Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Welcome to our two-day experience of Milan! Milan is the well-known North Italian city, famous for fashion and style. We spent some time here on our warm up trip across Europe coming up in July 2019.
When to go?
The best time to visit Milan is either April to May, or September to October. This allows you to avoid the intense tourism season when you will be surrounded by people, and the peak heat seasons in summer. It’s also a cheaper time to visit - as during the peak seasons Milan can be a more expensive place to visit.
Getting around in Milan is extremely easy. Milan has excellent transport links which make is a great place to explore using public transport. There is a regular and well organised bus transport links and the metro system (called the ATM) which is relatively simple and inexpensive to use. Having used the bus service – I can tell you that it is easy to catch a bus too and from the airport if you don’t want to hire a car or a taxi.
At the time of writing, the tickets and fares for public transport in Milan was 1.50 € for a single journey and is valid for 90 minutes. A 10-card (carnet) costs 13.80 € for a 90 min ride.
So without further ado, below you’ll find a guide to the best locations in Milan to prepare you for your next trip. Enjoy!
Duomo di Milano
In a glorious pink marble can be found Milan’s extraordinary Gothic Cathedral over 600 years old. It has 135 spires and 3400 statues in exquisite detail and an interior which is impressive – containing the largest stained glass windows in Christendom.
Getting there: Duomo Di Milano is one of the top sights in Milan located just outside of the centre of Milan. You can get there from Milan Central station by subway or bus. The journey takes about 15-20 minutes and should cost you no more than 2 euros.
Entrance fee: There is no charge to visit the square and entrance to the cathedral is free. You can buy additional tickets to access Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum
Best time to go: To be honest with you this area of Milan can get pretty busy later in the day. If you want to visit the Cathedral then you are looking at an early start. Duomo is open between 8am-7pm, roof terraces 9am-7pm, so the early you go the better.
Instagram tip: The square is full of visitors which makes taking photos difficult – hence going early morning is advisable. You can get some incredible shots of the Cathedral from the main square (often with quite a number of pigeons waddling about) and also just outside the Museum.
Do not be fooled by the “friendly gentlemen” who want to sell you little cotton bracelets, it’s a con and stay away from them.
Museo Del Novecentro
The Museo del Novecentro is a short hop away from Duomo. It is a grand museum containing over 400 different pieces of artwork from the twentieth century.
Getting there: The Museo del Novecentro is located inside the Palazzo dell'Arengario in Piazza del Duomo. It is very easy to find and if you ask for directions from Duomo you will pretty much be a short walk away. Travel by SUBWAY Yellow (M3) and red (M1) lines, stop Duomo. By CITY STREETCAR/BUS 2, 3, 12, 14, 16, 24, 27 lines, stop Duomo
15, 23 lines, stop P.zza Fontana; 54 line, stop P.zza Diaz
Entrance fee: none
Best time to go: The Museum is somewhere you can visit pretty much anytime at your leisure. It’s open 7 days a week from 9:30 (except 14:30 on Mondays) to 19:30 (and closes later at 22:30 on Thursdays and Saturdays)
Instagram tip: In good lighting standing outside the Museo from a distance creates opportunity for a great Instagram shot although there are one or two street lights to accommodate with the shot. If you are willing to get up early in the morning (7 or 8am) then you can get a fantastic unobstructed view of the giant staircase and veranda outside.
Italy is famous for ice cream (Gellato) and so there is plenty of opportunity to taste some of the great selections on offer. I'd personally like to recommend sampling the ice cream which can be found at the Gelato stand in the Galleria Vittorio (see below) with a wide selection of flavours. There is often quite a gathering of people queuing up (which I think is a good sign). A little pricey but well worth it.
Getting there: by Galleria Vittorio (see above)
Instagram tip: focus on food with the galleria as the background
The Galleria Vittorio is the Grand shopping centre of Milan. Nicknamed “Milan’s drawing room” you can find a number of different fashion outlets and boutique shops under a beautiful iron-glass, octagon domed roof. There are a number of mosaics and the famous “Turin Coat of Arms”. The Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II the first king of Italy and it is the oldest active shopping Mall in Italy.
