Thanks to its strategic position, organizing day trips from Milan to beautiful lakes, seaside cities, and several Alpine towns is easy. For instance, the charming cities of Bergamo and Brescia, Lombardy’s second-largest city, are easily accessible within an hour by train. A journey to Lake Como can take less than an hour or about an hour’s drive by car.
Since Milan is the center of the Italian network of high-speed lines, getting to nearby cities and other areas is convenient and cost-efficient. But suppose you think you still have a lot of things to see and do within the city center. In that case, the best museums in Milan can give you extraordinary cultural experiences.
Whether you decide to stay or want to explore beyond the capital, it’s wise to drop off your bags in secure luggage storage in Milan. Just bring your essentials and leave the rest in a safe location to travel light.
How to get out of Milan
Milan may not be the most famous destination for an extended holiday in Italy. But as a starting point for seeing the best of the Lombardy region, this Italian capital isn’t one to disappoint travelers. It’s the rail center of northern Italy so getting out of Milan by train is so easy and convenient.
If you know how to get around Milan, learning the different ways to transport from the city center to its neighboring areas wouldn't be an issue. Head to Milano Centrale Train Station, the country’s second-largest second station, and you’ll find a ticket office and ticket machines throughout the station.
Taking the Intercity train is recommended, as it will connect you to minor and major cities in Italy. It gives travelers access to the undiscovered beauty of the surrounding regions. There are also high-speed trains that will take you to your destination faster than driving by car or taking the bus.
From Milan to Lake Garda
A day trip from Milan to Lake Garda is a must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The Lago di Garda, as locals call it, is the country’s largest lake and one of northern Italy’s most famous tourist spots. It reaches from the Alpine foothills to the edge of the Po Valley on the north. It lies at the foot of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can do endless activities here, from mountain climbing and biking to windsurfing and sailing. There are also quaint towns and villages surrounding the lake, such as Desenzano del Garda and the cluster of four quaint towns, the Garda Riviera.
If you’re visiting with kids, let them play at the Gardaland Resort. It’s adjacent to Lake Garda, featuring a Legoland waterpark, plenty of rides, a park, a hotel, and more. The themed park opened in 1975 and has since provided fun and action to individuals and families.
How to get to Lake Garda
A train journey to Lake Garda from Milan is easy, thanks to Frecciarossa, Italo, and Trenord services. These trains have regular services that will take you from Milan Central Station to Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station and Peschiera del Garda station. A direct train from Milan to these stations in Lake Garda will only take about an hour and runs twenty-five times a day.
From Milan to Lake Como
Italy’s third-biggest lake, Lake Como, is one of the popular day trips from Milan. It’s been a favorite respite from the city’s hustle and bustle with its unspoiled nature, unparalleled beauty, and elegant ancient villas. It is surrounded by colorful coastal villages like Varenna and Bellagio and has numerous activities that will get you closer to nature, from boat tours to kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Walk along the shore of Lake Como and watch the seaplanes fly over the stunning villas. Or, take this opportunity to fly aboard on a group excursion or private tour, exploring the lake's most enchanting places from above and admiring the stunning alpine scenery. A seaplane tour often takes half an hour, covering the Como one until Bellagio.
How to get to Lake Como
You can take a train from Milan to the Como Lago Station from the central station in Milan or the Milano Cadorna Station. If you want to take the bus, most buses leave from Centrale bus station in Milan to S. Giovanni bus station in Como. Then you can catch a local bus if you want to explore other lake towns and areas around Lake Como.
From Milan to Venice
Do you want to go further and explore other cities in neighboring regions? In that case, Venice is a must-visit destination on your day trip from Milan. Internationally known as the world’s most beautiful and unique city, this Veneto capital is brimming with artistic sights and historical attractions.
Since 1987, the city and its iconic Lagoon have obtained UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s a cultural landscape illustrating the combined work of nature and man over time. It’s a remarkable achievement of architecture and art that has stood the test of time.
Of course, you can’t leave Venice and not cross the Rialto Bridge, the oldest and most renowned bridge in the city, central to its history. You can also explore the 700-year-old Rialto Bridge market or experience a night walking tour on the other side of the Grand Canal.
How to get to Venice
A day trip from Milan to Venice will typically take about two and a half hours from Milan Central train station to Venezia Santa Lucia station. It’s a high-speed train, so tickets cost more than regular trains. But if you want to make the most of your sightseeing time, the extra dollars on travel time are worth it.
From Milan to Lake Maggiore
Located northwest of Milan, about an hour and a half from the city center, Lake Maggiore is another natural attraction worth traveling from the capital. It’s the country’s second-largest lake, part of which is shared with Switzerland. The northernmost towns of Locarno and Ascona are part of the Swiss Ticino region, but the lake’s greater area is in Italy.
