How to Buy Train Tickets in Italy

Buying train tickets may seem like a hard process, I know when I first tried to do it in Rome I was freaking out. People were waiting and my machine kept reading error, and as my panic grew the line behind me grew. So to save you from this embarrassment, I’ll walk you through how to buy train tickets in Italy. There are 2 main ways to purchase tickets, but 4 companies to purchase from.

How to purchase Intercity train tickets in advance

Purchasing trains to travel around Italy can be pretty easy if you schedule in advance. For me I know it is a weight off my shoulders when I book my train tickets ahead of time, it is just one less thing I have to worry about. I have however missed a scheduled train because I didn’t realize how far It would take to get from my hotel to the train station, so plan on time and travel to the train station. In my experience It is cheaper if you buy the train tickets in Italy ahead of time, it will help to keep the cost to travel Italy down. For example, when I purchased my train ticket from Florence to Naples, it was 40 euro, when I had to purchase the day of, it was 85 euro. Below are 4 companies you can purchase from.

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4 ways to purchase train tickets in advance

We have outlined how to purchase train tickets from four different companies below.

How To Purchase Train Tickets from RailEurope

Raileurope: is my personal favorite since they service a lot of countries. They even have train passes that you can choose, if you want to know more about the passes.  Here are the steps to ordering tickets.

Step 1: When you go on Raileuropes website, it will take you to the homepage where you can put your destinations, date and time.

train ticket

Step 2: Click search and it will take you to a page with options of trains you can take(below is a screenshot.) Once you pick your train, you have to choose Economy, comfort, or premier. 

Step 3: Once you pick your preferred seating, it will ask you more questions such as if you want the option for it to be refundable or not for an extra cost(pictured in 2nd image below.)

how to buy train tickets
screen to choose train tickets

Step 5: Once you have selected your fare it will take you to a screen and ask you for who the train ticket is for

Step 6:  After that it is a typical checkout process. 

screen of cost of tickets
train tickets in italy

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How to Purchase Tickets from ItaliaRail

ItaliaRail: Is in english and allows you to compare fast and slow trains. If you’re worried about booking in advance, you can also purchase flexible tickets for a little more money. The flexible tickets are easy to change in case something changes in your itinerary.

One tip is if you are booking an Italy train ticket for more than just yourself, you can book for up to 20 people on this system, whereas on TrenItalia you can only purchase 5. ItaliaRail can be cheaper and the better option for a group.

Step 1: On the homepage, it will prompt you to select your location and desired destination, date and time. Make sure you click on a round trip or one way depending on your needs.

Step 2: The next page will show you the cost, time the journey takes and any transfers needed for that trip.

how yo buy train tickets in italy

Step 3: This step is as any other purchase or checkout, you will have to give your passenger information and payment.

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How to Purchase Tickets From Trenitalia

Trenitalia: has the most options as it is the largest company. On the main page, you can change the language to English by clicking on the Italian flag in the upper right and selecting ENG instead.

Step 1: On the homepage, it will prompt you to select your location and desired destination, date and time. Make sure you click on a round trip or one way depending on your needs. You can also choose which train you are interested in, the boxes on the top if the form asks you if you want all trains, frecce(high-speed) or regional.

italy train ticket

Step 2: The next page will show you the cost, time the journey takes and any transfers needed for that trip.

train ticket in italy

Step 3: This step is as any other purchase or checkout, you will have to give your passenger information and payment.

Note: Trenitalia offers both regional and high-speed trains so make sure you are checking the travel time when you choose your train.

How to Purchase Tickets From Italo Treno

Italo Treno: How to buy train tickets in Italy for Italo is very simple. Italo only offers high-speed trains and only services to select Italian cities. They travel between cities such as Milan, Florence, Naples, Venice, and Rome. One tip is that you should sign up for Italo newsletter because they sometimes will offer coupon codes for discounted tickets. 

Step 1: Their system is very similar to others, to use just select your departure city and arrival from the menu, pick your travel dates and select a time range(I like to travel in the morning if I can). You can also enter a promo code at this section if you have one.

buying a train ticket

 Step 2: On the next page, you’ll see your departure options by time and price. One you decide which one you want, it will prompt you to choose what kind of seating you would like(ex: economy or comfort) If you choose a round-trip option, the return tickets will be on the next screen after you select your departing train.

Both departing and return ticket screen will look like below:

how to buy a train ticket

Step 3:The next step is to enter the passenger information and the payment details on the final screen. 

Step 4: Make sure you know the confirmation code, this is how you will be able to get to your reservation and what the train inspector will need for you to enter Italo train.

Purchasing intercity trains at the station

If you prefer to purchase your train tickets at the train station, or like to pay in cash. You have the option to purchase your train tickets in person at the station. Most train stations stations will have ticket counters or machines for you to purchase from.

If you are purchasing from a counter, you can simply tell the attendant where you are going and what departure time you are looking for. All this information will be displayed either on a screen or the attendant will be able to help you.

Read: Paris Vs. Rome

On the train 

Some smaller Italian train stations do not have ticket counters or ticket machines. Due to this, I advise that you purchase a return ticket when you buy your departing ticket. If you forget to purchase your return ticket or if you are stuck, you can purchase a ticket on the train. It is important to make sure you find the ticket inspector and stop them and let them know you need to purchase a train ticket. Since you are buying the ticket on the train, you will have to pay a €5 charge on top of the initial fare. If you decide to risk not purchasing a ticket (because not all trains have inspectors), and the inspector finds you, then it is a minimum of a €50 fine. 

Validating your train ticket

Ticket validator at Nice train station
Machine that validates train tickets

In Italy, there is no check in process so there is no need to arrive really early for your train. The only time you have to plan extra time is when you have luggage, and in that case just plan and extra 10 minutes to ensure you have time to board and find space for your luggage. This only applies when you are riding a train that does not have assigned seating, most regional trains do not have seating arrangements. Being early to pick a seat is important but because there are so many trains, don’t expect for the train to arrive more than 10-15 minutes prior to departure and that is if you’re lucky. Sometimes they are right on time or even late. For high speed trains or ones that have designated seats, it will have a cart and seat number on your ticket.

In Italy, regional trains are more flexible, but make sure you validate your ticket at the machine at the train station before boarding. If you forget to validate your ticket, the inspector will see it as having no ticket at all and most of the time they do not care as to why it is not validated. However, If you purchase your ticket online in advance, you will have to select a time. Since you choose a time, your ticket is valid within that time window meaning you do not need to get your ticket validated at the train station.

Just like anything else it is important to know how to buy train tickets in Italy beforehand, it can be confusing and can cause you to spend more in the end. It never hurts to be prepared before departing to another country. If you have any questions or anything to add, comment down below.

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