Milan is one of the world's pinnacles for culture with some of the most stunning architecture, fashion, and art to be seen anywhere. With great shopping opportunities, high-fashion runway shows, historic and cultural landmarks-including DaVinci's Last Supper mural-, imposing cathedrals, and modern high rises, it brings in visitors year round and has a unique hustle and bustle that makes it vibrant and lively. Additionally, it is also a business epicenter that draws in a lot of work-related travel. However, for those that need a minute or two of respite from the non-stop motion of city life, there are also some great outdoor spots to discover just around the corner from this pulsing culture-hub.
Milan is set in the region of Lombardy, which borders Switzerland to the north, the Italian cantons of Trentino and Veneto to the east, Piedmont to the west and Emilia-Romagna to the south. Also known as the Italian Lake District, this region boasts some of Italy's most breathtaking landscapes including crystal clear blue lakes, piercing green forests, rocky ravines, and breathtaking mountains. Therefore, you will find options for all kinds of adventures near Milan that can be just as thrilling as the city (or more). You don't need a lot of time either. You can find options for 1, 2 or 3-day programs that will reconnect you with your body and the environment.
With so many places to visit and things to do, going with a certified guide can help you narrow down options to only the best alternatives. Read on to find out our selection of the top outdoor adventures near Milan, and start planning your trip or quick weekend getaway! You will feel replenished.
1. Make a splash in Gordona: Val Bodengo, Perlana Gorge
Just 90kms away from Milan, at the very north of Italy in the Lombardian Alps and Prealps, in the province of Sondrio, Gordona is home to some of Lombardy's most stunning spots for canyoning. This fun sport that combines hiking, scrambling, climbing, rappelling and swimming is ideal for summer adventures. With emerald green lakes set amidst smooth rocky contours, Gordona is the perfect place to practice this exhilarating activity and reconnect with nature as you disconnect from all the rest.
Val Bodengo, in Gordona, and Perlana Gorge, near Lake Como, are two of the most popular spots in Italy for canyoning due to their heart-stopping beauty. Furthermore, you can find easygoing canyoning options for beginners and kids over 10 years of age, as well as for more advanced canyoneers.
If you're traveling around Italy with your family, don't miss these ideas to enjoy outdoor activities with kids.
How to get there: Sondrio is the closest capital to Gordona. Your best bet to get to this region is to drive from Milan. However, you can also find railway options that connect cities and towns in Lombardy, as well as buses and minibusses that connect the most popular tourist spots in the region.
If you are planning on traveling around Lombardy, you can buy a Lombardy pass ticket (“Io Viaggio ovunque in Lombardia”) that lets you use most of the transport options in the region. There is also a family pass that allows children under 14 to travel for free. You can purchase transport passes from train ticket offices, magnetic-electronic ticket machines, and ticket offices of primary transport companies.
2. Rock it in the Orco Valley – Val di Mello
Set north of Turin and west of Milan, the Orco Valley in the Gran Paradiso National Park is pierced by the Orco River and is also a famous rock climbing location with a great reputation for its granite crack climbing opportunities. Sergent, Caporal and the Torre di Aimonin are some of the most well-known sports for multi-pitch trad climbing in the Orco Valley, and the region also has some interesting single-pitch sport climbing locations.
Val di Mello is set northwest of Sondrio, on the border with Switzerland. This beautiful pristine spot is perfect for bouldering and single or multi-pitch trad climbing on granite walls. Slab, or friction climbing, is also popular. It goes without saying that not only are the climbing opportunities great in Val di Mello, but the landscapes are spectacular.
How to get there: Rent a car or take a train/bus combination from either Milan or Turin. There are many options depending on the combination you prefer, so make sure to plan your itinerary beforehand.
3. Take a hike around Lake Como
Just 51 km away from Milan, Lake Como is one of the most famous lakes in Italy. It is also the perfect location for a quick escape from the city bustle. With its intensely blue waters and surface area of 146 square km surrounded by earthy green woods, mountains, and prestigious villages, it is a sight to be seen and is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is no wonder it is such an ideal hiking location.
Furthermore, there are historical spots on the lake's trails that make it all the more interesting. Additionally, you can find hiking programs for all levels with different durations, so everyone can enjoy this stunning destination and unwind even on a quick 1-day getaway.
How to get there: If you don't want to drive, you have the option of taking two different train routes from Milan to Como. The first is Milano Centrale/Milano Porta Garibaldi, that can take between half an hour and an hour depending on which service you hire, and the second is Milano Nord Cadorna, which is the slower more scenic option.
You can also take a train straight from Milano Malpensa airport and get to Lake Como in approximately an hour and a half, although the frequency of these trains is low, so make sure to plan your itinerary in advance.
4. Pump up a Via Ferrata in the Sarca Valley (Lake Garda)
On the edge of the Dolomites, between Venice and Milan, lies Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. This stunning sparkling blue Lombardian jewel is a sight to be seen. The Sarca Valley, located 160km away from Milan, in Trentino, overlooks this lake and is a great place to practice via ferrata.
A via ferrata is a climbing route protected by a steel cable to which climbers can secure themselves. In the Sarca Valley, you will find great via ferrata and climbing options surrounded by olive groves and views of the lake.
How to get there: Driving again is a great option to get to Lake Garda that will allow you to explore scenic routes on the way. Additionally, there are other transport options that will take you to Desenzano del Garda/Sirmione either by train or train/bus combinations. Depending on which train you choose, it can take between one or two hours to get there from Milan.
5. Turn snow to powder in the Aosta Valley
The north of Italy is also famous for its winter sports opportunities, and, at 170km north-west of Milan, the Aosta Valley in the Alps is the perfect spot for ski touring. Some of the most renowned mountains for ski touring in the area include the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, and Gran Paradiso.
The region is famous for its amazing skiing options, as well as for its breathtaking landscapes, stately castles, rich history, and vibrant apres-ski scene.
Keep reading: a guide to freeride skiing in Courmayeur, Italy.
How to get there: Driving is the fastest option to get to Aosta from Milan and takes approximately 1.5 hours. Other options include rideshare, bus or train. Duration of travel times will depend on the service option you choose but can range from 3 to 5 hours.
Don't miss the chance to discover the amazing outdoor adventure opportunities near Milan. Take a break from city life and unwind on a fun getaway.
Whether its canyoning in emerald green waters, rock climbing on some of Europe's most stunning walls, hiking some of the most scenic locations in Italy, practicing via ferrata alongside the shores of its biggest lake or skiing in the amazing Aosta Valley, you're bound to find the perfect excursion for you. See all our guided programs in Italy and start planning your next adventure!