The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Italy in 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Italy in 2024

We all know Italy’s landscapes are beautifully one-of-a-kind, making us all want to visit. And thanks to Italy’s extensive railway system, they are easy to reach! Traveling Italy by train is completely feasible, getting you from most small villages to its biggest cities. However, it can be confusing to understand how to use trains in Italy if you’ve never done it before. This guide to Italy train travel will be your pre-trip bible.

You should also check out my Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Italy, in which I cover a ton of the other topics you’re probably thinking about right now for your trip.

Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure!

Trains in Italy: An Overview

There are two main (and very similar) train lines in Italy.

Trenitalia is the biggest train company in Italy. It is state-owned and part of the national transportation system, so it usually offers the most itinerary options.

I prefer Trenitalia because I have used it many times and am familiar with the service. Being part of the national transportation system, you will be able to buy not just the Trenitalia branded trains on their website but also regional train tickets that are operated by the smaller regional companies.

The other main company is Italo, which instead is privately owned. Italo often does longer trips with high speed trains and has fewer destination options.

While these are the main national rails, there are also many smaller regional trains, like TreNord in Lombardy. Regional trains will often still be affiliated with Trenitalia because of the national rail system connection. So, even if you buy the ticket from Trenitalia, it could be for a regional train ride.

Buying Train Tickets in Italy

When booking a train in Italy, you have several options. You can buy the train ticket ahead of time online, either directly through the train company or through third-party transportation search engines, or at the train station. You can’t buy tickets on the train.

Buying tickets directly online

I prefer to buy tickets directly from the company either through their branded apps or website. You can buy both one way and roundtrip tickets online.

When searching for train times, you will input the earliest hour that you would like the train to leave for both a one-way or return trip. If you are flexible or not sure what time you will be traveling, I recommend setting the hour parameters as early and as late as possible to get an entire overview of the train schedule that day.

When you purchase a train ticket online, you will receive a confirmation email with your ticket. It is usually a pdf that has a barcode on it. If you have the app downloaded, you can also add the ticket there.

Important information, like your starting and final destination, train number, departure time and seat location, will be located all on the ticket.

Pro Tip: At least for Trenitalia, there have been recent changes to online tickets, where you have to “check in” before your ride. This button will be located in your email. Do this absolutely before your train leaves, otherwise you are not able to do it anymore.

There may be a barcode or QR code on the ticket that the train crew member must scan.

Pro Tip: Take a screenshot of the ticket in case your email doesn’t open on the train if you don’t have WiFi or data. Most trains have WiFi now but it’s best to take a picture ahead of time in case!

Buying tickets on third-party search engines

If I don’t book direct, then my go-to resource is Omio.

Using their website or app, you can search your desired route and it will aggregate times and costs of every transport option available, including train, bus, and plane.

It will also show you if any of the three transportation options are unavailable between your two destinations.

The biggest advantage to buying Italy train tickets on a third-party website is that they display all the possible options regardless of company, so you can potentially save more or find the best time for you if you are impartial about which company you go with.

Trainline is a very similar service dedicated to train and bus tickets.

Buying tickets at the Station

Part of what makes train travel so easy is that it is super flexible. You can buy train tickets at train stations even just minutes before they depart.

Self-service ticketing machines are the easiest way to buy tickets at the train station. They are usually divided by company, so you either have to shop around or already know which train line you would like to take.

There is also always a main ticket counter where you can buy them from a representative. It may not be open 24/7 though. Plus, this line is usually also for customer service, meaning there tend to be longer wait times.

What to Expect at Train Stations

If you haven’t traveled to Italy before, navigating a train station can be confusing. Knowing some Italian words and phrases will go a long way.

Important Words To Know for Train Travel in Italy

Treno/Treni – Train/Trains

Biglietto – Ticket

Binario – The platform on which the train arrives. In every train station, there is a timetable of the train schedule where you will discover what platform you board your train on. It is often abbreviated as “Bin.” on these timetables.

Timbrare il Biglietto – A unique thing to Italian train travel that basically means validating your ticket. I will explain more about this in the Using Your Ticket section below.

Arrivi – Arrivals

Partenze – Departures

Servizi – Toilets. Note, however, that in some train station bathrooms you may have to pay to use them. The cost usually ranges from 50 cents to €1.

