Bursting with Mediterranean character, Sicily is a world away from Italy’s big northern cities. Yet, the charismatic island layered with millennia of history is easily reached on direct trains from Rome to Sicily.
Traveling from Rome to Sicily by train is a long journey. But sleeper services and adapted rail ferries make it a true rail adventure. We look at how to get to Sicily from Rome by train and why the journey is a compelling alternative to air travel.
Sicily by Train Summary:
- Sicily has the largest rail network of any Mediterranean island, offering travelers the opportunity to explore the island’s rich architectural and cultural heritage by train.
- With 922 miles of coastline, magnificent views, and access to notable towns, Sicily’s extensive rail network provides reliable, convenient, and affordable transportation options.
- While some parts of the island may require bus or car travel, the train routes offer a unique and picturesque experience for those who prefer slower travels across Italy.
Rome to Sicily by Train
The instinct for many vacationers will be to look to the skies when considering the best way to get from Rome to Sicily. After all, the distance from Rome to Sicily is over 300 miles (482 km) and crosses the Strait of Messina.
However, trains to Sicily will please unhurried travelers happy to trade vacation time for an absorbing ride down the Italian peninsula and across the beautiful island.
When booking trains from Rome to Sicily, several options are presented. You can’t beat a direct InterCity train from Rome to Palermo or Catania for convenience and value. One ticket and one train, ferry included.
The drawback is that a direct InterCity train from Rome to Palermo, Messina, or Catania can take 1-3 hours longer than indirect services with multiple connections. But with fares starting at €22.90 and a choice of sleeper or daytime services, it is the smoothest and least expensive option.
Best of all, direct trains board specially adapted rail ferries. Daytime passengers are asked to disembark the train. It’s the ideal opportunity to stretch your legs, breathe in the salty sea air, and savor the Mediterranean views.
InterCity trains from Rome to Sicily are a step down from Frecce class trains, yet modern and comfortable. Power sockets, air-conditioning, and ample luggage space are standard.
InterCity second-class carriages are arranged 2×2, whereas first-class carriages are organized in a 2×1 formation. There’s not much to separate the experience. Although if you’re traveling alone, a single seat might be tempting.
InterCity trains do not have onboard catering and WiFi. With the Rome to Palermo train journey taking nearly 12 hours, you’ll want to stock up on food and refreshments before departure. There’s a decent market-like food hall, Mercato Centrale, right under Roma Termini station, or plenty of shops nearby.
In Messina, direct InterCity trains split and head to Palermo or Catania. You cannot move between these carriages during transit, so double-check you’re in the correct section.
The alternative to an InterCity Rome to Sicily train is a mix of indirect services on Frecce, InterCity, and Regionale trains.
As there are just 4 daily InterCity trains from Rome to Sicily, indirect trains offer a wider choice of departure and journey times. You can also consider breaking the trip up with a layover along the route.
Whichever route you choose, all services converge on Villa San Giovanni, Calabria. Almost within touching distance of Messina, it is the shortest and fastest route, with numerous daily ferry crossings.
Ferries from Villa San Giovanni or Messina are operated by Caronte & Tourist and Blu Jet. Crossings take just 20 minutes, starting from €2.50 for a single fare. The fare can be bolted onto all pre-booked rail tickets.
If you want flexibility on which Sicily trains to catch, book a Rome to Messina train and use fixed-price Regionale services on the island. You’ll need to bounce from Messina Marittima to Messina Centrale, a 5-minute walk or train journey.
Italo, the slick private Italian rail operator, offers a daily service from Roma Termini to Messina, ferry fare included. But if you’re heading to Palermo or Catania, further tickets must be booked with Trenitalia, the national rail operator, or an online service like Omio.
It is more practical to book the complete journey with Trenitalia, where you can compare direct and indirect services for the entire Rome to Palermo train journey.
Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains are available to Naples on indirect routes. Among the best trains on the Italian network, you can expect free Wi-Fi, onboard FRECCIA Bistrò café-bar, and upgrades for roomier seats and complimentary drinks and snacks.
While the extra facilities on Frecce trains are tempting, traveling direct from Rome to Sicily by train eliminates the risk of missed connections and the need to drag luggage from train to train.
Our advice: book an InterCity service up to 4 months before travel. Stock up with a few Italian delicacies. Create a cozy nest for napping. Then sit back, relax, relish the views, and forget your troubles as your train snakes down lo Stivale, the boot of Italy.
There’s plenty to excite sightseers en route. Rome to Sicily trains pass through Naples and under the gaze of the still-active Mount Vesuvius.
The ferry crossing from Villa San Giovanni to Messina is a highlight. Rail buffs will love using the unusual train ferries. While the short crossing rewards everybody with striking views across the Strait of Messina. Far more exciting than arriving by plane!
Rome to Sicily by Train Details
- Prices: Total fares from Rome to Sicily will depend on your final destination. If heading to Palermo or Catania, there are two options:
- €22.90 for direct InterCity ‘Super Economy’ fares booked at least 5 days (up to 4 months) before travel. Ferry crossing included. First-class fares from €49.90.
- Higher priced ‘Economy’ fares are available up to 2 days before travel. Maximum price ‘Base’ fares are available within 48 hours of travel and start at €80.50.
- €38.80 for indirect services combining Frecce, InterCity, and Regionale trains. Each section of the journey is charged separately, so fares vary considerably.
