Milan city break is a great option for people wanting to take a quick relief from everyday tasks. Spreading the whole trip to Lake Como and Bergamo makes it a perfect short romantic holidays for couples.
Traveling in Italy is fascinating because each region is completely different. Milan and Lake Como are one of the most popular destinations in Northern Italy. Today, I am gonna help you to plan your perfect Milan-Como-Bergamo city break!
How to plan Milan city break?
First things first. Before we’ll jump to the road itinerary, let’s check out how we can find our best way to Italy.
Let’s try to find cheap flights to Milan and then plan our local transportation and places to sleep.
Milan is an important trade center. The city is also known as the capital of fashion and design. It is of course on bucket lists of many travelers. It’s nothing unusual that one of its airports – which actually is located in nearby Bergamo – offers air connections with multiple European cities.
From my home airport – Gdańsk in Poland – the flights are available twice a week. Usually on Mondays and Fridays which is so comfortable!
For my Milan city break, I booked a nice flight deal. I had an evening flight on day 0, so I was in a hotel room late at the end of the day. The return flight was also late in the evening, so I had 4 whole days for sightseeing and traveling between the charming Italian cities. You can achieve a very similar deal.
So how to find cheap flights to Milan?
First, go to your favorite flight search engine. I like to use Skyscanner because of nice user experience.
Travel tip: do not choose exact dates. Select the “whole month” option instead. Thanks to this you will see the cheapest fares.
You can also try to find flights directly on the airlines’ websites. In my case, direct flights to Milan are operated by Wizz Air. There you might have a better opportunity to catch a nice promotion.
Booking flight tickets is the first step. The second one is to get from Bergamo airport Orio al Serio to Milan which is located 50 km away. The easiest way to get there is to take an airport bus Terravision. The cost starts at 6€ and the journey takes 1 hour. To get the best price, you can book your ride online.
On your way back from Bergamo, you can take a public bus going from Città Alta directly to the airport Orio al Serio. The cost is only 2,30€.
Transportation in Milan and region
One of the best ways to get from Milan to the cities surrounding Lake Como is to take a train. Italian train lines Trenitalia often offers nice deals for many directions. The trains are comfortable, fast, and entertains passengers with lovely views from outside the windows.
The cost of a one-way train ticket from Milan to Como (the city) starts from 4,80€.
Milan public transport
Since Milan is a big city, you will most probably want to use trams or buses to get around. You can purchase your ATM tickets in many metro stations, bars, newsletter stands or in parking meters. The same type of ticket is valid for all kinds of public transportation.
Be careful, because as far as I know, bus drivers do not sell tickets on board. So you need to get one before entering the bus.
You can choose among plenty of options: single ticket valid for 90 minutes (cost: 1,50€), 24- or 48-hour travel card (respectively 4,50€/8,25€), or ticket carnets.
For active tourists, the city of Milan prepared an offer of shared bikes. If you want to discover the city on two wheels, you can purchase a daily, weekly, or monthly BikeMi subscription. The cost is comparable to bus tickets, so bikes are a nice alternative.
Lake Como Ferries
The water transport is very well organized in the lake. It is also an effective way of moving around the shore towns. Stunning views are of course included in the ticket price!
The ferries on Lake Como are operated by Gestione Navigazione Laghi. On their website, you can check the actual timetables and prices. We took a ferry to get from Como to Varenna, and it cost us 11,6€ per person. But the cruise took 2,5 hour, so we treated it more like an attraction and a great opportunity to admire the views from a new perspective.
Milan is a very touristy place, so it offers a huge base of hotels, hostels, and private apartments for rent.
Another great option for accommodation is Airbnb. It lets you rent an apartment from a local resident even for a short stay. If you haven’t been using Airbnb before, but you want to try, remember to click below and grab my special discount of 23€ for your first stay!
Below I show you a few cozy places to stay in that I found on Booking.com and Airbnb, and from which I would choose among while planning my next Milan city break.
Lake Como city break itinerary
Now let’s hop to the sweetest part of traveling!
