Milan: 16 Travel Tips You Should Know before You Go

Welcome to Milan, the beating heart of the Italian fashion and design world, where history and modernity merge seamlessly. Whether you’re drawn to its iconic landmarks, luxurious shopping districts or exquisite culinary delights, Milan offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler. Before you dive into this dynamic city, there are a few key things you should know to make the most of your visit. Here are 16 must-know tips to help you enjoy Milan to the fullest.

Top Milan Travel Tips: What You Should Know Before You Travel

Stay tuned to find out the best Milan Travel Tips you should know before you go to this beautiful city in Italy. In this blog you will discover the essential things that are important for your trip.

1. Tipping in Milan: Not Required, But Always Appreciated

Tipping is not obligatory in Milan, as service charges are often included in the bill. Overall, the hourly wages of service staff are fair, which is why they are not dependent on tips. However, it is customary to round up the bill or give a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for exceptional service. Locals usually give one or two euros, but you are not expected to give an extravagant tip. Ultimately, tipping in Milan is more about showing gratitude than fulfilling an obligation.

2. Avoid the summer months

Avoiding the summer months, particularly August, for a trip to Milan is advisable due to the scorching temperatures and high levels of humidity, making outdoor activities uncomfortable. Additionally, many locals leave the city during August for vacation, resulting in some businesses and attractions being closed or operating on reduced hours. The streets may feel emptier, lacking the usual bustling atmosphere characteristic of Milan. Opting for a visit during the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn ensures milder weather and a more vibrant city experience.

3. Plan early for the last supper

The next tip from the list of the best travel tips for Milan is to plan early for the last supper. Due to limited availability and high demand, this is essential. Reservations are typically required several months in advance, as only a small number of visitors are allowed in at a time to preserve the delicate artwork. Booking tickets well ahead ensures you secure a spot for this iconic masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, avoiding disappointment upon arrival. Early planning also allows for flexibility in your itinerary, ensuring you can visit at a time that suits your schedule.
However, if you can no longer get tickets online, you should call the ticket hotline as they may still have tickets. Otherwise, look for a guided tour of Milan, which already includes admission. But these tours can also fill up quickly.

4. No cappuccino after midday

In Milan, ordering a cappuccino after noon is generally avoided as it goes against Italian coffee culture. Italians generally enjoy cappuccino as a breakfast drink, not as an after-meal option or later in the day. Drinking a cappuccino after lunchtime might be considered unusual or even taboo by locals, as they prefer espresso or other types of coffee later in the day. To immerse yourself in local customs, it’s best to adhere to these cultural norms.

5. Order a ‘Latte’ in Milan? Get Ready for a Glass of Hot Milk

When ordering a “latte” in Italy, you can expect to receive a hot glass of milk rather than the popular coffee drink typically associated with the same name in other countries. In Italian, “latte” simply means milk, so if you desire a coffee with milk, you should specify by ordering a “caffè latte.” This distinction is important to avoid any confusion and ensure you receive the beverage you desire. This cultural difference adds to the authenticity of your Italian coffee experience and is one of the other travel tips for your trip to Milan.

6. Have an umbrella or rain jacket with you

Bringing an umbrella or a rain jacket is essential for your Milan trip due to the city’s unpredictable weather patterns, especially during the spring and autumn months. Sudden showers are common, and having protection against the rain ensures you can explore the city comfortably without being caught off guard. Additionally, Milan’s compact layout means you may need to walk between attractions, making rain gear indispensable for staying dry while navigating the streets. Being prepared for inclement weather ensures you can make the most of your visit to Milan, rain or shine.

7. Enjoy Free Museum Visits in Milan

The Top Travel Tips for Milan blog wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t tell you how to do the best attractions for free. Several museums in Milan offer free admission on certain days or under certain conditions. For example, many museums take part in the “Free Museum Sunday” initiative, which takes place on the first Sunday of every month and gives visitors the opportunity to view their collections free of charge. These include Museo del Novecento, Sforza Castle museums, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano and MUDEC and many more. In addition, some museums offer free admission to children under a certain age or students with a valid student card. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can explore Milan’s rich cultural heritage without breaking your budget.

