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Best 4 Day Trips From Milan For Summer 2024

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5 months ago

It’s no secret that I absolutely love visiting Milan. With its stunning Duomo, the show-stopping La Scala, fashion-forward culture, and slow-cooked pizzerias, Milan is the best of Italy.  

With one of Italy’s major international airports, Milan is likely the start or end of your Italian adventures – or just a lovely carb-seeking, wine-drinking weekend escape from London. But what many travelers don’t realize is that Milan is also an ideal base for exploring the breathtaking beauty and historical charm of Northern Italy. Oh, and did I mention you can even take an easy day-trip to another country?

milan duomo at night with lit up

In this article, I’ll share my best 4 day trips from Milan, each offering a unique escape combining the best of Northern Italian nature, landscapes and history.

1. Lake Como 

If you only do one day trip from Milan, make sure it’s Lake Como. Jaw-dropping mountain views, swans gliding on clear waters and the odd celebrity, Lake Como is the exact opposite energy of busy Milano.  

swans in lake como in italy with green mountains behind - one of the best day trips from milan

To make the most of your day trip from Milan, first explore the beautiful town center. The key to Como is relaxation: stroll along the scenic lake promenade and don’t miss out on the stunning Como Cathedral. 

broadwalk in lake como with people resting under trees - one of the best day trips from milan

My favorite thing to do at Lake Como is to get on the water. You will find a few boat providers on the lake promenade, and I don’t recommend any one in particular.

Travel tip: The key is to find someone who is leaving when you want to leave! Remember, you’re here on vacation.

lakeside town of bellagio in lake como italy with terracotta roof

If you are looking for something extra special (or just want to be efficient with your time), you might want to consider pre-arranging a private cruise around Lake Como.

water fountain in lake como with mountains in background - one of the best day trips from milan

Once you’re on a boat, make sure you allocate some time to visit the lakeside town of Bellagio, the home of George Clooney’s $100 million villa. Bellagio is truly an Italian travel cliché: full of lovely gardens, charming cafés, and picturesque viewpoints.

small towns on lake como in italy

Getting to Lake Como from Milan

The easiest way to get from Milan to Lake Como is to take the hourly trains from Milano Centrale (in North Milan) to Como San Giovanni. The train journey takes 40 minutes and couldn’t be easier.  

2. Lugano, Switzerland  

There’s no greater thrill than visiting a new country for the day! In just over one hour from Milan, you will arrive in Lugano, Switzerland.

red building with open shutters and sign that says gabbi with hanging salami

Lugano is located in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region, offering the perfect blend of Swiss efficiency and Mediterranean charm.

Being the Italian part of Switzerland, you can also expect amazing Italian food – and we all know that northern Italy has some of the best Italian food you can find.

two boats lined up by water in lugano with mountains   - one of the best day trips from milan

Switzerland is outside the Eurozone. This means that, while Euros are accepted in Lugano, you will almost definitely be given change in Swiss Francs!

Your day begins with a visit to Parco Ciani, a beautiful lakeside park offering scenic views of Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains. The park has an exotic collection of plants with my personal favorite, Japanese cypresses.

Continue to the Old Town, where you can wander through narrow streets, before continuing up to the Lugano Arte e Cultura center. In between all the sites of Lugano, make sure to dedicate some (very necessary) time to enjoy Swiss chocolates. Switzerland’s chocolate is world famous – it was even exported to Argentina’s Patagonia region.

modern contemporary architecture at LAC cultural centre in lugano with mountain behind and people walking

If you start early from Milan, you will have time for one of the top things to do in Lugano: the cable car ride up to Monte Brè for panoramic views.

For those seeking a unique souvenir from Lugano, I recommend the Libraire Papeterie Wega, a suave paper goods shop, full of locally made sketch books and writing sets.

arcade with yellow tiled floors and french style papeterie

Getting to Lugano from Milan

Regular trains run between Milano Centrale (in North Milan) and Lugano which can be easily purchased in advance. The faster trains are generally a little more expensive.

Local tip: If you are coming by train from Milan, make sure to sit on the left side of the train for the best views!

panorama photo with lake and mountains in lugano switzerland

If you are planning on continuing deeper into Switzerland, you can buy a train ticket from Lugano direct to Zurich (3 hours) or Basel (3 hours, 45 minutes). For those on a budget, buses in Switzerland tend to be cheaper and generally don’t take that much longer.

3. Turin

I’m a big Turin fan and, I’ll be honest, if you can stay here for a few days, you will get more out of the city!

old building with dome and flags over river in italy

I’m always surprised that Turin doesn’t feature more prominently on the Italian tourist trail. With one day in Turin, you must begin with some time in the magnificent Piazza Castello, one of the grandest piazzas in Italy.

statue looking over tower in turin italy

Local tip: Caffè al Bicerin, a local Turin cafe, is famous for inventing the Bicerin. This unique drink from Turin consists of layered espresso, drinking chocolate and milk and is best drunk alongside a piece of cake.

In my opinion, the greatest joy of Turin is simply wandering its covered arcades, popping in and out of cafes and finding quiet little squares. But if you do want to see the big ticket items, don’t miss out on the Royal Palace of Turin with its stunning gardens. The Palace can get busy and if you are only here for the day, make sure you pre-buy your entrance tickets to avoid the lines.

church in turin italy with statues and columns - one of the best day trips from milan

For those interested in Egypt or the Middle East more broadly, Turin’s Egyptian Museum is one of the most famous museums in Italy. This is generally considered to be the largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Cairo and one of the oldest museums in the world entirely dedicated to Egyptian civilization.

If you are planning on squeezing in the Egyptian museum on a day trip from Milan, be warned: the museum is huge! You might be better off joining a small group tour to make sure you don’t miss the highlights.

Getting to Turin from Milan

Getting from Milan to Turin is extremely easy with very regular trains from Milano Centrale (in North Milan) to Turino Porta Nuova. The train journey takes 1 hour and couldn’t be smoother.  

4. Aosta

I think Aosta is one of the greatest hidden gems of Northern Italy. Nestled in a gorgeous valley in the heart of the Italian Alps, with one day you can easily see the best of Aosta.

view over Aosta and mountains

You don’t want to miss the beautiful 12th-century Chiesa di Sant’Orso, home to some of Northern Italy’s most exquisite (and unknown) frescoes.

Chiesa di Sant’Orso frescoes - a must see when visiting aosta, northern italy's hidden gems
The magnificent hidden frescoes of the Chiesa di Sant’Orso

But the real showstopper of Aosta is the elaborate set of Roman Ruins, including the Arch of Augustus which casually sits in the middle of an intersection!

arch of augustus with mountains behind in aosta one of the best day trips from milan

Aosta cuisine is completely unique, filled with Alpine influences from neighboring Switzerland and France. I’d recommend hopping on a food tour to learn more about the region’s unique Alpine ingredients and dishes. And if you’re not a foodie, please just do yourself the favor and try Aostan fontina, the ultimate decadent cheese-y fondue.

Aosta is famous for its unique cuisine
The local Aostan gnochetti

For the top things to do in Aosta, best restaurants and more, don’t miss our ultimate guide to visiting Aosta.

main piazza of aosta
The central Piazza Emile Chanoux in Aosta

Getting to Aosta from Milan

The easiest way of getting from Milan to Aosta is via the twice-daily direct bus departing from Milan’s Lampugnano Bus Station. The trip is a little longer than other day trips (2 hour 30 minutes each way) and can be combined with some time in Turin for a separate two or three-day getaway!

roman statue in aosta

So there you have it, the best 4 day trips from Milan, Italy.

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