I am going to show you how I spent my time in Northern Italy during a 4-day city break. This itinerary is almost perfect for 4 days of chill, sightseeing, and some romantic moments of slow life.
Milan and Bergamo are big cities, with lots of people hanging around. But on the other hand, Como and Varenna and that kind of lovely sleepy Italian towns which we all love. And this mix makes this itinerary a great idea for the Italian road trip.
I was traveling at the beginning of November, which was a great time for a quick city break like this one. The weather was still not that bad in Italy, and we even had some sunny days. Plus, it was All Saints’ Day, so there were much fewer tourists. That means less crowds.
As I said before, we came with the evening flight on day 0. Thanks to that, we had all the next days to wander in the cities without any rush.
Day 1: Milan City Break start
I really recommend starting sightseeing Milano early in the morning. You will then avoid the worst tourist crowds.
And what is the best things to do then?
Go and admire Milan Cathedral – Duomo – and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Those are the most recognizable monuments of the city and they are located just next to each other! Morning hours are the best for freely walk and admiration of their beauty.
Milan is a great city filled with stories, beautiful buildings, and amazing places to visit. What I highly recommend is to take a free walking tour with a guide. He will tell you all the best stories and local legends, that will make your visit even more exciting.
Duomo Cathedral is one of the most decorated Catholic cathedrals in the world. The work made there was magnificent. The temple is also one of the most incredible landmarks in Italy. The walls, both outside and inside, are decorated with 3159 statues which is an impressive number. Some of them are representations of demons. The legend says that’s because one of the Cathedral founders had a dream where a devil asked him to build a temple for evil forces. Who knows if it’s true?
Galleria is not less interesting. It is considered as the oldest shopping mall in the world. Built in 1877, it is a reference of style and elegance. It cares about the visual aspects and identity until today. All the shops and restaurants inside are forced to align with some color guidelines. Signboards should represent golden letters on black backgrounds. It considers even such popular brands as McDonald’s.
Stunning Galleria is a home for many class world brands. For instance, Prada was born here, and the original store still prospers.
Besides those two monuments, Milan has much more to offer. One day is a limited time, but a not so obvious place, that I liked, was Cimitero Monumentale.
As the name indicates, this cemetery makes a stunning impression. The tombs are huge and stately. I haven’t seen bigger even in Père-Lachaise in Paris. They all tell the stories of families and respectable houses of Milan.
What to eat in Milan?
Actually, first I need to warn you. Be aware of too many touristic restaurants in Milan. When I had my first dinner in this city I was really excited to eat my first truly Italian meal. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with my carbonara which tasted like made from powder. The restaurant was in the city center and obviously was concentrated on tourists who will eat and never come back to the city.
But fortunately, I found other places to eat some local delicacies. One of them was Manuelina serving incredibly tasty focaccia. It was filling and affordable, and tasted so good, that we came back there to buy something to eat on a train the next day.
The second place was Panzerotti Luini. This one must be a true star among the street food because the queue was there even in the evening. Dozens of types of bread with different fillings, both salted and sweet, must have many fans even among the local inhabitants. Definitely worth checking.
Day 2: Como
In the morning of day two, after a visit in Cimitero Monumentale, we took a train to our next destination – the city of Como on the shore of the Lake Como. The travel was lovely, and the changing landscape gave us a lot of chill.
Lake Como is surrounded by the Alps mountains. Next to Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, it’s the third biggest lake in the country, and one of the prettiest lakes in Italy. The small towns gathering around it represents pictures from a charming postcard.
An interesting fact about Lake Como is that it has its own beast. The creature, called Larrie, lives in the abyss of the lake according to one of the local legends. Some of people living nearby claim to see it during last 60 years. If that’s true, the beast could be in fact a dinosaur – Lariosaur. Do you believe it might be real?
Como, being one of the bigger towns in the region, is adorable indeed. Narrow streets, combined with small squares and marina shows us an idyllic image.
