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Buying Train Tickets in Italy

Travelling around Italy by train is one of the most popular and convenient ways to get around. Trains are fast, comfortable and the tickets are cheap (if bought in advance).

Best of all, you can travel quickly between major cities. For example, the train journey from Milan to Rome takes just 3 hours (by high-speed train), from Florence to Rome just 1.5 hour and from Rome to Naples only 1 hour.

The stations are located in the city centres, so you can easily get on and off the train at your destination (without wasting too much time).

We've got some advice on buying train tickets in Italy that will make your life easier and save you money. Just read on to find more information.

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Frecciarossa, high-speed train in Italy

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How to buy train tickets in Italy

The best way to buy train tickets for your trip to Italy is online. We like to use Trainline website, which is 100% reliable and easy to use. Once you've selected the route and date you want to travel, you'll see real-time train availability.

Here you can compare all the trains and prices and choose the one that suits you best. Once you have paid, your ticket will be sent to your email address so that you can show it on your mobile phone once you are on the train (staff will ask for your ticket at the start of your journey). So you'll have your ticket at your fingertips!

Not to mention that you can change or cancel your ticket online (if you choose a flexible ticket).

If you buy online, you don't have to queue, you don't have to use a machine if you're in a hurry and you can choose your preferred seat.

Be aware that train companies release tickets months in advance and that prices increase as the date of travel approaches. In general, the earlier you book, the more you'll save.

You can also buy your train tickets at station ticket offices, but be aware that there may be long queues. However, most of the staff speak English and you can pay by cash or credit card (so buying tickets shouldn't be a problem).

You'll find ticket machines (for both Trenitalia and Italo trains) all around the station. You can pay with cash or credit cards.

 👉 Get you train tickets in a few steps

Automated train ticket machines at Santa Maria Novella train stationAutomated train ticket machines at Santa Maria Novella train station

Should I buy tickets in advance or not?

For long distance trains we suggest you to book your tickets in advance as you'll get the cheapest tickets. Prices will continue to rise as the departure date approaches.

The long distance journeys are those between Rome and Florence, Rome and Milan, Venice and Rome, Rome and Ancona etc. These routes are operated by high-speed trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, InterCity and Italo).

You can buy tickets for regional trains operated by Trenitalia on the day of travel. The ticket price is fixed so there's no any discount when bought in advance. The ticket fare is called Ordinaria and its price is based on the distance between the departure and arrival points and the class you travel (when available). 

Of course, you can still buy regional tickets online, so they're ready on your phone and you can skip queues at ticket windows or ticket machines. The example of this is Leonardo Express train that operates to Fiumicino Airport, which price is fixed and costs €14.

Check out other ways of transfer from/to Fiumicino Airport here.

Tickets for longer distance are better to be bought in advance as you will get some really cheap one. Both Trenitalia and Italo offers economy options, which are the cheapest but offers little flexibility when it comes to changing the tickets. Flexible tickets are the most expensive but you change it as many times as you want.

Termini Station in RomeRoma Termini is the main railway station of Rome

What is an electronic train ticket?

Once you book your ticket online, you'll receive an email confirmation of your train journey instead of printed and shipped tickets. This email will include the booking confirmation code referred to as a "PNR", and the booking change code. This confirmation PNR will also include specific train information, like the date, time, number of passengers, fare code an rules.

An e-ticket will either allow you to travel "ticketless", boarding the train with only the PNR code, or it will require you to print a ticket upon departure at the self service machine at the train station.

In general, high-speed trains will e ticketless and the regional, overnight and cross-boarder trains will require you to print and validate your ticket before boarding your train for departure.

Train ticket validating boxesTrain ticket validating boxes at train station

More about train tickets

Tickets for high-speed trains (Trainline and Italo) are only valid for the specific date and time and you don't need to validate them. Simply show the ticket once the train staff request it from you.

Your ticket will show the carriage and seat number so make sure you're in the right carriage (you'll find number on the side of the carriage).

On regional trains, you might have a physical ticket. Make sure to validate it in the white/green validation boxes you'll find on the platform before you get on the train. If you don't validate your ticket, you might be fined. Regional trains won't have seat reservations so you just sit anywhere.

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