Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by Bryony Clapperton
Several years ago I found myself, as a 19 year living on the edge of Lake Garda during the peak of the European Summer. It was a dream.
Its thanks to this unique experience I found a love and appreciation for the Italian Lakes and because of this experience in Lake Garda I decided it was time to return to Lake Garda by train during a stay in Milan.
I’d take the trip from Milan to Lake Garda by train to the stunning lakeside town of Peschiera del Garda the colourful and picturesque resort I once had the pleasure to call home.
Milan to Lake Garda by Train
A city break to Milan
Travelling Italy is something many people only dream of. Picture a world filled entirely of great food, Aperol Spritz and lazy Italian afternoons.
That strong enticing lure of the Italian Coast, countryside and Lakes is something most travellers will feel at some point in their life.
After 4 visits to Italy including 3 whole Summer’s spent in this incredible central European country I decided it was time to take my 5th trip to Italy.
My city break destination of choice became Milan for three pivotal factors;
- Cheap flights! As a budget obsessed traveller bargain flights always tend to determine my flight paths and grabbing a Liverpool to Milan Malpensa for £24 return sounded like a good enough bargain for me.
- The second reason Milan became my destination of choice is due to its geography. Milan is very well located in the Northern Central region of Italy meaning the majority of Northern Italy is accessible from Milano Centrale (Milan’s main train station).
- Proximity to Lake Garda meant we could easily visit Lake Garda by train and spend an entire day exploring the surrounding towns.
So, that’s why Milan became my destination of choice which meant I was able to also plan trip to one of the towns on Lake Garda. Guess where I chose? Peschiera del Garda, the stunning town I once had the pleasure of waking up to every morning as a 19 year old on a camping season.
When to visit Milan
Now I’ve seen a lot of Northern Italy through the seasons. I’ve explored a wet Venice in March and April and I’ve felt the suffocating Tuscan heat in late August. But for me, the perfect time to visit Italy and the perfect time to visit Milan by my standard is in the European Summer Time usually May – August.
During this peak travel period you will find Milan to be extremely busy along with most Italian cities. Lake Garda will also experience this peak season tourism boom.
If you prefer to travel off-season and miss the crowds then I’d recommend late September/October for your visit. The weather in this region of Italy generally stays nice from April/May right up until mid-October.
How to get to Milan from Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa
Both Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa are around an hour’s drive away from the main city of Milan. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exploit all delicious cheap flights that fly to and from these airports.
The transfers to and from Bergamo and Malpensa run around the clock and are excellent value for those hoping to visit Milan on a budget. Terravision is just one of the cost effective methods of travelling to and from Milan to either Bergamo or Malpensa.
You can book your tickets online before you travel or simply look for the pink Terravision desk at the airport. A typical return journey will cost you €8. Both bus services depart from Milano Centrale train station, so be sure to arrive back there for your return journey and flight.
The buses are clean, safe and well air-conditioned. There are a range of other bus and transfer services but Terravision is the one I have used most frequently and can recommend.
Lake Garda by Train
How to get from Milan to Lake Garda
If you are hoping to take a trip from Milan to another city, you can simply check out on a map all the places that are within train, bus or driving distance and start planning your trip that way.
Lake Garda is around 2 hours away from Milan, meaning a day trip to Lake Garda by train, bus or car is very easy. We chose to visit Peschiera del Garda, but there are other lakeside towns you may want to check out including Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione.
From Milan’s main train station Milano Centrale you can take a train bound for Verona (another easy city to visit from Milan) and hop off at Peschiera del Garda or your chosen stop. Apparently that’s how trains work, yeah it really that easy!
The distance from Milan to Lake Garda is about 2 hours give or take depending on where you decide to visit. It’s roughly 136km in distance if you plan to drive.
Taking the train from Milan usually takes an between an hour and two hours but there is an express train that takes 1 hour and 40 minutes but it will cost slightly more.
How much is the train from Milan to Lake Garda?
The cost of travelling from Milan to Lake Garda by train varies, as always, depending on train type and class of ticket. The faster train with the more premium seating and class options will cost between €30 one way or €70 returned. Booked in advance is naturally cheaper.
