Planning a trip to Milan soon? Perhaps you’ve visited before and are looking for some new things to see that are just beyond this splendid city.
In any case, you’ve come to the right place! Milan is an excellent base for visiting other cities near and far, either with a guided tour or on your own. Lake Como, Venice, Cinque Terre, and Portofino are just some examples of places that you can visit on a day trip from Milan.
One of the things I love the most about living in Europe is the ease of travel between cities and even other countries. You can drive just over one hour from Milan and be in Lugano, Switzerland! Keep reading to discover our top picks for Milan day trips, as well as some tips and tricks to make your day trip go as smoothly as possible.
Travel in comfort by coach bus to the cliff-side villages of Monterosso, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Riomaggiore. Then, hop on a boat and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes as you make your way from one village to the next. This tour includes plenty of free time to explore Monterosso and Manarola, as well as a scenic train trip between the two towns.
This full-day tour by luxury bus takes you to some of the most stunning scenery in Italy. You’ll have a chance to admire the three branches of Lake Como, each with its own unique landscape. Stop in the town of Como for a walking tour of the city center and a visit to the neoclassical Villa Olmo and its beautiful Italian garden. Then take a relaxing cruise on the lake by private boat and enjoy the spectacular views.
Experience the best of the Italian Riviera with this full-day Genoa and Portofino day trip from Milan! Your knowledgeable guide will take you on a two-hour walking tour of Genoa, where you’ll learn about the city’s rich history. Then, it’s off to Portofino for some free time to explore this picturesque seaside town at your own pace.
Best Day Trips from Milan, Italy
Milan is a great place to be based during your visit to Northern Italy. So many beautiful towns with cobbled streets are easily accessible by short drives or train rides from Milan. Here are our top picks for Milan day trips!
1. Cinque Terre
Distance from Milan: 139 miles
I have to start off this list with one of my personal favorite day trips from Milan, the lovely Cinque Terre. It’s a collection of five colorful coastal villages located along the Mediterranean. All the villages together make up the Cinque Terre National Park.
To travel between the colorful villages, you can either take a short train ride or follow the coastal path that connects the villages. Be sure to check on the status of the paths before you visit, as they can sometimes be closed due to erosion or storms. Otherwise, the train ride is less than five minutes between each village.
I recommend starting your visit off at the quaint fishing village of Riomaggiore. Walk down to the port to see traditional fishing boats and enjoy some gelato. For lunch, you must go to Nessun Dorma in Manarola, the next town over. The mouthwatering fresh bruschetta is worth the wait.
You can walk off your bruschetta and gelato at the next village, Corniglia. There are quite a few flights of stairs to get up to the town from the train station, so make sure to pack some good walking shoes. It’s the only one of the five villages that are not on the water, but the views are breathtaking.
Make a short stop in the picturesque town of Vernazza to admire the Castello di Vernazza before heading down to Monterosso al Mare, my favorite of the Cinque Terre. Here, you will find beach chairs and umbrellas to rent while being mesmerized by the clear, blue Mediterranean Sea.
How to get there
- Drive: Driving will take you approximately two and a half hours each way. If you’re visiting between June and August, give yourself an extra hour, as traffic can be heavy and unpredictable.
- Train: The high-speed Frecciabianca trains, as well as regional intercity trains, depart from Milano Centrale (Milan Central Station) to La Spezia, and some continue on into the five villages. There are over 30 trains departing Milan to La Spezia each day, and the journey takes about three hours each way.
2. Lake Como
Distance from Milan: 52 miles
Lake Como rose in popularity after George Clooney purchased his Italian villa overlooking the beautiful waters of this lake. It’s the third biggest lake in Italy and one of the most beautiful Italian lakes I’ve ever seen.
Como town is more city-like than the rest of the smaller villages that surround the lake, but it’s a great place to park if you opt for driving. Once in Como, take the ferry to the smaller, more adorable lakeside towns of Varenna and Bellagio. These are two of the most beautiful towns on Lake Como.
Bellagio is known for its beautiful cobblestone walkways pictured above. It’s a great place to slow down and take in the stunning scenery. If you opt to visit Varenna, check out Villa Monastero, a Roman villa known for its fantastic architecture, beautiful gardens, and long history.
