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What is the best way to book train travel in Spain, France and Italy?

What is the best way to book train travel in Spain, France and Italy?

Apr 29th, 2015, 06:09 PM
  #1  
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What is the best way to book train travel in Spain, France and Italy?

Hi all,

I'm just finalising my plans for my Europe trip in July and August, from Australia. I will be catching a couple of flights but using trains for most of the trip and I am just wondering who has views on the best way to book. i.e is it better to buy tickets when we are there and for individual trips, or should we get a Eurail pass?

For the first train trip, from Barcelona to San Sebastian, I will be with two friends. For the rest of the journey, until Rome, I will be with one friend. Train trips will include:

- Barcelona to San Sebastian
- Antibes to Monterosso
- Monterosso to Padua
- Padua to Venice return (not sure I would need to count this as a day for a Eurail pass as I expect the trip will be quite cheap and easy enough to book on the morning we visit Venice?)
- Verona to Rome (this one isn't certain and we plan to get a car for a few days after Padua and head into the Dolomites and then either go to Florence or Verona for a couple of days. But if driving is hectic in these towns we will probably leave the car somewhere before either Verona or Florence and then get the train up the rest of the journey)

So that adds up to between four and six days of train travel.

After Rome I fly to Paris and may take a day trip somewhere but I will decide that when I am there. And then I go to London and have already booked the Eurostar for that trip.

Thanks in advance!
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 07:35 PM
  #2  
 
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It's unlikely the Antibies/Monterosso, Monterosso/Padua, Padua/Venice would be worth using a pass. The tickets will likely cost less than a day of a pass if you just buy them. Even Verona/Rome you can buy in advance on Trenitalia and snag discounts. A pass is rarely cost effective for Italy. Any of the faster trains in Italy also require seat reservations (mandatory) which aren't included in your pass (10€ each). Buying point-to-point tickets on Trenialia will include the seats.

Thello has been running a special from Nice (Antibes is right there) to Genoa for 15€. Genoa on to Monterosso on Trenitalia wouldn't cost much.
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 07:41 PM
  #3  
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Thanks kybourbon. For some reason I can't see the timetable on Ternitalia and the capitaine train site also won't let me see the trips from Antibes to Monterosso. And SNFC redirects me to Rail Europe. It says the fare is €96 and the only options are second class.

Next question is is it best to book in advance for all tickets I know the dates for?

Thanks again,
RT
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 07:51 PM
  #4  
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Sorry - the correct price is AU$48 per ticket. I had entered two travellers and didn't look properly to see it wasn't in Euros.
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 07:57 PM
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For Spain, you can use: www.Renfe.com
For France it's: www.voyages-sncf.com
For Italy, try: www.trenitalia.com

For the SNCF website, do it in French and it will allow you to print off your tickets. No problem with the Italian site. For Renfe, you may have to purchase your tickets through www.petrabax.com. They will email you your tickets.

Avoid Europe Rail at all cost.
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:16 PM
  #6  
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Thanks Robert.

Can you book your seats through these sites at the time of booking?
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:18 PM
  #7  
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Also, it appears I cannot get first class fares for the date/time I want to travel. Is second class ok?
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Apr 29th, 2015, 08:22 PM
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If you want to take the Thello train from Antibes to Genoa, look at the Thello website.

https://www.thello.com/?iLangID=3

If you don't want the Thello train, you will need to buy a ticket Antibes/Ventimiglia on the French rail site SNCF. You can buy the Ventimiglia/Monterosso on Trenitalia. Most of these trains are local regional trains and won't cost much. Regional trains in Italy have no reserved seating (not possible). The fast trains serve larger cities and the slower regional trains serve the smaller cities/towns.

Cross border tickets purchased on Trenitalia require you pick up at a kiosk in Italy so you wouldn't be able to buy Anitbes/Monterosso on their website. There is no advantage to buying regional tickets in advance as there are no discounts for those trains and no reserved seating. The faster trains (IC, AV) you can sometimes book 45€ for as little as 17-19€.

>>>But if driving is hectic in these towns<<<<

Many towns (and cities) in Italy are restricted and you aren't allowed to drive in the centers (people with permits only). The ZTL zones are monitored by cameras and tickets get mailed (after they track you through your rental company which charges 35-40€ to provide your info to the police).

