.

  • Step 3, from Patras it's a few hours bus ride to Athens.  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.

  • 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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Railbookers 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 call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk.

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

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

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

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

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Hotels in Florence

My 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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