Milan Travel Guide
Dotted with remarkable gothic architecture and gifted with a legacy of art and history, Milan is more than just a fast-paced metropolitan city waiting to be discovered. With its carefully preserved traditions and exemplary pieces of art, Milan is a vibrant city experience that has a lot to offer. Whether you’re someone who is an art enthusiast, or someone who appreciates fashion or food — there is something for everyone who wishes to explore the city’s treasure trove with passion. With as many as six million visitors every year, Milan continues to promise an experience that is unlike any other.
Milan Guide Jumplinks
Why Visit Milan
Apart from being the art and fashion capital of Europe, Milan paved its way through a painstaking past before it rose straight out of the Renaissance age. Today, Milan is a vibrant, modern city that flaunts its cutting-edge fashion, stellar architecture, and beautiful skyline. A walk down its cobbled-stone streets will brief you through its history. But Milan is definitely not all art. Explore its rich countryside, sample its authentic street food, or lounge around in the lap of nature.
Best time to visit Milan
Milan is blessed with a pleasant climate throughout the year. Here’s what you should be looking out for before you book your tickets:
Milan in Spring
Spring in Milan is a great time to visit if you’re looking for something that is placed right before the peak seasons kick in. While the day time during this season tends to get warm, it is occasionally chilly at night. If the fluctuation doesn’t bother you, spring is a great season to witness the city in all its glory.
Milan in Summer
Brace yourself for months of sweltering heat and a flock of crowd at every attraction in Milan, because the peak season witnesses an upsurge in the number of tourists. Milan witnesses a lot of locals leaving for their holidays during this season, so don’t be surprised to run into more tourists than actual Italians!
Milan in Autumn
Just as spring, the temperatures get a little nippy but the overall experience of the city tends to remain enjoyable. Expect high to average fluctuation in temperature during the day before it gets cooler in the nighttime. Make sure you’re well armed with an umbrella if you plan to visit in September, as this season witnesses occasional showers as well!
Milan in Winter
Pull out your overcoats an wrap yourself up tight if you plan to visit Milan during the wintertime. The temperatures plunge low during this season, so make sure you sign up for this only if you’re ready to brave the cold. However, despite that, Milan is not completely unbearable and one can make the most of the city comfortably even in this weather.
Top 6 Things To Do in Milan
Below are a compact list of six things to do in Milan, regardless of whether you're in the city for a day or a week.
Milan Tourist Map
Below is a Milan Tourist Map with all the prime attractions around the city that will help you chart an itinerary for yourself. Download this on your phone and keep it handy while visiting Milan.
Milan on a Budget
It is a common myth to think that a foreign trip costs only a fortune. With a little bit of prudence and planning, it is possible to survive on a budget in Milan. Here’s how you can go about making the most of your trip without compromising on luxury:
Use Hop on Hop Off buses
Getting around the city can get expensive if you’re constantly falling back upon cars and cabs. A regular cab ride from the airport to Milan central can cost you as much as $100.
Renting a private vehicle can also turn out steep if you’re a smaller group. Get yourself a Hop on Hop off pass instead, which can take you through the best attractions in the city. The pass also allows you to pick your boarding points and allows you to hop on unlimited times based on your pass validity. Besides this, Milan is also home to five railroad stations and four subway lines, making it a hub for those looking for a budget travel.
Buy a City Pass
The Milan pass and the Milan card are two handy travel passes that can help you cut down on unnecessary expenditure during your trip.
Equipped with tickets to attractions, public transport, hop on hop off buses as well discounts, these passes are tailor-made not just to save money, but also time. Save yourself the trouble of standing in long queues with Milan Pass and Milan Card, which allow you to skip the lines and head straight into the striking monuments of the city. With discounts as much as €250 on dining, tours, and shopping, having a pass can help you club your favourite activities under a single umbrella.
Plan Your Trip Wisely
Refer to websites of museums and historical places to know more about their entry fee.
Group discounts are available for certain large groups if booked in advance. On some days, museums and other attractions also have days with a free entry. Try to revolve your trip around these days to curb expense on tickets. Also try to include places like churches, that have no entry fee, into your itinerary to have a balance.
Hostels versus Hotels
Sure, a hotel equals luxury, but luxury can cost a fortune. If you’re looking for ways to drastically cut down your expenses, picking a hostel instead of a hotel could do the trick.
