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Milan travel guide suggests things to do in Milan, Various attractions and sightseeing, budget tips to safely stay, travel, and plan your Milan trip.
Milan Travel Guide – About Milan
Milan is recognized worldwide for being one of the design and fashion capitals of the world.
It’s an important stop for people visiting Italy, thanks in part to being the second largest airport in the country behind Rome!
But, in the last decade, it has become a beautiful and stunning city.
Milan has a lot for travelers beyond fashion. You have the beautiful Duomo and the Sforzesco Castle, a 15th-century castle that now houses the last sculpture of Michelangelo. Then there is The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, located inside the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. Milan has no shortage of culture.
It’s worth spending a few nights (maybe more if you are looking to show and enjoy the dazzling and fashionista side of the city!)
You can use this Milan travel guide to help you discover what to see, what to do, where to stay, when to go, how to save money and everything you need to plan an exciting visit.
Milan Travel Guide – Top 5 things to visit and do in Milan
1. Visit the Duomo
With over 3,500 statues, 135 towers, and five bronze gates, it is not surprising that it took 500 years to complete the Duomo. Take the elevator up to the roof to enjoy panoramic views of the city (and perhaps the Alps if it’s a really clear day). Climbing the stairs costs € 13 ($ 14.50 USD) and the elevator costs € 17 ($ 19 USD).
2. Relax at Parco Sempione
Parco Sempione is home to the Sforzesco Castle, an aquarium, Triennaler di Milano (a museum of design and art), the Torre Branca, and a handful of bars and cafes. This is a quiet place to walk for hours or to sit and picnic on the grass.
3. Explore Sforzesco Castle
Built-in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, the castle now houses 12 museums and a vast archive of artifacts. Two notable museums include the Museum of Ancient Art and the Pietà Rondanini Museum, which houses the last sculpture of Michelangelo. Entrance to the castle is free, but admission to all museums costs a total of € 10 ($ 11 USD).
4. Admire the Last Supper
This Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece resides in the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. The Last Supper is remarkably well preserved, and historians have not yet solved all its mysteries (does the salt spilled in front of Judas symbolize his betrayal?). Book early if you go during the high season. Tickets cost € 10 ($ 11.15 USD).
5. Watch some soccer
If you are a fan of soccer, book tickets for a match at the San Siro stadium. Milan is home to two of the best soccer teams in the world: AC Milan and Inter Milan. Seats near the top will cost around € 28 ($ 31.50 USD).
Milan Travel Guide – Other places to visit in Milan
1. See Leonardo’s horse
At Piazella Dello Sporto you will find Leonard’s horse, one of the largest bronze equine statues in the world, created by Nina Akamu. The design is entirely based on Da Vinci’s sketches from when it was commissioned by the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro in 1482. Da Vinci was intended to create the world’s largest bronze horse statue dedicated to the Duke’s father, Francesco. , but it was never completed.
2. Tour the flea markets
While Milan is known for its high-end fashion and design brands, it also hosts a fair amount of flea markets. Fiera di Senigallia, the city’s most popular and retro flea market, sells disco equipment and comics, among many other treasures, while Papiniano (near Fiera di Senigallia) is known for his shoes and household items. If you plan your vacation for the end of the month, Antiquariato sul Naviglio is a good place to go hunting for antiques.
3. Visit the Pinacoteca di Brera
Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the main art galleries in Milan. It contains works by Raphael, Mantegna, and Rembrandt. His most famous work of art is Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ, a dramatic painting that shows Jesus lying rigor mortis on a mortuary slab. Admission is € 10 ($ 13.45 USD) and is open every day (except Monday) from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm
4. Visit Idroscalo Park
Idroscalo Park focuses on Lake Idroscalo, an artificial lake that offers a green escape from Milan’s concrete jungle. There are many places for cycling, hiking, and barbecue. During the summer, there are nightly performances in the park with everything from modern dance to a live orchestra.
5. Walk on Corso Magenta
In the northwestern part of Milan, this street is home to several baroque cafes, shops, and palaces. It is a beautiful street to stroll and gives you the incredible feeling of “being in Italy”. The church and convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses The Last Supper, are here.
