How To Get To Italy Without Flying

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In current times, plane travel is by far the fastest and most economical means of travel between countries.

Due to “flight shaming” because of climate concerns, an increasing number of people are opting to travel by means other than the air. Whether traveling from the US or the UK, there are several ways in which it is possible to travel to Italy without flying. 

If traveling from the US, the best way to travel to Italy is first a transatlantic crossing by ship. Once in Europe, it is then possible to make your way to Italy by train, car, or bus.

If traveling from the UK, the best way to get to Italy would be to make use of the train systems within Europe.

While flying is generally the most convenient option, there are still other options to get to Italy. Some of these are more enjoyable than others, and some are more expensive than others, so it is important to understand your reasons for wanting to travel without flying, and understand that this will most likely cost more (in terms of time as well as money).

Transatlantic Crossing By Cruise Liner

In order to travel from the US to Italy, one first has to cross the Atlantic Ocean into Europe. From the US, there are limited options in terms of transatlantic crossings by cruise liner. 

Cruise liner travel is often considered to be a controversial means of travel, and while it may seem that you are creating less of a carbon footprint through travelling by ship, the long-term ramifications of the cruise ship industry have shown it to be a wasteful and environmentally harmful industry which may indeed leave a larger carbon footprint.

New York City is one of the few US cities from which transatlantic cruises are possible, and so this presents a good option for traveling to Europe from the US without the need for an airplane.

One of the best options to travel from New York City to Europe is the Cunard transatlantic cruise which takes you to Hamburg, Germany. 

There is a stopover in Southampton, UK, but in order to get to Italy, it would be best to remain on the ship until reaching Germany. This will make it easier for you to get to Italy once in Europe. If you do decide to disembark in the UK, however, there are still numerous options to get to Italy from here.

The Cunard transatlantic cruise takes approximately 9 days including the stop in Southampton, UK, and costs around $1000 per person. The cruise includes meals as well as onboard entertainment, so this can be seen as a holiday itself, and you certainly don’t have to worry about issues such as legroom and so forth.

Traveling by sea is certainly not something that everybody will enjoy, and the journey across the Atlantic Ocean without the opportunity to stop over at any seaside towns can make the journey somewhat more arduous.

This is, however, the best option to cross from the US to Europe without flying.

Transatlantic Crossing By Freighter

There is an alternative, somewhat unconventional option to crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the US to the UK. This involves traveling on a freighter.

This indeed refers to the large commercial ships that carry containers across the ocean.

Freighters have limited options for carrying outside passengers, and are only able to carry between 2 and 12 passengers at a time. There are certain restrictions when it comes to traveling on a freighter. 

Children below the age of 14 are most often not permitted to travel on a freighter, and passengers over the age of 65 are subject to certain restrictions with this type of travel. 

This is due to the fact that freighters do not always have elevators, and the environment is simply not suited to any individuals who are not fully abled in terms of their physical functionality.

For anybody seeking relaxation and complete alone time, while also learning about the transport industry and life on the sea, this presents a good option. 

This traveling option is not for the faint of heart, and due to the lack of onboard entertainment, might become extremely boring.

Options are limited in terms of booking passage on a freighter, and the booking process can be unnecessarily complicated with very little information available. 

Most travel agents do not specialize in these types of bookings and so it can be difficult to find information, as well as potential bookings. One example of a transatlantic freighter cruise is the Maris Transatlantic Cruise which departs from New Orleans port approximately every 6 weeks.

This cruise reaches Le Havre, France, on day 16, and continues to Antwerp, Belgium (day 17); Rotterdam, Holland (day 19); and Bremerhaven, Germany (day 22). This means that there are numerous options to get to Italy once you have arrived in Europe, depending on which parts of Europe you would prefer to see.

Pros & Cons of Transatlantic Crossing by Sea

While some may have thought that the carbon footprint of traveling by ship would be less than that of traveling by plane, the opposite is in fact true. In fact, the CO2 emissions of traveling by ship are almost double that of traveling by plane. In addition to this, airline travel is cheaper and far less time-consuming than traveling by ship.

Time is a major factor in travelling by ship, as can be seen by the above. The 9 day transatlantic cruise on a cruise liner costs around $1000 per person with around 4.6 Tonnes CO2 as your carbon footprint.

The 16 day cruise on board a freighter, by comparison, costs around $2300 per person, with a carbon footprint of around 8.2 Tonnes CO2.

By comparison, a flight from New York City to Rome would take around 11 hours, would cost around $800, and would leave a carbon footprint of around 0.97 Tonnes CO2.

With this information in mind, it is possible to come to an informed decision as to whether it is worth your time and money, as well as the effects on the environment, to travel from the US to Europe without flying.