Getting there: The Galleria Vittorio is easy to find and is within walking distance of Duomo. It can be found just of Piazza Di Duomo.
Entrance fee: none
Best time to go: The galleria itself is accessible all hours.
Instagram tip: If you are puzzled by a number of people standing in front of the bull statue and spinning around, here’s the reason – ItalianTradition dictates that if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull this will bring good luck. So if you want to join the crowd you can take a picture on this famous landmark mid spin. It can get busy with quite a crowd gathering, so again go early unless you are willing to wait.
Standing in the centre of the Galleria also gives you a dramatic shot of the whole grand corridor of the place and the classical domed iron-glass roof.
Located in the business district of Milan the Bosco Verticale is a pair of twin towers containing more than 900 trees within the structure. It was designed by Stefano Boeri and won the International Highrise Awards. These are residential towers and so not open to the public, so you won’t be able to go inside– but the best view is from the park below.
Getting there: The towers are located in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, near Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station. They are not too difficult to find and the towers are between Via Gaetano de Castillia and Via Federico Confalonieri.
Entrance fee: none
Best time to go: If you want to visit the Towers, there isn’t really any required “best time to go” as although a tourist location there is no fee and no entrance fee.
The best time to go for an Instagram shot would really be based on the weather and good lighting. Best to go with a cloudless sky for a great picture of the towers..
The Naviglio Grande is a famous canal found in up and coming area of Milan. There are lots of small shops along the banks of the canal alongside a number of relatively inexpensive restaurants. It’s quite an artistic and bohemian neighbourhood, with lots of little art shops and galleries scattered across the area.
Getting there: You can walk to this area but it’s quite a long walk! You area best catching the number 2 or 3 tram, or alternatively the number 94 bus. There is a direct bus departing from colonne di s. lorenzo and arriving at s. agostino m2. Services depart every 10 minutes and operate every day.
Entrance fee: none
Best time to go: Naviglio is a great place to go mid day if you fancy sampling some tasty cuisine, a few drinks. Alternatively late in the evening is a great time when the place comes alive with night life and the blaze of lights and clink of wine glasses.
Instagram tip: The Naviglio Grande is particularly photogenic at night when the lights from the bars and restaurants shimmer across the relatively calm surface. There is a small bridge which joins the two banks flanking the canal and this is a great spot to take a selfie or a view of the canal itself.
Shopping and walking around streets
There are plenty of shops in Milan but some of the main fashion and designer stores can be found in the Galleria Vittorio (see above). Outside of the “peak seasons” Milan is a relatively calm and settled city, with a relaxed atmosphere for shopping. There are some surprises in store as well, as it’s perfectly possible to get some pretty cool designer gear inexpensively.
Instagram tip: If you want to take a selfie of yourself outside some of the main designer stores, then there is plenty of opportunity. The business district of Milan near the Bosco Verticale also has some impressive modern buildings and shops.
Street food in Milan is similar prices to the UK and you can find all of the major fast food restaurants that you’d come to expect in a cosmopolitan world.
Getting there: main streets in the city
Entrance fee: none
Best time to go: Try to avoid trying to get something to eat between 2 and 3pm in the afternoon as you are likely to struggle to find anywhere to sit and lengthy queues of students who are also looking for a bite to eat.
Instagram tip: focus on food with a blurr background is great for food photgraphy
Milan is an interesting and fairly ancient traditional Italian city. There is plenty to see and do within a couple of days, and some great places to shop and sample some Italian Gelatto! Milan is just one of those cities that you have to put onto your bucket list to say you have been there. Milan was quite surprising – I was expecting Milan to be an ultra-modern city with skyrise buildings and a London like atmosphere. Milan isn’t like that – it’s a traditional Italian city with a very relaxed and laid-back feel. It’s a good place to go for 2-3 day city break to Europe.