Milan to Lyon - Stresa. Source: Depositphotos.com
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Last Updated: 5 October 2023

There are memorable trips to be made in the Alps. The one I want to show you crosses three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. Under a radiant sun, let's head for Lombardy on an epic road trip from Milan to Lyon via the Alps where breathtaking mountain landscapes await!

Spring in the French Alps - Annecy © French Moments

Spring in the French Alps - Lake Annecy © French Moments

Milan to Lyon: A Road Trip

There are two main motorway routes from Milan to Lyon.

  • The first is through the Fréjus tunnel via Turin, Maurienne Valley and Chambéry (450 km).
  • The second takes the Mont Blanc tunnel via Aosta, Chamonix and Geneva (460 km).

For this circular road trip, we'll be taking other routes and making long detours through the mountains.

Things to see in Lyon - South of France © French Moments

The cathedral and the Fourvière Hill from Pont Bonaparte, Lyon © French Moments

A round-trip itinerary from Milan to Lyon

To avoid overwhelming you with information (and publishing a long, very long article), I will limit the tourist details of this road trip from Milan to Lyon.

Milan to Lyon - Milano. Source: Depositphotos.com

Milan. Source: Depositphotos.com

The main sites crossed by the circular route are :

From Milan to Lyon (617 km / 383 mi)

In Italy:

- Stresa

In Switzerland:

- Simplon Pass

- Brig

- Sierre

- Sion

- Martigny

- Geneva

In France:

- Evian-les-Bains

- Thonon-les-Bains

- Yvoire

- Annecy

- Pérouges

From Lyon to Milan (540 km / 335 mi)

In France:

- Crémieu

- Chambéry

- Albertville

- Aime-la-Plagne

- Bourg-Saint-Maurice

- Little St Bernard Pass

In Italy:

- Aosta

- Pont-Saint-Martin

- Ivrea

- Biella

- Vercelli

- Novara

Milan to Lyon Itinerary

Click here to view the Milan to Lyon road trip on Google Map.

Renting a car in Milan

To start this road trip, you will need a car. If you are leaving the airport or train station, I recommend the DiscoverCars website, which will allow you to compare car rental offers from Milan.

Where to stay in Milan

Click here to get a list of accommodations in Milan or simply browse the map below:

Booking.com

What to do and see in Milan

Below you will find many activities to help you explore the fascinating Italian city of Milan:

Milan to Lyon: The Stages

Let's explore the route from Milan to Lyon in 12 stages.

1. Stresa

Milan - Stresa 🚘 91 km / 56 mi

Stresa is a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. Renowned for its stunning natural beauty, Stresa is a charming destination that has attracted travellers for centuries.

Stresa. Source: Depositphotos.com

Stresa. Source: Depositphotos.com

The town is characterised by its elegant lakeside promenade, lined with palm trees and Belle Époque-style hotels, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Stresa is also famous for its well-manicured gardens, such as the enchanting Isola Bella and Isola Madre, which are located on nearby islands and showcase a splendid array of botanical treasures.

Lake Maggiore, Italy's second-largest lake, is a serene oasis, providing opportunities for boating, water sports, and leisurely lakeside strolls.

Stresa and Lake Maggiore create a timeless, idyllic escape for travellers seeking natural beauty and cultural richness in the heart of Italy's Lombardy region.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Stresa

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Stresa > Tourist Office website

🤩 Click on the image below to get access to a wide range of activities:


2. Simplon Pass

Stresa - Simplon Pass 🚘 85 km / 52 mi

The Simplon Pass is a legendary mountain pass in the Swiss Alps, connecting Switzerland with Italy. Situated at an elevation of 2,005 meters (6,578 feet) above sea level, it has been a crucial trade route for centuries, dating back to the Roman era.

Milan to Lyon - Simplon Pass. Source: Depositphotos.com

Milan to Lyon - Simplon Pass. Source: Depositphotos.com

The pass is famous for its stunning alpine landscapes, with rugged peaks, dense forests, and pristine lakes surrounding the road that winds through the mountains.