While spending time in Como, you might want to visit a few interesting spots in the town. One of them is for sure the statue of Life Electric designed by Daniel Libeskind and dedicated to physicist Alessandro Volta. The statue is located at the end of the water pier, nearby ferry terminal. The location gives a nice overview of the city from the water perspective.
The other great tourist attraction is a funicular connecting the city of Como with the village of Brunate. The line operates from 1894 and rises up to 500 meters. Thanks to this ride you can see the city and lake from the height which makes a great impression.
What to eat in Como?
Como has lots of nice restaurants to offer. We chose to have dinner in Bar La Quinta, nearby Como Cathedral and ferry terminal. They have pretty affordable prices, and the pizza we ordered was delicious. Moreover, they serve ultra-dense hot chocolate which seems to be the real one, not made from powder. Really tasty!
Day 3: Varenna
On the third day of Milano city break, we took a ferry from Como to Varenna. This way of transportation guarantees a memorable experience of cruising among the Alps mountains. The views are fascinating so ferry-ride is one of the best things to do in the region.
Varenna itself is a lovely town! If we only could, we would spend there much more time than one day, just hanging around. Even if there are not many touristic attractions in there. The town is inhabited by less than 1000 residents but even though there are a few places worth visiting.
The feeling of walking among charming buildings and romantic streets gives lots of satisfaction. By hanging around in Varenna you will discover a few of its gems.
One of them is the Walk of Lovers. It is a short pedestrian path hanging above waters of the lake, easily reachable from the ferry terminal. The hanging path will lead you to a small fishing port surrounded by lovely restaurants and cafés. From there you can climb on the stairs to reach the center of the town – Piazza San Giorgio – a small square built up with colorful houses and a medieval church – Chiesa di San Giorgio.
The other recognizable spots of Varenna are villas Cipressi and Monastero, both having beautiful gardens opened for public. If you wish a bit more active sightseeing, you can climb on a hill and visit Castello di Vezio magnificently overlooking the Lake Como.
What to eat in Varenna?
There are a few nice places where you could have a delicious dinner. And most of them are located near the fishing port.
But if you want to taste an incredibly delightful dessert, you should definitely visit Cavallino Ristorante Trattoria dei Pescatori. They serve the best ever pannacotta I ate in my life!
Day 4: Bergamo
The last day morning we spent on a train from Varenna to Bergamo. Tourists often treat this city only like a transfer point from the airport to Milan. But it’s definitely worth visiting as well.
Bergamo consists of two parts: the medieval Città Alta, located on a hill, and Città Bassa, where the whole modern life, trade, and work take place. If you don’t have much time, you should visit at least Città Alta.
The most exciting way to get there is to take the funicular to the Upper City. Unfortunately, this pleasure often requires waiting in a long queue of tourists. If you’re on a hurry, you can take a bus no. 1 instead.
Bergamo’s Old Town mixes the architectural influences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Narrow streets offer you a relaxing walk among picturesque architecture. The center point of this part of the city is Piazza Vecchia. In here you can enjoy the beauty of some important buildings such as Palazzo della Raggione, Biblioteca Civica, or Fontana del Contarini.
A great way to get know Città Alta better is to catch one of the Bergamo’s Geocaching caches – Bergamo Alta – Old Town Tour. Thanks to the game you will discover the greatest places in the city and lots of its secrets.
What to eat in Bergamo?
Thanks to Geocaching I discovered an important place on the map of desserts’ world.
Did you know that the ice cream flavor stracciatella was invented in Bergamo? And you can still taste this sweet treat in a place where the invention took place. Ristorante La Marianna still exists and hosts its guests with delicious desserts.
Lake Como and Milan City Break worth your time
A weekend in Italy is a perfect idea for short-term travelers. Milan city break, including surrounding cities and towns, will give you the whole spectrum of experiences and activities.
Remember to sign up for my free 5-day mini-course on planning a perfect city break! You will learn a lot more useful tips about weekend travels.
Also, leave a comment with your favorite Northern Italy destination, ideal for a city break!
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.