Help with booking train tickets

I've read a lot of information from RS and others and because there is so much info I'm not sure the best way to go...It's my first time to Europe...

We are flying into Zurich to stay with a friend for a few days (not sure about how much train usage at that stop), might take a day trip to Munich, going to Salzburg for one day, taking an overnight to Venice and then going to CT (Vernazza), Florence (a side trip to Pisa and Lucca), down to Sorrento and then to Rome.

So from what I understand with rail passes a lot of times in Italy there are up charges...so should I do a pass or go point to point...also which tickets should I purchase in advance? We leave in about 5 weeks...

Thanks so much for any help you can give!!!

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8375 posts

Munich is a good daytrip from Salzburg, but not from Zurich, so I assume that's what you meant. For ticket purchase as you go, you would be looking at these approximate cost for your longer travel days, drawn from our Rail Time & Cost map.
Zurich-Salzburg (via Innsbruck) $125
Salzburg-Venice $95
Venice-CT $85
Florence-Naples $110
Naples-Rome $55
Total $470 in 2nd class
This total will be less if you're ready to lock travel in some dates and times now, especially for the overnight train. See links from http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/buying-tickets#advance-purchase.

You could also cover the above trips with a 1st-class Select Saverpass for 5 days of travel in 4 countries for $491 per person, plus about $45 for Italian seat reservation fees. Since this is not cheaper, the main benefit it offers is the option to travel in 1st class. (We think 2nd class is fine.) The sleeper reservation fee is extra with either tickets or a railpass.

Posted by Rachel C
Alexandria, VA
14 posts

Thanks! We aren't staying in Zurich...it's closer to the Lichtenstein boarder...

So if I'm ready to purchase tickets now which site would you suggest using?

Posted by Devon
Ballwin
833 posts

If you have troubles with your CC, Paypal is a good alternative. Use the local sites to pruchase tickets. So for your Swiss segments, use sbb.ch, for Italian use trenitalia.com. Like others have said, if you are willing to lock in to certain times/days, buy your tickets now and you will save a lot. Do note that Munich and Salzburg are pretty far for day trips. You may spend more time traveling to get there than you would spend seeing the cities. You might want to consider closer destinations for day trips.

Point to point is almost always better for Italy. You will want to purchase most of your longer trips (the ones that would use the faster trains - IC and Freccia trains) in advance because you will get a better price. You won't save anything on Regionale or Regionale Veloce trains, however, so feel free to purchase those upon arrival.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5896 posts

First thing to do on the Trenitalia site is click the teensy British flag icon to translate the page. Then you need to use the Italian place names. Also note that the calendar starts on Monday, not Sunday, and the date is entered day/month/year.

Posted by Rachel C
Alexandria, VA
14 posts

Thanks everyone! I guess I should clarify that we are spending one day in Salzburg and taking a night train to Venice.

I really appreciate all the suggestions!