a VirtualTourist member
We are arriving at Malpensa Airport in Milan and need to catch a train to Santa Margherita. Should we buy train tickets online before we leave home? Does anyone have any other tips for our trip?
first take the bus to Milano Centrale (the train from Malpensa does not go to 'Centrale'), then a train to Santa Margherita Ligure
Look at the URL that cgf gave you and note that there aren't that many direct trains from Milan Centrale to Santa Margherita Ligure...and I am guessing that with luggage from an international(?) flight that not changing trains is a good thing.
There is early on (7:30 or so) a regional direct train; no reservations are even possible on this train - you buy the ticket and get on. But I am guessing that you won't make this one. The other direct trains are IC (InterCity) trains. These trains are reservation only, but they will sell you a ticket at the last minute if there are seats (usually the case).
The usual thing to do would be what cgf and Pedro suggest...just see when you arrive at Milano Centrale (because with long distance flights, you never know), and buy a ticket on the next direct train, if the wait's not too long. Worst case, there are a number of solutions with changes (usually in Genova but maybe Rapallo) so you won't get trapped in Milano...the amount of money that you might save buying the IC tickets weeks in advance won't be worth the risk you will be taking that you won't make that train, so don't bother...buy on site...
yes, in the worst case you can also take a train from Milan to Genoa (there are quite often) and then to Santa Margerita.