Milan: an Ideal Start Point for Drives Around Northern Italy

Road trip to towns near Milan, Italy including Merano, Bormio, and Rive del Garda

Northern Italy is an absolutely incredible place – think vibrant cities, stunning lakes and spectacular ski resorts. We think there’s no better way to experience the various contrasts of northern Italy than with a driving tour, with Milan making the ideal start point.

Fly into Milan airport and you can hire a car directly from there (see what’s on offer from companies likeĀ Auto Europe) and get started straight away. That said, we recommend you check out Milan before hitting the road – though since the route we recommend loops back to this fashion mecca, you can always do it at the end of your trip instead.

Whenever you decide to visit, don’t forget to seek out some of the best architecture as well as hit the shops. The Duomo di Milano is one of its most striking buildings – especially since it spans a massive 11,700 sq m and is covered in sculptures and statues.


Hit the SS36 and you can begin the roughly three-hour drive to Bormio, which is a gorgeous little mountain town. Contrasting the bustling streets of trendy Milan, Bormio is a scenic ski resort with 75 km of prepared slopes. So, if you have time before you continue the driving tour to Merano, why not strap on your skis?

En route to Bormio there’s plenty of great scenery and places to stop. For instance, the road travels along the eastern shore of Lake Como and past lovely little fishing villages like Varenna. It’s well worth stopping here to stretch your legs, especially since it’s home to charming winding streets with gorgeous views of the famous lake.


Once you’ve seen the sights of Bormio you can get back on the open road – but remember once you do so it’ll be mountainous roads you’re driving on! The route from Bormio to Merano is spectacular, but be prepared for some steep stretches and tricky corners.

The drive to Merano should take you around two hours, and once you arrive you’ll be in for a real treat. You see, Merano is a beautiful little town that’s surrounded by a ring of mountains, and it’s got a wealth of things to offer visitors.

For instance, a visit to the Centro Storico is a must. This is the historic centre of the town, but it’s particularly interesting because there are plenty of modern touches woven throughout the web of old buildings. This part of town is also home to the Via Portici, by the way, which is great for shopping.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other lovely places to explore. Keep your eyes peeled while driving around here, because you can spot beautiful vineyards and apple orchards.

Riva del Garda

The penultimate leg of your road trip will take you to Riva del Garda – a resort on the northern end of the famous Lake Garda. What’s great about coming here is that not only does it give you the opportunity to see Lake Garda in all its glory, but it also allows you to experience another facet of life in northern Italy.

Riva del Garda has a great history, which you can get an impression of in the Piazza III Novembre in the heart of town. It is home to the 34 m high Torre Apponale; if you’re visiting in the summer, it’s well worth climbing the 165 steps to the top.

Once you’ve finished exploring, it’s time to get back on the open road and return to your start point – Milan.