Milan Travel Guide & Tips: Things To Know Before Visiting Milan, Italy

Milan Unveiled: Your Passport to Fashion, Culture, and Cuisine
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been reviewed and fact-checked. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. To provide the highest quality content, portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools for help with spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated February 23, 2024
Key Takeaways In Our Guide For Traveling to Milan:
  • When choosing accommodation in Milan, stay near the Duomo or the central train station for convenience and proximity to major attractions.
  • Book tickets to see Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Last Supper painting months in advance since availability is limited.
  • Avoid visiting during Milan's Fashion Week in September or the Salone Del Mobile furniture fair in April due to crowds and high prices.

Are you looking for a travel guide or planning a trip to Italy and want to make the best of your tour of Milan? Today, we’ll give you some essential travel tips to know before you go to make your visit to Milan even more special.

As one of the world’s major fashion capitals, Milan offers fantastic shopping, dining, museums, and architecture. But it can also be an overwhelming city for first-time visitors. That’s why having a game plan is key to making the most of your Milan vacation.

Best Places to Stay in Milan

Before we get into the tips, let here are some of the best places to stay in Milan based on our experience. Hope this helps.

AreaNotable HotelsHighlights
Centro StoricoPark Hyatt Milano, Room Mate GiuliaConvenience, historical landmarks, vibrant atmosphere, proximity to major attractions
BreraBulgari Hotel Milano, Hotel Mercure Milano CentroPosh neighborhood, luxury hotels, pedestrian-friendly, trendy boutiques, vibrant nightlife
Ticinese / San VittoreAethos Milan (The Yard), Hotel Milano NavigliTrendy area, abundance of authentic Italian restaurants and bars, easy accessibility, proximity to major sights
Navigli / Porta GenovaArt Hotel Navigli, MAG cafeCanal area with dining and drinking options, lively atmosphere, picturesque views
Porta RomanaGrand Visconti Palace, Hotel FiveLaid-back residential area, peaceful atmosphere, proximity to parks and hospitals
Stazione CentraleExcelsior Hotel Gallia, Antares Hotel RubensConvenient for travelers using train/metro, various accommodation options, proximity to transport
Fiera & San SiroMeliá Milano, Best Western Hotel MajorResidential area, family-friendly, public parks, good transport connections

Things To Know Before Visiting Milan

Now, let’s learn what you need to know before travelling to Italy’s fashion and financial capital, Milan. 

Piazza Duomo Milan

Fly into Milan Linate or Malpensa Airport

Milan is served by two airports: Linate and Malpensa. Linate handles mostly domestic and intra-Europe flights and it is close to Milan’s city center. It’s only about a 15-20 minute drive or train ride into downtown.

Malpensa Airport is bigger and handles many global routes and low cost flights. But it’s situated nearly an hour outside central Milan. Upon arrival, you can take a train, bus, or taxi into the city proper. We recommend flying into Linate if possible since it maximizes your time in this fabulous city!

Take the High-Speed Train from Other Italian Cities

One easy and scenic way to reach Milan is by high-speed rail. Modern Frecciarossa and Italo trains take passengers from Rome to Milan in only 3 hours. You can also take high-speed trains from Venice, Florence, Naples, and Turin in 2-5 hours, depending on where you’re coming from.

Frecciarossa train to Milan

We always try to travel by train in Italy when we can. It’s much more comfortable and environmentally friendly. Plus, you get to admire gorgeous countryside views out the window. We also do not recommend driving in Milan due to traffic and the lack of parking spaces. 

Spend at Least 2 Full Days Exploring

There are so many things to do in Milan as well as attractions to see, such as world-class shopping, the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the La Scala opera house, the Sforzesco Castle, and the Gothic Duomo Cathedral. You can take a stroll to Parco Sempione or throughout the city. Milan is a great city, you’ll want ample time to experience all that it has to offer.

La Scala Opera House in Milan

It’s a very walkable city but still quite large and spread out. At the absolute minimum, we’d recommend budgeting two full days to see the top sights. If you can spare three days, that would allow you a more relaxed pace or even a side trip to charming Lake Como. Trust me, you won’t run out of great things to eat, see, and do here!

Stay Near the Duomo or Stazione Centrale

When choosing Milan accommodation, an inner city location is best to minimize travel time to key sights, however, it’s pricier. More affordable lodging options abound near Stazione Centrale or anywhere along the vital Red M1 or Yellow M2 metro lines, providing the handiest Duomo access.

red line metro in Milan

The new Blue M4 also makes stops within reasonable proximity. With only a few days to experience Milan’s treasures, lengthy commutes waste precious hours better spent immersed in culture and cuisine. 

Though budget dictates hotel possibilities, proximity to those key metro routes ensures you keep commute frustration minimal and sightseeing efficiency maximal. Treat the metro map as your accommodation holy grail for an ideal stay.

Use the Metro System to Get Around or For Your Day Trips

Navigating Milan is a breeze thanks to its efficient Metro system. It consists of five color-coded lines that can take you to every must-see spot. At only €2 per ride, it’s also a super affordable way to get around.

Or you can get a 24-hour pass for €7.60 or a €13 ticket for a 3-day pass, which allows unlimited trips. You can buy these tickets at metro stations using the automatic machines or newsstands that sell tickets. 

Milan Metro buying the ticket

We used the Metro constantly while exploring Milan and found it clean, easy to navigate, and reliable. Plus, it helped us avoid traffic above ground. You can also download an app that gives you all the information about the Milan Metro system. 

