Manchester to Barcelona or Venice

Purple Orange

Member
Joined
26 Dec 2019
Messages
531
Location
Wilmslow
Talk in the Orange household has turned to a trip to either Barcelona or Venice by train, likely next summer or late spring. But we’re trying to figure out a route that takes in different cities on the way there and on the way back. So far we are at:
  • Manchester - London (1 night)
  • London - Paris (2 nights)
  • Paris - Destination 3 (2 nights)
  • Destination 3 - Barcelona or Venice (5 nights)
  • Barcelona or Venice - Destination 5 (2 nights)
  • Destination 5 - Paris (1 night)
  • Paris - London (1 night)
  • London - Manchester
Does anyone have any experience of doing a similar journey?

What cities make for the best routes to either Venice or Barcelona?

Any help or travel advice would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Porty

Member
Joined
31 Mar 2020
Messages
9
Location
Edinburgh
I can recommend the overnight Thello sleeper from Paris to Venice. I've used this route to get from Edinburgh to Milan, but the sleeper train continues on to Venice. It is currently suspended, but if you're travelling next year, it should be running by then.

Fares are very reasonable though its likely that rules immediately post covid may mean a whole couchette being required to be booked out rather than the option of paying for one berth in a shared 4 or 6 berths couchette. I have booked separate fares to Paris then the Thello train via their app. They have been very good in giving refunds to trips I had planned this month.

Lots of good info on the seat61 website.

Timings are pretty good from points north. From Edinburgh a breakfast departure to London, lunchtime Eurostar to Paris, time for a leisurely meal in a bar opposite Gare De Lyon, before a departure time to Venice at around 1915. Alternatively, if staying over in Paris this routing gives a full sightseeing day on the next day.
 

AlbertBeale

Member
Joined
16 Jun 2019
Messages
735
Location
London
Since you're interested in the possibility of stopping off somewhere interesting between Paris and Venice, rather than taking the sleeper directly (as mentioned above), consider Turin. I've stopped off there to and from Italy a few times in recent years, not having done so before, and found it interesting. (And it's probably more "manageable" than the rather larger Milan, if you don't know either place to start with, and don't have a bit of Italian.) There are the direct Paris-Turin trains - via quite a scenic route, and the Turin-Venice connections are fast and frequent.

If you don't mind a change between Paris and the next destination, and between there and Venice, you might consider the Ligurian coast (the part running east from the French-Italian border). A train from Paris to the French Rivera, followed by a train along the coast into Italy, is in parts a very attractive journey - though it would take most of the day. Liguria (most parts at least) to Venice can be done with one change in Milan. If you're into cities, then Genoa is the main one in Liguria; but there are loads of nice smaller places along both the French and Italian coastlines there, where you can spend a pleasant day or two.

An alternative interesting option, between Paris and Venice, is southern Switzerland. There are direct trains Paris-Lausanne (and others with a change in Geneva); you can either stay in Lausanne (which is on Lake Geneva), or go a bit further east by hopping on a Swiss local train that goes towards Montreux and along the valley via Sion to Brig. It's an attractive area (and much of it is in areas of Switzerland where they speak French rather than German, if that's a factor in terms of language knowledge). From Lausanne (or indeed the main towns onwards from there in the Brig direction) there are some direct trains to take you on to Venice, and others where you change in Milan.

If you find booking a hotel in Venice rather pricey (and I hope you'll show solidarity with the remaining beleaguered residents of Venice by not using something like Airbnb, which is a factor in the depopulation of the city, turning it into a Disneyland rather than a real living city), then there are places a short train hop from Venice (en route from Milan or wherever), which are cheaper to stay in, and enable you to easily spend all day in Venice - I've done it staying at a hotel within sight of the station in Padua, which is just 20-odd minutes down the line. And Italian train prices - for a Brit - seem absurdly cheap!

