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6 spectacular italian train journeys through olive groves, cinque terre, and venice.

I taly’s major appeals are its landscapes, food, and rich history. By taking the best train trips in Italy, you’ll get to give into la dolce vita and enjoy all three at a leisurely pace.

One thing to note: Though the country has a vast and dense train network, there are frequent disruptions, delays, and sometimes replacement bus services, so it’s good to have a zen attitude and a flexible itinerary.

Italy’s first train line was completed in 1839 and ran between Naples and Portici. Although many high-speed lines, known as direttissime or DD, were built during the 20th century, some regional lines, especially in southern Italy, run at the same speed as they did over 150 years ago. These slower lines are referred to as linea lenta , or LL.

For many journeys between major cities, you’ll have the option of taking a fast and direct route or a slower train with more stops. If you have time to spare, do the latter. That way you can crisscross the country unhurriedly, contemplate the scenery, get off when the fancy takes you, and savor a cappuccino at the station bar while you wait for your next ride.

Here are six of the best train trips in Italy that will take you from north to south and along some of the country’s most beautiful coastlines.

Best train trip in Italy #1: Milan to Venice


Photo: Alexey Gorshenin /Shutterstock

The relatively short journey between Milan and Venice takes you through some must-see cities.

Verona, Vicenza, and Padua all have well-preserved historical city centers worth the stop. In Verona, wander colorful piazzas and stay for an open-air opera in the Roman amphitheatre. In Vicenza, check out the Olympic Theater and the Palazzo Leoni Montanari that’s a mere four-minute walk away. In Padua, don’t miss Giotto’s frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel and the surrounding gardens.

Perhaps the most memorable part of this train journey is the end when you arrive at the Venice lagoon over a 19th-century railway bridge. For over two miles, you’ll feel as if your train is cruising on water.

Trains along this line are very frequent. The direct train from Milan to Venice takes roughly 2.5 hours and costs about $73. The slower option, which takes one extra hour and includes a brief connection in Verona, is only about $25. If you get individual tickets to make extra stops in Vicenza and Padua, the total price is just a few dollars more.

Best train trip in Italy #2: Venice to Florence


Photo: Catarina Belova /Shutterstock

There are few better ways to travel from Venice to Florence than the slow train. It may take twice as long as the fast option, but it’ll give you the chance to stop and explore some of the less touristy towns along this route.

You can visit some imposing medieval structures along the way to the capital of the Italian Renaissance. Stop to see Ferrara’s moated medieval Castello Estense, the seat of the powerful Este family. In Bologna, be sure to eat a plate of pasta al ragù, the Italian name for the spaghetti bolognese that’s named after this city. And when in Prato, visit the Castello dell’Imperatore.

The train journey from Venice will take you through the sprawling region of Emilia-Romagna before guiding you back down to Florence. You’ll know you’re in Tuscany when you see rows of cypress trees snaking along the rolling hills.

The direct route via high-speed train takes about two hours. There are usually seven direct trains per day with prices starting at about $61. The longer journey can take anywhere from three to five hours, including changeovers in Bologna and Prato, but costs a mere $25.

Best train trip in Italy #3: Florence to Rome


Photo: Jarek Pawlak /Shutterstock

If you close your eyes and conjure up images of Italy, that mental picture is probably akin to what you’ll see from your window on this train journey. Think medieval hill-top villages, bright blue skies punctuated with wisps of clouds above a green and ochre landscape, and crumbling stone churches.

On the journey from Florence to Rome, you’ll pass through Arezzo, Cortona, Montepulciano, Orvieto, and more. All are towns where you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere, great wine, locally-produced meats, pastas, and cheeses. If some of the streets evoke a sense of déjà-vu, it may be because you’ve seen them in films like the Oscar-winning Life is Beautiful (filmed in Arezzo), Under the Tuscan Sun (Cortona), or the Twilight sequel New Moon (Montepulciano).

The direct trains from Florence to Rome take around 1.5 hour and can cost anywhere from $60 to more than $120. The regional trains are much slower (some take up to five hours and can involve a couple of changeovers), but only cost about $27. There are multiple train options every hour.

Best train trip in Italy #4: Rome to Palermo


Photo: Andrew Mayovskyy /Shutterstock

The ride from Rome to Palermo is long, but it’s memorable. The journey covers 500 miles in about 12 hours, and it’s among the few in the world where your train goes on a boat trip.

The train loads onto a ferry equipped with railway tracks in Villa San Giovanni and emerges in Messina, Sicily. You can stay inside or walk up to the boat deck for a coffee and sea views (or to watch the sunrise if you’re on the overnight train).

But before that, you’ll be riding for about six hours through the southwestern regions of Italy: Lazio, Campagna, Basilicata, and Calabria. You’ll glimpse the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. As you ride south of Naples, the landscape gets drier and more rugged. You’ll have splendid views of the sea as the tracks follow the coastline for most of the way down this section, and again across northern Sicily.

There are 11 trains per day from Rome to Palermo. One option is to take the Intercity Notte and ride overnight, so you save on accommodation. These trains were recently refurbished, so they’re modern and comfortable. Journey times vary from 10.5 hours to over 13 hours. Prices start from as little as $40 if you book well in advance.

Best train trip in Italy #5: The villages of Cinque Terre


Photo: pisaphotography /Shutterstock

If the train journey from Rome to Palermo seems too daunting, going through the area known as Cinque Terre is a much shorter option with equally fantastic views of Italy’s coastline from Levanto to La Spezia.

Cinque Terre, or Five Lands, refers to the five colorful coastal towns that you’ll pass: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. All five have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites . Take an entire day or two to hop on and off this little train, visit the towns, and sample the local goods like Monterosso’s special anchovies and Corniglia’s honey ice cream.

Starting in Levanto, with no stops, the journey will only take between 20 to 40 minutes depending on the train, and it costs about $13. Sit on the right side for the sea views and on the left for a closer look at the vineyards and olive groves that characterize this steep, rugged landscape.

Best train trip in Italy #6: Bari to Otranto or Gallipoli


Photo: vololibero /Shutterstock

It’s impossible to grasp everything that’s contained in Italy’s heel in one straightforward journey. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more surprising and varied region in Italy, and the best way to discover it is to zigzag along its train tracks.

Start in Bari. This fun port city has multiple train stations, so be sure to double-check which one you’re leaving from. First head to Alberobello, known for its cone-shaped-roof houses, or trulli . Five miles and a few minutes away by train, Locorotondo has taken a very different approach to architecture. Its cummerse (narrow white houses with pointed gable roofs) are more reminiscent of buildings in Flanders than anything Italian. As the town’s name suggests, it is also surprisingly round, with curved streets that hug the contours of the hill on which it sits.

From here, you can ride southeast to Ostuni, although this will likely involve a couple of changeovers. Ostuni is a medieval labyrinth of narrow streets and staircases known as La Città Bianca (the white town) because of its lime-washed houses. Less than an hour’s ride away is Lecce, a beautiful Baroque city that studs Italy’s heel. End your journey on the coast by traveling east to Otranto or west to Gallipoli. Both towns have imposing fortifications, seafront promenades, and turquoise waters.

great rail journeys to italy

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Trains in Italy

Scroll down this page (to below the "ignore this machine" photo) and discover the greatest Italian rail journeys of all. At the end of that section, I've a FAQ section too.

Fast train in Italy

For driving and car hire in Italy read our article here.

Italy's awe-inspiring train system is nothing short of extraordinary, presenting you with an unparalleled way to explore the country. The high-speed network effortlessly spans Italy's most prominent towns and cities, transporting visitors from the vibrant north to the sun-kissed landscapes of Calabria and Sicily in the south.

TrenItalia, the nation's rail operator, operates three remarkable high-speed train versions: the Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, and Frecciabianca . These sleek and sophisticated trains whisk passengers across Italy with efficiency and style.

For an alternative choice, Italo provides its own high-speed services, ensuring passengers have ample options for intercity travel.

Embark on an unforgettable Italian rail journey and allow the rhythm of the tracks to carry you to hidden gems, picturesque landscapes, and cultural wonders. So hop on board and let the enchantment of Italy unfold before your very eyes...

Italo and Trenitalia trains

🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

For more tips on how to get the best deals on tickets scroll down to our questions section.

Trains such as the one from Turin to Nice and the route along the Italian Riviera offer stunning scenery; further down the page, you'll find details of these and many other train journeys that are rated as the most spectacular train journeys in Italy.

Frecciarossa fast train

My Introduction to Italian Trains

With regards to exploring Italy in general; trains are great, but some of the countryside regions and little villages aren't well covered by the rail network. There are exceptions though,  the Cinque Terre villages have a superb train service and so too does the coast of Calabria

Many decades ago, long before I met and married my Italian wife, Maria, I visited Italy by train on a Eurail Pass. It was a great first introduction to Italy, and I saw all the main cities - the typical tourist cities of Rome, Venice, and Florence . I loved it.

However, to really discover the Italian countryside, a car is best.  Base yourself in one town or village,  find a characteristic place to stay,  and explore.

