Day Trips To Europe Milan - a guide for days out, weekends, short getaways and city breaks

Milan's: the third largest church in Christendom, and one of the most ornate in the world

Milan

 

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Itís easy to see why Milan is the fashion and style capital of Italy. Even building-site workers seem to know which colour hard hat and fluorescent vest goes best with cement-stained jeans and hobnail boots.

 

Luckily there are plenty of attractions to divert your attention from the fact that everybody else is better dressed than you.

 

The city has one of the largest and most spectacular religious buildings anywhere in the world, a vast and intact 15th-century castle, the excellent Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery and, of course, Leonardo Da Vinciís Last Supper.

 

LeonardoDaVinciLastSupperMilan.jpg

Da Vinci's Last Supper: not bad for the wall of a refectory

 

Getting There

 

Flying time to Milanís main airport, Malpensa, is as little as 90 minutes. It has two terminals and is around 30 miles from the city centre. Here are a couple of options; arrival times are in brackets and all times are local.

 

Airport

Airline

Out - am

Return - pm

Gatwick

Easyjet

7:10 (10:00)

21:15 (22:10)

Heathrow

BA

7:50 (10:45)

19:45 (20:45)

 

From Terminal 1

The Ferrovie Nord Malpensa Express train goes to Cadorna station (map), which is in the north-west of the centre and three metro stops, or a 15-minute walk, from the duomo. 

 

Trains leave every half hour at 23 and 53 minutes past and you can buy tickets in the arrivals hall or the station ticket office - see table below.

 

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AssicurazioniGeneraliMilan.jpg

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali in Piazza Cordusio

There are two bus/coach services that shuttle between the airport terminals and Milanís Stazione Centrale rail station - map. This is north of the centre and three metro stops, or a 30-minute walk, from the duomo.

 

The Express leaves every half hour at 15 and 45 minutes past (exit 6, bus stop 3), and the Shuttle Air Pullman every 20 minutes from 7.00am onwards (exit 5, bus stop 4). Tickets for both services can be bought in the arrivals hall or on the bus - see table below.

 

From Terminal 2

This doesnít have a train station, so if you want the train take the free shuttle bus to Terminal 1 and get off at bus stop 13. Buses leave every 20 minutes and take five to ten minutes.

 

The city bus services from Terminal 1 also stop at T2. The Malpensa Express leaves at 25 and 55 minutes past and the Shuttle Air Pullman at 10, 30 and 50 minutes past.

 

 

Terminal

Journey Time

One Way Price

Train

1

40 mins

Ä9

Express Bus

1 & 2

40-50 mins

Ä6

Shuttle Bus

1 & 2

40-50 mins

Ä6

Taxi

1 & 2

40 mins

Ä65 - Ä75

 

Road journey times are approximate and depend on the traffic; allow more time at rush hour. Buses to Malpensa call at Terminal 2 first, but if youíre flying from here, tell the driver you want to get off because they donít always stop automatically.

 

Milan is served by two other airports, Linate and Bergamo, but neither of these has any day-trip flights. For more information on getting to Milan, see our booking and travel planning section.

 

Borsa Italiana in Milan - Italy's main stock exchange

Borsa Italiana in Piazza degli Affari: Italy's main stock exchange

 

Eco-friendly travel - to find out how you can make your travel carbon neutral visit CarbonNeutral or ClimateCare.

 

[Getting There] [Eating] [Drinking] [Events] [Shopping] [Practical Info] [Top]

 

Sightseeing

 

Most of Milanís principal attractions are comfortable walking distances from the duomo, but if you need a rest or you're in a hurry, there's an good metro, tram and bus system.

 

A single ticket is Ä1.50 and valid for 90 minutes from the time you validate it in one of the yellow ticket machines. It gives you unlimited travel on buses and trams but only one metro journey.

 

A one-day travel card for unlimited travel on all three networks costs Ä4.50. Tickets must be stamped at the start of a journey, and can be bought at metro stations, newsagents and bars displaying the green and orange ATM sticker.

 

What To Visit

 

Milan's magnificent Gothic cathedral

Milan's magnificent Gothic cathedral

The Duomo - work began on Christendomís third largest church in 1386 and wasnít finished until 1813. Itís easy to see why this dazzling Gothic cathedral and Milanís most famous land mark took almost 430 years to complete.

 

Thereís so much detail, including around 3,500 statues, that you could spend the rest of your life looking at it and still find something you hadnít noticed before.

 

Take the lift or stairs to the roof for one of the best views of the city and the duomoís incredible forest of spires, statues and carvings. Map

 

On opposite sides of Piazza del Duomo are two other important buildings, Palazzo Reale and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

 

Palazzo Reale - this former royal palace was one of the most lavish neo-classical palaces in Europe - map. It now houses three museums. Museo della Reggia is used for temporary exhibitions and showcases the buildingís sumptuous interiors.

 

Civico Museo díArte Contemporanea is a contemporary art gallery with a collection that includes Boccioni, Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, Modrian, Modigliani and Picasso.