Travellers are treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped summits and deep valleys as they traverse this historic route.

The Simplon Pass also boasts several tunnels and galleries, including the iconic Simplon Tunnel, an engineering marvel.

Today, it serves as a vital transportation link between Switzerland and Italy, offering travellers a memorable journey through one of Europe's most picturesque and historically significant mountain passes.


3. Brig

Simplon Pass - Brig 🚘 22 km / 13 mi

Brig is a charming alpine town that captivates visitors with its stunning alpine scenery and rich history. In the canton of Valais, Brig serves as a gateway to some of Switzerland's most iconic mountain destinations, including the nearby Simplon Pass and the majestic Aletsch Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Milan to Lyon - Brig. Source: Depositphotos.com

Brig. Source: Depositphotos.com

The town boasts a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern amenities, with its well-preserved medieval buildings, cobbled streets, and a picturesque town square.

Brig is also known for its historic Stockalper Palace, a grand baroque mansion that is a testament to the town's past wealth and influence.

With its strategic location amid the Alps and a backdrop of towering peaks, Brig is a popular hub for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Brig

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Brig > Tourist Office website


4. Sierre

Brig - Sierre 🚘 40 km / 25 mi

Sierre, nestled in the heart of the Swiss canton of Valais, is a town that blends modernity with natural beauty. Situated at the confluence of the Rhone River and the valley leading to the Val d'Anniviers, Sierre enjoys a stunning backdrop of Alpine mountains, making it a gateway to outdoor adventures year-round.

Milan to Lyon - Sierre. Source: Depositphotos.com

Sierre. Source: Depositphotos.com

The town is renowned for its vineyards and winemaking tradition, making it a hub for wine enthusiasts.

Sierre's picturesque Old Town showcases charming historic architecture and a vibrant cultural scene, with the Valais Art Museum and numerous festivals adding to its appeal.

Whether exploring the scenic vineyards, embarking on alpine hikes, or simply savouring local wines and cuisine, Sierre offers a delightful blend of Swiss hospitality and natural splendour.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Sierre

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Sierre > Tourist Office website


5. Sion

Sierre - Sion 🚘 17 km / 10 mi

Sion, the capital of the canton of Valais in Switzerland, is a town steeped in history and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

Milan to Lyon - Sion. Source: Depositphotos.com

Sion. Source: Depositphotos.com

Nestled in the Rhone Valley, Sion is renowned for its medieval charm. It has a well-preserved Old Town featuring narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and the iconic Valère Basilica and Tourbillon Castle perched on adjacent hills.

Beyond its rich heritage, Sion is a vibrant urban centre, offering a blend of cultural attractions, shopping districts, and fine dining options.

The town's strategic location also makes it a gateway to the surrounding Alps, providing access to outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and exploring the stunning landscapes of the Valais region.

Sion encapsulates the essence of Swiss culture, history, and natural beauty, making it a captivating destination for travellers.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Sion

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Sion > Tourist Office website


6. Martigny

Sion - Martigny 🚘 28 km / 17 mi

Located in the picturesque Rhone Valley of Switzerland, Martigny is a charming town that offers a delightful blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Renowned as a gateway to the Alps (Simplon Pass and Great St Bernard Pass), Martigny is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.

Milan to Lyon - Martigny. Source: Depositphotos.com

Martigny. Source: Depositphotos.com

The town is known for its Roman heritage, with the impressive Roman Amphitheatre and Roman Museum standing as testaments to its ancient past. Martigny's Old Town boasts well-preserved architecture and a vibrant atmosphere, with quaint cafes and shops lining its streets.

The region is also famous for its vineyards, producing excellent wines that visitors can savour while enjoying the stunning Alpine views.