Having said that, there are definitely some train journeys one really should take . If you are a supporter , you are always welcome to contact me for personalized advice.

cars in Italy

Question 1: Which are the most beautiful train rides in Italy?

  • Turin to Grenoble through the Val di Susa. There are plans for a high speed train connection through this area known as the TAV, linking Turin with Paris, but it's facing a lot of protests and the slow train that exists at present is perfect for enjoying the view.
  • Turin to Nice through the mountains and the French and Piedmont countryside. The scenery and little villages en route are lovely. You normally have to change trains in Ventimiglia and sometimes Cuneo.
  • Tropea to Pizzo offers an unparalleled view of one of Italy's most beautiful coastlines: coves, beaches, and glimpses of Italian Mediterranean blue, which is a blue like no other.
  • The fast train from Milan to Rome or vice-versa is amazing. It covers the 350 miles/560kms in two hours and forty-five minutes and races through some beautiful scenery in Tuscany and Lazio. 
  • Traveling aboard the Autumn Foliage Train between Domodossola and Locarno is one of the most beautiful journeys in Italy. The journey is around 50 kilometers and takes two hours. Spectacular doesn't come close to describing the magnificent scenery.
  • The Cinque Terre Train is a must - we wrote about the train and the Cinque Terre here.
  • Journey from Bari to Matera.  The train journey is incredible and Bari and Matera are two of the most fascinating towns in Italy. Both should be on your list of must visit destinations.
  • Trans-Siberian between Sulmona and Isernia. The name, Trans-Siberian, came about because of the winter scenery which recalls Siberia. Summer or winter, this high altitude journey through the mountains of Abruzzo is spectacular.
  • Volcano Train of Sicily : Circumetnea is the line's official name, and it offers a three-hour journey (110 km) through villages, vineyards, and pistachio groves while Etna glowers down upon it all.
  • Asciano - Monte Antico line : a steam train journey through some of the most beautiful Tuscan scenery. The line was closed in 1994 but was reopened by a group of dedicated volunteers. The video below has more on the route - although in Italian, the beauty of the area is clearly shown.
  • Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: This iconic train journey starts in Venice and takes you through the stunning Italian countryside to Paris. The journey takes about 17 hours and offers luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, and breathtaking views of the Alps and French countryside. This train journey is truly an unforgettable experience.
  • Bernina Express: This train journey takes you through the stunning Swiss Alps, but starts and ends in Italy. The train departs from Tirano and travels through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, including the iconic Landwasser Viaduct. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and takes you to the Swiss town of St. Moritz.

Question 2: How fast are Italian trains?

Answer: The maximum recorded speed in testing is 393.8 km/h (244.7 mph), although operating speeds are limited to 300 km/h (186 mph). The fastest trains are the Frecciarossa 1000   trains, followed by the Italo trains that can reach a maximum speed of 360 km/h (160mph).

Question 3: When is the best time to buy train tickets?

Answer: I find that booking for the fast trains between one and three months before traveling generally works out the cheapest. If you are booking a regional train, the prices are generally the same regardless of when you book. A good idea is to download the Trenitalia app so that you can buy tickets online, and then the ticket inspector simply scans the QR code on your phone.

Question 4: How to avoid fines when traveling by train in Italy

Answer: If you don't buy tickets online, you will need to physically validate your train ticket using the little machines on the platform before boarding, plus fill in the date and sign if it is a multi-day ticket.  If you have bought online, validate on the website on the day of travel.

Not validating your train ticket, together with the fines from getting caught in ZTL zones, is the most common way tourists get fined in Italy. You can find out about ZTL zones and other mistakes tourists to Italy MUST NOT make here.

Question 5: Are trains in Italy expensive?

Answer: No, the tickets are very affordable and, considering the quality of Italian trains, are often a real bargain.

Question 6: What about graffiti on trains?

Graffiti on trains used to be a huge issue. That is no longer an issue as the Frecciarossa trains boast advanced anti-graffiti paints, engineered to safeguard their pristine surfaces from defacement and vandalism. These specialized coatings create a formidable barrier, repelling paint and other forms of graffiti with remarkable efficiency.

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  • To check train times throughout Italy click here.

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Italy train tours - 10 best railway journeys

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Italy , with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for travellers. While there are many ways to explore this beautiful country, one of the most scenic and immersive ways is by taking an Italy train tour. You’ll find this country has an extensive railway network that connects cities, towns, and iconic picturesque countryside. Here’s our pick of the 10 best railway journeys in Italy.

How to plan a train tour of Italy

1. genoa to la spezia, 2. cinque terre express, 3. florence to venice, 4. venice to rome, 5. rome to siracuse, 6. trans-siberian of italy (ferrovia circumetnea), 7. bernina express, 8. trento to malè, 9. milan to bolzano, 10. rimini to lecce, tips for your italy train tour, travel ideas for italy, created by local experts.

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Stay at a beautiful hotel in San Gimignano, a medieval hill town half way between Florence and Siena. Tuscany is known for its wines and food and that's what you'll be exploring on this itinerary - several wine and food pairings await. All hand-picked by your local travel specialist.

Italy's extensive railway network offers you a front-row seat to the soul of the country.  Before we delve into the specifics of the most scenic train journeys Italy has to offer, here are some important things to consider while planning.

If the intricacies of planning seem daunting, check our tailor-made trip service . We can simplify the process and ensure a seamless and personalised tour, taking care of all the details for you. Also, don't forget to check our customisable Italy itineraries.

Italy Rail Pass

If you're planning to roam extensively, an Italy Rail Pass is your golden ticket. This pass grants you the freedom to hop on and off trains across Italy within a predefined time frame, unlocking an abundance of travel possibilities.

Advance ticket booking

For the most popular routes, especially those connecting major cities, it's wise to secure your tickets in advance. This guarantees the best fares and ensures you won't miss out on a seat. Italy's trusted railway system, Trenitalia, offers user-friendly online booking options.

Timetable checks

While Italian trains are renowned for their punctuality, it's a smart move to double-check the timetable before embarking on your journey. This simple step ensures a smooth and stress-free experience.

Consider a travel planner

Some may wish to forgo planning and instead opt to hire an expert to book train tickets and plan routes. Our tailor-made service puts you in contact with local travel experts. 

great rail journeys to italy

Train station in Manarola in Cinque Terre © Shutterstock

The journey along this coastal route tracing the Ligurian Sea is a visual symphony of landscapes. As you glide along the tracks, prepare to be enchanted by breathtaking vistas of the Italian Riviera, adorned with charming coastal towns and the iconic Cinque Terre, known for its picturesque houses perched daringly on cliffs.

For an up-close and personal rendezvous with the world-famous Cinque Terre, the Cinque Terre Express is your gateway. This dedicated train service links the five enchanting villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, nestled along the stunning Ligurian coastline.

Prepare to be spellbound as you traverse from Florence to Venice , meandering through the heart of the Tuscany and Veneto regions. This route is an artistic masterpiece, offering glimpses of rolling hills, expansive vineyards, and captivating towns, ultimately leading to the grandeur of Venice.

This scenic route seamlessly connects the mesmerizing canals of Venice with the historic streets of Rome . As you journey, you'll witness the ever-changing beauty of northern and central Italy, including the iconic Tuscan countryside.

For those yearning to explore the mesmerizing landscapes of Sicily , the train journey from Rome to Siracuse is a must. This odyssey unveils the transition from mainland Italy to the unique culture and natural wonders of the island.

Planning to stay longer in Rome? Check out our detailed guide on how to get around Rome to feel more confident during your Rome holidays.

Bernina Express in Switzerland ©  Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Bernina Express ©  Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Embark on an extraordinary adventure known as the "Trans-Siberian of Italy," encircling the majestic Mount Etna in Sicily. This railway journey is a captivating exploration of volcanic landscapes, offering an exclusive glimpse into the geological marvels of the island.

Cross international boundaries as you hop aboard the Bernina Express. This train ride will sweep you through the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Swiss Alps and the Engadin Valley, showering you with panoramic views of towering peaks, gleaming glaciers, and pristine lakes.

Venture into the heart of the Dolomites by taking the train from Trento to Malè. This journey is a deep dive into stunning mountain vistas, captivating Alpine villages, and the promise of outdoor adventures in a breathtaking natural setting.

From the fashion capital of Milan to the cultural gem of Bolzano in South Tyrol, this railway journey offers a seamless blend of urban sophistication and Alpine magnificence.

Unearth the irresistible charm of Italy's southern regions by embarking on a train journey from Rimini to Lecce . Along the way, be captivated by picturesque coastlines, historic towns, and the rich tapestry of Southern Italian culture.