Between Paris and Barcelona, there are some obvious places you could stop en route, like Avignon or Montpelier - I've spent pleasant times in both of them in years gone by. Friends recommend Nimes too, though I've never stopped there myself. NB, however, that some of those places in southern France don't make as convenient a stopover as they used to - they've built several "bypasses" so the TGVs don't have to slow down getting in and out of all the cities they call at, with the result that some trains stop at new out-of-town stations, quite a hike from where you want to be. Which means that in some cases, getting from Paris to X, or from X to Barcelona, requires either taking a slower train, or changing trains en route, if you want to avoid being dumped in the middle of nowhere. Yes - it's a bit silly, and plenty of the locals who live in those towns don't like it either.

Some of the places you might go to - as you probably know - require a change of stations, like London does. Paris, for example, and Milan too sometimes. But if they're places you're spending a day or two in anyway, rather than just changing trains en route, then of course that's not really a hassle.
 

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
8,890
Location
Airedale
For Venice, I would consider taking a more northerly Alpine route one way, which could be the Brenner towards Munich or the Gotthard or Loetschberg (using the old routes - or indeed the Bernina) through Switzerlandw. Seat 61 has the details for Milan IIRC.
More generally, you have given yourself quite short days travelling (though Venice is a good bit further than Barcelona). And from experience I would try and avoid one-night stops.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,608
If you don’t want to do Paris - Barca in one go, which is easily doable (direct trains in 6h40), then I’d recommend going the Long way round. TGV to Bordeaux, day or two there to sample the Claret, then IC train to Narbonne, and change for Barcelona there.
 

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
8,890
Location
Airedale
If you don’t want to do Paris - Barca in one go, which is easily doable (direct trains in 6h40), then I’d recommend going the Long way round. TGV to Bordeaux, day or two there to sample the Claret, then IC train to Narbonne, and change for Barcelona there.
Or Paris-Toulouse - lovely old city centre - then via LaTour de Carol on regional trains to Barcelona (double checking the connections at LaTour!).
 

Porty

Member
Joined
31 Mar 2020
Messages
9
Location
Edinburgh
Since you're interested in the possibility of stopping off somewhere interesting between Paris and Venice, rather than taking the sleeper directly (as mentioned above), consider Turin. I've stopped off there to and from Italy a few times in recent years, not having done so before, and found it interesting. (And it's probably more "manageable" than the rather larger Milan, if you don't know either place to start with, and don't have a bit of Italian.) There are the direct Paris-Turin trains - via quite a scenic route, and the Turin-Venice connections are fast and frequent.

If you don't mind a change between Paris and the next destination, and between there and Venice, you might consider the Ligurian coast (the part running east from the French-Italian border). A train from Paris to the French Rivera, followed by a train along the coast into Italy, is in parts a very attractive journey - though it would take most of the day. Liguria (most parts at least) to Venice can be done with one change in Milan. If you're into cities, then Genoa is the main one in Liguria; but there are loads of nice smaller places along both the French and Italian coastlines there, where you can spend a pleasant day or two.

An alternative interesting option, between Paris and Venice, is southern Switzerland. There are direct trains Paris-Lausanne (and others with a change in Geneva); you can either stay in Lausanne (which is on Lake Geneva), or go a bit further east by hopping on a Swiss local train that goes towards Montreux and along the valley via Sion to Brig. It's an attractive area (and much of it is in areas of Switzerland where they speak French rather than German, if that's a factor in terms of language knowledge). From Lausanne (or indeed the main towns onwards from there in the Brig direction) there are some direct trains to take you on to Venice, and others where you change in Milan.

If you find booking a hotel in Venice rather pricey (and I hope you'll show solidarity with the remaining beleaguered residents of Venice by not using something like Airbnb, which is a factor in the depopulation of the city, turning it into a Disneyland rather than a real living city), then there are places a short train hop from Venice (en route from Milan or wherever), which are cheaper to stay in, and enable you to easily spend all day in Venice - I've done it staying at a hotel within sight of the station in Padua, which is just 20-odd minutes down the line. And Italian train prices - for a Brit - seem absurdly cheap!

