The Fashion Capital of the World is inherently a name that many people know when it comes to the Italian city of Milan. Besides being considered a shopping paradise, Milan is also very famous for its greatest, magnificent architecture in the world. In addition to skyscrapers and high-end fashion boutiques, Milan also owns plenty of valuable art and historical attractions.
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So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Milan for the first-time? Let’s check out our Milan travel blog (Milan blog, Milan Italy blog, Milan Italy travel blog) with the fullest Milan travel guide (Milan guide, Milan tourist guide, Milan visitor guide, Milan Italy travel guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do and suggested Milan 2-day itinerary to find out the answer!
The most famous historical and artistic attraction is the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) which is the largest Gothic church in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper, Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House) are the city’s masterpieces and are must-visit places in Milan. Traveling to Milan, you also will see the fast-paced and bustling life, a charming city with an old-fashioned, and a top city for shopping in Italy.
Milan blog: Overview of Milan
According to the Italy tourist map above, Milan is the second largest city in Italy (after Rome) and is located in the Northern Italy. The fashion capital of Italy is the 5th largest city in Europe with more than 1.3 million inhabitants and an area of 181.8 square kilometers only in central districs and 13,000 km2 for Milan Metropolitan Area with 9 million people. As a cosmopolitan city, Milan has more than 13% of its population expats and is ranked in the list of top 15 most expensive cities in the world.
The city of Milan is known for its fashion, leading the world in the design of new styles for women. It is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world along with New York, Paris, and London. Famous fashion brands in the world fashion capital of Milan can be mentioned such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana… All these luxury fashion brands are now headquartered here.
Milan blog: When to go?
Milan has a hot and humid climate in summer. Therefore, you should visit Milan in spring (from April to May) or autumn (from September to October). These are periods when Milan has the best weather with cool and pleasant air, convenient for sightseeing and take part in outdoor activities. In addition, these are the best seasons of the year with many vibrant festivals take place.
The time from July to August is the peak months of the tourist season. Therefore, the number of tourists flocking here is very crowded. If you plan to go in this time, be sure to book a hotel room in advance.
The winter (December to February next year) is moderately cold and often rain and fog. Snow falls during the coldest winter months. If you don’t mind the cold but want to watch the snow fall, this time is also a good time to come.
Milan travel blog: How to get to Milan?
Milan has three airports: Malpensa, Linate and Orio al Serio (in the Province of Bergamo). You can take train, bus or taxi to get from these Milan airports to the city center.
From Malpensa Airport to Milan city center
- By train: Take the Malpensa Express train from Malpensa Airport to Milano Centrale (main railway station).
- By bus: There are many buses from Malpensa airport to central Milan. Traveling time between Malpensa and Milano Centrale is about 50 minutes. The price for a single trip is from 5 – 10 euros.
- Taxi: Taxis stops are located in front of exits at both Terminal 1 and 2. Travel time to central Milan is approximately 50 minutes. Traveling cost about 90 euros.
From Linate Airport to Milan city center
- By bus: The journey by bus from Linate airport to Milan city center takes about 20 minutes. The fare is 5 euros and you can buy tickets on the bus.
- By taxi: It only takes about 10 minutes depending on traffic conditions. The average taxi fee is 20 euros.
From Orio al Serio airport (Bergamo ) to downtown Milan
- By bus: Traveling time between Bergamo Airport and Milano Centrale is 1 hour. The price for a bus trip is about 10 euros.
- By taxi: Taking a taxi from Bergamo airport to downtown Milan is very expensive. The fixed price is around 100 euros – 200 euros.
Milan blog: Getting around Milan
Milan’s public transport is very developed, there are subway, bus, tram, etc. You can getting around the city easily even without take a taxi. All vehicles of bus, tram, subway use the same ticket. Milan’s public transport network connects through the city center, making it easy to reach the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Subway in Milan consists of 4 lines and is distinguished by color and number. Red is for line 1, green is for line 2, yellow for line 3 and purple for line 4. And of course each line has different stops and stations, you need to determine where you want to go to choose the right one. If you do not know how to go, you can look at the signboards at the train stations and the detailed Milan metro map as below.
In addition, the other public transport that you can take to getting around this city is the bus system, filobus, … available on all routes.