- Prices are dynamic and rise as seats are sold. Book as early as possible with Trenitalia for the best fares.
- Frequency: 4 daily InterCity direct trains from Roma Termini to Palermo or Catania, including 2 sleeper services. Up to 5 indirect services from Rome to Palermo and Catania. Additional trains go via Naples to Villa San Giovanni, where ferries shuttle across the Mediterranean to Messina.
- The Rome to Sicily train time can be as quick as 5 h 40 mins on multi-connection services to Messina.
- Direct services from Roma Termini to Messina Centrale take 8 h 9 mins.
- Direct services from Roma Termini to Palermo Centrale take at least 11 h 39 mins.
- All routes include a 20-minute ferry crossing.
- Online Booking:
Rome to Sicily by Sleeper Train
Overnight trains leap off the Trenitalia page when assessing how to get to Sicily from Rome with minimum fuss.
The two InterCityNotte sleeper trains match the day service but come with couchettes and cabins instead of seats.
Heavy sleepers can put their head down in the Eternal City, enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep, and awake in Sicily as the sun rises. It’s a diverting escapade and economical use of precious vacation time. You’ll still be smiling when your credit card bill lands, having knocked a night off the vacation hotel bill.
Sleeper trains from Roma Termini head to various destinations in Sicily. The most popular are Messina (8 h 44 mins), Palermo (12h 57 mins), and Catania (11 h 10 mins.) Stops are made at other destinations along those routes.
Rome to Sicily sleeper trains depart at 20.31 and 23.00, so you can choose whether to arrive for breakfast or lunch. Barely sating hunger pangs until you hit the Sicilian trattorias is a basic trolley service. Snacks and other drinks can be purchased, but it pays to stock up with rations before departure.
When booking, choose between a couchette (cucetta) or a private cabin (cabina.)
Women-only (donna) and mixed-gender couchettes are provided. There are four couchettes per cabin, so you can book them all to create your own private family space. Beds fold into seating when not in use.
Complimentary coffee, juice, water, and a sweet or savory snack are included with a couchette booking.
The alternative to a couchette is a single cabin (Vagone Letto Deluxe Uso Singolo) at approximately double the price.
The upgrade is noticeable. Aside from a single bed, you get a personal washbasin and travel kit. Towels and ready-made beds await, along with additional snacks.
Although the process of boarding the rail ferries is far from silent, you might need an alarm set if you want to see the Straits of Messina. Passengers are not asked to leave the train but can alight and briefly enjoy the views and marvel at the peculiar sight of a train on a boat.
Whether you curl up in your couchette or chat the night away with fellow travelers, getting from Rome to Sicily by sleeper train is a fun and inexpensive journey. Economical in time and cost, the magic of falling asleep in Rome and waking up in Sicily is priceless.
Rome to Sicily by Sleeper Train Details
- Prices: Example fares are for sleeper services from Roma Termini to destinations across Sicily, including Palermo Centrale and Catania Centrale.
- €41.90 for a couchette (Cucetta Comfort) ‘Super Economy’ ticket. ‘Base’ fares cost at least €102.30.
- €80.90 for a single cabin (Vagone Letto Deluxe Uso Singolo) ‘Super Economy’ ticket. ‘Base’ fares from €216.90.
- Book up to 4 months ahead for inflexible ‘Super Economy’ tickets. ‘Economy’ tickets are available up to 2 days before departure. ‘Base’ fares are available at all times.
- Frequency: Two daily sleeper services from Roma Termini to Sicily depart at 20.31 and 23.00.
- Sleeper services from Roma Termini to Palermo Centrale take up to 12 h 57 mins. Services to Catania Centrale take 11 h 10 mins.
- Sleeper services reach the first stop in Sicily, Messina, in 8 h 44 mins.
- Online Booking:
Hotels in Sicily
Taormina: Hotel Metropole
“…18th-century noble residence…with panoramic views, infinity pool.”
Palermo: Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes
“…elegant Art Nouveau building…5-minute walk from Palermo’s Massimo and Politeama Theaters.”
Piraino: Just be
“…hidden gem with amazing views, close to small towns and beautiful beaches.”
Experiences in Sicily
Tours in Sicily
Rome to Sicily by Train FAQ
Can I get to Sicily from Rome by train?
Yes – there are 4 direct daily services from Roma Termini to destinations in Sicily. Additional indirect services are also available.
Is there a sleeper train from Rome to Sicily?
Two InterCityNotte sleeper trains to Sicily depart from Rome daily.
How long is the train from Rome to Sicily?
Times vary, with indirect services sometimes quicker than direct services.
A direct InterCity service from Roma Termini to Messina (the first stop in Sicily) takes 8h 44 mins.
Rome to Palermo direct services take up to 12 h 57 mins.
How much does the train from Rome to Sicily cost?
Tickets from Roma Termini to Palermo Centrale start from €22.90 for direct InterCity ‘Super Economy’ fares. Fares rise to at least €80.50 when booking within 48 hours of travel.
A couchette (Cucetta Comfort) on a sleeper service from Rome to Palermo starts from €41.90. A single cabin (Vagone Letto Deluxe Uso Singolo) ‘Super Economy’ ticket starts at €80.90.
Prices are dynamic and increase as seats are sold. Book up to 4 months ahead for the best-value fares.