Several backpacking hostels around Europe cater to travellers who are on a budget. Apart from cost cutting, staying in a hostel acquaints you to the culture of the city, allows you to meet like-minded people, and grants you the independence you require. In fact, a hostel can also cut down your expenses if you choose to pick a dormitory instead of a room of your own.
The taste of Milan lies not in the gourmet food, but in the authentic street food that the city is best known for.
Spend the day sampling your favourite food off the streets and save on the moolah. Milan street food culture involves food trucks, delis, cafes as well as kiosks that promise to cut your expenses in half.
Milan Daily Budget Planner
You can choose to explore Milan on a budget, or take the luxurious route; both offer a great travel experience. Depending on how you'd like to go about your Milan visit, you can budget your trip. Here's a summary of an approximate per day expense in Milan.
Milan on a Budget - €47 per day
Midrange spending in Milan - €108 per day
Luxury vacation in Milan - €248 per day
Use this tool to further budget your Milan trip.
Best Day Trips from Milan
While there is much to see in Milan, you must definitely check out these day trips from Milan and embark on the one that suits your liking during your stay in the city.
Milan Travel Tips
Currency & ATMs in Milan
With so much to do around Milan, it is best to have a loaded pocket and a handy ATM card to go around and enjoy the most of what it has to offer. The currency in Milan is the Euro (EU). Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations.
There are numerous money exchange facilities easily available throughout the city. Milan is dotted with a number of ATMs, but it is advisable to withdraw your cash from an authorised ATM attached to a bank for security purposes. It is best to keep in mind that withdrawing money from a debit card will involve a much lesser fee than credit card withdrawals. Keep a pocket converter at hand for speedy transactions.Euro exchange rate
Here’s a trusted exchange calculator you can use to check the current exchange rate of euro to your home currency.
Milan Visa Guide
Since Milan, Italy is a part of the Schengen Area, tourists from anywhere other than Europe will require a Schengen visa to visit this country. A passport or travel document is valid for three months with an appropriate Schengen visa. One can apply for various types of visas in Milan, some of which include single-entry, multi-entry, and transit visas. If you’re planning to visit a single Schengen country, it is advisable to book your visa via the country’s embassy. Or, if Milan is one of your main destinations, you can get your visa at the embassy in your country.
Tipping in Milan
Tipping in Milan is not usually a matter of concern as the bill comes included with ‘coperto’ or service charge. However, feel free to display your happiness by occasionally tipping the staff if you’re content with the services. Cab drivers, housekeeping, as well as luggage handlers are often tipped in Milan, but only if you find that it is necessary to do so.
Italians are generally regarded friendly and helpful to tourists from around the world. However, it is always best to keep in mind certain etiquettes to avoid giving offence or avoiding the encounter of an unpleasant experience.
- Try not to be loud and talk loudly in public as Italians dislike disruptive behaviour and expect the public to behave politely.
- It is advisable to dress decently while wandering around the town. Try not to overdress or underdress and stay casual throughout your visit.
- Acknowledge people as you enter into a shop or a bar. Say ‘buongiorno’ or ‘buona sera’ as a gesture of kindness. Despite that, Italians are not usually chatty and can get uncomfortable with long conversations.
- While seated in a public place, do not put your feet up a chair. Italians consider this action as a rude and impolite. Walking barefoot in Milan is widely accepted in open spaces such as big parks as well as beaches.
Milan hosts a plethora of festivals that are neither considered traditional, nor religious. With an interesting mix of cultures and celebrations, Milan has everything beginning from good food, to dancing as well as large parties. Not only is Milan one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world, it is also one of the four fashion capitals of Europe, making it the home of the thriving fashion industry. Here are a few festivals you should plan your trip around to get the most of this city:
- Italian Grand Prix: An annual sporting event that is held in the first week of September, Italian Grand Prix attracts a huge deal of crowd every year and is perfect for adrenaline junkies. The event features a great deal of thrill coupled up with racing.
- Milan Fashion Week: Although not a festival, people from around the world find themselves swarming around Milan for the iconic fashion week that is held in September. The event includes a nationwide celebration of the city’s textile and fashion industry. So, whether you bag a seat or not, make sure you visit around this time to experience the fashion capital at its best.
- Carnival Ambrosiano: A funfair of night-long partying and pomp, Carnival Ambrosiano takes place on the first Saturday of Lent. The carnival is a real treat for the entire family with its parade of floats, workshops, concerts, and other interactive events.
