The Ultimate Travel Guide to Milan, Italy
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Milan, Italy’s second largest city, is considered the world’s capital of fashion and design. The numbers are impressive: 12.000 fashion companies, 800 showrooms, and 6000 sales outlets in Milan alone. In a world full of designer label fakes, here you’ll find the ‘real thing’ such as Gucci. Versace or Valentino. Maybe your budget stretches to a little original something, it will be a great souvenir of your visit to Milan and last you a lifetime.
Design doesn’t only refer to architecture but also to furniture. Milan Fashion Week, Fiera Milano and Milan Furniture Fair are world famous events attended by millions of visitors.
Although Emperor Diocletian moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Rome to Milan, not much of ancient Roman sites are left. Instead, you will find a great number of Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Art Noveau buildings to admire. Add to this the modern skyscrapers of the business district of Porta Nuova and centuries of exquisite architecture stretch before your eyes.
Music plays an important role in Milan too. It’s the ambition of every singer, solo pianist, and conductor to perform in the world’s most famous opera house: La Scala. Tickets are expensive, but maybe you can attend a performance.
Luckily, Milan is totally flat so you can explore miles and miles of the city on foot without too much effort. You’ll want to stop at one of many museums and look at at least one work of Leonardo da Vinci or at one of the many art galleries.
And if you are hungry, you’ll find no shortage of restaurants along the way to sample some of the typical Milanese dishes which contrast widely from the rest of Italy with emphasis on rice and potatoes instead of pasta, butter instead of olive oil and meat instead of fish and seafood.
You’ll also notice that the citizens of Milan, men, and women alike, tend to be rather elegant, so try to blend in and you’ll enjoy your stay so much more if you aren’t sticking out as a tourist at first glance.
In this Milan Travel Guide blog, we listed helpful DIY Milan travel tips and advice on how to get there, get around, itinerary, restaurants, best hotels, tour packages and more.
Best time to visit
The continental position of Milan, sheltered to the North by the Alps, makes for warm, sultry summers and cold often foggy winters. The best times to visit with mild and pleasant temperatures are spring and fall.
How to get there
Milan has three airports, Linate, the oldest, Malpensa and Oria al Serio. Malpensa is the most international, connected to the city by the Malpensa Express. Oria al Serio mostly serves the low-cost air traffic to Milan.
Milan is a city which invites to explore on foot. If you get tired though, you have a choice of 4 Metro Lines and an extensive tram network with 17 lines or buses.
Places to stay
Milan is famous for her huge number of 5-star hotels. However, there is accommodation for every budget.
Town House Duomo
On the high end is the magnificent Town House Duomo in Via Silvio Pellico 2.
As the name implies, this 5-star luxury hotel, located in a historical building, is right next door to the awe-inspiring Milan cathedral. You can’t be more centric than this, footsteps from La Scala and other major sites.
Rooms come with all amenities, wifi, and breakfast and reception will be pleased to arrange any walking tours for you.
Somewhat cheaper but still great is the 3-star Hotel Fenice in Corso Buenos Aires 2.
This modern hotel close to the Porta Venezia Metro stop also includes breakfast, wif, ac and ample bathrooms. Ideally located for shopping and sightseeing.
For the lower budget, you might want to opt for the rather old-fashioned Hotel London in Via Rovello 3.
It’s a 2-star hotel with round the clock reception, wifi and ac in all rooms. The rooms are very clean but simple and all major sites are again, close by. So are metro stations to take you to other districts.
Also Read: Best Hotels in Milan
Best places to eat
As we have said before, Milan cuisine differs a lot from the rest of Italy and you might want to sample typical dishes like Piccata Milanese and Ossobuco.
Trattoria Trippa in Via Giorgio Vasan 1 fits the bill perfectly. Casual and cozy the menu varies daily according to the freshest products available.
Simplicity and refinement are the keywords for Osteria Conchetto in Via Conchetto 8.
Your best and most typical Milanese dishes are on offer in a welcoming restaurant.
Bele Ristorante in Via Angelo Carlo Fumagalli 3 specializes in two other Milan favorites: Gnocchi and risottos. Again the emphasis is on fresh products and a variety of meat dishes.
No need to despair if you don’t eat meat. A great vegetarian option, at reasonable prices, is Universo Vegano in Via Solferino 41.
You can have fast food and pizza too.
Things to do and see
In former times, Milan was crossed by a lot of canals which connected the city to the Lakes of the north and the river Po. Today, most of them are covered and you can walk on top of them without realizing what you are stepping on. Therefore, visit the Navigli district of Milan where there are still some open canals flowing quietly along.
Milan and Leonardo da Vinci are closely connected. The Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci in a 16th-century monastery contains an amazing exhibition of all the inventions this multi-talented genius made.
Sforza Castle, originally built in 1358 was destroyed and rebuilt many times. It’s most famous for housing the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci – yes, him again during the Renaissance period. The castle features a total of seven museums, among them the Museum of Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture.
Especially if you choose the Town House Duomo as your hotel, you must start your Milan sightseeing with a visit to the world’s third largest cathedral and the largest in the Gothic style. It took from 1386 to 1577 to finish the vast church, a marvel to look at inside and out.
Nearby is Milan’s most famous ‘shopping mall’: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Not only will you be dazzled by the designer shops but also by the light coming from the stained glass roof, the mosaic floors, and the seemingly weightless architecture.
Even if you don’t have the time to see a performance at La Scala, you should visit the famous opera house with a guided tour.
After all the museums, castles, art galleries etc, you might want a breath of fresh air. No better place to do so than Milan’s ‘green lung’: Parco Sempione. Relax and walk around the massive Arch of Peace.
If you are interested in modern day architecture make your way to Porto Nuevo and the towering skyscrapers. Not for nothing is Milan considered the capital of design.
Also Read: Best Things to do in Milan
Best places to shop
Of course, number 1 is the Gallerias Vittorio Emanuele, but there are other options too. For instance, the square formed by these four streets: Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’ Andrea and Via Manzoni. Or a shopping mall old style: Piazza Portello.
Currency, language etc
The local currency is the EURO. Credit cards are accepted everywhere, but as always some cash for tips and minor purchases or tickets are a good idea.
Language is Italian but due to the many visitors and Milan’s international events, English is widely spoken.
Wifi is available in all hotels and many restaurants as well as throughout the city center.
Milan is definitely a city for sightseeing and shopping. If you happen to be a Leonardo da Vinci fan, this is the place to see his work and environment up close and to be inspired by a genius.
Da Vinci Guided Walking Tour with Fast Track Entry to The Last Supper
Explore Milan through the eyes of one of the world’s most celebrated painters with a guided tour of Da Vinci’s work scattered throughout the beautiful city.
Milan is the city that you will always love, and it always loves you back.
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