Tip: Before you go, to find your way, you can visit the Milan ATM website (the official website of the Municipal Public Transport Company) or download its app (Android, iOS), then enter the departure point and destination, in returned result you will find the most detailed and suitable way to travel.
You can refer to the ticket prices as follows:
- Single ticket: €1.5 (valid for 90 minutes)
- 1-day unlimited ticket: €4.5
- 2-day unlimited ticket: €8.25
- One-week unlimited ticket: €11.5
- Hop on hop off tickets: 1 day: €20/2 days: €24
If you mainly only go to the tourist attractions of Milan in the city center, you do not need to buy hop on – hop off tickets. During my trip, I only bought “1-day unlimited ticket” for €4.5.
Tip: You absolutely should not rent a car to getting around Milan. Before my trip, I also consulted a lot of people and was advised by an Italian friend, he said absolutely should not rent. After my visit, I saw he was right. It’s no need and rental price is very expensive. You only use public transport is enough.
From other cities to Milan
If you want to get from other Italian cities to Milan, you can consider to taking a train or bus. The cheapest way is take Flixbus. Regarding traveling by train, Italians often choose Trenitalia train. If you want to be sure, you should check out routes and tickets on omio.com. This is a very useful website to compare fares for many means of transport with various destinations. For long train journeys, buying tickets online will be much cheaper than buying directly. You can use code linhm0h7b4w6d to get €10 off when the booking value is over €40. Please enter the code above in the Travel bonus section in received an invite code page.
Traveling time from Milan to some other famous Italian tourist cities such as:
- Venice: 3 hours
- Verona: 2 hours
- Cinque Terre: 3.5 hours
- Florence: 3.5 hours
- Rome: 6-7 hours
Read more: Positano travel guide.
Milan travel blog: Where to stay?
You should choose accommodation to stay near the stations or near the Duomo square for easy travel between attractions.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Milano Apartment: Apartment right near the center, convenient to travel and fully equipped. €84/night/4 people. (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hostel Colours: 3km from the center of Milan. This is one of the most popular accommodation for solo travelers. Price at €23/bunk bed/dorminity room. (Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- NH Collection Milano President (Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hotel Spadari al Duomo (Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Chateau Monfort (Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- The Square Milano Duomo (Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Milan blog: What to do and where to go?
Quadrilatero d’Oro Shopping District
If Milan is the fashion capital of the world, the Quadrilatero d’Oro is the heart of this city. It has long been considered the leading fashion center of the world. The “Golden Rectangle” is its another name because of the combination of 4 shopping streets including Via Monte Napoleone, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Senato and Via Manzoni. This place converges many stores of world famous fashion brands such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Ferragamo, Prada… When set foot here for the first-time, you will feel as standing in a palace hall, not a commercial center because its magnificent architecture.
Walking around on the bustling streets, in addition to immerse yourself in the world of leather goods, leather bags, and beautiful boots… you can also try to sitting at a cafe, enjoying delicious food at restaurants and cafes located in this shopping area while watching the busy flow of people is also a fun thing to do. Some suggestions for quality coffee shops and restaurants here:
Cafes: Paper Moon Giardino, La Veranda and Pasticceria Cova.
Restaurants: Don Lisander, Chez Panin and Kisen Moscova.
Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)
Milan is brilliant with its magnificent, splendid, great architectural works. The most prominent and famous of which is the Milan Cathedral (or Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Nativity of Saint Mary) that standing like a granite mountain in the city center. It was started to buid in the 14th century and lasted for more than 5 centuries with a total of 135 tall and pointed spiers, an impressive interior with 52 giant stone pillars, Duomo is not only a place for ceremonies but also the most famous tourist place of Milan.
The cathedral is attractive with its spectacular, monumental Gothic architecture decorated with meticulous and extremely sophisticated motifs. This is the 3rd largest church in Europe, the largest Gothic style church in the world. The square in front of the cathedral is a place that tourists want to visit once to take pictures to check-in in Milan.
Milan Cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world today. The church covers an area of nearly 12,000 square meters with a capacity of more than 40 thousand people. This structure is the most recognizable building in Milan and is also a tourism symbol of Milan, any tourist see this image they all know it comes from Milan.