6. Walk the channels
Surprised to hear that there are channels in Milan? Well, there are two to be exact. Based in the Navigli district, these canals offer a unique perspective of the city and are best enjoyed during the summer months, when you can take a boat ride (or even a Venetian gondola). Be sure to visit the Boffalora Sopra Ticino village or the majestic villas of the Robecco Sul Naviglio commune. The Navigli district is a quiet neighborhood and is a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
7. Stroll through the Giardini della Guastalla
Also known as the Guastalla Gardens, these are some of the oldest gardens in Milan. The gardens date back to the 16th century and have been open to the public since the early 20th century. Among the tall-stemmed plants and flowers, you’ll also find a fish bath filled with carps and redfish, marble statues, and a bowling alley area. Giardini della Guastalla is located near the Duomo and the university district.
8. Take an in-depth walking tour
One of the best ways to get to know Milan is to stroll with a local! You will get oriented, a history lesson, and interesting things that will indicate you along the way. Milan has many tour companies on foot. For free walking tours, check out Walkabout Tours or Strawberry Tours. (Be sure to tip your guide!) If you’re looking for a deeper tour of the Last Supper and the Duomo, check out Take Walks as they run the best in town.
9. Go shopping
If you are looking for serious shopping or even window displays, go to the Vittorio Emanuele 11 Gallery. This is an intense shopping center that took 12 years to build. It is home to fashion giants like Prada and Gucci. Buy yourself a € 12 coffee ($ 13.45 USD) and see how Milanese high society goes by.
Milan Travel Guide – Travel costs to Milan
A bed in a dorm for 10 people starts at around € 25 ($ 28 USD) while a 4-6 bed dorm costs around € 30-35 ($ 33.65-39 USD) per night. A private room for two people costs from € 54 ($ 60 USD). Hostels in the city usually have free wifi, and some will have breakfast.
Low Hotel Prices
A night in a two-star hotel in a double room starts from around € 50 ($ 56 USD). You can expect to pay double in the high season.
On Airbnb, you can find shared rooms starting at € 20 ($ 18 USD) and private rooms starting at € 31 ($ 35 USD) per night. Entire houses (generally studio apartments) start from € 80 ($ 90 USD) per night.
Average cost of food
Lunch in town starts around € 15 ($ 17 USD), and dinner in a restaurant costs between € 25-40 ($ 28-45 USD). It is normal to pay around € 75 ($ 84 USD) for dinner in an exclusive place if you are drinking. It’s easy to have excellent (and expensive) food anywhere in Milan, but it’s also easy to eat for less than € 15 ($ 17 USD) a day if you make an effort.
Fast foods like pizza by the slice, paninis, and light snacks will cost between € 4-7 ($ 4.50-7.85 USD). Consider buying a panzerotto in Luini (near the Duomo and Galleria), or pizza at Mr. Panozzos (in the Citta ‘Studi area). Fast food (i.e. McDonalds) will cost € 9 ($ 10 USD) for a value meal. You will pay about € 60 ($ 67 USD) per week for foods that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other staples. If you find a discount store like Eurospin, Lidl, or Penny Market, you will pay a little less.
Milan Travel Guide – Backpacker Suggested Budgets
On the budget of a backpacker in Milan, expect to spend around € 62 ($ 70 USD) per day. This budget will cover a hostel dorm, eating cheap meals (or maybe a nice dinner or two) but mostly cooking your meals in a hostel kitchen, public transportation, free walking tours, and some paid attractions.
With a mid-range budget of about € 134 ($ 150 USD), you’ll get a budget two-star hotel, a private room in a hostel or Airbnb, some restaurant dinners, some drinks, some taxis or Ubers, free walking tours, a couple of attractions per day and maybe a guided tour. You will be able to do most things in the city but you won’t live big either!
For luxury, you will spend at least € 295 ($ 330 USD) per day. With this budget, you will get a beautiful four-star hotel, meals in high-end restaurants, any excursion or activity you want, taxis, and more. I mean, this is Milan. If you want to spend money here, you can do it easily. After this, the sky is the limit!
Milan travel guide: Tips to save money
This is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, but don’t let that put you off visiting. Here are some ways to save money in Milan so you don’t break the bank:
Don’t eat at Station Square
The restaurants around here are tourist traps and are very expensive. Head about half a mile outside of this area for authentic, less expensive food.
Taxis are generally expensive and there is an additional surcharge for the night (the minimum trip is € 6.50 / $ 7.30 USD instead of the normal € 3.30 / $ 3.70 USD), so try to find alternative means of travel.