Italian Trento © Shutterstock

To take your Italy train tour to the next level, here are some priceless tips to keep in mind:

  • Seat Reservations :  For a more comfortable and stress-free ride, especially on high-speed trains, consider securing seat reservations in advance.
  • Travel Light: Italian train stations can get bustling, so pack light to ensure you move through the terminals with ease.
  • Language: While English is commonly spoken, learning a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your immersion in the local culture and make interactions more enjoyable.
  • Scenic Routes: Whenever possible, opt for daytime journeys along routes known for their scenic beauty. The views will leave you spellbound.
  • Local Cuisine: Don't miss the opportunity to savour regional cuisine during your layovers in different parts of Italy. Each region has its own culinary treasures waiting to be discovered.

Let us plan your trip

Allow our team of local experts to plan incredible Italy adventures for you. Reach out to us at your convenience, and we'll create a personalised itinerary that you can fine-tune until it aligns perfectly with your preferences. Take a look at our pre-made Italy itineraries for ideas, and keep in mind that we can tailor all our planned routes to cater to your individual needs.

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Piazza San Marco in Venice with Gondola

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Dre Roelandt

written by Dre Roelandt

updated 06.06.2024


Dre Roelandt is originally from the United States but lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Dre is a freelance writer and artist with a passion for travelling. They are an in-house Content Editor at Rough Guides.

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Destination Italy

Whether you are intending to visit for the Roman history or the Renaissance art, for the vertiginous mountains or the sun-soaked beaches, for the food, the wine, or the fashion, ultimately we all go to Italy for the same reason: to get a slice of la dolce vita .

Many visitors to Italy spend the majority of their time in the country’s major cities, and with good reason. Thousands of years of world-shaping history echo your every step in Rome; beautiful works of art by Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci are dotted throughout Florence; and the canals, piazzas and squares of Venice are rightly world-famous. Each city offers incredible and varied food and whilst the south of the country is much warmer, the entire peninsula benefits from a beautiful Mediterranean climate. To only explore her cities would, however, overlook many of Italy’s greatest charms. The Dolomites form a formidable barrier to the North and provide fantastic skiing or hiking depending on the season. Tuscany’s rolling hills are home to charming medieval towns and castles, as well as terracotta-tiled farmhouses, and beaches on both the West and East coast offer the perfect chance to relax and enjoy seafood, freshly-made ice cream, or perhaps even a glass of prosecco!

Italy is very well connected to the rest of Europe, offering visitors an exciting choice of how and where to enter the country. If you are searching for that once-in-a-lifetime experience, the Orient Express runs from Venice to London and offers guests the ultimate luxury train experience. Alternatively, you might want to travel via one of the spectacular rail routes across the Alps, with stop en route in Germany, France or Switzerland. Once you have arrived, Italy has a good rail network with a mixture of high-speed and traditional trains enabling you to explore this beautiful country in ease and comfort.

great rail journeys to italy

Italy Highlights

great rail journeys to italy

Itineraries in Italy

Europe’s Top 10 by Rail

  • Baden Baden

Tuscany Rail-Drive Holiday

  • Castelvecchio Pascoli

London to Sicily & Malta by Rail and Sea

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Jewels of Italy and the Venice Simplon-Orient Express

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Discover Puglia

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Italian Lakes & the Amalfi Coast

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great rail journeys to italy

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Allow us to help you filter through our best holidays based on your desires and needs.

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Book our Venice, Florence and Rome multi centre, and visit the three biggest stars of Italy.

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Explore one of the world’s most historic cities, followed by Italy’s spectacular coastline.

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Explore one of the world’s most glorious cities before heading to Italy’s largest lake.

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Eight day tour with an insight into one of Italy’s most stunning regions.

  • Amalfi Coast
  • Tuscany Coast
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We’ll help you navigate the top sights and attractions of this wonderful island.

  • Sicily and the Aeolian Islands
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This tour of Tuscany covers the region’s highlights including Florence, Siena and Pisa.


Combine the city of Bologna with the beautiful Tuscan countryside in one trip.

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Start with a few days in the Renaissance city, Florence, before heading to the coast for a relaxing break by the sea.

  • Tuscany Countryside
  • Umbria Countryside
  • Piedmont Countryside
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Explore Italy’s glittering waters, tranquil towns and historic cities on this guided tour.

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Combine two of Italy's stunning lakes all in one trip.


This romantic break takes you to some of the most enchanting locations in north eastern Italy.

  • Lake Maggiore
  • View all Lakes
  • Explore Italy

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Multi centre holidays in Italy allow you to experience more of this beautiful country in one trip.

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All of our Italy tours are exclusive to Citalia and have a maximum of just 18 people per tour.

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Venture off the beaten track with our Hidden Italy collection and discover some of Italy's lesser-known destinations.

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Enjoy more than one Italian destination in a single trip and save up to £250* with Citalia.


Enjoy dramatic Italian coastlines and picture-perfect towns sooner than you think. Where could you be heading to in the next few weeks?

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Our experience and expertise, together with our attention to detail and personal touch, really does make us the leading Italian holiday specialist.

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We've been helping our customers to discover the very best of Italy for 90 years

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Why Citalia?

Here at Citalia we can offer you a trainload of opportunities due to our history and legacy in Italian rail travel. Did you know Citalia was originally founded in 1929 by the Italian State Railway? Known as Compagnia Italiana Turismo (CIT) at the time; the company was set up to give Italians living in the UK the opportunity to travel home for holidays.

“ The atmosphere on those trains was amazing as most people were travelling home for holidays, so even if I was travelling alone, I was never alone – people chatted, laughed & joked, shared their food with you and after so many hours of travelling together you felt you were lifelong pals! ” – Gennaro Contaldo, Brand Ambassador  

95 years later we remain the UK’s leading Italy travel specialist, bringing our guests the real Italy, personalised to their wants and needs, and remain the only UK tour operator that can book Italian train travel in advance.

ocean with train alongside the coast Taormina Sicily Italy September 2016

Your plans, our expertise

great rail journeys to italy

Why discover Italy by rail?


Discover more of la Bella Italia

Why compromise? If you have more than one Italian city or region in mind, then visit a few. Want to relax on the beach and explore cities steeped in culture? You can! Italy’s modern high-speed rail network is very well-connected meaning you can see many of its sights in one trip.  

If you’re looking to visit the major cities, you have so many options – if you are in Milan and fancy a change, Venice or Florence are easily and quickly accessible even for a day trip. 

If you think adding multiple destinations to your trip is more hassle than its worth, think again. At Citalia, our history in rail travel and our experience as the UK’s Italy specialist means you can trust us to make the arrangements, so you get to visit all the areas of Italy you’ve dreamed of, hassle-free!

Timetables display in italian rail station with arrival and departure time

Quick, easy, and affordable

Did you know you can get from Milan to Rome in under 3 hours?  By car, the journey would be much longer and more tiring, with parking being difficult in the popular areas.  Instead, enjoy the impressive train links from centre to centre making getting around simpler and stress-free. 

Train fares are very reasonable for a well maintained and spacious journey where food is often served. Even first-class tickets can be much more affordable than in the UK. 

Amazing Italian landscape from the train window. Tourism and travel by Italy.

Make the journey part of your holiday

Modern train moving from glass monorail station over sea. Venice, Italy

Save future time and money

Make the most of your time away by staying in multiple cities and regions in a single trip, maximising on flights, time-off and all those other arrangements you need to make to be able to jet off carefree. 

If two cities you have always wanted to visit are just an hour or two apart, wouldn’t it be easier to hop on the train for a day trip than plan and pay for an entirely new trip? We offer an array of multicentre itineraries that combine the very best of Italy into one unforgettable Italian escape. Already have some destinations sitting on your bucket list? Then our Italy Experts are here to help personalise your own multicentre itinerary to get them ticked off for you.   


The railway connects the two main islands of Sicily and Sardinia, by ferries departing from Civitavecchia in Rome and Villa San Giovanni in Calabria so you can discover the real Italy offshore.

You can even travel to Italy by train by taking the Eurostar to Paris, then on to Milan or Turin. For a truly stylish way to travel there’s always the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express , where the journey from London to Venice makes for an opulent start to your holiday. Whether you travel all the way to Italy by train or use the railway to expand your trip, we can assure you, you will not regret it.

Italy by Rail: Holiday Itineraries

Citalia’s train experts can arrange a bespoke itinerary for you and ensure all your tickets are booked in advance, so you just need to start thinking about where you would like to visit, and we will make it happen.

For a taste of what’s possible, check out some of our suggested rail tours, whether it’s exploring the cultural highlights of Venice, Florence and Rome , or heading down south to the rugged beauty of Sorrento and Sicily.

Here are few of our favourite itineraries to get you dreaming…

great rail journeys to italy

10 day suggested trip

Venice, Florence and Rome

From £1335 per person.

  • Take an Islands tour in Venice and enjoy a glass blowing demonstration
  • Admire Brunelleschi's dome of Florence Cathedral
  • Visit some of the most famous sights in Rome, including the Colosseum
  • Visit Pompeii, one of the world's most important archaeological sites

great rail journeys to italy

13 day suggested trip

Rome, Sorrento and Sicily

From £1799 per person.

