Train to Sicily being shunted onto the ferry
 

Yes, the trains go onto a ferry to cross the Straits between Villa San Giovanni on the mainland and Messina on Sicily. Courtesy Hans RothSee route map.  Watch the video...

  A sleeper train from Milan to Sicily on the train ferry
 

The InterCityNotte (ICN) sleeper train from Milan to Sicily on board the train ferry.  Courtesy of Marco Bereth, see his blog about the train here

Rome or Naples to Sicily from 19.90

Comfortable air-conditioned InterCity trains and time-effective sleeper trains link Rome & Naples with Messina, Palermo, Catania & Siracuse on Sicily from as little as 19.90.  Yes, these trains are direct to Sicily, they get ferried across the Straits of Messina on board a train ferry, one of the few places in the world where trains go onto ships, a fascinating & unique experience - Watch the video!  There's even a direct sleeper train from Milan, Bologna & Florence to Sicily, an epic ride in your own private mobile bedroom.

small bullet point  Train times

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What are the daytime trains like?

small bullet point  What are the sleeper trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips

small bullet point  Watch the video!

Train times southbound 2023

 Milan, Rome, Naples ► Sicily

 

Intercity

Intercity

sleeper

sleeper

sleeper

 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Milan Centrale depart:

-

-

-

-

20:10

 Genoa Piazza Principe depart:

-

-

-

-

 21:56*

 La Spezia depart:

-

-

-

-

 23:09*

 Pisa Centrale depart:

-

-

-

-

 23:59*

 Rome Termini depart:

07:26

11:26

20:31

23:00

|

 Naples Centrale depart:

09:50

13:45

23:24

|

|

 Salerno depart:

10:39

14:24

00:04

|

|

 Villa San Giovanni (mainland):

14:30

18:25

03:30

06:10

10:40

 Messina Centrale (Sicily) arrive:

15:35

19:35

05:15

08:05

12:45

 Taormina-Giardini arrive:

16:40

20:56

06:31

09:30

13:54

 Catania Centrale arrive:

17:25

21:37

07:33

10:10

14:32

 Siracuse arrive:

18:33

22:53

09:01

11:29

15:48

 Cefalu arrive:

18:31

22:12

08:25

10:58

15:55

 Palermo arrive:

19:25

23:05

09:24

11:57

16:55

Train times northbound 2023

 Sicily ► Naples, Rome, Milan

 

Intercity

Intercity

sleeper

sleeper

sleeper

 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Palermo depart:

06:50

10:00

12:35

18:48

20:55

 Cefalu depart:

07:35

10:59

13:35

19:36

21:43

 Siracuse depart:

07:32

10:10

13:35

19:10

21:45

 Catania depart:

08:41

11:18

14:54

20:26

22:58

 Taormina-Giardini depart:

09:18

11:56

15:39

21:12

23:35

 Messina (Sicily) depart:

10:10

13:10

16:40

22:10

00:35

 Villa San Giovanni (mainland):

11:50

14:50

18:45

00:05

|

 Salerno arrive:

15:34

18:37

23:30

|

06:42

 Naples Centrale arrive:

16:17

19:17

|

|

07:22

 Rome Termini arrive:

18:34

21:38

|

07:18

09:51

 Pisa Centrale arrive:

-

-

 06:47*

-

-

 La Spezia arrive:

-

-

 08:07*

-

-

 Genoa Piazza Principe arrive:

-

-

 09:50*

-

-

 Milan Centrale arrive:

-

-

11:22

-

-

Timetable notes

* This train normally runs via Genoa, La Spezia & Pisa, but is often diverted via Bologna & Florence Campo di Marte, so check oinline.

These trains run every day, all year round.  Each column in the timetable above is a train you can take.  I'm not going to update these times every time they change by a few minutes, so treat them as a guide and always check exact times for your specific date of travel at www.raileurope.com or www.trenitalia.com.

Each of these trains has two separate portions, one to/from Taormina, Catania & Siracuse, and another to/from Cefalu & Palermo, splitting or joining at Messina.  I've shown them in one column to save space.

Rome to Palermo is 893 km (555 miles) by train.  Rome to Siracuse is 843 km (524 miles) by train.

Milan to Palermo is 1,539 km (956 miles) by train via Genoa.  Milan to Siracuse is 1,489 km (925 miles).

From Florence, Bologna & Venice, take a high-speed Frecciarossa to Naples, then a day train to Sicily, or to Rome for the sleeper to Sicily.

From Cinque Terre, take a regional train to La Spezia and the sleeper to Sicily, or travel to Rome and take a day or night train to Sicily from there.

From Amalfi, take a bus to Salerno then a train to Sicily.

From Sorrento, take the local Circumvesuviana train into Naples then a train to Sicily.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

What are the Intercity trains like?

Intercity trains (IC) have with 1st & 2nd class seats in open-plan cars, arranged 2+1 across the car width in 1st class, 2+2 across the car width in 2nd class.  Both classes are comfortable and have power sockets at seats, toilets in every car and plenty of luggage space.  There is no WiFi, but mobile 3G reception along most of the route.  There's no catering car, so although you may get a refreshment trolley come down the train, you should bring a picnic and bottle of wine along for the ride.

Trenitalia Intercity train from Rome to Sicily

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

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

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

 

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

Scenery from the train to Sicily

Vesuvius & the Bay of Naples, seen from the Intercity train after leaving Naples.  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

Scenery from the train to Sicily

The scenery between Naples & Villa San Giovanni is lovely, all along the coast with mountains inland, see the route map below.  Remember that picnic and bottle of wine!  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

Intercity train to Sicily on board the ferry

The Intercity train on board the train ferry sailing towards Messina.  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

What are the sleeper trains like?