Take the Radiobus
Radiobus is an on-demand bus network that operates from 8 pm to 2 am to provide safe and reliable overnight transportation. With tickets costing a maximum of € 3 ($ 3.35 USD) plus a valid ATM ticket, they are a good alternative to taxis after a night out.
If you don’t want to miss the fashion experience, head to the Brera District to shop for some less expensive but modern boutiques.
Get a city pass
If you are going on a lot of sightseeing, the Milano Card or Milan Pass will offer you discounts or free tickets to major museums, tours, and attractions.
Pass the bread
Some restaurants will charge you more for the bread or breadsticks on the table, but they won’t inform you until the check arrives and you have cleared it.
Drink the tap water
The water in Italy is safe to drink, so avoid those expensive water bottles and refill the tap water! Your wallet and the environment will thank you.
Take a free walking tour
A walking tour is the best way to get acquainted with a new city while learning a lot of interesting history in the process. Milan Free Tour is a great option.
Make a local friend and get a free place to stay for Couchsurfing! There’s a great community here, making it easy to find a host!
Save money on carpooling
Uber is much cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi. You can save $ 15 on your first ride on Uber with this code: jlx6v.
Milan Travel Guide – Where to stay in Milan
Milan has many great hostels. Some of the recommended places to stay in Milan are:
- Ostello Bello
- Ostello Bello Grande
- Combo Milano
- Ostelzzz Milano
- MEININGER Milano Lambrate
- MEININGER Milano Garibaldi
- Babila Hostel & Bistrot
- Hostel Colours
- HIGHTOWN HOTEL
- Grand Hostel Coconut
Milan Travel Guide – How to get around Milan?
Milan’s public transport is run by Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) and uses the same ticketing system in all modes of transport: bus, tram, and metro. Each ticket costs € 1.50 ($ 1.70 USD) for 90 minutes. You can travel as many buses/trams/trains in that period as you like.
You can also buy a 10-trip pass for € 13.80 ($ 15.50 USD) or a 24-hour pass for € 4.50 ($ 5 USD). A 48-hour pass costs € 8.25 ($ 9.25 USD). There is also a week pass, but it doesn’t cover unlimited travel, so it’s best with one of the options listed above.
Radiobus (a night bus service) tickets cost around € 3 ($ 3.35 USD) and go from Milan to neighboring cities.
You can use the ATM app to buy tickets or buy them at the subway station.
Metro: Milan’s metro system is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city. There are four lines, and two of them stop at the Duomo. There are also easy connections to Milan Central Station and other neighborhoods, such as Porta Romana.
If you are going to or coming from the airport, the Malpensa Express train is a great way to get in and out of town to catch your flight. It costs only € 13 ($ 14.60 USD) from the airport to Milano Centrale, and a return ticket costs € 20 ($ 22.40 USD).
Taxi: Taxis are expensive and cost an average of € 20 ($ 22.40 USD) to get around the city. Uber, the taxi alternative, is available in Milan and often cheaper too. You can save $ 15 on your first ride on Uber with this code: jlx6v.
Milan Travel Guide – When to go to Milan?
Shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Milan, from April to May and then from September to October. You will avoid the tourist high season when you come during this time, and the weather will remain warm. The average temperature in May is 71 ° F (22 ° C), while in October it is 66 ° F (18 ° C).
The summer months (June to August) are hot, with the highest daily average being around 84 ° F (29 ° C) in July. Temperatures cool considerably from November to March, with a lot of fog. It is much calmer in Milan during these months.
If your biggest draw for Milan is for its shopping and fashion opportunities, Fashion Week takes place twice a year (for fall/winter and then spring/summer) and it’s a big deal. I never have been, as it’s not my thing, but the celebrations are legendary. You will want to book accommodation well in advance as the city fills up during this time and everything becomes much more expensive.
Milan Travel Guide – How to stay safe in Milan?
Milan is a very safe place for backpacking and traveling. Pocket theft is the most common crime you will face, and you should be aware of Central Station and the area around Piazza Duca D’Aosta.
If you’re concerned about being misled, you can read about the 14 travel scams to avoid here.
Avoid Parco Sempione at night, especially if you are alone. The same goes for the Arch of Peace.
Always trust your instinct. If a taxi driver seems gloomy, stop the taxi and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and identification.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Milan!
