Help wanted into route for vacation (Netherlands - France - Italy)

  • 13 April 2024
  • 5 replies


Me and my girlfriend have interrail second class global passes and we would want to travel from the Netherlands to Lyon and then towards Bologna and then back from Venice to the Netherlands.

  • On the 25th of July we would want to travel from the Netherlands (Starting station does not matter as we know how we get there 🙂 ) to Lyon
  • Then on the 28th of July we would like to go from Lyon to Bologna
  • At last on the 12th of august we would like to go from Venice back to the Netherlands (Between bologna and Venice we travel by car)

I did some research on a good route, but trains I chose were now not available anymore, e.g. the TGV 9830 from Bruxelles-midi to Lyon and the route from Geneva to Bologna with EC 39. I am really stunned about this as these options were without many train changes and were relatively cheap. (40 euros in total for both)

Therefore I am wondering if someone with experience could maybe help me with a route without many train changes and relatively cheap seat reservations. We gladly take less changes even if it means taking slower trains, in reasonable margins of course 🙂, the 25th and 28th we need to arrive on the same day but the 12th of august that does not matter anymore.

Hopefully someone can help us!





Best answer by rvdborgt 13 April 2024, 19:31

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Userlevel 7
Badge +9

The TGVs from Brussels to France have very limited quota for pass holders, so it doesn't surprise me at all that seats are becoming unavailable in summer, especially with the Olympics going on.

There will be engineering works between Domodossola and Milan, so EC 39 will end in Domodossola (no reservations needed) and there's a replacement bus (reservations needed apparently but no idea where to book other than Trenitalia ticket office). Timetable is already on and I believe also on

If you want to avoid expensive reservations, then travel via Germany and then Switzerland or Austria. Mandatory reservations from/to Germany are €3 on Optional reservations for multiple trains can be booked for €4.90 via DB. Frecciarossa in Italy is €13 via Rail Europe.

The timetables for Italy are still incomplete though, especially regional trains are missing.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Yeah the passholder quota is limited/inexistant out of Brussels from the start.

Instead you could go to Lille via IC trains:

- IC from the Netherlands

- IC Antwerp - Kortrijk - Lille-Flandres

- lunch and 1h break

- TGV9830 Lille-Europe - Lyon Part-Dieu 14:01 - 17:00 20€

Only one of the possible options of course. I'd avoid the Paris transfer whenever possible, especially right at the start of the Olympics.

Thanks to both of you for your reply. We have come up with a travel plan and wondered if this seems reasonable?

We will now travel on the 25th of July from Rotterdam to lille Flandres (arriving 12:51), and then we take the train at 14:01 to Lyon arriving at 17:00.  We didn’t even think about olympics so thank thibcabe for mentioning that, the route through lille seems perfect, only a few more train transfer, but I hope those are all doable :)

From Lyon to Geneve the 28th we saw two options:

  • Taking the train from Lyon to Geneve, then to Zuerich and then with the EC 331 to Milan and then bologna (8:30 - 20:24), costing 28 euros per person
  • Taking the train from Lyon to Geneve, then to the Brig, then from the Brig to Domodosolla and then with the bus Ec39 to Milan and then Bologna, (8:30 - 19:24) which will probably cost the same
    • But the bus cannot be reserved at the moment online as mentioned by rvdborgt

So which of these options do you think is best? Or is it best to wait a few weeks before booking from Lyon - Bologna?

At last for our return we thought about taking the ECB 82 on the 12th of august from Venice to Munich were we will have 2 hour break for dinner and then take the ICE 1080 to Hannover, where we will then arrive in the Netherlands at Hengelo with a one hour transfer time in between (Total cost of 16 euros per person)

Does this seem smart to do? We thought it was nice as it was just one long train but maybe there are better options for our return?

And again I want to thank you both for your time and response :)





Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Really good to Lyon yes!

I'd either take the Domodossola - Milan bus (the ticket is 10€ but how much is the passholder reservation...) or the Gotthard route while avoiding the EC on the cross-border section to save money. So any train to Lugano and then the hourly RE to Milan.

EDIT : actually the fastest route via the Gotthard (IC5 to Olten) is partially closed that particular weekend due to engineering works. I'd probably do the bus then, it's already a long journey.

You don't have to book anything for this journey right now, it could definitely wait until a week or two before travel.

For the return journey : avoid the night ICE if you want to sleep a bit. Instead you could take the night train from Innsbruck (or Munich 2 hours later):

- 45€ for a mini cabin on Innsbruck - Hannover/Hamburg (maybe)

- from 30€ for a couchette in a shared compartment on Innsbruck - Amsterdam

If you're not in a rush I'd definitely choose the shiny new NJ to Hamburg. If it's 2h delayed* feel free to bail earlier in Hannover.

*it often happens.

Questions welcome. :)

Don't forget to check less popular train companies too, not just TGV. You may find decently priced options that way. Also be flexible on departure/arrival times within reason