You can climb to the roof to have the opportunity to see the whole city, the towering pointed spiers of the church. However, climbing the stairs (250 steps) or taking the elevator you have to pay entrance fee. If you intend to climb to the roof to enjoy the view or visit some special areas of the church such as Cathedral Terraces by lift; Duomo Museum; Archaeological Area; San Gottardo Church, the ticket prices as follows:
- Free: Children under 6 years old and disabled person.
- Duomo Pass A: Adults: €17.50 / Children 6-12 years old: €9.00
- Duomo Pass B: Adults: €13.00 / Children 6-12 years old: €7.00
Note: Both type of tickets above can access the same areas above. The only difference is that with Pass A you can reach the top of the church by elevator while Pass B is on foot (climb 250 steps). Please note that you should book tickets online in advance if you plan to visit. Because waiting in line to directly buy tickets is very long and very crowded. Or you can buy the skip the line ticket for €25 if you don’t want to wait. Indeed, this tourist place is terribly crowded.
In addition, they also sell separate tickets for each zone in this square. You can refer to ticket prices at the church’s official website here.
Getting there: To get to the Cathedral square (Piazza del Duomo), take metro yellow line M3 and get off at Duomo station.
Piazza del Duomo
The central square in Milan, Piazza del Duomo is a large open public space featuring impressive architecture and sculptures.
This can be considered your starting point on your Milan journey. In the center of the square is a statue of the first king of a unified Italy – Vittorio Emmanuel II.
Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House)
Milan doesn’t have many beautiful places but there are places to visit that you can’t miss. In which is the largest opera house in the world called La Scala. This opera house was built in 1778 and is over 240 years old. The exterior of the house, Teatro alla Scala has a discreet appearance with a simple neoclassical facade. The building’s magnificent beauty is preserved in the interior with its ornate columns and giant chandeliers.
The famous theater with a capacity of over 2000 people, was closed during World War I and bombed during World War II. In 2001, La Scala was renovated to become more spacious.
The theater is influenced by neoclassical architecture and Baroque style. It is connected to the beautiful square of the same name. The city of Milan also has a long history of opera, which is the birthplace of some of the world’s most famous singers and artists. Today the theater is also recognized internationally for its design and sound system.
Address: Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
Opened: August 3, 1778
Admission: Adults: €9 / Children under 12 years old. Disabled people: free / Students, the elderly over 65 years old: €6
Opening hours: 9AM-5:30PM
The Pinacoteca di Brera (“Brera Art Gallery”)
Famous Italian art gallery, home to more than 400 most famous works of art in Italy. Founded in 1776, it is one of the most important art galleries in the world as it houses a number of ancient and modern collections of paintings and sculptures by Italian artists. These renown of works of great artists such as: Gentile da Fabriano, Mantegna, Bellini, Tintoretto, etc. There are many famous works display here.
Address: Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
Ticket price: Adult: €12. EU students from 12-25 years old: €8.
Parco Sempione (Sempione Park)
Sempione Park is one of the largest green areas in the city. It was established and built between 1890 and 1893 imitating a typical English garden. The park is famous for one of the most beautiful pieces of neoclassical architecture in the city – the Arch of Peace. The arch was built in the early 19th century at the direction of Napoleon, although its location dates back to Roman times. Also in this park, there also is Castello Sforzesco Castle. The castle is closed on Mondays and some public holidays.
The park has a total area of more than 47 hectares. It has trees, bushes and flowers scattered among many vivid green lawns and a beautiful man-made lake with a wide variety of birds. Sempione Park is a place where tourists and locals come to rest and relax.
Address: Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milano MI, Italy
This 14th-century castle has a central location in Milan and located in Sempione Park, is one of the most important structures, a testament to the history of this famous city.
The castle was built in the 14th century by Count Sforza, then became the residence of the Sforza family, witnessing the whole period of the city from its origin, heyday to decline. The castle was designed according to the architecture of a fortress, it was once besieged, destroyed and then restored during the periods when Milan was invaded. For a time this defensive fortress named Porta Giovia, through a series of historical events, until 1450 when Francesco Sforza seized power, the castle was renovated under his order.
Michelangelo’s last achievement, Rondanini Pietà, can be found in the Pietà Rondanini Museum. This museum was opened in 2015 in the Spanish hospital located in the Castle and is used exclusively for the display of this masterpiece.
