As you get to the planning phase of your Italy vacation, you’re going to want to get to know the trains in Italy and how they can be a part of your adventure. There are many train stations and regional trains that can help you travel across the country. You can also use trains as a great way to experience some of the different landscapes and scenery the country has to offer.
In this guide, we will provide you with a complete overview of traveling in Italy using trains. Whether you want to experience the high-speed trains in Italy or you just want to know the ins and outs to travel Italy by train, we’ve got you covered.
Traveling by train in Italy is actually a pretty great experience. Check out these details to help along the way!
Get to Know the Train Station System in Italy
First of all, when it comes to Italian trains, there are several different kinds of trains you can take advantage of. Overall, the experience is well set up, but you will want to be familiar with the entire Italian railway system.
Whether you plan to travel in Italy by train for every stop, or you just want to take a train to Rome or another region, you have some options.
These are the primary train services in Italy:
You will likely choose your train based on where you want to go and how you’re hoping to be traveling around Italy as well. They all have unique experiences.
Regionale – Regional Trains
The Regionale system is for regional trains. There are several train station stops, and your train tickets will provide you with local service. This train isn’t fast, but it’s pretty cheap to ride.
If you aren’t in a hurry, it’s a good choice. They do make stops at every train station on its path, which is why it’s a slower-moving choice.
If you’re looking for a reliable ride to your choice of Italian cities on the Italian train network, InterCity is a strong choice. It’s quick for train travel and will hit all of the major cities on the route. They do cost slightly more than the regional train, but it’s not overly pricey.
If you’re looking for train travel in Italy for long-distance trains, InterCity trains are a good choice.
InterCity trains are the mid-level in terms of speed and stops.
Freccia Train Stations
If you’re looking for the Italian train stations that move the fastest, Freccia is it. These are high-speed train services designed to get you to the major cities without any other detours or stops. These Italy trains zip right along at super warp speeds that no other train can compare with.
This train Italy has to offer has more expensive train tickets, but sometimes the high speed is well worth the cost. They only hit the major cities here, so you may need connecting trains to get to certain areas.
Freccia also has several different lines. This includes Frecciarosa as well as Frecciargento trains and Frecciabianca trains too. All of their lines are high-speed trains. These high-speed trains will reach a speed of up to 223 miles per hour (360 kilometers per hour).
The Best Locations to Use a Train Company in Italy
There are many times that local trains will come in handy for your travel needs. Frecciarossa trains are speedy; other lines cover popular train routes and smaller cities.
Where you go and what you use will depend on your travel needs.
These companies all use modern trains. We’ve covered the three major train types, but there are also scenic trains and local train providers that you can look into for touristic purposes. Italy’s main cities are often easily accessible by train, and it’s a great way to travel.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer high-speed service or just want to make sure you make it from point A to Point B. Most trains will hit major cities, but keep in mind you may have train changes along the way.
These are the top regions that are really great for train travel in Italy:
On that same note, there are a few regions a train may not be ideal to use. This is typically due to the location and the type of countryside required to access the areas. This includes places like Sardinia, Sicily, Amalfi Coast, and other remote locations.
Here you can learn more about Italy’s regions.
Purchasing Train Tickets in Italy
To ride Italian trains, you will need an Italian train ticket. It will be important to map out your route a little bit, so you understand if you need to change trains or even change types of trains at a train station.
For example, you might use high-speed trains to travel to the larger cities and then the Regionale train to another nearby location. You will need a train ticket for each line in this case.
These are the two main train companies in Italy:
- Italo (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori)
We will cover these companies more in just a moment. You have the option to purchase your train tickets ahead of time online if you prefer. All the trains allow for this.
You could also use a universal train travel site, like Omio, to book Italy train tickets. Most train stations are compatible with these.
Your other option is to go directly to the train stations in the various Italian cities that have them and purchase there directly. The advantage to purchasing online is simply that it’s automated, and you won’t have to wait in line.
You also may get better prices by doing so.
When you purchase ahead of time, you have a lot of great information to check out and more time to plan and prepare any details. You also may get better choices for seating and things like that. The ticket price can be different, and you might also see a booking fee in some cases.
Buy train tickets in whatever way works for you. The Milan Central Station has a really nice setup and ticket office if you need assistance in person.
Train Operators in Italy
Here are the main train operators in Italy:
|Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori||National|
The Trenitalia website is a great resource for purchasing Trenitalia tickets or mapping out your plans. Both Trenitalia and Italo have great information to help plan the trip of your lifetime.
Trenitalia is known for providing high standards of comfort. You might be able to score some discounts with the Trenitalia Pass if you plan to do a lot of train travel in the area.
The Trenitalia first-class service is a great way to treat yourself to a little something special. Enjoy the restaurant car and an all-around luxurious experience. The Trenitalia line has night trains and just about any type of option you need to enjoy your trip.
Whether you choose Trenitalia or not will likely just depend on your needs or even what is available.
