Milan: The Ultimate Travel Planning Guide

Activities, Transportation, Accommodation, Food, and More

Accommodation

Milan has a wide variety of accommodation options. There's everything from backpacker hostels to high-end luxury hotels, but if you want to stay in the historical city center, you can expect to pay for it as most hotels in this area are very expensive. There are a variety of budget options in the Chinatown area, but be warned that public transportation isn't good in the area so you'll likely find yourself walking a lot. The Navigli at Porta Genova is where you should stay if you want to be near nightlife and don't mind all of the noise that comes with it. Ticinese is another good area for nightlife. If you want quiet, budget accommodation then Porta Romana is a good, residential area.

Like most Italian cities, Milan has a good mix of locally owned hotels and larger chain hotels. The locally owned hotels typically have the most charm and character, but they may also have the annoyances of being located in an older building. Chain hotels are generally more sterile, but they're also usually updated, reliable and offer more space. See hotel prices here.

Several popular chain hotels in Milan are listed here.

The Hilton Milan is located very close to Milan Centrale Train and Metro Station. It has a gym, bar, and restaurant on-site.

The Milan Marriott Hotel is not far from Wagner Metro Station and about a mile from the CityLife Exhibition Center.

For backpackers and budget travelers, there are a wide range of hostels in Milan to choose from. Many are outside of the city center but close to public transportation and often they're surrounded by the best nightlife.

Piazza Duomo

Neighborhoods

Milan is a large city with many diverse and interesting neighborhoods. At the heart of the city, at least for tourists, is the Duomo. Piazza Duomo is where many tourists will spend a good bit of time. The cathedral is not to be missed, even if you've seen it before. Around the Piazza you'll find Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall and La Scala Opera House.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II


The Brera neighborhood spreads out north of the Duomo and it's known for its eclectic bohemian art scene. This neighborhood has no shortage of galleries, shops, and restaurants.

Navigli is southwest of the Duomo and it has many good restaurants, bars, and cafes. It's a favorite nightlife spot in the city, and there's also a monthly antique market on the last Sunday of every month.

Porta Garibaldi is another fun place to shop or people watch. It's a great place to grab a good meal or just wander around for a few hours.



Transportation

You have several options when trying to travel around Milan. The Azienda Transporti Milanesi (ATM) system operates a rather efficient public transport network. Single tickets (valid for 90 minutes) are cheap and available at newsstands, bars and automated ticket machines at each station. You can also buy 24 hour, 48 hour, or 10 ride tickets. Do not forget to validate your ticket before getting onboard! There will be a small box at the station that will stamp your ticket with a date and time showing when it was used. Do not forget to do this, or you will be fined onboard.

The Milan Metro

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There is also a Metro system marked with a big, white "M" on a red background. There are four lines to take you around the city, and a new train runs every 1 -3 minutes. Be sure to watch out for aggressive pickpockets.

If you'd prefer to stay above ground, there are trams and buses available. Taxis are an expensive option. Note that if you book a taxi over the phone, they begin charging the moment they take the call and come to pick you up.

Renting a car is not recommended in Milan. Traffic is a considerable problem, and parking is nearly impossible. Walking is a definite possibility as most of the main attractions are a short walk to one another.

Things to See in Milan

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Milan is full of amazing sights for any traveler. There are historic churches, ancient palaces, impressive museums and world-class theaters.

If you're a fan of Renaissance and Baroque style art, you'll be happy in a number of Milan's beautiful museums. The Pinacoteca di Brera is home to one of Italy's most important art collections and one of the largest collection of Italian paintings. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana houses world-famous paintings, while the Civico Museo Archeologico is home to Roman antiques, statues, and glasses.

The Pinacoteca di Brera

As the former northern capital of the Roman Empire, Milan can claim the oldest churches in Italy. The Duomo is Milan's main cathedral. It is, without a doubt, a must-see attraction in Milan. This massive gothic church was started in 1386 and built from white marble. Make sure you take a trip to the top to see stunning city views between ancient gothic spires.

But if sitting back with an espresso is all the sightseeing you want to do, make sure you relax in the Piazza del Duomo. It's the grandest square in all the city. This gathering spot is home to the Duomo, the Royal Palace and an enormous statue of King Victor making it the cultural and social heart of the city.

The nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is full of shops and restaurants set in a 19th-century arcade-style building.

After you arrive in Milan, the first activity on your list should be to simply walk around and take in the sights and sounds of the city. However, once you've done that, there's plenty more for an active traveler.


Catch a football (soccer) game at the famous Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, or attend one of the many exhibition fairs held throughout the year. Wander through any boutique for a taste of the famous Milan fashion world, or make your way to the top of the Branca Tower for stunning views of Milan.

Although Milan doesn't see the huge tourist crowds of Rome or Florence, there can be lines for some of the top attractions. It's best to arrive early or late, or book a tour that lets you skip the lines if you want to avoid the long wait.

Milan Museum of Science and Technology

Day Trips from Milan

Milan makes a great base for exploring other nearby areas.

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Lake Como makes a good day trip from the city. You can reach either the town of Como on the southwest side of the lake, or Lecco on the southeast shore by train in less than an hour. If you want to visit other nearby towns you can take buses and ferries from either place.

Bergamo is about an hour by train from Milan. It's divided into Bergamo Alta, the old city which sits on a hill, and Bergamo Basso, the modern city below. The old city has old squares and beautiful buildings.

Peschiera del Garda, which is on the south side of Lake Garda, is just over an hour from Milan by train. There's a small center to town with many shops and restaurants.

Near Lake Maggiore, Stresa and Arona, are two good towns worth exploring. Arona is the larger of the two and it's also a bit closer to Milan - a little under an hour by train. Stresa, just over an hour by train from Milan, is smaller with a lakeside promenade, gardens, and some good restaurants.


Food

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Every day in Milan should start out with an espresso or cappuccino and a brioche. Just walk around and find a place to sit, relax, and enjoy your morning the Italian way. For lunch, grab a pizza, as this is a must try tradition in Milan. There are plenty of affordable pizza places throughout the city. Also, at some point during your Milan visit, make sure you find an authentic trattoria that's a favorite with locals and try the local favorite, a Cotoletta or Costoletta alla Milanese, which is a fried, thick, bone-in veal cutlet. Before dinner, make sure you take advantage of the aperitif, which is Milan's happy hour. You can sip a cocktail and enjoy a nice appetizer before heading out to dinner. The drink is typically full price, but snacks are free (and occasionally served as a buffet). Every neighborhood has its own take on the tradition, so explore a new place each day you're here. For dinner, order the classic Milan dish, Risotto alla Milanese with Ossobuco and savor the rich and creamy saffron sauce, served with a veal shank. Finally, round out every day with gelato. Try it the "Milan way" with brioche and find a nice outdoor place to sit and people watch.



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