  • Get hands-on and learn how to make traditional Italian pizza and pasta
  • Rewarding scenic views on the comfortable train journeys
  • Tuck into a picnic in the park at the beautiful Borghese Gardens
  • Venture south on a twelve night trip towards Sicily

great rail journeys to italy

9 day suggested trip

Venice, Verona and Lake Garda

From £1469 per person.

  • Enjoy live classical music whilst sipping on a coffee in St. Mark’s Square
  • Dine on traditional Italian cuisine against a breathtaking backdrop
  • Visit Scaligeri Castle, one of four castles built by the Lords of Verona

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What our customers think

  We have been helping our customers discover the real Italy for 95 years now. Our experience and expertise, together with our attention to detail and personal touch, really does make us the leading Italian holiday specialist.

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great rail journeys to italy

Great Rail Journeys   Reviews

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A seamless process.

Adele was the lovely lady who managed my booking. She was helpful to the Nth degree and more; she was patient. My experience was both pleasant and very efficient. Will recommend.

Date of experience : 18 June 2024

Great Rail Journeys - The Booking

So far we’ve only made the booking for July 2025 flying to Oslo first then joining the train. So far so great, the holiday looks to be just wonderful and we are really looking forward to it. Could not do it this year unfortunately. Watch this space for the ‘end of holiday’ report … from our experience so far we have great expectations 😎,

Date of experience : 13 June 2024

First Class Service

Very helpful, efficient and attentive service. Extremely impressed with the way Gail dealt with my enquiries and booking. Am looking forward to travelling with your company at the end of August/beginning of September. (Ref 2101610)

Date of experience : 15 June 2024

We have just come back from our …

We have just come back from our European tour. Steve Kimber our tour guide made the holiday incredible. His attention to detail and attitude was simply second to none. We cannot speak highly enough about him. Thank you Steve for being our guide. Carol and John.xx

Date of experience : 03 June 2024

Quality Holidays

Super experience with Great Rail Journeys. The booking was quick and easy to complete, as we had already decided where we wanted to go after looking through the excellent brochure.

Date of experience : 16 June 2024

Classic Glacier Express…May 2024

We booked our Classic Glacier Express Tour via TravelMarvel in Australia and we were given all the information and contact details about the tour before arriving in London Marta Victor was our tour director - she is very knowledgeable, caring and patient - she made the whole tour a very enjoyable, relaxed happy outing for all of us Kim Stephenson ( Customer Service Executive) was also very helpful and efficient with my queries. Will definitely book another rail journey with GRJ again and recommend GRJ to friends and family .Thanks Marta and Kim from Ling & Mike

Date of experience : 12 May 2024

Seamless booking

Booking process has been seamless. Staff are friendly, informative and knowledgeable. Emailed re a special request and received a prompt positive response. Very impressed.

Very good experience on the telephone…

Very good experience on the telephone to book I have just been on to my booking to amend my passport details Very straightforward in that I need to add my two middle names which I did not give to your guy on the phone when booking so my fault BUT why can I not amend on line. It says I must phone in which I will do

Efficient staff taking particulars.

Paul was very efficient in taking our holiday requirements. We wanted to sit on the journey with another named couple. It was a quick experience too.

Switzerland absolutely first class 8day train tour

absolutely first class with reserved seating in !st class. Wonderful hotel in the best possible locationsl

Date of experience : 27 May 2024

Nice helpful staff

Nice helpful person who made the booking process very straight forward. Have made two bookings and will do more.

Telephone help

The telephone was answered promptly and the agent was very helpful as I changed my mind about how I was to get to the holiday, a couple of times. She was friendly and approachable

Good as ever

Having received an offer for early booking, we enquired about dates for next year and then booked our holiday. It was all dealt with in a friendly and efficient manner and confirmation followed quickly. This is consistent with our previous experience of Great Rail holidays.

Date of experience : 06 June 2024

Reply from Great Rail Journeys

Dear Mrs Bostock-Smith, Thank you for your review and continued support. That is wonderful to hear! Have a brilliant time on your next tour! Sophie.

Special trip to Canada

The agent Paul was extremely helpful and with his advice and clarification of information resulted in us making our booking. It is a special trip for us and thanks to the helpful support we received we felt confident in booking with the company

Very helpful advice when I first rang…

Very helpful advice when I first rang and all questions answered completely and helpfully by representative Paul. Confirmation emailed promptly.

June 8 2024

June 8 2024 I will be 84 in August and have always wanted to go to Hungary on a river cruise so I am excited to be able to take advantage of your generous terms and this will be my birthday gift to me! I have been greatly helped by your very patient staff and would recommend this journey.

Date of experience : 08 June 2024

Hi Francis, Thank you for your review. It is lovely to hear that you have finally booked a journey to Hungary and that we could help you celebrate your birthday! I hope you have a wonderful time! Sophie.

Glacier Express All Inclusive Tour

We went on the Glacier Express All Inclusive trip on 29th May 2024. The itinerary stated we would be visiting ‘vibrant’ St Moritz, to enjoy a Cocktail or two, and a ride on a cable car or maybe a bit of retail therapy in the stylish shops. They forgot to mention that the week we went everywhere was closed. No cable car, no shops, only a couple of coffee shops/bars. Shops, cable cars and Bear Sanctuary were also closed in Arosa. Tour manager and hotel were very good, scenery was fantastic. But…., Do not travel to Switzerland at this time of year.

Date of experience : 29 May 2024

Hi Lynne, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. I am glad that you enjoyed the scenery and that your Tour Manager and hotel were very good! I am sorry to hear that a lot of the facillities were closed during your visit. I will make sure to pass your feedback across to our Product team so we can look into this further and review the itinerary and dates closely for the future. Sophie

Whilst everyone I spoke to was polite and efficient and although it wasn,t mentioned on the itinerary I requested to go First Class on the connecting trains. Previously we have found the staff would go the extra mile to do something.In this case -if not shown on itinerary cant do it!!! Not the flexibility I expected.

Date of experience : 09 June 2024

Hi Phillip, Thank you for your review. Although we will always do our best to make sure any personal requests are achieved, unfortunately we don't upgrade individual passengers on internal rail journeys. As you will be travelling with a Tour Manager as part of an escorted group, we do keep everyone together in the same compartments/class to minimize any issues or delays occurring when changing trains. This allows the journey to go smoothly for everyone. If you would like to travel in first class throughout your journey, I recommend looking into our 'first class' tours where all rail journeys are undertaken in first class. If you would like any further clarification, please feel free to reach out to me directly and I'd be happy to help. Sophie.

Simple, quick and efficient

Margaret was very helpful and informative answering all my queries before I felt confidant enough to make the booking. I prefer booking via a “real” person rather than online and this process with GRJ was simple and quick. We would definitely recommend the company and will certainly book again in the future.

Date of experience : 04 June 2024

Hi Julian, Thank you for your review. That is wonderful to hear! We know how important it can be to speak to a real person, so our team are available on our phone lines daily to answer any questions! I will make sure to pass your lovely feedback across to our team. Sophie.

Clear & easy to book

Very clear, all information given and questions answered on website. Easy to navigate and book online.

Date of experience : 11 June 2024

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great rail journeys to italy

Italy Rail Holidays

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  • Rail Journeys

Italy is a destination full of life and beauty! You have the  stunning lakes, renaissance cities,  the legacy of th e Roman Empire  and of course,  fantastic food, culture  and  people! 

great rail journeys to italy

 Speak to our expert team today to get prices! 

great rail journeys to italy

From the gorgeous clear waters of  Lake Garda & Lake Como,  and the glorious  Tuscan countryside,  to the incredible  Italian Riviera,  Italy has an abundance of beautiful destinations. Famous cities such as  Pisa, Verona, Turin  and, of course,  Venice,  the city over water, are perfect for exploring on rail holidays to Italy. 

Discover Italy's world-class  art, architecture  and  food culture  on our exclusive Italy rail holidays  so you can take in  multiple destinations  on one trip. Plus we have the option of booking train holidays in Italy from the UK, departing from London St Pancras on the  Eurostar  and allowing you to avoid airports altogether. 

great rail journeys to italy

Ready to experience Italy by rail? Enquire today!

great rail journeys to italy


Join our train holidays to Italy and travel to the jewel of the renaissance, beautiful  Florence.  Take a stroll around the city to admire the  quaint city squares, churche s and  palaces.  Then, journey to  Pisa  on our Italian train holidays to see the iconic  Leaning Towe r and pose as if you're holding the tower up for a classic picture at this famous attraction. 

great rail journeys to italy

Explore the labyrinth of narrow streets that open onto charming piazzas in the medieval  Tuscan city of Siena . Enjoy the fabulous  Lake Garda  with its crystal-clear waters and mountainous backdrop. Visit the Rocca Scaliger, a preserved 13th-century castle in  Sirmione.

