There are many fun, adventurous day trips from Milan. Because Italy’s public transportation is comprehensive and fast, you can visit great places like Lake Como, Genoa, Portofino, and even Florence with only a day at your disposal.
From tried-and-true gems to lesser-known spots, this article covers the very best day trips from Milan, Italy.
Table of Contents
- 19 Best Milan Day Trips
- FAQs About Milan Day Trips
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19 Best Milan Day Trips
A serene lake in northern Italy surrounded by picturesque towns like Varenna and Bellagio.
Lake Como is a resort area located in Italy’s Lombardy region on the foothills of the Alps. The lake itself is the third-largest lake in Italy and is shaped like a “Y”, with many small towns dotting the shores. The town of Bellagio is the centermost point of the lake, but the train journey from Milan will likely have you starting your day trip in Varenna.
The train journey itself is gorgeous and will give you a great view of the Italian countryside. Then, once you arrive in Varenna, you can take the ferry to get to other towns on Lake Como. In particular, Bellagio and Menaggio are worth the trip; both towns have fabulous views, restaurants, and shopping. Bellagio is a bit more bustling while Menaggio is more laid back.
The area is also filled with luxurious villas and gardens such as Villa Monastero and Villa Carlotta. These are idyllic photo locations and can even be booked for professional shots.
An Italian food haven that’s known for producing Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Parma Prosciutto.
Parma is a quiet Italian town known for producing Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Parma Prosciutto. So, it’s safe to say that foodies should not sleep on this particular day trip from Milan.
Between meals, Parma is a university town that features plenty of artistic attractions. The town is home to the striking Parma Cathedral, the architecture of which dates back to the 1100s, while the Teatro Regio is an opera house perfect for catching a classical music concert.
For fine art, visitors shouldn’t miss The Galleria Nazionale. The museum features works produced between the 12th and 18th centuries by famed Italian artists such as Beato Angelico, Canaletto, Ludovico Carracci, and Leonardo da Vinci, among many others.
The capital of northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is renowned for its food scene and is home to the oldest operating university in the world.
At 400,000 residents, Bologna is Italy’s 7th most populous city and makes for a lively day trip from Milan.
The city is known for being a mecca for foodies, with Spaghetti Bolognese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Balsamico Modena being some of the local delights. In particular, head to restaurants such as Sfoglia Rina, Trattoria da Me, and Ca’ Pelletti for authentic and affordable Italian food.
In between meals, head to the heart of Bologna and wander the maze of ancient streets. The city dates back to medieval times, but there have been many Renaissance-era updates, making for an interesting mishmash of architectural styles.
I also recommend visiting some of Bologna’s most famous sites including the Two Towers, Piazza Maggiore, and Giardini Margherita. For the best view of Piazza Maggiore, head to the second floor of Palazzo D’Accursio – the view is free and unbeatable.
Located halfway between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake and an outdoorsy respite with water sports and a lauded wine scene.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and a great day trip from Milan for wine lovers and outdoorsy types.
In particular, Lake Garda offers a lot of water activities including sailing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, fishing, swimming, and taking a boat tour. Lake Garda also offers several historical attractions to visit, including Scaliger Castle and the Grottoes of Catullus archaeological site.
Of course, indulging in wine is also one of the best things to do in Lake Garda. Lake Garda is located in the Garda Wine Region of Italy, and some of the best wineries to visit are Avanzi Winery, Cascina Maddalena, and Villa Calicantus.
An artsy city famous for its chocolate, coffee, political history, and museums like the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile and Borgo Medioevale.
Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region of Italy and is known for its chocolate and coffee production. With the Alps mountain range standing stately in the background, the city makes for a relaxing day trip from Milan and is perfect for families.
The city has an aura of elegance and a long history of being a political epicenter. In fact, it was the first capital city of Italy from 1861 and 1865, although its political importance predates this by centuries. All to say, paying a visit to the Royal Palace of Turin, where the royal family lived, makes for a great step through time.
More cultural attractions worth checking out in Turin include Mole Antonelliana, Borgo Medioevale, Museo Egizio, and Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. The latter two are even great for holding the attention of kids.
👉 Pro Tip: To indulge in Turin’s chocolate and coffee, stop by the famed Caffé Al Bicerin for a coffee and a zabaglione. Then, satisfy your sweet tooth at La Bottega, Guido Gobino for a hot chocolate and pieces of silky chocolate to take away.
Endearingly known as the City of Canals, this Italian staple is equally romantic and entertaining.
Built on more than 100 islands in Italy’s Adriatic Sea, Venice is one of the world’s most romantic and unique destinations. The city is famed for its Gothic and Renaissance architecture and its quintessential canals and is perfect for couples looking for an aura of romance.
