Take a look at our five best day trips from Milan below, including how to get there and what to see.
- The Italian Lakes
- Cinque Terre
- The Swiss Alps
1. The Italian Lakes
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Well, if the same applies to Milan, then the first place you should probably look for day trips from Milan is the lakes. North of the city towards the Dolomite mountains, the northern Italian Lakes region is full of stunning scenery and gorgeous lakeside towns. Best of all? It's less than an hour from Milan, which is probably why it's the most popular place for locals to take a day trip.
A mere 38-minute train trip from Milan by the fastest Eurocity train, Lake Como has been the upscale option for well-to-do Milanese holidays for almost two centuries. Blessed with incredible alpine scenery, sparkling water and dramatic geography, Lake Como is brilliant to see in both summer and winter. Close to where the train arrives in Como township, you can take the funicular up to Brunate for stunning views and a real alpine village feel. You can even sneak in a day skiing during winter.
Lake Garda, only 57 minutes away from Milan if you travel on a Frecciarossa high-speed train, is renowned for its crystal-clear swimming water and impressive historical fortress. Frecciarossa trains offer extra comfort and high-quality onboard services, including free WiFi, power sockets at every seat and a catering service called FrecciaBistrò which offers drinks and snacks, as well as gourmet breakfast and lunch menu options. Moreover, if you buy a Frecciarossa Executive ticket, you can get free access to FrecciaLounge, where you can enjoy free WiFi and newspapers and a complimentary drink or snack while waiting for you train at Milan Central station.
Only 1h 13m from Milan by train, Verona has a lot going for it – except, unlike Venice, crowds of tourists. Well, that is excluding the hordes of selfie-takers and graffiti-scribblers who cram into the courtyard of the house where "Juliet's Balcony" is located. Despite the name and popularity, however, this house has very little to do with the William Shakespeare play that made Verona famous (the balcony was built in 1936 to attract tourists). If you’re really interested in the history of Verona, though, you'll find a lot to see here.
Much of the inspiration for the Capulet and Montague families may have come from the Scaligeri family, who ruled Verona during the late Middle Ages and whose family crest can still be seen on buildings all over the city. Long before them, though, Verona was a Roman city, and the Roman Arena – the third-largest ancient amphitheatre in the world – pays homage to that. The rule of the Venetian, Napoleonic, and Austrian empires also left their mark on Verona over the centuries, most notably through picturesque castles and fortifications.
3. Cinque Terre
It's easy to reach all five villages of the Cinque Terre directly by train from Milan – with an Intercity train operated by Trenitalia you can be in Monterosso in under three hours, and you don't have to change. Each village has its own special charm – if you want to eat delicious seafood and drink local wine, head to Riomaggiore. If you want to swim, the quiet and beautiful beach at Vernazza usually wins out. What they all have in common, though, other than the fact that they're gorgeous, is that they're easy to reach by train. In fact, given how tiny each town is, and how impossibly crammed-in they are between the sea and the mountains, bringing a car here and trying to find a car park is about the worst idea you could imagine.
Luckily, the train stations, lines, and service in the Cinque Terre are excellent. Seven towns in and around the Cinque Terre have train stations and are well-connected thanks to the Cinque Terre Express, the fast-regional train operated by Trenitalia. Getting to La Spezia (2h 56m) is a good starting point for short and stunning regional train journeys to Corniglia, Manarola and Levanto.
It's no surprise that Venice is one of the most highly visited places on the planet. It's beautiful. It's historic. It's unique. It's magical. But your experience can be dampened by having to rub shoulders with thousands of visitors everywhere you go or having to pay €10 more for everything than you normally would. However, the good news is that you don't have to. Although gondola rides are iconic, a canal boat tour is much cheaper and no less interesting. Instead of cramming like sardines into the stairwell to climb the famous San Marco Tower, head across the bridge to the higher (and less crowded) Church of Saint George – the views are even better!
Sure, Venice is busy, especially during peak summer. But there are lots of places off the beaten tourist track worth exploring. And there are plenty of affordable, worthy alternatives to the most famous tourist sites. Best of all? You can do it all on a day trip from Milan. Only 2h from Milan with a Frecciarossa train, it's easy to get from Milan to Venice and back again on the same day without having to wake up early or return late. Milan Central Station is right in the heart of Milan, and Venezia Santa Lucia is situated just at the edge of Venice's historical centre, so you won't waste much time getting to and from the station.
5. The Swiss Alps
Whether you want to enjoy the winter sports opportunities of the mountains or explore some lush alpine plains during summer, Milan is very handily located for day trips to the beautiful Swiss Alps. You can get from Milan to Interlaken, the archetypal Swiss Alp town with wooden chalets, towering pine trees, and picturesque old town lining the lake, in just 3h. This means that, if you wake up early, you could start your day in Milan and soon be skiing some of the 130 miles of ski trails surrounding Interlaken in the renowned Jungfrau ski region. During summer, Interlaken is arguably even more beautiful, as grassy hiking trails and dramatic mountain backdrops explode into a range of colours.
Something that sets the Swiss Alps apart from other alpine destinations is its incredibly well-developed railway system. Famous classic train journeys here include the scenic Bernina Express and the Glacier Express. But more easily manageable for Milan day trips is the "Top of Europe" train from Interlaken to the Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe at an altitude of 3,466 metres! The train chugging through metres of snow to an incredible viewpoint is a unique journey that literally feels like another world.
These aren't the only day trips from Milan you can do by train. But they give an idea of how easy it is to get out of the city for a day and explore something completely different. For more information or to start booking your journey, visit our page detailing how to best travel by train in Italy.