Milan (Italian: Milano; Milanese: Milan) is financially the most important city in Italy, and home to the Borsa Italiana stock exchange. It is the second most populous city proper in the country, but sits at the centre of Italy’s largest urban and metropolitan area. While not considered as beautiful as some Italian cities, having been greatly destroyed by Second World War bomb raids, the city has rebuilt itself into a thriving cosmopolitan business capital. In essence, for a tourist, what makes Milan interesting compared to other places is that the city is truly more about the lifestyle of enjoying worldly pleasures: a paradise for shopping, football, opera, and nightlife. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion – fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs.
- I Milan Districts
- II Understand
- III Get in
- IV Get around
- V Talk
- VI See
- VII Do
- VIII Buy
- IX Eat
- X Drink
- XI Where to stay in Milan
- XII Stay safe in Milan
- XIII Telecommunications in Milan
- XIV Go next
- XV Milan Photo Gallery & Wallpapers
Milan is famous for its wealth of historical and modern sights – the Duomo, one of the biggest and grandest Gothic cathedrals in the world, La Scala, one of the best established opera houses in the world, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an ancient and glamorous arcaded shopping gallery, the Brera art gallery, with some of the finest artistic works in Europe, the Pirelli tower, a majestic example of 1960s modernist Italian architecture, the San Siro, a huge and famed stadium, or the Castello Sforzesco, a grand medieval castle. So, you have your fair share of old and new monuments. Plus, it contains one of the world’s most famous paintings – Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
The Centro Storico is the historic centre of the city, encompassing Milan’s most famous landmarks, including the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade and the Teatro alla Scala opera house.
Here you will find two most important railway stations – Milano Centrale and Porta Garibaldi – as well an array of office and residential towers.
This part of the city encompasses the city’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes a famous painting —- the Last Supper. Other sights in Western Milan include a cemetery with monumental tombs and the old fair center.
Likely the best known attraction here are the canals (navigli) that in former times were used for sailing in from the Lombardian countryside. It’s quite popular to sit at the bars along the canals and enjoy a drink.
The outer quarters and suburbs of Milan also hold a few points of interest, grouped together in a separate guide.
The breathtaking views of Milan from the magnificent roof of the Duomo
If Rome represents the “old” Italy, Milan represents the “new” Italy. These differences between Rome and Milan are evident from several proverbs, such as an Italian saying about the differences of the two cities which roughly translates, “Rome is a voluptuous woman whose gifts are very apparent, while Milan is the shy, demure girl whose treasures are plentiful, but discovered in time.” Milan is the most modern of all Italian cities, yet it still keeps most of its past history intact.
At first sight, Milan looks like a bustling and relatively stylish (with its shiny display windows and elegant shops) metropolis, with a good number of grand palaces and fine churches in the centre, but might seem like a slightly prosaic, soulless and business-oriented place. It can be quite rainy, grey and foggy, and some of the buildings, ancient or modern, have quite a severe appearance. Whilst there are a lot of parks, Milan looks as if it has very little greenery, and apart from the very well-kept historic part, many areas are indeed quite scruffy and dirty. However, Milan, unlike most usually historical European cities which throw the sights in your face, requires quite a lot of exploring – take it as it is, and you might enjoy its fashionable glitter and business-like modernity, but might find it not very “captivating”. If you spend time, though, strolling through less well known areas such as the pretty Navigli, the chic Brera district, the lively University quarter, or some of the smaller churches and buildings, you’ll find a forward thinking, diverse city filled in every corner with history, and with a plethora of hidden gems. Plus, with such an established history in theatre, music, literature, sport, art and fashion, there’s really not much you can miss.
Milan, as many have noticed, doesn’t fully feel like a part of Italy. Despite the similarities with iconic Italian cities such as Verona or Venice, the city does have a different atmosphere. Milan feels more like a bustling, busy, fashionable business capital – where in several cafes, lots of people only stop to have a quick espresso at the bar counter, and where visitors at times seem even more laid back than the locals. Milan, unlike the traditionally red-terracotta roofed Italian cities, is quite grey, as many buildings are constructed using limestone or dark stones. Ancient buildings mainly have a sort of Austrian/Germanic neoclassical look with some slight French influences. However, with some cycling around in old fashioned bicycles, restaurant chairs and tables outside at summer filled with locals and tourists alike, and people strolling down the pedestrian avenues, licking an ice cream or carrying some heavy shopping bags, Milan does boast some “Italian flair”.
When to visit
Milan, depending on how you want to tour the city, is a great place to visit pretty much all year round. Keep in mind most places, including tourism destinations and museums, are closed on Mondays.
In autumn, the weather is warm or cool, and in later months can be quite rainy and foggy. At this time of the year, the city’s inhabitants are very busy with work, so, the only people you’re likely to see wandering around are tourists. All the major venues and shops are opened, since it is the working part of the year.
In winter, the city can become cold (often below or around freezing point), and the weather is usually foggy and rainy if not snowy. However, the city, in the few weeks before Christmas, becomes delightful to visit – the main sights are all illuminated by stunning lights, a huge Christmas tree is set up in front of the Duomo, vendors and markets can be found everywhere, many shop and display windows are decorated and the streets become bustling with locals and tourists alike. However, the only downside is that it can become extremely crowded, noisy and busy.
In spring, the weather is similar to that of autumn. People go back to work, and the atmosphere becomes more quiet, yet serious unlike that of the winter. Parks become nice to visit, as trees blossom. The city is also quite nice to visit at Carnival, where people dress up and celebrate, and during Easter, where there are special services held in churches and some special events.
In summer, Milan can become extremely hot and humid, with the odd powerful rainstorm here and there. Whilst in July, apart from the weather, most shops remain open, in August, as many locals go off to take their summer holidays, many businesses and venues shut down (with the notice Chiuso per ferie, or shut down for vacation). The city may become quite empty with the odd tourist strolling around, and with several of the main sights shut down. Although it is not the best time for shopping and the weather’s not at all times very pleasant, it is good if you want to enjoy the city to yourself when it’s quiet, and maybe want to stroll around, sipping at the odd open bar or at an ice cream, or walking in a silent park.
