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Things to do in Milan: sights, accommodation, restaurants and many other tips

16 November 2012 Italy, Things to do in 4 comments

Things to do in Milan: visit Piazza Duomo

Milan is part of another Italy …it isn’t the crazy, romantic, careless Italy, the Italy of “La Dolce Vita”. Milan is the working Italy, is the Germanized Italy, the Italy with the highest living standard, but maybe also the least charismatic & sexy part of Italy…and still, if you get passed over the perceptions you will discover a vibrant city, full of life and, even if it cannot compete with Rome’s or Florence’s monuments, you will discover quite a lot of corners that will stay in your souls. It is also the place that gives the head start in international fashion, but one of the capitals of universal football.

I arrived to Milan for the first time in 1994, being attracted by the magnetic golden triplet Gullit – Rijkaard – Van Basten, but also by the Dom-Leonardo da Vinci – fashion triplet. I stayed at a house of an acquaintance of a friend of a neighbor that knew somebody… And I could go on forever.  I stayed at a girl’s place that was working in IT (what an exotic job it was back then in 1994!) at the Milan Court House and was working directly with the famous judge Antonio di Pietro, the famous judge that launched the investigation “Mani pulite” in the political world that led to the disintegration of the major political parties and the disappearance of the First Italian Republic. I was finding an enthusiastic Italy for their new parties that seemed to be cleaner, more honest, more willing to change things – Forza Italia (belonging to the business man Berlusconi, freshly entering the politics), Ulivo or Rifondazione Comunista. What happened next, I believe you already know :).

But let’s leave the Milanese stories for another time and let me get started with the chapter of Milan tips, the capital of Lombardy!

When to go to Milan

During winter time, it is unexpectedly cold for a peninsula known for its mild winter climate, but when it comes to Milan, taking into consideration the closeness to the Alps, the temperature can drop pretty low and the fog is frequent (lots of times if affects the operations on the main airport Malpensa, that is located north, towards the Alps). During summer time, though, the Alps bring a chilly breeze over the economic capital of Italy. Netto, the best time to visit Milan is anytime between spring and autumn. Attention though, in August, the Italian pull down the shades and leave for holidays so you might find a lot of restaurants and smaller shops closed!

How to get to Milan

By plane: Milan has a few airports. There’s the old one, in the town, Linate, used by some Alitalia flights, the biggest airport, Malpensa, north of the town, launched more than a decade ago, and lately, together with the appearance of the low cost companies, the Bergamo airport becomes an important gate of airway entering.

The main classical airline flying into Milan is Alitalia who uses both Malpensa and a lot of Linate, but Ryanair and Easyjet have hubs here – Ryanair in Bergamo, Easyjet in Malpensa. Note – there are plenty of cheap flights to Morocco !

By train: The grande “Centrale” Railway station built in the extravagant Mussolini style is the main crossroad for lots of railways – here the lines from Rome, Florence and South Italy, meet the Trans-alpine rail coming from Switzerland. Venice in East and Genova in West are also pretty well connected. It is pretty hard to avoid Milan when traveling by train through Italy

How to get from the airports to the city of Milan

From Bergamo: there are 45 km between the low cost airport Bergamo Orio al Serio and Milan. There is a bus between the airport and the Bergamo train station that leaves every half of an hour between 6 o’clock in the morning and midnight (price lower than 2 euros, takes about 15 minutes). There are also buses that can transfer you to the center of Milan City (at the Milan Central train station), at Monza, at Milano Fair or even at the Malpensa airport. The tickets are cheaper if bought online (for example, a ticket from Bergamo airport to Stazione Centrale in Milan costs 10 euros bought at once and 5 euros bought online). Just visit the site Orio Transfer.

From Malpensa: the Malpensa Airport is located also at about 45 km away from Milan, but heading north and is not close to any important city. You can get to Milan by the Malpensa Express train (11 euros one way or 12 euros return ticket in the same day). Be aware though that the train will get you to the secondary train station Cadorna from where you can take the subway further on. There are some cheaper bus rides also, like the Malpensa Shuttle , charging 10 euros (one way) that leaves every 20 minutes.

How to travel through Milan

The tourist area is pretty compact and can be very well seen by foot. Still, the access gates of the city are pretty far away from the center, but from the Stazione Centrale (in case you reach by train from another Italian city or by bus from the airports), as well as from Cadorna (in case you end up there by train from the Malpensa airport), you can easily take the subway downtown. Ticket costs 1, 50 euros and a 10 tickets card costs 13, 80 euros. For more offers take a look on the ATM site.