Something everyone must do when visiting Lake Como is to take a boat ride around the lake. Of course, the cheapest option is just taking the ferry, which starts at just six euros. The next option would be to rent a small motor boat and drive yourself around the lake.
If you’re looking to splurge, taking a private ride on a luxurious wooden boat would make an incredible and unforgettable memory. Not to mention, it would be the most romantic experience for you and your partner to have while in Lake Como.
How to Get There
- Drive: Lake Como is one of the best road trips from Milan because it’s less than two hours away. I recommend parking in Como town for the most parking options, but if you’re short on time, Bellagio isn’t that far from Milan either.
- Train: The train from Milan to Lake Como is only five euros, so it’s one of the best day trips from Milan by train when it comes to affordability. You can take a direct train from Milan Porta Garibaldi or Milan Nord Cardona train stations, and it takes just one hour.
See Related: How Much is a Trip to Italy: Average Cost Per Day
Distance from Milan: 109 miles
The colorful coastal village of Portofino may seem unassuming and quaint, but it’s actually one of the most bougie places I’ve ever visited. The town and surrounding waters have become a playground for the rich and famous, so you’ll see lavish villas and stunning super yachts.
It’s one of my favorite day trips from Milan in spring because it’s not too crowded, and the weather is just starting to warm up. I recommend getting to Portofino an hour or two before lunch, so you have time to explore. It’s so interesting to see the juxtaposition between the old buildings and the luxury stores that inhabit them.
You’ll find brands like Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Salvatore Ferragamo, all with a significant presence here. I also noticed many of the Italian visitors were decked out in designer items from head to toe, even the kids! So if you want to fit in, break out your best designer ‘fits.
I also recommend making reservations in advance at restaurants if you want a seat outside. The first three restaurants we visited did not have any open tables for the next three hours, but we ended up at Ristorante Delfino right before they filled up and were super happy with that! Their seafood pasta is exquisite, and the views are pretty unbeatable.
If you don’t feel like making the drive on your own, check out this full-day tour from Milan. It’s one of the best coastal day tours from Milan as it will take you to two amazing coastal towns with different vibes, Portofino and Genoa.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive between Milan and Portofino takes less than two and a half hours. There’s a large parking garage in Portofino, but it can fill up quickly, especially around lunchtime. However, many choose to park in Santa Margherita Ligure or Paraggi and walk along the coast to Portofino. The walk is super scenic but can take up to one hour, depending on where you park.
- Train: There is no direct train between Milan and Portofino. If you want to take a train, you’d have to transfer to a local train in the town of Rapallo, then take a bus or walk from Santa Margherita Ligure into Portofino. This will take between three and four hours, depending on if you choose to walk or take the bus.
See Related: Best Travel Books for Italy
4. Lake Garda
Distance from Milan: 82.6 miles
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and boasts jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Dolomites, also known as the Italian alps. There are several lovely towns to visit that surround the lake, so there’s no shortage of things to do and places to see.
Although the town of Garda is the namesake of the lake, I suggest skipping it and opting to visit a few other small towns instead. My first recommendation is Peschiera del Garda, which is one of the closest towns to Milan that sits on the shores of Lake Garda.
Peschiera del Garda is one of the most beautiful cities that you’ll find in the area, and it’s filled with great shopping and restaurants. Take a walk through its old town and admire the old fortified walls. Nearby, you’ll find several amusement parks and a water park with views of Lake Garda.
Another beautiful town to visit on Lake Garda is Malcesine, pictured above. It’s on the official list of the most beautiful villages and small towns in Italy and is definitely worth the drive. The village is picturesque and reminiscent of an old fairytale town.
In most cities along the lake, you’ll find a multitude of water sports offered, like water skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and sailing.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive from Milan to Peschiera del Garda takes about one hour and 45 minutes. If you continue along the lake, you’ll get to Garda in 30 minutes. From Garda, continue to drive along the lake, and you’ll be at Malcesine in another 40 minutes.
- Train: There are no direct trains between Milan and the town of Garda. There is, however, a direct train from Milano Centrale to Peschiera del Garda, which takes approximately 1.5 hours. This train is frequent and occurs every half an hour.
