The Best (Easy) Day Trips from Milan

Milan Duomo Cathedral facade

Ahh, Milan. Maybe you know it for high fashion, or maybe you know it for being that one city in Italy no traveler seems crazy about… Ask anyone who’s been there, and they’ll likely say something along the lines of “See The Last Supper and the roof of the Duomo, and don’t stay longer than a day.” Personally, I enjoyed my whopping four nights (gasp!) in Milan. But I have to admit, the to-do list of attractions here pales in comparison to Rome, Florence, or Venice. If you have more than one day here, you might find yourself unsure how to spend it. Luckily, Milan is in a prime location for some pretty great day trips. Let’s go in order of favorites, shall we?

Villa del Balbianello in Lenno, Lake Como, Italy
Como city on Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy
Verona, Italy
Bergamo Città Alta as viewed from San Viglio.
Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, Italy


Ever heard of Lake Como? I’ve associated this glitzy lake with American celebrities like George Clooney for some time now. But while traveling through Italy, I found that only my fellow American travelers seemed to have heard of it! Non-American travelers often thought I was talking about Lake Garda. It was crazy that a place on my bucket list for so long was unknown to so many people I met during my trip, but hey, I guess that meant (slightly) less crowds for me!

Salita Serbelleni is the famous street in Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy
Varenna, Lake Como, Italy
Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy
Villa del Balbianello, Lenno, Lake Como, Italy

If you have heard of Lake Como, you’ll know that it’s not the cheapest place to visit. So an easy one-day trip might be the most cost-efficient way to see it. Take the train about 1.5 hours from Milan to Varenna. From there, use the ferry system and spend the day exploring (at minimum) Varenna, Bellagio (the crown jewel of the lake), and either Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo or Villa del Balbianello in Lenno. 

Recommended reading: The Perfect Two Week Italy Itinerary (especially for your first time!)

How to Day Trip from Milan to Varenna by Train

Take a one-hour direct regional train from Milano Centrale to Varenna-Esino for €6.70. From there, take ferries to the rest of the sights. If you plan to see more than simply Varenna and Bellagio, this trip will require a bit of advanced planning to ensure you catch the last ferry back to Varenna. Or, if you hate planning, check out the super-detailed itinerary guide I made for this exact Lake Como day trip from Milan. It’s complete with prices, a suggested rough time schedule, and maps.


Wait. Wasn’t Lake Como already on this list? Well, yes, but it’s honestly just that great that it takes the number one and number two spots for best day trips from Milan. Plus, aside from great views of the water and mountains, Como is a totally different vibe than the smaller towns and villages in the previously suggested day trip.

Lake Como, Italy
Boats in Como city, Lake Como, Italy
Statue in Como town center, Italy
Restaurant chairs and umbrella in Como, Italy

Como, the city for which the lake is named, is a large and lively spot, filled with Italians and non-Italians alike. It is very different in atmosphere from the small towns and villages you will be able to visit in the middle area of the lake. It boasts a large Duomo, several international shopping stores, and wide streets. However, it still has that lakeside charm and, of course, beautiful surroundings.

How to Day Trip from Milan to Como by Train

Como is closer to Milan than Varenna, and since you’ll be staying put in one city rather than ferrying between multiple towns, this is definitely the easier Lake Como day trip between the two. Simply catch a €4.80 direct regional train from Milan Nord Cardona train station to Como Nord Lago train station, or a €4.80 direct regional train from Milano Centrale to Como S. Giovanni. The ride will take an hour or less, depending which route and departure time.


“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene…” Romeo and Juliet, anyone? This pretty little city was made world famous in the 1600s after Shakespeare set his romantic tragedy here. Even though the story is fiction, tourists flock here to visit famous scenes from the play, such as Juliet’s balcony, Romeo’s house, and Juliet’s tomb.

