Have you ever dreamed of falling asleep on a train journey and waking up in a new destination across the sea? The Rome to Sicily overnight train is perfect for exploring the largest island in the Mediterranean. Here’s all the information you need to know before embarking on this unique and incredible journey that involves a train that travels on a boat..
How Long Does the Rome to Sicily Overnight Train Take?
Rome to Taormina Train
The train journey from Rome to Taormina Giardini station in Sicily takes around 11-12 hours. The train leaves Rome Termini station in the evening and arrives in Taormina the following morning, allowing you to enjoy your day in Sicily without wasting all day traveling.
Rome to Palermo Train
The train from Rome to Palermo Centrale Station in Sicily takes around 13 hours. The train leaves Rome Termini station in the evening and arrives in Palermo the following morning, usually around 10am. Along the way, there are 13 stops at intermediate destinations in the course of the trip.
How Much Does the Rome to Sicily Overnight Train Cost?
The cost depends on the type of ticket you purchase, ranging from standard seats to shared cabins and private compartments. A standard seat starts from just €9, but if you want a little more comfort, a shared cabin for four people starts from around €35. Alternatively, you can opt for a private compartment starting from €140. The price for each ticket also includes a bed and all linens.
Booking Tickets on the Rome-Sicily Night Train
When you’re shopping for tickets you want to look for the Intercity Train (IC Train), sometimes also written as Intercity Night Train (ICN Train, or InterCity Notte Train) from the Italian railway company Trenitalia.
While you don’t always need to book in advance for a daylight train, you do need to book a reservation ahead of time for the overnight train.
There are usually just a couple of time options for the overnight trains, but ideally do make sure that the itineraries you select from are only direct trains and don’t require a transfer to a different intercity train prior to the ferry crossing. Once you arrive in Sicily, you might need to switch to different intercity trains depending on your destination.
Leaving from Rome Termini Station
Rome Termini Station (or Roma Termini in Italian) is one of the largest train stations in Italy and is easily accessible. Take the metro, bus, or taxi and reach the station with ease. Once at the station, check-in for your train 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Don’t forget to carry your passport and ticket while boarding the train.
The train station is not the most beautiful nor in my favorite part of town in Rome but it’s still cool to experience. Usually I suggest doing your shopping near your hotel and head to the station leaving just enough time to check in and find your platform. 30 minutes before should be enough.
Night Train Destinations in Sicily
Some of the popular destinations in Sicily that are easily reachable via the night train route include:
- Palermo (Rome to Palermo Centrale)
- Catania (Rome to Catania Centrale)
By transferring to other trains once in Sicily you can easily reach other inland destinations such as the beautiful towns of Modica, Ragusa, and Noto.
Arriving in Taormina Station
Taormina Station is the perfect starting point to explore the beautiful city of Taormina, with easy access to different parts of the city via public transport. The station is located at the foot of the town and is a short walk to the main street with restaurants, shops, and bars.
What Are the Rooms Like on the Sleeper Train?
The sleeper train offers a range of cabins, including standard seats, shared cabins for four people, and private compartments for one to three people. Each cabin provides a bed with linens that vary according to the type of cabin you choose. Private compartments are a little more spacious and offer better views, but every cabin is designed to provide comfort during your journey.
Typically, the InterCity Night trains are all made up of sleeper cars, and they don’t include regular type train seats.
Are the beds comfortable on the sleeper train?
Don’t expect a luxurious hotel bed here. The beds on sleeper trains aren’t famous for comfort, but it’s a cozy flat bed that allows most people to sleep through the majority of the night. Overnight trains are not really like a hotel room, at least not one that I would pick. It’s more like a first class airline seat, but usually with a bit more room.
During the day, the beds fold up to make a couch so you can hang out while sitting instead of laying down.
Train Ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina
The train is loaded onto a ferry from Villa San Giovanni on the Southern Italy mainland to Messina on the east coast of Sicily. While crossing, passengers have the option to head on the ferry deck to check out views of the Strait of Messina, a narrow strip of water that separates Italy from Sicily. The ferry journey lasts for around an hour, giving you ample time to soak in the stunning views of the sea.
