Since this is my second visit to Milan, I’m qualified to be an expert on the city right? Well not quite, but I’ve had the chance to experience a lot that the fashion capital of Italy has to offer.
Where do I stay?
First of all, in my opinion, you should stay somewhere close to the Milano Centrale station. Not only is it easily accessible from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) but it’s a quick walk, metro, or tram ride across the city.
I’m a SPG girl so I’m all about staying in Starwood properties whenever possible, there are plenty in Milan to choose from. We’ve stayed in the Four Points by Sheraton three times now. The first two times last April and the first part of our trip this September we stayed in newly remodeled spacious rooms on an SPG designated floor. The last stay was booked under my Aunt, who does not have SPG status and we stayed on a lower floor that was straight out of the 60/70s.
The lobby and common areas are quite outdated. Per usual the elevators are teeny tiny so don’t expect to fit more than 2 people in one. Fortunately, they have plenty so you won’t have a long wait.
They offer a hot European breakfast daily (think croissants, lunch meats, and cheeses) and refreshments like water, sodas, and chips, in the afternoon. If you have to leave before breakfast to take a tour, let them know and they will prepare a box breakfast for you. Always a nice touch.
How do I get there?
Do not, I repeat do not, take a taxi from Malpensa to Milano Centrale. If you do, you will pay at least 90€ or $100+. Instead, simply follow the signs at the airport to the train (Treni). You’ll pay 12€ and it will take you the Milano Centrale station in about 45 minutes, the same time a taxi would take depending on traffic.
Once you reach the station, you can easily get a taxi to where you need to go or simply walk depending on how many pieces of luggage you have.
Let’s start with the food…
Italy is more than just pasta, pizza, and gelato, sure they have a lot of those two but they have so much more to offer. In Milan we’ve had a few great meals, namely at Parma & Co, God Save the Food, and Il Luogo di Aimo y Nadia.
Milan Food Walking Tour
Check out the reviews, it’s currently the #2 food tour on TripAdvisor. Here’s my review to give you an idea of where we went and what we ate.
Cinque Terre (day trip via Viator)
This tour started at 7am and ended around 8:30pm. It was a full day and we ended up seeing 4 of the 5 islands that make up Cinque Terre. The tour included a short train ride and 2 boat rides. We ended our tour in La Spezia and headed home. Great way to get a sneak peek into the islands but if you want more than 30 minutes at each you should spend a few days there. Total driving time was around 6 hours. If you don’t like long road trips this is not for you.
Free Walking Tour Milan
I’m a huge fan of free walking tours. Definitely a great way to explore the city and meet other English-speaking travelers. The best part is they’re free. Typically, I tip them 10-15€ depending on how knowledgeable they are. This one will show you some of the places Milan is known for like: Duomo (Cathedral), S. Nazaro’s Church, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Teatro alla Scala (Opera House), among other sites. Book here
The Last Supper
If you like art, check out Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie church. I hear timed tickets to see this masterpiece often sell out months in advance but we were able to score some 2 weeks before we arrived. You can go as part of a tour or simply go on your own at the designated time. We did the latter option which was much cheaper and opted to purchase a radio to listen to the history behind the church where the painting is housed and the work itself.
Check out the Navigli Region
This area of Milan is my favorite. There are tons of little shops and restaurants surrounding a central canal. It’s a great place to go for lunch or dinner to enjoy a light snack or meal outside and just people watch. If you can, go around sunset as it makes for beautiful pictures.
Just a short flight away…
Once you make it to Milan, it’s pretty easy to get to anywhere in Italy or Europe for that matter via train or air. Flights are fairly cheap to other destinations. Last year, my husband and I flew to Marrakech for under $75RT each, it would have been cheaper but we flew EasyJet, a low-cost carrier, upgraded our seats and paid to have a larger carry-on.
This year we flew to Budapest on Wizz Air and it was only $60RT per person. The flight was just 1.25 hours, included an extra carry-on and assigned seating.
Also check out RyanAir for other cheap flights.
Of course everyone speaks Italian but many also speak English and Spanish. You will encountered very few people in Milano that don’t know any English. I always try to use a few words to show that I’m making an effort, it usually works out well.
Those are the main tips. Have any questions or any other tips to share, feel free to post them in the comments.