8. Experience La Scala on a Budget

We know that going to the opera is not everyone’s thing. Nevertheless, La Scala is a great experience even for people who don’t usually go to the opera. In that case, you may not want to spend a lot of money on the performance. You can also experience La Scala in Milan on a budget. This assumes that you are spontaneous when it comes to the show. Simply buy last-minute tickets. You can do this online from two hours before the performance and on site one hour before the start. Otherwise, you can also look out for special offers or discounts that are offered in the low season. This allows you to enjoy the famous cultural institution and save your budget.

9. How to get to Milan in Italy?

To reach Milan, you can use various means of transportation, e.g. by plane, car, train or bus.

By Air: If you are traveling from abroad, a flight to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) is often the most convenient option, as there are numerous connecting flights from major cities worldwide. From there, you can reach the city center in around 40 minutes by both public transport and car.
The airport has many good connections to other major cities in Italy and Europe. If you are traveling from the USA, there are only a few direct flights. Normally, Milan is best reached via major feeder airports within Europe.

By train: Alternatively, Milan is well connected by train, with frequent connections from other major Italian cities as well as from neighboring countries such as France and Switzerland.

By car: You can also travel to Milan by car, as well-developed highways connect the city with other parts of Italy and Europe and offer the opportunity to enjoy scenic routes along the way.

10. Where to stay in Milan

When choosing where to stay in Milan, consider your interests, budget, and preferred atmosphere. Central Milan and Brera are ideal for luxury and cultural experiences, while Navigli and Porta Romana offer vibrant nightlife and quieter, family-friendly options. Porta Nuova is perfect for business travelers, and Città Studi caters to students and budget-conscious visitors. Regardless of your choice, Milan’s excellent public transport system makes it easy to explore the city’s many attractions.

We hope we can help you choose your accommodation in Milan with the following travel tips.

Central Milan (Centro Storico)

The heart of Milan, home to iconic landmarks like the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and Teatro alla Scala. It’s a bustling area with high-end shopping, dining, and cultural sites.

Best For: First-time visitors, luxury travelers, history enthusiasts

Pros:

  • Proximity to major attractions
  • High-end shopping and dining
  • Rich cultural experiences

Cons:

  • Expensive accommodations
  • Crowded, especially with tourists

Brera

A trendy, bohemian district known for its artistic vibe, featuring art galleries, museums like the Pinacoteca di Brera, and a lively nightlife scene.

Best For: Art lovers, trendy travelers, nightlife enthusiasts

Pros:

  • Artistic and bohemian atmosphere
  • Excellent dining and nightlife
  • Close to cultural attractions

Cons:

  • Can be noisy at night
  • Slightly more expensive than other areas

Navigli

A vibrant area famous for its picturesque canals, lively bars, restaurants, and an artistic community, making it popular with young travelers and couples.

Best For: Young travelers, couples, nightlife enthusiasts, those seeking a vibrant atmosphere

Pros:

  • Picturesque canals and vibrant atmosphere
  • Lively nightlife
  • Artistic vibe

Cons:

  • Can be noisy
  • Further from some major attractions

Porta Romana

A quieter, more residential area known for its thermal baths (QC Termemilano) and a good mix of local restaurants and shops, ideal for families and business travelers.

Best For: Families, business travelers, those seeking a quieter area

Pros:

  • Residential feel, quieter
  • Good public transport connections
  • Close to thermal baths

Cons:

  • Less nightlife
  • Fewer tourist attractions

Porta Nuova

The modern business district of Milan, characterized by its skyscrapers, contemporary architecture, and proximity to Milano Centrale station.

Best For: Business travelers, modern architecture enthusiasts, luxury travelers

Pros:

  • Modern architecture and business amenities
  • Close to Milano Centrale station
  • High-end hotels and services

Cons:

  • Less historic charm
  • More business-oriented, fewer tourist attractions

Città Studi

A residential and academic area, home to the Politecnico di Milano, known for being quieter and offering good value accommodations, ideal for students and budget travelers.

