Barcelona to Milan: Hop On-Board for the Ride of Your Life!


Traveling From Barcelona to Milan by Train

France - Spain High Speed Train from Barcelona to Paris. Image courtesy of RENFE.
France – Spain High Speed Train from Barcelona to Paris. Image courtesy of RENFE.

There are some train rides in Europe that are over way too quick – sure, you arrive at your destination faster, but you miss out on some of the allure of European train travel. This is not the case when you take the train from Barcelona to Milan.

The incredible journey from Barcelona to Milan allows you to experience traveling on a balanced mix of trains – both high-speed and regional. You’ll travel through three European countries including Spain, France and Italy. Just visualize the varied scenery you’ll encounter, from cityscapes to rolling hills and countryside. The on-board journey will be almost as amazing as your time spent in each of these cosmopolitan cities!

There are a couple of options to choose from when traveling from Barcelona to Milan. You can begin your travels at the Barcelona Sants train station, located in the city-center of Barcelona, and travel to either Valence or Paris. The choice is up to you. If you choose to travel to Valence, the connections will get you to Milan the same day. If you decide to travel to Paris, your option is to then take an overnight Thello train to Milan and arrive the next morning. Overnight train travel adds another layer to your train adventures, but, this option is not for everyone, some prefer to be in a hotel/hostel rather than sleeping on a train. Of course, it also depends on your itinerary.

The route from Barcelona to Valence or Paris is on-board the France-Spain High Speed Train. The travel time to Valence is a little over 4 hours, while the travel time to Paris is roughly 6.5 hours.

Let’s say you chose to travel to Valence, you will have almost 50 minutes wait time for your next train to leave. This will be a regional TER train that will travel from Valence to Chambery, connection time is approximately 2 hours. Upon arrival in Chambery you’ll have a little over an hour to grab a bite to eat or get a quick coffee/drink. Then you’ll board the France-Italy TGV and travel direct to Milan. This last train trip is about 4 hours in length. The total travel time for the route from Barcelona to Milan via Valence/Chambery is a little over 10 hours. Tickets for this route start at $173 per person.

And for those looking for a little more adventure, if you choose to travel via Paris, here is what you can expect in terms of train connections…you arrive into the Paris Gare de Lyon station and will have roughly 3 hours to explore some of the city before departing on the night train. You will arrive and depart from the same train station so you can walk around the nearby area, perhaps have a quick bite to eat – note that there is a dining car on the Thello overnight train that you can eat in also once you’ve checked into your sleeping car.

Sleeping compartment on the Thello night train from Paris to Milan.

The train will depart around 7pm and will travel through the night. You’ll arrive refreshed and renewed in Milan around 6am – just in time for a fine Italian breakfast! A great benefit of traveling overnight on the train, aside from not having to pay for a hotel night, is that you do arrive ready to start your day. You can drop your bags off at your hotel and set out to see the city. Total travel time for the route from Barcelona to Milan via Paris is about 17 hours, but remember, over 10.5 hours of this travel time is spent on the overnight train, traveling while you sleep! Tickets for this route start at $257 per person.

Things to See & Do in Barcelona

There is much to see and do while spending time in Barcelona, here are just a few of our favorite things!

We know there are many football fans out there, not American football…what we in North America refer to as soccer…if you’re one of these fans you’ll definitely want to check out the FC Barcelona museum & Camp Nou stadium. This museum houses a stunning collection of photos, documents and trophies from the club’s history of legendary teams and players.

You can’t possibly visit Barcelona without paying homage to Gaudi’s Park Guell. Here you can explore some Gaudi’s top works. This park was donated to the city in 1923, and attracts millions each year. Park Guell can be reached using the Best of Barcelona Tour from Rail Europe, please note that you need to upgrade to the full-day tour to visit Park Guell – it is not included with the 1/2 day tour.

Parc Guell by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona - Spain
Parc Guell by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona – Spain

Wind down after a day of sightseeing with a stroll down Las Ramblas. It has been said that if you’ve not taken a stroll down this boulevard, you cannot say you’ve been in Barcelona! Las Ramblas begins at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the Monument of Columbus at the Port Vell harbor of Barcelona. This is the most famous boulevard in Spain. It is lined with brilliant architecture as well as playful street performers and of course, La Boqueria, Europe’s oldest fresh air market.

Last on our Barcelona Must Sees is the iconic La Sagrada Familia Church. This exquisite church by Antoni Gaudi remains unfinished to this day. It is by far one of the top sights in Barcelona. With it’s detailed and unusual construction, it’s not hard to see why this is Barcelona’s most famous and most visited tourist attractions – each year over 3 million travelers visit the infamous cathedral. Take the Barcelona Sagrada Familia Tour and skip the lines for a 1.5 hour tour of the fascinating cathedral.

madrid to barcelona
La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi, located in Barcelona, Spain

Things to See & Do in Milan

Depending on which route you decide to take to travel from Barcelona to Milan, you may be ready to hit a pillow for a good night’s sleep, or you may arrive refreshed and ready to set out to see the sites! In either case, here are our top picks of things to see and do in Milan.

Take an enchanting evening tour of Milan’s Duomo – experinecing the Duomo at sunset hours is certainly a memorable activity! Milan Cathedral is the city’s most iconic landmark, and one of the largest churches in the world. You can skip the lines for this exciting tour by purchasing your tickets in advance with Rail Europe!

Milan’s Duomo in the evening – a great way to see the city of Milan.

Admire Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, the iconic masterpiece sought out by millions of travelers every year. The Last Supper depicts Jesus and his disciples at Passover. This individual painting has been studied by countless amateur and professional art aficionados for years – many looking for hidden meaning and symbols, sparking debate and discussion over who is pictured in the painting and whether or not the artist actually painted himself in the work. Experience The Last Supper and make your own theories about it. Note that you do need advance reservations to view this piece of art – get your tickets with Rail Europe ahead of time!

La Scala Opera House and Museum, Milan Italy

Calling all Opera enthusiasts – get an insiders look at La Scala Theater! Even if you’re not a lover of the Opera, you will love touring the theater and museum of La Scala. On this special tour you will discover secrets of one of the most famous opera houses in the world! Plus, you can enjoy the excitement of viewing an extraordinary collection of costumes, musical instruments and paintings. Complete the tour by visiting the theater foyer and gorgeous auditorium. This tour will leave you calling out Bravo!

Barcelona and Milan – two entirely different worlds with some common interests – art, theater, architecture, etc, etc! This is such an abbreviated list of top things to see and do, there are literally thousands of things that can fill this list! We’d love to hear from you, what are your favorite hot spots in these cities? If you’ve not been yet, what stops are you planning to make when you do visit? Share with us – include a comment below!

PS: Keep all the helpful info from this post in a safe place! Pin it to your European travel Pinterest boards.


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