See Related: Italy vs. Greece: What’s the Difference?
Distance from Milan: 31.6 miles
Located just a stone’s throw away from Milan, Bergamo should be added to your list of best day trips from Milan for its amazing architecture and long history. The Venetian walls of the old town center have even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017.
The city’s old upper district, also known as Città Alta, should be your first stop in Bergamo. It’s accessible via a funicular train, making it a fun experience for the whole family. Once you get to the upper district, you’ll be mesmerized by the ancient walls that surround the city.
Throughout the city, you can find some of the most magnificent castles, including Castello Colleoni di Solza, Pagazzano Castle, Urgnano Castle, and Malpaga Castle.
If you get hungry while exploring medieval architecture, check out Trattoria Parietti. The restaurant offers traditional Italian food and wonderful house wine. I recommend the gnocchi and tiramisu. It’s located not far from the Città Alta district and is worth the bit of a walk.
How to Get There
- Drive: Bergamo is located just north of Milan, and the drive between the two cities takes just over one hour. However, I’d say that taking the train is more convenient in this case.
- Train: Trains from Milan to Bergamo often depart about every 20 minutes. You can find trains that depart to Bergamo at Milano Centrale and Milano Porto Garibaldi, so it’s best to find which of these two main train stations is closest to you. The train ride takes an hour both ways.
See Related: Top Reasons to Travel to Italy
Distance from Milan: 133.5 miles
If you’re looking to visit an ancient university town with stunning architecture and rich history, I recommend checking out Bologna. The juxtaposition between the medieval buildings and the young, lively population is amazing and shows just how much these ancient cities have adapted over the years.
The main landmark in Bologna is the Basilica di San Petronio, which first opened in the year 1390. It’s just a one-minute walk from Piazza Maggiore, which is the main square in the town with a lot of interesting museums, great shopping, and interesting sites built during the middle ages.
Don’t miss your opportunity to eat some delicious tortellini in the town where the Italian delicacy was born. Check out Paolo Atti e Figli for a wide variety of freshly-made tortellini as well as some yummy arancini and desserts.
Take it a step further and go on a whole Bologna Food Experience, where you can tour a Parmigiano Reggiano factory and participate in a wine tasting of some amazing local wines.
How to get there
- Drive: Driving from Milan to Bergamo takes approximately 2.5 hours. You’ll be on the A1/E35 most of the way, which is a fantastic drive through the Italian countryside.
- Train: Both Italo and Trenitalia offer direct, high-speed trains. The direct train leaves from Milano Centrale and arrives at Bologna Centrale in one hour, less than half the time it would take you to drive there. For this reason, the train is preferable to maximize your time enjoying the medieval streets of Bologna.
See Related: Best Car Museums in Italy
Distance from Milan: 49 miles
One of my favorite parts about living in Europe is the ease of travel between different countries. This day trip takes you to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the beautiful town of Lugano. Make sure to keep your passport handy, as checks are often done at the Italy-Switzerland border.
Nestled within the Italian and Swiss alps, Lugano is a lovely town on the gorgeous Lake Lugano. The main language spoken here is Swiss Italian, which is just a bit different from standard Italian. Throughout the town, you will notice the heavy influence Italian culture has had, particularly in the food and the architecture.
In Lugano, visitors can enjoy high-end shopping, walks along the lake, art galleries, and Monte San Salvatore. I recommend this three-hour Lugano tour that includes a knowledgeable local guide and round-trip tickets for the funicular train that goes up Monte San Salvatore to enjoy some fantastic views.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive takes approximately 1.5 hours. Make sure to have your passport ready at the Italian-Switzerland border.
- Train: Trains leave from Milano Centrale every half hour to Lugano and takes just over an hour. Make sure you are heading towards Locarno or Chiasso.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Ravello, Italy
Distance from Milan: 165.8 miles
Oh, Venice. There really isn’t any other place like it, is there? While I’d usually recommend making Venice a trip on its own, you can certainly make it a fantastic day trip from Milan if you’re strapped for time.
The main landmarks of Venice are San Marco Square, Doges’s Palace, the Grand Canal, and Rialto Bridge. The Il Fenice Opera House is also an amazing site to see and is regarded as one of the most famous landmarks in the history of Italian theater. You can certainly see all of these within a few hours and even splurge for a gondola ride afterward.
