Fastest journey12hr 30m
It is very easy to travel by train from Margate to Milan. Have breakfast on the Kent coast and you can be in Milan in time for a late supper. Most travellers favour the daytime option from Margate to Milan which requires two easy changes of train along the way: first at Ashford International and then in Paris. This route is a good option any day of the week except Saturdays. If you want to head from Margate to Milan on a Saturday, it’s just as easy but you’ll normally need to travel via London instead of Ashford.
Tickets for the entire journey are generally released for sale about 12 weeks prior to travel and that’s the time to book if you are keen to get a bargain fare. You might consider booking the international legs even earlier (as they are available four months or more in advance) and then add on the short domestic leg from Margate to Ashford at a later date.
Of course, there are lots of other route options from Margate to Milan, some relying on the direct Thello overnight train from Paris to Milan and others travelling via Switzerland. Whichever route you choose for your journey to Milan, it’s simple to book tickets on Loco2. Below we describe the key steps in our recommended journey from Margate to Milan via Ashford and Paris.
Margate to Ashford
Comfortable Javelin trains leave Margate hourly for Ashford International station. Most of these direct trains from Margate to Ashford make three intermediate stops on their 48-minute run, including Canterbury where you’ll see the city’s cathedral away to the left of the train. All in all, it’s a fine journey taking in the Stour Valley wetlands and some beautiful North Downs scenery.
Ashford to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from Ashford International to Paris Gare du Nord. There are normally three non-stop trains each day from Ashford to Paris. But note that there are just two departures on Sundays. The journey takes just under two hours. Within 20 minutes of leaving Ashford, the train reaches the Channel Tunnel. Less than an hour after leaving Ashford 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. This is a light-touch security scan, and 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.
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