Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, is resplendent with options for the visiting tourist.
With its chic high-end shops, myriad winding streets to explore, and plentiful beautiful buildings to admire, there is a lot to keep you occupied.
Don’t venture further afield before you’ve climbed up to view the city from the roof of Milan’s Duomo, sampled a rainbow of flavours from one of the many gelato vendors around the city, and of course, snatched a peek at Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper – after elbowing your way through all the crowds.
Only then can you think about exploring the best day trips from Milan:
1. Lake Como
Head to Italy’s third largest lake for the day, and experience a luxurious cruise around its waters.
You’ll admire the stunning alpine scenery from the bow of the boat, as well as getting the chance to take a sneak peek at the beautiful waterside properties on its shores.
Combine the lake visit with a tour around Como city at its southern tip, whose historic centre is sure to charm you.
Spend a relaxed couple of hours meandering through its pretty streets, and perhaps take a ride on its funicular, taking it all in before you return to the bustle of Milan.
2. St. Moritz, Switzerland
You might be surprised to learn that Switzerland is just a day trip away from Italy’s capital.
Hop on the Bernina Express from Tirano and you’ll be there in just two and a half hours.
The journey itself is worth it: this is the steepest rail journey in the world, ascending from 429 metres up to over 1800 in the Swiss mountains.
The stunning alpine scenery viewed from the train window will mean you won’t want to leave the train.
You’ll end up in the Swiss town of St. Moritz, one of Switzerland’s most famous mountain resorts.
There’ll be time enough to fully explore before you head back down the mountains on the train.
A visit to Bergamo is often combined with a trip to Lake Como, but it’s well worth a day of exploration in its own right.
With historic walls stretching for five kilometres to encircle the old town, and plentiful medieval architecture to look at, it holds significant intrigue for tourists wanting a pretty place to spend the day.
Ride the funicular from the bottom to the top of the town, and take a look at Bergamo’s significant monuments, such as the St. Maria Maggiore Cathedral and the Colleoni Chapel.
Finally don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate Bergamo’s incredible surrounds, with hills stretching for miles, all the way down to distant Lake Como.
The Franciacorta region offers some spectacular, award winning wines for you to sample, in amongst splendid Italian scenery.
Get the chance to meet the wine producers themselves, and ask questions about the process of wine making, and what makes their particular brand so delicious.
The boutique wineries of Franciacorta really do offer something special.
And of course, what would a visit to Milan be without setting aside time for shopping? The Franciacorta design outlet has plenty of bargains to offer a savvy shopper, so make sure to get your hands on the goods here.
What could be better than taking a trip to one of Italy’s most prized romantic cities, waterway-crossed Venice? Though it’s hard to fit all of Venice’s delights into just one day, you can certainly try.
Wander its cool, cobbled streets, have a coffee in the famous Piazza San Marco, and perhaps stretch to riding a gondola through the canals for a truly luxury experience.
You’ll no doubt be suitably charmed by the sparkling lagoon and fantastic architecture that characterises one of Italy’s most popular cities for tourists.
If you still have time, head over to one of Venice’s nearby islands, such as Murano with its famous glass-blowing traditions, and perhaps purchase a trinket to take back home.
6. Cinque Terre
The picture-perfect Cinque Terre is a brilliant place to visit, especially for those who might want to get that perfect Instagram shot.
With layer upon layer of rainbow-hued houses perched upon hillsides, the five villages of Cinque Terre are sure to surprise and delight visitors.
Keep your camera out for this visit: you certainly won’t regret it.
These UNESCO World-Heritage listed lands are certainly one of the most picturesque sights in all of Italy.
You likely won’t have time to explore all five, but there’ll be time enough to wander round Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza, grab an ice cream and watch the fishermen at work.
7. Lugano and Bellagio
Often referred to as the ‘pearl of Lake Como’, it’s easy to see why Bellagio merits a spot on the list of best day trips from Milan.
Simply sit back and enjoy the ambience of this wonderful city, sampling its best food and drinks.
