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Hot summer days at the sea.
Unlimited pasta and pizza.
That about sums up Italy for me.
Besides the amazing architecture, landscape villages, wine, cheese and massive history, art and culture.
Seriously, what does Italy not have to offer?
This post will take you through an epic Italy by train itinerary that will help you explore the best of Italy in two weeks.
You can also cover this itinerary by renting a car, but it is created keeping in mind train travel.
You might also want to check out these other Italy itinerary posts to plan your next trip:
ITALY BY TRAIN ITINERARY
Day 1-2 : Arrive in Milan
You can fly into Milan to start your trip in Italy.
If you’re flying in from Europe then you can consider taking Ryan Air or Euro Wings. You can also connect with a train from another region that you might be traveling from.
From Milan, you’ll start your journey towards the south, slowly enjoying various aspects of Italian culture and capital.
TIP: Save money by staying close to a main metro or tram station such as Duomo. This will help you get faster to places that you need to sightsee without the added stress of changing lines.
Day 2: Explore Milan.
What to do
The top things to do in Milan include:
- Visit the stunning Duomo Cathedral also known as Duomo di Milano.
- Take a walk and admire the gorgeous Sempione Park.
- Shop till you drop at the Citylife Shopping district.
- Visit the Sforzesco Castle and admire the medieval fortress.
Day 3: Head to Lake Como
A short one-hour ride away from Milan is the famous Lake Como. As the third largest lake in Italy and on the border with Switzerland, this is a famous spot even for locals.
You can take the regional train from Milan Centrale to Como (town) and walk down towards the lake. The train ticket costs an average of $5 per person each way. The town also has a beautiful church and city centre to visit.
You can easily spend a day visiting one of the many villages in the lake using the public ferry, take a boat cruise if the mood strikes and enjoy the beautiful scenery all year round.
If you have some extra time, take up the cable car (“funicular”) to see a view of the lake from the top.
TIP: Make sure to either pre-purchase cruise and cable car tickets or arrive early in the morning to avoid long queues.
Day 4: Head to Florence
On day 4 you can head to Florence,which is situated in Tuscany famous worldwide for it’s wine, olive oil and cheese.
How to get to Florence:
From Milan to Florence, there are many high-speed trains that will get you to Florence in less than two hours. The average ticket costs around $20/person and includes a seat reservation. You can use this app to book the ticket.
Florence is well connected with a tram network that goes in two primary directions, Unita and Aeroporto (airport). Make sure to find accommodation to stay close to one of the main stops.
If you can stay in the city centre that would be the best as most tours start from here and the centre is an excellent place to discover Florence.
Where To Stay
Budget: $25- $35 per night
Budget: $80-$160 per night
Recommendation: Check Hotels In Florence
Day 5: Explore local Florence sights
Florence has so much to see and do that you’ll be spoilt by choices. You can easily spend two days exploring various parts of the city.
What to do
- Explore the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in the evening, enjoy the sunset and shop for stunning jewellery.
- Visit the stunning Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral that you can see from any corner in the city.
- Take a half day tour to Fiesole and enjoy the climb up to see stunning Tuscan views.
- Drop your jaw by heading to the Academia Museum and admire the original David in flesh and blood.
TIP: A good way to explore the city is with the Hop On Hop Off bus. The bus runs on two primary lines A and B taking you through pretty much every sight worth seeing. For hot days, it also works as an excellent way to cool down before your next sightseeing stop.
Day 6-7: Take day trips in Tuscany and around.
Even though I’ve visited Italy a lot, my favorite region hands down is Tuscany.
You can easily rent a car and head to either one of the many vineyards in the region for wine tasting or spend a day or two in the Cinque Terre region.
Day Trip Option 1
If you want to explore Tuscany you can consider adding the cities of Siena, San G San Gimignano and stop along the way at various vineyards that accept visitors.
This region is truly stunning and is best done by renting a car as connecting by train between small towns can get hectic.
Day Trip Option 2
The Cinque Terre region is a bit further away so you might want to consider spending at least one night in one of the villages to explore the region at ease.
Day 8: Head to Rome
The last destination on this itinerary, you can head to the majestic city of Rome. This can be the final point in your destination and depending on your schedule you can easily spend 3-5 days exploring the city and nearby region.
Day 9-14: Tour the most popular sights in Rome.
(Rome has way too many!)
What to do
I don’t even know where to start because there are like a gazillion things you can do in Rome, but here are a bunch of my favourites:
- Visit the Trevi Fountain. The world’s most famous fountain, a Baroque explosion of tritons, winged horses and drinking snakes, gleams bright as the teeth of the Cheshire Cat.
- Marvel at the Colosseum. The biggest amphitheatre ever built and the ultimate symbol of imperial Rome.
- Lounge at Galleria Borghese. A favourite among travellers to Rome, the Galleria Borghese is half-villa and half-museum, and it has some resplendent gardens too.
- Head to St. Peter’s Basilica. The epicentre of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter’s Basilica is centred in Vatican City and open daily for free.
- Stop by at the Roman Forum (Foro Romano). The Roman Forum comprises much of the Ancient Rome’s most important structures, from shrines to government houses to monuments.
