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How to Explore Italy by Train

A brief moment alone with Michelangelo's David in Florence
A brief moment alone with Michelangelo’s David in Florence

In this article, I want to share our Italy by train itinerary and show you how easy it is to plan one for yourself. Not only will you get a custom-made Italy by train itinerary especially for you but you’ll get it at a much better price also.

Italy by train itinerary

Day 1: London to Zurich
Travel from London to Zurich by high-speed trains
Day 2: Zurich to Naples
Take the scenic route to Naples via the Bernina Express
Day 3: Sightseeing in Naples
Take time to explore the historic city of Naples
Day 4: Pompeii and Herculaneum
Take a side trip to the famous archaeological sites
Days 5-9: Florence
Spend time exploring the museums and galleries of Florence
Days 9-10: Turin
Discover the Northern Italian city of Turin
Day 11: Return Home
Return to London via Paris

Why plan an Italy by train itinerary yourself?

Throughout this article, I’m going to tell you how to plan an Italy by train itinerary yourself? But why? When you book a package holiday or a ready-made tour all you need to do is book and get ready to pack. So why plan your own trip? Well, I’ll tell you why I started doing it. We love to travel but we have a budget and it wasn’t stretching far enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some amazing trips and seen some wonderful places but there was always somewhere else I wanted to go.

Also, I sometimes felt we weren’t making the most of the places we did go to. Staying in one place when we would have been better touring around. Or ending up in a hotel that meant we needed to take a taxi everywhere when we love walking.

So I decided to start planning and booking my own trips from scratch. You’ll be amazed at how much further your budget stretches when you do this. Sometimes people ask ‘How can you afford it?’ and are astonished when I tell them how little it cost.

Value for money on your Italy by train itinerary

For instance, we travelled from London to Italy on a 10-day train journey for under £2500 (that’s around US$3300). In short, that’s the total tour price including all transport, accommodation, food and sightseeing. Everything. It’s certainly not per person but the total cost of the trip. Not only that but it included 4 nights in a 5-star hotel in Florence right in the historic centre.

Obviously, you could pay more or you could pay less. It all depends on the various choices you make when planning. Of course, that’s the beauty of DIY travel planning. All the decisions are yours.

So, now you’re convinced that planning the trip yourself is the right approach, where do you start? Before you do anything else you need to decide where you want to go and for how long. Then draw up a rough Italy by train itinerary, allocating days for travelling and decide how long you’ll stay in each place.

This can be quite daunting when you start as there are so many possible combinations. For this reason, I’ve included this detailed Italy by train itinerary to get you started. It will show you what’s possible and thus what you can fit into the 10 days.

An Italy by train itinerary to follow

Of course, you can do this exact trip yourself if you want to.

However, feel free to alter it however you choose. Remember it’s your trip and you may have different requirements compared to us. Add another city, take a different train, stay an extra night – whatever suits you best.

Of course, nothing spoils a trip like a hotel that doesn’t live up to your expectations. Check out my tips on how to read hotel reviews to help you make better choices when booking.

So, this is the itinerary outline for a 10 day trip to Italy by train. Don’t forget to check out my personal trip report for when we did this trip in November 2018 for more tips and information.

Read all about our fabulous trip to Italy by train

Day 1: London to Zurich

Start your day at London St Pancras station and catch the 10:24 Eurostar train to Paris.

Travel by Eurostar: The easy way to get to Europe

Arrive Paris Gare du Nord at 13:47 and make your way across Paris to the Gare de Lyon by metro.

Take the 16:23 train from Paris to Zurich. This arrives at 20:26. Book an overnight hotel near the station.

Day 2: Zurich to Naples

First, make an early start today by catching the 7:07 train to Chur arriving at 8:22.

Immediately on arrival, cross the platform to board the 8:32 Bernina Express. It’s a tight connection but don’t worry this is a connecting train and they should wait for it if it’s late.

Enjoy the scenery

Then sit back and relax as the beautifully scenic Bernina Express transports you to Tirano in Italy. The journey takes 4 hours so you’ll arrive at 12:49. This is a fantastic train trip.

Is this the most scenic railway in the world?

As soon as you arrive in Tirano make your way across the square to the town’s other station, Tirano Trenord. It’s the yellow building on your right so you can’t miss it.

Welcome to Italy

Next, take the 13:08 train to Milan. This is another tight connection but it should be fine. In case you do miss it and you’ve already bought a ticket, don’t worry – you can grab some coffee and your ticket is still valid for the next train at 15:08. This is a regional train, just hop on and find a seat.

A few hours later, at 15:40, you’ll arrive at Milan Centrale. You have some time here before the final train of the day to Naples so take some time to explore the shops and restaurants. While you’re here take a look at the station architecture as well. It’s a very impressive building.