Address: Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie (#milan blog)
This church is famous for owning one of the most important works of art in history: The Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper masterpiece. The painting was painted on the wall in the church dining room. There is no fee to enter the church, but there is a fee to see the painting. However, due to the popularity of the church, the number of tourists coming to visit is very crowded, so it may take a long time in line. In addition, the church also has to limit number of visitors as well as the visiting time, each visitor can only go inside to visit for about 15 minutes.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
Naviglio Grande Canal and District
Few people know that Milan actually has two canals, one of which is the Naviglio Grande. The canal has been in operation for many years and continues to expand today. This is the oldest canal, drawing water from the Ticino River. The canal was built between 1177 and 1257 with 50 km long. It was formerly used to transport goods, especially marble blocks to build churches. The part of the canal located in the downtown is a great place to walk, along the canal is old houses and many shops and restaurants. Let come and experience.
Are you curious to know the ancient beauty of Milan at night? Come to Navigli district at dusk, visitors will see the shimmering, fanciful beauty of this place. And discover how vibrant and bustling the people’s lives along the canals are.
As the pride of Milan, Bosco Verticale is a pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, covered with lots of plants and trees, bringing a modern and eco-friendly architecture.
Address: 20124 Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
Hours: Open 24 hours / Saturday, Sunday: Closed
Some other places to visit in the city of Milan
- The Church of St. Maurice in Major Monastery in the center of Milan was built in the 16th century with works honoring the ancient glory history of Italy.
- Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea is Milan’s premier contemporary art gallery.
- Milan Natural History Museum (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano): Displaying thematic exhibitions on mineralogy, petrology, anthropology, vertebrates and invertebrates.
- San Siro Stadium: Officially known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza the home to A.C Milan football club.
Day trip from Milan: Tourist sites near Milan are only 1-2 hours away by train
- Lake como: 1 hour
- Lake Garda: 2 hours
- Verona: 2 hours
- Bergamo: 1 hour
- Arona lake, Stresa lake: 1 hour
- Parma: 1-1.5 hours
In addition, if you have more time, you can also take a day tour to visit many famous places in Italy such as Cinque Terre, Venice, Lake Como, Genoa… You can refer to the package tours at Klook.
Milan blog: What to eat in Milan?
Milanese cuisine as well as Lombard cuisine is mainly about butter and dairy products, rice and polenta (made from cornmeal). Two famous traditional Milanese dishes are Risotto alla Milanese (Risotto with Parmesan & Saffron). This is a specialty of Milan, which is made with beef stock, beef bone marrow, lard (instead of butter) and cheese, flavored and colored with saffron. And the second dish is Veal Milanese (Cotoletta alla Milanese) which is prepared with a veal rib chop or sirloin bone-in and made into a breaded cutlet then fried in butter.
Milan is also famous for its Aperitivo, ie appetizers consisting of alcoholic beverage or cocktails and snacks such as cheese, olives, etc. Aperitivo is an indispensable part of the cuisine of Milan. It stimulates the taste buds, making diners feel more appetizing.
Milan’s restaurants, from traditional eateries to high-end restaurants are available for you to choose from. Restaurants in Milan close quite early. Lunch is usually not served after 1:30 pm, and dinner after 8:30 pm. So plan your detailed trip in advance.
The cost of a meal in Italy is quite expensive, from 15 EUR for a lunch to 75 EUR for a full dinner with wine.
I was suggested some good restaurants by a Milanese friend, you can refer to the following:
- Pizza AM: Delicious pizza, often have to wait in line for a long time on weekends.
- Pomet Milano: This shop also sells pizza, but it’s much cheaper.
- Osteria del Lazzaretto: Serving Italian cuisine, seafood at cheap price.
In addition, you should check on Tripadvisor to find top rating and best restaurants in Milan here.
Read more: Cinque Terre travel guide.
Milan travel blog: Shopping in Milan
Milan – Italy’s fashion capital is a place that every shopaholic want to visit once. Milan’s bustling shopping malls, boutiques selling exclusive clothing, jewelry and antiques, exclusive designer items at discounted prices, unique items are all available in Milan. The city of Milan has a lot of very unique and exquisite products and items that are loved by many tourists such as scarves, glass, shoes, clothes, leather goods..