A guided walking tour can also be a good idea in Venice in order to maximize your time while experiencing the best that Venice has to offer. This guided tour is a great option and includes tickets for Doge’s Palace and the balcony of St. Mark’s Basilica.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive from Milan to Venice takes approximately three hours. I wouldn’t recommend this as the train is much faster and cheaper.
- Train: The Trenitalia’s Frecciarosa high-speed train can get you from Milan to Venice in just two hours. It’s highly recommended over driving so you can make the most of your time in both cities.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Italy
9. Lake Maggiore
Distance from Milan: 56 miles
Lake Maggiore is another fabulous place that is easily accessible from Milan to make for a great day trip. It’s the second largest lake in Italy and extends through Switzerland as well. It’s best known for the breathtaking Borromean Islands, pictured above, located near the western shore.
Verbania is the largest town on Lake Maggiore and the most populated. Therefore, it offers visitors a lot to see and do. Don’t miss the lovely Villa Taranto botanical garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in the area. Verbania also offers a large ferry port, so you have plenty of options to explore the smaller towns that surround the lake.
Arona is another lovely lakeside town to visit and is just one hour away from Milan. This charming town is a fraction of the size of Verbania but still offers beautiful piazzas and a wonderful lakeside promenade.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive is pretty straightforward. It takes 1.5 hours (to Verbania) as you head northwest from Milan towards Lake Maggiore.
- Train: You can take regional trains from Milan to Verbania on Lake Maggiore, but you’ll have to transfer trains at either Sesto Calende or Novara. You will have to transfer once more at Arona, or you can stop your journey here.
Distance from Milan: 91.2 miles
If you’re looking for a great mix of fabulous Italian architecture, world history, and a stunning location, you must check out the city of Genoa. As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, the city holds on to its seafaring roots as one of the largest port cities in Europe.
The top things to see in Genoa are all located within the city center. Major landmarks include the Royal Palace Museum, Piazza de Ferrari, Via Garibaldi, and Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. Be sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear to explore the cathedral, which was built in the 10th century and features breathtaking frescoed walls.
The Liguria region is known for having some of the best food in Italy, so what better way to experience this than going on a food tour of Genoa. On this organized tour, you’ll try the best food that Liguria has to offer, including pesto, fried squid, and focaccia.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive to Genoa is just two hours from Milan. However, if you plan to visit in the summer months, allow yourself more time (I’d recommend an hour to be safe), as traffic can be slow and unpredictable.
- Train: Trenitalia offers several direct trains throughout the day between Milan and Genoa. The train journey takes just under two hours.
See Related: Best Pompeii Tours from Naples, Italy
Distance from Milan: 99.2 miles
We’ve all heard the story of Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers who met the ultimate fate in their quest to be together. The story takes place in Verona, but it’s not the only reason you should take a day trip here.
The entire ancient city is actually considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gained its UNESCO World Heritage status in 2000 due to the city’s architecture, which showcases features from various time periods.
Some major landmarks not to miss in Verona include its Roman arena, Piazza delle Erbe, the Castelvecchio Museum, and, of course, Juliet’s balcony. Verona is also known for its impressive arch bridges, which also should not be missed.
It’s one of the best day trips from Milan in November, as you’ll miss the crowds, and it’s not necessarily a place that needs to be visited in the high season.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive to Verona takes just under two hours. It is fairly easy to add a stop at Lake Garda on your journey as well.
- Train: Multiple daily high-speed trains (the Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains) leave from Milan direct to Verona and get there in an hour and 20 minutes.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Rome, Italy
Distance from Milan: 89.8 miles
Located in the Piedmont region of Italy, Turin is known as a large business hub that offers interesting architecture and amazing food. It is the capital of the region and also a large university town.
One of the most well-known views of Turin is the spire of the Mole Antonelliana, which was built in the 1800s and now houses the National Cinema Museum. Take a stroll through the city’s many piazzas to take in Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-classical architecture that is featured throughout the city.
Other popular places to visit in Turin include the Egyptian Museum, La Venaria Reale, Palazzo Madama, Basilica of Superga, and the Royal Palace of Turin. If you visit in the winter months, you’ll get treated to seeing the surrounding alps covered in snow.