The most important advice I can offer is to buy good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellation. It is comprehensive protection in case something goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I have had to use it many times in the past.
Milan travel guide: The best booking resources
Milan Travel Guide – Gear and Packing Guide
The best backpack for Milan
REI Flash 45 Package
What is the best backpack for traveling in Milan? I recommend the REI Flash 45 package. It is lightweight and comfortable, front-loading, and fits perfectly in the top compartment of an airplane.
Straps: Thick and padded with compression technology that pulls the pack load up and in so it doesn’t feel so heavy.
Features: removable top cap, large front pocket, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different than a backpack, check out my article on choosing the best travel backpack with more tips, hints, and backpack suggestions.
Milan Travel Guide – What to pack for Milan?
1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easy to dry, but I like them; khaki pants are a good alternative)
1 pair of shorts
1 long-sleeved shirt
1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of slippers
8 pairs of socks
5 pairs of underpants
1 tube of toothpaste
1 package of dental floss
1 small bottle of shampoo
1 small bottle of shower gel
Small medical kit (safety is important !!!)
Cream Antibacterial Cream
Hand Sanitizer (Germs = Sick = Bad Vacation)
Other Packing list
A combination key or lock (security first)
Ziplock bags (prevents things from dripping or exploding)
Universal charger/adapter (this applies to all)
LifeStraw (A bottle of water with a purifier).
Travel List for Women
1 pair of stretch jeans (easily wash and dry)
1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
2-3 sleeve tops long
3-4 spaghetti tops
1 light cardigan
1 spray of dry shampoo and talcum powder (keeps hair long without grease between washes)
Make-up you use
Hairbands and hair clips
Feminine hygiene products (you can also choose to buy there, but I prefer not to have them, and most people have their favorite products)
Milan Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri Inferno, by Dante Alighieri
Inferno is the first part of the fourteenth-century Italian writer Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy. It tells the story of Dante’s journey through hell, guided by the ancient poet Virgil. Here, hell is represented as nine circles of torment located within the Earth: it is a dense read, but it is quite incredible. The book mentioned here is the beautifully translated version of Dante’s masterpiece. You can also get the full volume with the three epic poems. It has inspired people for 700 years!
City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, by Roger Crowley
Roger Crowley explores Venice’s fascinating 500-year advancement to the pinnacle of power to become a city unrivaled for drama and majesty. The City of Fortune traces the Venetian imperial saga, from the Fourth Crusade to the fall of Constantinople, to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499-1503, which ultimately led the Ottoman Turks to become the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. You will also learn about how a small city of “lagoon dwellers” became the richest place on the planet. This is not a boring history book: it is a vivid and beautifully written account of Venice and its people through the centuries.
Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon is summoned to a task at a Swiss research center to analyze a symbol engraved on the chest of a murdered physicist and discovers the revival of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati. Later, the brotherhood announces that they have left a time bomb inside the Vatican City, and Langdon must go to Rome to find it. Even if Dan Brown is not your thing, this book will motivate you to go sightseeing in Rome.
Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
Have you ever dreamed of buying a ruined villa in Italy and restoring it to its former glory? That’s exactly what Frances Mayes did 20 years ago with an abandoned property called Bramsole in the Tuscan countryside. This story tells his restoration journey, along with what it is like to adapt to living in rural Tuscany. Mayes is a poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer; You will literally drool over his prose and his evocative language. Mayes paints the most dreamy image of life in Italy. You have to read this book.
The Beautiful Figure: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind, by Beppe Severgnini
Written about Italians by an Italian, Beppe Severgnini wants you to forget all the romantic notions of Italy and its people. This book that will make you laugh out loud will take you beyond historical attractions and scenic areas, to places where Italians are at their best and worst: including the highway, the airport, and the small town. Severgnini describes the chaos of the roads and the “theatrical spirit of hypermarkets” in a way that will give him a deep insight into the Italian psyche.
A Room with a View, by EM Forster
The well-educated Lucy Honeychurch sets out on an adventure touring Italy with her dominant cousin, and soon falls in love with the handsome (but totally inappropriate) George Emerson, and somehow falls for compromises with Mr. Cecil Vyse. Lucy is easily removed from upper-middle-class Edwardian society by her longing for the man she left behind. This is a fun and satirical read that takes the English notion of respectability and turns it upside down. This is Forster’s most beloved book