There are many fantastic day trips from Milan – it’s just a matter of picking the one that better suits your needs and interests.
Milan is one of the most interesting places to visit in Italy, and in recent years it has been getting more and more attention from travelers who enjoy its fantastic museums; its fun nightlife; the infinite shopping opportunities and the incredible vibe. However, fast paced as it is, it can get a bit overwhelming at times. The good news is that this vibrant city is very well connected to the rest of Northern and Central Italy, so it is extremely easy to get out, even just for a day.
If you are looking for a place to spend some time out of town, you are in the right place. Here are the best places to visit from Milan.
14 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan
Lake Como and the city that gives it its name are an easy 30-minute train ride north of Milan. The lake, which is of glacial origins, is the third biggest lake in Italy and, with a depth of up to 400 meters (1,312 feet), one of the deepest lakes in Europe.
The lake has been a popular retreat for wealthy aristocrats since Roman times. With the many beautiful villages (Bellagio, Brunate and Varenna to name just a few), villas (the most famous ones are Villa Carlotta, Villa d’Este and Villa Serbelloni) and palaces (some of them property of famous actors) that are scattered in the area, it obviously is a fantastic tourist destination.
The lake itself is a good spot for kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing. There also are several farms in the surrounding area, producing honey, cheese, milk, and even olive oil, so you may want to visit one too.
For a complete selection of day trips to Lake Como from Milan, click here.
Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy. Located in the southern side of the Alps, the lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Lombardia and Piemonte, and the Swiss Canton Ticino. It’s a lovely place to spend a day, even in the winter, as it benefits from mild weather throughout the year.
Among the most beautiful small towns on Lake Maggiore there are Stresa, Laverno and Locarno. You can cruise around the lake to explore its lovely Borromean Islands such as Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori, all the while admiring the Alps in the distance.
You can book your tour to Lake Maggiore from Milan here.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, located about half way between Milan and Venice, and on the edge of the Dolomites. It is a very popular holiday destination, since it offers interesting activities such as boat rides, sailing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Scattered across the lake there’s several small islands. The largest one is Isola del Garda, famous for being the place where Francesco d’Assisi founded a monastery in 1220 – though in its place now there is a 19th century gothic style building.
The most popular small town on the lake is the romantic Sirmione, which is packed with interesting tourist sites and good cafés, restaurants and bars. Desenzano del Garda is another lovely village – a popular bathing resort, but there’s also plenty of cultural sites.
Cinque Terre probably deserves more than a day, but when time is limited, day trips from Milan to Cinque Terre (or even day trips from Florence to Cinque Terre) are a good way to get at least a feel for it, and prepare to go again.
This part of the coast of Liguria has beautiful, dramatic sceneries. It is so unique that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Surrounding the beautiful, colorful coastal villages there are some fabulous vineyards (the wine in this region is excellent) and olive and lemon groves. There are many nice, small beaches – swimming here is a must.
Four of the five villages of Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso and Manarola, the oldest one – are right on the coast and have direct access to the sea. Corniglia is higher up on the hills and it is landlocked. There is an old railway that connects all the villages, making it possible to visit them all during in one day.
When time is limited, the best way to appreciate Cinque Terre is on a guided tour that takes care of all the logistics while you can just enjoy the extraordinary views. An excellent company is Ciao Florence – which as the name may suggests mostly leads tours from Florence to Cinque Terre. A typical tour includes a boat ride along the coast, which is especially appreciated by lovers of photography as there are fantastic views of the towns from the sea.
You can book your Cinque Terre tour from Milan here.
Make sure to also read my post How To Get To Cinque Terre From Milan.
There are many wine regions in Italy, some actually quite close to Milan. Franciacorta is less than one hour from Milan, the area is very picturesque and – needless to say – the wines are delicious.