Speak with our team today to start planning your Itay Rail Holiday

great rail journeys to italy

The continue on our rail holidays to Italy to discover the incredible 'floating city' of  Venice.  Take a leisurely gondola ride and an evening stroll through the narrow streets. Fall in love in  Verona,  the setting for  Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  All of this and more is possible when booking our fantastic Italian rail holidays.

great rail journeys to italy

Marvellous Escapes has access to over 400 suppliers, including several Italy rail tours and train journey specialist operators. As a result, our advice is always unbiased and tailored to your holiday plans. 

great rail journeys to italy

  • Secure reservations for the Eurostar, TGV Lyria (SNCF) & TrenItalia trains
  • Return flight to the UK (or a roundtrip train journey from London St. Pancras, with extra night in Turin/Milan an onward rail via Paris)
  • 1-night stay in Geneva with breakfast 
  • 2-night’s stay in  Venice with breakfast 
  • 2-night’s stay in Florence with breakfast 
  • 2-night’s stay in Rome with breakfast 
  • Guided walking tour and gondola ride in Venice
  • Priority access to Uffizi Gallery in Florence
  • Guided ‘skip the line tour’ of the Roman Forum in Rome

great rail journeys to italy

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Save A Train

5 Most Scenic Train Journeys In Italy

Train journeys in Italy offer not only comfort but some impressive views. One of the best things about taking the train in Italy is the opportunity to look at the pretty scenery as you travel from one place to another. In some parts of Italy, there are scenic train routes that are more than just modes of transportation . These scenic trains will treat you to coastal views, dramatic mountain scenery, sparkling lakes and so much more. Here are the  5 most scenic train Journeys in Italy.

  • This article was written to educate about Train Travel and was made by Save A Train, The Cheapest Train Tickets Website In The World .

Let us open the list of 5 most scenic train journeys in Italy with – Levanto to La Spezia – Cinque Terre

Train routes that follow Italy’s dramatic coastlines are among the most enjoyable. The Cinque Terre railway serves the five Italian Riviera villages of the region in dramatically fashion. Relax behind panoramic windows and soak up beautiful mountains, the turquoise sea, bucolic vineyards , and olive groves. Take a train between Levanto and La Spezia for a brief but beautiful picturesque journey. Once you have reached your destination , you can then spend the day hiking the amazing village.

Florence to Levanto Trains

Florence to La Spezia Trains

Rome to La Spezia Trains

La Spezia to Levanto Trains

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Cinque Terre Italy (@cinqueterre_love)

Naples to Sorrento

Travel from Naples to Sorrento and pass through the archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii. This fabulous journey provides views of  Mount Vesuvius  and the Bay of Naples along the way. This train ride is certainly one of the  most scenic train journeys in Italy.

Milan to Naples Trains

Florence to Naples Trains

Bari to Naples Trains

Rome to Naples Trains

Rimini to Catania – along with Italy’s east coast

The best way to travel from Northern Italy to Southern Italy is down the East Coast by train. The line runs parallel to the coast for a whole six hours of incredible scenery. Start at Rimini, grab a seat facing forwards and take a picnic with you for a fabulous trip ! En route to Catania, the train crosses lemon groves and lava flows, with stops at some interesting stations throughout the journey .

Messina to Catania Trains

Syracuse to Catania Trains

Taormina to Catania Trains

Palermo to Catania Trains

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by E. Emancipato Photography © (@edoardo.emancipato)

Venice to Florence – 5 most scenic train Journeys in Italy

Discover two of Italy’s famous cities with a beautiful train journey in-between. The voyage from Venice to Florence takes you along breath-taking scenery and charming towns. This journey is only two hours long but is truly an enriching experience . There is no better way to travel between the two cities.

Rimini to Florence Trains

Rome to Florence Trains

Milan to Florence Trains

Venice to Florence Trains

Milan to Bolzano is our last pick for the 5  scenic train Journeys in Italy

Experience a wonderful train ride from Milan to Bolzano. Taking you from the fashion capital of the world to the jagged and dramatic rock mountains that make up the Italian Alps. See Italy’s old towns, magnificent countryside and the most beautiful and photographed mountains in Europe. Entering Bolzano is like leaving Italy and entering Germany , this small city is German in appearance because it was part of Austria before World War I.  This scenic train journey is magical!

Trento to Bolzano Trains

Milan to Bolzano Trains

Bologna to Bolzano Trains

Venice to Bolzano Trains

Thinking of taking a train to your favorite European city? Go to our website to check out all our exclusive fares and start planning your next adventure!

Do you want to embed our blog post onto your site, then click here: – (Scroll down to see the Embed Code)

  • If you want to be kind to your users, you can guide them directly into our search pages. In this link, you will find our most popular train routes – . Inside you have our links for English landing pages, but we also have and you can change the /es to /it or /nl and more languages.

great rail journeys to italy

Niamh Waters

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24 of the world’s most incredible train journeys

Jan 2, 2024 • 11 min read

great rail journeys to italy

As you cross the continental US aboard the California Zephyr, you’ll see prairies, deserts, mountains and canyons galore © Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock

From cutting through the countryside to connecting a country’s great cities, the world’s best railway journeys offer entirely new perspectives on a destination.

Train travel always delivers plenty of magic. Sometimes it’s in the cars, as you meet fellow travelers, or as you eat and sleep with the sound of wheels rolling on the steel rails beneath you. Sometimes it’s outside, in the landscape the train traverses – offering an adventure, an experience, an insight into the heart of a nation.

Our upcoming book,  Amazing Train Journeys ,  rounds up the world’s greatest railway rides. Pulled from its pages, these 24 train journeys are truly first-class.

A train travels through a lush environment with trees alongside the coastline.

1. The Reunification Express, Vietnam

Start:  Ho Chi Minh City End:  Hanoi Departs: Daily Distance:  1072 miles (1726km) Duration:  Two days

This is one of Southeast Asia ’s best-loved railways – and one of the  most epic overnight train journeys in the world . There is no more atmospheric way to haul into Vietnam ’s twin metropolises as this train rattles through historic cities and swooshes beside spectacular coastlines.

2. The California Zephyr, USA

Start:  Chicago End:   San Francisco Departs: Daily Distance:  2438 miles (3924km) Duration:   52hrs 40mins

For soaking up the scenic grandeur of the North American continent, nothing compares with Amtrak ’s California Zephyr , one of the US’ best train journeys . This classic three-day ride travels across prairies, deserts, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada on its way from the Midwest to the West Coast.

A blue-and-yellow train weaves around a corner in a grassy landscape in Peru.

3. The Lake Titicaca Train, Peru

Start:  Puno End:  Cuzco Departs: Three times a week Distance:  241 miles (388km) Duration:  10 hours

Traversing the Altiplano, from the shores of Lake Titicaca to the bustling heart of the ancient Incan empire, the railway from Puno to Cuzco cuts a ponderous but picturesque path through the snow-dusted peaks and voluptuous valleys of the Andes, across the epic Peruvian plains , passing hardy bowler-hatted llama farmers and traveling through remote towns and villages.

4. The Beijing-to-Lhasa Express, China

Start:   Beijing End:   Lhasa Departs: Daily Distance:  2330 miles (3750km) Duration:  40 hours

From the futuristic architecture and imperial wonders of Beijing, the Z21 train transports its passengers from the neon lights of urban China  across the Tibetan plateau , where it glides past grazing yaks, fluttering prayer flags, snow-capped mountains and boundless blue skies. At your destination, magenta-robed monks await. 

A Kiwirail TranzAlpine train arriving in Arthur’s Pass station, Arthur’s Pass National Park, South Island, New Zealand

5. The TranzAlpine, New Zealand

Start:   Christchurch End:  Greymouth Departs: Daily Distance:   139 miles (223km) Duration:  4hrs 30mins

Under five hours, this journey is surely one the world’s finest and most scenic one-day train rides. Commence the TranzAlpine experience in Christchurch, before speeding along the Canterbury Plains and climbing quickly through the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, then descend through a thrilling tunnel to emerge among the lakes, streams and rainforests of the South Island ’s West Coast. 

6. The Bergensbanen, Norway

Start:  Oslo End:   Bergen Departs: Four times a day Distance:  308 miles (496km) Duration:   6hrs 30mins

This astonishing train is one of Europe’s best railway rides  – and one of the least well known outside of Norway . It covers the spectrum of the Nordic country’s natural splendor: climbing canyons, crossing rivers, burrowing through mountainsides and traversing barren icescapes.

A train travels on a high track over a valley in a lush forest.

7. Tazara Railway, Tanzania and Zambia

Start:  Dar es Salaam End:  Kapiri Mposhi Departs: Twice a week Distance:  1160 miles (1860km) Duration:   46 hours

Few trains in the world offer the chance – and we should point out that it’s a chance rather than a guarantee – of spotting big game from your seat. The Tazara ( Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority) does just that. The highlight, though, is the chance to spend two days watching everyday life out of the window, and enjoying the clamor and chaos when the train pulls to a halt – scheduled or unscheduled.