The must-do activities in Venice center around its famous canal, the Grand Canal. A gondola ride through the canals is a popular activity but be prepared to pay a pretty penny. Depending on the time of day, it costs $80-$120 for a 30-minute ride.
Visitors on a budget can still appreciate Venice and its canal with a stroll across the city’s four bridges and St. Mark’s Square. Venice also offers a ton of cultural attractions including Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica, and Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.
👉 Pro Tip: There are a lot of activities in Venice and it’s a bit far from Milan, so it’s easier to join an organized tour. This Venice Full-Day Guided Tour From Milan is a terrific option because it’ll show you all the top sites with free time to wander Venice by yourself.
Straddling Italy and Switzerland, this lake makes for a peaceful escape into nature and is popular for water activities and beautiful gardens.
Located just over an hour north of Milan by train, Lake Maggiore is a nature photographer’s paradise. It’s a bit less touristy than other Italian lakes such as Lake Como, so it’s good for avoiding summer crowds in Italy.
Every one of the towns around Lake Maggiore is fantastic, with Stresa being the easiest jumping-off point. Start off with visiting the intricate Palazzo Borromeo on an island near Stresa. Then, make your way to Verbania to see the stunning Giardini Botanici di Villa Taranto. It’s home to 20,000 plants from all over the world.
A port city in Italy’s Liguria region that’s a renowned culinary destination.
Genoa, Italy has a long history of maritime trade and of being a port city. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
To absorb the port history, visit Porto Antico, the oldest port in Genoa. Not only does Porto Antico have a marina, but it’s also home to the impressive Aquarium of Genoa, shops, bars, restaurants, and an overwater Biosfera dome.
Genoa is also renowned for its cuisine and restaurant culture. In fact, focaccia bread has origins linked to Genoa, and Pesto Genovese was invented here. Some of the best restaurants in Genoa are Trattoria delle Grazie, Le Rune, and Cavour modo21. Alternatively, indecisive travelers can eat at MOG Mercato Orientale food court for a variety of choices.
Famously known as the setting for Romeo and Juliet, Verona is steeped in Roman culture and Medieval architecture.
Verona is a charming 2000-year-old city that’s perfect for literary and history fanatics. Located on the banks of the Adige River, Verona features pristine Medieval architecture and a truly impeccable collection of artifacts and remains from its Roman colony roots.
Of course, Verona is probably best known for being the setting for William Shakespeare’s iconic play Romeo and Juliet. This connection has left a huge impact on the area, with tourists making their way to Verona to experience the literary link.
Although Romeo and Juliet were not real people and Shakespeare never visited Verona, one of the most popular things to do in Verona is to visit “Juliet’s House”, a 13th-century house with a beautiful “Juliet balcony”.
A stunning city in Switzerland nestled right next to Lake Lugano just an hour north of Milan.
Lugano is an Italian-speaking city in Switzerland and one of the best international day trips from Milan. At just an hour away from Milan, the city of Lugano is tucked away near Switzerland’s scenic Lake Lugano.
Lugano is best known for its epic scenery, but experiencing nature first-hand is what makes this destination shine. For even more incredible vistas, hike to the peak of Monte Brè (3.1 miles) or Monte San Salvatore (4.1 miles).
For more town-based activities, wander the Old Town or walk around the picturesque Parco Ciani.
A museum-filled city with wine windows, a fantastic culinary scene, and plenty of history to uncover.
Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and one of the most visited cities in the country.
Among the best things to do in Florence are its prestigious museums, including the Uffizi Gallery, Bargello National Museum, Museo Galileo, Accademia Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, and Opera del Duomo Museum. In particular, if you want to see Michelangelo’s David sculpture, head to the Accademia Gallery and purchase an advance ticket.
Another icon of Florence is the Duomo Cathedral. You’ll recognize the Duomo from its towering red roof set amongst the skyline, but it’s worth a visit to learn more about its influence on Italian art and culture.
👉 Pro Tip: While squeezing Forence into a day trip is definitely possible, I’d recommend stretching it into a weekend trip. Need a bit of help planning a weekend in Florence? Read my 3-Day Florence Itinerary.
A photo-worthy region along the Italian coast with five uniquely charming towns to explore.
Cinque Terre, located in the Liguria region, is well known for five colorful, yet distinct towns – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Although each seaside town has its own feel, this entire region is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful places in the country.
For a day trip, it’s easiest to pick just one or two towns in Cinque Terre to explore. Monterosso is the largest town in Cinque Terre and usually the easiest to reach from Milan. For those who plan to stay a little longer, the towns of Cinque Terre are all reachable by express train.
👉 Pro Tip: For a stress-free day trip, I recommend booking this Cinque Terre Full-Day Guided Trip With Cruise. The boat tour allows you to get an even better perspective of the Cinque Terre coastline.
