A rail journey from the heart of the French Riviera to the dreamy canals of Venice is one for travelers content to while away 8-9 hours gliding along the Mediterranean coastline and through northern Italy.
Until 2021, you could catch a direct Nice to Venice train. The same journey requires boarding at least three different trains today. It’s a true European rail odyssey. But it’s uncomplicated, as you’ll discover in our guide to traveling from Nice to Venice by train.
Nice to Venice by Train via Milan
The trip from Nice to Venice by train involves two national rail operators. The first section is on French regional TER trains to Ventimiglia. From there, it’s an Italian Intercity to Milano Centrale before switching to a high-speed Frecce train for the last leg.
Overall, the quickest journey takes around 8 hours, including connections. On the upside, there are charming views to enjoy along the way. Plus, opportunities to stretch your legs and down an espresso.
Slower options with more connections are available but best avoided if you’re on a tight schedule.
In theory, you can book the entire journey with SNCF Connect (French rail) or Trenitalia (Italian rail.) In practice, the systems are often out of sync, and the option is sometimes blocked. Booking portals like Omio are viable alternatives, albeit subject to a small booking fee.
Alternatively, reserve the Trenitalia service from Ventimiglia to Venice only and leave your options open for the short journey through France.
Nice to Ventimiglia
The Nice to Ventimiglia leg is on a fixed-price TER train. No reservations are possible. There are two hourly services to fit your schedule, and you can roll up to the station anytime and grab a ticket for the same price (€8.70 in 2023.)
TER commuter trains are notoriously unreliable. You can board any service, even if pre-bought, so budget time for delays. This is especially important as there are limited alternatives if you miss your connection in Ventimiglia, and Trenitalia won’t offer a refund.
Reliability aside, the 50-minute journey from Nice to Ventimiglia is a delight. Unflashy regional trains trundle along the French Riviera, passing through Monaco and the Italian border. Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, there are no fixed border controls. Passports should be on hand in case of ad-hoc checks.
If you do reach Ventimiglia with time to spare, there’s only a cafeteria on hand. However, the seafront promenade is a 5-10 minute walk from the station and a pleasant spot to while away the minutes between connections.
Ventimiglia to Venice via Milan
The next stage of the journey is a two-parter. For the best value and to dodge the lines, book ahead on Trenitalia. Significant savings can be made when booking Super-Economy and Economy fares up to 4 months prior.
The first part of the Italian journey is on the comfortable yet unremarkable Intercity trains to Milano Centrale. It’s a nearly four-hour journey with minimal facilities. No Wi-Fi or catering, although electrical sockets and ample storage are available.
A portion of the journey is along the Italian Riviera. Load up in Nice with a few Provencal delicacies, maybe a bottle of the local rosé, and settle down to savor a moving feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Seats come with folding or fixed tables. First and second-class tickets are available, with a few Euros often the price difference for extra elbow space but few other frills.
Check the option to choose your seats. Handy for sitting with traveling companions, but essential to lock in the arresting Mediterranean views. You want seats on the right-hand of the seating plan when traveling to Milan; on the left when catching a train from Venice to Nice.
Trains hook inland to Milano Centrale station just before Genoa. From there, you’ll catch the final service into Venice.
While there are many lumbering regional services, aim to book the high-speed and sophisticated Frecce services. But be careful; the fastest trains from Nice to Venice only allow 20-50 minutes to make connections. Just enough time to gulp an espresso and peek at the grand Milano Centrale station built to impress Mussolini.
Numerous eateries are found in and around the station if you arrive hungry. Or head down to the Mercato Centrale Milano, a market-style venue offering many tantalizing delights. Although it’s worth noting the onward Frecce trains boast the FRECCIABistrò café-bar if time is against you.
Le Frecce trains are the classiest trains on the Italian network, rivaled only by the private Italo services.
The Frecciarossa 1000 is particularly smart. But all Frecce trains have ample luggage space and the latest facilities, including free Wi-Fi.
A choice of inexpensive upgrades might tempt you to arrive in style.
Upgrade from Standard to Premium or the higher-priced Business class to gain roomier seats, charging points, and complimentary snacks and drinks. For a quiet journey, book a Business Silenzio carriage.
