If you’re a lover of the finer things in life, including fashion, food, and art, it’s no wonder that you’ve chosen Milan as your next holiday. From gorgeous Gothic cathedrals, gallerias and palaces and high-end shopping to romantic walks along the canals – with some gelato in hand, perhaps – and a magnificent array of restaurants, Milan has something for everyone.
But if you feel like you’ve had your fill of Milan and you want to get out and about and explore the beautiful surroundings, then there’s a whole new world to discover. Jump on a high-speed train and find the most amazing array of towns and natural wonders with these 15 great day trips you can take from Milan.
Often spoken of as one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, Turin is a short train ride away from Milan with the high-speed train. The Turin train station drops you off right in the middle of the city, where the grid structure makes navigation easy and enjoyable. Bask in the lovely weather and explore the hidden treasures of Turin through winding, cobbled streets. Make sure to check out the magnificent Piazza Castello, as well as to plan a visit to the wonderful Turin cathedral. Another great square to look out for is the Piazza San Carlo, which has two twin churches at both sides. Turin offers some great examples of neoclassical, rococo and baroque architecture to enjoy just while taking a stroll. To finish your day, head over to the river bank to watch a beautiful sunset.
The small city of Bergamo is so close to Milan, that even its airport is called Milan-Bergamo. It’s often where most tourists from low-cost flights get off and it’s very often overlooked. Don’t make that mistake – Bergamo is a very simple train ride away from Milan and it has a lot to offer. Follow the streets up to the magnificent Citta Alta, where you can enjoy beautiful squares and winding paths, surrounded by artisan shops. On top of the Citta Alta, you can get a lovely panoramic view over all of Bergamo, which is an ideal spot for taking lots of photos. Before heading off, make sure to check out the Duomo, as well as Santa Maria Maggiore, a Romanesca basilica from the 12th century.
A gorgeous combination of antiquity and romance, Verona is easily on the top of any list for places to visit in Italy. Its historic district is bustling with energy and atmosphere, all helped by the Roman arena, which is one of Italy’s best-preserved ones. If you’re there at the right time of the year, you’ll get the chance to experience the summer festival as well. Make sure to keep an eye out for Verona’s famous churches, all landmarks of Italian architecture and art that you can stare at for hours. Finally, no visit to Verona is complete without Juliet’s house and balcony, where you can recreate the famous lines of Shakespeare’s play if you feel like it. The journey to Verona takes 2 hours but the train ride passes the famous Lake Garda, Italy’s largest, so it’s safe to say that you will get a lot out of it.
Pavia is by far one of the easiest day trips you can take out of Milan – it’s only 40 minutes on the train. It’s a very cost-effective trip, as you can take a regional train as well, which is a lot more affordable than the high-speed trains. Once, Pavia used to be a major Roman capital, so it’s preserved some of its grandeur even now. It once boasted 100 impressive medieval towers and the remains of these can be seen all over the city. The Castello Visconti has retained its towers and is now a popular landmark to visit in Pavia. By far the most impressive structure in the city is the Certosa di Pavia, a monastery considered to be one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in all of Italy.
Lodi is very accessible from the Milan, as it lies only 19km southeast of the city center. If you’re a lover of Parmesan cheese, then Lodi is the place for you as it produces, allegedly, the best cheese in all of Italy. Lodi and Milan have been long-time rivals but because you’re just visiting, it’s safe to say that you can enjoy both in equal amounts. Notable attractions in Lodi include the beautiful cathedral in Piazza della Vittoria as well as the Church of the Incoronata nearby. With its impressive pillared doorway and gorgeous engravings inside, the cathedral is definitely not one to miss. If you’re feeling adventurous, just let yourself explore the small winding streets and find one of the many charming little restaurants for a delicious Italian lunch.
6. Lake Como
By far one of the most popular destinations to reach from Milan, the famous Lake Como warrants both a day trip and a longer holiday. A short train ride will get you straight to the central station in Como, where the path to the lake is signposted wonderfully. Here, you can spend hours walking by the shore and admiring the view. Lake Como has a wonderfully characteristic look, with high shores and little villages and towns resting on top of them. Once you’ve had your fill, make sure to explore the little streets of Como too, where you’ll find beautiful churches, gorgeous buildings and some of the best gelato in the region. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a ferry trip on the lake to explore more of its wonderful sights.
If you’re a Formula One fan, then you’ll definitely have heard of the Monza Formula One race. Going there at the right time will mean that you’ll have a chance to see the race, which is beautifully set along the gorgeous atmosphere of Monza. But even if not, there’s still plenty to explore. Monza is a very short train ride away from Milan and is known as one of the coronation sites of the Lombard kings from the 11th century. Their famous “Iron Crown” is in the Capella di Teodolinda, founded all the way back in 590. The nearby Piazza Roma is also a great square to explore, with lots of little cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy the best food and drink Italy has to offer.
