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  • Writer's pictureTania Andreea

Milan, Varenna and Bellagio - travel guide

Updated: Mar 17

Have you ever made an image in your mind of a certain place that you've never visited? I do this all the time. I imagine how a certain city looks like, how is like to walk its streets, the vibe, the people, etc. Sometimes the image created matches reality, but most of the time, it has nothing to do with it. No matter how many photos of that place I see, nothing compares to live experience.

Milan is known for its famous fashion houses, luxury shops, but also for its inhabitants, who have an appetite for wearing podium-worthy outfits. The latter, I imagined myself as a result of seeing photos of people wearing extravagant outfits that look different from what we see in everyday life. I later understood that this only happens during fashion week and people don't dress like for a magazine photoshoot everyday.

So, if before I've visited it, I've considered it's the city of fashion, now I consider it the city of green balconies :) Why so? Because most buildings with balconies are full of plants. People have made real mini-gardens right in their homes to make up for the lack of green spaces in the city.


To get to Milan you can choose to have your flight on one of the three airports: Malpensa, Linate or Bergamo. I had my flight on Malpensa airport and to get to the city, there are buses that run every hour to the central station in Milan. You can find tickets here. To go back to the airport, the departure station is on the opposite side of the place where you got off the bus.

If you land on Bergamo airport, you can find bus tickets here. If you land on Linate, find bus tickets here.


Because we had our return flight early in the morning and we didn't want to waste time with public transportation to get to the station and because we wanted to get to Lake Como by train, we chose to stay near the Central Station. At the time when I made the reservation, the best option was Best Hotel. Unfortunately, it was not a very good choice and I cannot recommend it. The room was extremely small, very ugly and outdated.

If you are lucky and find a good price, I leave some of the accommodations with the best reviews in Milan:

- Residence De La Gare, a flat, with kitchen, washing machine, air conditioning and wi-fi;

- Gaffurio Apartment, a flat, with kitchen, washing machine, terace, garden and pet frindly;

- Ostello Bello Grande, apartment with kitchen, barbeque, balcony, pet friendly;

- Residenza delle Città, apartment with balcony, kitchen, pet friendly;

- iQ Hotel Milano, a 4 star hotel, with gym and spa.


Leonardo Museum 3

It is a museum dedicated to the artistic life of Leonardo Davinci. Here you will not see anything that belongs to him, only few replicas of what he created.

I bought tickets by mistake for this museum, on I thought I was going to see the painting "The Last Supper", which I wanted to see, but for which all the tickets were sold out .

The only thing I liked about this museum is the location. It is located in the shopping gallery and it can be admired from a few meters high.

Milan, Italy - best places to visit

Vittorio Emanuelle Gallery is considered the first commercial gallery in the world, built on four levels, during the reign of King Vittorio Emanuelle II, from which it takes the name. Here you will find only luxury stores, such as Channel, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, etc.

Milan, Italy - top places to visit

The Dome, which is at the exit of the gallery and is the largest cathedral I have visited.

Being the symbol of the city, all tourists will want to see it, so I recommend you get there as early as possible in the morning to avoid endless queues. You can visit both the roof and the interior, which also has a mini-museum in the basement. You can buy tickets here.

During the time we were there, the pigeons could still be fed. From what I understand, now it's illegal.

Milan Itlay, top places to visit

The church of San Bernardino alle Ossa is not to be missed if you arrive in Milan. It is a very special church. So special that I forgot to take pictures :)

Originally built more than 750 years ago, it was destroyed by fire and a new church was built. Therefore, you will see the difference between the new part and the old part. Why do I say it's special? Because in the old part of the church there was a room where the bones from the cemetery were laid. When it burned, the bones were moved to the walls of the new church.

Church in Milan, Italy

A walk on the streets of the city is also a must in Milan. Although it is not an open-air museum, like Rome, this area also has absolutely gorgeous buildings, with spectacular architecture.

details from the streets of Milan

What else can you visit in Milan: - Sforzeco Castle;

- Teatro alla Scala;

- Church of Santa Maria Delle Gratie. It is the building that houses Leonardo Davinci's famous painting, The Last Supper. In order to have access, you have to buy tickets a few months in advance because they sell out extremely quickly. We didn't get any more. You can buy tickets here or here.

- Basilica di Sant Ambrogio;

- Pinacoteca di Brera;

- Sempione Park;

- Bosco Verticale;

- Brera District;

- Alfa Romeo Museum;

- San Siro Stadium, details here;

- The Navigli district, for which you can choose to take a tour and enjoy the traditional Aperitivo, details here;

- Ride with the Bernina Express train and cruise on Lake Como, details here;


The easiest way to get to Lake Como is by train from the central station to Varenna. The trip takes about two hours. To get to Bellagio, you have to take the ferry boat, which runs regularly from Varenna. Tickets can be purchased right at the terminal. If you don't want to stress yourself with these means of public transport, you can book an organized trip to Lake Como. Tickets here.

You can also opt for organized trips to other towns on Lake Como, below I leave a list with some options:

- Como, Lugano and Bellagio, details here;

- The Swiss Alps and Lugano, details here;

- Cruise on Lake Como with stops in Como and Bellagio, details here;

If you ask yourself if there is enough time to see both towns in one day, the answer is yes, especially if it is summer and the day is longer. We went in November and had enough time to explore, without rushing and being pressed for time.


Because Bellagio was the reason for our short escapade in Italy, we chose to go there for the first time, leaving Varenna to visit it on the way back. I saw a lot of photos on social media of this place and I had it on my list to visit for a very long time. We were lucky that there were not many tourists and that we could enjoy it without other people around.

It is more of a village than a town, and George Clooney, it is said to own a house here. I can understand why he chose to buy a property here... it's an absolutely gorgeous place and unlike other places in Italy, the buildings are cared for and have renovated facades. The landscape towards the lake, surrounded by mountains, gives a special atmosphere to the place.

Bellagio, Lake Como - day trip from Milan

In addition to walking along the narrow and cobbled streets, in Bellagio you can also visit some palatial houses, the so-called Villas. Villa Menzi and Villa Sebelloni are located right in Bellagio and are open to the public.

Bellagio - Lake Como, day trip from Milan


On the way back, we stopped for a walk in Varenna, which is not as neat as Bellagio, but just as beautiful. Although I came to Lake Como specifically to see Bellagio, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Varenna is an equally beautiful and picturesque village.

What can be visited in Varenna: - Villa Monastery, details here; - Castello di Vezio; - Chiesa San Giorgio; - Promenade du Patriarche; - Church of St. Joh the Baptist

- You can opt for an organized tour to Villa Balbianello, one of the most beautiful locations at Lake Como, details here;

- Guided trekking through the forest, with picnic included, details here;

- Pasta and tiramisu cooking class, details here;

Varenna, Lake Como - day trip from Milan


Milan is one of those locations that can be visited at any time, especially since plane tickets from most places in Europe are always among the cheapest to this destination. Moreover, it is a destination that can be visited in any season, but I recommend coming here in the months of May-June, or September. We chose the month of November and it was very cold and extremely humid and it even rained torrentially in the evening.

You should definitely put Lake Como on the list, I'd say it's worth a visit more than the city itself. To visit Varenna and Bellagio, it is enough to book a single day. Accommodations at Lake Como are much more expensive than those in Milan and there is no point in booking something there, only if you want to have some experiences offered by the respective hotels.

Read also about the destinations that made me consider Italy the most beautiful country I visited: Amalfi Coast, Fiordo di Furore, Capri Island, Genoa and Portofino.

For more vacation ideas and photos, you can follow me on Instagram.

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