A Medieval city known for inventing the delicious Stracciatella flavor of gelato.
Located northeast of Milan, Bergamo is located in the Lombardy region of Italy and is best known for being the birthplace of the Stracciatella flavor of gelato. If this is of great importance to you, then I highly recommend indulging yourself by joining a food tour, such as this 3.5-Hour Traditional Food Tour in Bergamo.
Bergamo dates back to 49 BC and is characterized by its two city centers, the Alta (Upper City) and Bassa (Lower City). These areas are connected by a funicular, making for a fun and scenic way to get around.
Bergamo also has many sites. In particular, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is gorgeous, and the 16th-century walls encasing the city’s Old Town are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An Italian city nicknamed “The Garden City” that’s covered in greenery, parks, and cultural landmarks.
Varese is one of the best day trips from Milan due to its art-nouveau villas and location on the stunning Lake Varese. The city is known as “The Garden City” due to the amount of greenery in the area, and parks such as Jardins du Palais Estense and Parco Naturale Regionale Campo dei Fiori make for a particularly relaxing afternoon.
Alternatively, you can hit thought-provoking attractions like the beautiful Santa Caterina del Sasso monastery and Villa Panza.
A cobblestoned city in the Motor Valley known for its balsamic vinegar production and fine dining restaurants.
Located south of Milan, Modena put itself on the map for its impressive production of balsamic vinegar. While you can indulge in balsamic vinegar on your own, I do recommend taking a guided tour through the oldest vinegar company in the city, such as this Acetaia Cavedoni Balsamic Vinegar Tour.
Modena’s picturesque narrow alleys are a dream to visit and there are lots of high-end restaurants around here. Osteria Francescana, Officina della Senape, and L’Erba del Re all offer a menu to die for.
A clean-cut city in the Emilia Romagna region with several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and kid-friendly attractions.
Ravenna is a Milan day trip known for the colorful mosaics that adorn many of the buildings in the city center. It’s a fantastic place to put on your Milan itinerary for the interesting art, and it’s also a great destination for families with kids because there are lots of child-friendly activities around the city. The Ravenna Safari and the Mirabilandia amusement park are big hits with children.
Ravenna has plenty of attractions for adults as well. The painstakingly perfect interior art of the Basilica di San Vitale, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, and Battistero Neoniano are must-sees in the city. They’re so incredible that they’ve each earned the title of being a UNESCO site.
The Lombardy region’s second largest city is home to castles, museums, and an ancient temple dating back to 73 AD.
Brescia is the second largest city in the Lombardy region and just a quick 40-minute train ride away from Milan. As one of the area’s bigger cities, there is quite a lot to do around Brescia.
Your first stop in the city should be Brescia Castle, which holds hundreds of years of history. Santa Giulia Archaeological Museum and the Capitolium of Brixia are also intriguing points of interest.
Visitors on the hunt for something a little different can check out the Museo Mille Miglia automobile museum or try to catch a show at the breathtaking Teatro Grande.
A bright and colorful coastal town with delicious fresh fish and lots of luxury shopping.
Portofino is one of the best day trips from Milan for beach life. Located on the Italian Riviera, some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy exist in Portofino, such as Baia di Paraggi and Baia Cannone.
Of course, the outdoor fun in Portofino doesn’t stop with beaches. You can take a stroll up to the scenic Portofino Lighthouse or Castello Brown. Scuba divers will also love the Area Marina Protetta di Portofino for its vivid coral reefs and a multitude of fish species.
A winery destination in the Piedmont region with serene surroundings and few tourists.
Neive is one of the lesser-known day trips from Milan, but it’s a fantastic, low-key getaway for wine tastings. The charming town is located in the Piedmont region and is filled with award-winning wineries and vineyards surrounded by rolling hills.
Neive mainly produces Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto d’Alba, and Moscato d’Asti wine. Out of all the options for wine tastings and tours, the best wineries in Neive include Castello di Neive, Cantina Del Glicine, and Fontanabianca.
FAQs About Milan Day Trips
What are the best day trips from Milan?
What are good destinations within 2 hours of Milan?
What cities can I visit from Milan?
Is it possible to do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como?
It is possible to do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como. This journey is actually one of the most popular and accessible day excursions from Milan. All you need to do is take an hour-long train ride from Milan Central Station to the town of Varenna right on the banks of Lake Como.
What Swiss town is closest to Milan?
Lugano is the closest town in Switzerland to Milan. It takes a little over one hour to reach Lugano from Milan on the train from Milano Centrale.
Thanks for reading my guide to the best day trips from Milan. Which one are you putting on your Milan itinerary? Before you commit to anything, make sure you read my complete guide on the best time to visit Italy. Happy wandering!
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