8. The Sunset Limited, USA 

Start:   New Orleans End: Los Angeles Departs: Three times per week  Distance: 1995 miles (3211km)  Duration:  Two days

The ultimate American railroad ride: east to west, coast to coast, clean through from the bars of New Orleans to the breakers of the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve always dreamed of crossing the States, but don’t much relish the prospect of two weeks spent cooped up in an automobile, then a ride on the Sunset Limited is the answer. Sit back and let America’s landscapes buzz by: from Louisiana’s bayous, past the high-rises of Houston, across the deserts of Texas and Arizona , over the Californian hills all the way to LA’s golden beaches. Saddle up, partner: it’s gonna be quite a ride.

The Caledonian Sleeper train crosses Rannoch Viaduct on the scenic West Highland Line railway in the Scottish Highlands.

9. The Caledonian Sleeper, UK

Start:  London (Euston) End:   Fort William Departs: Daily Distance:  509 miles (819km) Duration:  13hrs 30mins

Segueing from the sooty suburbs and crowded concrete-lined cul-de-sacs of central London to the crisp air and soaring vistas of the Scottish Highlands via one overnight train journey epitomizes the romance of rail travel. Enjoy the buffet-car banter, be lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the rails, then wake up to bedside views of towering granite peaks. 

10. Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya

Start: Mombasa Ends:  Nairobi Departs: Daily Distance:  360 miles (579km) Duration:  5hrs 10mins

The Nairobi–Mombasa railway route is among Africa’s most legendary: it even helped foster the modern concept of safari. The rickety old railway has undergone a rebuild in recent years with smart new stations and a new track laid across the Kenyan savannah . What hasn’t changed is the spellbinding journey, with trains departing from Mombasa and passing in the shadow of Kilimanjaro to the cusp of the Great Rift Valley.

11. Tangier to Marrakesh, Morocco

Start:   Tangier End:  Marrakesh Departs: Daily Distance:  360 miles (580km) Duration:  5hrs 15mins

Nothing can fully prepare you for the magnificence Morocco ’s most evocative city – from the clamor and spectacle of the central square, Djemaa El Fna , to the primary colors of the Jardin Majorelle ; and from the peaceful madrassa of Medersa Ben Youssef to the mad profusion of alleyways. There’s no doubting that a railway journey down the spine of this North African nation is a profoundly uplifting experience.

People sit in the observation desk of a train looking out at the Rocky Mountains.

12. The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Start:   Vancouver End:   Banff Departs: Twice a week Distance:  594 miles (957km) Duration:  37 hours

Clattering across the wild Rocky Mountains along a pioneering 19th-century railroad, this train journey is all at once a geological field trip, sightseeing adventure and wildlife safari. It promises cinematic views of Canada ’s quintessential mountain landscapes, plus a bevy of engineering marvels, from dizzying bridges to logic-defying tunnels. And with luck, you might even spy a bald eagle, moose or grizzly bear. 

13. Alexandria to Aswan, Egypt

Start:   Alexandria End:  Aswan Departs: Daily Distance:  670 miles (1100km) Duration:  16 hours

A ride from Alexandria to Aswan means you will travel the length of Egypt 's rail network – and also undertake an odyssey in the company of the great Nile River , with chances to disembark and explore the relics of empires along its banks . Do keep in mind that, for all their plus points, Egyptian trains are not always known for punctuality. 

14. The Serra Verde Express, Brazil

Start:   Curitiba End:  Morretes,  Paraná Departs: Daily Distance:  42 miles (68km) Duration:  3hrs 30mins

One of Brazil ’s most spectacular train journeys, the Serra Verde Express starts in the architecturally bold city of Curitiba and winds its way through dramatic mountain passes covered with tropical rainforest before it drops you in Morretes in the lush state of Paraná. The half-day trip takes in canyons, jagged mountain peaks and verdant lowlands, and the slow-going locomotive allows plenty of opportunities to photograph the cinematic backdrop while traversing some 30 bridges and chugging through 14 tunnels. Aside from the captivating scenery, the journey provides a fascinating glimpse into the past as it trundles through tiny stations dating back to the late 1800s.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway passes by produce venders in the town of Ghum, West Bengal, India

15. The Darjeeling Toy Train, India

Start:   New Jalpaiguri End:   Darjeeling Departs: Daily Distance:  55 miles (88.5km) Duration:  7–8 hours

India ’s narrow-gauge steam railways are the stuff of legend, and the bottle-blue Darjeeling Toy Train is the nation’s lead engine. The ride from the Bengal plains to Darjeeling travels past emerald-green tea plantations and precariously balanced, tin-roofed townships, while clouds tumble down the looming massif of Mt Khangchendzonga. Steam engines are now only used for a small section of the route, yet this iconic mountain journey still serves up a sizable slice of history.

16. The Hokkaidō Shinkansen, Japan

Start:  Tokyo End:  Hakodate Departs: Daily Distance:  512 miles (824km) Duration:  4 hours

The Hokkaidō Shinkansen , one of Japan’s iconic bullet trains , takes you from Tokyo to Hakodate, the southern port of Hokkaidō . Along the way, it zooms past picturesque scenes of rural Japan , through mountains and under the sea. The route is only part of it, though: riding the shinkansen – with its food trolleys and staff who bow upon entering and exiting the train car – is a classic Japanese experience.

A smiling woman looks out from a train window as it travel on a picturesque railroad in Sri Lanka

17. Colombo to Badulla, Sri Lanka

Start:  Colombo End:  Badulla Departs: Daily Distance:  181 miles (292km) Duration:  9–10 hours

One of many unforgettable things about Sri Lanka is the variety and intensity of the color green throughout the year . And for train aficionados, there is no better way to appreciate the country’s full, verdant spectrum than an all-day rail journey from Colombo’s urban gardens at sea level to tea plantations in the Hill Country , via brain-spinning sensory doses of jungle and forest, paddy field and palm tree, mountain and valley, national parks…and human habitation, too. Expect to move slowly – and enjoy one of the most scenic train trips in the world.

18. Bangkok to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore

Start:   Bangkok End:  Singapore Departs: Weekly Distance:  1200 miles (1900km) Duration: Three days

A railway journey from Bangkok to Singapore spans three countries, three capital cities, and – without disembarking once – can be completed in under three days. But to go so fast would be to miss the point of this artery along the Malay Peninsula – a line suited to capricious roaming. You always have the option to hop off – to see tropical islands, to scale the cool heights of tea plantations, and to linger in a trio of metropolises that are each entirely different.

A train enters a tunnel in a snowy landscape in Switzerland.

19. The Glacier Express, Switzerland

Start:  St Moritz End:  Zermatt Departs: Daily (in season) Distance:  180 miles (290km) Duration:  8 hours

Switzerland is a nation of rail fanatics . And if the Swiss could pick one definitive ride, the honor would surely go to the Glacier Express . This eight-hour journey from ritzy St Moritz to Matterhorn-topped Zermatt unzips the lovely Alpine terrain in the country’s south, corkscrewing up to wind-battered mountain passes, teetering across 291 bridges and rumbling through 91 tunnels. It intentionally moves at a snail’s pace so you take in those out-of-this-world views of meadows, forest, falls and mountains – all through panoramic windows. 

20. The Bernina Express, Switzerland & Italy

Start:   Chur End:  Tirano Departs: Daily Distance:  96 miles (156km) Duration:  4hrs 30mins

We can wax lyrical about the glacier-capped mountains, waterfall-draped ravines, jewel-colored lakes and endless spruce forests glimpsed through panoramic windows on Switzerland’s Bernina Express – but seeing is believing. Rolling from Chur in Graubünden to Tirano in northern Italy , this narrow-gauge train often tops polls of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys. The line has even made UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites – and with good reason.

A wagon conductor transports passengers' luggage for hotel transfer on the Orient Express.

21. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, England, France, Switzerland and Italy

Start:  London End:  Venice Departs: One to six times per month Distance:  1300 miles (2090km) Duration:  Two days

The promise of traveling from London to Venice cocooned in luxury while sitting in twinkly dining cars with fine china and silver cutlery is surely one that endures in the hearts of all rail enthusiasts. While the Orient Express’ various other 20th-century routes are sadly long gone, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers a tantalizing sample of the original on a trip that is surely the best journey back in time ever. But this route gained a new rival in 2023 with the Orient Express La Dolce Vita service  – and, in 2025, a new service on the original route is scheduled to hit the rails .

22. Nova Gorica to Jesenice, Slovenia

Start:  Nova Gorica End:   Jesenice Departs:  Daily Distance:  55 miles (89km) Duration:  Two hours

Here is a near-perfect railway adventure that most people have never heard of. The Bohinj Railway connects two places whose significance can be lost to modern travelers. An unassuming regional train rattling out of a faded-grandeur halt on the Italy– Slovenia border doesn’t even hint at what’s to come. The journey is a spectacular tour of Slovenia’s upland highlights from Nova Gorica, climbing through mountain towns and villages along the Soča River , passing through superb Alpine scenery close to Lake Bohinj , and on past world-famous Lake Bled to Jesenice.

A train winds through an outback landscape in Australia.

