The Ultimate Guide to Traveling By Train in Italy
Updated: Sep 15
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Besides being an incredible country filled with breathtaking views, mouthwatering food, charming streets, beautiful architecture, friendly people, and la dolce vita, Italy is a great country to travel around because of its amazing train system.
Plan a solo trip, couples getaway, or family vacation to Italy. It is the perfect country to visit for any kind of traveler: new travelers, budget travelers, luxury travelers, seasoned backpackers, and PTO travelers.
You can get to any city quite easily by utilizing public transportation in Italy. There are trains that go from every major city to nearly every small city. We traveled around Italy for a month and never needed a car!
So how do you travel Italy by train? Purchase Italy train tickets or an Italy rail pass, hop on a train, and get exploring! We’ll cover the details below, and tell you all about traveling by train in Italy.
Major Train Operators in Italy
The main train operator in Italy is Trenitalia. This company offers high-speed trains as well as regional trains. You can find Trenitalia trains for short-distance trips, such as between Cinque Terre and Pisa, but you’ll also find them going from one part of the country to another, like Florence to Naples.
Another train operator in Italy is Italo. These are strictly high-speed trains for going longer distances. Their main routes are Milan to Salerno (east coast) and Turin to Venice (northern Italy), with stops in between. Trenord is another regional train operator, but we did not end up on any Trenord trains during the whole month we traveled through Italy.
To keep everything organized, download the Trainline app. You can purchase tickets for any route and train operator in Italy through their website and app, and you'll be able to keep your tickets organized in one central location. They'll find the cheapest and fastest routes available!
Italy Train Map
The great part about trains in Italy is that they cover so much of the country. It’s very easy to travel around Italy by train. If you are looking for a specific route, you can search for your journey here, or if you need inspiration, take a look at the Italy Train Map.
Italy Train Tickets
Every major train station in Italy has ticket machines or a ticket window, as well as most of the other, smaller train stations. You can purchase Italy train tickets when you arrive at your station, or you can buy them online. If you know your journey ahead of time, we highly recommend buying any Italy train tickets in advance.
Many long-distance trains only leave a couple of times a day, so you don’t want to arrive at the train station just to find out you actually can’t leave until tomorrow or the next day. If you buy in advance, you can also plan your journey better.
You’ll know what time you need to be at the station and can avoid waiting longer than needed, and often you'll save money by booking in advance.
Our favorite way to buy tickets and keep them all organized was by downloading the Trainline app. This was a lifesaver while we were traveling by train in Italy. You can buy tickets on this app, keep track of your current train ride, store your tickets here, and look at the detailed journey of your rides.
If you click on your ticket, you can view your journey to see what stops the train will make as well as around what time you should be arriving at your station. The Trainline app is a must when traveling around Italy by train.
Besides being an amazing country all around, Italy is a great country to travel around or backpack through thanks to its wonderful train system. You can get nearly anywhere in Italy without a car, and you can also save money by utilizing the trains.
Italy Rail Pass
If you plan on traveling all over the place while in Italy, or even all around Europe, then look into buying a multi-ride railcard. There are also other passes, such as the Eurail or Interrail Pass. The Interrail Pass is only available for European citizens, and the Eurail Pass is available for everyone else.
These passes allow you to travel around Europe, including within Italy, as much as you want for a certain number of travel days. There are a few different kinds of passes. You can buy a Global Eurail Pass, for example, that allows you to travel around 33 different countries in Europe.
You can also buy passes for one country, like Italy for example. These single-country passes are cheaper but only allow for travel within the specified country. There is much more information from Trainline you can read about if you are interested in one of these Italy Rail Passes.
Traveling By Train in Italy: Things to Know
The best way to travel around Italy is by train. It is more affordable than renting a car, the trains are reliable and convenient, and you'll be able to get nearly anywhere within the country.
Purchase Tickets in Advance
Purchase your tickets ahead of time on the Trainline app. If you're traveling locally or regionally (short distance) you can usually buy tickets the day of. These fares tend to be fixed and based on distance traveled.
However, if you know when you're traveling, it doesn't hurt to book your tickets in advance. It will give you peace of mind knowing you have a ride to your next destination.
If you're traveling further, like from Rome to Cinque Terre, you should try and purchase your tickets in advance. You can save money by doing so and have more options for choosing a class (super-economy to first-class).
Crowds and Seating
You might get on a train to find you have the entire seating section to yourself. This makes it easy to keep your bags on the seats next to you and not worry about bothering others.
But sometimes the trains are super packed, and every seat will be taken. If your train journey is long, there's a good chance you'll have an assigned seat; you'll pick these or they'll show up on your ticket. Make sure you stick to your assigned seat.
But regional, shorter-distance trains are often first-come-first-served. If this is the case, don't put your bags on the seat next to you if it's busy. Be a courteous traveler and let someone else sit down for their journey.
When to Arrive & What to Do With Your Tickets
Always try to arrive early so you can find your train or platform where it's arriving. Italy doesn't run on a tight schedule so you might find your train is delayed, but that comes with traveling anywhere. It's better to be early, especially if you're new to traveling by train in Italy.
Some train stations in Italy are big and busy, like Roma Termini for example; these stations have security gates that you can't get past without your ticket, like an airplane. You'll just scan your ticket and the gate will open, then board your train.
Other stations are smaller and have ticket scanners along the platforms, we never scanned our tickets here, but as soon we left Italy, we heard you're supposed to do so before boarding your train so learn from our mistake.
Some trains will also have employees come check your tickets, either on board or as you're getting off. It's important you have your ticket with you or you can get fined for much more than the cost of a ticket.
Italy Train Travel Recap
You now know how to travel Italy by train! It's the cheapest, easiest way to get around this beautiful country. There's so much to see in Italy, you'll want to fit in as many cities as possible on your trip.
Remember to purchase your tickets ahead of time, stick to your assigned seat if you have one, and arrive at your station early. You'll be an Italy train travel pro in no time!
If you're new to traveling or a well-seasoned international explorer, Italy needs to be on your travel list. It's so easy to travel Italy by train, you can do it solo, with a friend, or even with a group.
If you’re planning an Italian getaway, check out my favorite parts of Italy! I hope you have the best time in the land of La Dolce Vita and fall in love with Italy as well. What cities are on your list? Let us know in the comments!
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