Whether you’re fascinated by fashion, visiting on business or just enthralled with Italian culture, Milan is a fantastic home base for all kinds of getaways. You will love that the city is home to world-class museums, breathtakingly beautiful churches and vibrant central plazas.
For those interested in the modern culture, there is no end to incredible eateries serving up Milanese specialties, and the nightlife is some of the best in all of Italy. As your base in Northern Italy, you will be in a prime position to set off on day trips from Milan to each of the following destinations.
Map of day trips from Milan
10. Verona[SEE MAP]
Famous for being the setting of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona is a very romantic city to stroll around, with a much more relaxed feel to it than nearby Venice. At the heart of the city lies the delightful Piazza delle Erbe; here you can find its well-preserved Roman amphitheater, and Juliet’s House is just a stone’s throw away.
Lots of lovely old churches are scattered around the city, and among Verona’s many highlights are its splendid cathedral and the red brick Castelvecchio, which is home to a brilliant art museum. For a fantastic view over the city, make sure to head to Castel San Pietro, which is located on a hillside overlooking Verona with the river Adige flowing below it.
Getting to Verona
- From Milano Centrale, it only takes an hour and 15 minutes to get to Verona Porta Nouva railway station. Trains run between the two cities every half hour. Once you arrive, you can either take a short bus journey to Piazza delle Erbe or walk 20 minutes to get there. From the piazza, you are best exploring the rest of Verona on foot.
- While driving to Verona does take a bit longer at around two hours, this means you could stop off and see the fantastic Lake Garda either on the way there or back, as it lies along the route. From the center of Milan, head east out of the city and pick up the A35, which will take you to just outside Brescia. After that, hop on the A4 and turn off once you see signs to Verona.
- If you don’t fancy driving yourself and also want to see Lake Garda, you may want to consider taking a guided tour that combines a visit to the lake with a sightseeing tour around Verona. With an expert guide on hand, you’ll learn all about the history of Verona as you wander around the city. The scenery and sights at Lake Garda are equally impressive to behold.
9. Venice[SEE MAP]
Lying directly to the east of Milan, the city of canals needs no introduction. Indeed, Venice is a must-see city, and while crossing its numerous bridges or taking a gondola ride along its canals, you’ll be greeted with stunning architecture everywhere you look, with almost every building dating back centuries.
A magical place to explore, Venice has much more to offer than just the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge, and Saint Mark’s Basilica; getting lost amongst its narrow alleys is a lovely way to see the city. While Venice certainly can feel crowded, especially around the main sights, it is a sprawling place, so you’ll certainly get a feel for its authentic side if you stray off the beaten path. Its surrounding islands and delightful Lido are well worth a visit too.
Getting to Venice
- By train, it takes roughly two and a half hours to get to Venice from Milan, and direct trains depart from Milano Centrale every half hour. From the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia, you can either amble through the Venetian streets taking in the beautiful architecture or take a vaporetto (a water bus) along the Grand Canal to get to incredible sights like Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.
- To really make the most of your time in Venice, it is well worth taking a guided tour from Milan to the city of canals. This will take you around all the main sights, including Il Fenice opera house, the Bridge of Sighs, and of course, Piazza San Marco. With a gondola ride, a visit to a glass-making workshop, and an informative and interesting walking tour included, it is a fantastic day out that covers as much of Venice as possible.
8. Turin[SEE MAP]
Home to the Italian royal family, Turin is perhaps not as famous as many other Italian cities but the setting is pleasant with the Italian Alps visible in the distance. You should visit the former royal residence called the Palazzo Madama, and tour the opulent rooms filled with Baroque furniture, gold details and lush tapestries.
Dine at one of the upscale eateries located in the Piazza Carignano, and then head to the many bars and lounges located next to the banks of the River Po. If you want to do some souvenir shopping, but can’t afford the upscale boutique prices, then swing by the Porta Palazzo street market instead.
Getting to Turin
- With regular trains running to Turin from Milan, visitors wishing to see the fabulous city can find themselves strolling peacefully along the banks of the river Po around an hour after leaving Milano Centrale. Simply hop on a train and alight at Torino Porta Nouva railway station, which is conveniently located not far away from many of the city’s most famous sights.
7. Pavia[SEE MAP]
In just a short time, you can travel to Pavia, making it an ideal day trip from Milan. Once you’re in Pavia, you’ll be able to take things slow, soaking in the medieval and Renaissance architecture as well as the vibrant outdoor markets.