Best For: Students, budget travelers, those seeking a quieter stay

Pros:

  • Quiet, residential area
  • Good value for money
  • Close to the university

Cons:

  • Further from central attractions
  • Less nightlife and cultural activities

11. Top Dining Spots in Milan

In Milan you have an inexhaustible choice of great restaurants. It is impossible to summarize the culinary diversity on one list. Nevertheless, we have listed a few ideas for you:

High-class

Mid-range

Budget-friendly

12. Best Places for a Drink in Milan

Milan also offers you many ways to fight your thirst. We have a few suggestions for you below.

13. Best Time to Visit

Milan is a city that offers a unique blend of culture, fashion, and history, making it a great destination year-round. Let us give you some tips on the main travel times for your trip to Milan.

Optimal Seasons: Spring and Autumn

The best times to visit Milan are during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). These seasons offer mild and pleasant weather, perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor attractions, such as the Duomo, Sforza Castle, and the picturesque streets of Brera. Additionally, these periods coincide with important events like Milan Design Week in April and Milan Fashion Week in September, providing a vibrant atmosphere and unique experiences for visitors.

Summer: Hot but Less Crowded

While summer (July and August) can also be an appealing time to visit due to the abundance of festivals and outdoor activities, it is essential to be prepared for high temperatures and humidity. The city can become quite hot, with temperatures often soaring above 30°C (86°F), which might make sightseeing less enjoyable. However, this is also the time when locals take their vacations, leading to a quieter city with less crowded attractions. If you don’t mind the heat and prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, summer might still be a good option.

Winter: Cold and Damp

On the other hand, winter (November to February) is generally considered the least favorable time to visit Milan. The weather can be cold and damp, with temperatures often hovering around 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F). Although the city does have its charms during the holiday season, including festive decorations and Christmas markets, the shorter daylight hours and less predictable weather conditions might limit outdoor activities. Furthermore, some attractions and restaurants may have reduced hours or close for the holidays. Therefore, unless you’re specifically interested in experiencing Milan’s winter festivities or enjoying indoor attractions like museums and galleries, it’s better to plan your visit for the more temperate months.

14. How many days should you stay in Milan?

The length of time you should plan for your trip also depends on how intensively you want to experience Milan. In general, you should plan about 2 days to see the most without running out of time. If you also want to visit various museums, you should plan 3-4 days. If you are quick on your feet and just want to see the highlights, you can get a good impression of the city in just one day. The main attractions such as the Duomo and Parco Sempione are not far from each other.

15. How to get around in Milan?

One of the other important travel tips for your trip to Milan is the easiest way to get from A to B in the city. The best way to explore Milan is a mixture of walking and taking the metro. The attractions are often grouped together in clusters. Within the clusters, you can easily walk around the Best Things to Do in Milan. The best way to get from one district to the next is by metro or streetcar.

Public transportation in Milan is easy to understand and the ticket system is also easy to follow. Essentially, you have the following options:

  • Single ticket: € 2,20 (2.40 USD)
    Valid for 90 minutes after validation, re-entry possible.
  • Day ticket: € 7,60 (8.30 USD)
    Valid for 24 hours after validation
  • 3-day ticket: € 15,50 (16.80 USD)
    Valid for three consecutive days, until the close of business on the third day (3.45 am on the fourth day)

We bought a day ticket and were able to get on the train or streetcar anywhere and at any time. We recommend the same ticket or the 3-day ticket, as you can get from A to B with complete peace of mind.

Tip: Download the App and use it to buy your tickets. This will help you avoid queues and crowds in front of the ticket machine, especially at the main station.

16. How safe is Milan?

Milan is generally a safe city for tourists, with a well-developed infrastructure and a visible police presence in popular areas. However, visitors should be aware of pickpockets. Petty theft can occur, especially in crowded places such as public transport, tourist attractions and busy streets. It is advisable to keep personal belongings safe and be aware of your surroundings. As in any major city, you can increase your personal safety by staying in well-lit, populated areas at night and avoiding secluded places.

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