Welcome to this travel guide that shows you how to get from Milan to Lake Garda.
If you’re considering visiting Lake Garda from Milan it is important to know that Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and divides its shores among 3 well-known regions: Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige.
Lake Garda is a perfect destination to visit in northern Italy for its amazing natural landscapes, its beaches (which have nothing to envy when compared to other beaches in the north of Italy.) and a plethora of outdoor sports and activities.
Milan to Lake Garda
Whether it’s for a day trip, short weekend escape or a holiday, getting from Milan to Lake Garda is easy and in this guide I’ll explain 4 different ways to get there.
Where is Lake Garda, Italy?
Lake Garda is located in north east Italy and it’s the largest lake in the country. It’s 52 kilometres long and there are many picturesque towns and villages overlooking its shores like Sirmione, Bardolino and Limone sul Garda.
The most popular towns located on its southern shores are Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano del Garda and, unlike the other towns, you can directly get there from Milan by car, train and bus.
Lake Garda’s shores belong to 3 regions: Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige. All its villages and towns are crisscrossed by the Gardesana scenic road.
You can travel on this road by car or by local bus or if you like the idea of navigating the lake, get from one side of the lake to the other by ferry.
Lake Garda is such a popular destination for its beaches, theme parks, quaint villages but also to practise watersports such as sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. There is no wonder it is one of the best lakes in Northern Italy to visit for tourists looking to connect with beautiful natural scenery throughout the year.
Is Lake Garda worth visiting from Milan?
Yes, Lake Garda is worth visiting from Milan. The famous lake region is only an hour and a half drive and less than an hour high-speed train ride from Milan.
Whether you want to take a break from the bustling Fashion city or have always had Lake Garda on your bucket list, I can reassure you that you can easily fit this destination in by adding it to your Italy itinerary.
Lake Garda fascinates thousands of visitors arriving here for its sandy beaches and backdrop mountain views covered with lush woods, the romantic castles and fortresses overlooking the lake, enchanting villages and Mediterranean climate.
It’s also a great destination to visit if you’re keen on outdoor sports, want to relax at the spa or explore the rich gastronomic offer.
Where to stay in Lake Garda?
Are you thinking about spending 1, 2 or even a few nights in Lake Garda? If so, the good news is that Lake Garda offers a wide selection of accommodation options which are more than capable of pleasing all traveller’s budgets and needs.
Take a look at my selection of hotels that you can book if you decide to stay here and can easily reach by car, or if you’re getting from Milan to Lake Garda by train:
How far is Lake Garda from Milan?
Lake Garda is 119 kilometres away from Milan and it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours to get there via A4 motorway, depending on the traffic.
Travelling from Milan to Lake Garda is one of the best options to have complete freedom of moving around the lake and visit more places.
The second most preferred option (and fastest one) is the high-speed train. You can get to Desenzano del Garda by high-speed train in 50 minutes.
If you want to keep your travel expenses down but give up on comfort, you can get to Peschiera del Garda by bus in 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Your last option is the private transfer (in the form of a small group tour) which is ideal for anybody that doesn’t want to arrange their own transportation and wants the luxury of a professional guide to show them around the lake region.
How to get from Milan to Lake Garda
Now that you know how straightforward it is to get from Milan to Lake Garda by car, train and bus, let’s check in more detail each option so you can decide what’s the most suitable one based on your travel style.
Train from Milan to Garda
Travelling from Milan to Lake Garda by train is the best choice if you want to enjoy the journey, don’t think about renting a car in Milan, fuel and motorway tolls and of course, parking once you reach your destination.
Your departure station is Milano Centrale that is only 7 minutes away by metro from the Duomo and your arrival station is Desenzano del Garda. To get to Desenzano del Garda centre you can walk for 17 minutes or get a bus and get there in 5 minutes.
To reach Lake Garda from Milan by train you can choose to travel by regional train or by high-speed train. In Italy, regional trains stop more times before getting to their destination and that’s why it always takes a lot longer.
I recommend travelling by high-speed train because you get to your destination a lot faster, although you should consider getting a regional train if prices of the high-speed train ticket are too high. Booking in advance can save you money and time.
See below your options:
A few things to remember when getting the train to Lake Garda from Milan:
Driving from Milan to Garda
If your priority number one is the freedom from schedules and to reach any town around Lake Garda, that you should travel from Milan to Lake Garda by car.
You can get to Desenzano del Garda, the closest lakeside resort, in less than 1 hour and a half by car. Travelling by car is the best option to explore this region, stop along the way and savour every glimpse of Lake Garda.
It is also worth nothing that you can rent a car from one of the Milan airports or from Milan city centre. From Milan city centre, first get on A51 from Via Alessandro Manzoni, then Corso Buenos Aires and SPexSS11/SP11.
Then access the A4 motorway and drive until you get to Desenzano del Garda (exit Desenzano). Finally, take Via Mantova and Viale Marconi to Via A. Gramsci to get to Desenzano town centre.
In Italy, you pay tolls to access motorways and you can check how much it can cost you from the website Autostrade.it.
Bus from Milan to Lake Garda
Travelling on a tight budget? You can also reach Lake Garda from Milan by bus. The bus company providing this service is Flixbus and offers competitive prices.
In fact, the bus is the ideal way to reach Lake Garda if you want to visit the famous theme park Gardaland or get to the charming town of Peschiera del Garda.
You’ll depart from Lampugnano bus station (Via Giulio Natta 226), which is 20 minutes from Milan by metro. Then you’ll arrive at the Peschiera del Garda bus station (Viale Stazione 55) and it takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to get there on the fastest bus.
From the bus station, it only takes 21 minutes to get to Peschiera town centre or 10 minutes by bus. The Flixbus ticket price is just under 10 euros (one way).
If you’re planning to visit Gardaland aquarium or even the themepark, just get a bus from Peschiera del Garda train station and get there in 5 minutes. If you want to move around Lake Garda and reach other towns or villages or get to Verona, you can rely on the local bus ATV and Arriva.
Private Transfer to Lake Garda from Milan
If you don’t want to arrange your own transportation from Milan to Lake Garda, then there are different day trips with guided tours you can join like this Lake Garda from Milan full day trip which takes away the stress of booking your own transport.
A day trip is the ideal solution for travellers that prefer visiting Lake Garda knowing their schedule and relying on a professional local guide that knows the places like the back of their hands. You’ll just have to show up at the meeting point in Milan central station to meet your guide and small group and hop on a train.
You’ll visit first the lovely town of Desenzano del Garda and then go on a boat tour to Sirmione. There you’ll have time to explore the Roman villa ruins of the Grottoes of Catullus and stroll around Sirmione historic centre.
After a gelato with your guide you’ll head back to Desenzano by boat, where you can go shopping before travelling back to Milan.
Getting from Milan to Lake Garda
As you can see travelling from Milan to Lake Garda is easy and doesn’t require much planning. Whether you decide to get there at the last minute or as part of your pre-planned Italy itinerary, remember that you have 4 transportation options.
The quickest way is by high-speed train, whereas the best option to move around the lake without depending on timetables is definitely by car.
Whichever it’s the option you decide to travel with, you can stay reassured that a day trip or longer holiday in Lake Garda from Milan is absolutely worth it.
I hope you found this guide useful while trip planning. To learn more, you can read about the things to do in Lake Garda so you can have the most rewarding time here.
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