Cheap Flights to Milan
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An Airbus 330 of Alitalia taking off at Malpensa with the Alps in the background
Milan’s two main international airports are Malpensa (the biggest, and 40 km away) and Linate (7 km from the city center). Orio al Serio airport near Bergamo (45 km east) and Parma airport (100 km south), sometimes referred to as Milan’s additional airports, mostly host budget airlines. To get to and from the airports and Milan, buses are a cheap and popular option.
- Main article: Milan Malpensa Airport
The main international airport is Milano Malpensa Airport, about 40 km northwest of the city center. There are flights from many countries around the world, and it is a secondary long-haul base for Italy’s national carrier Alitalia, after Rome-Fiumicino. It is also the main base for the newly reformed carrier Air Italy, which has an ever-growing network that also includes intercontinental flights. From Malpensa you can get into central Milano by train, shuttle bus or taxi.
|Note: Linate Airport will be closed July 27 – October 27, 2019 due to the sole runway being renovated at that time. Most flights will be moved to Malpensa during that period. Plan accordingly.|
Linate is a small airport with a limited number of jet bridges, so boarding and deplaning is often performed on-tarmac with passengers bussed between the plane and the terminal
- x Linate Airport. is a small, efficient one-runway airport close to the city centre (7 km). Its focus is on domestic and intra-European flights, and on business travellers. Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia has a major base there, offering flights from all over Italy and Europe. Other European flag carriers also operate connections to Linate instead of, or in addition to, Malpensa. Connecting flights in Linate might take much longer than elsewhere because there is no through passage: you get off the airplane, get out of the security area, go through security again together with the passengers who have just arrived from Milan and not with a connecting flight, and only then can you board the new plane. If you’re making a connection from outside of the Schengen zone it doesn’t make much difference, because in these cases you have to go through security again (e.g. London to Palermo via Linate), but if both flights are within the Schengen zone then you don’t have to go through security again if the airport has a through passage (e.g. Palermo to Genova via Linate).
As the airport is close to the city, it is served by buses of the city public transport network: Bus no. 73 outside the terminal building goes to San Babila Square, in the city centre, which is served by metro line MM1. The bus runs every ten minutes and costs €1.50 with tickets available from the newsagent inside the airport terminal or by the ATM vending machines close to the bus stop. This bus is not a dedicated service but a regular city bus with many stops en route, and may get crowded during peak hours. This also means that the same things apply as for any public transportation in the city (see #Get around for more detail).
There are also other buses from this airport. Autostradale operates a shuttle bus just outside the Terminal Entrance 6 connecting Linate airport to Milan Central Railway Station (Milano Centrale) east side (Luigi di Savoia square) running every 30 minutes; tickets cost €5 per adult (ticket sold at local newsagent and on board). This bus also stops en route at Lambrate railway station. The journey takes approximately 27 minutes. Another bus service, operated by Malpensa Shuttle, connects Malpensa airport to Linate airport with a few stops en route enabling you to connect to downtown by metro (timetables, fares and ticket booking available online). The journey takes about 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions.
Taxis from Linate to the city centre cost around €12-20 depending on traffic conditions. The minimum charge is €12. If you are going to the centre, ignore all the guys standing at the exit to the terminal saying “taxi”… they are for destinations outside central Milan (i.e., outlying cities) and will charge a minimum of €70. Queues for regular taxis can get long during peak commuter hours (early evening) and are particularly bad during Fashion Week.
In addition the new metro line MM4, which is under construction, is expected to connect the Linate Airport terminal directly with San Babila in the city centre in 2022.
Orio al Serio Airport
Some budget airlines fly to Orio al Serio Airport , about 45 km north-east of Milan, near the city of Bergamo. Ryanair refers to this as Milan Bergamo Airport. Orio al Serio is actually closer to Milan than Malpensa and getting from there to Milan takes about the same time. The most straightforward way from here to Milan, besides taking a taxi which will set you back around €100, is by bus. All buses leave for Milan from immediately outside the arrivals section of the airport and from Ferrante Aporti on the east side of Central Station in Milan for all the companies below.
The Orio Shuttle, from Orio Airport to Milano Centrale station is probably the best choice. Departure times may vary, but buses generally run every half hour during the day, less often at night, and take about 1 hour or more. However, beware of cutting things too fine, because the highway to Milan is very crowded during weekdays. Adult one-way fare starts from €4. Tickets are sold in Orio Al Serio Airport in Bergamo and at the Central Train Station in Milan. Be at the Milan bus stop at least 15 minutes before the nominal departure time, or you may get left behind. Tickets can be purchased online, but sellers at the airport and train station will offer 3 tickets for price of 2. Zani Viaggi also run a bus service from Bergamo Airport to Milano Centrale station with a stop at the Cascina Gobba MM2 station on the North Eastern outskirts of Milan. Adult fare: €9ish one way. Tickets sold at an office in the airport or online.
There are several other bus shuttle companies that offer direct bus service from Bergamo airport to Milan central, Malpensa and Linate airport. It is advisable to not buy the bus tickets online beforehand, because then the passenger has no choice but to wait for the bus the he/she has booked. Once you get out of the customs area, there are a lot of kiosks and agents, who will offer bus tickets to city center at €9 return, or €5 one-way. This gives flexibility to choose the first departing bus, instead of waiting at the airport.
You can also take a shuttle bus or taxi to Bergamo railway station (quite far from the airport), and a train from there to Milan. Buses to Bergamo are run by ZANI and take 10 minutes, at a cost of around €1.50. Trains from Bergamo to Milan run every 30–60 minutes and take around 1 hour. Adult one-way fare approx €4.
Central railway station
Milan is served by two major national companies: Trenitalia and NTV (usually known by its commercial name Italo), both of which are based at Milano Centrale. It is also served by other long distance companies, such as SNCF. Finally, regional transport is managed by Trenord, which runs the entire regional train network.