- Furniture Fair/Salone del Mobile Milano A quirky festival which is held in April, the Furniture Fair or Salone del Mobile Milano in Milan showcases one of the largest trade fair of its kind. Browse through contemporary furniture and its designs from around the world along with other home furnishing items.
Where to stay in Milan
Choosing the right neighbourhood to stay in the city is necessary for several reasons. Whether it is to stay close to the culture, or to be accessible to the attractions — there should always a good reason before finalising your locality.
- Pick Centro Storico if you don’t mind a lot of crowd or are looking for a glamorous experience.
- Brera is for those who wish to experience fashion first hand.
- Porta Nuova is perfect for those wishing to go through the wonders of ‘New Milan’.
- Chinatown is perfect for those travellers who don’t mind walking and are looking for something on a budget.
What to Eat in Milan
Apart from being one of the most affluent cities of Europe, Milan has also been sought after for its iconic Milanese dishes that have been attracting tourists since centuries. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss out on during your trip to Milan:
Risotto alla Milanese
The delicious risotto finds it roots way back in Milan. Rice, cheese, beef, butter, white wine, and saffron are combined and baked together to form a delicious regional speciality. The staple risotto is often served alongside other Milanese food, and makes for an important part of their dinner.
The word ‘ossobuco’ is Italian for ‘bone with a hole’; referring to the marrow hole of a cross-cut veal shank This particular delicacy combines meat, tomato, onion, greens, and carrots and is often eaten with a bread or risotto alongside. This sumptuous traditional dish is considered to be one of the regional favourites of the people.
A distant cousin of the famous Quesadilla, the Piadina is a thin Italian flatbread that is enjoyed with meat and cheese. The bread, which is flaky as well as crunchy. is a local lunch time favourite that you simply shouldn’t miss out on!
Cotoletta alla Milanese
A signature dish of the city, Cotoletta alla Milanese is traditionally prepared with a veal cutlet, but you can find chicken variations of the same. The dish consists of a breaded "bone-in" veal cutlet, fried in butter, and cannot be missed when in Milan!
Where to Eat in Milan
If you have pizza and pasta on your must-eat list on your trip to Milan, you’re going to be surprised at the variety the city has to offer. With a delectable spread unlike any other city in Italy, you can’t get around Milan without sampling from some of their innovative restaurants. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some of the most sought after restaurants that you should be heading to without further ado:
If breakfast and desserts make your day, consider giving Pasticceria Marchesi a shot if you’re around. The legendary Marchesi dates back to 1821 and is also one of the oldest pastry shops in Milan. Take their aromatic cappuccino or an espresso on the go, or munch on a sumptuous brioche — there’s a lot to pick from if you’re craving sweet or savoury!
Take a break from the trendy hotspots of Milan and hop into Trattoria Madonnina for a taste of tradition and culture. Feel at one with the Milanese way of living with their authentic Italian interiors and rustic decor. Ask for a Milanese stew and their famous homemade desserts for an experience to cherish.
There’s nothing like a night of luxury, and if you’re a fan of caviar, head to Trussardi alla Scala for the best caviar in Milan. Relish high-end Italian as well as French cuisine presented with a twist and complemented with airy, contemporary interiors. Trussardi alla Scala promises an upscale dining fit for a king!
What is a trip to Italy without tasting its famous gelato? Whether you’re wandering about on a hot day or not, grab a cone and take a stroll alongside the canals of Milan. A unique feature about this restaurant is that it names all its ice cream after famous musicians!
Find the nearest one
Getting Around Milan
Bus, trains, trams, or metro — public transport forms an integral part of Milan’s connectivity. Milan’s fantastic transportation system connects each and every corner of the city. However, it is only natural to find yourself intimidated with the system — so, here’s how you can get around Milan by its public transport:
- Milan Subway: The subway in Milan has four lines. Each line has a different colour and numbers. You can make transfers between the following stops: Cadorna, Centrale, Duomo, Loreto, Porta Garibaldi, and Zara. The Subway trains in Milan run from 6 AM to 1 AM on a regular basis.
- Milan Railways: With a scenic rail route by its side, Milan’s Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como are the two most easily accessible stations in the city. This train also takes you past smaller towns such as Cremona, Pavia, and several others during the course of its journey.
- Bike rentals: Bike sharing is also one of the most important ways to traverse around Milan. Pick up and drop a bike as per your convenience. Affordable and economic, these bikes require a registration on BikeMi website before you can start riding as per your will.