You can find Trenitalia app on App Store & Google Play:
The Italo line and the Trenitalia line are incredibly similar. Just like Trenitalia, Italo has high standards for operations and efficiency. They are easy to use and understand. Each line provides you access to regional train options, as well as high-speed services and night trains.
The primary differences are simply where the lines are located as well as their schedules. Otherwise, you will find them to be comparable. One is not necessarily better than the other. It boils down to what is going to work for your travel plan.
You can find Italo Treno app on App Store & Google Play:
What to Expect at the Train Station
Whether you’re taking advantage of the fastest train service around or just hopping on a direct train to your next location, get ready for an adventure. Navigating the systems is not too complicated, but if you aren’t familiar with them, they can feel overwhelming.
If you still need your own ticket, you can book trains through the ticket machine or at the local desk if there is one.
Now, it’s time to set your expectations for traveling to Italy by train and the train station experience. Even in the smaller towns, you will want to arrive early. You may have a seat reservation, but it will take some time to find your specific train and go through the boarding process.
The recommendation is to get there about 30 minutes prior to departure. Of course, the large cities and places like Bologna Centrale or Milan Centrale and Rome train stations are often very busy and require a lot of walking.
You may want to plan even more time for your arrival and getting to the track you need.
Find your way to the station, buy tickets if you need to, and then look around for the schedule board. This will have all of the departure and arrival information needed at all stations in Italy.
This board will tell you all of the Italian railways serviced at that station.
The information included will be the following:
- Type of train
- Tran number
- Departure time
- Any expected delays
- Intermediate stops and arrival times
- Platform number
Pull out your e-ticket or your paper ticket and take a look at it. Find the train number on the ticket. Sometimes when booking online, the standard class has to be validated at the ticket booth, so if this information is missing, head to the ticket vending machines to do so. Only do if necessary, and make sure you validate the same day you are traveling.
Now, you will need to navigate to the platform based on the route information on the billboard. This is where you will board. High-speed lines and other trains are usually separated. The train times and the platform you need are really what’s important here.
Once on the train, locate your seat reservations, toss your stuff in the luggage racks, and have a nice ride.
Italy Train Station Safety
As in every major city in Europe or around the world, we recommend being cautious about your luggage and other belongings.
Especially during high season, there can be pickpockets in the busiest main train stations. Remember to secure your wallet, phone, and other important belongings, and never leave your bags unattended.
There might also be people trying to help you with your luggage or buying a ticket in return for a tip afterward.
Other than this, traveling Italy by train is very safe.
If you’re coming to Italy from a nearby country, such as Switzerland, you can use your Eurail pass or a Eurail Italy pass to do so. There are several direct routes that allow you to visit a major city in Italy coming from another country.
These will be long distances, and you should plan to book tickets ahead of time to ensure you don’t run into any issues. The InterCity Notte will take you to several major cities through Eurail in Italy as well.
Night Trains in Italy
Direct trains and some of the slower trains offer night train rides throughout Italy. You can use these services to take long-distance rides as you visit Italy. The fastest trains are not usually part of this because of their speed and only hitting popular routes.
On the night trains, you will have a cabin that can sleep up to four people; there are seats and comfortable accommodations for you to spend the night.
InterCity is the most common night option.
Scenic Train Options in Italy
Take yourself away from the city center and the big cities to experience different routes in Italy. This type of route is specific to seeing the scenery. There are several booking reference options that will allow you to experience the sights and scenery.
You can reserve seats by buying tickets. This type of ride will likely be the Regionale, which is your slowest and cheapest option. It’s a good way to see the landscape around you.
There are scenic routes specifically designed for tours as well.
Look up options like The Cinque Terre Express or the Leonardo Express. The entire country has a few different selections like these. They do require reservations.
You can likely get tickets at the station, except in the high season when they get booked out a bit with excited passengers.
Take the Train in Italy at Least Once
You don’t have to purchase a pass, ride the fastest train, or use a train for every ride you need. However, we highly recommend experiencing the trains in Italy at least one time while you are there.
It will be a unique experience, and you will see so much of the beautiful landscape of Italy.
From fast trains to slow trains, it can be a pretty fun experience.
Where will you ride?
Which is the Best Train in Italy?
This will really depend on what you are trying to accomplish. For speed, Frecciarossa is a top choice, but there are several impressive trains in the country.
Are Trains in Italy Good?
Yes, the companies and rail stations work very hard to be efficient, keep equipment nice, and provide you with a nice ride.
Are Trains in Italy Expensive?
The fastest trains are the more expensive choices. However, when you compare it to other European rail systems, it’s pretty affordable. An Italy rail pass might be advantageous in the country, but you likely won’t need a Eurail pass unless you are doing a lot of rail travel.
Can You Take a Train Throughout Italy?
Yes! Some systems travel to the major cities while others will stop in even some of the smaller towns along the way.
Do Trains in Italy Have Free WiFi?
Some of them do, and some of them don’t. This is most accessible on the fast rail systems in the country.