Short Trips from Milan

When I worked in Milan I took advantage of weekends to travel. Below I’ve made a list of my favorite places to visit from Milan in 1, 2, 3 or 4 days. I’ve put cities in a list based on the minimum amount of time I recommend spending there. Unless otherwise specified, all travel times are by train.



If you have just 1 day…

  • Visit the Carthusian Monastery of Pavia, only 20 minutes away.
  • The town and beautiful park of Monza are just 10 minutes away.
  • The ancient town of Bergamo is under an hour away.
  • The Roman town of Como, on the lake with the same name, is just an hour away.
  • The Lake Maggiore is also one hour away. Take the train to the beautiful town of Stresa and go from there.
  • Go to Switzerland! In 1 hour you are in the pretty lakeside town of Lugano.
  • Gawk at the the picturesque alpine scenery of the Aosta Valley.
  • In just over an hour, you’re in the atmospheric university city of Bologna.
  • Visit the gastronomically and architecturally significant Parma, less than 90 minutes away. Arrive hungry.
  • At 90 minutes away, Turin is somewhat of a long day trip but one of my favorite people lives there so I’ve done it many times.
  • The port city of Genoa is also about 90 minutes away. It’s a long day trip but if that’s all you have, then go, and at the end of the day you’ll be promising to return as soon as you can.

Shopaholics, take note – there are a couple of my favorite outlet stores in Italy not far from Milan (one is actually in Switzerland!).

CRW_1499 sirmione small


If you have 2 days, consider any of the above, and in addition….

Lucca duomo


If you have 3 days, consider any of the above, and in addition…


If you have 4 days, consider any of the above, and in addition…

I don’t recommend going south of Rome if you have only 4 days total, nor do I recommend trying to go to Sardinia or Sicily. You just need more time that that (even though, I know, Italy does look misleadingly small on the map!)

Photos from top to bottom: Parma, Sirmione, Lucca, the Dolomites near Ortisei. All photos by Sanjay

Italy Beyond the Obvious will help make your trip truly memorable. Take advantage of our Italy trip planning services for a customized itinerary, or get coaching assistance with our Italy travel consulting services. And if you like what you read, why not subscribe to the Italy Beyond the Obvious blog and get free updates?

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Posted by on Mar 16, 2010 in Milan | 21 Comments


  1. jkiel
    March 17, 2010

    so many things to see/do! You could also go up to Bolzano and see the Ice Man, Ötzi! Or visit some of the 800 castles in the Sudtirol…

  2. Madeline
    March 18, 2010

    The concentration of incredible things to see in Italy is incredible isn’t it! And I had no idea there were that many castles in the Sudtirol – that would be the subject of a blog post…. or an entire blog!!

  3. Venec
    January 26, 2012

    I always wanted to see northern Italy, and only managed short trip to Mantova.

  4. Rhoda Falconio
    November 3, 2012

    Short Trips from Milan » Italy is a wonderful blog post. I will take more time researching this issue.

  5. Pooja @lostinprettyeurope
    July 22, 2016

    What a great post!
    I work full-time but there are RyanAir connections from Poland to Milan on Friday evenings (for the weekend), but I am not interested in seeing Milan (or any big cities..). Cinque Terre sounds good, but do you think it’s doable especially when I will have to return back to Poland by Sunday evening? 🙂


    • Madeline
      July 22, 2016

      Hi Pooja, for the Cinque Terre it would be better to fly to Pisa or Genoa even Florence. If you land at Malpensa airport, it’s an hour into the city and then about 3 hours to the Cinque Terre — that’s a lot for just a weekend….

  6. Fee
    March 27, 2017

    Hey we are flying from london to Poland for 4 nights then onto italy we fly to milan malpensa airport. We will be staying 2 possibly 3 nights. Which areas would tou recommend. Id really like to go venice any of the lakes or verona or florence. Are any of these do able by traon from milan. Thank you 😊

    • Heather E
      June 24, 2017

      Hi Fee –
      Have you already explored Milano? There are great things to see there. The train ride from Milano to Venice is between 3-4 hours. I personally do not care for Venice because it is very crowded and it is a hard maze to navigate. I love Verona which I am pretty sure would be closer to Milano. Verona has a beautiful coliseum, great shopping, a beautiful piazza, and Juliet’s balcony.
      Padua is also a great town to visit. Must sees are: Prato Della Valle, a coffe at Cafe Pedrocchi, and a panino from Della Zitta.
      Buon Viaggio!

