The distance between two of Italy's greatest cities—Milan and Venice—is 173 miles (279 km), traveling directly across the base of the Italian Alps from east to west. The easiest way to make the trip is by train, which takes about 2.5 hours; driving yourself in a rental car is also a possible option, but takes a bit longer (3 hours) and you'll have to leave the car outside of the island of Venice or park it immediately upon crossing the Via della Liberta on the Tronchetto.
Private car services can be booked easily and the price generally includes transport for three people. Buses run from Milan to Venice numerous times every day and are an economical way to go, but it will take you closer to four hours.
There are no nonstop flights between the two cities (you'd have to fly to Rome and change planes). For an especially quick and memorable trip, helicopters that seat 6 people can be chartered—you'll pay around $6,000 for the convenience.
While in Milan, consider seeing Lake Como, Bologna, and Torino on this 5-day itinerary or see much more of the Lakes Region on this 15-day visit.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Taking the train moves you right from the Milano Centrale train station in the center of Milan to the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia, the gateway to all that Venice has to offer. Choose one of the various train lines that does the 2.5-hour trip, Trenitalia or ItaliaRail; both offer numerous trains every day, with comfort levels varying from First Class on down. Bring all your luggage or just plan on a day trip, either way, Italian trains are accommodating for every kind of traveler. Note that prices are higher during rush hour times.
By Rental Car
Duration: 3 hours
Rental car companies abound in Milan, with Hertz, Avis, and Europcar the big three. Remember that renting a manual (stick shift) auto means much-reduced pricing in Italy; and remember that gas is expensive here, the prices you see are liters, not gallons (it takes almost four liters to equal a gallon).
Having a rental car gives you the freedom to explore the route between Milan and Venice, and perhaps take a few side trips along the way. Gorgeous Lake Como is a 1.5-hour drive north of Milan, a bit out of the way but worth the views, while taking the fastest route on the A4 freeway takes you through Bergamo, whose Cittia Alta (high city) is an ancient walled fortress area worth a stop along the way.
Verona is also right on the A4, the place where Shakespeare's fictional lovers, "Romeo and Juliet," met, fell in love, and died together. That story may not be real, but Verona is full of history, including a massive Roman amphitheater dating from the 1st Century.
Just north of Venice is the Treviso/Conegliano wine region, where Italy's best Prosecco is produced, so a quick trip to a winery or two is also an easy diversion.
You cannot take the car into the city of Venice, so plan to park it and leave it at the Venezia Tronchetto Parking just across the bridge that takes you into the city, or return it at the Venice airport and take other transit onto the island.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 3 hours
Car services between Milan and Venice are a luxury way to travel. The trip will take 2.5-3 hours, but you will still have to transfer to a vaporetto (Venetian public waterbus) in order to get to your hotel in Venice. Many hotels offer private boat transfers, so check with yours for that possibility.
Duration: 4 hours
Bus service runs regularly throughout the day between Milan and Venice and it is the least expensive way to make the journey, but it is a slow go. Plan to devote about four hours on the bus to get there. On a carrier like Flixbus, you'll have wifi, power outlets, and a toilet on board, at least.
By Private Helicopter
Duration: 74 minutes
The quickest and most expensive way to travel between Milan and Venice is by private helicopter charter. A charter includes transport for six people as well as luggage transfer and will set you back at least $5700, depending on which company you decide to book. Flying low in a helicopter allows you to look down into the landscape along the way, but making sightseeing stops isn't a possibility. Fly into the elite San Niccolo private airport on Lido Island for a true VIP experience.