Between Paris and Barcelona, there are some obvious places you could stop en route, like Avignon or Montpelier - I've spent pleasant times in both of them in years gone by. Friends recommend Nimes too, though I've never stopped there myself. NB, however, that some of those places in southern France don't make as convenient a stopover as they used to - they've built several "bypasses" so the TGVs don't have to slow down getting in and out of all the cities they call at, with the result that some trains stop at new out-of-town stations, quite a hike from where you want to be. Which means that in some cases, getting from Paris to X, or from X to Barcelona, requires either taking a slower train, or changing trains en route, if you want to avoid being dumped in the middle of nowhere. Yes - it's a bit silly, and plenty of the locals who live in those towns don't like it either.

Some of the places you might go to - as you probably know - require a change of stations, like London does. Paris, for example, and Milan too sometimes. But if they're places you're spending a day or two in anyway, rather than just changing trains en route, then of course that's not really a hassle.
I'd agree that Turin is a good place for a day or two stopover. Much more interesting place than Milan and is on the direct route. Genoa is also an interesting place with lots of history though "gritty" in parts. Adds a bit of distance and time but has the advantage of easy options to pootle along the coast to seaside resorts if that takes your fancy.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,608
I'd agree that Turin is a good place for a day or two stopover. Much more interesting place than Milan and is on the direct route. Genoa is also an interesting place with lots of history though "gritty" in parts. Adds a bit of distance and time but has the advantage of easy options to pootle along the coast to seaside resorts if that takes your fancy.
If you’re going that way on the coast, then it has to be Monte-Carlo!
 

Ploughman

Established Member
Joined
15 Jan 2010
Messages
2,474
Location
Near where the 3 ridings meet

peteb

Member
Joined
30 Mar 2011
Messages
116
If time's not critical try Paris to Cologne, stay overnight there then take the ICE train a out 0800 to Munich then a "proper loco hauled train" via Brenner Pass to arrive Venice early evening. Personally I would stay right in the centre of Venice: we rented a small flat from a local person near to the hospital. It was great wandering around in the evenings when all the day tourists had gone home. The sight of the boats in front of the station on arrival is something wonderful!
 

MarcVD

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2016
Messages
621
Turin or Nimes. Both places can easily justify a few days of visit. And in Turin, you get a nice tram network to explore too.
 

peteb

Member
Joined
30 Mar 2011
Messages
116
Nimes is good, and I've stayed at Beziers, historic and not very visited, has some reasonable hotels also. Coastal route from Perpignan via Port Bou is slow but scenic, but AVE type TGV alternative from Perpignan much faster.
 

61653 HTAFC

Veteran Member
Joined
18 Dec 2012
Messages
11,393
Location
Another planet...
Or Paris-Toulouse - lovely old city centre - then via LaTour de Carol on regional trains to Barcelona (double checking the connections at LaTour!).
I can also recommend this route, though I did it on the sleeper from Paris to LaTour. If you do it that way you will need to take plenty of food and drink with you as there's no catering on either train and very little going on at LaTour itself. However the views are spectacular on the highest sections of both the French and Spanish side. The sleeper does connect (with 40-90min between) into the Barcelona service, but only a few trains each day go all the way to LaTour: most on the line turn back at Vic or Ripoll, there was even one which turned back at Puigçerda (the penultimate stop before the border, and a much bigger place than LdC), a town which abuts directly over the border with the French town of Bourg-Madame which also has a station- this one on the Petit train jaune line towards Villefranche.
 

johnnychips

Established Member
Joined
19 Nov 2011
Messages
2,304
Location
Sheffield
Out of all these good suggestions, one that hasn’t come up, I don’t think, is Verona. Lovely city, about a hour or so from Venice. I would also give a vote to Genoa.
 

Peter Kelford

Member
Joined
29 Nov 2017
Messages
787
Talk in the Orange household has turned to a trip to either Barcelona or Venice by train, likely next summer or late spring. But we’re trying to figure out a route that takes in different cities on the way there and on the way back. So far we are at:
  • Manchester - London (1 night)
  • London - Paris (2 nights)
  • Paris - Destination 3 (2 nights)
  • Destination 3 - Barcelona or Venice (5 nights)
  • Barcelona or Venice - Destination 5 (2 nights)
  • Destination 5 - Paris (1 night)
  • Paris - London (1 night)
  • London - Manchester
Does anyone have any experience of doing a similar journey?

