Collect moments, not things
While any day is an enjoyable day in Italy’s fashion capital, day trip from Milan will lead you to adventures exploring captivating medieval cities, cultural gems and simple, beautiful lakeside towns where moments are frozen in time.
With high-end shopping galleries, finest architectural and artistic masterpieces, and a myriad of winding streets, Milan offers so many things to do for a visitor on any given day. If you can build into your itinerary a day or two to venture out of the city on a day trip, to experience something different, exploring the hidden cultural gems of medieval cities, castles and lakeside towns, then selecting from this best 10 day trip from Milan will be a great starting point to a perfect itinerary.
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1 | Lake Como – Day trip from Milan
Lake Como, Italy by Carlo Restuccia – Pexels
Spend a day at Lake Como, Italy’s third largest lake and only a stone’s throw from the city of Milan. In under an hour in what is a seamless train journey, you will experience the most beautiful of the northern Italian lakes. The natural beauty of its settings, steep wooded shoreline and pristine aquamarine waters has been the playground for the aristocrats and wealthy since Roman times.
What to do in Lake Como:
Enjoy a luxurious cruise around its waters and take in the sights of beautiful villas and stunning alpine scenery. Combine this lake visit with a tour of the larger town of Como, located in the southern tip of the lake. Spend at least a couple of hours exploring the hidden gems of Como city, notably the neoclassical building of Villa Olmo, Como Cathedral and Piazza Duomo. Don’t forget to ride the historical Brunate Funicular, operating since 1894. It connects Como city with the village of Brunate. A 7-minute ride up gives you panoramic views over the lakes and the Swiss Alps.
Along with the stunning landscapes and medieval villages, Lake Como has been Italy’s silk capital since the 16th century. World famous, Como is home to Mantero, just 15 minutes drive from Como city centre. If you can’t get to Mantero, then stop by at A.Picci, trading since 1919 and is the last remaining silk shop in town, dedicated to selling Como silk.
A day trip to Como typically involve a visit to the smaller town of Varenna and hopping onto a ferry to Bellagio. All three offering different landscapes to the lake.
When to go:
The best time for visiting Lake Como is between March and November. The warm temperature allows you to enjoy boat tours and walks.
How to get to Lake Como: If you are exploring on your own, I would highly recommend a train journey from Milan Central Station. The average travel time between Milan and Como is 48 minutes. The quickest route is 37 minutes. There are about 58 direct trains connecting Milan to Como everyday. You can check train timetable and purchase your tickets here.
Ways to experience Lake Como, Varenna & Bellagio: Join a group tour and enjoy a full day trip to Como from Milan onboard a luxury coach with a knowledgeable guide.
Pro tip: Lake Como is often combined with other nearby destinations such as Bergamo but I think to fully experience Lake Como, a full day should be dedicated to exploring this picturesque area of the lake district in Italy
2 | Lugano and Bellagio – Day trip from Milan
Sunrise over Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy by Heyengel – Pexels
Known as “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”, Lugano sits on the southern Swiss border, Italian Canton of Ticino, south of the first ridge of the Alps. Lugano is easily reached in less than an hour from Milan offering breathtaking vistas of the Swiss Alps and shopping opportunities, a destination often high on a tourist list to this region.
What to do in Lugano:
Immerse in the wild beauty of the lakeshore, the dominating San Salvatore and Brè Mountains. Fall in love with the Italianate architecture in the city, chic shopping streets where you buy the best Swiss chocolates. The villages are huddled to the mountainsides over the lake, offering picturesque sights for perfect photo opportunities.
San Salvatore – From Paradiso, take a 12-minute ride up onboard a funicular to reach the 900 metres for amazing views over the lake and the Alps.
Monte Brè – At 925 metres above sea level, Monte Brè is regarded the sunniest mountain in Switzerland and a perfect home to a special flower, Christmas Rose, which usually only found in the Mediterranean climes
Combine Lugano with a trip to Bellagio: The “Pearl of Lake Como”, in less than an hour from Lugano.
What to do in Bellagio: Enjoy the charming town with its cobblestones and Villa Serbelloni, an 18th century terraced garden with lake views.
Ways to experience Lugano and Bellagio: Join a tour of no more than 25, from the centre of Milan, seeing the very best of Lugano and Bellagio and plenty of time to explore on your own. There are various options offered, so check and book now, pay later on the one that best fits your itinerary.
For off the beaten path adventure in Bellagio: Join a 2-hour activity exploring a wilderness trail in a place that is so close to Bellagio and yet, little known and little visited. The village of Lezzeno, between the mountains and the lake.
3 | Bergamo – Day trip from Milan
Bergamo Old City, Architecture by Ben_Kerckx, Pixabay
A visit to Bergamo is often combined with a visit to Lake Como but I think it’s worth dedicating a day exploring this historic town. With hills stretching for miles and its incredible surrounds, a remarkable experience awaits.
What to do in Bergamo:
This charming, yet hidden and unexplored city has plenty of medieval architecture to marvel at including the 5 kilometres of medieval wall encircling the old town. Explore Bergamo Alta, the hidden city at the top of the town, accessed via a funicular. Visit the Venetian Works of Defence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for incredible views over Bergamo.
Other incredible experiences at Bergamo Alta not to be missed: Bergamo Cathedral, St. Maria Maggiore Basilica, and the Colleoni Chapel.
Getting to Bergamo: There is a direct train from Milan Centrale Station. Journey is about an hour.
Ways to experience Bergamo: Spend a day on a walking tour of this medieval city and explore its history and culture.
4 | Lake Maggiore & the Borromean Islands – Day trip from Milan
Lake Maggiore, Italy by Jonathan Reichel, Pixabay
Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Island make a perfect day trip from Milan, an escape to the peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy a day hopping-on and off the 11 islands that form this cluster of pretty charm with a ferry pass.
What to do in Lake Maggiore & surrounds:
The main attraction here are the three distinct islands, Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori (also known as Isola Superiore). Explore their individual charms at leisure and enjoy the tranquility of the natural beauty of the islands. Visit Palazzo Borromeo, a unique 10-tiered baroque garden design in Isola Bella that has remained intact. Isola Madre is home to a fabulous Palace Museum and Gardens which should not be missed. Isola dei Pescatori is a fisherman’s village and the only village inhabited all year round.
Getting to Lake Maggiore: Begin your day of island hopping at Stresa, a lakeside town which is about 1 hour 7 minutes from Milan by train. All the islands are a short ferry ride of each other.
Travel by train options: Either point-to-point travel which works cheaper if one-off travel but if you are visiting a couple of the cities and planning on travelling by train, then the Interail Pass is a cost-effective option.
5 | Verona – Day trip from Milan
Verona City by Felix, Exposure Today
Made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the beautiful town of Verona is as pretty as was described. With temperate weather and regarded by Mozart and Goethe as the perfect holiday spot, Verona has many other strings to its bow which must be explored and certainly merits a day trip from Milan.
What to do in Verona:
Visit the Arena di Verona, Piazza delle Erbe with its town hall and a clock-tower, Torre dei Lamberti. Splash out if you wish in the Centro Storico Certainly do not miss Juliet’s balcony. The centre of town is compact, walkable with barely any need to take public transport. Don’t miss Castelvecchio, a Roman fortress just outside of the city walls.
Getting to Verona: Verona can be reached in a little over an hour from Milan. The average travel time between Verona and Milan is 1 hour 23 minutes. The quickest route takes 1 hour 15 minutes. There are 23 trains in a day between Milan and Verona, leaving approximately every hour.
Ways to experience Verona: Join a group tour onboard a luxury coach from Milan to Verona and Lake Garda.
Pro tip: Verona is a beautiful town and offers so much to see,, do and experience. I spent 3 days in Verona and wished I could have stayed longer. Dedicate 1 day in its entirety at the very least in Verona, because Verona is so much more than Juliet’s balcony.
6 | Lake Garda – Day trip from Milan
Lake Garda, Italy by Wellox, Pixabay
Lake Garda, the largest, cleanest and the most famous of lakes in Italy definitely warrants a visit. It’s crystalline waters, the beautiful backdrop of snowcapped mountains, charming towns of Bardolino, Sirmione and Desenzano will captivate you from the moment you arrive here.
What to do in Lake Garda:
Take a quick cruise out to scale the shores and be captivated with the villas of the rich and famous. In Bardolino, there are two Romanesque churches which you simply must see. Sirmione, the “Pearl of Lake Garda” has so much to offer visitors including a medieval fortress, Roman villa and the Catullo caves.