The main railway station is Milano Centrale (or Centrale FS). Regular express and fast trains serve all Italian cities including Turin, Venice, Rome, Naples, and Florence. There are international services to Zurich, Geneva, Munich, Vienna, Marseille by Trenitalia and NTV (but for Paris Gare de Lyon use Porta Garibaldi station). Trenord runs regional trains to Lecco, Sondrio, Tirano, Bergamo, Brescia and other cities.
The station building itself is worth a visit being a masterpiece of rationalist architecture, and was extensively renovated in 2008. (Try as they might, they couldn’t altogether erase the word “fascisti” from the imposing facade.) There are lots of small shops and cafes, both “landside” and “trainside” of the ticket barriers. There’s a supermarket (Sapori & Dintori Conad) in the west side of the station in the basement, and internet points in the main square outside the station. The luggage store (daily 06:00-23:00) charges €6 for the first five hours, thereafter from 6 to 12 hours €0.90/hour, from 13 hours onwards €0.40/hour. You will need to show an ID card or passport.
At night, parts of the Central Station become a sleeping area for vagrants. Usually around the station there are children aggressively targeting tourists for pickpocketing, so pay attention to your bag. The station area is not in a great part of town at night, though in the area there are a number of decent budget hotels (see Sleep below) and some business-oriented international brand hotels. In general, the area south of the station (characterized by a few skyscrapers) is a business and local government centre, pretty active during working hours but almost deserted at night.
Central Station is on Metro lines MM2 (for Castello) and MM3 (for Duomo). Taxis stops are on the side and ATM buses on the West side (IV November Square) and buses to Linate, Malpensa and Orio airports on the East side (Luigi di Savoia square).
Milano Porta Garibaldi
Milano Porta Garibaldi is effectively two stations, with the main one on the surface, with 20 platforms used by regional and national trains and some commuter lines. There are trains to the main cities of Lombardy (Como, Bergamo, Lecco, Varese, Pavia, Lodi amongst others) and to Malpensa airport. It’s also the terminal of SNCF trains to Paris Gare de Lyon; tickets have to be bought at the separate SNCF ticket booth. The other station (usually referred as Milano Porta Garibaldi Passante or Sotterranea) is beneath it, with two underground platforms used by suburban commuter lines. For instance you can reach the Rho fairgrounds on commuter lines S5 toward Varese and S6 toward Novara, getting off at Rho Fieramilano.
Porta Garibaldi station is on Metro lines MM2 and MM5 (see #Get_around).
Another important railway station is Cadorna, served by Trenord, where the Malpensa airport Express stops and which is also a stop for MM1 and MM2 metro lines. Trains to Malpensa and Como Lago station leave here.
Other main train stations are Lambrate (connected to MM2 metro line), Greco-Pirelli, Rogoredo (connected to MM3 metro line) and Porta Genova (connected to MM2 metro line) and Bovisa (connected to the Passante suburban commuter train link) and Domodossola (connected to MM5 metro line) . Domodossola station is very close to the city section of the Milan Exhibition Centre – fieramilanocity, also connected to the subway system by the MM1 metro line (Amendola stop).
Milan is an important road traffic hub with motorways coming in from all directions, both from elsewhere in Italy and from nearby [ and Switzerland. As elsewhere in Italy, they’re toll roads operated by Società Autostrade per l’Italia. The road connections are thus excellent, but this also means a whole lot of traffic passing through (in addition to going to and from Milan itself) and road congestion is probably even more of a problem than usual around cities of this size. Going to central Milan by car is not a good idea, see the #Get around section for more information.
Park and ride
Because of heavy traffic, it is strongly recommended not to drive in Milan during working days. Driving is much better during weekends. A recommendation is to leave your car in one of the well-marked, huge commuter car parks near several exits of Milan’s motorway ringroad; they’re managed by ATM and are easily connected with Milan’s underground metro lines, but they close around midnight. They’re near highway exits in Cascina Gobba (East), Lampugnano (North West), Molino Dorino (North West), Bonola (North West), Rho-Pero (North West), Bisceglie (South West) and San Donato (South East).
Milan’s main bus terminal is Lampugnano station, connected to the rest of the city by metro. The main national bus lines are operated by Autostradale, but there are many other small companies offering even international travel . Flixbus also serves domestic and international routes to / from Milan.
By public transport
Azienda Trasporti Milanesi S.p.A. (ATM) operates a public transport network which is pretty efficient (especially the underground lines and the trams (streetcars)). Single tickets cost €1.50 and are available from newsstands, tabaccherie, bars and automatic ticket machines in metro stations. 24h (€4.50, as of March ’17) and 48h (€8.25, as of March ’17) tickets, as well as a “carnet” of 10 single trips (€13.80) are available from most newsstands (including subway newsstands), tabaccherie (tobacconist – look for large T sign), coffee bars and the tourist information office. If your journey starts with the Metro, you can also use contactless payment and in this case fees are limited so that you do not pay more than the 24 hr rate on any day.
When boarding the bus or tram or entering the metro system through the turnstiles, you need to validate your ticket by pushing it into a ticket machine. For single tickets, the machine will print time and date on the ticket and from that time it’s valid for 90 minutes. During that time the ticket allows unlimited travel on trams and buses, one entry to the metro (you may transfer between metro lines but not exit) and one ride on the urban part of the suburban train.
There still exist three different types of ticket machines on trams and buses. To validate the new-style paper with magnetic strip tickets (these should be the only ones that you will ever be sold) you need to use the orange and yellow machines. If you have a new magnetic credit-card type ticket, you should validate it every time you board on a new bus or a streetcar as well.
The Metro (short for Metropolitana, the logo is a big white M on a red background) has four lines, each commonly identified by a color as shown below, and is the best way to get around Milan. The lines are: (rossa); (verde); (gialla); (lilla). The is under construction, to be completed by 2022, as are many other extensions of existing lines. The subway network is the most extensive in Italy (lines split into different sections and its 113 stations cover most areas of town). During peak hours trains run every 2 minutes on M1 and M2, every 4 minutes on M3 and on M5. Service starts around 6:00AM and the last trains run around midnight. From midnight to 6:00AM there is a substitute bus line (NM1, NM2, NM3 – M5 line doesn’t have a bus line) running every 30 minutes.
