Top 10 Best Day Trips from Milan, Italy [2024]

Looking for the best day trips from Milan, Italy?

Then this guest post by Kizzi, of Off to Get Lost, will point you in the right direction featuring the top 10 best day trips from Milan!

Milan is the fashion capital of Northern Italy. With a blend of incredible architecture and modern sophistication, it has a lively atmosphere that is a delight to explore. 

However, there’s so much more to explore beyond Milan’s bustling streets. Thanks to Italy’s high-speed trains and great road network, you can easily reach a wide range of cities, villages and towns with their own unique charm. 

Whether you crave the rich history of Verona’s ancient streets or the serene beauty of Lake Como’s tranquil waters, each of the day trips from Milan featured in this guide promises something unforgettable.

Planning a trip? Use my favorite resources:

10 Best Day Trips from Milan

You can plan and execute each of these day trips on your own, or book one of the suggestions for fully-planned and expert-led guided day tours from Milan!

1. Lake Como

View of a hanging lantern against the backdrop of mountains in Bellagio

We’re starting this list off strong with a day trip to Lake Como. It takes just under two hours to reach Lake Como from Milan, whether by car or public transport, so it’s a great option if you don’t have your own means of transport. 

A great starting point for your day in Lake Como is Varenna. This picturesque town is on the eastern shores of the lake, making it the easiest place to get to from Milan. You only need two or three hours here to explore the old town and visit Villa Monastero which has beautiful gardens. 

From Varenna, you can easily hop on a ferry and explore other villages and towns around the Lake. One place you might like to visit is Bellagio. Famous for its cobblestone streets and colorful houses, this quaint town offers an authentic Italian experience.

You’ll find lots of boutique shops selling unique, handmade items, perfect for a little shopping treat. Plus, as Bellagio is at the centre of the lake, it has incredible panoramic views of the lake, perfect for those holiday photos. 

👉 Lake Como From Milan with Private Driver & Boat

2. Verona

Colorful orange buildings in Verona, Italy

Whilst Verona looks like it would be too far to visit in a day from Milan, thanks to Italy’s high-speed trains, it is actually a very easy trip. With a high-speed train, you can be in the romantic city of Verona in less than an hour and 15 minutes, costing as little as and costs as little as €13.  

With a compact city center, one day in Verona is all you need to see all its top sites. A lovely counter to the modern and fashionable streets of Milan, Verona offers a more romantic atmosphere, with its close connection to Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story.

Whilst here, you can visit the famous Juliet balcony and explore the ancient Roman ruins of the amphitheater – the second largest in Italy after Rome.

Stop by the Piazza delle Erbe where there is a market selling local produce and plenty of cafes and restaurants to stop and have a bit of lunch. And if you find the time, head up the Piazzale Castel San Pietro for incredible views of the city. This is especially good at sunset.

👉 Verona, Sirmione & Lake Garda from Milan w/Boat Cruise

3. Bergamo

Clock tower in Bergamo, Italy

Bergamo is the closest destination on this list of day trips to Milan. Just an hour away on the train, you’ll want to head straight to Bergamo’s upper town, the Città Alta.

Buses from the train station will take you directly there or you can stop off at the bottom and catch the funicular. The funicular has been running for over 120 years now and has become a distinct part of Bergamo’s charm. 

With only one day in Bergamo, you’ll want to spend most of your time in the Città Alta. Explore the boutique shops, dine in its many great restaurants and admire the historical sites.

One place in particular you should visit is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Cappella Colleoni. They are stunning buildings with incredibly intricate exteriors, decorated with sculptures and pink details. 

Another great thing to do in Bergamo is walk around the Venetian walls. Built during the 16th century to protect the Città Alta, these defensive fortifications now provide a great vantage point above the city.

Stretching over 6km, you won’t want to walk them all, but a half-hour stroll is more than enough to admire the Bergamo’s extensive skyline below. 

👉 Bergamo Private Guided Tour from Milan

4. Lake Maggiore

view of sailboats on the water framed by surrounding white flowers

Lake Maggiore is often overlooked compared to the more popular Lakes such as Como and Garda, but that’s a big mistake. This picturesque lake is the second-largest in Italy, with crystal clear waters, charming villages and incredible natural scenery. 

Begin your time at the lake by visiting Stresa. Just an hour away from Milan, you can easily reach here by car or by train. Stresa itself is a lovely, quaint town known as the Lake’s Pearl. However, the best thing to do is take a boat over to the island of Isola Madre.