  7. Rose Reid
    August 24, 2017

    This is fantastic! I’ll be on a 45-day adventure abroad and Milan is one of the places I’ll be in that time period! So so exciting, and great to see another travel blogger has already put a guide up. Thanks so much!

  8. Hemanth
    February 16, 2018

    Hi, I have 6 days during the Easter weekend starting from 29th Mar. flying in & out of Bergamo. I have set the itinerary as follows. 1 day Bergamo, 1 Day Lake Como, Bellagio, 2 days Milan & 2 Days Genoa. You think this is good. Or you suggest to skip Genoa & choose another city or village?

    • Madeline
      February 16, 2018

      Hi Hemanth, I’d keep your itinerary just as you have it!

      Those are all beautiful places and Genova is definitely an undiscovered gem of a city.

      Keep in mind that Easter is a major holiday in Italy, so sights may be closed or may have modified hours from Good Friday all the way through to Monday (“pasquetta”, or little Easter). Just make sure to check timetables of trains & opening hours in general, in advance so that you can see the things you want to see in each place.

      Also, many Italians travel over Easter weekend so make sure to book accommodations soon. You could visit Bergamo, Lake Como, and Milan from a base in Milan and then move to Genova for 2 nights.

  9. Hemant
    February 24, 2018

    I will be going to Milan and have two weekends from friday evening to Monday back to office so want good plan for two weeks i can have in my travel to Italy so if you can help me and guide me.

    • Madeline
      February 25, 2018

      Hemant – thanks for reaching out! We’d love to help create a couple of weekend trips for you. Please review our table of Italy Travel Planning Services & Fees here and let me know what works best for you

      Please get in touch with me directly at [email protected] to get started. Thanks so much!

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  12. Soubarna
    August 13, 2019

    Hi, thank you for the suggestions. I have one question. Is train tickets generally available on the day? Or should I plan ahead for the short trips?

  13. karen
    December 17, 2019

    Do you recommend doing a day trip to the Bernina Express train from Milan?

  14. Madeline
    December 18, 2019

    Soubarna, if you can buy the train tickets in advance, it’s better. They do sell out, and you never know. There are lots of trains, and if you’re just one person, not traveling at rush hour, or in high season, then chances are you’ll be able to buy a ticket on the spot. But they are easy to buy in advance online.

  15. Madeline
    December 18, 2019

    Karen – doing a day trip to the Bernina express from Milan is way too far in my opinion. Just getting to Tirano from Milan is more than 2 hours. Then you have to get there with time before the train departs, and take the train both ways, and then it’s 2 hours back to Milan. The train to St Moritz is about 2 hours, so I guess it’s doable in theory but it would be a very long day. And make sure to include leeway which you need when planning ANY Italian logistics. Things do not run like clockwork. Also make sure to get Bernina tickets in advance as those do sell out. Hope that helps!

  16. Emma
    December 27, 2019


    I am thrilled I’ve found this!

    I am looking into a 2/3 night trip with my daughter who is 5 and used to little adventures as such. I am wondering if you have any recommendations for where would be best to head for day trips that are good for families/children too?

  17. Madeline
    December 27, 2019

    Hi Emma, I’m glad you found it helpful! For 5 year olds, I’d recommend places that are not too far, accessible by train (fun for kids!), with lots of pedestrian areas so they can explore, and somewhere you can tell them great stories — ie Italian history.

    It really depends on what time of year you’re going, whether you’ve been before, and whether the child has anything they want to see or do. For example, lots of kids want to climb the Leaning tower of Pisa. VERY touristy, but hey, why not.

    If you haven’t been to Florence before, I’d suggest that. But no museums 🙂

    If you’re looking at high season and want to have fewer crowds than Florence, consider Bologna.

    If you’d prefer a smaller city, consider Verona, and a visit to Lake Garda.

    Venice is also wonderful for that age — they’re big enough that you don’t have to worry about them in a stroller (not ideal in Venice), and also you can do a scavenger hunt approach. Have them count bridges, look for different types of boats, count the number of lions (Venice’s symbol). Just keep a strong hold of their hand – there are no railings on the canals.

    The possibiities are endless…. I hope that helps you narrow it down.


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