Italy's, and arguably the world's, fashion capital, Milan is a city of beautiful contradictions. Roman relics, ancient basilicas, and a rich textile history mixes with modern architecture and cutting-edge design. In true Italian fashion, the city also celebrates the best produce from Lombardy and Piedmont.
Milan's currency is the Euro (€). €1 = £0.83 / $1.10 (as of 2022).
Top 5 things to see
A European masterpiece dating ack to 1386, the Duomo is the heartbeat of the city, lulling you into its orbit wherever you are in the city. Its plaza throngs with people - and seagulls - at all times of the day; you will be pestered for tourist tat, and from "photographers" to take your picture. Buy a ticket, and head to the top of the Duomo and walk through the majestic maze of spires and staircases, passing the endless gargoyles, and you'll find panoramic views of the city at the very top. Its interior is a breathtaking experience too, Its gothic exterior matches its interior too, leaving you breathless when you first enter.
Tickets start from €5 to enter the cathedral. There are many options to choose from, so best to search on the below link!
Piazza Gae Aulenti
The centre of the city's Porta Nuova regeneration project, this ultra-modern square, named after Italy's most famous female architect, is a stark contrast to the Duomo. Its curves, glass and reflections revolve around a stunning reflection pool that has a joyous atmosphere.
The structures ringing around the area are iconic too; the UniCredit Tower, Italy's largest skyscraper, stands proudly near the famous Bosco Verticale, a residential block dripping with trees and shrubs to make it environmentally friendly. This is all placed near a pretty botanical gardens, perfect to gather your thoughts in with a coffee after the reflections of the glass get too much!
Milan's iconic red-brick castle in the ancient and sophisticated Brera district, west of the Duomo, was the emblem of Renaissance power in the 13th century. Ruled by the Sforza dynasty, Leonardo da Vinci played a part in designing the castle's defences. From the fountains at the front, to its never-ending walls, it symbolises Milan's forward-thinking mindset from centuries ago.
Situated behind Castello Sforzesco is the beautiful Parco Sempione, once the hunting ground for the Sforza dukes. Napoleon, in 1891 after capturing the area, set about landscaping the park for public access, which was a resounding success for the Milanese. Winding paths through ponds lead you to the Torre Branca, a 1933 steel tower providing views over the park.
Tickets cost €10 to enter the castle, and €5 for Torre Branca.
Giardini Indro Montanelli
In the luxurious district of Quadrilateral d'Oro (Golden Quad) are the beautiful gardens to take you out of the city life. Similar to Madrid's Retiro Park, the winding paths, lakes and shades of Giardini Indro Montanelli will make you forget you're in one of the fashion capitals of the world; although the high-end design shops you'll walk past will swiftly remind you otherwise. 15 minutes from Eataly (see below), it's the perfect place to unwind with a picnic and a cool glass of white wine.
The chic neighbourhood dissected by canals, Navigli is what powered Milan's fortunes. The canals are vibrant hotspots lined with wine bars and restaurants that spill with locals onto the paths enjoying aperitivos (pre-dinner drinks). The nearby Basilica di San Lorenzo is a mix of domes, columns and lodges to create a sensational structure - part of which dating back to the 4th century; outside of which is the 16 columns of remnants from a Roman atrium.
The Milano Card provides travel on all public transport and enter for 200+ attractions.
1 day = €11.5.
2 days = €17.5.
3 days = €19.5.
Two Passports Top Tip
The Citymapper App will provide you the most up to date transport information to help you travel the city seamlessly and efficiently. Download the app and you'll have all the routes and timetable to hand.
Where to eat and drink
Milan may not immediately strike up the same romantic thoughts of heaping plates of pasta and classic comfort dishes as other Italian cities, however its reputation as the world's fashion capital doesn't come at the sacrifice of strong culinary traditions. The city's osteries (Italian bistros), celebrate world class produce from the Lombardy and Piedmont regions. The wine is exceptional and well-priced too - a bottle may cost €8-12, with dinner for two approx €40.
As major western-European cities go, Milan is affordable. Stay away from the Duomo tourist traps, especially the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and you will find local gems where wine flows for €2.
Marchesi 1824 in the Magenta District is a great place for coffee and pastries to start your day. As its pretty window displays show, it is full of delectable cakes.