The Intercity Notte (ICN) trains have sleeping-cars and 4-berth couchettes.  There are no ordinary seats, or 6-berth couchettes.

Sleeper train to Sicily on board the train  ferry

The Milan-Sicily sleeper train on board the train ferry to Messina.  Courtesy of Marco Bereth, see his blog about the train here.

1 & 2 bed Excelsior sleepers

There are Excelsior sleepers with en suite shower & toilet on the Milan-Catania-Siracuse night train and on one of the Rome-Catania-Siracuse night trains.  There's just one rebuilt T3S sleeping-car on each of those trains and each sleeping-car has just 4 Excelsior sleeper compartments with shower & toilet plus 6 standard Deluxe compartments with washbasin.  You won't find Excelsior sleepers to or from Palermo, or on every Italian sleeper train.  If one is available, it's nice to have your own en suite toilet and shower, but don't be too surprised if no water comes out of the shower!  Apart from the en suite shower & toilet, facilities & catering are the same as the regular sleepers described below.  See layout of a T3S sleeping-carExcelsior photos courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry & Niklas Hoth.

Premium sleeper en suite toilet & shower   Excelsior sleeper on the Rome to Sicily train  

Excelsior sleeper

Excelsior sleeper en suite toilet & shower.  Larger photo.

 

Excelsior sleeper set up as a 1st class single-berth.  Larger photo.

 

T3S sleeper on a Rome-Sicily night train, with 4 Excelsior compartments & 6 standard compartments.

1, 2 & 3 bed Deluxe sleepers

The regular sleeping-cars are branded Deluxe.  A corridor runs along one side of the car off which open 12 compartments, each of which can be sold as 3-berth (triple or tripla), 2-berth (double or doppio) or single-berth (single or singolo).  There are two toilets at one end of the corridor near the attendant's compartment.

Each sleeper compartment has a washbasin and 220V power outlet, and locks securely from the inside.  The beds come fully made up with clean sheets, pillow, duvet.  For the daytime part of the journey, the beds fold back against the wall and a 3-seat sofa folds out to make a private sitting room (the centre seat folds back down to form a table between the two outer seats if there are only two of you).  A fresh towel and simple amenities kit is provided in sleepers with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton buds, cotton pads, wet-wipe & rubbish bag.  Luggage goes in your compartment with you.

Since the pandemic, Trenitalia no longer allows solo travellers to book 1 bed in shared sleeper compartments.  Only entire 1, 2 or 3 bed rooms (cabina intera) can be booked in the sleeper category.  So if you're solo you'll have to pay for a single if you want to use a sleeper rather than a couchette.

There is a simple room service menu, the sleeper attendant can serve you tea, coffee, beer, wine, sandwiches and even maybe a hot dish such as lasagne, but it's a good idea to take snacks and maybe a bottle of wine with you.  In the morning the sleeper attendant serves you complimentary tea, coffee or juice. 

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

Standard sleeping-car on Milan-Sicily train

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

 

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

 

Standard Italian sleeper on the Milan-Sicily train with 12 compartments, each configurable as 1st class Single or Double or 2nd class 3-berth. Courtesy Marco Bereth

4-berth Comfort couchettes

This is the economical choice, ideal for budget travellers or families.  A corridor runs down one side of the car, off which open 9 lockable compartments, each with 4 berths (2 upper, 2 lower).  Each berth comes with sheets, pillow and blanket, but unlike in the sleeper you arrange these yourself.  The upper bunks fold back against the wall and the lower berths become seating for evening and morning use.

There are toilets and washrooms at the end of the corridor.  Luggage goes in the compartment with you, on the overhead racks, under the lower berths or on the floor.  There's no catering car, so take snacks and a bottle of wine with you.  An attendant travels with each pair of cars.

In couchettes, berths are sold individually, so one person = one ticket = one bed.  A solo traveller who books one ticket gets one berth in a shared couchette compartment.  Usually these are mixed gender (Promiscuo), but women travelling alone can choose a ladies-only compartment (Donna).  If you book 4 people you'll get a whole compartment (cabina intera) to yourselves.  There's also a fare for 3 people to have sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment (a more basic but more spacious option than a 3-bed sleeper, arguably a better choice if your journey involves a significant daytime element).  See a trip report video.

Italian Comfort 4-berth couchette car   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette

A Comfort couchette car, the economical choice,  ideal for families.  Each car has nine 4-berth compartments.  Courtesy of Marco Bereth

 

4-berth Comfort couchettes.  Sheets, pillow & blanket are provided.  It converts to seats by day.  Courtesy Suzanne Veerman Larger photo.

Sleeper train to Sicily on board the ferry

Dawn over Sicily as the InterCityNotte from Rome approaches Messina on board the train ferry.  Courtesy of Richard Simcox, who went up on deck at 5am while his family slept on in their couchettes on board the train.  Sometimes rising early has its rewards!

 

Route map

Berlin to Prague train route map

Click for larger map

Green = scenic routes

Red = high-speed line

Map extract by kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.  I recommend buying this map for your European travels with shipping worldwide at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu.

Travel tips

Coastal view from the Palermo to Milan sleeper train

Room with a view...  The Sicily to Milan sleeper speeds along the coast of Italy in daylight before its overnight run into Milan.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Traveller's reports

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

VideoThe train ferry to Sicily


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