One of the city’s easily recognisable orange tramcars in the old livery.
Trams (streetcars) run above-ground on rail lines running through the streets.
Being above ground means you get a view of what you’re passing, so if you don’t need to go far, they’re convenient and fun. Some tram lines are operated by the ultramodern ‘jumbo’ yellow tram, others are run by yellow antique traditional carriages (as the ones in San Francisco are) with wooden panneling inside and glass chandeliers. Most tram stops have electronic information panels with indications on how many minutes to wait before the next available service and a line scheme with all stops. Ticket are not available on board but there are electronic dispensers in all metro stations.
ATM also organizes dinners on a special restaurant tram (ATMosfera), you can enjoy your dinner while strolling the city on the old streetcar.
Buses should probably be your third public transport option. Equally comfortable, rather punctual and clean with many routes to choose from. Lines usually stop between midnight and 2AM, however, some lines, especially in the suburbs, end their service earlier. There are 11 lines (N6,N15,N24,N27,N42,N50,N54,N57,N80,N90/91, N94) that run every night with a frequency of 30 minutes, connecting the city center to suburbs and most major streets. In any case check your route and timetable in advance if you want to travel late at night.
From 8PM to 2AM a special shuttle service is operated by ATM, called Radiobus, an on-call bus accessible only by pre-booking. Radiobus is a good, cheap and efficient alternative to taxis. You may book them by phone at 02 4803 4803 at least 20 minutes in advance (a couple of hours is better). The bus will stop at a dedicated place (these have an hexagonal panel with blue writing RADIOBUS and telephone number on white) and will leave you virtually any place. Memorize the pick-up location. The driver will wait for ladies to enter the home door as a courtesy. Costs €2 per person. You may buy the tickets in advance, or pay on the bus.
Several buses connect suburban cities and towns surrounding Milan. Some are managed by ATM. You can travel on most of them with an inter-urban ticket (biglietto interurbano) which are sold in two forms: including travel in Milan or without. In the without form you can only go to the end of the line, while with the cumulative version you can transfer to any ATM line. There are several rules and distance limits which apply, so be aware of them when you purchase your ticket.
Most bus stops have electronic information panels with indications on how many minutes to wait before the next available service.
Taxis can be expensive and drivers are allowed to pick passengers up from designated taxi ranks, through phone bookings and directly from the sidewalk of a street. The main taxi companies can be reached at 02.40.40, 02.69.69 or 02.80.80, or alternatively, from a land line dial 848.814.781 to be connected to the nearest taxi stand. If you book a taxi by phone you’ll start paying from the moment the driver accepts the call and comes to pick you up.
Local law define some fixed fee trips: Milan to Malpensa Airport €70, Malpensa Airport-Rho Fair €55, Malpensa Airport-Linate Airport €85, Linate Airport-Milan Fair €40. All fees are intended for a one-way, non-stop trip; taxi waiting time and booking are extras. A extra charge will apply in the evenings so don’t be surprised if the meter has €6+ on it when you enter, even if at a taxi-stand.
The Suburban Railway System or S-lines (the logo is a big green S on a blue background) includes a special line known as Passante ferroviario (railway link), considered Milan’s fourth subway line (although trains run every 6-15 mins), and has eight more lines, each identified by a number (S1, S2, S5, S6, S12, S13 through Passante Ferroviario and S3, S4, S8, S9, S11 through other railways), connecting metro area towns with Milan. Suburban trains run less often than Metro trains (usually every 30 minutes or 1 hour) but, as some lines share tracks and stations, you can expect as many as 10 trains per hour in central Milan between Lancetti and Porta Vittoria stations. Suburban Railway ‘S’ Lines are usually marked in blue on subway maps. The Passante is not heavily used by the Milanese and in non-peak hours stations can be deserted so would not be recommended for lone (and particularly female) travellers.
Driving is definitely not a good idea to get into the city centre. Like most major cities traffic is a considerable problem, not to mention the hassle of parking. During working hours traffic is often blocked, inside the city as well as on the highway ring surrounding it. It is much better at night, but you’ll probably have problems finding a place to leave the car near enough to nightlife attractions.
If you must drive in Milan make sure you have an up-to-date map showing the many one-ways present in the city.
Traffic congestion fee
Since January 1, 2008, cars entering Milan’s central area within the former walls of the city (cerchia dei navigli) must pay a fee (€2,€3, €5 or €10 depending on the engine and age of the car), the fee and the fee area are both known as Area C. There are no exemptions for foreign cars (cars with a foreign country plate).
There are cameras in all entrances to this area and all registration plates are recorded. Payment can be made by purchasing entrance cards at newspaper stands, online or by sms (call 020202 for information). Failure to pay within 48 hours from entering the area implies a fine of €75.
There are two car sharing services in the city, Car2Go and Enjoy. With a small rental, from 25 to 29 cents per minute, it’s possible to rent a Smart car or a Fiat 500, respectively, in order to move freely within the city. There are no extra costs, and even the congestion charge is included in the rent.
Walking is definitely a possibility, and although Milan is a large city, many of the main tourist attractions are within an easy and pleasant walk from one another. Several tourist hot spots, such as the Corso Vittorio Emanuele or the Via Dante are pedestrian-only, so walking shouldn’t be a problem. No matter how hot the day, you’ll see elegantly dressed people of both sexes in timeless fashion without a drop of sweat. There are many places to sit, apart from the ubiquitous cafes, especially in the parks. Get a decent map of the city before setting out though, as the roads do not always maintain a straight line, and the various piazzas can be confusing to the newcomer. In the many parks, there are dog-only areas, but be careful when walking as the two things you will see on the ground in the streets are cigarette ends and dog faeces.
