Milan → 'Centovali Railway' → Milan → Marseille → Nimes → Lyon → Montreux → Milan → Innsbruck → Venice/Venezia → Rome/Roma → Milan
We've constructed this itinerary so that every day of travel includes some fabulous views which can be seen from the train.
Even more of these views can be seen in the Facebook gallery which we have compiled to highlight this itinerary.
In order to take as many scenic journeys as possible, you will have to make more connections than on our other suggested itineraries.
However, don't let that put you off, we've personally checked out all of these suggested connections between trains, confirming that they should be relatively stress free!
This itinerary has also been put together to minimise additional reservation fees.
The exact departure times will be updated after the next update of the pan-European rail timetables which will occur on December 11th
OR our Concierge rail travel planning service, could help you plan a similar itinerary.
The required rail pass:
If you use a 10 days of travel within 2 months InterRail Global Pass OR a 10 days within 2 months Eurail Global Pass you can take breaks between your days of train travel.
You can then spend some time in fabulous destinations including Marseille, Nimes, Lyon, Innsbruck, Venice and Rome.
From and to Milano:
This rail pass itinerary starts and finishes in Milano, which has three ticks in the box:
(1) Milano is an international rail hub.
So an easy option is to use a purchase a pass valid for 15 days of travel, so that you can use these additional five days of travel to travel to and from Milano by train.
(2) It’s also a budget airline destination - after all you don't have to take a train from/to Milan.
(3) Milan has direct flights from destinations outside Europe - so ideal if you'll be flying into the continent, to use a Eurail Pass.
Malpensa Airport is connected to the city by the Malpensa Express rail service.
The itinerary also loops back to the city at the close of day 6, so you can also split your luggage.
Leave some of your luggage at your hotel, or deposit it in the left luggage at Milano Centrale station, when you set off on Day 2
Then on day 6 pick up the new bags and leave the luggage you'll have used on Days 2 - 6 behind.
Most of the journeys are clickable, so you can access more useful info about each individual train ride including:
(1) All you need to know about the stations where you will be joining and leaving the train.
(2) What to expect when on board each train, such as catering facilities and tips for how to manage your luggage.
(3) Insights for scenic journeys - what to look out for, which side of the train to sit on for the best of the views etc.
Plus if you click the station buttons on the journey guides, you will also usually* find:
(1) Lists of overnight accommodation with easy access to the station and with high user ratings;
(2) Links to destination guides to help you make the most of each location.
*Just the big cities, for now.
Don’t be alarmed by the amount of trains we suggest on day one, particularly as this is a day trip from Milano; so you won’t have to ferry your luggage.
On Monday - Friday it includes the two most scenic railways on the Swiss/Italian border:
(1) The Centovali Line between Domodossola and Locarno is a must, not least because it’s free for Eurail and InterRail pass users.
(2) The MG Railway to/from Capalago; though this line doesn’t offer any discounts on its tickets to Eurail and InterRail pass users.
Depart: Locarno at 13:35 - the train will be heading to Basel
Arrive: Guibiasco at 13:52
Depart: Guibiasco at 14:08 - the train should be heading to Chiasso
Arrive: Capalago-Riva S.Vitale at 14:49
Depart: Generosso Vetta at 16:15
Arrive: Capalago-Riva S.Vitale at 16:55
Depart: Capalago-Riva S.Vitale at 17:19
Arrive: Como San Giovanni at 17:50
Depart: Como San Giovanni at 18:36
Arrive: Milano Centrale at 19:17
OR If you want to skip the MG Line, leave the train from Guibiasco to Chiasso when it arrives in Lugano
You can then spend some time in this beautiful city on the shore of the lake - to which it gives its name.
Depart: Guibiasco at 14:05 - the train should heading to Albate-Camerlata
Arrive: Lugano at 14:33
Depart: Lugano at 16:42 or 17:42 or 18:42
Arrive: Milano Centrale 17:50 or 18:50 or 19:50
Before setting off on Day Two, it's a good idea to visit the ticket office in Milano Centrale station and book the reservations for all of the Italian Intercity trains
For rail pass users the reservations on these trains are optional, but worth every cent, particularly in summer.
