Milan is a top destination in Italy, considered the Italian center of finance, industry and commerce, as well as being an international capital of fashion, industrial design and architecture. While visitors will find plenty to enjoy, including a magnificent cathedral and Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which sits in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, taking a day trip from this city is a must. There are many many fantastic options that can easily be reached via public transport or within reasonable driving distance, including these alluring destinations.
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Venice (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Less than three hours east of Milan is the beautiful city of Venice and its picturesque gondola-filled canals. Built on the water in the middle of a lagoon, visitors can enjoy many world-famous attractions in Venice. The Piazza San Marco hosts several of them, including St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, and the Torre dell’Orologio. Of course, you probably won’t want to miss taking a gondola ride, but you can enjoy a more authentic experience by choosing a less-busy departure point like San Tomà rather than the popular Grand Canal. You can also just simply wander and get lost in hidden alleyways and discover eateries where the locals dine.
Lake Como (Nearby Hotels)
Lake Como is one of Italy’s most breathtaking lakes, with its blue waters surrounded by manicured gardens, grand estates, emerald forests and snow-capped peaks in the distance, is less than 90 minutes from Milan. Lake Como is well-known for inspiring celebrity visitors, from Lord Byron to George Clooney, who purchased a summer home along the shore. This beautiful lake hosts many charming little villages as well as the city of Como, known as the city to purchase silk products like scarves at reasonable prices. It has a pedestrianized piazza with restaurants and cafes along with a historic center dominated by an impressive 15th-century Duomo.
Cinque Terre (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The five fishing villages that make up Cinque Terre have become a travel bucket list destination for many and they can be reached in less than three hours from Milan. There are few roads, but plenty of beautifully-preserved architecture and a network of magnificent coastal and mountain trails. After enjoying a scenic walk, you might want to take a refreshing dip on one of the rocky beaches, framed by crystal-clear turquoise waters.
Lake Maggiore (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re looking for an especially tranquil lake escape for the day, consider Lake Maggiore, 90 minutes from Milan. There are a variety of boat excursions visitors can take, including trips to small islands on the lake with sandy beaches and options that glide around an island with a castle. The village of Cannobio has a lovely promenade for strolling and enjoying gelato. You can also visit the resort town of Stresa with landmark buildings like Villa Pallavicino, with its gardens and zoo that hosts more than 40 animals.
Verona (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Shakespeare’s fair Verona is less than two hours from Milan and is just as beautiful as the playwright described. While it may best be known as the town of Romeo and Juliet, it’s also famous for its Roman Arena which today serves as a venue for a top opera festival. There are Roman remains, an interesting castle complex and a medieval center too. Be sure to visit Juliet’s house, which dates back to the 13th century. The family coat of arms can still be seen on the wall, although the balcony is a 20th-century addition.
St. Moritz, Switzerland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Glitzy St. Moritz is less than three hours north of Milan. It’s not only a famous winter playground, but it also offers all sorts of activities when the weather is warm, including hiking in the area’s towering mountains and even ice skating in the summer on an artificial rink. After a day of play, you can relax with a soak in one of the many mud and mineral baths in the area and enjoy dining on gourmet cuisine including caviar and truffles in one of the many upscale restaurants.
Bologna (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Bologna is famous for its food scene, a gastronomic giant. While Spaghetti Bolognese wasn’t birthed here, the city is known for its meaty ragu sauce that’s used in two delicious regional dishes, lasagna and tagliatelle. Walk off the fantastic eats by visiting the medieval museum and the Cathedral Petronius with its two towers providing awe-inspiring views over the city. It’s also well worth visiting the intriguing monastic center of Santo Stefano and the Archaeological Museum.
Turin (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The site of the 2006 winter games and the Shroud of Turin, Turin is filled with Baroque architecture, while the Alps provide a dramatically stunning backdrop. About an hour and 40 minutes southwest of Milan, it’s the ideal destination for soaking up the revolutionary and literary atmosphere of the 19th century. This was the literary center for centuries, and it’s also the Italian capital of chocolate – be sure to sample bicerin, a popular beverage among Italian and European aristocracy, made of espresso coffee, chocolate and whipped cream.
Genoa (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Less than two hours south of Milan, Genoa is Europe’s largest historical center with a historical old town where architectural styles span more than 1,000 years. Wander the narrow maze-like streets to discover 13th-century cathedrals, medieval squares and even the house where famed explorer Christopher Columbus was born. Try a dish with pesto in this city where it was invented and pick up a fresh bottle at one of the local farmers’ markets to take home.
Lucca (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A hidden gem in Tuscany, Lucca is a few hours southeast of Milan, and it offers cobbled streets, opulent palaces, alluring churches and a ring of Renaissance-era fortification walls that were transformed into biking and walking paths. There are also Romanesque cathedrals along with medieval and Renaissance architecture, and some of the region’s most stunning villas and splendid gardens. Visitors can delve into its ancient history by viewing the trace of the Roman amphitheater found in the shape of the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and archaeological remains under the 12th-century church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata.