Travelling from Milan to Lake Garda is easy and there are three ways to do it.
Italy’s largest lake is a great destination for a day trip, a weekend break or a longer holiday.
On account of its excellent road and train connections, Milan is one of the most convenient Italian cities to reach Lake Garda.
If you have ever asked yourself ‘How to get from Milan to Lake Garda?’, fear not. In this blog post today I will give you extensive and first-hand tried and tested information exactly how to do it.
From reaching the many southern and northern towns on Lake Garda by car, train, and bus/ferry to useful details about the airports and the train stations serving Milan, everything is covered and structured in a way to make your travel planning as easy as possible.
There are many beautiful and wonderful things to see around Lake Garda in a day or two or over a longer period. Knowing how to reach Italy’s largest lake from Milan and how to smoothly navigate around it will make your trip so much more enjoyable. It will also free up more time for sightseeing and relaxation.
Lake Garda has a circumference of around 160 km and dozens of picturesque towns and exciting sights on its shores. If you are wondering which ones of them to visit on a day trip from Milan or for a longer stay, you can have a look at this blog post covering the 12 most beautiful towns on Lake Garda and take your pick. Alternatively, please, watch the video on this page. In case you are travelling as a family, then this blog post on the best 11 things to do around Lake Garda with kids will give you loads of ideas.
All the photos in this blog post show you the beauty of Lake Garda!
Now, without further ado, let’s start!
3 Easy Ways to Travel from Milan to Lake Garda in Italy
I. Milan to Lake Garda by Car or Taxi
It is very easy and straightforward to reach by car any point around Lake Garda from Milan.
As you know, Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and with over a million population, a long stretch of your travelling time to Lake Garda will be taken with simply navigating Milan’s streets and boulevards to leave the city behind. All distances and times below are calculated starting from Milan’s main train station – Milano Centrale. You will need to adjust them depending on where in Milan you will be starting your journey from by car or taxi.
Toll road A4 (E64 between Milan and Brescia and then E70 from Brescia to Lake Garda) connects Milan with many different lakefront towns. The quickest to get to by car are:
- Milan to Desenzano del Garda – 119 km and it takes about 1 h 10 mins to 1 h 25 mins;
- Milan to Salo’ – 125 km and it takes about 1 h 20 mins to 2 h; and
- Milan to Peschiera del Garda – 130 km and it also takes about 1 h 20 mins to 2 h 10 mins.
Alternatively, you can use the network of provincial and regional roads which are free to drive on. They are convenient, too. However, travel times on them tend to be longer.
Once at Lake Garda, you can then circumvent the whole lake by following the two branches of the lakefront road:
- Gardesana Orientale – which follows the western shores; and
- Gardesana Ocidentale – which follows the eastern shores.
In general, you can reach any point around Lake Garda from Milan in about 1 h 10 mins to 3 h 30 mins. More often than not, you can expect to travel between 1 h 20 mins (to the nearest to Milan lakefront towns like Desenzano de Garda, Salo’, and Peschiera del Garda) and 2 h 30 mins (to the farthest from Milan lakefront towns like Riva del Garda and Malcesine).
The travelling times vary widely depending on the day and the season. As there is only one road which circumnavigates the lake, traffic jams happen and can last for hours especially during the high season and on weekends.
In addition to the above, for your interest here are some more average distances from Milan to the most beautiful and interesting towns on Lake Garda:
- Milan to Maderno/Toscolano – 133 km;
- Milan to Gargnano – 140 km;
- Milan to Lazise – 141 km;
- Milan to Bardolino – 147 km;
- Milan to Garda Town – 150 km;
- Milan to Torri del Benaco – 157 km;
- Milan to Limone sul Garda – 158 km;
- Milan to Riva del Garda – from around 170 km to 208 km depending on which side of the lake the GPS will guide you to drive on;
- Milan to Torbole – from around 175 km to 206 km depending on which side of the lake the GPS will guide you to drive on;
- Milan to Malcesine – 177 km.
Being able to zip by car from Milan to Lake Garda and then back gives you the immense freedom to visit a myriad of picturesque towns, medieval villages, curious sights, pebbly beaches, captivating museums, large attraction parks, and so many other wonderful places on the shores of Italy’s largest lake.
If you are driving your own or a rental car, then, please, refer to point 1 in this blog post: 8 Best Ways to Get Around Lake Garda, Italy. There you will find detailed advice about dealing with parking, rush hours, traffic jams and driving styles at Italy’s largest lake.
If you don’t want to rent a car but yet you prefer the convenience of travelling by car from Milan to Lake Garda irrespective of cost, then you can hire a taxi.
You can book a taxi even before your arrival in Milan as many taxi companies that serve Lake Garda have websites in several languages and can give you a price estimate depending on your dates and times. You just need to search for ‘taxi from Milan to Lake Garda’ and your favourite search engine will return dozens of results.
Otherwise, you can get a taxi in situ from Milan’s airports, train stations, or official taxi ranks. You can also ask your hotel to organise a taxi to pick you up or to recommend a local taxi company for you to use.
If this has not been agreed on in advance, then make sure that you ask the taxi driver before the start of the journey how much it will cost you to reach your Lake Garda destination from Milan. Be prepared that on Sundays and public holidays a surcharge may be applied.
Some taxi companies may also offer customised tours of Lake Garda. This way, you can have the taxi driver take you directly from Milan to Lake Garda and then follow an itinerary that corresponds exactly to what you want to see and do there.
II. Milan to Lake Garda by Train
If you want to travel from Milan to Lake Garda for a day trip, then the most convenient course of action is to take the high-speed train from Milano Centrale train station to either Desenzano del Garda or Peschiera del Garda.
In under an hour, you will reach the shores of Italy’s largest lake and can spend the day in either Desenzano or Peschiera (both are very cute) or get the ferry or the bus to other little lakefront gems like Sirmione, Salo’, Lazise, Bardolino, and Garda Town (see point 2. under heading III below).
Desenzano del Garda and Peschiera del Garda are the only two lakefront towns that have a train station. Both are near each other and are located on the southern end of Italy’s largest lake.
Milan’s main train station – Milano Centrale – enjoys excellent connections by high-speed and regional trains to the train stations in Desenzano del Garda and Peschiera del Garda. It takes about 51 mins to reach Desenzano del Garda from Milano Centrale on the high-speed trains and about 1 h 23 mins if you opt to travel on the regional trains. It takes about 57 mins to reach Peschiera del Garda from Milano Centrale on the high-speed trains and about 1 h 32 mins if you opt to travel on the regional trains.
You can also catch the regional trains to Lake Garda from Milano Lambrate train station which will shave about eight minutes off the average travelling time.
Bear in mind that the high-speed trains cost on average two and a half to three times more than the regional trains. Their price increases the closer you get to the day of departure. So, it pays to buy a ticket well in advance. The prices for the regional trains don’t fluctuate and you can easily buy a ticket on the day of travel.
To check train times and prices and to buy in advance train tickets from Milan to Lake Garda, use the official website of Italy’s train operator Trenitalia. Make sure that you refer to the tips and tricks for quick and cheap train and bus travel in Italy at the end of this blog post to find out how to navigate Italy’s train system.
III. Milan to Lake Garda by Train/Bus and Train/Ferry
Travelling all the way from Milan to Lake Garda by bus is possible but it’s often rather inconvenient. The journey may take hours, you may need to change at least once, some bus lines may be operational only during the high season, and often the price is not really cheaper than simply travelling by train.
So, make sure that you travel by train from Milan as close to Lake Garda as possible and then change to a local bus line or take a ferry to continue your journey to your final destination on the shores of Italy’s largest lake.
There are four ways to do it. Here they are:
- Train to Brescia and then bus onwards
- Train to either Desenzano del Garda or Peschiera del Garda and then bus or ferry onwards
- Train to Verona and then bus onwards
- Train to Rovereto and then bus onwards
Let’s look into them in detail!
1. Train to Brescia and then bus onwards
This is a very convenient option to reach the towns on the western and the northern shores of Lake Garda from Milan.
Take the train from Milano Centrale or Milano Lambrate to Brescia – a very interesting city in the Italian region of Lombardy. Travel times start from 36 mins by high-speed train and from 1 h 6 mins by regional train. Once in Brescia, you can get bus S202 to many western and northern lakefront towns ending in Riva del Garda. Click here to consult the timetable of bus line S202 for specific times of departure and arrival.
2. Train to either Desenzano del Garda or Peschiera del Garda and then bus or ferry onwards
Proceed as per heading II above. Simply take the train from either Milano Centrale or Milano Lambrate train stations and travel to one of the two lakefront towns with a train station.
Once you reach Desenzano del Garda or Peschiera del Garda by train from Milan, you can then quickly and easily travel by bus and/or ferry to many of the other towns on the southern, northern, western, and eastern shores of Lake Garda.
Click here to consult the current timetables of the bus lines that you can use in your explorations of Lake Garda. You can click here to check the ferry lines connecting the different lakefront destinations.
For example, if you want to reach the town of Sirmione from Milan, then take the train to Desenzano del Garda. Once there, you can take a ferry or a bus for the short ride to Sirmione. Or if you need to reach Riva del Garda, then you can take a bus from Desenzano all the way alongside the western and northern lake shores.
Another option is to take the train from Milan to Peschiera del Garda and then the ferry or a bus to one of several lakefront towns like Lasize, Bardolino, and Garda Town.
3. Train to Verona and then bus onwards
The train journey from Milano Centrale to Verona Porta Nuova train stations lasts between 1 h 13 mins by high-speed train and 1 h 50 mins by regional train. Once you arrive in Verona, there are many direct bus lines that connect the city of Romeo and Juliet with many towns on the shores of Lake Garda.
Here are a few for your consideration:
- Bus lines 162 and 163 will take you from Verona to Lazise, Bardolino, and Garda Town.
- Bus line 164 will take you from Verona to Peschiera del Garda, Lazise, Bardolino, and Garda Town.
- Bus line 165 will take you from Verona to Bardolino and Garda Town.
- Bus line 026 will take you from Verona to Castelnuovo, Peschiera del Garda, and Desenzano del Garda.
The buses for Lake Garda stop right opposite the Verona Porta Nuova train station. This way, you won’t lose any time in transfer.
Approximate travel times by bus from Verona to some of the most popular destinations on Lake Garda are as follows:
- Verona to Peschiera del Garda by bus – approx. 33 to 39 mins
- Verona to Lazise by bus – approx. 52 mins
- Verona to Bardolino by bus – approx. 1 h 2 mins
- Verona to Garda Town by bus – approx. 1 h 7 mins
Once at Lake Garda, you can then take a different bus line or a ferry to a different lakefront town. For example, bus line 484 can take you from Garda Town to Malcesine and Riva del Garda. You can click here to check the ferry lines connecting the different lakefront destinations.
4. Train to Rovereto and then bus onwards
Here is yet option to reach the northernmost tip of Lake Garda from Milan.
Take a train from Milano Centrale to Rovereto – a charming city in the Autonomous Italian province of Trentino. You will have to change trains at Verona Porta Nuova. Travel times start from 2 h 16 mins if you travel by high-speed trains. Once in Rovereto, you can get bus 332 to Riva del Garda and other northern lakefront towns. Click here to consult the timetable of bus line 332 for specific times of departure and arrival.
N.B.: No matter which of the four of the above options you will choose, please, always make sure that you check the train, bus, and ferry timetables for Lake Garda carefully. These may vary significantly according to the season and the day of the week.
To make your travel from Milan to Lake Garda even easier here is some useful information about reaching Italy’s largest lake from the airports and the train stations serving Milan.
Milan has three international airports – Malpensa, Linate, and Bergamo Orio al Serio.
To find out how to travel from one of these three airports to Lake Garda, please, have a look at this detailed blog post:
The points that will be of interest to you are:
2. Bergamo Airport
6. Milan Malpensa Airport
7. Milan Linate Airport
Milan Train Stations
Milan has several train stations. The two that are of interest to you if you are planning to travel by train to Lake Garda are:
- Milano Centrale – easy to reach from anywhere in the city, Milan’s main train station is a busy transport hub with monumental architecture.
- Milano Lambrate – Milan’s third-largest train station can be an option to travel to Lake Garda if you don’t mind taking a regional (rather than a high-speed train) and your accommodation is nearby.
To check train times and prices and to book in advance train tickets from Milan to Lake Garda, use the official website of Italy’s train operator Trenitalia. Make sure that you refer to the tips and tricks for quick and cheap train and bus travel in Italy at the end of this blog post to find out how to navigate Italy’s train and bus systems.
Travelling from Milan to Lake Garda for a day trip, a weekend break or a longer holiday is easy. In general, there are three ways to do it: by car (your own, rented, or taxi), by train (directly to two of the towns on Lake Garda’s shores), or by combining train with ferry or train with bus (to any point around the lake).
In the above blog post, I give you detailed and first-hand tried and tested information about how to reach Italy’s largest lake from Milan’s two train stations and three airports. Packed with useful tips, I hope that my blog post will come in handy when you plan your trip from Milan to Lake Garda.
Enjoy discovering the beauty of Lake Garda!
More Helpful Links for Lake Garda, Italy
- Best 12 Towns to Visit around Lago di Garda – Italy’s Largest Lake
- Lake Garda with Kids or The Best 11 Things to Do at Lake Garda for Families
- Getting around Lake Garda – 8 Best Ways to Travel around Italy’s Largest Lake
- 8 Best Airports for Lake Garda or How to Quickly Reach by Plane Italy’s Largest Lake
- 3 Easy Ways to Travel from Verona to Lake Garda in Italy
- 3 Easy Ways to Travel from Venice to Lake Garda in Italy
- Lake Garda Beaches – 16 Top Tips for a Great Day at the Beach at Italy’s Largest Lake
- 3 Unmissable Lake Garda Beaches to Sun Yourself on This Summer in Italy
- Punta di San Vigilio – A Walk Through the Most Charming Corner of Lake Garda, Italy
- Lake Garda’s Tibetan Bridge – A High-Adrenaline Hiking Experience in the Veneto, Italy
- Rocca di Garda – Hiking to the Best Panoramic Spot of Lake Garda, Italy
- The Shortest River in Italy – Visiting the River Aril in Cassone at Lake Garda
- Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona – Visiting Italy’s Church Suspended Between Heaven and Earth
- 18 of the Best Cities to Visit in Northern Italy (With Travel Tips and Nearest Airports
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