Bikes are available through the bike sharing service BikeMI. You can register for annual or temporary subscriptions at any BikeMi station. If you register for a temporary subscription (weekly or daily), a user code, along with your password, will be sent to the e-mail address, chosen during your registration. Your codes are active as soon as you receive them. BikeDistrict is a website that offers cycling directions to get around safely in the city. Entering the departure and destination addresses, BikeDistrict finds the best itinerary for bikes, avoiding as far as possible cobblestones, tram rails, busy streets and the routes which are potentially dangerous for cyclists. The suggested route is displayed on a map and colored according to the cycling level of every street, together with real-time information about bike sharing stations and with the location of cycling-related services, such as bike repair shops.
As you would expect of a city in Italy, the main language in Milan is Italian. However, the traditional language in Milan is the Milanese dialect of the Lombard language, which is not mutually intelligible with standard Italian. You may still hear Milanese being spoken by some of the elderly in the outskirts of the city, but in general it is moribund. That being said, there is a wealth of literature in the Milanese dialect, so those with a deep interest in Milanese culture may consider learning it.
While Milan is no Venice, it actually has quite many canals, called Navigli – head over to the southern part of the city to experience their unique nature
There are many things to see in Milan – from fine churches, old palaces, excellent museums, world class theatres and opera houses, cultural gems, striking buildings, sleek modern architectural works and lovely streets and squares.
Milan has some of the oldest churches in Italy, older than the ones in Rome because Milan was the former capital of the Northern part of the late Roman Empire. The cathedral, Duomo is the symbol and the heart of Milan. Santa Maria delle Grazie in the Western part of the city is the home for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those passionate about art Milan offers a large variety of art museums, mainly of Italian Renaissance and Baroque. Note, though, that most museums are closed on Mondays.
For long periods Milan has been surrounded by walls, built during the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the rule of the Habsburg. Many of the gates are still there and well worth a visit. During the centuries some of them have been completely annihilated and many are built on the same place as a former gate. There are seven gates standing dating from various ages. Clockwise from 12 o’clock they are: Porta Nuova, Porta Venezia (formerly called Porta Orientale and Porta Renza), Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese (two gates; one closer to Duomo and one further out), Porta Sempione and Porta Garibaldi (formerly Porta Comasina).
Despite not having as much greenery as some cities, Milan offers several parks and gardens, scattered all over the city. Maybe the most visited of them is Parco Sempione, also home to the Sforzesco Castle. Many smaller and less-famous parks can be found in the southern part of the city.
Not all points of interest are right in the absolute centre – some of the most wonderful gems can be found near the outskirts or even outside of Milan.
- See #Districts for listings.
- Exhibitions – Many exhibitions are held during the year, ranging from wines to computers, industrial equipment and chocolate. The fieramilanocity is the old exhibitions ground in central Milan a few km northwest of Duomo (MM1 Amendola Fiera or MM1 Lotto – Fiera 2 Stations), the new fairgrounds of fieramilano are in Rho (northwest of Milan, MM1 Rho Fiera Station, A4 highway Pero exit).
- La Scala, one of the world’s most famous opera houses, is in Milan. It also hosts classical music concerts. Other places to enjoy classical music include Teatro dal Verme, Auditorium di Milano and the Giuseppe Verdi conservatory.
- If you like theater and preferably understand Italian, there are a couple of theater houses in Milan. Piccolo Teatro di Milano has three theaters, Teatridithalia – Elfo e Portaromana Associati has two.
- From Torre Branca and the roof of Duomo you have good views of the city – certainly worth taking a couple of photos of.
- Milan has been a hotspot for the Telugu film industry of India. Most of the new films in that language include scenes in Milan. The first 15-20 minutes of the movie Attarintiki Daaredi, the highest-grossing Telegu-language picture of its time, was shot in Milan. So if you ever see the shooting of these films, it’s fun to stay and watch if you’re allowed to!
If you are into fashion, Milan Fashion Week is one of the world’s four major ones. If you are not, avoid it, as hotel prices skyrocket.
- Watch football ie soccer. The city has two teams playing in Serie A, the top tier of Italian football, AC Milan and Internazionale. They share the San Siro stadium, capacity 80,000, which is 3 km west of city centre with its own metro stop. Matches between the two teams are known as the Derby della Madonnina, which while lacking the intensity of its counterpart in Rome, is also a fairly heated one, with occasional crowd violence between the supporters.
Local events in Milan
- If you’re into Italian fashion, there are few if any better shopping destinations than Milan. All the usual suspects have their brand stores in the historical center. Moreover, Milan Fashion Week, one of the “big four” fashion industry events in the world are held twice yearly (Feb-Mar and Sep-Oct).
- Corteo dei Re Magi. Jan 6, yearly. A parade in Milan featuring the Biblical Three Wise Men who visited Jesus on Epiphany.
- Oh bej, oh bej. Dec 7, yearly. Translates to “oh beautiful, oh beautiful” and is a feast to the memory of Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. Formerly the festivities were held in the church named after him, nowadays a more commercialized version of it, perhaps more interesting but less colorful, is held in the old exhibition center.
- See #Districts for listings.
Milan, being a worldwide trendsetter, is a fashion shoppers’ paradise.
There is pretty much every form of shopping in this city that one can imagine: from the designer’s prestigious emporia, retail giants’ outlets, small entrepreneur’s tiny and funky boutiques, to second-hand average shops.
Even if you don’t quite have the budget for luxury shopping, just a visit to Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II should be de rigeur’
The main shopping area is the so-called Fashion Quadrangle (quadrilatero della moda), a set of blocks roughly between Duomo Square (Piazza Duomo), Cavour Square (Piazza Cavour) and San Babila Square (Piazza San Babila). Here in Montenapoleone Street (with prime brand shops), Della Spiga Street, Vittorio Emanuele Street, Sant’ Andrea Street, Porta Venezia avenue and Manzoni Street, it contains the most prestigious boutiques and showrooms in the world. Everything reeks of ostentation and the splendor of a chic, fashionable lifestyle. Shop windows shine, exhibiting the trendiest shoes, coolest glasses, funkiest dresses, most glamorous clothes, and most luxurious crystal chandeliers.
