Several years ago I found as a 19 year living on the edge of Lake Garda during the heart of the European Summer, it was a dream. Its shanks 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 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
MILAN, ITALY – VISITING 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 and after 4 visits to Ital including 3 whole Summer’s spent in this incredible central European country – I decided it was time to take my 5th trip to Italy.
Destination of choice became Milan for two pivotal factors.
- Number one, 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).
So, Milan became my destination of choice which meant I was able to incoporate my visit to Milan to another of the great Italian Cities or destinations. Guess where I chose? Lake Garda. Peschiera del Garda to be precise – the stunning town I once had the pleasure of waking up to every morning.
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.
Getting to and from 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.
MILAN TO LAKE GARDA TRAIN
Planning a trip to a place so geographically perfect like Milan is easy. 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. Milan to Lake Garda is no different.
This journey is perfectly doable by train, bus or car but I would recommend taking the Milan to Lake Garda train.
Having done this jounrey the opposite way round several times as a day trip from Lake Garda to Milan, I was pretty familair with the route on my visit to Milan.
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. It’s really that easy!
The distance from Milan to Lake Garda is about 2 hours give or take depending train speed and around 136km. Taking the Milan to Lake Garda train usually takes an between an hour and two hours.
The usual journey time to travel the distance from Milan to Lake Garda is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
MILAN TO LAKE GARDA TRAIN COST
The cost of travelling from Milan to Lake Garda by train vary, 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 to 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.
TRAIN TRAVEL IN ITALY
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.
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.
MILAN TO PESCHIERA DEL GARDA THINGS TO DO
If you decide to take the train from Milan to Peschiera del Garda you’ll want to capitalise as much as possible on the time you have in this stunning little lakeside location.
Top things to do in Peschiera del Garda
- 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 alone 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.
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 in Lake Garda – Lake Garda Holidays;
- 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?
THE PERFECT LAKE GARDA DAY TRIP
- If you decide to visit Lake Garda from Milan you’ll want to jump on an early train from Milano Centrale to allow yourself to spend the full day in Lake Garda.
- Look to leave Milan no later than 11:00am. If you’ve decided to visit Italy in the European Summer time you’ll want to lather yourself in sun cream before arriving at Lake Garda.
- If you are visiting for a Lake Garda day trip be sure to wear your bikini and bring a towel if you’d like to cool off by taking a swim in the crystal waters of Lake Garda.
- You’ll want to pack your camera or phone as there is some unmissable scenery and photo opportunities around both the Lake and in the main town of Peschiera.
- Don’t worry about bringing food with you. Even as a budget traveller there are plenty of well priced options around the Lake and restaurants/eateries to suit all budgets. Expect to pay typically between €6-€10 for a pizza and similar prices for a pasta dish although some restaurants do offer specials and daily deals.
MILAN TO LAKE GARDA
Whether you decide to visit Milan from Lake Garda or Lake Garda to Milan. This simple journey is one you won’t want to miss. If, unlike me, you have more than a few days to share why not head from Milan to Verona but stop off in Desenzano del Garda or Peschiera del Garda for the perfect afternoon on the clean blue waters of this great lake.
Italy is a destination is one that every lover of European culture and history should visit, so why not make your time in Italia a tale of two stops and explore both Milan and Lake Garda.
A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.