Mountains, lakes, bucolic countryside – there is a vast choice of destinations for day-trips out of town and long or short weekends for every taste and every budget.Milan is a vibrant, modern city offering culture, greenery, efficient urban transport and exciting nightlife, but it also has another ace up its sleeve: its surroundings.
We haven’t got the space to list all the exciting (or restful) gite fuori porta you could make, but here are a few of our favourite suggestions. And when you’ve tried these, your neighbours or colleagues are sure to have their own tips for getting away from it all for a day or two.
CourmayeurMilan’s location near the alps is strategic for a weekend ski getaway. Courmayeur, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, is one of the top destinations for skiing in Italy. It can host skiers of all abilities, with a beginner’s area and green trails in addition to more difficult terrain. It also offers ski lessons starting at Plan Checrouit – the focal point of the ski area – as well as more advanced trails. It is a lively area, with plenty of restaurants and bars if you plan to stay over the weekend.Courmayeur is also a great day trip in the summer. The newly renovated cable car has 360° rotating cabins and takes you from Courmayeur to Plan Chécrouit at 1,709m in minutes. It starts from the Strada Dolonne and is open every day with no midday break. If you prefer more exercise, upon exit there are footpaths for hiking, walking, and picnics. There is also the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car that goes to the “Roof of Europe”: it starts in Pontal d'Entrèves (1,300 m.), just outside Courmayeur on Strada Statale 26. It takes only four minutes to reach the mid-station, where there are restaurants and lounge areas. In addition, the top stop offers panoramic degree views of the Alps and Chamonix.
The best way to reach Courmayeur is by driving, which will make the journey doable for a day trip if you make an early start. FlixBus takes 2 hr. 55 min. from Milan, but this route generally runs infrequently, so driving is a more reliable plan.
CremaIf you’re looking to downsize from Milan for the weekend, a great getaway is the idyllic town of Crema on the river Serio. The old-world architecture of this village is a quiet escape from the bustle of Milan. The train from Milano Centrale to Crema takes about an hour, and tickets start at €5. A must-visit is the Crema cathedral. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the sweet, filled tortelli cremaschi, a speciality not offered anywhere else, or the Saturday market along Via Verdi. Strolling along the tiny streets and cobbled squares, be sure to venture just outside the city centre to see the Villa Albergoni on Via Roma, recently offered for sale at €1.7 million. The building dates back to the 16th century, and was built over the ruins of an ancient castle.This location, among many others, may look familiar to avid movie lovers. The bestselling novel-turned-film Call Me By Your Name was partially shot in Crema. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as the centre of a young love story that unfolds during a summer in a picturesque Italian town.
Crema is less than an hour’s drive from Milan. A train ride from Milano Centrale takes just over an hour, and costs around €5.50.
ComoOne of the most popular day trips out of Milan is to one of the many nearby lakes, like Garda, Iseo or Idro; Lake Como is arguably the most famous of these. The placid body of water and its surrounding villages boast an abundance of great views. One of the best ways to explore the lake and its surrounding areas is a boat ride. The boat dock is located just about a 10 minute walk from the Como San Giovanni train station, on the waterfront of Piazza Cavour. Nearly every town on Lake Como has its own landing, making for convenient travel.
Trains from Milano Centrale to Como San Giovanni station range from 35 minutes upwards; prices start from about €4. By car, Como is a comfortable one-hour drive from Milan.
Popular destinations to travel to and from during the day by boat are the surrounding towns of Varenna and Bellagio. In fact, the area is so enticing that we have dedicated a whole special page to visiting Lake Como and its surroundings.
By Annabel Holland
In collaboration with the American Univeristy of Rome