The towns of Verbania, Stresa, and Arona on the western shore of Lake Como are the most visited areas. At Stresa, you can take the boat to the three gorgeous Borromean islands and if you want to relax, head to the lovely town of Arona. It’s a charming spot with nice streets and a lakeside promenade to enjoy the fresh air. The largest town on the lake is Verbania, featuring scenic gardens and water landscapes.
Other lovely villages here are Leggiuno, Angera, Laveno, Isola Bella, and Isola Madre, the largest island in Lake Maggiore. It is home to a majestic palace with a nice tropical garden where you’ll spot peacocks running free.
How to get to Lake Maggiore
The Lake is only 80 kilometers away from Milan, making it an easy car drive from the city. But if you prefer to take public transportation, catch a train at Cadorna train station heading to Laveno. It will take one and a half hours and costs about $7.
From Milan to Pavia
In less than an hour, you can reach the picturesque town of Pavia, making it one of the best day trips from Milan. It is known for its Renaissance and medieval buildings, as well as lovely modern architecture.
As soon as you get here, you’ll immediately notice the Chiesa di Santa Maria In Betlem. It’s a 12th-century church, a fine example of Romanesque style. It’s also home to the 14th-century Castello Visconti, which retains two of its medieval towers.
But one of its primary attractions is the Certosa di Pavia with a façade embellished with a series of medallions featuring heads of ancient legendary and historical characters forming the base. When you go inside, you’ll marvel at the awe-inspiring original gothic structure, frescoes, and beautiful works of art.
These and many more interesting sights in Pavia will give you an insight into its fascinating history and Italian culture. You can explore the old town and its unique attractions in a guided tour or stroll along the medieval streets on a self-guided walking tour.
How to get to Pavia
Take the train from Milan Rogoredo railway station to Pavia. A train ride takes 20 to25 minutes, and the train departs every two hours. If you want to drive, it takes about half an hour by car to get to the town.
From Milan to Varese
Located north of Milan, on the foothills of the Swiss Alps, Varese is famous for the Sacro Monte di Varese, a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of fourteen 15th-century chapels. It’s been nicknamed the ‘Gaden City’ due to its numerous idyllic gardens and parks adorning the town.
One of its most impressive attractions is the Palazzo Estense in the center of Varese. It’s a baroque palace built in the second half of the 18th century and is currently one of the famous destinations in the city. It’s the seat of the town hall, so bookings are necessary if you want to see inside and witness its spectacular interiors.
How to get to Varese
To get there, head to Cadorna or Porta Garibaldi train station to catch a train to Barese. It takes about an hour to travel from Milan to Varese on a train through Trenord or Regionale.
From Milan to Cinque Terre
If you don’t mind long drives or train rides, a journey to the five villages in Italy is one of the best day trip destinations you’ll enjoy. The Cinque Terre consists of five ancient fishing villages perched on the Ligurian Riviera. It includes the Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza, and Riomaggiore.
A walking tour or a boat ride between these areas will give you an unforgettable experience in Italy. It allows you to discover the charming coastline with its turquoise water, rugged cliffs, and colorful villages.
The quaint towns are separated by long stretches of cliffs and joined by a narrow walking trail. They were once isolated hamlets, hidden from the crowd. Still, they maintain their sense of authenticity and preserve their architecture. As you hike along the coastline, you’ll likely fall in love with the breathtaking views below.
How to get to Cinque Terre
To maximize your trip, it’s worth renting a car to get to Cinque Terre or taking a guided tour. This way, you don’t have to waste your time navigating the train system or the roads, especially if you’re a first-time traveler. It often includes a boat trip from Monterosso to La Spezia, which may take an hour and a half.
From Milan to Citta Alta Bergamo
Citta Alta, Bergamo’s Upper Town, is the city’s historic district surrounded by Venetian walls. It is preserved with magnificent medieval buildings, cobblestoned streets, and charming alleyways that will make you feel like stepping into the ancient world.
Within the walled town, you’ll find the city’s historic and artistic attractions. It includes the 12th-century Palazzo della Ragione, the Torre Civica, Palazzo del Podesta, and Palazzo del Comune clustered in the old square, Piazza Vecchia. There’s also the Bergamo Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of the city, located in Piazza Duomo within the Old town.
How to get to Citta Alta Bergamo
The most efficient way to get to Citta Alta from Milan is by taking the train, which costs about $5. The average travel time is 49 minutes, but if you take the high-speed Frecciarossa train, you can get there in just 40 minutes.
The best day trips
Not participating in one of the rewarding day trips from Milan will be a missed opportunity. Milan’s strategic position allows you to reach plenty of hot spots and incredible destinations, from Italy’s biggest lakes to medieval towns and seaside villages.
So whether you need a break from the Lombardy capital or want to see more of the region, don’t think twice and get on the train or grab your car keys and enjoy the best day trips from Milan.