Trip to Italy

  • 11 February 2024
  • 9 replies
  • 179 views

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Hello. My wife and our two children are planning our first interrail adventure in the summer holidays, leaving London in mid July. Our initial idea is for a trip like this - London to Lyon, or Marseille, where we might spend a night or two. Then onto Levanto in Italy, where again we’ll stop and spend some time. Then back up through Switzerland, staying in Lucerne for a few days. Then back to London via either Paris or Brussels. This is very much a work in progress and we were just wondering if anyone had any advice on this sort of route, or anything we might be missing..?! For instance, is it worth travelling down to Marseille; is the train route along the coast to Italy a good one to take? Or are we better off reaching Levanto more directly via Turin or Lyon? Any and all advice gratefully received! Many thanks!

 

Tim 


9 replies

Userlevel 7
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Marseille seems a good first stop. There is a convenient TGV from Lille-Europe to Marseille, also stopping in Lyon :

- Eurostar London St. Pancras - Lille-Europe 11:04 - 13:26

- TGV Lille-Europe - Marseille St-Charles 14:01 - 18:50 (in Lyon at 5pm)

This connection is very popular as it avoids Paris so book well in advance.

The Lyon - Turin route is closed until further notice due to a landslide. Either you go along the Mediterranean or via Geneva but the latter option will be closed for 3 months this summer.

The Mediterranean route is quite nice, even though there are plenty of tunnels. As long as you take your time (no high-speed railways) it is the way to go. :)

Then I'd go along Lake Como and cross the Swiss border on the Bernina Railway. It is a detour over the Gotthard but it is truly stunning as I said in your other post.

For the return journey Paris could be a brief stop but I wouldn't necessarily stay there due to the Olympics :

- TGV Strasbourg - Paris-Est

- 10 min walk to Gare du Nord + lunch

- Eurostar Paris-Nord - London St. Pancras

There are also 2 Strasbourg - Lille TGVs.

 

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That’s really helpful - again! - thank you! A good tip about Paris Olympics, I hadn’t thought of that. Would it be feasible to come back to London via Brussels instead? 

Userlevel 7
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It would definitely be feasible, it’ll take longer though. The Riedbahn railway (Mannheim - Frankfurt) is closed from July to December so trains are diverted and take an hour longer than usual → not a big deal as long as you’ve got some margin for the regular DB delays.

More important : part of the major Rhine railway (between Baden-Baden and Rastatt) is fully closed between 10th and 30th August. There will be rail replacement buses but again plan with some margin.

Reservations will also be required on the Cologne - Brussels ICEs due to frequent overcrowding in the past summers.

As long as you plan ahead it’ll be fine, I don’t want to scare you!

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Thanks once again for this highly useful information. If I could bother you a little further: can we book the seat reservations we need through interrail, or do we have to go direct to the provider? Also, booking for July, are we in danger or missing out on reservations - how far in advance do they get booked up? Finally, and this is a very broad question, so forgive me, but is there any advice you might give in terms of budget? We’ll be travelling as a party of four, two of them children under 11, for perhaps 12 or 14 days, and we’ll largely be looking to book self-catering accommodation. I just wondered if there were any rough rules of thumb for an amount to budget per day, or for a trip of that length in Europe..? Many thanks again! Tim 

Userlevel 7
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Don't worry about reservations, no trains have sold out yet. You should book Eurostar trains as soon as your dates are set (especially on Saturdays) but for other trains you've got some time.

Summer timetables in Italy have not been published yet, it'll be done around April I'd say.

It is cheaper if you book elsewhere than through Interrail : the website is confusing and adds 2€ fee per person per train!

Have a look at this good guide and do not hesitate for questions : https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm

I had a budget of 100€ a day for one month in the UK & Ireland but I was only with a friend. It included everything except the pass which I had bought months before in a sale. Switzerland will probably be a bit more expensive. Hard to say honestly!

Userlevel 7
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can we book the seat reservations we need through interrail, or do we have to go direct to the provider?

You can book wherever you want, but i'd avoid booking through Interrail if possible: they're more expensive (added booking fees) and often have worse exchange/refund conditions.

Reservations for Eurostar, France, Italy can be booked on www.raileurope.com without added fees.

Also see:

https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm

Also, booking for July, are we in danger or missing out on reservations - how far in advance do they get booked up?

Book Eurostar and any night trains as soon as you know your travel dates. TGVs only fill up early around very busy days, such as holiday weekends and start/end of school holidays. Trains in Italy usually don't sell out.

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Extremely helpful, both - thank you!

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We’re now thinking we’d prefer to make Nice our first stop in France. Is it a good idea to take the sleeper from Paris to Nice? Also, with the Olympics in mind, is there a way to check availability of Eurostar passes before booking our interrail passes?! Many thanks!

Userlevel 7
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This website gives a clear overview : https://www.b-europe.com/EN/Booking/Pass#TravelWish

Better to book through Rail Europe to save the 4€ fee though. (You can also use Rail Europe straight away.)

As long as you don’t plan on travelling to Paris on the Olympics Ceremony (26th July) you’ll be fine. There were no passholder seats available at any point that day and tickets are at all times high…

Of course book as soon as your dates are set for peace of mind. :)

It should be fairly easy to cross Paris but allow at least 2h margin or more if you intend to have dinner there! Public transportation tickets are available at the Eurostar Café : head there soon-ish as they sell out pretty fast.

Btw the night train (or any French domestic train) will become available on 7th March.

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