How to See Italy by Train

For a truly unforgettable vacation experience, traveling through Italy by train is a trip for all ages and every season. Get our tips for an Italy rail vacation and start planning for your new best vacation ever!

Italy by Train: Where You Can Go

High-speed trains criss-cross Italy for a modern, convenient take on train travel.

High-speed trains criss-cross Italy for a modern, convenient take on train travel. Photo: Shutterstock

Where can you go in Italy by train? Just about anywhere! And if you want to get there in a hurry, even better. Italy’s high-speed train network is modern and sleek, with lines connecting major cities from Milan to Calabria. If you’re ready to city-hop in Italy but can’t quite see yourself driving in their famously… uh… shall we say exciting… traffic, then Italy by train is your answer.

Our favorite vacation idea for seeing Italy by train? It’s got to be the classic Rome, Florence and Venice route. You get the monuments and museums of Rome, the Renaissance beauty of Florence, and the legendary canals and palazzos of Venice in one fantastic trip. So, how do you make it happen? Here’s what you need to know about seeing Italy by train.

Train Stations and Tickets

Train stations in Italy’s large cities are centrally located, close to hotels and restaurants, and even offer luggage storage (for a fee), so no matter when you come into town, you’ll feel comfortable and ready to explore. Stations like Rome’s Termini have plenty of shopping and dining right in the complex, so if you need to grab a snack for the ride, you’ve got options.

But before you even get to the station, be sure you have your ticket. You can buy tickets at the station, but it’s easier and a better use of your time to just get them before your trip. When it comes to vacations, you don’t want to waste time in a line you could have skipped if you’d planned ahead! Plus, Italy’s high-speed trains require seat reservations, and you don’t want to show up for a sold-out train that leaves you in the station.

When you book through Virgin Vacations, you’ll receive a voucher for your train trip which includes your seating assignment, as well as the train station, so you’ll know exactly where you’re heading. You’ll hand it to the conductor, and that’s that.

Once you’re at the station, take a look at the departure board to see which track you’re going to. You should see translations to English, but just in case you don’t, the Italian word for platform will be bin or binari. When your train’s platform number becomes available, board your train and find your seats! A conductor will be along to check your tickets at some point during your trip.

The Departures Board at Roma Termini. Photo: Flickr/pnh (CC 2.0)

The Departures Board at Roma Termini. Photo: Flickr/pnh (CC 2.0)

Since there won’t be luggage assistance or porters for the trains, and because luggage storage is somewhat limited, you’ll want to be mindful of how much you pack!

What to Expect on Board

When traveling Italy by train, you can select from different classes of ticket — usually between standard and first class. On high-speed trains, standard class will typically include comfortable seating, luggage racks overhead, and some room for luggage under seats. Some coaches will also have luggage compartments for additional storage. Traveling through lunch? Food is available for purchase on the train, but most experts suggest packing a picnic or snacks for the ride instead.

Get comfortable and enjoy the view! Photo: Shutterstock

Get comfortable and enjoy the view! Photo: Shutterstock

If you decide on first class, you’ll find upgrades to the seating and additional leg-room, plus more luggage space. You might also enjoy enhanced dining options and a welcome drink or snack, depending on the route.

With either ticket, Italy’s high-speed trains generally offer power outlets at the seat and Wi-Fi service… so it’s a good opportunity to charge up your phone before the next big photo session!

Where to Stay

In Rome, Florence and Venice, you can find hotels for every sort of budget and taste within a short distance of the  train station. In Rome, hotels like the Grand Hotel Palatino or the Hotel Montecarlo are located in Rome’s historic center and are still just a few blocks from Roma Termini, so save that cab fare for a bowl of pasta later.

The Florence train station is a little outside of the historic district, but you can still enjoy convenient hotels like the Hotel Delle Nazioni, which offers an incredible view of the city’s famous Duomo.

And in Venice, hotels like the Papadopoli Venice and the Hotel Carlton Capri combine the two, with convenient connections to the train station as well as a historic, central location.

Booking Your Italy by Train Vacation

The easiest way to book your vacation is with a package that includes hotel, flights, train and any tours and transfers you might like as well. Seamless and booked with just a few clicks, you’ll have the confidence of knowing support and service for your entire trip is available from one source. (Always good to know you won’t have to rely entirely on Google Translate!)

With Virgin Vacations, you can customize a package with pre-existing components, including choice of hotels and departure dates, from our European Rail collection — don’t forget to click Choose Your Own Dates if your requested dates are sold out — or you can use the Vacation Builder service to design your entire trip from scratch. To find out more about our Rail Vacation packages, click here.