Padua/Venice can be bought for about 5€ one way walk up. You can pay double to triple that for a "fast" train, but it only saves you a minute or two travel time on this particular route. To search trains on Trenitalia, you need to use the Italian spellings (Padova, Venezia, Firenze, etc.)
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:25 PM
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>>>Also, it appears I cannot get first class fares for the date/time I want to travel. Is second class ok?<<<

Which day/cities? Some of these regional trains only have one class. It's more like a commuter train (hop on and try to find an empty seat) and they don't have amentities.

This is 2nd class on one the fast (AV) trains in Italy.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ssainterno.jpg
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:30 PM
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It's too early to book the Spanish trains. The summer schedule is not normally released until early June. It's the same on more French trains. Italy I'm not too sure of at this time.
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:42 PM
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Thanks guys.

It is becoming more complicated in my mind the more that I look! I need to know the exact stations in cities but if it's not cheaper to book in advance for most of my trips then I may just wait until I am there, although then I risk not being able to get a seat ...

I am a little overwhelmed over here in Australia ... it's my first trip to Europe.
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 08:48 PM
  #12  
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Also, I am not sure how to know whether I will have available a fast train or if they are all regional trains. Can you tell from the cities I have listed?

Barcelona to San Sebastian (July 8 - so will wait til June to book)
- Antibes to Monterosso (July 16)
- Monterosso to Padua (July 19)
- Padua to Venice return (July 20)
- Verona to Rome (approx July 28 but this may be from Florence instead)
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Apr 29th, 2015, 09:00 PM
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Verona/Rome or Florence/Rome will have fast trains. Padua will have both. Monterosso is mostly only regional trains and to get from there to Padua will require several train changes so on part of your route you might get a fast train.

I would think most of Anitbes to Monterosso is regional trains.

>>>although then I risk not being able to get a seat<<<

On regional trains there is no reserved seating. It's not possible. In Italy, only IC and AV trains will include your seat (you will be assigned a specific seat in a specific car).

On Trenitalia, you can't buy regional train tickets more than 7 days in advance anyway. Fast trains you can buy 120 days in advance. I would not buy regional tickets such as Padua/Venice in advance as there is simply no point. Buy them at the station and hop on (validate regional tickets before boarding).

If you take Thello from Antibes to Genoa, that will include your seat and be a better train than the regional trains, but Thello doesn't make as many runs per day (maybe only a couple on this route).
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 09:18 PM
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Thanks kybourbon. Thello is only running a train in the evening at this stage so I will go with Trenitalia as it's a long trip and still need to get to Monterosso that day. It seems as though I can book Trenitalia now for the trip to Monterosso and to Padua.
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 11:14 PM
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Thello is a subsidiary of Trenitalia, and runs three trains a day Milan-Genoa-Nice, only one of which goes beyond Nice to Antibes, Cannes & Marseille.

So that's why you think Thello is only running one train a day, because the other two terminate at Nice, a stone's throw before Antibes.

So feel free to book Italy to Nice on one of the other two daily trains (if you book at www.trenitalia.com you can book from anywhere in Italy to Nice) and simply buy a ticket at Nice for a few euros for the last short hop by frequent local train Nice to Antibes, they leave every 30 minutes.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 11:32 PM
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Thanks. Just did another search. I found that I can indeed go from Nice to Monterosso, by changing at Genoa and it gets me there the same time as going via Ventimiglia. However it is a little more expensive (around €48 vs around €36) and I have to get from Antibes in time to leave Nice at 8am, while the SNCF/trenitalia options mean I don't have to leave Antibes til 9.
RT2015 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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>>>However it is a little more expensive (around €48 vs around €36)<<<

Which site are you searching?

>>So that's why you think Thello is only running one train a day, because the other two terminate at Nice, a stone's throw before Antibes.<<<

Thanks. I was wondering why I only saw one when I thought there were at least three runs a day currently.
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 01:54 PM
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Hi kybourbon,
The cheaper one was sncf/trenitalia and the more expensive was thello/trenitalia. But that included a first class seat on Thello.
RT2015 is offline  

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