Just an hour’s train ride from Milan will take you right into Varese, a small village with lots to see. Its most famous feature is the Sacro Monte di Varese, a series of 17th century chapels with gorgeous frescoes depicting scenes from the bible. The frescoes truly are a sight to behold and you can easily spend a whole day admiring them. The Sacro Monte tradition is unique to the area of Lombardy and its pilgrimages. Varese is therefore one of eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area. What makes Varese unique is that it’s surrounded by rolling hills and steep hillside climbs, alongside Art Nouveau-style buildings in the village itself. Make sure to pay a visit to Palazzo Estense and admire its grandeur and gorgeous 1700s architecture.
The easiest way to reach Bellagio from Milan is by car – but if you take the train to Como, you can also take one of the convenient affordable buses that run there every hour. Bellagio is, by popular opinion, one of the most beautiful cities on the Lake Como. During the ride there, you’ll enjoy gorgeous views of the lake along the winding roads. Once you get into Bellagio, you can immerse yourself in the artisan spirit of the town and take in all the beautiful views from the lake. Framed by the glistening waters, Bellagio feels almost like a seaside resort, and if the weather permits, make sure to relax on its beautiful beaches.
Any day trip to Venice will always be extremely action-packed – so if you’re prepared for a day full of travelling and admiring one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, then this trip is for you. It takes about 2 hours on the high-speed train to get to Venice, but once you arrive, you will see why it’s worth it. The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and it enchants millions with its beautiful landmarks. Stroll along the gorgeous streets and past the canals, or even take one of the famous river taxis to explore the city. Don’t miss the famous St. Mark’s Basilica and its beautiful architecture, with the bell tower that has turned into the symbol of Venice. Other landmarks are the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace and, of course, the famous Grand Canal.
11. Cinque Terre
The group of villages in Cinque Terre will make for a long and eventful day trip from Milan. Jump on a bus or, even better, hire a car and take a beautiful, relaxing drive through gorgeous scenery and past UNESCO World Heritage-listed villages and little towns. Once you reach the coastal region, head over to Monterosso al Mare, by far one of the most picturesque villages of Cinque Terre. Explore the pedestrian tunnels and the plethora of cafes and restaurants for a relaxing lunch. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a ferry and take a cruise around the area to enjoy the most gorgeous sights of the Italian Riviera.
Genoa is really a pearl on the Italian seaside that’s not to be missed. High-speed train is the easiest way to get there, or a long drive would also do. Once in Genoa, take the time to explore the winding streets and impressive buildings all along the city. It’s famous for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and you can still see the very streets he would have walked on. Take a stroll along the seaside, or visit the Palace of the Doges and Piazza de Ferrari to fully take in the atmosphere of Genoa. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a quick trip to nearby Portofino, a wonderful place to enjoy state-of-the-art Mediterranean scenery.
13. Ferrari Museum and Lamborghini Factory
If you’re a lover of the finer things in life, then you’ll definitely enjoy a tour of the birthplaces of two of the most famous luxury cars in the world. It’s easy to get on a high-speed train from Milano to Bologna and, once there, a bus or a car can take you straight to the Lamborghini Museum. It’s only opened in 2016, so it’s brand new for you to enjoy – take a stroll through the museum and enjoy the amazing exhibits on the latest Lamborghini models. Afterwards, head over to Modena for the Ferrari museum, right next to a famous Ferrari race track. Once again, you can join a guided tour to find out more about Ferrari’s fascinating history – and you can even see the car that Formula 1 superstar Michael Schumacher used to drive.
It would be a shame to visit Italy and not try some of the famous Italian wines. Milan is within easy driving distance of Franciacorta, a famous winery region. You can either explore its wonders yourself, or you can book on a guided tour, which will take you through the enchanting process of winemaking. Afterwards, you’ll get a chance to explore the atmospheric vineyards yourself and have a relaxing lunch in nearby restaurants, with top-quality cheese and wine. If you feel like you want more out of the region, Franciacorta has amazing shopping outlets between Lake Iseo and Lake Garda.
A 2-hour high-speed train will whizz you through rolling hills and gorgeous countryside right into the heart of Tuscany. Florence is famous for its beautiful streets, palaces and cathedrals, as well as the multitude of art galleries. Stroll along the winding streets to the famous Duomo, one of the biggest cathedrals in Italy. Then make your way down to the Arno river by Ponte Vecchio, admiring the beautiful Palazzo Vecchio on the way. Finally, if you have time, enjoy the famous works of some of the best Italian masters in the Uffizi Gallery – due to its size, it’s recommended to plan which parts of it you want to see before you go in. A fair warning though, once you’ve been to Florence once, you’ll probably want to come back for more, soon!