Carrozza – Carriage. The carriages of the train are numbered, and if you are taking a large enough train you will be assigned a seat in a specific carriage, so it is important to get on the correct one.

Controllore – The person that comes to check your ticket on the train.


Every station has a screen with the schedule of trains arriving and departing. This is where you will look to find your train!

Pay careful attention here – lots of trains come and go from the same places, especially in major cities, so it’s likely there are several trains that say your destination. Double-check the train number on your ticket with the train number listed on the schedule.

Another thing to be careful about is that sometimes your destination isn’t listed on the schedule because the train is continuing on to its final destination and your town is a stop on the way. It can be confusing, like Italy train travel in general. Here, again, you simply have to check the train number that is listed on your ticket to make sure you are looking at the correct one.

Shopping & Cafes

At every major train station, such as Venice, Rome, Milan, etc., there are shops and multiple cafes to grab a snack. And yes, you can take food on the train!

If you’re traveling on a larger train, there is usually a dining cart if you would like to buy something.

What to Expect on the Train

So, you’ve bought a ticket and figured out how to navigate the station, but how should you prepare for the train itself? These are just a few of the details, but if you have specific questions, ask me in a comment!

Using & Validating Your Train Ticket (Important Info!)

On the train, a crew member usually comes around to check your tickets. If you have it electronically, you just show them on your phone. (Remember to check in before the train leaves if your email says to do so.)

Pro Tip: When you are out traveling all day, you may end up with a dead phone. Don’t run the risk of not being able to access your ticket and incurring a fine! I highly suggest bringing a portable charger so you’re not stuck in the mud. My favorite portable charger is the Anker Powercore and I never travel without it.

If you have a paper train ticket, then there’s an important thing you have to do: you must validate your ticket!

There are little green machines on the wall in train stations, in which you insert your paper ticket to validate.

This is super important because otherwise you will be issued a fine (and they will not care if you are a tourist or you can’t read Italian!)

The fine can cost 50 euros per person or more! Be sure to get some sort of receipt for paying the fine. And don’t make this costly mistake!

WiFi & Electronics

You can freely use your electronics on trains, and there is often an outlet and/or USB plug to charge your devices. On smaller regional trains, this is rare, so again I suggest a portable charger.

WiFi can be hit or miss. Again, almost all the larger or high-speed trains, like trains going from Venice to Rome or Florence to Naples, will offer it for free. But if you are taking a regional train, there most likely won’t be WiFi.

You could avoid that issue by getting a SIM card in Italy for the duration of your trip. You’ll have data roaming and pay less than you would your international phone plan.


Much of my Italy train travel has been day trips or weekend getaways, but there have been times where I’ve had to transfer cities with big, heavy luggage.

Luckily, you can bring luggage on trains in Italy. On larger trains there is a rack for heavier luggage, as well as racks above the seats and between them.

Regional trains typically don’t have racks that can hold check-in size luggage. They may just have a rack above the head that can fit a backpack or small carry-on. Consult the pros and cons of carry-on bags and checked luggage.

Pro Tip: Get there as early as you can if you have a lot of luggage. You want to be one of the first to get on the train when it arrives because the luggage racks can get full super quickly.

Budget Tips for Italy Train Travel

Trains are usually quite an inexpensive mode of travel since they are so widely available in Italy. So, just traveling Italy by train is itself a budget tip!

Be Flexible

Most of the time, getting a good deal on a train has to do with working around the available times. On my latest train adventure, the ticket was around 20 euros for certain times, and for others, it was almost triple that!

The other thing about being flexible is to book your ticket as far as you can in advance for the best price.

The beauty of Italy train travel is that trains are easy to take for a last-minute getaway. However, if you can plan ahead, you will save yourself more money.

Lastly, about flexibility, – which is a costly mistake I made – is to maybe hold off on booking your return ticket.

There have been times where I have bought a roundtrip ticket ahead of time but needed to leave my destination earlier or later in the moment. If you can resist the urge to pre-book sometimes, it will allow you to not waste money on a return trip in case your plans go awry.

Make sure to not make any of the other costly mistakes I’ve made traveling Europe!

