10 Best Day Trips from Milan

March 24, 2021

by Rina Bernardo

View of the villas in Lake Como

Gorgeous cathedrals and buildings, trendy and luxurious fashion boutiques, and delectable cuisine — these are just some of the things that Milan is famous for. Attracting more than 8 million tourists annually, the city is one of the most visited destinations, putting it in the same league as Barcelona, Paris, and other European cities. What’s more, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city is easy with many options of exciting day trips from Milan! Gorgeous destinations and cities near the capital are accessible by car, bus, or train, offering a convenient visit from the Italian city.


From the sparkling waters of Lake Como, the stacked houses of Cinque Terre, and the Alpine town of St. Moritz, here are some of the best day trips from Milan!


 


Where is Milan?


 


Front view of Milan Cathedral
Photo by Duo Chen on Unsplash


Located on the northern end of Italy’s boot-shaped land, Milan is the capital city of Lombardy. As the capital, it is also the second most populous city in Italy after Rome. Located in the northern end of the country, Milan is a close neighbor to other Italian cities like Bergamo, Turin, and Genoa. Additionally, it is also near two of the most famous lakes in Italy, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore.


From Rome, Milan is 474 kilometers away and you can take a train, car, or plane to get to Milan.


 


10 Best Day Trips from Milan


1. Venice


 


Boats cruising along the canals of Venice
Photo by NeilMorrell on Pixabay


Venice is a city in Italy that needs no introduction. Its picturesque canals and iconic gondolas are enough to lure you to visit and see this city for yourself. Every corner of this Italian city is a beauty: from its cobbled streets, Renaissance palazzos, and breathtaking buildings. Not only is it famous for its waterways and canals, but it is also home to some of the most important Venetian works of art, perfect if you’re an avid fan of Canaletto, Titian, and other artists. If you’re visiting before the Holy Week holidays, don’t miss the Carnival festivities and see Venice all glammed up! 


Distance from Milan: 246 kilometers
How to Get There: The best and easiest way to get to Venice is by taking a train. The Milano Centrale train station has several trips departing to the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia in Venice. Train trips start as early as 5 in the morning and the latest trips are at around 8 in the evening. High-speed trains take about 2 hours and 20 minutes while regional trains take a longer time, averaging from 3 to 5 hours. 


Buses from Milan to Venice are a cheaper alternative, however, the travel time is longer. Depending on the traffic situation, day trips from Milan to Venice are around 4 to 5 hours per way.


Things to Do:


  • Ride a gondola
  • Walk around St. Mark’s Square
  • Visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace
  • See Venice from the Rialto Bridge
  • Admire the art at Gallerie dell’Accademia


 


2. Florence


 


Aerial view of Florence Cathedral and the city of Florence
Photo by Maatkare on Pixabay


Florence is one of the best day trips from Milan and is one of the must-visit cities in Italy. Popularly known as the cradle of the Renaissance, the city has no shortage of beautiful buildings, cathedrals, and town squares. For art enthusiasts, this is the best city to visit, as it boasts two of the most important museums in the world: the Uffizi Gallery and the Gallery of the Academy of Florence. On the other hand, there are various piazzas and vantage points in Florence where you can catch panoramic views of the city and see its iconic sites for a bird’s eye view. It is also recognized by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, which is why Florence should be on every traveler’s bucket list. 


Distance from Milan: 248 kilometers
How to Get There: Travelling to Florence from Milan takes only an hour and 40 minutes by high-speed train. Trips from Milan to Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station start as early as 5 in the morning and end at around 11 in the evening. Regional trains are also available as a cheaper alternative, but travel time can reach up to 4 hours. Another option is by bus, however, travel time ranges between 3hours and 15 minutes to more than 4 hours depending on the traffic situation.

 


Things to Do:


  • Go museum-hopping
  • Try local delicacies at Mercato Centrale
  • Explore Boboli Gardens
  • Eat florentine gelato
  • Visit Pitti Palace


 


3. Lake Como


 


Bellagio, one of the towns along Lake Como
Photo by Lewis J Goetz on Unsplash


Offering picturesque mountain views, fresh air, and blue waters, Lake Como is one of the easiest and best day trips from Milan. Its weather and environment make it a favorite summer getaway for Italian tycoons and members of the elite, building lakeside mansions and villas. Bellagio in particular is a popular town in Lake Como, filled with cobbled lanes, elegant villas, and quaint boutiques. Aside from going on a cruise, there are plenty of things you can do around Lake Como. For hikers and hiking enthusiasts, there are plenty of trails along Varenna and Bellano where you can catch the best views of the lake. 


Distance from Milan: 83 kilometers
How to Get There: Trains to Lake Como take about 30 minutes to one hour depending on which station you’ll get off to. Although the main station is the Como Lago Station, travelers also get off at Varenna-Esino Station to get to Bellagio. If you plan on bringing a rental car, take the A8 and exit at Como Centro. From there, go on a scenic drive and stop by different towns around the lake. Buses are also another option, however, travel time takes about an hour and 30 minutes or more depending on the traffic situation. During peak season, expect congested roads and thick crowds.


