How to Buy a Train Ticket Like a Local

No matter where we are traveling, the journey is always accompanied by a sense of joy and excitement. Maybe it is because there is the promise of seeing something new, or perhaps the feelings are owed to the assurance of dwelling in a cherished place once again. The thing all of these components have in common is the need for a mode of travel. In today’s post we will be walking you through the process of how to buy a train ticket, one of our favorite ways to get around.

A few months ago, we took our first trip to Europe as GFT, and in order to get around we took every method of transportation possible (other than teleportation of course). For our first stop, we were in the popularly visited northern city of Italy, known as Venice…Oh Venice, the city of masks and nonsensical street signs…but, since we stayed in Mestre, a neighboring city which sits just on the other side of the Venetian lagoon, we needed to buy train tickets to reach the heart of the city. “How does one buy train tickets,” you ask? Well, allow us to explain.

The first thing we recommend doing is exchanging some of your money for the local currency (in Italy it is the Euro) or ensuring that your credit/debit card company is aware of the international charges being made. [Pro-tip: the machines often ask for a “pin” number, so be prepared to have one even if you normally do not have one.] Next select the type of trip to be made. We suggest purchasing a one way so that you do not have to worry about the timing and can leave whenever you would like (remember that the streets are extremely confusing no matter how navigationally gifted you might be). Assuming you are leaving from Mestre you will want to take the train to Venenzia Santa Lucia. [Pro-tip: Don’t feel the need to rush, this train leaves every 15 minutes.] Another nice thing about this trip is that it is roughly 1.50 Euros per trip. Talk about a bargain! Oh, not to mention, this train ride will only take 20 minutes.

Some things to keep in mind about using the train system is that there are multiple platforms to be aware of. The best thing to do is look at the schedule, which is posted around the main holding area where tickets are sold, as well as in the tunnel that runs beneath each platform. Also, be sure to look for the digital screens, which should show the time and end destination (the destination should match your ticket). [Pro-tip: If you still feel confused after checking your ticket, the digital signs, and the schedule poster, almost all of the employees speak English and can get you pointed in the right direction! After all, it is a huge tourist area.]

Once you have had your fill for the day and successfully eaten all of your gelato while wandering back to the train station, you will want to purchase your return tickets to Venezia Mestre. Truthfully, this can be a little tricky, but know that you can always get off at the first stop a “wrong” train makes and travel backwards, and you can almost guarantee that the train you are on will stop in Mestre. However, we would not recommend just getting on any train. An easy tip to remember is that any train that says “REG” is going to be a Regional train, and it will take across the lagoon to the proper city.

If you are anything like us, one city is not enough to satisfy the soul, so naturally we had to find a way to make It to another major city. (In our case, it was Milan…home to the world’s fashion capital.) Because we knew this about ourselves, we purchased our tickets ahead of time and printed them out at home. But, much like the Venetian tickets, you can easily purchase this the morning/afternoon of your departure as long as you allot for enough time to do so. The process of getting these tickets is largely the same, but since it is a longer trip [Pro-tip: Check the duration of the ride. This will indicate whether or not you have selected the “speedy train.”] you will typically have the option of 1st or 2nd class. Either selection is fine, but normally 1st class is not much more expensive (depending on the trip) and you have outlets for your electronic devices. Another alteration that could happen here is if you want a middle destination on a train’s route. If this is the case, look for the end destination because that will be what is ultimately marked on the digital monitor throughout the platform. Additionally, keep in mind that if you have a “classic” train ticket, you will need to validate it, which can be done on the platform. If you have an electronic ticket on your phone, or a paper ticket, there is no need to validate beforehand; the clerk will simply scan your barcode. Our last tip for you is in regard to cross overs. By cross overs, we mean any train changes that your trip may require. This process is quite simple but can be tricky the first couple of times. What you will do here is look on the schedule monitor and/or poster, which should tell you the platform (aka- binario in Italian) number. You may also be able to find this out on the train, depending on the age of the “car” that you are in.

If you find yourself in Europe any time soon, or any time ever, we strongly encourage you to take a train somewhere. It is truly an incredible experience to get to watch the countryside pass by your window, and know that at the end of your ride, the next great adventure awaits.


We hope that you have found this How To helpful!! If you have any Pro-tips and tricks that you would like to share, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. Happy Travels!