Different paths to Italy
Depending on whether you are looking for the quickest, most cost-effective or most scenic route, there are many different routes that will deliver you seamlessly into the heart of Italy.
Via Germany and the Brenner Pass
This is our preferred option here at Tailor Made Rail, both for the scenery and the quality of the trains you will be travelling on. Departing London late-morning on Day One, you will make easy platform changes in Brussels and Frankfurt, thus avoiding the change of stations in Paris.
Spending the night in Munich, there are then two direct services into Italy the following morning, one to Venice and one to Bologna, which then connect with the Italian high-speed network.
This journey on Day Two takes in the stunning Brenner Pass, as you climb up from Innsbruck, over the Italian border and down into South Tyrol and eventually onto the flat plains around Verona. Suggested holidays using this route include Venice via the Brenner Pass and Tuscany in Detail.
Via Switzerland – Lausanne and the Simplon Pass
One of the most popular Swiss routes takes you via Paris on Day One, with a transfer required between Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon. Taking the TGV Lyria service, you will start off speeding along at speeds of over 180mph through the French countryside, before twisting and turning through the Jura Mountains.
A wave of text messages through the carriage will indicate that you have crossed the border into Switzerland as the train trundles down into the lakeside city of Lausanne. After an overnight stay in Lausanne, take a morning service through to Milan, which also continues to Venice.
This route follows the course of the Rhone from the eastern end of Lake Geneva, and then uses the Simplon Tunnel to reach the Italian border town of Domodossola.
Keep your eyes peeled on the left for the beautiful Lake Maggiore and its picture-perfect Borromean Islands. Change in Milan for high-speed services down the spine of Italy to Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast, or simply stay on the train for Lake Garda, Verona and magical Venice.
Via Switzerland – The Gotthard Pass
Another option for travelling down through Switzerland is to change in Paris (again, requiring a change of station) and take the TGV Lyria, but this time to Zurich.
After an overnight stay in Zurich, take a train either through the high-speed Gotthard base tunnel or over the mountains (with a quick change in Erstfeld) into the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, then onwards into Italy via Como and into the bustling Milan Centrale station.
You can change at Milan for onward trains to pretty much any major Italian city. How about a trip to Florence, Sorrento and Capri or Venice via the Gotthard Pass?
If you’re travelling aboard the famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from London, you will also travel this route through the Alps (over the top, rather than through the base tunnel).
Via the Paris-Milan direct TGV
The quickest daytime option is to take the direct service from Paris’s southern Gare de Lyon, down through the Alps via Frejus and the Aosta Valley, and into the northern Italian cities of Turin and Milan.
This means a full length journey from London can be completed in one day, although it does often involve an early start or late finish at one or the other end of the journey.
You might also like to extend your holiday and experience a journey via the Bernina or Glacier Express en route to Italy.
Our Italian Holidays by Rail page gives you plenty of ideas for your next trip.