(1) Depart: Milano Centrale at 09:10 by IC train
Reservation fee = €3 for 1st and 2nd class pass users
To make the most of the sea views you need to be sat on the left on departure from Genova; where the train will have reversed direction.
(2) Depart: Ventimiglia/Ventimille at 13:15 by TER train
(3) Depart: Nice at 14:23 by TER train; Arrive Marseille at 17:03.
Sit on the left for the best of the sea views - you'll be looking over the beaches and marinas of the Cote D'Azur between Nice and Frejus and then the sea can also be seen after departure from Toulon.
Depart: Marseille St Charles at 13:51
Arrive: Mirimas at 15:16
This train takes the spectacular Cote Blue route west of Marseille, sit on the left when boarding to make the most of the views.
Depart: Mirimas at 15:30
Arrive: Avignon Centre at 16:10 - the train will be heading to Lyon
Depart: Avignon Centre at 16:40 - the train will be heading to Narbonne
Arrive: Nimes at 17:20
Depart: Avignon Centre at 17:40 -the train will be heading to Narbonne
Arrive: Nimes at 18:17
Depart: Nimes** at 08:13
Arrive: Clermont Ferrand at 13:20
Views from railway bridges/viaducts don't get more spectacular than that from the Le viaduc de Chamborigaud.
Sit on the left of the train and look out when the train departs from Chambirogaud station, around 1hr 5mins into the journey.
The viaduct isn't the only spectacular sight on this journey, for more than 30 mins after Villefort the train takes a spectacular passage through a series of deep river valleys - the Gorges De L'Allier; the best of these views are also on the left.
The railway then follows the rivers for more than an hour to Langeac - and on this part of the journey there are great views from both sides of the train.
Depart: Clermont Ferrand at 13:58
Arrive: Lyon Part-Dieu at 16:22
Depart: Lyon Part-Dieu at 16:38
Arrive: Genveve at 18:35
As will be seen below this day of travel comprises a round trip from Geneve.
Depart: Geneve at 10:32
Arrive: St Gervais-Les-Bains at 12:16
Depart: Vallorcine at 14:17
Arrive: Martigny at 15:07
Between St Gervais and Martigny, you will be following the ‘Mont Blanc Express' route.
There are good views from both sides of the train, between Vallorcine and Les Marécottes the best of the views are on the right, but the descent to Martigny, pictured above, can be best appreciated on the left.
Depart: Martigny at 15:16
Arrive: Geneve at 16:50
[Depart:] Geneve at 08:12
Arrive: Montreux at 09:10
Depart: Depart: Zweisimmen at 11:39
Arrive: Interlaken Ost at 12:50
Sit on the right when boarding this train, the best views of the gorge south of Spiez can be seen from this side of the train.
The train will then reverse direction on departure from Spiez, so without leaving your seat, you'll then be on the left hand side and able to see some fabulous views over Lake Thun.
Depart: Depart: Interlaken Ost at 13:04
Arrive: Luzern at 14:55
Depart: Luzern at 15:18
Arrive: Cadenazzo at 18:12 (the train will be heading to Locarno)
There are views of Lake Zug on the left and then after departure from Arth-Goldau, the Lauerzersee, pictured above, can be seen on the right.
Sit on the left of of this train for the best of the views; highlights include the views over Wassen village as the train spirals up to the old Gotthard Tunnel.
Another highlight of this journey comes when the train exits the The Gotthard Tunnel and descends down the mountain on another series of spirals; the train will travel over both sets of tracks pictured below.
Depart: Cadenazzo at 18:39
Arrive: Milano Centrale at 20:17
At face value, the connections between the trains on this day seem tightly timed, but you’ll be changing trains in Switzerland, so making the onward trains in time should be virtually guaranteed.
All of the connections at each station should be on the same level, so getting your bags from one train to another shouldn’t be too arduous either.
Also stock up on food/drink before you set off from Montreux, you won’t have time to pick up provisions on route, though your efforts will be rewarded; this day should be a highlight of the trip!
If you do want to follow the routing suggested below, buy some food/drink before you set off from Milan.