Verona city view from Castel San Pietro
Colorful buildings in Verona, Italy
Statue of Juliet in front of Casa di Giulietta in Verona, Italy
Typical Italian table cloth setting in Verona

But are Romeo and Juliet all there is to Verona? Definitely not. I recommend seeing, at minimum, the below. But for a full, detailed breakdown, check out my guide of every single thing to see in Verona, complete with photos of each.

  • Arena di Verona (the Roman Amphitheater)
  • Castelvecchio Bridge (which you can walk across for free!)
  • the view from Castel San Pietro (the view is free)
  • Ponte Pietra bridge
  • the frescos on the Mazzanti Houses in Piazza delle Erbe
  • Piazza dei Signori
  • Loggia del Consiglio

Pro tip: If you’re into churches, be sure to purchase the €6 joint ticket for four of Verona’s churches, rather than €3 for each separately. The four churches are: San Zeno, the Complex of the Cathedral, Basilica of St. Anastasia, and San Fermo. If you’re keen to visit ALL of Verona’s attractions in one day, definitely purchase the €20 Verona Card. It allows entry into the four churches mentioned, plus the Arena, Juliet’s house, unlimited city bus travel, and more. You can buy the card at the entrance booth of monuments and museums, as well as at newsstands and tobacconists in the city center.

I’ll be honest – Verona was a lot more touristy than I was expecting in early October, so be prepared for some crowds in the city’s center. (And expect double those crowds by Juliet’s house!)

How to Day Trip from Milan to Verona by Train

From Milan Centrale train station, you can take either a two-hour regional train to get to Verona Porta Nuova train station for €12.75, or a 75-minute-long Frecciarossa train. While regional train prices are usually fixed, Frecciarossa train prices are cheaper the further out you purchase. Purchase early enough, and the shorter train can be cheaper than the two-hour one!


Bergamo Città Alta
Bergamo Cathedral, Italy
Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo Città Alta
Bergamo church interior

When I heard there was an old walled city on a hill one-hour’s train ride from Milan, I knew I had to visit. It’s called Bergamo, and it is separated into the newer Cittá Bassa and the old, walled Cittá Alta. The Cittá Alta is the main draw, sitting up on a hill and boasting views for days. I already have a detailed post on how to do a Bergamo day trip from Milan, which includes what to see, prices, maps, and more, so I’ll spare us both and not repeat it all in this post too.

How to Day Trip from Milan to Bergamo by Train

It’s a short one-hour, €5.50 regional train from Milano Centrale to Bergamo’s train station, but getting to the Cittá Alta and back requires a bus and funicular. Instead of paying separately for each mode of transport, I saved money by using an unlimited travel pass! I explain how in the super-detailed itinerary guide I made for this exact Bergamo day trip from Milan, so I won’t rehash all the details here.


This one is for all the foodies. Lasagna Bolognese? Prosciutto? Balsamic vinegar? Parmesan cheese? All these foods and more are from either Bologna or the cities nearby it. Simply said: people come to Bologna to eat. When asked for restaurant recommendations, my hostel reception literally replied that everywhere is good. It’s not too often you hear that from a local!

People in front of Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, Italy
Food market in Bologna, Italy
Statue in Bologna Italy
Bologna tower and people walking main street

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of meats and cheeses (hence why Bologna takes the fifth slot in my list), but even so, I enjoyed trying Italy’s most famous foods in the region where they were born. If you’re also keen on trying all the must-eats from this region, I recommend using this article I found before my trip!

In addition to being a food capital, Bologna is a ridiculously lively city. There were at least three different large events going on each day I was there – and I was there for three days! Lots of young people are out and about all day (probably due to the university), and the main street is closed off to cars on Saturdays so that pedestrians can roam freely. Best of all (in my humble opinion) – it’s not overly touristy at all! It’s always nice to feel like you are experiencing a “normal” city, not changed from its original self in order to meet the needs of modern tourism.