Gay Odin, close-by on Via San Giovanni, is an exquisite chocolate shop serving great pastries too.
Eataly in Porta Garibaldi is a sensory feast for the eyes spread over four floors selling exceptional produce, much of it sourced from Lombardy and Piedmont. Eataly is a must visit on your Milanese journey and the perfect place to pick up culinary themed souvenirs.
Langosteria Bistrot, close to Darsena reservoir, is always bustling with locals for light seafood.
Angela's Bistrot is a delight for light pasta dishes.
Salsamenteria di Parma on Via Ponte Vetero - simple-yet-sensational Piedmontese-inspired food in a rustic setting. It was our of our favourite meals of the trip.
Rita & Antonio, close to Castello Sforzesco, is a local icon for pizza.
Mint Garden Café on Via Lecco in the Lazzaretto district is a cute spot inside and out. Its interior bustles with flowers and its terrace spills onto the street; the pasta and risotto are perfection.
For the adults
Vinoir, the chic wine bar in the Navigli district overlooks the picturesque canal.
Pandenus Tadino in the Lazzaretto district thriving bar with great service and cocktails to see yourself into the night.
Bar Magenta is special for its electric, bohemian atmosphere - the interior is nothing special, so head outside and take advantage of its great aperitivo - 2 cocktails for €12 with Italian bites included.
You are not expected to tip in Italy. Round up the bill or add a euro or two if you like.
Pickpocketing happens in the Duomo where it is packed with tourist traps. Be careful walking around Centrale Station in the evening - it's a seedy area, so either stay away or get a taxi.
Two Passports Top Tip: Try Aperitivo!
For a true taste of Milan after seeing the sights, seek out aperitivo. A way of life in the city, aperitivo is cocktails, wine, or beer with a selection of small plates a bit like a tapas happy hour. Aperitivo can be found all over Milan, so an aperitivo crawl is completely doable if you want to try a bit of everything.
When to Go
Low Season: November to February
Temperates drop and rainfall increases. Good deals on hotels except at Christmas as markets and carnivals are popular.
Shoulder Season: March - June to September - October
Sunny, comfortable and consistent weather. Prices rise for events, so check calendar for any global events. Heavy thunder can occur due to geographical position by the mountain.
High Season: May to August
Incredibly hot and busy with tourist, especially around the Duomo. Local Milanese flock to the sea and lake, so the city will heavily cater for tourists.
How to Get There
Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
The largest of the airports, Malpensa can be located 40km north-west of Milan. You can fly directly from America's East Coast, Japan and SE Asia, not to mention most of Europe and Northern Africa.
You can only travel to the city centre from Terminal 1. Thankfully, a quick, free shuttle connects both terminals.
Train from MXP Station to Centrale - 54 minutes for €14.
Train from MXP Station to N.Cadorna - 37 minutes for €14.
Train from MXP Station to Garibaldi - 42 minutes for €14.
Bus (Flixbus) - 60 minutes for €10.50.
Linate Airport (LIN)
7km east of the city centre, Linate is a small airport handling domestic travel and a small handful of European destinations such as London and Paris.
Don't be fooled by its location. You can only travel via bus or taxi. Speaking for experience, the Airport Bus Express is inconsistent. A standard 30-minute journey lasted an hour. We always try and promote public transport for the budget and environmental reasons, but a taxi might be best.
Airport Bus Express to Centrale - 30 to 60 minutes for €5.
Bergamo Airport (BGY)
One of the great small cities in Italy, Bergamo is an absolute gem to add onto your journey to Milan. 49km North-East, it's quick and easy to travel to and from Milan.
Most European destinations fly to Bergamo, and cheaply too, as it is the base for Ryanair.
Bergamo Airport Bus - 60 minutes for €10.50.
Train from BGY Station to Centrale - 50 minutes for €6.
Train from BGY Station to Garibaldi - 60 minutes for €6.
Travelling by train
Coming into Milan by train? There are two main stations: Centrale and Porta Garibaldi. Centrale has the green and yellow line and Garibaldi has the green and red, so make sure your hotel can be accessible by either of these stations.
Travelling in the city
Milan's Metro system (ATM) is one of the best metro systems in Europe. Consistent, clean and efficient, with useful digital maps to remind you where you are currently and where you are heading. However, be wary there are no metro stops in east Milan - you'll have to get the bus or pop on some comfy shoes.