Frecciarossa 1000 trains boast the exclusive Executive class, with eye-watering prices and comfort levels to match.
The high-speed trains cut through the Lombardy and Veneto region and take less than 2 hours 30 mins. Along the way, you pass through fair Verona.
With military planning, you could squeeze a few hours in Romeo and Juliet’s home city. Separate tickets, an early start from Ventimiglia, and an eye on the clock would be essential. But frequent onward services — some taking under 1 hour 30 mins — make it viable.
The last stop should be Venezia Santa Lucia in the northernmost sestieri, the historic districts in the Venetian Lagoon.
Board a Nice to Venice train in the morning to arrive before sunset, leaving enough time to hit some of La Serenissima’s most remarkable sights. The medieval Basilica S.Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the emblematic Rialto Bridge, and the dazzling Piazza San Marco are just a 30-minute walk away. Alternatively, get the watery adventure underway immediately by jumping in a water taxi waiting just outside the train station.
Rail options are similar on the return journey. Traveling from Venice to Nice by train takes a little longer due to a prolonged pause in Milan. But the Venice to Nice train is more relaxed because you don’t have to worry too much about the connection from Ventimiglia to Nice.
If you’re looking for one final Italian escapade, frequent regional TER services to Nice means you could spend some time in Ventimiglia. Or stop along the route into Nice; Monte Carlo is a standout destination. Dodge the casino if you don’t want to blow any savings you made by shrewdly booking your train early.
Nice to Venice by Train via Milan Details
- Traveling from Nice to Venice by train requires tickets for French and Italian services. The cheapest Super Economy total fare is €52.50 booked at least 5 days before travel (up to 4 months ahead.)
- Fares include an €8.70 fixed-price ticket on the French regional TER train from Nice to Ventimiglia. Reservations for this section are not required but can be added to the ticket booking to save queuing.
- The remaining journey is with the Italian operator, Trenitalia. Prices are dynamic; book early for the best fares. Ticket flexibility and seat choices (free on Intercity trains) are optional extras.
- Book a train, Nice to Venice, via SNCF Connect, Trenitalia, or other portals like Omio.com.
- Frequency: There are three daily trains with just two connections from Nice Ville to Venezia Santa Lucia. Slower regional services with additional links are also available.
- Duration: The fastest trains from Nice to Venice take between 7h 52 mins and 8h 22 mins, with two connections in Milano Centrale and Ventimiglia.
Nice to Venice by Direct Train
While looking at options for traveling from Venice to Nice by train, you might encounter references to the now defunct Thello direct service that once plied the route. Under financial pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic, the short-lived Venice to Nice high-speed trains were terminated in 2021. They are greatly missed by travelers.
We can only hope that a direct Venice to Nice train will return as tourism returns to normal.
The prospect is potentially boosted by a recent drive from the European Commission to improve cross-border rail connections. Among those proposals is an overnight service from Paris to Venice via Milan, underlining the importance of links between France and Italy.
Fingers, legs, and arms are firmly crossed in the hope that a rail operator revives a direct service between these two popular destinations. For now, a rail journey from Nice to Venice requires multiple services. But it’s still a journey worth making, especially if you yearn to glimpse some appealing Italian and French scenery in comfort.
Nice to Venice by Train FAQ
Can I take a train from Nice to Venice?
While there is no direct train Nice to Venice, you can use a mix of French and Italian services to complete the journey. The fastest route requires connections in Ventimiglia and Milan in Italy.
How far is Nice from Venice by train?
The train from Venice to Nice covers 525 miles (845 km.)
Is there an overnight train from Nice to Venice?
There is no overnight train from Venice to Nice. Budget 8-9 hours to complete the journey on daytime services.
Is there a direct train from Nice to Venice?
Unfortunately, Thello direct Nice to Venice trains were discontinued in 2021. The quickest routes currently available require changes in Ventimiglia and Milano Centrale in Italy.
Which Venice train station should I arrive at?
Tourists head directly to Venezia Santa Lucia when visiting Venice by rail. It is in the historic districts in the heart of the old city right on the Grand Canal, within walking or water-taxi distance of Venice’s leading attractions.