What cities make for the best routes to either Venice or Barcelona?

Any help or travel advice would be appreciated.

Thanks.
I would say that if you go the Venice then don't forget the Thello sleeper train.

Regarding Marseille, ignore the scare stories about crime (it is most prevalent in council housing estates at the periphery of town) but be wary of doing tourist things.
 

Ian99

Member
Joined
3 Dec 2009
Messages
155
Unless you have a particular desire to visit Paris both on the way and on the way back, I'd either:

For Venice, go London to Munich, changing in Brussels and Frankfurt. We went as a family group of 6 and managed to have our own compartment on 2 of the trains. Either then take the overnight train from Munich into Italy and then a short morning train to Venice. Or overnight in Munich and train direct to Venice (with optional stop for a 2 hour leg stretch in Innsbruck) Lunch on the train in the restaurant car. Sleeper train from Venice back to Paris. As has been said above, getting off the train in Venice and seeing the Grand Canal right in front the station is amazing. I'd stay in Venice as it's nicer in the evening when there are less tourists.

For Barcelona, I'd go afternoon train to Paris, night sleeper to La Tour de Carol, local train down to Barcelona (as described above). On the way back, probably direct to Marseilles then possibly Marseilles to Lille then to London.
 

urbophile

Member
Joined
8 Nov 2019
Messages
109
Location
Liverpool
Genoa is quite a diversion from a direct route to Venice; it would almost make sense to go there en route to Barcelona instead. But I would definitely recommend it. It has plenty of 'tourist interest' without being a tourist honeypot; it's gritty but real and well worth exploring. It has also got much of transport interest: its bizarre geography (it is almost vertical, away from the 1km or so coastal strip) means there are many funiculars and lifts (including an amazing one that runs in two dimensions), a very small Metrò system, and a historic narrow-gauge line up into the mountains. And excellent food.
 

BahrainLad

Member
Joined
3 Aug 2015
Messages
114
Surprised nobody has mentioned Lyon. It’s a great city, the food is superb (best in France), the wine excellent. There are some great markets and parks. A nice river running through the city.

TGV from Paris to Part-Dieu, spend a few days and then as a bonus you could pick up the AVE service straight to Barcelona (arguably a nicer ride than the TGV.)
 

AlbertBeale

Member
Joined
16 Jun 2019
Messages
735
Location
London
Genoa is quite a diversion from a direct route to Venice; it would almost make sense to go there en route to Barcelona instead. But I would definitely recommend it. It has plenty of 'tourist interest' without being a tourist honeypot; it's gritty but real and well worth exploring. It has also got much of transport interest: its bizarre geography (it is almost vertical, away from the 1km or so coastal strip) means there are many funiculars and lifts (including an amazing one that runs in two dimensions), a very small Metrò system, and a historic narrow-gauge line up into the mountains. And excellent food.
Genoa is indeed interesting - including for the funiculars etc mentioned. However, because it's all so incredibly hilly, rising up steeply from the coast, when I was there I wanted to do some of my meanderings by bus. But it turned out there was no map published of the bus services around the city - the tourist office seemed surprised anyone would ask for such a thing. So I moved on to my next destination a day early! (Yes - I know - London's now like that too. I have friends from abroad who are less interested in doing tourist stuff in London because they can't get around efficiently any longer, with no up-to-date bus maps.)
 

Peter Kelford

Member
Joined
29 Nov 2017
Messages
787
Surprised nobody has mentioned Lyon. It’s a great city, the food is superb (best in France), the wine excellent. There are some great markets and parks. A nice river running through the city.

