Planning a trip through France and Italy is so exciting! These two European countries are filled with so many unique destinations and delicious food – how do you do it all? Here is the first major take the train. It is the most efficient and scenic way. TIP # 2 – purchase your Interrail/Eurorail Pass and TIP # 3 choose the ultimate train route. Of course, time is money therefore planning the most convenient train route is significantly important. Unless you have a month or two to spare, it’s really impossible to see the entirety of both countries . Therefore, for your convenience I will include a 2 week itinerary covering the best train route for your next trip in France and Italy.

Total destinations: 12 cities

Departure from: Paris

France – 4 days

France - Paris, Colmar, Nice, Monaco, Cannes

Day 1 : Paris ->Colmar

  • Travel time Paris to Colmar = 2 hrs 50 minutes / 3 hrs 40 minutes

Book accommodation for 1 night in Colmar

Take a morning train from Paris to France’s magical town Colmar. Then spend the day exploring Petite Venice and the colourful winding streets that are straight out of a fairytale. Make sure to taste a delicious tarte flambée (traditional Alsatian dish)

Day 2-4: Colmar-> Mulhouse – >Nice -> Monte Carlo

Day 2 : in transit
  • Travel time Colmar – Mulhouse = 17 minutes – 24 minutes
  • Travel time Mulhouse – Nice = 8 hrs 10 minutes

Book accommodation for 2 nights in Nice

The train ride to the south of France may take the whole day but the route is quite scenic. Once you make your way over there you can easily do a day trip to Monaco or Cannes. It’s highly suggested to book your accommodation in Nice because it’s a lot more affordable in comparison to the rest of the French Riviera. Take an evening train on day 4 to Cinque Terre (19:36 pm is the last train)

Day 3 : Day trip to Monte Carlo / Cannes
  • Travel time Nice to Monte Carlo = 22 minutes
  • Travel time Nice to Cannes = 37 minutes
Day 4: Explore Nice

Italy – 9 days

Italy - Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice

Day 4 – 6: Cinque Terre

Day 4: (evening) in transit
  • Travel time Nice Ville to La Spezia Centrale : 5hrs 50 minutes
  • Connection La Spezia Centrale to Riomaggiore : 23 minutes

Book accommodation in Riomaggiore for 2 nights

Day 5 : Explore Cinque Terre (5 Villages)
  • Riomaggiore
  • Monterosso al Mare
  • Vernazza.
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola

To find out more information about Cinque Terre check out this article

If you’re looking for some of the best places to eat, I’ve written about the best eateries in Cinque Terre as well.

As the five villages are located approximately 7 minutes between each other (by train) it is easy to explore them in 1 day. This short trip between the 5 rustic villages is actually one of the most scenic routes in Europe. From Riomaggiore take a train to Corniglia and slowly make your way back east towards the evening. Make sure to watch the sunset in Manarola! It’s a million dollar view.

Day 6 : Cinque Terre – Pisa – Florence

  • Travel time Riomaggiore to La Spezia Centrale : 23 minutes
  • Travel time La Spezia Centrale to Pisa : 1 hr 36 minutes
  • Spend day in Pisa *
  • Travel time Pisa to Florence : 1 hr 18 minutes

As you depart Cinque Terre on your way to Florence, you can make a quick stop in Pisa. Take a notorious photo with the Tower and grab a delicious pizza on Borgo Stretto. Not much time is needed in Pisa so you can take a late afternoon train to Florence and enjoy the evening there.

Day 6-14: Florence-> Venice -> Milan

Book accommodation in Florence for 3 nights

Day 7-9 : Explore Florence

Spend the day experimenting with your taste buds! After all, you are in Italy. Check out the famous central food market for some sun dried tomatoes, truffle paste and limoncello; take a cooking class. You should also grab a bite at All’antico Vinaio! The sandwiches are absolutely mouth-watering. This family-owned restaurant has become a staple spot in Florence and it is super affordable ( a large sandwich + bottle of wine = 15 euros)

Attractions:
  • The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
  • Piazza Duomo
  • Ponte Vecchio Bridge – walk along the river towards the famous jewellery and antique street
  • Basilica of Santa Croce
  • Watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo ( ABSOLUTE MUST!)
  • Stroll through The Boboli Gardens
Day 9 -12: Discover Venice
  • Travel time Florence to Venice : 2 hrs

Book accommodation for 3 nights in Venice ( for more affordable accommodation look in Marghera)

The ride from Florence to Venice isn’t that long and there are 17 trains scheduled per day. The first train from Florence departs at 08:30, the last at 21:30 pm. During your trip to Venice, I highly suggest to take a boat day tour to the surrounding islands (Murano,Burano,Torcello) . It’s a nice escape from the busy canals of Venice. You’ll observe Venice from its’ surrounding waters, visit the notorious Murano factory and admire colorful houses on these tiny islands.

Need help planning your to do list in Venice? For a list of things to do check out this article

Day 12-14 : Milan
  • Travel time Venice to Milan : 2 hrs 32 minutes

Book accommodation in Milan for 2 nights

Attractions:

  • Milano Duomo – one of the most famous square’s of Italy
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie convent – check out da Vinci’s Last Supper mural
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – Spin on the Bull’s Balls and do some shopping
  • Take a city tour on orange iconic trams
  • Bike along Naviglio Pavese and grab Milan’s best street food

Day 14 – Train Back To Paris

The train ride from Milan to Paris takes 7hrs 12 minutes. On average 6 trains depart daily between the two cities, leaving approximately every 2hr 40 minutes. Along the way you will pass through the valleys of the Swiss and French Alps and witness breathtaking landscapes.


Another train ride that is absolutely spectacular in Europe is the Montenegro-Serbia Railway Route. It’s a little out of the way from major city airports, but if you ever happen to be in the Balkan region, be sure to take this scenic train ride!