The huge Corso Buenos Aires may not be the top street for Milan’s fashion, but it’s the longest and most popular shopping area in the city, and contains a huge variety of shops – from designer boutiques, trendy outlets and funky furniture stores, to second-hand bargain sales, old antique dealers and newsagents.
For people wanting to spend a bit less while still buying beautiful pieces, other areas are better. One of these is Corso Vercelli (MM1 Pagano, MM1 Conciliazione subway stations), another one is Corso Buenos Aires (MM1 Porta Venezia, MM1 Lima, MM1/MM2 Loreto subway stations), reputed as being the longest shopping street of Europe.
The Brera district (Lanza, or Montenapoleone metro stops) is also not to be missed for trendy and young, yet stylish, boutiques. The Brera district is great for other things, such as browsing through ancient rare art stores and galleries, sipping a hot drink at a refined-air cafe, attending a funky disco, or looking for exotic furniture. However, today, there are a lot of young designers who have up-and coming boutiques, which are slightly less expensive than their Montenapoleone counterparts, but are quite fashionable and of high quality. The Brera district is great because it combines chic, old-air shops, with zeitgeist, modernist and youthful ones. Jewelry stores include Papic oro e argento or Alcozer & J. Bijoux, fashion shops include Accessori or Laura Ashley, and furniture stores include Zohar or Lucitalia.
Also in the Centro Storico are the Piazza del Duomo, Via Dante, Piazza San Babila, and the Corso Giacomo Matteotti which are excellent shopping places. In the Galleria, you get brand fashion stores, two bookstores (Rizzoli and Libreria Bocca) and a sliverware store called Bernasconi plus a Gucci cafe (and many, many more!). In the Corso Giacomo, you can find Abercrombie & Fitch, in Piazza del Duomo you have Grimoldi, Ruggeri, Donna and La Rinascente department store, in Piazza San Babila you can find Upim, Eddy Monetti, Guess and Valextra, and there are loads of shops in the Via Dante, so there are really heaps of shopping opportunities in this area.
For hipsters, there’s the elongated Porta Ticinese area, especially on Saturday, when the flea market Fiera di Senigallia takes place near Porta Genova MM2 subway and train station. This is a great place to wander and browse, and save money if you’ve somehow survived Milan’s high end boutiques. Sort through new and second-hand clothes, old furniture, fake art nouveau lamps, perfumed candles and every kind of essence, books, comics, records, videos and DVDs. In the Corso Ticense, several shops, such as Diesel, RVM Orologi, Dress, Energie, Colors & Beauty, Tintoria La Boutique, Blu Max, Le Jean Marie, Brazilian, Ethic, L’Uomo outlet, Les Tropezziennes, Atelier cucine e …, Panca’s Show Room, or Cinius (and loads more) are present. There are also several banks and postal offices, such as the Banca Popolare and Poste Italiane, and a CTS Viaggi travel agency. Thus, with so many shops, you can keep your shopping bags full, and browse even further.
The other market in Milan is the Mercatone del Naviglio Grande. This takes place along the Alzaia Naviglio Grande on the last Sunday of each month. Dedicated to antiques, the market has over 400 exhibitors, so you’re certain to find something that catches your eye.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
Although Milan is a city that changes its mind as quickly as fashion trends come and go, it remains one of the strongest bastions of traditional Italian cooking, where homemade elements are still very much praised and appreciated. There are trattorias, enoteche (wine bars) and restaurants (including luxury ones) everywhere that offer traditional Milanese and Italian dishes to eat. This city’s traditional cooking is based on filling dishes like osso buco (braised veal shanks) and risotto alla milanese (chicken-broth risotto made with saffron).
Dining times tend to be a shade earlier than in Rome or Florence, with lunch generally served between 12:30 and 14:30 and dinner from 19:30 to 21:30. Dinner, and sometimes lunch, are usually preceded by that great Milanese institution, the aperitivo—a glass of sparkling wine or a Campari soda in a sophisticated hotel bar.
Avoid the restaurants around the Duomo: they tend to be tourist-only spots, with low-quality food at inflated prices. Be aware that most restaurants charge an extra “serving tax” or “table rent”, about €2 per consumer. Also avoid restaurants or cafes around the central station, where it has been reported that hidden serving tax can be up to €5 per person with cheap quality food.
There is much confusion regarding tipping in Italy. Italians do not typically leave tips anymore at restaurants. In touristy locations there will often be a line left blank for a tip to be added. Just draw a line through it and leave a couple of euros. Never leave tips at bar counters.
In bars you can enjoy great caffè espresso, cappuccino and a brioche for as little as €2. At bars in the Duomo and San Babila areas, breakfast can be very expensive if you sit down. If in doubt go to the bar and eat there, you’ll pay what the Italians do- and they will admire your audacity too.
Milan, as a big city, is filled with several different forms of fast-foods, from the foreign giants and national chains, to independently-owned take-aways and sandwich bars. Most fast-food restaurants are found in the Duomo, Buenos Aires and central station areas, as these are the most crowded and busy ones in the city. In the Piazza Duomo and Galleria, one can find international fast-foods such as McDonald’s and Burger King, but Italian chains of the Autogrill group such as Spizzico and Ciao and Autogrill can be found all over the city. There are several Ciao outlets in places such as no. 12 Corso Europa or no. 54 Via Montebianco, and for McDonald’s, you get a restaurant in the Piazza del Duomo and Galleria, and also some in the Corso Buenos Aires, plus some others in places such as Corso Vercelli or Piazzale Lotto. Other fast-foods which can be found in Milan include Garbagnati (Cordusio metro station) which is a self-service restaurant and bakery, which has several vegetarian courses, or the Luini (Duomo metro station) which is a restaurant which is famous for making Southern Italian-style pieces of dough with mozzarella and tomatoes inside.
Although Milan cannot claim to be the birthplace of pizza, (that claim belongs to Naples), you can still find good pizzas in Milan. The best areas for pizza are near Via Marghera , and on the Navigli. Also the northeastern outskirts of the city have some good and non-touristy pizza places.
Expect to pay €8-15 for a pizza and a beer. In Milan, pizza is often eaten with a knife and fork, but of course eating with one’s hands is possible and welcome. Most people do both.