Bear in mind the fact that the above planning is for a one-way trip, and the logistics involved in planning a return trip become exponentially more difficult. 

It is also important to bear in mind that once you have arrived in Europe by ship, you will still have to make your way to Italy using one or more methods of transport, increasing the cost of travel further.

Traveling To Italy From The UK Without Flying

Whether you have arrived in the UK after traveling from the US on a ship, or you are simply resident in the UK and would like to travel to Italy via alternative transport methods, there are several options available to you.

The most economical, efficient and arguably most enjoyable means of travel to Italy from the UK (other than flying) would be to travel by train.

There are numerous routes available from the UK to Italy by train. Some of these are quick and direct, while others are more scenic and leisurely. Whichever option you choose, you will be assured of incredible scenery throughout your journey.

Depending on how much time you have available, you will be able to spend some time in each of the cities through which you might pass during your journey.

This will allow you to really experience and enjoy your time in Europe while experiencing a multitude of cultures.

The first leg of your trip from the UK to Italy will be the journey from London to Paris. This involves taking a Eurostar train which travels under the channel to Paris. This journey takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, and departs from St. Pancras International.

Once in Paris, you will have to change stations before embarking on the second leg of the journey. There are trains which travel directly from Paris to Italy, while there are other options which travel through Switzerland before arriving in Italy.

Option 1

This involves the Eurostar and the TGV high-speed train, and it is the cheapest, easiest and quickest option. The first leg involves taking the 09:22 Eurostar from London to Paris (or the 08:31 if you’d like more time for lunch in Paris).

Next, you can take the 14:43 high-speed TGV from Paris to Turin or Milan. You can stay overnight in either of these incredible cities before continuing your journey to Verona, Florence, Venice, Rome, or Naples via the Italian high-speed train.

Alternatively, you can take the evening Eurostar train from London to Paris and stay the night here before leaving for Turin or Milan in the morning on the TGV high-speed train to the Italian city of your choosing.

Option 2

This option makes use of the Eurostar and the day trains, traveling via the Swiss Alps. This is a slightly more expensive option than the previous one, but it will allow you to enjoy some incredible views of the lakes across Switzerland and Italy.

This trip makes use of the afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris before an evening high-speed TGV to Geneva, Basel or Zurich. An overnight stay is mandatory before boarding the ETR610 EuroCity train to Milan which travels through the Swiss Alps.

Next, the suggestion would be to change trains in Milan to a high-speed Italian train to your preferred Italian city such as Florence, Rome, Naples or Bologna, for example.

Option 3

This option is the most scenic of the available choices, albeit slower. If you are not in a hurry and you are prepared to put in the extra preparation required, this option is definitely worth the extra effort. 

This route involves an afternoon Eurostar train and an evening TGV from London to Zurich before enjoying an overnight stay in Zurich. 

The following morning, the best option is to take a Swiss InterCity train to Chur before boarding the Bernina Express to Tirano. This train travels through incredible scenery of the Swiss Alps. There is a regional Italian train which will then take you from Tirano to Milan and onwards to whichever city you choose next.

Flight Shaming & Challenges With Flying Alternatives

There has been an increasing trend in recent times towards flight shaming. This refers to the act of making people feel guilty for taking flights due to the large carbon footprint and resultant environmental impact of flying as a means of transport.  

It is important for people to realize that the idea of calculating your carbon footprint for traveling is a complicated process which takes numerous factors into account. 

It is difficult to accurately represent the actual carbon footprint created through travel because most carbon calculators take into account your daily activities including food consumption over time.

As noble as the intentions are behind using flying alternatives, this also has the ability to limit who is able to travel. Large distances can make traveling without a plane extremely challenging, and travel without a plane is far easier to achieve in areas like Europe which have more highly populated areas, smaller distances and established infrastructure across the entire continent.

In some areas, travel without plane is almost impossible. Certain areas simply do not have reliable public transport options, and the only way to gain access to these areas is by flying.

Flight shaming, as has been shown, is not necessarily the answer to helping people to reduce their carbon footprint. 

The attention should perhaps be directed instead to the airlines to reduce their own carbon footprint through employing more sustainable practices and a push towards alternative technology which employs sustainable fuel sources.


While the options of getting to Italy from the US are limited if you are opting not to get on a plane, there are numerous options available to you once you have set foot in Europe or the UK.

While trains are economical and allow you to enjoy the scenery, you always have the option of simply renting a car and taking your time to travel from country to country before reaching Italy.

1 thought on “How To Get To Italy Without Flying”

  1. The Eurostar is no good to me because i am very claustrophobic and cannot fly or enter a tunnel.I used to go to italy via ferry to calais then drive through france etc.If you know of any alternative routes please could you notify me.Many thanks and kind regards Karen Moretto.


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