How to Get There
- Drive: The drive between Milan and Turin takes just under two hours and is mostly on the A4 highway.
- Train: Italo and Trenitalia offer multiple daily trains between the two cities. Italo is a bit of a faster train and takes only 45 minutes, whereas Trenitalia takes about one hour. Both are a better option than driving, in my opinion.
See Related: Italy the Way You Want It – On the Island of Procida
Distance from Milan: 57.4 miles
The lovely small city of Brescia is located just east of Milan and is known for being a significant gastronomic province. It is the main source of Italian caviar and also produces sparkling wine.
It’s the halfway point between Milan and Venice, so it makes a great stop if you plan to road trip throughout the country. Top attractions in the city include the Santa Giulia Museum, the Castle of Brescia, and the Piazza della Loggia. I also recommend checking out the Capitolium o Tempio Capitolino, which is an area filled with ancient ruins dating back to the Roman Empire.
If you have time, I highly recommend taking a private walking tour of the city. There are so many landmarks within the city that date back to the Roman Empire, and a knowledgeable, local guide would be the best person to teach you about them all.
How to Get There
- Drive: Brescia is just over an hour’s drive away from Milan and makes a great stopping point if you’re traveling to Verona or Venice.
- Train: Italo offers trains every thirty minutes from Milan to Brescia. The train is just 36 minutes, making it a very easy day trip.
See Related: Discover Italy’s Hidden Beach in Polignano a Mare
14. Certosa di Pavia
Distance from Milan: 19.7 miles
Less than 20 miles south of Milan’s city center, you’ll find Certosa di Pavia, one of the largest monasteries in all of Italy. It was first built in 1396 as a family mausoleum for the First Duke of Milan, but its construction was not complete until 1507.
The complex is massive and includes several gardens, a pharmacy, two sets of cloisters, and rooms for monks. Today, you can still visit the pharmacy and purchase some lovely herbal teas.
The main attraction of the monastery is the main church, found in the center of the area. At the front of the church, you’ll see intricate carvings and reliefs etched in during the gothic period. On the interior, you’ll find marvelous frescoes that will make you wonder how they managed to last for all these centuries.
How to Get There
- Drive: Driving to Certosa di Pavia takes just under one hour, and it’s just south of Milan’s city center. If you’re staying a bit outside of the city, it will probably take you closer to 45 minutes.
- Train: You can find a train from Milano Centrale going towards Certosa di Pavia departing every 10 to 15 minutes. The train also takes just under an hour with all the stops.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Bolzano, Italy
15. Bernina Express
Distance from Milan: 98.8 miles
In the case of the Bernina Express, the journey is certainly more important than the destination. The iconic red train travels between Tirano, Italy, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, and offers passengers an amazing panoramic view of the stunning alpine scenery from the train’s oversized windows.
The train itself is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its stunning railway. The train ride is approximately 2.5 hours, going from Tirano to its final destination, St. Moritz. Once in St. Moritz, take some time to explore the chic resort town.
I recommend this Bernina Express package, which includes transportation from Milan to Tirano and also from St. Moritz back to Milan. Otherwise, you’ll have to get to the small town of Tirano before boarding the train and find your way back to Milan from St. Moritz.
Taking a ride on the Bernina Express is one of the best day trips from Milan in winter; seeing the snow-covered alps is such a magical experience.
How to Get There
- Drive: Driving from Milan to Tirano takes just over two hours. However, you’ll have to leave your car in Tirano as you take the Bernina express. For this reason, I recommend booking the package above.
- Train: Trenord offers a direct train between Milan and Tirano. The train ride takes approximately 2.5 hours.
See Related: Best Wine Regions in Italy
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How many days in Milan is enough?
Two to three days is more than enough to visit all the main attractions in the elegant city of Milan. From there, you can take day trips from Milan to several popular places in Northern Italy, and Switzerland listed above. My top recommendations are Cinque Terre and Lake Como.
Do I need travel insurance in Milan?
While not required, having travel insurance, especially while traveling overseas, is always a good idea. We recommend World Nomads because they offer multiple types of plans, so you can find one that fits you and your travel style.
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