Watch out for frozen pizza in Milan (it usually states it on the menu). Always check the restaurant has a wood burning oven and that they are using it.
In the last several years, Milan has established a local version of the Aperitivo or Happy Hour. Italians drink very moderately and “happy hour” is not a drinking, but a social event.
Roughly from 7PM to 9PM, many bars offer drinks and cocktails at a fixed price (€5-8 each), accompanied by free all-you-can-eat buffets with snacks, pastas, and many other small appetizers. But be careful not to confuse “aperitivo” with “free dinner”. It’s a snack to be enjoyed with a drink. Italians will immediately see you as a buffoon- and it’s seen as tacky to fill up on finger food for dinner, although it’s common to spot them doing so.
A whole lot of these places can be found in Southern Milan. Another great area for aperitivo, not far from Duomo, is Corso Buenos Aires.
In summer enjoy gelato, excellent Italian ice cream. The quality mark gelato artigianale (“artisanal ice cream”) indicates gelaterias that produce their own ice creams, without industrial processing. Bakeries are open every day, you can enjoy great and inexpensive bread-related food, such as pizza and focaccia. You can find a bakery almost everywhere in Milan, even in the Duomo area, and is a good alternative to bars for a fast lunch.
The simplest and plainest place to have a drink in Milan is a drinking fountain – there are loads of them around the city!
There are plenty of bars and cafés in Milan of all kinds – from fancy old-fashioned ones, where you can enjoy a formal hot drink, to avant-garde modern places, and youthful spots for a happy hour/late-night drink. Some also offer some food too.
Milan by night
Milan has a great variety of places where you can have fun. A great starting point is Corso Como, near Garibaldi Station, full of bars and glamorous clubs. In the summertime, this street is packed with young and attractive people.
Another place where you can go is the Navigli quarter, near Porta Ticinese Avenue and XXIV Maggio Square, where you can find a lot of small pubs, open air cafes and restaurants by the water canals (navigli). In many pubs and bars you can find a free booklet named Zero2 which is a guide to Milan Nightlife: if you don’t know what to do or where to go, do grab one!
Other popular night spots with bars and people are Viale Monte Nero (on Wednesday it’s packed with people in the piazza in front of a bar called “Momo”), and Piazzale Susa (and nearby Citta’ Studi area). In the Centro Storico, nights are overwhelmingly crowded at the Colonne di San Lorenzo (not far from Navigli quarter), and in the cozy Latin-quarter of Brera. Another good spot is the pedestrian part of Corso Sempione near the Peace Arch (Arco della Pace).
There are bars and clubs open all week long but usually few people go out at night on Mondays or Tuesdays, the vast majority prefer to have fun on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, Wednesday night appears to be one of the coolest to go out in stylish VIP-frequented clubs.
Milan has an alternative club scene, with a few crews making electronic music parties outside clubs. Ultracheap, every time in a different location (lofts, warehouses, farms, pools, city parks) those kind of parties attract people aged 20–28. The biggest one is called RESET!and attracts 1500-2000 people once a month
Although Milan has a variety of bars, clubs, restaurants and venues for gay and lesbian travellers, many only operate one night a week. Choosing from one of the “mainstays” listed in the district articles and asking anyone where to go should lead you in the right direction. Also, venues are not concentrated in one area of town, but rather spread throughout the city.
Foreign travelers are often confused by the ARCI card regime that is required for entry into many clubs. It’s a relic from the times of police raids that has now conferred tax benefits on these private club owners. No need to fear—just show up and purchase one at any of the clubs. You must bring some ID or you cannot purchase one.
Open air meeting places such as Parco Nord, the gardens behind Cadorna station or Ortomercato are not recommended (criminals and hustlers). The safest way to cruise is to take the late night metro and get into the second-last coach, which is usually occupied by the gays and lesbians.
From hostels and guesthouses to uber-luxury hotels, Milan has it all for you
Where to stay in Milan
In the area just south of the Central railway station you can find a dense concentration of hotels. This is a rather shabby part of the city where you can run into dubious individuals especially at nighttime.
On the other hand the hotels are clean and safe, for the most part streets are lit and the metro station isn’t far away. Accommodation in the central parts of Milan tend to be more luxurious and thus more expensive. If you are arriving by car, consider staying at a hotel further away, preferably close to a metro station.
Hotels Milan: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price per night, from||Choose dates|
NYX Hotel Milan by Leonardo Hotels
Best Western Plus Hotel Galles
43 Station Hotel
NH Milano Touring
NH Collection Milano President
Worldhotel Cristoforo Colombo
Delle Nazioni Milan Hotel
Spice Hotel Milano
The Square Milano Duomo
Room Mate Giulia
B&B Hotel Milano Cenisio Garibaldi
NH Collection Porta Nuova
Rosa Grand Milano - Starhotels Collezione
Just Hotel Milano
Art Hotel Navigli
Hilton Garden Inn Milan North
Unless you venture into the dangerous suburbs, Milan is a rather safe city. Certain areas near Loreto, the central railway station, and Porto di Mare (Southern end of the yellow metro line) can be unsafe at night. At the station, do not seek help from any random person offering to help with the booking machines or ATMs or under any other pretext. After they have helped, they will pursue you to get as much money as possible for their “help”. Or they can pretend to be helpful, cheating instead. A possible scenario: they guide you through the interface of the ticket machine in a metro station, and advice you to pay using notes instead of coins (allegedly the ticket machine wouldn’t accept coins). If you insert a €20 note, the machine would give it back after a few moments. However, before it happens, they will grab your attention saying that the ticket should appear in the bottom of the machine, and simultaneously an old beggar with body odor will appear begging for money. You wouldn’t notice it but the beggar will collect the €20 note that the machine would give back to you. The “helper” would then show to you that the maximum amount of change given by the machine is less than €10.