Though small, this island packs a mighty punch. Visit the stunning Palazzo Borromeo,  an opulent palace filled with relics from the Borromeo dynast, and the English-style garden. This botanical garden covers 8 hectares and is filled with lush and exotic flora. 

Once you’ve indulged in Isola Madre’s tranquillity, head over to Isola dei Pescatori. Known as Fishermen’s Island, its charm comes from the fishing boats in the harbour, and the narrow lanes and colourful houses that make up the small village.

Make sure to grab some food at the Trattoria Ristorante Imbarcadero for a freshly cooked meal with the lake as your backdrop. 

👉 Unique Lake Maggiore Day Trip from Milan

5. Cinque Terre

Colorful houses of Cinque Terre on a cliff

Cinque Terre is one of the furthest destinations on this list of day trips from Milan, but arguably one of the more rewarding. Cinque Terre is one of the most famous areas of Italy, known by striking images of colorful houses perched on rocky mountain edges. 

Cinque Terre means “five lands” in Italian. As you can guess, 5 villages make up the Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

There are trains connecting all of the towns which means you can visit all five in one day if you want to. However, it’s worth choosing two villages to see in more depth, making your trip more immersive and enjoyable. 

Monterosso is the largest town and is perfect if you need some beach relaxation time. Vernazza is one of the most picturesque, with colorful homes surrounding a small sand beach.

There is a gorgeous hiking trail from Vernazza to Monterosso which takes around an hour and a half to walk but allows plenty of time to stop and admire the surrounding views. 

The most famous village in Cinque Terre is Manarola and is filled with lovely seafood restaurants, making it the perfect place to head for lunch.

Riomaggiore is another stunning town with a slightly livelier atmosphere, great for couples or backpacking wanting to enjoy a few drinks into the early hours of the morning. 

It takes around 3 hours to get from Milan to Monterosso or Vernazza, so make sure you head to Cinque Terre as early as possible to make the most your of your day.  

👉 Personalized, Private Cinque Terre Day Trip from Milan

6. Lake Garda

Castle in Sirmione Italy

The third and final Italian lake on this list, Lake Garda proves to be another great option for a day trip from Milan. Begin by taking the train to Desenzano del Garda, which takes around an hour, then catch a bus to either Sirmione or Gardone. 

If you choose to spend one day in Sirmione, start by exploring the impressive fortress, Scaliger Castle. Then head to the Grotte di Catullo, the ancient Roman ruins of a villa dating back to the 1st century BC.

Then, if you’d like some relaxation, head to one of the lakeside beaches; or, for a more luxurious option, the natural thermal spas.

If you decide to head to Gardone Riviera, begin by visiting the Vittoriale degli Italiani. At Gabriele D’Annunzio’s eclectic estate, you can wander through impressive gardens, admire art collections and learn about some of Italy’s history.

Then stroll along the lakeside promenade to take in the beauty of Lake Garda, or grab an outdoor table at one of the lakeside restaurants, where you can enjoy the view while sipping on a glass of Italian wine.

👉 Lake Garda, Sirmione & Verona from Milan w/Boat Cruise

7. Turin

city view of Turin, Italy

Turin is one of the quickest day trip options from Milan, only 50 minutes by train.

Begin your day by heading to the Mole Antonelliana. Home to the National Museum of Cinema, you can choose to explore this unique museum or head to the top of the tower for incredible panoramic views of Turin and the surrounding Alps. 

Then, wander through the city and visit Turin’s iconic sites. Conveniently, they’re all very close together.

First, head to the Piazza Castello which is surrounded by the Royal Armory, the Royal Church of San Lorenzo and the Teatro Regio. Nearby, you’ll also find Turin’s Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Turin. 

Another great place to visit in Turin is the Egyptian Museum. With its extensive collection of Egyptian artefacts, you can easily spend a few hours exploring here. And don’t forget to visit the lively Quadrilatero Romano district, where you can browse vibrant markets, artisan shops and enjoy delicious street food. 

You simply can’t finish your day in Turin without indulging it in its chocolate tradition. Gianduotti chocolate originated from Turin and is a creamy blend of chocolate and hazelnuts.

Whilst these chocolates were originally in triangle shapes, you can now get it in pretty much every form – from bars, to sweets, to cake, and Bonet, a chocolate creme caramel dessert with crushed amaretti biscuits.

👉 Turin Full-Day Guided Tour from Milan

8. Lugano, Switzerland

coastal city of Lugano, Switzerland

Did you know Switzerland was just a short trip away from Milan? In less than two hours you can be across the border and enjoying the serene atmosphere of Lugano. Whether you decide to drive or take the train, it is a very scenic journey.

