What to do in Milan?

As true locals, we wanted to share with you the most interesting points of interest, as well as the best places to eat and drink.

A lot of friends ask us: “What can I do in Milano?”

Well, the answer is not that easy. We usually reply back with another question: “What is the thing you love the most? Is it art? Archaeology? Or is it history? Or maybe sport? What about nature? Or are you a foodie?”.
Milano might not have the breathtaking monuments of Rome and Venice, but it has so much to offer under every other point of view that we could easily tailor an itinerary on each and every person and we are pretty sure that, at the end of the day, the awe for this town will be guaranteed!

What to see in Milano

We love Milano and this is the reason why we crafted the following 10 itineraries. We want you to discover and enjoy at its best this many-sided town.

The map at the beginning of the article shows the coloured areas we divided the town into. In every area, we pointed out the most interesting things to do and try. We also wrote 10 posts to better explore each itinerary and every posts include also a map of the area and our suggestions.

Our 10 itineraries about Milano

Click below to read the posts:

Institutions and jet set: the area around Duomo

Itinerario tra Duomo e Brera, passando per San Babila
CLICK HERE TO READ

Antique history of Milano: via Torino and the surroundings

Itinerary about Via Torino and its surroundings
CLICK HERE TO READ

Milan on the water: the Navigli area

Itinerary about the Navigli area
CLICK HERE TO READ

Museums and nobility: around Sant’Agostino

Itinerary about San Vittore Area
CLICK HERE TO READ

Integration in the heart of tradition: Sempione and Chinatown

Itinerary about Sempione area
CLICK HERE TO READ

The hipsteric future: Isola and Garibaldi

Itinerary about Isola district
CLICK HERE TO READ

Liberty villas and LGBT pride in Porta Venezia

Itinerary about Porta Venezia
CLICK HERE TO READ

La vie boheme of Porta Romana district

Itinerary about Porta Romana district in Milano
CLICK HERE TO READ

Hamlets and sports from Baggio to San Siro

Itinerary about Baggio and San Siro areas in Milano
CLICK HERE TO READ

The reign of industrial arecheology: from NOLO to Lambrate

Itinerary about NOLO and Lambrate in Milano
CLICK HERE TO READ

How to organize your trip to Milan::

When to go to Milano?

The weather

Uno dei palazzi che si affacciano su Piazza Missori a Milano
Piazza Missori view

Milano is pretty hot in summer (about 35°) and quite cold in winter (about 0°) so the best months to visit this town are March, April, May, June and September. December is a very nice time to visit, too: not only you will find Christmas decorations all around, but you can experience some nice traditional events that we will list in the following paragraphs.

The worst months are November, which tends to be really rainy and greyish, and August when almost every local leaves Milan for the summer holidays, most of the restaurants are closed, only tourists are around and the town can be freaking hot!

The events

In Milan the biggest problem you will have is to choose among literally hundreds of events. This is the part of the post where we help you spot the big events in town to make it easier for you to plan your visit according to your tastes.

The most relevant events in Milano, organized by month, are:

  • JANUARY: in January the town slowly wakes up after the Christmas holidays. The most interesting event for art lovers is the Affordable Art Fair, a contemporary art fair devoted to works which price tag is lower than 6000 €.
  • FEBRUARY: it is Women’s Fashion week time!
  • MARCH: our favourite events are LiveWine and MuseoCity. Live Wine is a wine festival organized inside one of the most gorgeous event locations in town (Palazzo del Ghiaccio and Frigoriferi Milanesi), where 100 wineries let you taste their amazing wines. It is a great opportunity to get to know the Italian wine culture. During Museo City the museums have special events, special openings and special prices for about one week.
  • APRIL: Salone del Mobile (in 2019 it took place between the 9th and the 14th April) and the Fuori Salone invades town! Because of the high number of people arriving in town for this event, the price of short rents and hotel usually is pretty high at this time of the year
  • MAY: Piano City is one of the most interesting events in town. It started with a low profile a few years ago, and now it spread all around the city. It is a festival devoted to music, with a focus pianoforte. The music invades town for one day and night, and the parks and villas of Milan become for one day a stage for young and famous piano players.
  • GIUGNO: Milanesiana, LettiDiNotte, Milan Latin Festival are few of the cultural events in town in the lively month of June. Our favourite is for sure Letti di Notte, when the bookstores stay open at night for reading sleepovers and special events.
  • LUGLIO e AGOSTO: Estate Sforzesca takes place in the Sempione park, around Castello Sforzesco. Civic museums are usually open for free during these months.
  • SETTEMBRE: September Women’s Fashion week is in town! One of the most thrilling events – Milano Film Festival – takes place during this month inside Parco Sempione and the nearby Teatro Piccolo di Milano; it is a short film festival which is animated by many concerts and free short movie screenings. Also, MiTo and Cascine Aperte take place during this month. We strongly suggest considering participating to Cascine Aperte, to discover the more rural side of Milano.
  • OTTOBRE: Milanoltre is an interesting contemporary dance festival.
  • NOVEMBRE: Book City is very similar to Piano City, but the focus here is on books.
  • DICEMBRE: this month is packed with events. Workers in town can enjoy the traditional “ponte” (long weekend) thanks to the festive days devoted to Sant’Ambrogio (Patron of Milano) on the 7th December and the Immacolata on the 8th December. During these days takes place the traditional market Oh Bej! Oh Bej!, L’artigiano in fiera and the Prima della Scala di Milano (the first show). For natural wine lovers, we suggest La Terra Trema. If you want to try many samples of the traditional milanese Christmas cake? Head to Re Panettone.

