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Best Day Trips from Milan

Once you’ve experienced Milan’s cosmopolitan culture, world-class art, and aperitivo hour, escape the crowds and go beyond the city with these day trips from Milan:

If you want a quick trip outside Milan:

Monza
Monza. Photo © Lindsey Davison.

Monza

Why Go: Tour the royal villa and see fast cars at the late-summer Italian Grand Prix.
Travel Time: 10-20 minutes by train

Monza, just northeast of Milan, is one of the city’s most influential and historic suburbs. From the Middle Ages onward, royal families from various empires have chosen Monza as their temporary residence. Although the primary attractions are the villa, the park, and the racetrack, there is plenty to see in the city center, so you can easily make a day or afternoon trip from Milan.

If you want beauty, elegance, and la dolce vita:

Lake Como

Why Go: Admire the Alps from a hilly lakeside village, like Bellagio, Como, or Menaggio.
Travel time: To Varenna: 1 hour by train. To Lecco: 40 minutes by train. To Como: 40-50 minutes by train

Despite its luxurious and posh reputation, there’s plenty for the average visitor to see and do, from sailing and hiking to drinking local wine and eating seafood by the lakeshore. Roughly an hour away from Milan, Lake Como is the ideal getaway for those looking for an escape from the city, with its quaint villages of quiet churches and historic villas, narrow winding alleys lined with boutiques and bars, and lush gardens hugging the shore.

Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore.
Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore. Photo © Lindsey Davison.

Lake Maggiore

Why go: Explore the Borromean Islands, especially the lush gardens of Isola Bella.
Travel Time: To Stresa: 55 minutes by freccia; 1.5 hours by regional train.

Italy’s second largest lake is one of the best kept secrets around Milan and a favorite destination among international visitors. Although not as large and prominent as Lake Garda, nor as frequented by celebrities as Lake Como, Lake Maggiore sits quietly and beautifully an hour northwest of Milan. The higher in altitude you go, the more the shoreline towns will evoke that classic Alpine feel. On the lake itself, however, especially on the Borromean Islands, you’ll enjoy a more Mediterranean feel.

If you want a mix of culture and nature:

Lugano

Why go: Get a taste of Swiss culture with a distinctly Mediterranean twist at this blue glacial lake.
Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes by Eurocity train; 1 hour 10 minutes by Tilo train

From hotel resorts and spas ideal for rest and relaxation to casinos, bars, and lounges perfect for a night on the town, there truly is something for everyone here—and it’s all enjoyed against the backdrop of pristine glacial waters and the majestic Swiss and Italian Alps. Spend the day hiking in the mountains or sunning yourself on the beaches. For a dose of culture and history, you can wander through its world-class art museum and charming lakeside villages.

If you want outdoor adventures:

Bardolino
Bardolino, on the coast of Lake Garda. Photo © Lindsey Davison.

Lake Garda

Why go: Enjoy all that the “king of lakes” has to offer, from water sports and amusement parks to panoramic views and hiking atop Monte Baldo.
Travel time: Descenzano: 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes by train; Riva del Garda: 2 hours 30 minutes by car

As Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda offers a little of everything, from water sports to amusement parks to historic villas and ancient Roman ruins. The towns dotting its shores are nothing short of vibrant and charming, with plenty of things to do and see—both indoors and outdoors. More than any other lake, Garda is family-friendly in nature, with plenty of events and activities for children.

If you want a hidden gem:

Lake Orta

Why go: Wander the medieval village of Orta San Giulio and the charming colorful lake island, Isola Giulio—without the crowds.
Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes by car

If you’re looking to spend a relaxing day on the lake and get a full dose of Italian history and culture away from the hordes of international tourists, Lake Orta is your place. Orta San Giulio, the main village on the lake, is composed of narrow cobblestone alleys, ancient churches, local eateries, and a bustling, picturesque piazza on the waterfront. From here, take a quick boat ride to the beloved Isola San Giulio, a colorful and charming little island floating on the lake.






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