TGV from Paris to Part-Dieu, spend a few days and then as a bonus you could pick up the AVE service straight to Barcelona (arguably a nicer ride than the TGV.)
Yes definitely. There is a place called the Rue des Marroniers just off Bellecour (on the Rhône side) which is full of good restaurants where you can get a fast and appetising dinner for about 20 euros as the going rate. Or indeed if you stay elsewhere, look for the 'Bouchon Labellisé' sign - A cartoon of a man with top hat if I remember correctly.
 

urbophile

Member
Joined
8 Nov 2019
Messages
109
Location
Liverpool
Genoa is indeed interesting - including for the funiculars etc mentioned. However, because it's all so incredibly hilly, rising up steeply from the coast, when I was there I wanted to do some of my meanderings by bus. But it turned out there was no map published of the bus services around the city - the tourist office seemed surprised anyone would ask for such a thing. So I moved on to my next destination a day early! (Yes - I know - London's now like that too. I have friends from abroad who are less interested in doing tourist stuff in London because they can't get around efficiently any longer, with no up-to-date bus maps.)
I'm fairly sure there is a bus map online. But you might be right that there is no printed one generally available. The best route is the 36: takes you from Principe station in the west to Brignole in the east via the suburban heights (Circonvalmonte): if you sit on the right hand side you get a splendid view of the harbour as well as the rooftops of apartment blocks... many of which have their main entrance on the top floor!
 

Purple Orange

Member
Joined
26 Dec 2019
Messages
531
Location
Wilmslow
Surprised nobody has mentioned Lyon. It’s a great city, the food is superb (best in France), the wine excellent. There are some great markets and parks. A nice river running through the city.

TGV from Paris to Part-Dieu, spend a few days and then as a bonus you could pick up the AVE service straight to Barcelona (arguably a nicer ride than the TGV.)
Yes, Lyon does seem a good option. Especially given that t is principally sticking to the TGV route.
 

Ian99

Member
Joined
3 Dec 2009
Messages
155
Lyon is good but if the OP is going to be doing variations of this trip in future years then Lyon is even better when accessed direct via the London to Marseilles Eurostar - but that's not running this year or next sadly.
 

LNW-GW Joint

Veteran Member
Joined
22 Feb 2011
Messages
14,246
Location
Mold, Clwyd
I'm fairly sure there is a bus map online. But you might be right that there is no printed one generally available. The best route is the 36: takes you from Principe station in the west to Brignole in the east via the suburban heights (Circonvalmonte): if you sit on the right hand side you get a splendid view of the harbour as well as the rooftops of apartment blocks... many of which have their main entrance on the top floor!
This might fit the bill:
It is laid out as though it is a folded leaflet.

As ever in Italy it's over-complex and not very visitor-friendly.
General summary in English here:
 

BahrainLad

Member
Joined
3 Aug 2015
Messages
114
Yes definitely. There is a place called the Rue des Marroniers just off Bellecour (on the Rhône side) which is full of good restaurants where you can get a fast and appetising dinner for about 20 euros as the going rate. Or indeed if you stay elsewhere, look for the 'Bouchon Labellisé' sign - A cartoon of a man with top hat if I remember correctly.
Yes and also Brasserie Georges just by Perrache station, a fantastic brasserie, better than the big equivalents in Paris (e.g. Coupole) and an excellent place for a weary traveller to get an evening meal after arrival.
 

AlbertBeale

Member
Joined
16 Jun 2019
Messages
735
Location
London
This might fit the bill:
It is laid out as though it is a folded leaflet.

As ever in Italy it's over-complex and not very visitor-friendly.
General summary in English here:
Thanks so much. Yes, that on-line bus map isn't easy to follow; if there were a properly printed one it would help!

But this is better than I could find when I was last there ... so I might even stop off for a night or two after all, next time I'm in the area!
 

Peter Kelford

Member
Joined
29 Nov 2017
Messages
787
Yes and also Brasserie Georges just by Perrache station, a fantastic brasserie, better than the big equivalents in Paris (e.g. Coupole) and an excellent place for a weary traveller to get an evening meal after arrival.
Yes, definitely. I can also attest to Terminus Nord opposite the Gare du Nord not being a tourist trap.
 

BahrainLad

Member
Joined
3 Aug 2015
Messages
114
Yes, definitely. I can also attest to Terminus Nord opposite the Gare du Nord not being a tourist trap.
have spent many a happy afternoon/evening in there before/after heading up to Stade de France to watch England play. I think it’s part of the Flo group?
 

Top