Top 5 tourist objectives in Milan

  1. Duomo, Duomo, Duomo. The Milan Duomo is a wonder! Do not miss to climb up the rooftop for a true gothic symphony. The builders have worked about 800 years at the cathedral and it shows! It is a master piece.
  2. The Last Supper – together with Mona Lisa, it is the most famous piece of art created by Leonardo da Vinci. After the “Da Vinci’s Code” was published, the flow of would-be visitors increased dramatically. I visited the famous fresco in 1994 and then in 2000, back when the entrance was free of charge- you went down to the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church and you entered without problems. Meanwhile, you cannot visit the da Vinci fresco without a previous scheduled appointment – only 25 people can enter at once and they have the right to stay 15 minutes. For bookings go to this link. Attention though, book your ticket a lot of time in advance, even more than 4 months in advance.
  3. The Vittorio Emmanuele Galleries – built around the 19th century after Italy’s unification, they were one of the first commercial galleries in the world and an example to be followed for very many similar buildings (from Florence to Oradea, via Brussels, you will find many galleries inspired by this mall from the 19th century). If a century ago, you could find here only luxurious shops now you can find restaurants (including McDonald’s!) and bookstores… Thanks God, they finally decided to get rid of McDonald’s as of 2013 ! The Galleries connect the Dom’s Square to the famous Milan Opera House – Scala
  4. Window Shopping. Milan dictates fashion at a world wide level, so it is a must to have a fashion experience! If you do not arrive during the Fashion Week, then take a stroll on the streets near Scala (like Via Monte Napoleone) in order to admire the windows of the most famous Italian fashion designers, but not only. He who doesn’t own a store in the area, cannot be called a fashion designer (especially if he is Italian).
  5. Giuseppe Meazza Stadium – football is an essential element in the life of the city and the two local teams are burdened by tens of cups and championships – from the Champions League to the Italian championships. Curiously enough, although they are ruthless competitors, they share the same stadium that is worth visiting!

Although popular all throughout Europe, it seems that Milan is not on the elite list of cities that organize free tours of the city, so, if you want a guide you have to pay up!

Obviously you will find numerous available tours but maybe the most unusual one is to see Milan on a Segway. More than that if you feel the need to learn something new you ca study pole dancing at the Milan Pole Dance Studio. A session for beginners (and male ones too!) is 25 euros! I guess it is fan even if your career plans do not include to become a stripper.

Where to sleep in Milan

Milanis not a cheap city, on the contrary. Because it is not a major tourist city, like Rome, Venice, Florence or Pisa and as the majority of travelers come for business reasons, the hotels that are expensive come first. Still, for more decent hotels at reasonable prices check out the area around the Central Station. I stayed at hotels from the Star Hotel chain that offer good conditions, but cost around 100 euros and at Hotel Canova  where I paid 50 euros offer for a double room.

For hostels, one of the hostels that I read good things about is the Zebra Hostel, with beds from 19 euros (online booking, 24 beds in a room). Another option is Ostello Bello opened not far from the central area by some travelers that claim that they visited more than 200 hostels on 5 continents!

Where to eat in Milan

Milan might be the city of fashion, but Italy is the country of one of the most famous cuisines in the world…practically you can find Italian restaurants at every corner in the world. Obviously, in Milan, it won’t be a problem to find excellent restaurant with prices accordingly. But where can you eat cheaply?

There are some possibilities…In many places you can find take away pizza places. To be honest Milan is the first place where I ate pizza, so to honor this event every time I end up in Milan, I must have a pizza on the go (lots of times at Spizzico). Lots of pubs offer panini (sandwiches) at lower prices at lunch time and in lots of places if you order a beer or a glass of wine, you will receive aperitivo, a collection of snacks that can be pretty filling!

Many trattoria’s and bars offer “Happy hour” with “all you can eat” buffets at prices lower than 10 euros. There are numerous tratorria’s with aperitivo and buffets in the Brera area, not very far from the center or in the direction of the Sforzesco palace (that can be seen with the naked eye from the Piazza del Duomo).  If you order a beer, you can receive a series of substantial snacks complimentary from the house!

In case you have other tips about Milan, hotels, restaurants and what you can see there I would be grateful if you will add them here, as comments.

Sights of Milan:

Things to do in Milan: visit the Dom!

The pride of the city – the Dom!

Things to do in Milan: visit the Dom!

Things to do in Milan: get inside The Dom

Here is the interior …a bit less spectacular than the exterior

Things to do in Milan: stroll The Vittorio Emanuele Galleries

The Vittorio Emanuele Galleries end right in the Square

Things to do in Milan: visit The Vittorio Emanuele Galleries

Through the Galleries

Milan– the fashion capital of Europe

Milan– the fashion capital!

Milan by night

A night image :)

Things to do in Milan: take a train at Stazione Milano Centrale

Stazione Milano Centrale

Bus in front of Bergamo airport

The station in front of the Bergamo airport

Până acum există "4 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. can says:

    Don’t forget Navigli – a tiny canal surrounded by such “happy hour” eating places you’ve mentioned and small shops selling “souvenirs”

  2. teo7724 says:

    On your honeymoon, i would suggest you to take it in a slow and relaxed
    pace. On my honeymoon with my husband, we went to Rome and Florence. We did all the regular sight seeing but it was getting quite tiring after a while. So on one of the days we just spend the day strolling by the parks in Rome, and had a bike tour with one of the locals in Rome. She then suggested us to try out dining with BonAppetour ( http://www.bonappetour.com). They are a website where travelers can book meals with locals who invite travelers for a meal at their home. We loved it! It was fun, relaxed and a perfect end to our honeymoon. BonAppetour also has cooking classes with the locals, which I want to be trying out on our next vacation! Getting messy in the kitchen is actually very romantic!

    • Susanna says:

      Hey teo,

      Thanks for that as there are times restaurants are not opened in italy & in scenarios like this, companies that are like airbnb-for-food helps a lot in this aspect! cheaper alternatives too! Will definitely check out the link!

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