Milan and Venice are Northern Italy's two most popular cities to visit, and even though they are only separated by 174 miles they can feel a world apart. Milan is the financial capital of Italy and one of the most modern cities in the country, while entering Venice feels like stepping back in time with its lack of cars and Rennaissance flair.
The train is the quickest way to travel between them and the most popular method with tourists and locals alike. If you buy tickets early enough they are relatively affordable, but bus is the travel option of choice for those on a budget and it doesn't take much longer than the train. If you have access to a vehicle, you could stretch out the drive into a couple of days or longer and explore a number of the cities in between Milan and Venice, as well.
|Train||2 hours, 20 minutes||from $22||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||3 hours, 30 minutes||from $11||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours||174 miles (280 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Milan to Venice?
Taking the bus from Milan is the most affordable way to get to Venice, and the journey only takes about an hour longer than the train. Flixbus is one of the most popular companies for coach travel across Europe, offering daily rides from 10 euros for a one-way ticket, or roughly $11. Prices do go up as the travel date gets closer, but even last-minute tickets for the bus will be a fraction of the price of a last-minute train ticket.
The bus terminal in Milan is at Lampugnano, which is a 30-minute metro ride from the Milano Centrale train station. There are two options for your arrival: Venice Mestre or Venice Tronchetto. The Mestre station is on the mainland outside of Venice and you'll need an additional train or taxi to get into the city. Tronchetto is a man-made island adjacent to Venice and from there, a three-minute tram ride takes travelers directly to Piazzale Rome in the city.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Milan to Venice?
Direct trains shuttle passengers from one of Milan's central train stations to Venice in just two and a half hours, making it the fastest and oftentimes the most convenient method of transportation. You can book a train through Trenitalia—Italy's national rail service—or the privately-owned Italo. Both companies are comfortable and comparable in service, and competition between the two helps to control prices. Compare schedules and costs at both before finalizing your reservation. Tickets for both companies start at 20 euros, or about $22, when purchased in advance and quickly rise as tickets sell out.
Trains depart from Milan at either Milano Centrale or Porta Garibaldi stations, both of which are centrally located and easily accessible. You may see trains that arrive in Venice at Venezia Mestre or Venezia Santa Lucia. Just as with the bus, the Mestre station is outside of the city center and requires further transportation. Santa Lucia is the primary train station and from there you can easily walk into the city center or grab one of the vaporetto water buses.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Having a car in Milan and Venice can be a nightmare. With traffic and parking in Milan and cars being prohibited in Venice, a vehicle doesn't help much in either place. However, the nearly 200 miles between the two cities are best explored with your own vehicle. It takes about three to four hours to complete the drive depending on traffic using the A4 highway all the way from Milan to Venice.
Since there are no roads in Venice, the only parking lots on the island are at Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto, but both of them charge hefty fees and can fill up quickly in the high season. If you're staying longer than the day, you'll save money by parking on the mainland near the Mestre train station and then taking the train into Venice from there.
Italian highways, called autostrade, do use tolls and toll booths along the route accept credit cards or cash. Foreign credit cards aren't always accepted, so be sure to carry some spare euros with you just in case. Using the A4 route, expect to pay around 26 euros in total for tolls, or about $28.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Venice?
Venice is perpetually filled with visitors, but getting there is especially difficult during peak travel times. The city is at capacity practically every day of the summer and if you're arriving in a vehicle, you'll need to arrive first thing in the morning to get a parking spot at the Tronchetto or Piazzale Roma lots (or park outside of the city near Mestre to avoid the worst of the incoming traffic).
Apart from the summer, Carnival in Venice is one of the busiest times to visit. Arriving by car, train, or bus during this immensely popular festival, known as Carnevale in Italian, is always more difficult. Carnival falls sometime in February or March depending on the year, so if you're traveling to Venice around this holiday, book your travel as early in advance as possible.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Venice?
Driving yourself is the best way to explore the Italian countryside and the countless towns outside of the major cities, and you can visit several on the route from Milan to Venice without even making a detour. Taking the A4 highway you'll pass right through Brescia, Verona, Padua, Ferrara, and many other worthwhile towns in the gorgeous Veneto region. You could drive from Milan to Venice in just three hours, but if you're in a hurry you might as well take the train. With a car, the journey becomes a part of your vacation. Stretch out the drive for as many days as you can afford for an unforgettable trip through Northern Italy.
What Is There to Do in Venice?
Venice evokes images of singing gondoliers, dreamy canal rides, and Rennaissance architecture, and it's consistently called one of the romantic places to visit in the world. Although the reality often includes an abundance of tourists, there is still something undeniably magical about La Serenissima, as Italian's lovingly refer to the city. The main square of the city is also home to St. Mark's Cathedral, which you can tour and climb to the top of for an unbeatable view of the Adriatic Sea. There are over 400 bridges that criss-cross the many canals in the city but none are as famous as the Rialto Bridge, an obligatory stop for anyone's first visit to Venice. A romantic gondola ride along the canals is expensive and not as intimate as you might imagine—there are hundreds of boats at any given time—but it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is quintessentially Venetian, and one you're sure to remember long after your trip ends.