Milan Travel Guide: Visit This City on a Budget

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Duomo di Milano

Whether you are passionate about art or on a gastronomic conquest, the city’s treasure trove has much to offer. Here’s your all-encompassing Milan travel guide to plan the perfect trip!

Lined with gothic architecture buildings and home to Italy’s rich artistic legacy, Milan is a city brimming with charm and style. The city is a true kaleidoscope, known for its cutting-edge style, stunning city skyline, and picturesque countryside.

Some of the world’s most storied fashion houses begin here, from Dolce and Gabbana to Prada.

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Milan Travel Guide Essential Things to do

A walk through the streets of Milan offers a mix of unique cuisines, rustic architecture, and a glimpse into Italy’s fashion legacy. Here’s our Milan travel guide to the top must-see spots and tourist attractions in the bustling city center of central Milan.

Milan Duomo and Piazza Del Duomo

Milan Duomo During Day

The crown jewel of Milan is the Duomo di Milano, a cathedral known for its Gothic architecture. The intimidating structure has more than 3,400 statues and 135 towering spires in Italian Gothic design.

The most famous of these statues is the Mary (or Madonna), perched on the highest spire overlooking the city. The Duomo is considered the pride and joy of Milan and overlooks the Piazza del Duomo. You can head to the cathedral’s terrace and enjoy panoramic city views.

Given that the Duomo is the focal point of Milan, it can get crowded quickly, so we suggest visiting Milan Duomo and the Piazza Del Duomo early in the morning. We recommend booking your tickets ahead. This is a must-have for your Milan travel experience.

Piazza Della Scala

Empty Piazza della Scala in Milan, Italy

Source: Adobe Stock

An iconic spot in Milan is the Piazza Della Scala, located in the city’s center near the Duomo di Milano. The square was built in the 19th century and showcased the rich historical culture of Milan while paying tribute to Leonardo Da Vinci.

The square is lined with a range of statues and is an Instagram hotspot in Milan. The Piazza Della Scala can get crowded quickly, so get there early for some good pictures.

See Related: Priority Pass Review

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II

The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II in Milan

A short walk from the Milan Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II. This gothic building houses the oldest shopping mall in the world and gives you a glimpse into Milan’s rich fashion culture.

A glass ceiling towers over this landmark that contains some of the most famous brands in the world like Gucci and Prada in the center of the fashion district of Milan. Follow our guide to shopping in Milan to get the most out of your Milan travel experience.

Shopping at the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II may not be ideal for the budget traveler but the stunning interiors make this place worth visiting. You can even enjoy some authentic Italian cuisine at restaurants like Savini and Bar Camparino.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper – Santa Maria Delle Grazie

The Last Supper- Santa Maria Del Grazia in Milan

A must-see spot in Milan is the Santa Maria Delle Grazie. While the monastery is not known for its architecture, it is home to one of the most famous paintings in the world – The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.

This celebrated work of art is over millennia and depicts Jesus’ final meal with his apostles. Unfortunately, much of the artwork has faded over the years, despite many attempts to preserve the painting. The landmark only allows 30 people at once to view the painting.

Due to the crowd limit, tickets can be hard to come by. Make sure to reserve your tickets three weeks before your visit. The Last Supper is one of the most iconic landmarks in Europe.

See Related: How Much is a Trip to Italy

Castello Sforzesco

Aerial View of Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Source: Adobe Stock

History enthusiasts will enjoy exploring Castello Sforzesco. The monument is a semblance of Milan’s military history and was constructed in the 14th century. The castle was rebuilt multiple times and now contains a host of museums that depict pieces from Milan’s art history. The castle is free to visit, but there is a fee for the museums.

Parco Sempione

Parco Sempione in Milan, Italy

Source: Adobe Stock

Once you’ve had your fill of Milan’s art and history legacy, it’s time to enjoy some of its natural beauty. A few minutes from Castello Sforzesco is a famous park- Parco Sempione or Simplon Park. Walk around the vast troves of green land and enjoy the stunning English landscaping that adds to this evergreen beauty.

The park houses the Arco Della Pace, built to celebrate Napoleon’s victory. Parco Sempione stretches over 47 acres, so get there early to beat the crowds.