How to Day Trip from Milan to Bologna by Train

From Milano Centrale, take the non-stop, 70-minute Frecciarossa train to Bologna Centrale. You can also take a direct Frecciarossa train from Porta Garibaldi, which gets you to Bologna in an hour and twenty minutes. The Frecciarossa is the “fast train,” not the regional train, so buy this ticket as far in advance as you can to get the lowest price!


  • Always validate your ticket. You do this by inserting the ticket into the machines typically located at the front of each platform or in front of the stairs to each platform. If you forget to do this and you’re caught, you’ll be fined! Can’t be bothered? Consider using the TrenItalia mobile app instead.
  • Regional trains are cheapest and usually don’t change price over time. Faster trains are cheaper the further out you buy them. If you are planning to only use regional trains, I recommend not buying far in advance, to allow flexibility in case your plans change. But for long trips, like Venice to Rome, or Rome to Naples, you can save hours by purchasing the faster train. So be sure to purchase it far out while prices are lower!
  • When reading the “Departures” board, look for your train’s departure time, not your destination city. Example: You are heading to Rome and your train departs at 11:30. At the departures board, you see a train for “Rome” departing at 11:29, and a train for “Naples” departing at 11:30. Take the train for “Naples,” which apparently has a STOP in Rome. Don’t just automatically hop on any train that says “Rome!”


Did I miss any other easy day trips from Milan? Do you disagree with my rankings? I’m always looking for places to add on my Italy list, and I *love* discussing travel, so let me know in the comments below.

I’ve visited all these places myself, some as day trips, and some for longer stays. If you have any questions about which Milan day trip fits your needs best, or which Milan day trip is worth turning into an extended stay, let me know in the comments, and I’ll offer any help I can.

Like This? Save It for Later on Pinterest.

Milan is the perfect base for great (and easy!) day trips by train. Click through to read how to get to top European destinations like Lake Como, Verona, Bologna, and more from Milan. This guide also includes travel tips like things to do and budget tips.
Top 5 Can't Miss Day Trips from Milan: Varenna & Bellagio, Como, Verona, Bergamo, & Bologna. How to travel by train from Milan to each included.
Top 5 Can't Miss Day Trips from Milan: Varenna & Bellagio, Como, Verona, Bergamo, & Bologna. How to travel by train from Milan to each included.


  • Sarah Puckett
    January 23, 2020 at 1:54 PM

    I’m so happy I read your post today! I’m actually planning a trip to northern Italy for September/October timeframe so this was really helpful to start to get some more concrete ideas.

    • That Travelista
      January 23, 2020 at 2:50 PM

      I did all these in that exact same timeframe! It was perfect – less crowds but still warm. Hope you love your trip!

  • orangewayfarer
    January 22, 2020 at 2:04 PM

    So my brother lives in Milan and he keeps talking about Lake Como. It is particularly famous among Indians because we have a few big budget weddings there. Now I see why! It is stunning in one word. Look forward to visit one day 🙂

    • That Travelista
      January 23, 2020 at 2:49 PM

      Lake Como is truly something else! Highly recommend seeing it.

  • Nikki
    January 22, 2020 at 1:33 PM

    Looove these trips! I’ve never been to Milan and would love to get there in 2020.

    • That Travelista
      January 23, 2020 at 2:48 PM

      It has a bit of a bad rep compared to Rome, Venice, and Florence, but it makes a great day-trip base! Hope you get to see for yourself soon 🙂

  • Alissa
    January 22, 2020 at 1:13 PM

    These day trips all look gorgeous! I’d be happy to do 1 (or all of them!).

    • That Travelista
      January 23, 2020 at 2:47 PM

      I can highly recommend all of them!! 🙂

  • Miranda
    January 22, 2020 at 12:57 PM

    It’s always great to know day trip opportunities while traveling! Milan is a city I still want to visit and it’s great to know it’s near so many other wonderful cities such as Verona!

    • That Travelista
      January 23, 2020 at 2:47 PM

      It definitely is surrounded by a LOT of great spots!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.