Being considered the largest transport hub in the northern Italy, Milan is an ideal starting point for travel to Lombardy and to the whole country in general. You can get to literally any part of Italy from Milan by either air or ground transport.
Besides, you can rent a car right upon arrival to the airport and then your opportunities of exploring Milan surroundings will increase significantly. Let’s assume that you or your travel companion has a car or you just have rented it. So, where could you travel from Milan?
To north of Milan, there are the beautiful lakes of Maggiore, Lugano and Como. If you decide to travel to northeast, you’ll be able to visit Bergamo and another beautiful lake Iseo. In about 170km to the east, Verona is located and not far from it – the Italian largest lake Garda. Pavia and Genova are in 40km and 140km respectively to the south of Milan, whereas Torino is in two hours car drive to the west.
As you see, you have pretty rich choice of possible places to spend weekend in, but let’s make a detailed look at each of the destinations described above.
Bergamo and Lake Iseo
Bergamo is an obvious choice for those who don’t want to spend much efforts and money on transportation. All you need is to purchase a 5 EUR bus ticket and in about one hour you’ll find yourself at the ancient city, which managed to preserve the spirit of old times.
In comparison with Milan, Bergamo is roughly ten times smaller, but nevertheless, it can boast of many interesting historical landmarks. In fact, the whole city center of Bergamo can rightly be considered a one big attraction, where almost every building is a few hundred years old. In addition, Bergamo is among four Italian cities with the centers completely surrounded by ancient fortification.
Bergamo is a beautiful cozy town that doesn’t suffer from large crowds of tourists. Here, you can take a break from the bustle of Milan and enjoy pleasant calm atmosphere of Italian provincial town. Favorite pastime of the locals is taking a walk along ancient walls. Since the city center is located at the top of the hill, during the stroll, you’ll be delighted with wonderful views of the Alpine foothills.
In about 40 km from Bergamo, there is Lake Iseo with a large number of picturesque villages on its banks. At the lake, you can admire the beautiful mountain scenery and incredibly diverse landscapes from rocky walls sprouting out of the water to olive groves and tiny coves.
Lakes Como, Lugano and Maggiore
All three lakes are located relatively close to each other in about 60km from Milan. They all have similar features such as perfect mild climate, crystal clean waters and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
Lake Maggiore is famous for its fluffy fogs coming down the mountain peaks. It gives the lake a special atmosphere of mystery. In contrast to Maggiore, Lake Lugano is rarely covered by fog. In fact, the air here is very clean and devoid of any dust. That’s why Lugano is considered a nice resting place for rheumatics or people that recently suffered of respiratory tract inflammation.
Lake Como is very popular touristic place due to a few facts: rich history and as a result interesting cultural attractions, a lot of opportunities for doing water sports and a large number of classy spa centers.
Verona and Lake Garda
Verona can easily compete with Paris for the status of the world’s most romantic city. It is here, according to the Shakespeare’s play, the story of tragic love of Romeo and Juliet took a place. In Verona, there is a house, where probably Juliet lived.
Verona is also famous as a “small Rome”. It even has its own Ancient Roman Arena built almost 2 thousand years ago! Despite its considerable age, the Arena di Verona is well preserved and even used for cultural events. The most famous event is Verona Opera Festival usually held in summer.
Lake Garda is in 35km from Verona. It’s considered the Italian largest lake and is the same time an important touristic region attracting visitors by its pristine nature, historical heritage and developed infrastructure. Garda is so huge that its endless water smooth reminds the sea surrounded by mountains. Truly unique scenery you’ll remember for a long time!
Genova and Pavia
Genova, located at the Ligurian Sea, is a city of contradictions. On the one hand, it is a center of heavy industry and shipbuilding and is included into so-called industrial triangle of Italy. On the other hand, Genova is popular tourist center that even won the title of European Capital of Culture in 2004.
Nowadays, Genova will delight you not only with beautiful ancient architecture, but also modern entertainment establishments such as the Italian largest aquarium and interesting botanical garden located inside twenty meters high glass sphere.
When the sun goes down, pastime in Genova becomes even more interesting. Thanks to large quantity of students and creative youth, the city can boast of a vivid nightlife. Most bars and nightclubs don’t open until 18:00 and operate till 2:00. The most popular ones are Barbarossa, Britania Pub and Le Courbusier. The largest and the noisiest discos are usually held in the coastal area in such clubs as Vanilla and Mako Discotheque.
On the road between Milan and Genova, there’s an interesting small town of Pavia. Don’t miss a chance to take a look at its architectural landmarks. The city isn’t boring at all thanks to thousands of students studying in the Pavia University founded back in 1361. The Pavia Cathedral isn’t ordinary either. It has the third largest dome in Italy. It has a weight of 20 thousand tons!
The only thing that can stop you on your way to the fantastic weekend in Genova and Pavia, is quite far distance from Milan. But if you rent a car, the whole trip will take you only two hours. You can even arrange one-way rental.