How to Travel Around Italy by Train

Let’s get straight to the point: for foreign travellers to Italy, the best way to visit Italy’s big cities and their nearby towns is not by the car, but by their high speed trains.

There are two most popular high speed train companies in Italy: Italo and TrenitaliaItalo is a well known private company. Trenitalia is a government owned company.

Italo
Trenitalia

These two companies are big competitors as for ticket price, service and convenience. In short, Italo is the best inter-cities train company. Trenitalia is the best regional train company.

How and when to buy train ticket?

If you plan to take Italo to travel from one big city to another, I strongly suggest that you should buy your tickets online as earlier as possible.  The earlier you buy your tickets online, the better chances for you to get a cheaper ticket. If you cannot finalize your whole travel plan before you go to Italy, you can still get a good deal online after you get there as long as you buy your ticket a few days before your travel. If you have to buy your Italo ticket online on the day you travel, the price is very expensive unfortunately.

Don’t forget to print out your e-ticket or save them on your phone. The conductors will check your ticket on the train.

When you take Trenitalia from a big city to its nearby small town. You can simply buy your tickets at any train station. The ticket price is the same if you buy it online beforehand or buy it at the train station on the day you travel.

Keep in mind that you need to validate your Trenitalia ticket at train station before you board your train.

Ticket Validation Machine

Don’t be afraid if you don’t have enough time to catch your train. The time shown on your ticket after you validate it only tells you the time of next coming train you are allowed to catch. You can actually catch any trains after that time for the next 4 hours.

 

  • Buy a train ticket at train station

At any big train stations, you can buy your train ticket from any ticket windows or from ticket machines. Buying a ticket from a ticket window is very easy and straightforward. But at most small train stations, you have to buy your ticket from a ticket machine.  Some ticket machines only accept cash, some accept Visa or both. There is a cash only or visa only symbol on the ticket machine.

Some tips
  • Both Trenitalia and Italo trains have washing rooms on board. And Italo offers free snacks and beverages in their first class coaches, but you have to pay for them if you are in the second class coach.
  • You should take extra care of your belongs especially on Trenitalia train. Pocket picking is well known fact on Italy trains, especially on some local trains.

And lastly, I would like to briefly mention the local train from Naples to Pompeii or Sorrento because these two cities are very popular tourist locations. The local train from Naples to Pompeii or Sorrento is a slow local train, very old and very crowded. Most times, the train is delayed. Also, You don’t need to buy your ticket beforehand. You buy it at the train station. Don’t forget to ask the train schedule, so you can plan ahead for your fun day out.

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