Milan Central Station
Milan Central Station

Your final train of the day is the 18:00 train to Naples (Napoli Centrale). This part of the trip will be on the Trenitalia Frecciarossa train and it’s quite an experience. Even the 2nd class compartments feature wide, comfortable seats with power sockets. They also offer free wifi and a full entertainment system you can watch on your phone or tablet.

After a long day of travelling, you’ll eventually arrive in Naples at 22:15. I’d suggest staying in a hotel near the station so you can walk straight there. However, if you prefer to stay nearer the historic centre then just grab a taxi. In either case, stay in Naples for 3 nights.

Central Naples
Central Naples

Day 3: Sightseeing in Naples

Spend the day getting to know Naples. You can just head out and follow your nose. Otherwise, a walking tour is a good way to see everything the city has to offer. Naples can take some getting used to because of the gritty, often downtrodden appearance. In spite of this, Naples is a surprisingly interesting place to explore. So, don’t let first impressions put you off.

Make time to explore Naples on your Italy by train itinerary
Make time to explore Naples on your Italy by train itinerary

Day 4: Pompeii and Herculaneum

Look here for more information on what sights to see at Pompeii.

First, make your way to the archaeological site at Pompeii. Head to Porta Nolana station early morning and take the Circumvesania train to Pompeii Scavii / Villa Misteri. Look for the train to Sorrento. They run every 30 minutes so turn up, buy your ticket and go.

Visiting Pompeii? You must see these amazing sights

It is just a few minutes walk to the park from the station. If you are visiting at a busy time of year you might want to buy your tickets online in advance otherwise purchase at the kiosk at the entrance.

The site is vast so allow plenty of time to explore the excavations. When you’re finished return to the station. If your feet have already had enough walking for one day then you can catch a train back to Napoli Centrale from here and head back to your hotel to relax.

If you’re up for exploring some more excavations then take the train to Ercolano Scavi. Once again, you can walk to the site of Herculaneum from the station. Allow about 2 hours to tour the site before taking a train back to Naples.

Days 5-9: Florence

Our Italy by train itinerary continues with a leisurely start this morning. Take the 11:00 train to Florence SMN (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) railway station. You might want to pick up a tasty sandwich for lunch before you board although a good selection of food is available on the train.

Enjoy another comfortable journey on a Trenitalia Frecciorossa train so sit back and relax. The train arrives in Florence at 13:51. I’d definitely recommend a hotel in the historic centre so as to be within walking distance of most sights. This area is just a short walk from the station and is also an ideal location for sightseeing. Stay in Florence for 4 nights as there’s a lot to see.

Settle into your hotel and then take a gentle stroll around the centre to get your first view of the marvellous architecture. Later, try one of the restaurants in front of the world-famous Duomo for dinner.

During the next 3 days you can explore all the amazing sights Florence has to offer. Our city break itinerary 3 Days in Florence gives a detailed day-by-day plan to make the most of your time here.

How to get Ultimate value from the Firenze Card

Days 9-10: Turin

Have a lie in this morning and a leisurely breakfast before heading back to Florence SMN station. Then take the 11:45 train to Turin (Torino Porta Nueva). You’ll travel on a Frecciorossa train again, so you’re guaranteed a comfortable ride. By the time you arrive in Turin at 14:40, you should be able to check into your hotel straightaway.

Stay 2 nights in a hotel near the centre of Piedmont’s capital. Our city break itinerary 2 Days in Turin will give you some ideas on what to do while you’re here.

Top Things to do in Turin

Day 11: Time to head home

Our Italy by train itinerary begins its homeward journey this morning as you check out from your Turin hotel and then make the short trip to Turin’s other mainline station, Torino Porta Susa. From here take the 10:15 train to Paris Gare de Lyon. It’s a long trip so the train arrives in Paris at 16:11.

Now make the journey back to Gare du Nord on the metro. The Eurostar back to London departs at 18:13 so you’ve got plenty of time but remember that you need to check-in at the Eurostar terminal at least 30 minutes before your train is scheduled to leave. You’ll be back in London at 19:39. Your trip to Italy by train is complete.

Why you should take the train to Italy

Design your Italy by train itinerary

Now, it’s your turn. Take the detailed information for the Italy by train itinerary and work it to fit your specific requirements. This article is part of a series of articles all related to travel by train and in Italy. So check out our other posts and have a wonderful trip.

I hope you’ve found this guide to designing your own Italy by train itinerary helpful.

Subscribe to receive your FREE planning spreadsheet

I hope you’ve found this planning article useful. If you’d prefer all the information in a spreadsheet then just enter your email address via the form below. I’ll send you the link to download a spreadsheet with the itinerary I’ve discussed in an easily printable format.

Use it to plan your own trip. I’ve even included our budget page so you can check your costs as you plan. This is the format I use for planning all my trips and it makes it easy to add and amend things as you plan.

You receive the spreadsheet completely free. All you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter and I’ll send you the link. Happy planning!

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