Via Dante

The Via Dante commercial street in Milan

A trip to Milan is not complete without shopping in the fashion capital. The Via Dante is one of Milan’s largest commercial streets and was named after the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri. Both street and luxury shoppers have a number of options to choose from.

Once you satisfy your retail cravings, lounge by one of the many cafés that line Via Dante and watch the Milanese go about their daily lives while adorned in their finery.

Navigli

Navigli, Milan

Venice isn’t the only city in Italy with beautiful canals. The Navigli district in Milan has canals with pubs on either side. This is the perfect spot to end a day of sightseeing in Milan.

Enjoy an Italian meal at one of the many restaurants and pubs overlooking the canal. Legend has it that Leonardo Da Vinci designed the canals himself! It’s one of our favorite hidden gems in Milan.

See Related: Things to Do in Florence, Italy

Best Tours in Milan

Milan Tram in the City

Source: Adobe Stock

A great way to take in all the sights in the city is with a guided tour. Visit GetYourGuide to learn more about the tours available in Milan.

Fast-Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour

This ticket gives you a guided tour of the Milan Duomo Cathedral. You get to skip the long lines and get full access to the terraces to enjoy city views. The ticket also lets you explore the museum and San Gottardo Church independently. The tour lasts 1.5 hours.

The Last Supper and Santa Maria Delle Grazie Tour

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci is an essential visit during your trip to Milan. This tour lets you skip the lines to see this magnificent painting. You can learn more about the history behind the church and the artwork on this 1.5 hours guided tour.

3-Hour City Highlight Walking Tour

If you are on a short trip to Milan, consider taking a walking tour to explore the city’s highlights. This 3-hour walking tour covers hotspots like the Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall, the La Scala Theatre and Museum, and views of the iconic city skyline.

If you are on a budget, you can easily hop on a free walking tour to see the city and save money. This is also a great way to meet new people.

See Related: Things to Do in Milan, Italy

Ways to Get Around in Milan

Yellow Tram Passing By in Milan, Italy

evannovostro / Adobe Stock

The best way to get around Milan without blowing too much cash is to use public transport. We recommend buying a 24-hour (€4.50) or 48-hour (€8.25) travel pass, depending on your duration of stay.

This pass gives you access to buses, metro, and trains within the city. You can also get an all-inclusive Milan Pass which covers public transport and free entry to some major attractions in the city.

  • Subway – There are four lines on the subway- each has different colors and numbers. The trains on the subway run every day from 6 AM to 1 AM. Use the Malpensa Express train to get into the city center from the airport and back.

Centrale, Duomo, Loreto, Cadorna, Porta Garibaldi, and Zara are the main transfer locations between stations.

  • Train – If you want to venture outside the city, consider taking the train to enjoy some scenic views. The two major train stations are Lago Di Como and Lago Maggiore. The train takes you to the smaller towns that surround Milan. A train ride to these locations is highly recommended as a day trip if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  • Bike – If you want to stay active while checking out Milan’s hotspots, consider renting a bike. There are numerous pickup and drop-off bike options around the city. It’s a great way to see the city at an affordable price!

  • Taxi – Taking a taxi should be your last resort since it’s not the cheapest option. During prime hours of 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 PM, fares start between €3.30 and €5.40. If you don’t want to waste time traveling between landmarks, a taxi is the fastest way to get around.

See Related: Free Printable Travel Planner

Top Milan Travel Tips

Milan, Italy

ATM

Finding an ATM is not hard- they’re all over the city. However, you don’t want to waste time stopping by an ATM everywhere, so it would be ideal always to have a travel-friendly card and some cash on hand.

Milan’s currency is the Euro, and denominations range from €10 to €500. Make sure to use an authorized ATM to avoid bank fraud.

Tipping

Tipping is allowed in Milan, but it is not mandatory. This is because the bill usually comes with a service charge or ‘coperto.’

However, you can show appreciation for the warm-hearted Milanese with a tip.

The Culture

Italians are known for being amicable, but you should remember a few etiquette rules during your visit. Avoid talking too loudly in public spaces, as this is considered rude.

Greeting people when you enter a place is appreciated but avoid engaging in long conversations with the locals as this is not part of their culture. Finally, keep your dress code clean and simple- don’t overdress or underdress during your visit.