Moreover, Civic Museums are open for free every month on the first Sunday for the “Domeniche al Museo” and there are some additional cultural events worth checking such as the European days of Heritage (Giornate europee del Patrimonio) and the FAI days (Giornate FAI) during which some very exclusive villas and private museums stay open to visits.

If you love vintage we suggest you keep an eye on the East Market website; East Market is a monthly fair devoted to handmade and vintage taking place in the Mecenate district.

L'abside del duomo di Milano in una giornata di primavera
Behind Piazza del Duomo in Milan

How to get to Milano and getting around

Airports

Milano has two airports:

  • Milano Malpensa International Airport (IATA: MXP, ICAO: LIMC): it is the second biggest airport in Italy in terms of passengers and it is located near Varese, in Somma Lombardo. It takes between 30 minutes and an hour to get from the airport to the center of Milano. You can either take the Malpensa Express Train heading to Milano Cadorna, Milano Centrale o Milano Porta Garibaldi stations (12 €, 30 mins) or any of the shuttle buses (Malpensa Shuttle, Autostradale or Terravision) heading to Milano Centrale or Fiera Milano city (10 €, 45 mins). Please, remember to take note of the Terminal you are flying from. Both trains and buses make two stops, since the Terminals are far and it is important to know where to get off.
  • Milano Linate National Airoport (IATA: LIN, ICAO: LIML): it is very near to Milano city centre. To get to the city centre it is very easy: it’s enough to take the ATM public bus number 73 (1,50 €, 20 mins) that heads to San Babila, which is very near to Duomo and it is located on the M1 Metro Line (the red one).

There is a third airport very close to Milano, which is served mainly by the low cost company Ryanair:

  • Bergamo Orio al Serio (IATA: BGY, ICAO: LIME): like Malpensa this airport is about 45/50 minutes from Milano city centre and it should cost maximum 10 €. To reach this airport there are buses leaving Milano mainly from the Central Station. Head to this link to find out the bus campanies available, the timetables and the current prices.

Public Transports

The public transports company in Milano is called ATM and it includes the Metro network, the buses, streetcars and the trolley buses. It is a quite efficient network, so you might not need to use any other mean of transportation while getting around in the centre of Milano. To understand how to get from point A to point B you can check on the ATM website or directly on Google Maps, which in Milano integrates and shows the public transports network suggesting the best combinations to get around town.

In Milan, there are currently 4 Metro lines: M1 (red), M2 (green), M3 (yellow) and M5 (lilac). With the same ticket as the Metro, it is possible to take also the suburban trains (coloured in blue in the map above) and all the overground public transports available. The only thing you can’t do with the 90 minutes long regular ticket (1,50 €) is going outside the municipality (for example, to Sesto San Giovanni) and take the same metro line once you checked out from the ticket barrier. The Metro is open from 5:40 to 00:30 and when the service stops there are night substitute lines running overground.

The rest of the public transports has timetables that you can read on the website, but it is important to remember that the 90/91 circular lines run 24/7. We suggest you take a ride on one of the early 20th century streetcars (yes, they are the same running in San Francisco) that you will see in the city centre: a ride on this streetcars it is a nice way to sightsee and mingle with the locals for a while. We especially suggest the line number 1 that starts its ride from Cairoli on the M1 red line of the Metro, since it is the one that crosses the most landmarks on its way.

As already stated, the single urban ticket lasts 90′ and costs 1,50 €. If you think that you will take more than 3 rides during the next 24 hours it is wise to buy a 24hs ticket since you will be able to take as many metro, suburban trains, buses, trolley cars and streetcars as you want for just 4,50 €.

You can buy the tickets in different ways:

  • at the automatic ticket machines that you find inside the Metro stations
  • inside some bars and tobacco shop
  • with an SMS from your phone (it is possible to buy both the single and the daily ticket).
  • almost in every Metro station, there is at least one ticket barrier where you can pay your ride directly with your contactless credit or debit card in a swipe. Remember to check out and that if you buy more than three tickets in a day the system will turn the rides in a 24 hrs ticket to help you save. Very nice feature isn’t it?!

Car and Bike Sharing

Milano is the smartest town in Italy and the availability of a wide range of car and bike sharing apps is one of the proofs. Just remember that you will need to register to use them, so make some research in advance if you plan to use them. There are different car sharing options: ShareNow (Car2go + DriveNow), Enjoy, Share’ngo, Evai, Ubeequo and Refeel. For what concerns bikes you can find: BikeMi, Mobike and Ofo.