With its rich heritage and proximity to alpine adventures, Martigny is a captivating destination that embodies the essence of Swiss culture and natural beauty.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Martigny

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Martigny > Tourist Office website


7. Evian-les-Bains

Martigny - Evian-les-Bains 🚘 65 km / 40 mi

Evian-les-Bains, situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva in eastern France, is a charming town renowned for its natural beauty and luxurious ambience.

Evian-les-Bains © French Moments

Evian-les-Bains © French Moments

This idyllic spa town gained international fame for its mineral water, and it continues to attract visitors with its elegant Belle Époque architecture, lush gardens, and lakeside promenades.

Evian is also home to a world-class casino, upscale resorts, and a vibrant cultural scene, including the Evian Championship golf tournament.

With the serene lake as its backdrop and the French Alps in the distance, Evian-les-Bains offers a tranquil escape for those seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and refined French living.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Evian-les-Bains

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Evian-les-Bains > Tourist Office website


8. Thonon-les-Bains

Evian-les-B - Thonon-les-B 🚘 10 km / 6 mi

Nestled on the scenic shores of Lake Geneva in the French Alps, Located 10 km west of Evian, Thonon-les-Bains is a charming town that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical charm.

Thonon-les-Bains © French Moments

Thonon-les-Bains © French Moments

This lakeside gem is famous for its therapeutic thermal spas, making it a sought-after destination for wellness seekers. The town's Old Town is a delightful labyrinth of narrow streets adorned with medieval buildings, quaint shops, and cosy cafés. Thonon-les-Bains also boasts a picturesque waterfront promenade, where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the lake, Lausanne and the Swiss Jura. With its rich history, serene lakeside setting, and access to outdoor activities like sailing and hiking, Thonon-les-Bains invites travellers to experience the tranquil beauty of the French Alps and the therapeutic allure of its thermal waters.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Thonon-les-Bains

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Thonon > Tourist Office website


9. Yvoire

Thonon-les-Bains - Yvoire 🚘 22 km / 13 mi

On the south shores of Lake Geneva, Yvoire is a captivating medieval village that transports visitors back in time. Its cobblestone streets wind through perfectly preserved stone buildings adorned with colourful flowers, creating a picturesque setting that feels like something out of a fairytale.

Reasons to visit France: Yvoire © French Moments

Yvoire © French Moments

Yvoire is renowned for its enchanting Jardin des Cinq Sens (Garden of the Five Senses), a meticulously designed garden that engages visitors with its scents, textures, and visual delights. The village's historic charm, with its ancient castle and quaint shops selling local crafts and artisan goods, make it a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat and a taste of medieval France amidst the serene beauty of Lake Geneva.

Find out more

📸 Discover Yvoire on the blog

🛌 Find your accommodation in Yvoire

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Yvoire > Tourist Office website


10. Geneva

Yvoire - Geneva 🚘 27 km / 16 mi

Geneva, often called the "Peace Capital of the World," is a cosmopolitan city in the heart of Switzerland. Situated on the shores of Lake Geneva and surrounded by the stunning Alps, Geneva is renowned for its international organisations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross. It's a global hub of diplomacy, humanitarian efforts, and finance.

Geneva. Source: Depositphotos.com

Geneva. Source: Depositphotos.com

The city boasts a rich cultural scene with world-class museums, theatres, and a thriving culinary landscape. Geneva's Old Town, with its historic architecture and charming cobblestone streets, is a testament to its rich history—the iconic Jet d'Eau fountain soars over the lake, symbolising the city. Geneva is also a gateway to outdoor adventures, offering boating, hiking, and skiing opportunities in the nearby mountains. It's a city where tradition and modernity harmoniously coexist, making it a truly unique and vibrant destination.