Places to Stay in Milan

Many people believe that visiting Italy’s fashion capital and one of Italy’s most popular cities can cost a fortune, but this is far from the truth. With the right amount of planning, you can see the beautiful city of Milan on a budget.

Attractions in Milan surround specific neighborhoods, so keep the locality in mind when choosing your hotel. The central districts include Brera, Centra Storico, Porto Nuova, and Chinatown.

See Related: Guide to Living in Italy

Hotels and Airbnbs

If you’re searching for a budget hotel room, consider staying in a 2 or 3-star hotel. Prices here can start at €50 per night in the city center but can be higher during the tourist season, Milan Fashion Week, Milan Furniture Fair, and AC Milan games.

The one caveat on affordability in Milan is that this city frequently has events and activities that make pricing highly variable relative to other cities in Italy.

An alternative to a hotel room is an Airbnb you can share with other travelers. The starting price for shared rooms is €20, and private rooms are €31. A few excellent budget hotel stays include:

Hostel

If hotel prices don’t fit your budget, staying at a hostel can bring costs down significantly. This is ideal for backpack travelers and a great way to acclimate to the city’s culture. A 10-person dorm can start at €25, and a 4-6 bedroom can be €30 or higher.

Private rooms in hostels can cost €54. If you are looking to meet fellow travelers, some great hostels include:

Places to Eat in Milan

Food in Milan

Lunch expenses in Milan can add up, but thankfully, there are numerous options for every type of traveler. If you are dining in the city, prices can start at €15 and go as high as €40 for restaurant meals.

Dinner at high-end restaurants can cost €75 or higher. If you are looking for some fine-dining options during your stay, here are a few restaurants to consider:

  • Trattoria Madonnina – A great place to get a taste of Italy’s traditional and culture

  • Trussardi alla Scala – a true symbol of luxury and opulence, the restaurant is known for its caviar

  • La Gelateria della Musica – satisfy all your gelato cravings at this iconic gelateria establishment, where the ice cream flavors are named after musicians.

For budget travelers, Milan has just as many food options to offer. The city has delis, food trucks, cafes, and kiosks that can cut costs in half. Places like Panozzo and Luini offer light bites from €4-€7.

See Related: Top Reasons to Travel to Italy

Travel Budget: How Much Does It Cost to Visit Milan?

Whether you travel to Milan on a budget or go all out on a luxury vacation, Milan offers a great experience for both types of travelers. Milan is one of Italy’s pliest places because it is the capital for businesses and fashion.

We recommend a budget of approximately 30-70 € / day for excursionists on a backpacker’s budget. Alternatively, Milan has plenty of cheap transatlantic flights, so it is possible to offset the urbane daily travel expenses with cheap airfare.

Don’t forget to budget for extra things like clubs and other fun things like night trips and shopping. Visits or tours may be more helpful, like free food. The price is calculated from what you must do to enjoy the city. Here’s a snapshot of your expected daily expense based on your budget. This includes accommodation, food, and sightseeing:

  • Backpacker/Budget – €65

  • Midrange – €130

  • Luxury – €300

See Related: Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Best time to Travel to Milan

Milan in the spring

The best time to visit Milan is in Spring, from April to May, or in the Fall, from September to October. Avoid the rush tourist season from June to August if you can.

Here’s what you need to look out for during each season:

  • Spring – This is, without a doubt, the best time of the year to visit. Enjoy the city’s beauty in great weather and avoid the tourist season. Look out for the Salone del Mobile (or the Milan Furniture Fair), which runs six days in April. It’s fun due to the events, but it can get expensive.

  • Summer – This is not a great season to visit Italy. You will explore the sights under the sweltering heat. Many locals leave Milan during this time to avoid the crowds.

  • Autumn – This is a great time to visit but beware of extreme temperatures. You’ll be fine if you’re armed with a jacket and an umbrella.

  • Winter – Winter in Milan is defined by frigid temperatures, so plan your visit during this time if you’re okay with the cold.

See Related: Best Travel Backpacks

Packing list for Milan, Italy

Now that we’ve covered the sights to see and places to stay in our Milan travel guide, it’s time to get started on your packing list.