Milan Metro

Be sure to take the Metro when sightseeing, and you’ll get everywhere you want to go!

Experience Riding Trams

For a taste of old Milan, ride the historical tram to see the city streets in vintage style. Some companies have refurbished 1930s trams where you can watch the changing face of Milan glide over a delicious multi-course meal paired with Italian wines.

Historic tram in Milan

As you relax inside the retro carriage, it’s a unique vantage point to soak up iconic sights and daily local scenes. The tram gently shuttles you through the city’s past and present charms.

Visit in Spring or Fall – Skip August

Milan gets hot and extremely humid in the summer months, and August can be brutal, with temperatures frequently topping 86+ degrees Fahrenheit or 30° Celsius. The city basically shuts down in August as locals flee to beach vacations.

We always recommend visiting in spring or fall when the weather is far milder and more comfortable for long sightseeing days. September and October have pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. 

December is also a wonderful time to visit Milan despite the chilly weather (usually around 5-7° C or  44-41° F during the day and 1-2° C or 33-35° F at night. The city is beautifully decorated for Christmas, and holiday shopping here is an exceptional experience.

Milan at Christmas

Book Tickets to The Last Supper Months in Advance

This tip to book tickets in advance before visiting attractions is recommended not only for Milan but most places in Italy to save precious time queueing. Doing so means you skip lines and avoid the disappointment of long waits at ticket offices only to find the attraction you want is sold out–a common fate when demand exceeds limited capacity, like for Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco.

Visiting the Last Supper in Milan

Milan’s Cenacolo only allows few daily visitors to protect the masterpiece, thus tickets sell out weeks in advance. If you want to see Da Vinci’s incredible fresco, we strongly advise buying your tickets immediately, as this practice guarantees both entry and the best experience.

Time Your Visit to Avoid Fashion Week and Salone del Mobile

You probably know that Milan is one of the fashion and design capitals of the world. For this reason, there are two main events that happen in Milan that draw thousands of visitors to the city every year. 

One is Fashion Week, which is usually in mid-September, and the other one is the Salone del Mobile or Furniture Fair, which is usually around mid-April.

These two events can be a lot of fun to attend, but they are also the busiest times in the cities, and during these events, hotels are booked solid for months. Also, hotel prices skyrocketed during these events.

On top of that, during those events, it is really difficult to find tables at restaurants, stores are packed, taxis are difficult to find, and so on. You get the picture!

Indulge in Some of The Local Specialty

Like anywhere in Italy, Milan has fantastic culinary treats visitors should sample, most famously the fragrant, saffron-infused Risotto alla Milanese, often served with tender, braised Veal Ossobuco shanks for a perfect pairing.

Be sure to also try the signature Cotoletta Milanese veal schnitzel, usually served on the bone per tradition. And no trip to Milan is complete without enjoying a vivid red Campari aperitif, invented in the city in 1860 and still made today with a secret recipe.

Cotoletta alla Milanese

Ordering Cappuccino After Lunch is a No

Italians firmly believe milk after a morning coffee upsets digestion. So, while a frothy cappuccino may tempt your post-lunch sweet tooth, this remains an enduring cultural taboo.

Drinking Cappuccino in Milan is a must in any travel guide

Instead, opt for a macchiato or espresso to blend in with locals. The late morning cut-off time is no secret rule either–expect to get some eyes looking if you get caught cappuccino-handed past 11 am. 

Italians Are Serious About Latte 

Indeed, Italians are serious about their latte–but not in the way you may expect. Don’t make the mistake of ordering a “latte” at a coffee bar unless you literally want a glass of milk. For an espresso-based drink with milk, request a “cappuccino” for thick foamed milk or a “caffé latte” for more steamed milk than foam. 

Other options include “caffé macchiato” featuring a dollop of frothy milk or a “latte macchiato” spotlighting hot milk over just a splash of coffee. Precision is key when ordering, as Italians zealously guard their classification of coffee drinks. 

Don’t Miss an Aperitivo

Milan’s bustling nightlife is fueled by the time-honored tradition of aperitivo – complementing cocktails or wines with a smorgasbord of free nibbles to nosh before dinner… or instead. The spread sets the stage for long, happy hours hopping bars citywide, though the Navigli district stakes its claim as aperitivo central brimming with options. 

Aperitivo in Milan

Milan Travel FAQs

Why is Milan the fashion capital of the world?

Milan is the world’s fashion capital because it has the ideal platforms to promote Italian fashion globally. Milan enables Italian designers to express creativity and identity through clothing to a worldwide audience.

How do you go to a Milan fashion show?

Milan fashion shows are by invitation only for industry insiders, VIPs, and wealthy clients.

What should I wear in Milan?

Versatile items like oversized blazers, leather jackets, and leather shirt jackets elevate any outfit in Milan.

What is so special about Milan?

Milan is famous for Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, the Gothic Duomo Cathedral, and its art and architecture.

What brands to buy in Milan?

When in Milan, shop for luxury “Made in Italy” fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Fendi, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, and Gucci.

Have an Amazing Trip to Milan!

Well, those are our top insider tips for an incredible visit to Milan, Italy’s fashionable Northern capital! From flying into indulging in risotto, we hope you found my advice helpful for planning your own Italian getaway.

Let us know if you have any other questions. I have so much more to share about hotels, side trips, saving money, and lesser-known local gems to uncover. For now, saluti da Milano!