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Help with Train Reservations!

Dear ETBD,
I cannot figure out how to make train reservations. Is it something I have to do here in the US or while in Europe? My husband and I will be taking 3 night trains, and I assume those trains will need reservations, especially since we want to have beds on the train.

The night trains are:
Paris-Milan(then La Spezia-Cinque Terre) Sat. Sept. 15, 2007
Rome-Venice Fri. Sept. 21, 2007
Venice-Munich Sat. Sept. 22, 2007
If anyone could advise us, I would really appreciate it!

Posted by
6898 posts

You will need to make reservations for beds or couchettes on the night trains. Note that they are rare and do sell out from what read on the travel sites. I haven't booked sleepers so I'm not sure how to do this.

Next, night trains from Paris take two different routes. One route goes through Milan. A different route goes from Paris to Genoa. It goes by Monaco and crosses the Italian border at Ventimelia. It's 12 hours to Ventimelia. You change trains and it's 3 more hours to Genoa. Genoa is the Northern gateway into the CT. Either way will get you there.

Question, are you staying in La Spezia or the CT? If you are staying in La Spezia, the train will most likely go through Genoa to get there. You'll transit through the CT as well.

Posted by
27 posts

I needed to make a night train reservation for Sept 11th and was having NO luck trying Trenitalia or any other sites so I used a Rick Steves recommended company called Euraide out of Florida.

I just called the phone number and Herman sent me an email with instructions as to what to do. I emailed him back with my itinerary and the reservations I needed, then called him with my credit card number. He charges a flat fee of $50 which covers the work he does and Overnight shipping to your home of the reservations/tickets.

It was a little pricey but ENTIRELY WORTH IT due to the ease and convenience! I probably wouldnt have done it if I didnt need the night train reservation but for you with 3 night train reservations, I think it would be worth the cost for the peace of mind =)

To contact Euraide:

(I spoke with Herman)
327 Dulmer Dr
Nokomis, FL, USA
Telephone 1 941-480-1555
Telefax 1 941-480-1522

Posted by
8700 posts

Book the Paris-Milan night train at ASAP to get PREM'S (discount) fares, if available. Leave France as the default country because SNCF officially doesn't mail tickets to North America. You'll probably have to choose to have the tickets mailed to an address in France (like your hotel).

Book the Rome-Venice night train at Registering on the site is required before you can book, but the Trenitalia site is famous for giving people headaches when they try to register. You can book this train at, but the fare will be higher and you'll have to pay a shipping fee to have your tickets mailed to you.

Book the Venice-Munich night train at Print your own tickets.

Posted by
32109 posts

Jenny, I normally make reservations for each outgoing journey (if needed) when I arrive at a station.

Regarding the journeys you listed, a few comments:
- Paris to Milan: this appears to be a 6-7 hour journey. Make sure the train you choose has no stops, or you won't be getting much sleep!
- Rome to Venice: this is only about a 4H 30M trip. I wouldn't bother with a night train; enjoy the scenery (you will still need reservations though, as it's a fast/intercity train).
- Venice to Munich: this one is a good choice for a night train with Couchette. The trip length is about 7H 39M (depending on which train you choose). The route I would choose is a direct train leaving Venezia Santa Lucia at 22:51,arriving in Munich at 06:30.

I don't normally bother making reservations here, as the cost is usually higher. It's so easy to do at the rail stations in Europe.

Happy travels!!!

Posted by
32109 posts

Jenny, one other point regarding your journey from Paris to Milan. I'm assuming that Paris is your first stop, and you won't be arriving by rail? I'm also assuming that you're travelling with a Rail Pass?

What I'd recommend in that situation would be to visit an "SNCF Boutique" at the beginning of your stay in Paris. Your Hotel will be able to tell you where the closest office is. You'll have to "take a number" and wait to be served but they can handle all the reservations for you. This method also ensures that you get the best price (as opposed to ordering the reservations on the net).

Good luck!!!

Posted by
80 posts

Thank you everyone!

A few answers to questions:
Yes we have eurail passes that will be validated when we take the eurostar from London to Paris.
I am worried that if I don't make reservations here in the US, the night trains will be full or there won't be any beds left, how likely would this in Sept.??

Posted by
8700 posts


In my previous post I gave you information on booking tickets--not what you needed. Now that I realize you'll have passes, I have some suggestions for you.

You can make reservations for the Venice-Munich night train at From the pull-down menu choose "Accommodation surcharge only, ticket exists."

For the price of an international phone call you can make reservations for the Paris-Milan night train. Dial 011 (US international access code) + 33 (country code for France) + 8 92 35 35 39. This is the SNCF (French national rail) English-speaking number.

You should be able to make reservations for the Rome-Venice night train at the same time you make them for Paris-Milan since the various national rail companies are all tied into the same computer system.

Posted by
17 posts

I would encourage you to make all your overnight reservations now and not wait. Lots of great suggestions have been provided by others. I used BETS (Budget Europe Travel Service - call 800-441-2387...their charge for various reservations was minimal, less than Euraide) to obtain reservations back in April (our trip was 6/24 - 7/17) and was glad I did. It was one-stop shopping, Byron was a delight to talk to and it turned out that a couple of the trains were "sold out" for what we wanted within a day or two after we got our reservations. We too had a Eurail Global pass.

For the reservations we didn't make in advance, we made some at the station upon our arrival, but often found that stressful as the stations often had long lines and were really smokey (primarily Italy). We found the American Express offices away from the station provided a nice, air conditioned and smoke free place to care for reservations (like in Florence). Go with what works for you. Ciao!

Posted by
26 posts

I always use Herman with Euraide USA Telephone 1 941-480-1555. He take care of all my overnight sleepers and any reservations I need. He is really great!