A highlight of any visit to Pavia is a walk across the Ponte Coperto, a stunning bridge that provides you with great views, and equally great photo ops, of the city. Then, make your way to historic landmarks like the Basilica San Michele Maggiore, the Duomo Di Pavia and the Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, three incredibly important religious structures in the heart of the city. Right outside the city of Pavia, you’ll want to check out the Certosa di Pavia, a 14th century abbey that also serves as one of the most notable buildings from the Italian Renaissance.
Getting to Pavia
- Lying just 40 kilometers to the south of Milan, Pavia is simple to get to by train; the journey should only take you half-an-hour from Milano Centrale. Once you alight in Pavia, the fantastic Duomo and beautiful basilica are just a short walk away through the picturesque town.
6. Lake Maggiore[SEE MAP]
To the northwest of Milan is Lake Maggiore, a body of water that also happens to be the longest of the Italian lakes. This is one of the most relaxing, scenic and attractive spots in the region, and the size of the lake means there is no shortage of coastal paths, restaurants overlooking the water or beautiful views to choose from.
Hop on a ferry that traverses the lake for a unique perspective on the landscape, or admire the gorgeous gardens of the Villa Taranto. If possible, spend some time in the many weekly markets of Lake Maggiore, where you can shop for souvenirs as well as tasty fresh produce and homemade culinary delights.
Getting to Lake Maggiore
- By public transport, Lake Maggiore is only around an hour to an hour and a half train journey away. This will take you to Stresa, which acts as a gateway to the rest of the lovely little towns that litter the shores of the lake – and, of course, the beautiful Borromean Islands. Once you alight, the lakeshore is just a short stroll away, and you will find ferries and boats to take you to any of the islands you wish to visit.
- Driving is another option and is remarkably simple, as the E62 actually connects Milan to Stresa. Simply hop on it heading northwest, and in an hour and a half, you’ll find Lake Maggiore lying before you. With your own car, you can either park up and enjoy a ferry ride to one of the islands or go for a scenic drive along the lakeshore. Alternatively, both Lake Orta and Lake Varese are well worth checking out if you have the time.
- Another option is to take a guided tour; this really is one of the best ways to see all Lake Maggiore’s amazing sights. With an expert guide at your side, you’ll learn all about the area’s fascinating history as you explore Stresa and the Borromean Islands. One of the highlights of the tour is taking a two-hour scenic cruise around the lake.
5. Cinque Terre[SEE MAP]
Cinque Terre translates to Five Lands, and it is made up of five smaller coastal villages on the Ligurian Sea. If you want to explore stunning scenery and hike on amazing trails overlooking the water, then there is no better day trip from Milan.
The paths are often steep, but the rewards are the often-secluded beaches, the traditional fishing villages and the amazing restaurants waiting for you in the towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Indulge post-hike with a refreshing swim in the sea or a meal of baked mussels in fresh herbs.
Getting to Cinque Terre
- While some direct trains do run to the picturesque villages of le Cinque Terre from Milan, the odds are that you’ll have to make one or even two changes to get there, stopping off in Genoa along the way. To get to Monterosso – the largest town along this beautiful stretch of coastline – takes three to four hours depending on the train you take. As such, it is a good idea to plan your journey well in advance. Regular trains connect the five villages, so once you’re there, it is relatively quick and easy to travel between them.
- To make the most of your time in le Cinque Terre, it is worth taking a guided tour. This means that you won’t waste any time navigating the Italian train system, and instead, maximize your time seeing both Manarola and Monterosso. With a 90-minute boat trip from Monterosso to La Spezia included, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the Italian Riviera while your guide tells you all about the incredible sights you pass, as well as the history of the region.
4. Genoa[SEE MAP]
Genoa is a port city with a rich history and a splendid historic center. Don’t miss world-renowned museums like the Museum of Fine Arts in the White Palace, the historical picture gallery housed in the Palazzo Reale, the Museum at the Prince’s Palace or the Ligurian Archeological Museum. You can also see the former home of famed explorer Christopher Columbus, and you won’t want to miss a stroll along the Corso Italia, or the main pedestrian promenade of Genoa.
Foodies will want to try local foods popular in the region, such as pesto, which originated in Genoa, or focaccia, a bread that can be flavored simply with olive oil and salt or as a full meal with ham, cheese and sliced tomatoes.
Getting to Genoa
- Lying almost directly south of Milan, Genoa is an hour and a half to two hours away by train, so in no time at all, you’ll find yourself with the Mediterranean before you. Just hop on a train at Milano Centrale and enjoy the scenic train journey through the Italian countryside. Once you arrive at Genoa Piazza Principe, you’ll find most of the main sights are within walking distance of the station.