WHERE TO STAY
Budget: $25- $35 per night
Budget: $80-$160 per night
Italy On A Budget Tips
Tip #1) Book individual trains instead of taking a EURAIL pass.
In the peak season its advisable to do so one or two months in advance as last minute tickets can be costly or non-existent on popular routes.
I love exploring the region by train, and next to driving a rental car, this is the best way you can travel the region.
Tip #2) The closer to city centre (or famous attraction) you are, the more expensive the food.
This sounds logical but so many people end up spending more than they need to just because they give up and sit down to eat that n^th gelato near the statue of David.
No. You’ll probably pay $1 more for the exact same gelato that you could get for cheaper 500 m away. Now you know better!
Tip #3) Eat local.
Again, one would expect that large cities like Rome would have cheap international restaurants, but pretty much everywhere in Europe, international food (compared to say local Italian food) will be served at a premium.
Keep your familiar tastebuds aside and try the Italian delicacies!
Pro Tip: Small food trucks or street vendors often serve delicious panini (sandwiches) for $4-$5. It’s half the price of the same meal at a regular restaurant.
Tip #4) Take public transport.
Italy is quite pedestrian friendly and the network of buses, trams and metros is quite extensive.
You can get standalone tickets (advisable) from $1-$2/ticket or daily passes if you plan to use it more for $10-$12.
Taxis can cost a fortune although still cheaper compared to Western Europe.
Tip #5) Go early to skip the queues and photobombs.
I’m here in the summer and well let’s just say Italy is packed!
As a result if you want to visit any destination, you need to stand over two hours in a queue for tickets and that’s not a lot of fun in the Italian sun.
Italians are late risers and you can get a headstart if you head out early.
People who love taking pictures, you definitely should consider more sunrise sightseeing!
Tip #6) Book popular tours via Get Your Guide.
Even though I’ve used a ton of tour companies, for Italy in particular (and Europe in general), I find Get your Guide the best one.
Not only is the app really easy to use, you can pay via Paypal and also find cool local tours that generally don’t show up on big marketplaces such as Trip Advisor.
I also found the tours to be significantly cheaper.
Read more on how to travel Europe on a budget:
- The Ultimate Travel Europe For Cheap
- 7 Travel Apps To Travel Europe Cheap
- 25 Money Saving Tips For European Travellers
- 9 Cheapest European Cities To Visit
If you’d like 91 more pages worth of money saving tips for all of Europe, you can find them in the Europe Trip Planner eBook.
Resources For Italy Train Itinerary
Get Your Guide: Best for booking skip-the line, city sightseeing passes and booking local tours. I booked a few tours with them in Florence and Rome and was really satisfied with the overall quality. The app is fast and easy to use even for beginners. After you book a tour, you receive a mobile voucher with a bar code (that also works offline) that you can use to check-in with your tour manager at the meeting point.
IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS FOR TRAIN TRAVEL IN ITALY
- Short distance and regional trains including tram tickets, metro tickets and subway tickets need to be validated before entering.
- Usually buses and trams will have a small box in which you can insert your ticket that automatically stamps the time and date on your ticket.
- On the metro your ticket gets validated when you enter the station using the metro ticket. You don’t need to go to a separate machine to do it. Regional tickets such as day trip from Florence to Lake Como will require a validation before you enter. Make sure to validate your ticket before boarding the train on the train station itself.
- In Italy, you’ll find tons of local train officials and support offices so feel free to ask for help incase you cannot find a way to validate your ticket. Boarding the train without a validated ticket is the same as not having a ticket at all and can lead to fines being imposed.
- High-speed trains that have a reserved seat usually don’t require validation. However, it always helps to check what is written in your mobile or printed ticket just to be sure.
Should you get a rail pass or take point-to-point tickets?
For this itinerary in particular, provided you purchase the tickets at least two months in advance, you should consider getting point-to-point tickets.
You can choose between regional trains (Regionale) that are slower but significantly cheaper and high-speed trains (Freccarosia, Italo) that traditionally cost more.
Even then, this entire train itinerary can be covered for roughly $200 including day trips.
TIP: Make sure to fly in an out of different cities so you save the money on a round trip fare on this route.
What is the cheapest way for intercity travels in Italy?
In my experience, the cheapest and most reliable way to travel between cities on a budget is by booking local trains either on the Trenitalia website or by Omio if you want it online, or through the ticket machine available at virtually every train station in Italy. Trains run often, are clean and tickets start from $5-$10 for a short distance to $50-$75 for long distance(high-speed) trains.
How much will it cost to take a trip to Italy?
While it is not the cheapest region to travel in Europe it is also not the most expensive. For one person, a fair estimate would be:
- Transport: $20/day
- Food: $30/day (with one meal at a restaurant)
- Stay: $40/day
You can definitely survive with much less if you only eat supermarket meals and stay at a budget hostel, but my guess is that you might want to splurge every now and then on food and local tours.
A comfortable budget for Italy would be $100/person/day.
So there you have it, a great two week Italy by train itinerary that you can easily cover on a budget.
If you have some more time you can add cities like Venice, Naples and Pompeii to your trip.
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