Geneva. Source: Depositphotos.com

Geneva. Source: Depositphotos.com

Find out more

📸 Discover Lake Geneva on the blog

🛌 Find your accommodation in Geneva

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Geneva > Tourist Office website

🤩 Click on the image below to get access to a wide range of activities:


11. Annecy

Geneva - Annecy 🚘 42 km / 26 mi

Annecy, often called the "Venice of the Alps," is a picturesque city in southeastern France that exudes charm and beauty. Nestled along the shores of Lake Annecy and surrounded by the stunning French Alps,

Annecy © French Moments

A view of the Little Venice of Annecy © French Moments

Annecy is known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town, crisscrossed by canals and adorned with colourful houses, flower-filled balconies, and winding cobblestone streets. The Palais de l'Isle, a 12th-century island castle in the Thiou River, is one of the city's iconic landmarks.

Annecy © French Moments

The old town of Annecy © French Moments

Annecy offers a tranquil and romantic atmosphere, with the clear waters of Lake Annecy providing opportunities for swimming, boating, and lakeside strolls. The city's rich history, vibrant cultural scene, and proximity to outdoor activities make it a beloved destination for relaxation and adventure, earning its reputation as one of France's most charming and alluring cities.

Lake Annecy © French Moments

The lakefront in Annecy © French Moments

Find out more

📸 Discover Annecy on the blog

🛌 Find your accommodation in Annecy

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Annecy > Tourist Office website

🤩 Click on the image below to get access to a wide range of activities:


12. Pérouges

Annecy - Pérouges 🚘 127 km / 79 mi

Pérouges is a picturesque medieval village on the road from Ambérieu-en-Bugey to Lyon in the département of Ain.

The Vieux Pérouges hostellerie © Chabe01 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Vieux Pérouges hostellerie © Chabe01 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The village is known for its exceptional preservation, with cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and charming squares that transport visitors back to the Middle Ages.

Pérouges is renowned for its culinary specialty, the "galette de Pérouges," a delicious sweet pastry that can be savoured in its cosy tearooms.

The village's historic ambience and beautifully preserved architecture make it a popular destination for those seeking a glimpse into France's rich heritage and a tranquil escape from the modern world. A stroll through Pérouges is like stepping into a storybook, offering travellers a unique and enchanting experience.

Find out more

🛌 Find your accommodation in Pérouges

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Pérouges > Tourist Office website


Lyon

Pérouges - Lyon 🚘 40 km / 25 mi

In the south-east of France, Lyon is a captivating city that combines a rich historical heritage with modern vitality.

Things to see in Lyon © French Moments

The Saône in Lyon © French Moments

Often revered as the "Gastronomic Capital of France," Lyon is a haven for food lovers, boasting a culinary scene that is the stuff of legend.

Lyon Gastronomy © French Moments

Lyon Gastronomy - A typical restaurant in the old town of Lyon © French Moments

Its Old Town, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a charming labyrinth of cobblestone streets lined with Renaissance-era buildings and secret traboules—hidden passageways that reveal the city's fascinating past.

Lyon Old Town © French Moments

The lion of Lyon © French Moments

The city's food culture is celebrated in its vibrant food markets, traditional bouchons (local eateries), and internationally acclaimed restaurants, where the art of French cooking is elevated to sublime heights.

Rue Saint-Jean, Lyon Old Town © French Moments

Rue Saint-Jean in Lyon Old Town © French Moments

Beyond its culinary delights, Lyon offers a wealth of cultural experiences, from its renowned museums to its dynamic theatre and music scenes.

Fourvière Hill, Lyon © French Moments

One of the "Montée" to Fourvière © French Moments

With the majestic Rhône and Saône rivers converging at its heart and the picturesque backdrop of the French Alps in the distance, Lyon is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity, making it a truly unique and quintessentially French destination.

Things to see in Lyon © French Moments

On the St Georges footbridge © French Moments

Find out more

📸 Discover Lyon on the blog

🛌 Find your accommodation in Lyon

ℹ️ Learn more about what to see and do in Lyon > Tourist Office website

🤩 Click on the image below to get access to a wide range of activities:

Back to Milan via the French Alps

If you want to drive back to Milan, you can choose a different route that climbs to the Little St Bernard Pass between France and Italy.

