Fastest journey11hr 43m
It is easy to travel by train from London to Bergamo in northern Italy. There is an overnight option, using the Thello night train from Paris to Milan. But many prefer travelling entirely by day, using the following route. You normally have a choice of two daily departures from London (although the early morning option out of London runs only on weekdays). You can of course break your journey in Paris, either just for a leisurely lunch or for an overnight stay. The French city of Chambéry is also an excellent mid-point to break rail journeys between London and Bergamo.
First take a Eurostar train to Paris. In the French capital you’ll need to change stations to connect onto a high-speed French TGV train to Milan. That train travels through Burgundy and the Alps, then crosses Piedmont at a slower pace. It stops in Turin before continuing to Milan.
In Milan you alight at Porta Garibaldi station, changing there onto a slow regional train. There are faster trains from Milan to Bergamo, but these leave from Milan Centrale, necessitating a change of stations in Milan. It's more convenient, albeit slower, to take the direct train from Porta Garibaldi to Bergamo.
Bookings for this journey open about two months in advance. Book early to find the cheapest tickets.
London to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from London to Paris. There are upwards of 15 trains to Paris from London each day with departures at least hourly from the beautifully restored station at St Pancras in London. The fastest trains speed to Paris in just 2 hrs 16 mins, with slower services taking up to 20 mins longer to reach the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first part of the journey from London sweeps through Thameside landscapes and rural Kent to reach the Channel Tunnel. Little more than an hour after leaving London you'll already be in northern France, tracking south through Flanders fields towards Paris.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar's airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. There is a luggage and body scan and you'll be asked to show your passport. There are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Paris interchange: Paris Nord to Paris Lyon
When you alight from the train at Gare du Nord look for signs to the Metro and RER. Once you've bought a ticket follow the signs to 'RER D', direction 'Melun' or 'Malesherbes'. So long as you're heading in the right direction, all the trains on this line stop at Gare de Lyon. The actual train journey takes around 10 mins with just one stop on the way at Châtelet-les-Halles. Upon alighting from the RER train at Gare de Lyon, follow the signs to the mainline station. The signs read 'Accès aux trains Grandes Lignes'. The whole journey from the concourse at Gare du Nord to the mainline departure platforms at Gare de Lyon will normally take about 40 mins but we recommend leaving at least 50 mins.
If you are arriving at Gare du Nord from London, bear in mind that you can buy Paris Métro tickets at the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras and on board the Eurostar train. Similarly, passengers arriving at the Gare du Nord on Thalys trains from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands can buy Metro tickets on the train (at the Thalys Bar). Although universally referred to as Métro tickets, they are in fact valid on RER trains too.
Paris to Milan
Fast TGV trains leave the Gare de Lyon in Paris three times each day for Milan, taking just over 7 hours for the journey. These direct services to Italy speed south from the French capital, cutting through Burgundy to reach their first stop in Lyon. Thereafter the pace slows as the landscape becomes more mountainous.
All trains on this route stop at Chambéry and Modane before entering Italy, where the train then makes two stops - at Bardonecchia and Oulx. Then it's on to Milan with a stop along the way at Turin.
Milan to Bergamo
Regional trains to Bergamo leave from both the centrally located Milan Centrale and from Milan Porta Garibaldi station, generally once each hour from each station. Just choose the station which is more convenient for your itinerary. Trains from Milan Centrale bound for Bergamo make just three stops along the way, taking 48 minutes for the journey. Services from Porta Garibaldi take about 25 minutes longer for the run to Bergamo, making nine intermediate stops along the way. Whichever train you choose, you’ll arrive in Bergamo at the city’s railway station on Piazza Marconi, a short walk south-east of the city centre.
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Image credits: © Kalman89