Taxi

To be honest, we don’t like taxis. Nowhere.

In case you need to take one, be aware: they are expensive. Always check that the meter is on ‘cos some taxi drivers will try to cheat you when they will see you are foreigners. If you need to pay with a credit card, always ask in advance. Most of the tai drivers don’t like to let customers pay with the card and they pretend they don’t have the POS on the car (even though it is kind of compulsory in Italy). To avoid bad experiences it’s always better to use the app MyTaxi: this app let you book the taxi to the address you need knowing in advance how much you will pay the ride and let you pay with your credit card through the app itself for a stress free ride. Remember that Uber is not legal in Italy. You can still use the Uber app if you have it but in Milan you will only find UBER black, which is more expensive than regular white taxis.

What to eat in Milano

Interno della Balera dell'Ortica a Milano
La Balera dell’Ortica

If you can’t find it in Milan, you very likely can’t find it anywhere else in Italy. We are talking about restaurants, of course. Milan is a town for foodies!

Milan might not have the world famous food tradition of towns like Rome or Naples, but it has the widest choice of ethnic, fusion, vegetarian, and Italian cuisine restaurants in Italy. Milan can be defined as a multicultural town thanks to the immigrational flows it was affected in the past: people from all over Italy, from China, South America and many countries in the world moved here to take advantage of the work opportunities offered from this town; this melting pot made possible the flourishing of a wide choice of restaurants and an interesting mix.

Here you are some posts we wrote in english to share our favourite restaurants, cafes and bars:

TOP WINE BAR IN MILAN

TOP DRINK BAR IN MILAN

TOP BREAKFAST IN MILAN

TOP PIZZA IN MILAN

BEST BREAKFAST IN MILAN: PAVE’

Milano: bookstores

Gogol and Company è una delle migliori librerie di Milano
Gogol and Company, one of our favorite bookstore in Milano

In Milan culture is a very important part of the daily life of many people: either because they work in the sector, or simply as consumers of cultural products.

What we are very proud of in Milan is the amount of amazing independent bookstores surviving to the Amazon era. Sometimes they are a combination of different worlds: there are coworking/bookstores and cafe/bookstores, for examples. Most of them organize many book-related events, or even concerts sometimes.

That’s why we dedicated a whole post to the best bookstores that you should explore in town. Here is the link: TOP BOOKSTORES IN MILAN

Milano: where to sleep

If you are planning to visit Milan you should know that you have many different options to find a place to sleep.

To book an apartment you can use the short rent giant airbnb.com. It offers accommodations which are slightly cheaper than the hotel booking platform booking.com. On booking.com you will find both hotels/hostels and apartment. Using Airbnb, you will probably spend at least 20 € per person per night, which is an acceptable price for the Italian standard.

During Fuorisalone and Women’s Fashion Weeks you might find that the prices are a little higher due to the high request. If you are a backpacker you will be thrilled by the nice (but sometimes expensive) hostels Milan can offer.

Here you are our favourite ones:

All rights reserved by Ostello Bello_4
Ostello Bello

You can also try to find a host on Couchsurfing, but remember that it will be very hard to find a host during Christmas holidays and August, when those who works and study in Milan move out of town to spend some time with their familes or to travel.

Milano: how much does it cost?

A lot of people will tell you that “Milan is expensive”.

We don’t like to hear that: we think that Milan has a wide offer that caters to each and every tourist’s budget.

For example, the price for public transportation is the same as any other town in Italy (1,50 € for the urban ticket). The ATM public transports can get you literally wherever you want in town. Thanks to the very good infrastructure you can avoid taking taxis, which are quite expensive (the price starts around 10 € for short rides).

You will find double rooms in town starting from 40 € (20 € per person), but the hotels on the luxury side of the spectrum are widely available and if you wish you can splurge as much as you want here.

For what concerns food, the offer in Milan ranges from less than 10 € for a lunch menu, to the Michelin’s double starred restaurants where you can spend 200 euros for a tasting menu. In the middle, there is all the range of possible combinations of quality and price. The average cost of a cafe is 1 € and the average cost of a drink is 8 €. A glass of wine should cost you between 4 and 8 €.

It’s up to you to decide how to allocate your budget! Just be wise, and do some research about the prices before heading inside a restaurant if you care about your finances.

Milano: how long do I need to visit?

Well, it’s up to you!

If you just landed here for the traditional Grand Tour of Europe, Milano will probably not add much to your “Instagram feed”. Our answer, in this case, might be to spend half a day in town to see the usual itinerary “Duomo – Scala Theatre – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – Castello Sforzesco”.

Instead, if you are in town because you are curious to know more about contemporary Italian culture, about tradition and integration, about industrial archaeology, about the way a town can transform in less than 10 years or about one of the most intriguing food and design scenes in Europe… you could spend a whole year here and not be done at the end of the 365 days, but 3 days (and our itineraries) can be a good starting point.

Now that you know how to enjoy Milano we wish you a nice time in town.

If you have any question, let us know. We will be so happy to help you build your itinerary!