If you begrudge paying €70 for a return train ticket, like I do. Then you’ll want to book an economy ticket with TrenItalia and save yourself around €20-€25.
If you want to do Milan and Lake Garda on a budget, you’ll want to do the more ‘economic’ option. Travel with TrenItalia and book a second class ticket. Each way will cost you €10.50 on the day, it can be purchased for less if you book in advance.
The most important thing to remember for train travel in Italy and when you do your journey from Milan to Lake Garda by train is – verify your tickets.
Verify your ticket!
When a train ticket in Italy is printed it is not active until to validate/verify it by time stamp. Before boarding your train ensure you do this to your ticket for all train travel in Italy. You will find the date/time stamp machines on the platform of any station, enter your ticket and wait until it makes the little stamping noise before removing your ticket.
Your ticket should then be verified/active with the right date and time of travel. If you do not do this before boarding your train you will be fined, or sent off the train at the next station to stamp your ticket. Please note this is very important to remember for all train travel in Italy and for travelling from Milan to Lake Garda by train.
Peschiera del Garda
Things to do in Peschiera del Garda
If you decide to take the train from Milan to Peschiera del Garda like we did you’ll want to capitalise as much as possible on the time you have in this stunning little lakeside location.
- Eat a Pizza: It sounds obvious but you’ll want to grab a table at one of the lakeside restaurants to enjoy some of the incredible flavours of Italy in this truly Italian setting.
- Aperol Spritz x2: Have an Aperol Spritz or two in my case, maybe 3. Enjoy this traditional Italian Aperitif in this traditional Italian tourist hot spot.
- Try some Gelato: Try some real Italian Ice Cream. You’ll find some of the tastiest homemade Gelato around the lake so indulge while you can.
- Walk along the shore: Take the long, pleasant stroll along the lake shore and absorb the turquoise waters of Lake Garda. You’ll find yourself at the Bella Italia Campsite – the place I spent my summer doing a spot of season work.
- Soak up the Italian sun and scenery: If you are a budding photographer then based on my amateur photo attempts alone you probably already feel inspired to head to Lake Garda and capture some Italian magic.
- Head to the other incredible towns located around the lake!
Lake Garda Holidays
Speaking of campsites, there’s one type of Lake Garda holidays that wins over all the other types of trip to this area. Camping holidays to Lake Garda are extremely popular.
There are a number of popular, luxury camping spots around the lake including Bella Italia which is very popular with British, Irish and Dutch tourists for Lake Garda Holidays. Click here for a complete Lake Garda 5 day itinerary.
If you are looking for Lake Garda accommodation you should certainly not write off the idea of staying on one of the popular and family-friendly campsites in the area.
Campsites on Lake Garda
- Butterfly Camping Village – Peschiera del Garda
- Sereno Camping – Moniga del Garda
- Camping Village San Francesco – Desenzano del Garda
- Camping Brione – Riva del Garda
Although a campsite may not feel like your idea of good accommodation on Lake Garda, Bella Italia also has a hotel and a range of varying properties from tents, mobile homes, chalet’s and a wide range of luxury ‘glamping options’.
Why not learn more about the world of Camping and working a European Camping Season?
If hotels are more your thing and you’d prefer to skip the camping why not browse and book your next break in Italy today!
If you do end up taking a Lake Garda holiday or doing a camping season in Italy like I did it’s possible you’ll want to brush up on your Italian skills before arriving in Italy like I did.
I’m a huge fan of Duolingo which is something I sued whilst travelling Latin America, but I’ve also recently found out about Language Trainers. I attempted Spanish lessons after my Latin America trip but couldn’t seem to make all of the sessions so much prefer the ease of online language learning.
The best towns around Lake Garda
Once you arrive in Lake Garda and realise you don’t ever want to leave you might want to check out some of the other towns around the lake.
There are a number of great towns and cities dotted around Lake Garda, the most popular with tourists are;
- Desenzano del Garda
All are pretty accessible by either train or boat from the various other towns on the lake so if you are staying on the lake or travelling in from Milan it’s pretty easy to incorporate one or two towns into your travel plans!