Milan is home to two rival football (soccer) clubs; AC Milan and Internazionale. While not as heated as its counterpart in Rome, the Milan Derby (Derby della Madonnina) is still a rather intense one, and rioting has been known to occur between the supporters of the two rival clubs. Avoid wearing anything that identifies you as a supporter of either team whenever possible, and should you be supporting one of them on matchday, be careful not to wander into a groups of supporters of the other club. Also be sure to avoid wearing Juventus jerseys, as they have a very heated rivalry with Internazionale, and doing so may result in you being targeted for violence by Inter fans, particularly on match days.
Beware of the migrant vendors in the streets: most of the merchandise they sell is imitation/fake luxury goods. Even at a fraction of the cost of the original merchandise, the quality is spotty, and the goods are not well maintained in storage. Remember that it’s illegal to bring pirated goods into some countries and therefore such souvenirs might get even more expensive when trying to bring them home.
They may also try giving you “free” friendship bracelets (sometimes calling them ‘a gift’). After you take the bracelet, a coloured piece of string, they will hit you up for money and relentlessly pursue you until they get as much as they can. They will be forceful, physically tying the bracelet to your wrist, or laying it on your shoulder as you try and walk away. This is especially true in the tourist areas around the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. They usually first ask “Where are you from?” Just ignore them. In empty places, watch for strangers directly approaching you. Try to be with other people like in a bus station or a shopping mall.
Beware of people hanging around the square outside Duomo: they will walk up to you and forcefully give you corn on the hands to feed the pigeons on the pretense that they are free. All the pigeons in the surrounding area will then fly to you. The people will then relentlessly pursue you and ask you for money.
Be careful crossing the street: drivers don’t usually respect pedestrian crossings unless there is a red light for them to stop.
Telecommunications in Milan
Thanks to Open Wifi Milano you can surf the web for free in many areas of the city: both in the town center and in the outskirts. To use this connection you have to register and to login. For further information you can visit: the official website.
- Lake Como— A huge, impressive, beautiful lake in the foothills of the Alps. See the villages of Como, Menaggio, Bellagio & Varenna. Como can be reached by regular trains (50 minutes from Cadorna station; 40 minutes from Milano Centrale) and buses.
- Monza— Medium-size town with a beautiful pedestrian-only centre (local museum housing the medieval crown of the Longobard kings) and a marvellous park, Parco di Monza, the largest enclosed park in Europe. Inside the park there is the Autodromo Nazionale where the Formula 1 GP, Superbike and other minor races take place. Accessible by regular trains (15 minutes from Centrale or Porta Garibaldi stations) and buses.
- Bergamo— Elegant walled hilltop Renaissance university town. Bergamo is serviced by regular trains (from Centrale, Porta Garibaldi and Lambrate stations, about 1 hour trip time) and buses.
- Crespi d’Adda — A planned industrial city between Bergamo and Milan. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Lake Garda— Beautiful lake with a lot of beautiful small cities, the best is Sirmione. Two big theme parks are nearby: Gardaland, the best in Italy, and Canevaworld Resort, home of Movieland (a movie theme park) and a water park. Accessible by way of regular trains (65–85 minutes from Centrale station) and buses. Very crowded during summer and weekends.
- Iseo — picture-perfect Italian town, sandwiched between the imposing Rhaetian Alps and crystal-blue waters of the eponymous lake, boasts an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval castle. From Iseo you can also take a ferry boat and reach Monte Isola, the highest European lake island and the largest Italian one.
- Oltrepò Pavese — Wine region of Lombardy, about 70 km to the south of Milan, worth a day or weekend trip to relax, walk or cycle and have the Italian Sunday brunch at one of the excellent local restaurants.
- Serravalle Scrivia, Via della Moda, no. 1 (Serravalle Scrivia exit in the A7 Milan – Genoa autostrada. Reachable by A26/7 autostrada link or Arquata Scrivia railway station (Milan – Genoa)). All days: 10AM – 8PM. One of the biggest shopping outlets in Europe, containing 180 stores, despite being 1 hours’ drive from the city and in the Piedmont region, it is definitely worth a visit if you’re a shopping fan. And it has a very pleasant feel because it is more like a mini-town than an actual outlet, with Italian-style piazzas and pretty alleyways, surrounded by rolling hills and a lovely local countryside, and absent of cars. With over 20 million visitors having come ever since its opening in 2000, you can find luxurious designer names, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Diesel, Roberto Cavalli, Ferragamo, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Geox, Swatch, Bulgari, Swarovski, and several more (at bargain prices)! Then, if you want to have a meal, you can stop for some fast-foods at Burger King or the Italian Spizzico, have an ice-cream or sip at a drink in a café. Despite the slightly long trip, it makes a truly great day out, and is heaven for any fashionista or passionate shopper! Tour company-operated buses, including one that leaves from near the Castle, will take you there and back (roughly €20 for the round-trip as of early 2020). Reputed to be the first designer outlet in Italy and the biggest in Europe. Over 180 stores stock clothing, footwear and accessories, and it has a parking with 3,000 parking lots, a children’s playground, bars and restaurants.
- Excursions without a car: You don’t need a car to escape from the business, the traffic, the congestion, the fog in wintertime, and the afa (humid heat in summer), of the city of Milan to a wonderful world of lakes, mountains, castles and good food: just take the train and, sometimes, the boat.
- Biking Trips: Beginning at the 24th May Square (Piazza 24 Maggio) there is an excellent and very long bike road on the right (northern) bank of the canal. Be aware to take the Naviglio Grande (going west on the northern bank of the canal) and follow it as long as you want. After few kilometers you’ll reach the nice Chiesetta di San Cristoforo, a popular spot for marriages. If you are well trained, proceed through the countryside. About 10 km to Gaggiano, a very nice and tiny village, and 20 km to Abbiategrasso. If you are still in the mood for riding, follow the canal on the right and reach Robecco sul Naviglio.
- Martesana bike road: near via De Marchi departs the Martesana cycle path. Martesana is an artificial channel and the bike road follows its path up to Cassano D’Adda (32 km one way). This itinerary offers great views on old villas and mills along the quiet canal. In Cassano D’Adda the bike path joins the Adda bike way, which runs up to Lecco (60 km) following the Adda river.
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