Franciacorta wines are sparkling wines, thought to be one of the Italian answers to French Champagne. The region is very pretty, extending all the way to lake Iseo and packed with vintage wineries. The best way to make the most of day tours from Milan to Franciacorta is by pairing wine tasting with good food. Given the fact that this is in Italy, one of the best food destinations in the world, this isn’t going to be difficult at all!
You can book your visit of Franciacorta wineries from Milan here.
Bergamo is at a stone’s throw from Milan (around 45 minutes by train) and it is little by little becoming a tourist destination in and of itself. It is really worth to visit Bergamo. The old city, known as Bergamo Alta, is a maze of narrow alleys, gorgeous buildings and viewpoints from where to take in the magnificent views. Make sure not to miss Piazza Vecchia, Colleoni Chapel and the Old City gate!
The surroundings of Bergamo are just as interesting. One of my favorite places is Crespi d’Adda, a fantastic example of industrial architecture dating back to the late 19th century and now a UNESCO site. It’s actually right half way between Milan and Bergamo.
Other places to visit are San Pellegrino Terme (QC Terme is the ultimate place to relax) and Scanzo, where you can taste the fantastic Moscato di Scanzo wine.
Venice hardly needs any introduction. Capital of the region of Veneto, this is one of the most incredible places to visit in Italy, if not in the world. Many travelers complain that it is too packed with tourists or too expensive. Yet, it does deserve a visit for sure. Though I’d recommending spending a few days in Venice to soak in the atmosphere, if time and budget are limited, you can go for just a day.
The city has plenty of interesting places to explore, and it is small enough that it’s easy to see them even on day trips from Milan. Among the unmissable places, there are: Rialto Bridge and the Gran Canale, San Marco Square and the Campanile, Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica. I also recommend walking around the Ghetto degli Ebrei, it is quieter than the rest of the city and very pleasant. Last but not least, after a short boat ride it is possible to explore the nearby island of Burano and Murano.
The train from Milan to Venice takes little over two hours. Make sure to leave nice and early. The first direct train leaves from Milan at 6:45 am and gets into Venice at 8:58 am, leaving you plenty of time throughout the day to explore La Serenissima (that’s one of the nicknames of Venice).
Once in Venice, you can enjoy a guided tour to make the most of it in a short time. You can book it here.
One of the most famous places to visit in Italy is Florence, the capital of Tuscany – and for a good reason. The city is stunning, to say the least. The best thing would be to actually spend a few days exploring. Yet, it is well connected so it makes sense to even go there just for a day from Milan.
The must sees in Florence include: the Cathedral, Santa Croce church, the Battistero, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and Galleria degli Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio. You can also stretch it all the way to the beautiful Boboli Gardens.
The 7:20 am train from Milano Central Station takes little over 1.5 hours and gets in Florence at 8:59 am, leaving you plenty of time to explore the city.
Once in Florence, having skip-the-line tickets to visit attractions will certainly help. You can get tickets to the Uffizi here.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Things To Do In Florence.
Bologna, capital of Emilia Romagna, is the food capital of the country. As it takes only one hour by train, you can definitely go there for just a day – if anything to gorge on all the food.
Among the places to visit in Bologna there are Piazza Maggiore and Basilica di San Petronio, the Cathedral, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Pinacoteca. Foodies have ample selection of local delicacies to pick from and can easily spend the day eating or even taking a cooking class.
Here are some of Bologna’s must eats: tortellacci; mortadella; tagliatelle al ragù alla bolognese (by the way, please note that in Italy we don’t eat “spaghetti bolognaise”!); lasagne. These are the most traditional dishes, so watch out for some alternatives – the city is packed with fantastic restaurants, which are best booked in advance. Here’s a selection of the best restaurants in Bologna.
There are plenty of direct trains going to Bologna, and since the trip is rather short, you won’t have to wake up so early. However, if keen on visiting the city, I recommend hopping on the 8:30 am train, that gets there at 9:32 am, leaving plenty of time to enjoy all that the city has to offer (and all the food).