23. The Ghan, Australia

Start:   Adelaide End:  Darwin Departs: Twice a week Distance:   1851 miles (2979km) Duration:  54 hours

Cutting vertically across the Outback heart of Australia , straight through the desolate deserts of the Red Centre, the Ghan is one of the southern hemisphere’s most unforgettable train journeys. This cross-country train service has provided a vital link between Australia’s north and south coasts, traveling north across the country from well-to-do, orderly Adelaide to the tropical, croc-filled creeks of Darwin. Luxurious and legendary, it’s Australia’s elegant version of the Orient Express.

24. Cannes to Menton, France

Start:   Cannes End:  Menton Departs: Daily Distance:  34 miles (55km) Duration:  1hr 20mins

It’s the stuff that travel dreams are made of: a slow train skirting the French Mediterranean coast, through towns whose very names resonate with glamour – Cannes, Antibes , Monaco . On one side of the tracks lies that sparkling sea; on the other, dramatic cliffs interspersed with the gorgeous coastal towns of the French Riviera . You can make a long day of this short trip, hopping on and off to explore a street market, linger at an outdoor terrace, take a breath of history and get a taste of luxury.

This article was first published Aug 5, 2019 and updated Jan 2, 2024.

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Italy rail holidays

Italy Train Holidays 2024/2025

History, culture, food, wine - it’s safe to say Italy has it all. Our tours showcase the best of the boot, from beautiful cities to charming lakeside settings.

A selection of our best selling Italy tours

Springtime sees the world explode into life and colour, and nowhere more so than Italy! You’ve got the spectacular lakes, you’ve got the fantastic Amalfi Coast and you’ve got splendid Renaissance cities, all coupled with the manageable springtime sun after the cold of winter – explore our superb range of Italian escorted rail holidays below and discover the dolce vita for yourself!

Relax with an espresso in a quaint piazza, uncover the enduring legacy of the Roman Empire, explore the labyrinthine canals of Venice, or discover the breathtaking towns along the Amalfi Coast.

As the Mediterranean sun awakens the country, casting a warm glow across its golden beaches, there is perhaps no better time to visit Italy. And with late departures available on many of our incredible Italy holidays, you could be there before you know it.

World-class art, culture, architecture, and gastronomy; Italy flaunts its charms at each turn. Join us as we take you to the heart of this captivating destination, with new experiences showcasing it in a fresh light. Visit Rome’s oldest gelateria on an off-the-beaten-track tour, watch as Vatican City comes to life before your eyes, step back in time amongst the ancient architecture of Pompeii, and sip local wines at a rustic winery. Sound tempting?

Italian Adventure

11 Days from £2,145 PP

This 11-day adventure takes you to the highlights of Italy in less than a fortnight. This captivating holiday soaks up Italian splendour from the waterways of Venice to the culture of Florence, the ancient relics of Rome and the scenery of Sorrento.

Sirmione on Lake Garda

Sirmione on Lake Garda

9 Days from £1,895PP

On this exceptional tour, based in Lake Garda’s dreamy Sirmione, we sample Italian wine in Valpolicella, discover Roman Verona and the intriguing waterways of Venice... savouring fine Italian cuisine all the way!


Puglia and Basilicata

13 Days from £2,465PP

Immerse yourself in culture on the unspoilt 'heel' of Italy, a rugged, rural and breathtakingly beautiful area. We tour the ancient city of Rome before travelling through the olive groves, vineyards and almond trees of a region referred to as 'the breadbasket of Italy' on a wonderful adventure exploring Puglia & Basilicata.

The Magic of Sicily

The Magic of Sicily

8 Days from £1,315 PP

Set just off the 'toe' of Italy, Sicily boasts an enthralling combination of historic cities, alluring coastline, glorious landscapes and the wonderful remains of the ancient kingdoms that shaped the island. Our excursion-rich adventure is crowned with a thrilling journey to Mount Etna.

Lake Garda

Simply Lake Garda

10 Days from £1,695 PP

Picturesque, peaceful and perfectly placed for our visits to Verona and Venice, the lakeside town of Desenzano forms the ideal base for a wonderful holiday with a delightful setting on the shores of tranquil Lake Garda - one of Italy's best-loved lakes.

Italian Riviera

The Italian Riviera

9 days from £1,250pp

Immerse yourself in the enchanting Italian Riviera, where the colourful villages of the Cinque Terre, sparkling ocean dotted with fishing boats, and historic cities are waiting to be explored. Cruise to the hidden beach of San Fruttuoso, visit stylish Portofino, and explore the city of Genoa on this culture-rich holiday.

The Magic of Sicily

Rome & Sorrento

11 days from £1,820pp

Explore the ancient city of Rome and take in its iconic landmarks before heading south for five nights to the breathtaking Bay of Naples, one of the most visually stunning regions in the whole of Europe.

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore

8 days from £1,145pp

This wonderful seven-night holiday takes you to the shores of beautiful Lake Maggiore on a tour by rail. Set among the stunning peaks of the Italian Alps, enjoy a tour filled with scenic exploration.

Southern Tuscany & Umbria All Inclusive

Southern Tuscany & Umbria All Inclusive

10 days from £1,595pp

Tuscany is famous for its incredible beauty, quintessentially Italian towns and villages, and long history. Discover all of these things on this fantastic all inclusive tour from your wonderful base in Chianiano Terme.

Lake Garda All Inclusive

Lake Garda All Inclusive

Enjoy a wonderfully serene escape to the stunning shores of Lake Garda on this spectacular holiday. Explore the pretty surrounding towns and villages, uncover the cultural charms of beautiful Verona and Venice, and enjoy magnificent views across one of Italy’s most scenic lakes from your all-inclusive hotel.

A Grand Tour of Italy

A Grand Tour of Italy

13 days from £3,095 per person

Travel from top to toe on this fantastic exploration of Italy's most celebrated destinations. Visiting the cities of Rome, Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Venice, immerse yourself in the different flavours and cultures or each region as we experience famous architecture and art across the country.

Rome, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Rome, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

12 Days from £2,845PP

The Amalfi Coast and its islands make up one of the most visually stunning regions in the whole of Europe. Starting in the ancient city of Rome, and then based in Sorrento, we visit magnificent Capri and the alluring lost city of Pompeii.

Lake Levico and The Dolomites

10 days from £1,715 per person

Sojourn on the shores of delightful Lake Levico, on a rail tour that soaks up a collection of favourite Italian attractions. Explore incomparable Lake Garda, collect snapshots of the Dolomites as you travel through the mountains, and discover the charms of Trento, on this unforgettable holiday.

Stresa & Lake Maggiore

10 days from £2,800 per person

From our stunning location overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore in the picturesque town of Stresa, we explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Monferrato region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railway.

Hidden Italy & The Keys to the Vatican

12 days from £2,945 per person

From pasta making and truffle hunting in the Umbrian countryside and staying at an authentic 'trulli' resort, to watching the Vatican City come to life before your eyes on a private visit, this holiday takes you off the beaten track to showcase the very best hidden experiences Italy has to offer.

★ Private Vatican Visit and guided tour of Rome

Highlights of Tuscany

10 days from £1,795 per person

Rural landscapes and Renaissance splendour come together on this enticing holiday that highlights the true beauty of Tuscany. Discover elegant Florence, learn cooking skills in Chianti, and explore enticing historic towns.

★ Visit to Castello di Meleto in Chianti, including a cookery demonstration, wine tasting and dinner in the castle

Scenic Lake Orta & A Matterhorn Rail Journey

8 days from £1,9959pp

Full-day rail excursion to Switzerland • Guided tour of Aosta • 16 meals • VIP door-to-door transfers • Return flights

Puglia & The Salento Coast

8 days from £1,165 per person

Explore the heel of Italy on this 8-day holiday that visits some of the country's lesser-known towns and villages. Discover the time-honoured traditions of quaint Nardò, Otranto and Gallipoli, see Alberobello's unique trulli, and spend free time relaxing on the idyllic Salento coast.

Sicily & The Aeolian Islands

8 days from £1,745 per person

Discover a captivating combination of historic towns, glorious natural wonders and a rich and compelling Italian culture. Visit one of the world's most active volcanoes, discover historic architecture, and enjoy a magnificent taste of Italy when you sample incredible Sicilian wines and delectable local street food.

Puglia All Inclusive

8 days from £1,150pp

Lose yourself in the ‘wine cellar of Italy’, Puglia, a region of historic towns, rugged coastlines and leafy olive groves. Visit the grand port city of Bari, explore the fascinating ancient dwellings of Matera and Alberobello, and take in the Baroque splendour of Lecce on this all-inclusive adventure.

Lake Como All Inclusive

10 days from £1,535 PP

Relax in all-inclusive comfort by sparkling Lake Como, where shores are dotted with luxurious Italian villas and charming villages, all set against a stunning Alpine backdrop. Journey through the Swiss Alps on the Bernina Express, explore fashionable Milan, and take to the waters for a scenic cruise.

Calabria All Inclusive

8 days from £1,199 per person

Head off the beaten path in Calabria, discovering pristine beaches lapped by turquiose waters, rolling hills dotted with citrus trees, and old-world towns bursting with Italian charm.