Make sure that you grab travel insurance for your trip with SafetyWing. They offer the best policies that solely cater to what you need for your trip. This is a general list of things to include when packing for Milan:

Backpack

If you are backpacking through Milan, we recommend getting the Osprey Packs Farpoint. The bag is lightweight, comfortable, and even comes with a removable daypack.

  • Capacity: 70L

  • Dimensions: 26”H x 13”W x 13”D

  • Fabric: 210- denier ripstop nylon

  • Straps: The carry handles are top and side-padded, perfect for hoisting your backpack.

  • Features: Panel access, Front compression straps, Stowaway Backpanel.

Luggage

The Delsey Helium Aero is a great pick if you carry travel luggage. The luggage comes in 5 colors and is ideal for a multi-day trip. It’s lightweight, durable, and stylish.

  • Capacity: 31.5L

  • Dimensions: 27.25”H x 17.75”W x 11.5”D

  • Fabric: 100% Polycarbonate

  • Features: Double spinner wheels, 3-dial combination lock, self-repairing zippers, expandable packing space.

What to Pack for Men

Clothing

  • 1 pair of Jeans

  • 1 pair of shorts

  • 1 Bathing suit

  • 5 T-shirts- long and short-sleeved

  • 1 pair of flip/flops

  • 1 pair of sneakers

  • 3-4 pairs of socks

  • 1 sweater (if you visit in the winter)

  • 1 jacket (if you visit in the fall or winter)

Toiletries

  • 1 toothbrush

  • 1 toothpaste

  • 1 razor

  • 1 dental floss

  • 1 shampoo

  • 1 shower gel

  • 1 deodorant

What to Pack for Women

Clothing

  • 1 pair of jeans

  • 1 pair of leggings

  • 4-5 blouses/t-shirts (long and short-sleeved)

  • 1 sarong

  • 1 swim-suit

  • 1 light cardigan

  • 1 sweater (if you visit in winter)

  • 1 jacket (if you visit in the fall or winter)

Toiletries

  • Makeup

  • 1 dry-shampoo

  • 5-6 hair-ties

  • Feminine hygiene products

Medical kit

Safety comes first, so always ensure you have a medical kit. A few must-haves in the medical kit include band-aids, antibacterial cream, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, earplugs, and Hydrocortisone cream. Here are a few kits you can buy:

Other Items to Pack

Final Thoughts: Milan Travel Guide

Milan, Italy, is an energetic city that embraces the rich Italian culture while looking good. While neighbors like Rome and Vienna often overshadow it, the city remains a rich metropolis that needs to be seen.

The sheer choice of gastronomy and a stunning city skyline will leave you yearning for Italy’s style capital long after you leave. We aspire that this Milan travel guide will make your trip planning seamless. Safe travels!

FAQ

How many days do you need for Milan?

Milan is an incredible city, and spending only one day in Milan would be a shame. Milan is blessed with treasures in every corner, and we recommend three days for its many offerings.

Is Milan, Italy, worth visiting?

Milan is a beautiful, bustling city worth visiting on a budget. There are multiple essential destinations in Milan that you must cross off your bucket lists, such as the Duomo, The Last Supper, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

What is the best time of year to visit Milan?

Milan is an incredible city for visitors with a wide range of activities, rich culture, and a dynamic art scene. Milan offers visitors the chance to enjoy Italy without spending a fortune on food or accommodations.

Milan is also known as one of the fashion capitals of the world. Milan Fashion Week invites international brands like Chanel, Dior, and Fendi for runway shows, while homegrown labels like Brioni, Costume National, and Etro show off their newest designs in more intimate presentations at trade fairs around Milan’s Tortona district.

While the ideal time to visit Milan would be during Milan Fashion Week if fashion is your priority, otherwise, mid-to-late Autumn is a great time to visit this sprawling metropolis of Northern Italy as that is when temperatures cool down, there’s less over-tourism at key landmarks, and you can save money on lodging.

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Divya Premkumar
WRITTEN BY

Divya Premkumar

A self-proclaimed digital nomad, Divya has a love for discovering new places. Perpetually ensconced with a book in her hand and coffee in the other, she’s always on the move. As a world explorer, she learnt that traveling helps rejuvenate the soul and fills it with memories and lessons that no classroom can teach.

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