Visitors have been flocking to the gorgeous Lake Como in northern Italy for years, and not just for the boutique shopping, picturesque villas, and romantic boat rides. There are some fantastic hikes in the hills and mountains surrounding the lake, too.
The spectacular Alps mountain range can, on a clear day, be seen from Milan – particularly if you climb to the roof of the Duomo. But there’s nothing quite like getting up into the mountains to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring landscapes. And there’s no better way to do that than by train.
Milan’s Duomo sits at the center of the city, and no visit to Italy’s fashion capital is complete without seeing the enormous white cathedral with its countless rooftop spires. But after a tour through the interior, the real treat is to go up on the Duomo roof and take in the view.
While many things in Italy are timeless, Milan has some elements of passing fancy. This is the center of the Italian fashion industry, after all, which we all know to be transitory. Although restaurants and cafes tend to stay the same for decades, Milan’s nightlife scene more closely mirrors the fashion industry.
Milan has always been a city of great designers – from Leonardo da Vinci who was the court artist for the Duke of Milan, to Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Miuccia Prada, and Dolce and Gabbana. It’s not surprising then that this is a city which has defined how we shop as much as what we buy. (It’s the only city I know where the policewomen wear highheeled shoes.)
Although Milan isn’t always on the must-visit list for travelers in Italy, its airport is one of the country’s main gateways – so you may end up arriving or departing from Malpensa anyway. Not only that, there are some good reasons to spend a day or two in Milan – including fantastic shopping, the many-spired Duomo, and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” But Milan is also a great base from which to explore the area, so here are some suggestions for day trips from Milan.
A vacation in Italy doesn’t happen without spending a little money – this much is a given. Some of the things on your must-do list will have an admission fee, and that’s to be expected. But whenever you can add things to your itinerary that don’t cost anything at all, that helps stretch your budget further. Every euro saved is, after all, another scoop of gelato. Believe it or not, some of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions and activities are completely free of charge – even in a city like Milan, the banking and fashion capital of the country.
The city center of Milan is extremely compact and easy to get around on foot, but public transportation in Milan is so good that you really don’t need to hoof it from one end of the city to another if you don’t want to. Your options for getting around in Milan are the Metro, trams, and bus, as well as a bike rental program that visitors can use.
The busy city of Milan may not be on everyone’s must-see list, but if you’re flying in or out of Milan’s Malpensa Airport, give yourself enough time for a day trip so you’ll be able to go visit the lovely Lake Maggiore. Especially if your itinerary has been all about cities, museums, galleries, and churches, getting to spend even a day soaking in the natural beauty of one of Italy’s most famous lakes is a real treat.
Milan can be somewhat dreary during the winter, with its gray and rainy weather, often socked in by fog – so when spring rolls around, the Milanese are particularly eager to see the sun. If your spring Italy itinerary includes an entry or exit via Milan’s Malpensa Airport, then, you may want to add a day or two in Milan in order to see the sights and to welcome the return of the sun just like the locals.