Things to Do:


  • Pay a visit to Como Cathedral
  • Cruise along Lake Como
  • Visit the botanical gardens of Hotel Villa Cipressi
  • Ride the Como-Brunate funicular
  • Catch panoramic views of Lake Como from Villa del Balbianello


 


4. Verona


 


Adige River separating two sides of Verona
Photo by Starry-J on Pixabay


Popularly known as the city of Romeo and Juliet, visiting Verona is one of the must-do day trips from Milan. Like Venice, it has a romantic charm to it, but with less crowded streets and fewer waterways. And while most tourists flock to Shakespeare-related sites, Verona has a number of places and things you shouldn’t miss. Its historic center houses one of the best-preserved arenas in the country along with Renaissance churches, bridges, and piazzas. Learn more about the history of this city by visiting Castelvecchio and its museum within its walls. Overall, Verona is a great place to visit whether or not you’re a fan of the world-famous tragedy.


Distance from Milan: 140 kilometers
How to Get There: From Milano Centrale train station, trips to Verona’s Porta Nuova take about an hour and 15 minutes. On the other hand, regional trains take about an hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours. Taking a car takes a long time at 2 hours, but you can also pass by iconic sights like Lake Garda and Bergamo along the way.


Things to Do:


  • See the houses of Juliet and Romeo
  • Marvel at the greenery in Giusti Garden
  • Visit the Verona Arena
  • Explore Castelvecchio and Castelvecchio Museum
  • Have coffee or go people-watching at the piazzas


 


5. Turin


 


View of Turin with the Mole Antonelliana dominating the cityscape
Photo by teojab on Pixabay


Turin is a gorgeous yet underrated destination, known as the first capital of Italy and the current capital of the Piedmont region. Home of the House of Savoy, Turin is one of the best day trips from Milan for travelers who want to explore every royal palace. It also offers timeless Renaissance cathedrals and piazzas perfect for lounging or cafe-hopping. Additionally, its open-air restaurants, bars, and cafes overlooking the River Po are a favorite. For avid shoppers, the flea markets at Porta Palazzo and Gran Balon offer great and affordable finds.


Distance from Milan: 126 kilometers
How to Get There: High-speed trains from Milan to Turin take about 1 to 2 hours depending if you’ll take a high-speed or regional train. If you plan on taking a high-speed train, make sure to book your tickets in advance. On the other hand, taking a car to Turin takes a longer time, but the views of the Tuscan countryside along the way shouldn’t be missed.

 


Things to Do:


  • Go cafe-hopping
  • Tour the Madama Palace and Royal Palace
  • Talk a walk at Piazza San Carlo
  • Sample a glass of bicerin, a drink made of espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk
  • Shop for antiques at the Gran Balon


 


6. Cinque Terre


 


View of Cinque Terre from a hiking route
Photo by Kookay on Pixabay


With its pastel-colored houses and sparkling waters, Cinque Terre is one of the best day trips from Milan. The summer getaway along the Italian Riviera is frequented by local and international celebrities, thanks to its scenery overlooking the Ligurian Sea. This is also a great place to go on a food crawl and taste the best Ligurian specialties. But aside from its seaside towns and resorts, Cinque Terre is also famous for its hiking trails along steep canyons and cliffs. Follow the Blue Path trail, an 11-kilometer hike that connects the towns of Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare. Nonetheless, Cinque Terre makes one of the best day trips from Milan to escape the summer heat.


Distance from Milan: 155 kilometers
How to Get There: Taking a train is the easiest and most convenient way to get to Cinque Terre. There are several daily trips from Milano Centrale train station to either Monterosso or La Spezia. Travel time ranges from 3 to 5 hours depending on which station you’ll get off at. In summer, most travelers also opt for train and ferry. Take the train to La Spezia and hop on a ferry that takes you around towns like Portovenere, Riomaggiore, and Manarola before arriving at the final stop in Monterosso.

 


Things to Do:


  • Go hiking
  • Lounge at Monterosso Beach
  • Walk along the Blue Path trail
  • Watch the sunset in Riomaggiore
  • Visit the churches of Corniglia


 


7. Bologna


 


View of Bologna's city center
Photo by RitaMichelon on Pixabay


For foodies and lovers of Italian cuisine, Bologna is one of the best day trips from Milan! This city is the perfect destination if you want to see and experience the best of what Italy has to offer. Find ancient churches, towers, and long porticoes as well as thriving markets and restaurants serving the best Bolognese cuisine. It is also home to the oldest university in the Western world, the University of Bologna, and is one of the European Capitals of Culture along with Lisbon, Florence, and other major cities. As for its cuisine, don’t forget to try specialties like Tagliatelle al ragù, lasagna, Bolognese meat, and gelato. Additionally, it is a vegan-friendly city, having 19 vegan and vegetarian restaurants, perfect for travelers who don’t want to miss out on its world-famous cuisine. 