Discount Passes & Special Offers

Trenitalia and Italo offer seasonal and special discounts and offers for certain age groups or destinations! These categories include young adults, offers for seniors, and off-season getaway packages.

If you are an expat in Italy, you may consider signing up for one of the loyalty programs for extra perks and benefits!

The SGTD Take

I hope this post helped you get to know more information about Italian train travel before you embark on your Italian adventure! Once you actually get to the station and go on your adventure, you’ll get the hang of how everything works.

And you’ll fall even more in love with Italy and train travel just like I did!

Are you planning to travel Italy by train? Where would you like to go? Leave a comment with your thoughts or your own tips!

Italy Trip Planning Resources

  • Accommodation: For Italy, I mainly use to search and book places to stay.
  • Booking flights: I like to search for flights through Skyscanner, but I also book direct depending on the airline.
  • Activities & experiences: For things to do that require a ticket, and for more unique trip activities, I use Musement.
  • Road trip: For renting a car, I get the best prices by comparing companies with AutoEurope. I then use ViaMichelin to estimate road trip costs and to find gas stations/have live updates on traffic.
  • Transportation: Traveling by public transportation is a great way to see Italy. I use Trenitalia or Trainline to book tickets for trains and Flixbus for long-haul bus trips.
  • Accessories: I always travel with this portable charger to stay connected and with a universal adapter to accommodate Italy’s plug types.
  • Need help planning an itinerary? Fill out my form for a custom itinerary request!

Don’t forget to save these tips to your Pinterest!

Wishing you all Buon Viaggio now that you are experts on train travel in Italy!

Safe travels,



Michela is a travel writer and photographer living in northern Italy. She is passionate about helping people make the most of their travels by sharing advice gained from her personal experiences, off-the-beaten-path destinations and time-saving quick itineraries. Browse her top articles or have her help you plan your itinerary to your dream destination!

Find me on: Web | Instagram


  1. September 14, 2020 / 8:26 am

    This article is really exaustive on how to travel in Italy. Been there 2 times before but always had problems with train, now is a little more clear ^^

    • September 16, 2020 / 8:11 am

      Great to hear that these tips were helpful! 🙂

  2. Ali Fahad
    April 10, 2022 / 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the Great Tips! I’ll be coming to Italy with my wife next month and I’m really enjoying your Page!
    1 question, I’m coming with a. bit of heavy bags (2 large ones wt of 25) and 2 carry on bags, is still gonna fit in the train?

    • April 10, 2022 / 3:27 pm

      Hi Ali! Thanks so much for sticking around, glad you’re finding my resources helpful!

      To answer your question, the options for storing luggage differ depending on the train you take. Newer trains and mostly those you take between cities (think Milan-Rome) usually have a storage area at the end of each car. Here, you can lay/stand up bigger luggage, as well as fit smaller luggage if the space isn’t already taken up. You can also slide smaller luggage under your seat, or if there is no space there, I was able to slide luggage in between the rows of seats (so if there are two seats facing one way and two seats facing the other right next to each other, there is usually a large enough gap to store a carry on.)

      As for older/regional trains, the storage options tend to be more limited, either to overhead space or sliding your luggage under/in between seats. If you already know the train you’ll be on, you may be able to look up its layout to see exactly what options you have for storage!

      I hope this was helpful and that you have a wonderful trip! 🙂

  3. Darrel
    April 21, 2022 / 2:39 am

    nice tips for a first-timer on Trenitalia

    • April 21, 2022 / 7:07 am

      Glad you found them helpful 🙂

  4. Maribel
    October 7, 2022 / 2:37 pm

    Hi Michela, Thank you so much for your tips. I find them very helpful. My husband & I with our 2 adult children will be traveling to Northern Italy (Com0 Italy) for a wedding in June 2023. This will be our first time in Europe in general. We are excited and have some ideas on places we would like to visit, such as Switzerland, Rome, Venice, Florence, etc.. however I am unsure how to coordinate our two week stay. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thank you in advance. 🙂

    • October 12, 2022 / 3:47 pm

      Hi Maribel,
      I would be happy to give you some insight and tips for planning your trip! Will reach out to you soon 🙂 And thank you so much for your comments, it means a lot!

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