Afterward, head over the border to Lugano, and enjoy the fabulous scenic delights of the Swiss Alps along the way.
This is your chance to sample world-renowned Swiss chocolate, and perhaps buy some as a souvenir for friends and family back home.
Or keep it to yourself…
8. Lake Maggiore & the Borromean Islands
Lake Maggiore and its cluster of pretty islands is certainly worth a day away from Milan.
Grab a hop-on, hop-off ferry pass and spend the day jumping from island to island across the sparkling water.
Start from Stresa, on the shore, and make your way slowly to Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori to check out their individual charms.
With the sun in the sky there could hardly be a more tranquil way to spend some time on your Italian holiday.
Be sure to take a look at the Palace Museum and Gardens on Isola Madre, and spend some time browsing for souvenirs on Isola dei Pescatori.
9. Lake Garda
You could hardly take a trip to Italy without paying a visit to its largest and most famous lake, Lake Garda.
Travel by train through the beautiful Lombard countryside to reach it, and enjoy its Mediterranean climate on arrival.
You’ll be able to spend some time out on the water on a quick cruise, as well as travelling to the gorgeous lakeside towns of Sirmione and Desenzano.
The ‘pearl’ of the lake, Sirmione has much to offer tourists: a fortress, a Roman villa, and the Catullo caves.
The port of Desenzano also has a spectacular medieval castle.
Shakespeare’s fair Verona certainly merits an excursion – and it is surely just as pretty as he described.
Follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet, through the streets immortalised in his play.
You’ll get the chance to see the very balcony from which Juliet wondered ‘wherefore art thou Romeo?’
Beyond Shakespeare, Verona has other strings to its bow.
Check out the fantastic Roman amphitheatre, built in the first century AD, or head downtown to take a look at the Piazza Mercato.
11. Genova and Portofino
This day trip away from the busy city sees you explore the gorgeous Ligurian coast.
Genova, Italy’s largest port, holds much delight for tourists, with many important monuments and an old town which has in part been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
While you’re exploring the coastline, move further along to spend some time in the colourful village of Portofino and its neighbour Santa Margherita Ligure.
Take in the picturesque sight of fishing boats bobbing along the water, and breathe deeply in the salty air, before you head back city-wards.
12. Interlaken & the Swiss Alps
Who’d have thought that just a few hours’ journey from Milan lay the glorious Alpine scenery of Interlaken? After a journey on the ‘Green Train of the Alps’ you’ll find yourself in a different world from the busy city: mountain lakes and lofty peaks and gorgeous green countryside.
Interlaken is a great place simply to get lost, but if that’s not tempting enough for you, how about a sample of that famous Swiss chocolate?
13. Maranello Ferrari tour
One of Italy’s most well-known and well-loved appeals is the Ferrari brand.
If high-speed cars zipping round race tracks is your thing, this day trip will certainly be high up on your list.
Spend the day immersing yourself in all things Ferrari, with a trip to Maranello.
Check out the test track where factory-fresh cars are put through their paces, learn more about the brand and its history in the Museo Ferrari, and glory in the exhibits of old-style cars in the gallery.
For more Formula 1 fun, head to the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari to learn about its 40-year history.
Beautiful Florence is certainly a must visit on an Italy adventure.
It’s a brilliant place just to spend a few hours wandering round, but it also has a whole host of important cultural attractions, such as the famous Uffizi art gallery and the impressive Duomo offering panoramic city views from the top.
Make sure you check out the Ponte Vecchio, where the Medici family once trod, and the jewellers who set up shop along its length.
Italy’s first capital, Turin, is of course most famous for its shroud depicting the face of Jesus.
However, there’s a lot more to it than a length of cloth.
During your visit you should certainly make time for the baroque church of San Lorenzo and the cathedral, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
Even just strolling along Turin’s tree-lined boulevards is a highly enjoyable way to spend your day, or sitting back to relax in one of its many cafes.