Distance from Milan: 214 kilometers
How to Get There: Despite its distance, going on day trips from Milan to Bologna takes about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes by high-speed train. Regional trains, however, take 2 to 3 hours. From the Bologna Centrale train station, the town square is only 2 kilometers away. Meanwhile, taking a private car from Milan to Bologna takes about 2 to 2 hours and 30 minutes. Exit Milan and take the A1 toward Asse Attrezzato Sud before exiting via Bologna Centrale off of the A14.

 


Things to Do:


  • Climb the Asinelli Tower
  • Take a stroll through Piazza Maggiore
  • Visit its museums
  • Go on a food crawl
  • Find Bologna’s hidden canals


 


8. Varese


 


Varese during daytime
Photo by Boris Stroujko on Adobe Stock


Embarking on day trips from Milan to Varese became a popular activity at the start of the 20th century. Also known as the “Garden City”, Varese has some of Italy’s most fabulous summer villas and gardens. Add in the city’s public parks, these give the city a charming countryside feel. The sleepy and quaint environment of Varese might differ from that of Milan, but it doesn’t lack beautiful sights and things to do. Visit the villas and palaces, some of which housed former Italian royal families. Around town, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants for a quick stop after exploring. Although it isn’t as famous as other Italian summer destinations, Varese is the perfect city to visit if you want to go somewhere off-the-radar.


Distance from Milan: 56 kilometers
How to Get There: Taking a train from Milan to Varese takes about an hour to an hour and 20 minutes depending on if you’ll take a high-speed or regional train. If you have a rental car, take the Autostrada A8, a motorway that connects the two cities, to get to Varese. Additionally, there is a bus service from Milan Airport’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to Varese.

 


Things to Do:


  • Explore its majestic Art Nouveau villas
  • Visit the Sacro Monte di Varese 
  • Walk around its botanical gardens
  • See the Basilica di San Vittore
  • Enjoy a walk along the banks of River Olona


 


9. St. Moritz (Switzerland)


 


St. Moritz on a winter day
Photo by Fulcanelli on Adobe Stock


Hop on the Bernina Express and go on a cross-country adventure! Day trips from Milan to St. Moritz in Switzerland are only a few hours away, making up for a memorable vacation. Take in the amazing views of the Alpine scenery as you cross hundreds of bridges, tunnels, and gorges. What’s even better is that trains run all-year-round, so you can visit in winter or summer, the most popular seasons for visiting the resort town. In summer, go hiking, mountain biking, or visit the gorgeous Lake St. Moritz. On the other hand, go ice skating, skiing, and enjoy different outdoor activities in winter.


Distance from Milan: 125 kilometers
How to Get There: There are no direct train lines from Milan to St. Moritz. Instead, take a 3-hour train ride from Milano Centrale to the Tirano Station in Sondrio. From Tirano, take the train heading to St. Moritz. Take note that trains from Milan to Tirano run every 2 hours while trains from Tirano to St. Moritz run every hour. Travel time ranges from 5 to 8 hours. Buses or coaches, on the other hand, take about 4 hours to get to St. Moritz

 


Things to Do:


  • Enjoy winter activities
  • Ride the Corviglia Funicular
  • Visit Lake St. Moritz
  • Go hiking in summer
  • See different artworks in its museums


 


10. Bergamo


 


View of the city center of Bergamo
Photo by Ben_Kerckx on Pixabay


Located at the foothills along the Italian Alps, Bergamo is a stunning city that shouldn’t be missed. The city has two main parts: the Upper City, also known as the Città Alta, and the Lower City, known as the Città Bassa. The Città Alta contained most of the city’s historical center while the Lower City houses more modern infrastructures and residential areas. But nonetheless, both areas of the city shouldn’t be missed! In addition, Bergamo also has a variety of regional specialties for foodies. Try their casoncelli (stuffed pasta), polenta e osèi (sponge cake with chocolate buttercream filling), and donizetti (donut-shaped cake).


Distance from Milan: 60 kilometers
How to Get There: Going to Bergamo is one of the most convenient day trips from Milan. Trains from Milan’s Porta Garibaldi train station leave every hour and trips to Bergamo take an hour. From the train station, most of its major sites and attractions are within a walking distance. Driving is also another option and you need to follow the E64 heading northeast. Along the way, you can also stop by Lake Como or Lake Iseo.

 


Things to Do:


  • Walk along the Venetian Walls
  • Visit Cappella Colleoni
  • Go for a stroll at Orto Botanico
  • Shop at Via XX Settembre
  • Catch panoramic views of the city at Rocca di Bergamo


Final Notes


While Milan is a popular and beautiful Italian city in itself, it is also surrounded by plenty of other must-visit destinations. From the iconic waterways of Venice, the well-preserved buildings of Verona, to the snow-frosted slopes of St. Moritz, you’ll never run out of iconic places to visit. On the other hand, if you want to go somewhere under the radar, cities like Varese or Bergamo are your best picks. 


Going on day trips from Milan is a great way to explore and appreciate the beauty of Italy. Since these destinations are accessible by train, bus, and car, you won’t have to worry about flights or requirements for longer travels. As for St. Moritz and places in neighboring countries, just make sure to have the necessary documents for cross-country traveling and you’re all set!