Though an option is to push the itinerary back by two hours and depart from Milano Centrale at 10:20 OR spend a couple of hours in Chur between trains having a late lunch/dinner there.
If you take either of those options, you can follow the same routing, but you'll be depart from Chur at 17:12 and arriving in Innsbruck at 20:14.
Depart: Milano Centrale at 08:20
Arrive: Tiriano at 10:52
Depart: Tiriano at 11:00 (the train will be heading to St Moritz)
Arrive: Pontresina at 12:52
Depart: Pontresina at 13:02
Arrive: Samedan at 13:08
The connections at both Pontresina and Samdedan seem tightly timed, but it won't be a problem.
Making the transfer between trains at these stations usually involves simply crossing a platform/track from one train to another.
Depart: Chur at 15:12; the train will be heading to Zurich via St Gallen
Arrive: Buchs SG at 15:45
Depart: Buchs SG at 15:54 - the Railjet train will be heading to Wien
Arrive: Innsbruck Hbf at 18:11
Sit on the right of this train for the best of the views as the train travels through the beautiful Arlberg Pass.
All of the connections on this day are straightforward - and as you can see from the images above it's worth the effort!
Reservation fees: 1st class = €20.90; 2nd class = €14.50
The best option for purchasing the reservations for this train is to book them at the Reisezentrum travel desk when you arrive in Innsbruck the previous evening.
Or book them at Milano Centrale station when booking the other reservations
By this stage of the trip, train journey fatigue may be setting in, so if that is that case you can take a Frecce train direct from Venezia to Roma.
Though if you do opt for this, whether you have a 1st or 2nd class pass, you will need to pay a €10 reservation fee prior to boarding; more info is available here.
Depart: Venezia S.Lucia at 08:40
Arrive: Bologna Centrale at 10:48
Depart: Bologna Centrale at 11:32
Arrive: Ancona at 14:50
Sit on the left for the sea views, which come after Rimini.
This train may be double-decked and if that is the case, it’s worth making the effort to heave your luggage up to the top deck.
If train journey fatigue has set it in, you can take a Frecce train direct from Roma to Milano.
Though if you do opt for this, whether you have a 1st or 2nd class pass, you will need to pay a €10 reservation fee prior to boarding - more info is available here.
Depart: Roma Termini at 09:57; the train should be heading to Torino Porta Nuova
Arrive: Genova Piazza Principe at 15:35
By Intercity train; the optional reservation fee = €3 1st and 2nd class; more info is available here.
The train will race through the Cinque Terre, but the best of the stunning views can be seen between Sestri Levant and Genova.
You’ll have to cross your fingers and hope your reserved seats are on the left hand side; as between La Spezia and Genova there are some of the best coastal views which can be seen from any European express train.
If they’re not then after departure from La Spezia, seek out somewhere from where you can see the sea views.
Depart: Genova Piazza Principe at 16:19
Arrive: Milano Centrale at 17:53
By Intercity train; optional reservation fee = €3 for 1st and 2nd class pass users.
Not including the optional suggested journey on the MG Railway but including the optional reservations on the Thello train and Italian IC trains.
1st Class Adult = €565.90
InterRail 2nd Class Adult = €424.50
1st Class Youth = €430.90
InterRail 2nd Class Youth = €324.50
APPROXIMATE* cost comparison with purchasing tickets:
Cheapest 1st class tickets = €916
Cheapest 2nd class tickets = €606
1st class tickets when booked a few days ahead of the travel date = €1086
2nd class tickets when booked a few days ahead of the travel date = €823
The costs estimates based on one Adult aged 18+ travelling solo.
*We looked through 100s of departure times/dates to assess these costs and used the most 'typical' prices we could find.
However, the prices of train tickets can fluctuate, so these cost estimates do not take into sporadic promotions and other offers - nor do they include exponentially high prices at holiday times etc.
However, note that you can make a big saving on this itinerary if you use a Eurail or InterRail Pass, plus using a pass makes those tightly timed connections in Switzerland possible.
You'll still save with a pass if you do opt to take those Frecce trains in Italy
These additional tips can help you:
Our Other Info which should be of use to Rail Pass Users:
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.