Pavia is one of the lesser known cities to international tourism, yet it is an architectural gem. There are over 100 towers, and a university which was founded in 1361 and is a great place to visit. Other places to visit in the city include the many medieval and early Renaissance buildings, churches and squares, the Ponte Coperto, the Church of San Michele, the duomo and the Castello Visconteo.
One of the most important places to visit is the Certosa di Pavia (Chartreuse). This is a monastery, a sanctuary and beautiful gardens that were founded in the 15th century. It is located at around 8 km (5 miles) from Pavia. Last but not least, you can go on a wine tour in the Oltrepo Pavese region.
Pavia is a mere 30 minutes drive from Milan and as little as 23 minutes by train, if direct (there is a direct train every 2 hours, at 10 minutes past the hour).
This splendid city is famous internationally for being home to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – you will have to visit Juliet’s home to see the famous balcony from where she called her Romeo. You will also find a gorgeous Roman amphitheater which was built in the first century AD. Piazza Mercato is another must see.
You can easily get to Verona by train from Milan – it takes around 2 hours. Once there, get on the hop-on hop-off bus tour to see everything the city has to offer. You can book it here.
Did you know that Turin is Italy’s first capital? More than that, it is an extremely pleasant place to visit, with great museums, churches and much more. And what’s best is that Turin is a very easy train ride from Milan, so perfect for a day trip.
Turin is famous for being home to the shroud depicting the face of Jesus. The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is a must see – a beautiful baroque church. The Mole Antonelliana will provide impressive views of the city. And at the Egyptian Museum you will find one of the finest collections of Egyptian art and archeology outside of Egypt (get tickets in advance here). Make sure to also try Gianduiotti – Turin’s famous chocolate pralines.
This is a truly lovely city – unfortunately hit by a major accident in the summer of 2018, when Morandi Bridge suddenly collapsed.
Genoa is home to the largest port in Italy, so many transit by it on their way to explore the country. Yet, the city offers many interesting sights – the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also a great starting point to explore smaller villages such as the best known Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.
Genoa is home to a fantastic aquarium that strives to promote the respect of marine life. You can purchase entry tickets here. Make sure to try the famous local focaccia and the pesto – a basil based sauce especially used on pasta.
If you like the idea of getting to another country altogether, why don’t you pop into Switzerland for a quick visit? Lugano is little over 1 hour away by train from Milan, and an incredibly pleasant place to visit. The city is located on the shores of Lake Lugano, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.
Once in Lugano, you will find plenty of museums, nice cafés, restaurants and chocolate shops to get a proper taste of the country – though mind you, it’s not a cheap place!
Trains to Lugano depart regularly from Milan Central Station and take little over one hour to reach Lugano. The train ride is incredibly scenic, as it goes through the Alps – so the trips is as great as the final destination!
How To Get Around During Your Day Trip
Join a guided tour
My best advice to make the most of your Milan day trips is to join a guided tour. Keep in mind that these have been carefully designed and planned by experts to make them completely efficient and running smooth. You’ll have a driver and a guide taking care of you and you’ll only have to worry about relaxing and making the most of your day.
If the day trips from Milan you are considering are to another city, you may want to travel by train. This will save you the hassle of having to look for a parking spot and having to worry about speed limits and limited traffic areas (ZTL). Train stations in Italy are usually right in the heart of the city, so you’ll be right in the historic center, ready to explore.
You can consult the train timetable for all of Italy and buy train tickets here.
If you enjoy taking road trips, renting a car may be a good idea. Watch out for the speed limits, and remember that Italian laws about drinking and driving are pretty strict. You can check out the prices of car rental here.
Have you ever visited Milan? What are your favorite day trips from Milan?
Make sure to read my planning tips for Italy in these posts:
- 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible
- 67 Extremely Useful Travel Tips For Italy
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy
- A Perfect Italy Itinerary: What To See And Do With 10 Days Or More