Fastest journey8hr 44m
The journey by train from Paris to Florence is easy. You can make this journey entirely by day, but there’s also a useful overnight option. Board an overnight Thello train in Paris, which leaves the French capital every evening bound for Venice. You have a choice of couchette or sleeping berth on this night train; the sleeping berth is much more comfortable.
The night train’s first stop in Italy is Milan, where you can join an early morning high-speed service direct to Florence. Or, instead of changing trains at Milan at the crack of dawn, you can also stay on the night train for another 2 hours to Verona or even another 3 hours to Padua, connecting in one of those cities onto a direct train to Florence. If you value your sleep and want to avoid that early morning change of train in Milan, just enter ‘via Verona Porta Nuova’ or ‘via Padova’ when you search for trains. Changing trains at Verona or Padua often makes no difference to the fare. Indeed, sometimes it's even cheaper than changing in Milan.
Whichever way you travel from Paris to Florence, bookings on this route normally open about four months prior to travel. Book early for the cheapest tickets.
Paris to Milan (night train)
The Thello overnight train from Paris to Milan departs from the Gare de Lyon in Paris. In the early hours, the train runs along the shore of Lake Geneva with – on a clear night – beautiful views of the Alps. There is a glorious 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, before continuing to Verona, Padua and Venice.
Milan to Florence
The fastest trains from Milan to Florence take just 1 hr 40 mins for this journey of more than 300 kilometres. Trains leave Milan from two different stations. All Italo services and most Trenitalia Frecciarossa services to Florence leave from Milan Centrale. A small number of Trenitalia trains depart from Porta Garibaldi instead. All fast trains arrive in Florence at Santa Maria Novella station.
Most of these high-speed direct trains from Milan to Florence only stop once along the way, at Bologna Centrale. A small number of trains make one or two additional stops, extending the overall journey time by up to 20 minutes.
It is easy to travel by train from Paris to Florence. There is an overnight option, using the Thello night train from Paris to either Milan, Verona or Padua, and then continuing from one of those cities by fast daytime train to Florence the following morning. If you prefer travelling entirely by day, the following route works well.
You have a choice of two trains each day for the outward journey from Paris to Florence. On the return there is only one train each day, which gets back to Paris in the late evening. Changing trains at Turin Porta Susa gives the best timings in both directions.
First board a high-speed TGV train from Paris to Turin. That train travels through Burgundy and the Alps, reaching Turin less than 5 hours after leaving Paris. In Turin you alight at Porta Susa station, from where there are connecting high-speed trains to Florence. This journey from Turin to Florence is on either an Italo or a Frecciarossa service. Both trains are very comfortable.
Bookings for this journey normally open four months in advance, and that's when you'll find the cheapest tickets.
Paris to Turin
Fast TGV trains leave the Gare de Lyon in Paris three times each day for Turin. These direct services speed south from the French capital, cutting through Burgundy to reach Lyon, their first stop. After that, the pace slows as the terrain becomes more mountainous. All trains on this route stop at Chambéry and Modane before entering Italy, where the train makes two stops at Bardoneccia and Oulx.
Upon arrival in Turin, the high-speed trains from Paris stop at Porta Susa station, an easy 10-minute walk west of the city centre. Porto Susa affords an excellent range of onward connections - including high-speed services to Florence and Rome, as well as direct trains to Verona and Venice. The TGV from Paris continues beyond Turin Porta Susa to Milan, dawdling rather than dashing on the final leg of its long journey from Paris.
Turin to Florence
Trenitalia and NTV Italo compete head-to-head on the 450-kilometre rail route from Turin Porta Susa to Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. Trenitalia offer about ten departures each day on the route and Italo offers three. All high-speed services take about 2 hrs 45 mins for the journey to Turin. Note that tickets are not usually interchangeable between the two companies. Milan and Bologna are the main cities on this journey from Piedmont to Tuscany. The last part of the journey, as the train cuts through the hills between Bologna and Florence, is almost entirely in tunnels.
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Image credits: Dan-scape