This route from Lyon to Milan through the French Alps is an excellent way to discover the Tarentaise and Aosta Valleys and the impressive glaciers of the Vanoise and Mont Blanc.

Lyon - Little St Bernard Pass

Lyon - Little St Bernard Pass 🚘 275 km / 170 mi

This route along the Isère and the Aosta Valleys is ideal for discovering the varied landscapes and cultural treasures of the Savoie region, while enjoying a pleasant and scenic drive.

Milan to Lyon Itinerary

From Lyon, the regional capital, head to the medieval little town of Crémieu.

Crémieu © JeanBono, licence [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Crémieu © JeanBono, licence [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Then drive towards the first mountain range of the Alps (Grande Chartreuse) and arrive at Chambéry, the historic capital of Savoy.

Chambéry Savoie

Sainte-Chapelle, castle of Chambéry © French Moments

From there, drive up the Isère valley to Albertville. Stop off to visit the medieval hilltop village of Conflans.

Conflans © French Moments

The historic cité of Conflans above Albertville © French Moments

From Albertville, follow the N90 road in the Tarentaise Valley. Stop at Moûtiers and Aime to visit alpine country towns with beautiful Baroque altars in churches.

Aime in Spring © French Moments

Aime in Spring © French Moments

The last French town on the itinerary is Bourg-Saint-Maurice, home to prestigious ski-resorts such as Les Arcs.

Bourg-Saint-Maurice © French Moments

Bourg-Saint-Maurice seen from the Deux-Têtes rocks © French Moments

From there, climb the Little St Bernard Pass (2188 m), which marks the border between France and Italy. You can see the towering Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak in fine weather.

Col du Petit Saint-Bernard © French Moments

Col du Petit Saint-Bernard © French Moments


Little St Bernard Pass - Milan

Little St Bernard Pass - Milan 🚘 266 km / 165 mi

This route will allow you to discover the beautiful mountainous landscapes of the Italian Alps as well as the historical and cultural treasures of the Aosta Valley and the Po Plain.

Aosta is the first Italian town. Discover the historic Old Town and its Roman vestiges.

Milan to Lyon - Aosta. Source: Depositphotos.com

Aosta. Source: Depositphotos.com

We then head for Pont-Saint-Martin, the last town of the Aosta Valley, a picturesque village in a green valley surrounded by mountains.

Milan to Lyon - Pont-Saint-Martin. Source: Depositphotos.com

Pont-Saint-Martin. Source: Depositphotos.com

Continue to Ivrea, a medieval town at the foot of the Alps, famous for its churches and picturesque old town.

Milan to Lyon - Ivrea. Source: Depositphotos.com

Ivrea. Source: Depositphotos.com

Don't miss the other medieval town of Biella which is worth exploring.

Milan to Lyon - Biella. Source: Depositphotos.com

Biella. Source: Depositphotos.com

We then continue to Vercelli, a historic town in the plain of the Po.

Milan to Lyon - Vercelli. Source: Depositphotos.com

Vercelli. Source: Depositphotos.com

Then, head to Novara, the second largest city in Piedmont after Turin, famous for its fine San Gaudenzio basilica.

Milan to Lyon - Novara. Source: Depositphotos.com

Novara. Source: Depositphotos.com

Finally, you will reach Milan, the capital of Lombardy.

Milan to Lyon - Milano. Source: Depositphotos.com

Milan. Source: Depositphotos.com

Share the road trip from Milan to Lyon!

Did you enjoy discovering our road trip from Milan to Lyon? If so, share it on Facebook or X (Twitter).

Milan to Lyon - Milano. Source: Depositphotos.com

Milan. Source: Depositphotos.com

About the illustrations in the article

Most of the photos published on this site are ours (© French Moments). However, I have selected some photos (including the Featured Image of this article) from Depositphotos, a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers. 

Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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