It’s fast, easy, reasonably priced, and you get to enjoy breathtaking views.
Train travel is a fantastic way to get around Italy. It’s fast, easy, reasonably priced, and you get to enjoy breathtaking views as you journey from one place to another! While staying in Florence, you’ll use the Firenze Santa Maria Novella (SMN) railway station, which has trains coming and going so frequently that you’ll have no problem finding a travel time that works perfectly for you. I highly recommending using the trains as your mode of transportation for trips to every Italian destination you want to check out—Venice, Rome, and so many more beautiful cities are just a relaxing train ride away! Here are all of the tips and tricks you need to know before you pack your bags and head to the station:
Buying tickets online is super easy,
and you can simply Google “train tickets in Florence” and check out the various websites that come up (popular options are Italo and Trenitalia) until you find the travel time and price that works best for you! The websites work just like airline websites—put in your departure location, desired destination, and date, and pick from the list of available options! You can also buy tickets at the train station, but unless you’re catching a last minute train, it’s easiest to book ahead of time.
Don’t stress about booking your train tickets far in advance!
There are usually available seats on just about every train.
The fast trains are worth the extra money!
Most of the ticket options will be for the high-speed trains, but there are usually a couple slower trains available. Don’t be tempted by the slightly cheaper tickets—the slow trains will add HOURS to your travel time, and the outdated train cars are rickety and uncomfortable. You’ll be thankful you spent a little extra money to have a faster, more comfortable experience.
You don’t need to print your train ticket!
Just be sure to have the ticket (not just the reservation!) on your phone so that it can be scanned, because they will check! It’s best to have a screenshot of the ticket, because then you won’t have to worry about using the Internet to access the ticket online or in an email.
Be on time, but not too early!
The trains leave right on time, and they wait for no one! However, the boards will not show your train platform until a few minutes before your train is scheduled depart, so it’s not necessary to get to the station extra early. There’s hardly anywhere to sit inside the station, so there’s really no need to get to the station more than 15 minutes before your departure time.
Bring your own snacks!
You’ll be surprised by the lack of snacks for sale in this train station, so you’ll be glad you brought your own treats. There is a McDonalds inside the station, though!
Don’t rely on the ATMs inside the stations as your cash source.
Surprisingly, there are very few ATMs inside the station, and they may be out of cash by the end of the day!
This is a great spot to catch a cab during the day!
There’s a taxi line outside the station all day long, and it moves very quickly. However, if you arrive at the station late at night, there likely won’t be any cabs at all, so be prepared to do a bit of searching!
Pack as light as possible.
There’s plenty of room for luggage, but train travel is easiest if you don’t have too much baggage.
Watch out for pickpockets!
Many people warn that this is a prime place for pickpocketing, so keep an eye on your bags at all times and keep your important belongings (phone, passport, wallet) in a crossbody bag if possible.
There is a luggage storage service inside the station!
This is a great option if you have extra luggage that you want to keep in Florence while you take a trip to a different city! It’s also a great place to store heavy bags if you’re just visiting Florence for the day! Just be sure to confirm that you’ll be able to pick up your bags before they close for the night.
Double check that you’re getting on the correct train!
Don’t be afraid to ask an attendant to confirm that you’re about to hop on the right train, because they do not check your ticket until you’re already on the move!
Do not rely on train Wi-Fi!
Most trains claim to have Wi-Fi, but it very rarely works—frustrating, I know. Bring a book or download music or movies on your phone beforehand!
Don’t expect to have an outlet for charging!
Make sure your phone battery is full before you depart, or better yet, pack a portable charger!
If you want to nap on the train, be sure to set an alarm on your phone!
Nobody’s going to wake you up when you’ve reached your stop!
Start gathering your belongings as you’re approaching your stop!
The trains don’t stop for long, so try to gather your bags and stand near the door before the train stops.
Look out the windows!
You’ll be amazed by the beautiful Tuscan landscape you travel through as you’re leaving Florence.
Don’t put your feet up on the seat in front of you!
Really? I know, but you will be told to take your feet off the seat by an attendant.
Take the train to the Rome airport, which has cheaper flights!
The Florence Airport is quite small, and therefore flights are less frequent and more expensive. I highly recommend taking a train from Florence to the Roma Termini station, and then transfer to a quick train ride to the Fiumicino Airport station. It may sound a bit inconvenient, but the better, cheaper flight options out of Rome will make the journey worth it.
Don’t be embarrassed if you have to run to your train!
We’ve all been there—sometimes you just have to break into a sprint with arms full of bags. Do what you’ve gotta do to get to your next amazing destination!
Photo: Jordyn Asakowicz
Are you planning a trip to Florence? Ask our team questions in the comments below.