Fastest journey13hr 12m
It is easy to travel by train from London to Padua. The journey starts with an afternoon trip on Eurostar from London to Paris. If you want to spend some time in Paris prior to joining the overnight train to Italy, you can book a morning or midday departure with Eurostar.
You continue from Paris to Padua on an overnight train run by Thello and arrive just after nine in the morning.
Bookings for this overnight service normally open four months in advance of travel, and that's when you'll find the cheapest tickets.
If you prefer to travel from Paris to Padua by day, there is a feasible option from London on weekdays, but it does make for a very long day. Take the first Eurostar service in the morning to Paris, then a TGV from Paris to Turin, changing there onto a connecting Frecciabianca service to Padua. The entire journey from London to Padua by this daytime route takes between 14 and 15 hours.
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 Padua (night train)
The Thello overnight train from Paris to Padua departs from the Gare de Lyon. In the early hours, the train runs along the shore of Lake Geneva with – on a clear night – lovely views of the Alps. There is a beautiful moment in the morning when the train skirts the edge of Lake Maggiore.
There is just one scheduled stop in France (at Dijon) to pick up passengers, and no station stops on the overnight run across Switzerland. In the morning the train stops at Milan and then three other stations in Italy before reaching Padua.
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Image credits: Padua, Italy © Nightbox