Begin your day in Lugano by walking along the lakeside promenade. You’ll be treated to incredible panoramic views of the mountains surrounding the town. Then head to the charming streets of Lugano’s old town.

Home to the Museo d’Arte  Svizzera Italiana (Art Museum of Italian Switzerland), you can also admire a diverse collection of both Italian and Swiss art in Lugano.

For nature’s art, visit the Parco Ciani – a lush botanical garden overlooking the lake. If you do some pre-planning, it’s a great place to bring a picnic and relax in the warm summer months. 

👉 Lugano, Swiss Alps & Como Small Group Tour

9. Pavia

Winding street in Pavia, Italy surrounded by buildings on both sides

Just a 30-minute train ride away is the city of Pavia, a famous university town that makes for a great day trip from Milan. Nestled in Italy’s Lombardy region, Pavia is known for its excellent wine production.

Taking the train is not only the quickest way to get to Pavia, but it also means you can indulge in the sparkling Franciacorta wine or the red wine Bonarda. 

Whilst relaxing outside with a glass of wine is a must, don’t miss out on visiting some of Pavia’s historical sites. One place in particular you should visit is the Certosa di Pavia, an exquisite Carthusian monastery renowned for its ornate Renaissance architecture and stunning artwork.

If you have time, consider investing in a guided tour to get some expert knowledge on the monastery’s history and stunning cloisters. 

Explore Pavia’s historic center, visiting sites such as Pavia’s Cathedral and the Ponte Coperto – a picturesque bridge spanning the Tivino Rover.

The city’s main square is Piazza della Vittoria, known locally as the Platea Magna, or “large square.”  It serves as the city’s central point and is surrounded by 14th-century porticoes and ancient buildings like Palazzo del Broletto and the deconsecrated church of Santa Maria Gualtieri. 

👉 Find Train Tickets from Milan to Pavia

10. Mantova

Upward view of a church against the sky in Mantua, Italy

The final destination on this list of the top day trips from Milan, Mantova, stands out for its compact size and rich array of historical attractions.

The best way to get to Mantova is by car as it takes just over 2 hours to drive. The train, unfortunately, takes closer to 3 hours but it is still perfectly doable in a day. 

During your day in Mantova, head to the Palazzo Ducale. This group of buildings was built by the Gonzaga family between the 14th and 17th centuries to be their royal residence.

Today, it is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can spend a few hours exploring the complex. For more of the city’s architecture, explore some of its beautiful churches like Basilica di Sant’Andrea and Rotonda di San Lorenzo. 

Don’t miss  Palazzo Te, known for its stunning frescoes and beautiful gardens, or a visit to the Piazza delle Erbe – a vibrant square surrounded by colourful buildings and lively cafes. It’s a great spot to grab some lunch and do some people-watching.

Make sure to try some Mantuan specialities like tortelli di zucca (pumpkin tortelli) and sbrisolona (crumbly almond cake) at one of the traditional trattorias. 

👉 Mantua Highlights Day Trip from Milan

FAQ: Best Day Trips from Milan

As you explore options for the best day trips from Milan, you might wonder:

What cities are close to Milan by train?

There are plenty of cities close to Milan by train, and most are mentioned in this blog post. To name a few: Verona, Bergamo Turin and more.

Can you do a day trip to Switzerland from Milan?

Yes! You can absolutely do a day trip to Switzerland from Milan. Easily make your way to Lugano, Switzerland from Milan.

How far apart are Florence and Milan?

If you want to explore Florence from Milan, you can cover the 190 mile distance by train in under 2 hours.

Final Thoughts: 10 Best Day Trips from Milan 

Milan, with its lively streets and fashionable districts, is an excellent central hub for exploring Northern Italy. With Italy’s high-speed trains, you can easily travel across the country from the western shores of Cinque Terre to the eastern Lakes of Garda and Como. 

With this guide to the top day trips from Milan, you’ve discovered the wide array of places in Northern Italy. From the romantic charm of Verona to the historic charm of Bergamo, each day trip has something unique to offer. 

So whether you’re looking for some seaside relaxation, a deeper insight into Italy’s history, or immersion in its neutral beauty, there’s a day trip perfectly suited to you. With Milan as your anchor, you’ll be sure to have many unforgettable journeys through the beautiful cities of Northern Italy.

About the author: Kizzi is a solo traveller and creator of Off To Get Lost where she shares practical insights on solo travel. Her goal is to encourage others to go on their own solo adventures, embracing the joys and challenges of exploring the world on your own.