If you’re sleeping hard, it’s possible to sleep through the very early morning journey on the overnight ferry which crosses from Calabria to Messina on the east coast of Sicily in the very early morning hours. However, the change in motion from regular train motion to ocean motion during the ferry crossing tends to wake up most people. In addition, the air conditioning doesn’t function for some short stretches when it is disconnected from the train’s main engine.
Food and drink options on the night train
The night train from Rome to Sicily does not have a restaurant car for fresh-prepared hot food. The best course of action is to have a good meal in Rome the night before you leave. Even better, grab a good bottle of wine and some snacks like bread and cheese for a late night snack or to wind down before bed time. With all the great food and wine in Italy you should have plenty of options to grab tasty (and affordable) snacks.
Typically a steward or stewardess will bring a snack cart and drink trolley through the train. You can purchase products there, but frankly the food and drink options are not as good as what you could find in town before you board the train.
The Different Levels of Sleeping Compartments
Italian night trains tend to offer different levels of sleeper carriages that balance luxury and budget. I’ll cover more detail on each option below.
- Couchette (Cuccetta)
- Comfort Sleeper (Cuccetta Comfort)
- Tourist Class Sleeper
- MU Classic Sleeper
- Excelsior Sleeper
Here is how the different booking options currently show up on the TrenItalia website for the InterCityNotte train:
This just means the car is a mixed compartment that allows everyone (men and women) to book. There are individual single beds but in a shared sleeping compartment.
These cars are for women-only, so ladies can feel free to book this type of sleeper compartment if you’ll be more comfortable sticking with a same gender room.
Below I’ll cover more details on the differences between these ticket options.
Typical features for sleeper cars
A few quick notes on the general features of Italian sleeper cars on this route.
- It’s important to note that wi-fi is not currently available on the train. However, there is pretty good cellular service for most of the journey if you need to check e-mails.
- Air conditioning: The cars are air conditioned although during peak summer they can still be a bit warm for my taste.
- Power sockets are typically available
- Only certain cars have private facilities, or a guaranteed private cabin that is not shared with other travelers. See below for details.
Couchette Carriages / Cuccetta Comfort Carriages (Cheapest overnight option)
Typical Cost: Around 40-50 Euros for a single person
Couchette comfort cars (a.k.a. comfort sleeper cabins) are the cheapest option, and are made up of multiple rooms with between four and six bunk beds in each room. Similar to flying on a plane and business class, you’ll get a pre-packaged set of bedding with a pillow to make up your own bed.
Tourist Class Sleeper Cabins / Vagone Leggo Deluxe (mid-range option)
Typical Cost: Around 70-80 Euros for a single person
The Tourist Class Sleeper car rooms are a mid range. On some trains there may also be an option for MU Classic Sleeper Carriages on some trains that is basically the same but a little bit larger. This type of cabin does include a premade bed and a sink or wash basin inside the compartment, but there is not an en-suite toilet or shower. Bathrooms are shared and do not include a shower. Both double and single cabins are available.
Excelsior Sleeper Carriages (High end option)
Typical Cost: Around 100-200 Euros for a single person. Prices can vary the most for this type of ticket based on demand, so it’s worth shopping around for dates and times that make sense.
The Excelsior Sleeper cars are the highest end option available. They come with a small private shower, toilet, and sink. None of the other car types have a shower option, and the shower option may not always be available so check your ticket listings for details. In reality, there is limited water supply aboard the train, so I wouldn’t count on your shower necessarily having running water especially later in the trip. My recommendation is to wait to take a good hot shower at your hotel after arrival.
An Italian continental breakfast is also included in this fare. You can get a suite-style cabin, a single cabin or a double cabin. There is a limited number of Excelsior cars, so they may not be available on every train. Make sure to book in advance to secure your spot if you want this cabin type.
Conclusion: A Relaxing and Unique Way to Travel
The Rome to Sicily overnight train is a fantastic way to explore the beauty of Sicily at your convenience, giving you the freedom to start your day as soon as you wake up. Travel in comfort and wake up in a new destination with memories to last a lifetime. Book your night train ticket ahead and enjoy the ultimate train travel journey experience from Rome to Sicily.