- Many visitors wishing to see Genoa opt to take a guided tour. These not only take you around the port city, but also to the charming Santa Margherita Ligure and pretty Portofino. With a knowledgeable guide accompanying you, you’ll learn a lot about the Italian Riviera, and a lovely boat trip between the towns enables you to bask in the beautiful scenery.
3. Bergamo[SEE MAP]
Just 90 km (55 miles) north of Milan is Bergamo, a smaller city that rests at the foothills of the Alps. As such, Bergamo is a scenic town, as well as a must-see spot for lovers of architecture. Bergamo is essentially two distinct cities: the Città Alta, or upper city, is encircled by walls from the 16th century, and the Città Bassa, or lower city, is decidedly modern.
Most visitors will want to spend time in the Città Alta, home to the Piazza Vecchia, or the heart of the city where architecture dates back to the medieval and renaissance periods. For the best views of the city without a hike, ride the funicular up to the Città Alta, where you’ll be treated to mountain scenery and unparalleled vistas.
Getting to Bergamo
- An hour away by train, Bergamo is very easy to get to; a direct train leaves from Milano Porta Garibaldi once every hour. While many of its main sights are just a stone’s throw away from the station, the Citta Alta is a 20-minute steep walk or short funicular ride away.
- Driving to Bergamo from Milan is another option, and means you could quite easily visit either Lake Como or Lake Iseo in the same day; both are around a 20-minute drive from the city. To get to Bergamo, just head north out of Milan and pick up the E64 heading northeast; this will take you directly to the scenic town.
2. Lugano[SEE MAP]
Thanks to the convenient location of Milan, day-trippers can even head over the border into Switzerland. The Swiss city of Lugano is the only Italian-speaking canton in the country. The lakeside destination is beautiful, and the abundance of palm trees and blue sparkling water gives it an almost tropical atmosphere right at the base of the Alps.
In Lugano, you can ride the Monte San Salvatore funicular to take in beautiful views, or you can stay closer to the water and swim at one of the beaches on the lake. Hiking and mountain biking are also popular pastimes, with the trails of Mount Brè being ideal for both recreational activities.
Getting to Lugano
- To get to Lugano by train is very simple and only takes an hour and 15 minutes from Milano Centrale. Trains depart frequently, and once you arrive at Lugano, you’ll find that the beautiful lake is just a short walk away – although you may have to take a bus to get to the starting point of some of the lovely mountain hikes. Make sure to pack your passport, however, as you’ll be crossing over the border into Switzerland.
- By car, it takes roughly the same amount of time to get to Lugano. Using your own vehicle, you could stop by Lake Como either on the way there or back. To get there, head northwest out of Milan on the A8 and follow it until the turning for Como, where you then take the A9 north. At Como, head west across the border into Switzerland and merely follow the A2 all the way to Lugano.
- If you’re pressed for time and want to visit both Lugano and Lake Como in one day, it is a good idea to take a guided tour that combines both of them into one unforgettable trip. Cruising around on Lake Como is a lovely way to see the luxurious lakeside villas and stunning scenery, while stops at Bellagio and Lugano are equally memorable for the amazing sights they offer.
1. Lake Como[SEE MAP]
Boasting mountain views, crisp air and blue waters, it is easy to see why Lake Como is the epitome of Italian scenic beauty. Thousands of visitors from around the world flock to Lake Como, making it a playground for celebrities and tycoons alike.
The lake itself is a major attraction, with many people choosing to spend their days sipping cocktails or tanning on yachts moored in the water. You could also spend your day trip in Lake Como touring Villa Carlotta, hiking one of the trails along the banks of the lake, riding the hillside trolley for spectacular views over the water or tasting gelato in the town of Como.
Getting to Lake Como
- By public transport, it takes about 40 minutes to get to Lake Como from Milan. Simply hop on a train at Milano Centrale; in no time at all, you’ll find yourself at Como San Giovanni station with Lake Como lying enticingly before you. Trains depart once an hour, and when you arrive, you can continue exploring the magnificent lake by bus, hydrofoil or ferry. Another alternative is to take the train to Lecco and explore the east of Lake Como from there.
- While driving to Lake Como does take a little longer at around an hour, this means you can drive around the lake at your leisure, stopping off at small towns and villages as you go. From the city center, head northwest on the A8, then take exit Como Centro, which will lead you to the beautiful lake on the A9. While going by car does have its advantages, during the high tourist season, you may find the roads are very congested, and it is quite difficult to find a parking space.
- As such, you may want to consider taking a guided tour. These will take you to many of the most beautiful spots around the lake without you having to worry about public transport or parking the car. With visits to elegant lakeside villas and delightful churches included, alongside a scenic cruise on the lake itself, a tour is a great way to see as many sides to Lake Como as is possible in just one day.