Getting to Lake Garda: There are two ways to get to Lake Garda from Milan by train. First option is to arrive at Desenzano del Garda from Milan. The journey is 51 minutes and there are 25 trains each day. Secondly, a train journey to Peschiera del Garda will take 57 minutes, also 25 trains in a day.
Ways to experience Lake Garda: Day trips by coach to Lake Garda are often combined with a trip to Verona. An excellent value for money experience.
7 | Venice – Day trip from Milan
Sunset, Venice – by Samuel Busetto, Pixabay
Venice needs no introduction! This romantic city of canals, bridges, cobbled streets and gondolas must be in everyone’s list of things to do when in Italy.
What to do in Venice:
You may not be able to fit all of Venice’s delights in a day trip from Milan but if a day is all you have, then allow yourself to be charmed by the fantastic architecture that characterises one the world’s favourite cities. Wander the little alleys and stop for coffee at the infamous Piazza San Marco. Hop over to Venice’s nearby island, Murano and experience the colours of the island and its historic tradition with glass-blowing. If you could do a gondola ride through its many canals at sunset, it will surely be memories well worth the money!
Getting to Venice: Takes a little over 2 hours to reach Venice by train from Milan. The average travel time between Milan and Venice is 2 hours and 32 minutes. The quickest route is 2 hours and 10 minutes. There are 22 trains in a day between Milan and Venice, leaving approximately every hour.
Ways to experience Venice: Book a day trip from Milan onboard a luxury coach to Venice. This trip includes a 2-hour guided tour of Venice and a boat ride on Venice lagoon (NOT a gondola ride). You have plenty of time to explore on your own as well.
8 | Cinque Terre – Day trip from Milan
Cinque Terre, Vernazza Village by djedj, Pixabay
Visit one of Italy’s most scenic landscape with layer upon layer of rainbow-hued medieval houses perched upon hillsides – the five villages of Cinque Terre are sure to captivate and delight visitors of all ages. A UNESCO World-Heritage is also one of the most Instagrammable site!
What to do in Cinque Terre:
A day is too short a time to explore all five medieval villages but there will be enough time to wander round Monterosso al Mare (the largest of the Cinque Terre villages) and Vernazza.
Getting to Cinque Terre: There is a direct train from Milan to Monterosso which takes about 3 hours. There are other routes that require a change at Genoa.
Ways to experience Cinque Terre: Book a coach tour from Milan to Monterosso and spend one day exploring this picturesque Italian villages. This tour comes with a 1.5 hour boat trip to Vernazza, a beautiful fishing village in every sense.
9 | Genova and Portofino – Day trip from Milan
Portofino, Italy by John Bongard, Pixabay
Get away for a day and go on a scenic drive along the coast to the three colourful gems in the beautiful Ligurian Coast. Genova is Italy’s largest port and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Together with the colourful villages of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, it is a delightful area of the Italian Riviera to explore as a full day trip from Milan.
What to do in Genova & Portofino:
The historic streets of Genova is home to monuments dedicated to its maritime history and memorials to Christopher Columbus. Sail along the coast to the glamorous fishing village of Portofino that dates back to Roman times, take in the picturesque sights of the fishing boats and spend some time exploring the Santa Margherita Ligure.
Getting to Genova & Portofino: Onboard a coach tour from Milan city centre with a tour guide and includes the boat trip to Portofino.
10 | Interlaken & the Swiss Alps – Day trip from Milan
Lake Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland by Algorino, Pixabay
Venture to another country while visiting Milan! Just a few hours and you would arrive in Interlaken – one of the most scenic places on earth!
What to do in Interlaken:
Enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the Swiss Alps onboard the Green Train of the Alps.as it takes you on a journey through Simplon pass, one of the most beautiful crossings in Switzerland. Take an amazing cruise on Lake Thun and explore Interlaken at your own pace before your return journey.
Getting to Interlaken: Onboard a high-speed train from Milan to the town of Domodossola to board the Green Train of the Alps.
These are my best 10 day trip from Milan which I have put together for you to design your itinerary your way for when you visit Milan. I find day trips are excellent value for money excursions and I try and go on one even when I am on a 3-day city escape. Learn more of my getaway to Geneva and what I did on my day trip to Mont Blanc.
You may also like these related articles on Milan
As always, I am contactable for any further info or to design your itinerary for you. Please let me know if this post is valuable to you in planning your visit to Milan. I would love to hear from you.
Have a splendid time exploring Milan and surrounds!
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