The Wonders of Sardinia and Corsica

12 days from £2,495 per person

Wind through Italian Sardinia by private railway, watching a landscape of wild forests and pristine beaches unfold, and explore untouched Corsica, a paradise of glittering bays.

Italian Explorer

10 days from £1,599 per person

Explore the heart of classical Italy, discover the ancient imperial relics of Rome, the artistic treasures of Florence and the striking Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Floating City of Venice.

Top to Toe of Italy

16 days from £3,995 per person

Travel the length of Italy on this epic rail adventure, taking in ancient monuments, gorgeous coastline and famous cuisine as you explore Rome, Venice, Florence and Sicily.

Italy Train Tours

From the tranquil shores of picturesque Lake Garda to the wonders of ancient Rome, Italy is a remarkable destination, bursting with unrivalled history, culture and natural beauty. As the pleasant warmth of the Mediterranean sun begins to appear, awakening the country and bringing stunning wildflowers into bloom, there is truly no more delightful time to visit Italy than in spring. With late departures still available on many of our magnificent tours to Italy, book your holiday with Rail Discoveries today and experience this captivating country for yourself.

Italy remains to be one of our favourite destinations. From the soaring peaks and glimmering lakes of the north, to the serene coastline and ancient cities of the south, there is always something for the discerning traveller in Italy. With late departure still available on the following tours, be sure to book now for your very own Great Rail Adventure into Europe’s classic destination.

Famous for the food, the scenery, and the gorgeous warm climate that stretches throughout most of the year, Italy is an utter favourite for holiday destinations throughout the world. Discover the magnificent sparkling lakes, the incredibly ancient cities, and the wonderful welcoming atmosphere of the place on a holiday by rail.

Kick back with a cappuccino beside glittering lakeshores, traverse the shimmering canals of Venice and explore the ancient ruins of one of the world’s most iconic empires on a Great Rail Journeys’ Italian adventure. Get a taste of the Dolce Vita on the two following Italian tours, both of which feature brand new lower prices for 2019 departures - take a look below for more information and book your Italian sojourn today.

World-class art, architecture and gastronomy; Italy needs little introduction. Whether it’s the northern delights of Venice, Milan or Lakes Como and Garda, the undulating hills of Tuscany and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the heart of the country, or the southerly gems of the Italian Riviera and the impressive ‘heel’ of Puglia; from top to toe, there are hidden treasures and famous attractions alike to discover and admire in Italy.

Relax with an espresso in a quaint piazza, take a step back in time in ancient Rome, explore the labyrinthine canals of Venice, or discover the breathtaking villages of the Cinque Terre. Join us on one of our new 2021 Italian escapes and let us introduce you to the very best of this enticing destination, from exciting gastronomy, world-renowned art and breathtaking landscapes, to off-the-beaten-path gems you’ll never forget.

Combine Italy’s loveliest lake with a day of spectacular scenery in Switzerland.

Pretty Lake Orta is one of Italy’s lesser-known treasures. It’s not as big as Lake Garda or as glitzy as Lake Como – but what it lacks in size and celebrity sightings, it more than makes up for in charm. Cobbled streets are lined with traditional osterias and quiet cafés, while crowd-free walking paths reveal stunning vistas. The lake is also a great starting point for day trips into the Swiss mountains. The best way to explore is by train – and that’s exactly what we’ll do on our holiday here. We’ll follow the tracks through the mountains from Visp, gaze up at the Matterhorn from Zermatt, and ride the rack railway to Gornergrat for photo-worthy glacier views.

It’s a long and busy day, full of incredible sights and scenes – the perfect contrast to our leisurely days beside the lake.

'La Dolce Vita'

From the centuries of spellbinding art, architecture and culture found in its handsome cities to its world-class culinary delights, let yourself be swept away by the charms of Italy.

Bursting with historical treasures, grand architecture and cultural riches, Italy has inspired those who have visited it for centuries – so why not make it your turn next? Our holidays immerse you in the best of Italy; rub shoulders with locals in the old-world villages of Calabria, fall under the spell of the 'Floating City' of Venice, or journey through landscapes plucked straight from an oil painting.

Italy is one of our most captivating destinations. From enchanting cities - some seem like living museums of art and history - to sublime lakes and mountains or sun-baked shores, Italy has it all. October is the perfect time to experience this wonderful country - days are milder than summer, so sightseeing is cooler and there are fewer crowds.

Discover Italy

Sunny Sorrento or unspoilt Puglia? The Colosseum in Rome or the Doge’s Palace in Venice? Find the Italian getaway that suits your interests – or sample a little bit of everything on one of our longer itineraries. Discover Italy by rail, the only way to travel and see the heart of Southern Europe.

Tour Itineraries:

The Italian Riviera - Lake Garda All Inclusive - Top to Toe of Italy - Tuscany and Venice - Sirmione on Lake Garda - Rome, Sorrento & The Almalfi Coast - Italian Explorer - Best of The Italian Lakes - Puglia & Basilicata - Magic of Sicily - Lake Como All Inclusive

great rail journeys to italy

La Dolce Vita Orient Express Is Coming To Italy In 2025

We’d love to stop banging on about ‘ the great rail renaissance ’ , but frankly, we can’t. Travel has shifted completely over the last few years from ‘get there, now’ to ‘get there, well’. The journey is becoming as important as the destination, which means that spending less time on an airport coach and taking our shoes off at security, and more time staring out a train window at rolling hills and jagged cliffs while sipping from a glass of something cold and crisp is increasingly appealing. The latest rail journey to pique our interest? The upcoming 2025 launch of La Dolce Vita Orient Express, Italy ‘s first ultra-luxurious train. 

Reservations are now open for the inaugural season, set to begin in Spring 2025, offering eight one-and-two-night itineraries traversing the Italian peninsula. The new voyages promise to revive the glamour of the 1960s and 70s La Dolce Vita era through immersive journeys celebrating Italian culture, cuisine, wine, and design, so dust off that copy of Murder On The Orient Express , slip into your most fabulous cocktail attire and book yourself a ticket. 

‘La Dolce Vita Orient Express is set to offer an inimitable take on luxury rail travel, reigniting a bygone era through a contemporary lens, Italian style,’ says General Manager Samy Ghachem.

La Dolce Vita Orient Express Suite

Vintage Italian Design, Modern Italian Cuisine 

The train’s interior was designed by Dimorestudio and pays homage to iconic Italian designers like Carlo Scarpa and Gio Ponti, marrying vintage aesthetics with modern comfort. Passengers will be able to choose one of 12 deluxe cabins and 18 suites for their voyage.

Guests will also have access to the new La Dolce Vita Orient Express Executive Lounge in Rome before boarding and once on board, will be able to indulge in the cuisine of three-Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck, who will curate regionally-inspired menus celebrating Italy’s culinary heritage. A partnership with Vinitaly will showcase wines from across Italy’s wine regions on each journey.

Immersive Train Journeys Across Italy

The planned routes will span 14 regions and 131 cities, from the Alps to Sicily. Highlights include the mediaeval village of Palena, the ancient city of Matera, and a rail ferry experience to Sicily.

‘The itineraries offer access to once difficult to reach destinations and an immersion into the heart of cities that are international hubs of art and culture,’ says Ghachem.

Journeys promise to be an intimate luxury experience with 62 passengers per 12-carriage train. Pricing starts at €3,500 per person for a one-night deluxe cabin journey.

We’d love to stop banging on about ‘the great rail renaissance’, but frankly, we can’t. Travel has shifted completely over the last few years from ‘get there, now’ to ‘get there, well’. The journey is becoming as important as the destination, which means that spending less time on an airport ...

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Produced by Sydney Harper and Shannon M. Lin

Edited by Marc Georges

Original music by Marion Lozano ,  Elisheba Ittoop and Dan Powell

Engineered by Chris Wood

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Warning: this episode contains strong language, descriptions of explicit content and sexual harassment

A disturbing new problem is sweeping American schools: Students are using artificial intelligence to create sexually explicit images of their classmates and then share them without the person depicted even knowing.

Natasha Singer, who covers technology, business and society for The Times, discusses the rise of deepfake nudes and one girl’s fight to stop them.

On today’s episode

Natasha Singer , a reporter covering technology, business and society for The New York Times.

A girl and her mother stand next to each other wearing black clothing. They are looking into the distance and their hair is blowing in the wind.

Background reading

Using artificial intelligence, middle and high school students have fabricated explicit images of female classmates and shared the doctored pictures.

Spurred by teenage girls, states have moved to ban deepfake nudes .

There are a lot of ways to listen to The Daily. Here’s how.

We aim to make transcripts available the next workday after an episode’s publication. You can find them at the top of the page.

The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Lisa Tobin, Larissa Anderson, Julia Simon, Sofia Milan, Mahima Chablani, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Maddy Masiello, Isabella Anderson, Nina Lassam and Nick Pitman.

Natasha Singer writes about technology, business and society. She is currently reporting on the far-reaching ways that tech companies and their tools are reshaping public schools, higher education and job opportunities. More about Natasha Singer



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