Some famous shopping malls and outlets you can visit to shopping unique items for yourself or relatives. If you are afraid to find your way, you can refer to a few tour packages on the Klook site that transport tourists to the outlets as below:
- Serravalle Designer Outlet: Gathering more than 300 world famous fashion brands.
- Vicolungo The Style Outlets: 30 minutes from the center with more than 150 stalls.
- Fidenza Village: Located in the middle of the road from Milan to Bologna with more than 120 world fashion brands.
- Franciacorta Outlet Village: Located in a village on the way to Lake Garda, less than 1 hour from the center of Milan with more than 160 stores such as Adidas, Baldinini, Beretta, Borbonese, Braccialini, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Loriblu, Nike, Patrizia Pepe, Pinko , Pollini, Puma, Twin Set, Tommy Hilfiger.
- Scalo Milano Outlet & More: Only 15 minutes from the center of Milan with more than 130 stores.
- Via Monte Napoleone: For all famous brands
- Via Della Spiga: For high-end stores
- Corso Buenos Aires: For high-end fashion
- Corso Vittorio Emanuele II: Shopping and coffee
- Via Dante: For luxury shopping
- Via Brera: Shop for jewelry and antiques
- DMAG: Big discount zone
- Fiera Di Sinigaglia: For cheap souvenirs
- Cormano Flea Market: For silk products
- Funky Table: Stylish interior design shop
Milan blog: Suggested Milan itinerary 2 days
Day 1: Explore all the famous Milan tourist attractions in the center, you can refer them in where to go section above.
Starting from the central station, you stop at Duomo station (7 minutes) to get to Duomo square. Right next to it are Quadrilatero d’Oro shopping district and Opera house. From here you can walk to the Brera Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Brera) and Sempione park or take the Metro.
Day 2: Lake Como – The jewel of Italy.
Lake Como is not only famous for worldwide tourists, but it is also one of the most favorite places of world famous stars. There have been many stars frequently visit this place and they even bought houses here to come back every year to relax. Some of the stars can be mentioned as George Clooney, Madonna or Richard Branson… Take advantage of time to visit beautiful small villages around the lake to see why they are much be loved by tourists.
The itinerary can be changed depending on the individual needs and preferences of each person. If you only have 1-1.5 days in Milan, you can just visit Duomo square (Cathedral Square) and the shopping district of Quadrilatero d’Oro and then go to Lake Como is fit. The Cathedral is located right next to the Quadrilatero d’Oro.
Milan blog: The trip cost
- Hotel: €60/2 nights (shared)
- Meals: €35/1 day
- Traveling: €4.5 on the first day. €14 for round trip ticket to Lake Como
- Cathedral ticket: €25
The average cost for mid-range trip to Milan is about €170/2 days.
Milan travel blog: Some useful tips you need to know before you go
- IMPORTANT: Italy is one of the 3 countries with the highest rate of pickpocketing in Europe. Usually caused by black or Muslim immigrants. Be careful with money and personal papers.
- You should buy a skip the line ticket if you intend to visit some attractions with crowded visitor such as Duomo, waiting in line usually too long.
- If someone asks for help, it’s best to say you don’t know. Pickpocketers are everywhere in Italy.
- Renting a room near stations will be cheaper than near Cathedral square. You should rent a room near stations and then buy a 1-day ticket to travel for convenience and save money. You buy tickets at the grocery stores under the stations.
- To save money you can drink water at public fountains, it’s very clear and clean.
- You don’t need to tip the staff like some other countries: France, USA, ..
- On the first Sunday of each month, museums are open to the public for free.
- Many shops and museums will be closed during August, the hottest month of the year. Plan your trip smoothly.
- I see many tourists often skip Milan when traveling to Italy, but for my personal experience, Milan is very beautiful and worth going there.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Milan you can refer to
- Shared Milan-Malpensa Airport Transfers (MXP) for Milan by Terravision
- Shared Orio al Serio International Airport Transfers (BGY) for Milan by Terravision
- Milan Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
- San Siro Stadium Skip-the-Line Admission Ticket in Milan
- Duomo Cathedral Ticket in Milan
- Duomo di Milano Guided Tour with Fast-Track Entry
- Genoa and Portofino Guided Day Trip from Milan
- Venice Guided Day Trip from Milan
- Cinque Terre Guided Day Trip from Milan