 

Museo del Duomo contains items removed from the cathedral for safekeeping, including stained-glass windows, sculptures, tapestries and Tintorettoís The Infant Christ among the Doctors.

 

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The main entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

The main entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - shopping arcades donít get much classier than this vast, elegant and beautiful glass-roofed galleria. Built between 1865 and 1877, itís the worldís oldest shopping arcade and worth a visit just to admire the building.

 

Its designer, Giuseppe Mengoni, never found out what retail therapists thought of his creation because he fell off scaffolding and killed himself days before it opened. Map

 

Castello Sforzesco - this vast red-brick fortress dominating the north-west of the centre dates back to 1358. Itís home to the Civic Museums, which contain a huge range of treasures - from frescos, paintings and sculptures to furniture, musical instruments and Egyptian artefacts.

 

Highlights include Belliniís Madonna and Child, Mantegnaís Madonna in Glory, the Trivulzio tapestries designed by Bramantino, and Michelangeloís last sculpture, Rondanini Pietŗ. Map

 

The main entrance to Castello Sforzesco

The clock tower of Castello Sforzesco

Pinacoteca di Brera - yet another art gallery that has Napoleonís looting sprees to thank for much of its contents. There are works from major Italian artists from the 13th century onwards, as well as Dutch and Flemish painters, making it one of Italy's most important collections.

 

It includes contributions from Bellini, Boccioni, Canaletto, Caravaggio, Mantegna, Modigliani, Picasso, Raphael, Tintoretto and Titian. And Hayezís The Kiss - every bit as spellbinding and sensual as Klimtís. Map

 

Da Vinciís Last Supper - many people come to Milan just to see the masterpiece Leonardo created on the wall of the refectory, or cenacolo, in the convent next to Sante Maria delle Grazie church.

 

Itís ironic that his greatest work started deteriorating before heíd even finished it and the contrast with the excellent condition of Donato Montorfanoís Crucifixion on the opposite wall could not be starker. If you particularly want to see it, book a few weeks in advance of your visit. Map

 

If you visit the Last Supper, donít forget to drop in on the church next door, the Santa Maria delle Grazie. It has a beautiful brick and terracotta exterior and is interesting inside, not least for its sculptures, frescos and etching work. Map

 

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SantíAmbrogio - of Milanís 100 or so churches, this one dating back to 379 is one of the oldest, and for many, the most interesting. Itís named after the cityís patron saint and is an important example of Lombard Romanesque architecture. A colonnaded atrium surrounding the main entrance was used as a market place and refuge.

 

Sant'Ambrogio church

Sant'Ambrogio: one of the oldest churches in the city

Highlights include the Romanesque pulpit with 4th century Roman sarcophagus, the apse mosaics, the 5th-century gold mosaics in the San Vittore in Ciel díOro chapel, and the gold and silver gilded alter encrusted with jewels. Map

 

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is an art gallery and academic library established in 1607 by Cardinal Frederico Borromeo. The gallery was intended to inspire up-and-coming artists, although given the rate at which Italy was producing great artists and art, it hardly seemed necessary.

 

Its 24 rooms display works by Botticelli, Bergognone, Caravaggio, da Vinci, Francesco Hayez, Jan Breughel, Raphael, Teipolo and Titian. Map

 

San Lorenzo Maggiore - Milan was once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and in front of this church is one of the few reminders of the cityís Roman past - a colonnade of 16 Corinthian columns from a 2nd century temple.

 

The columns were assembled here in the 4th century about the same time as the church was founded. Although the church has been rebuilt several times it still retains its basic Roman circular design.

 

In addition to a wonderful and cavernous interior - including the cityís largest dome, which also had to be rebuilt after it collapsed in 1573 - it has some amazingly well-preserved 1600 year-old palaeo-Christian mosaics. Map

 

Teatro alla Scala near Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Teatro alla Scala near Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

 

Teatro alla Scala is the most famous opera house in Italy if not the world. Performances sell out months in advance even with tickets costing up to £3000.

 

For the more modest entry price to the theatreís museum you can look at the sumptuous auditorium from one of the boxes - except when there are performances or rehearsals in progress.

 

The museum contains La Scala-related exhibits including paintings, sculptures and musical instruments and will probably mainly be of interest to opera lovers - unless you particularly want to see Toscaniniís baton. Map

 

If you want to find an address thatís not listed on this page, click here.

 

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Eating

 

Via San Vittore Appartments near Sant'Ambrogio church

Via San Vittore apartments near Sant'Ambrogio church

Milan is in the north-west of Italy in the Lombardy region. Here there is less emphasis on olive oil and pasta and more cooking with butter, rice and polenta.

 

The cityís specialities include rissotto alla Milanese, made with rice, onion, white wine, saffron and Parmasan; and costolette alla Milanese, a breaded veal cutlet served with lemon.

 

The region produces some of the countryís best cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Fontina, Robiola and Taleggio.

 

Lombardy is not one of Italyís major wine producing areas but it does have some good wines such as Franciacorta (red, white & sparkling), Lugana (white), Valcalepio (red & white), and the Botticino, San Colombano al Lambro and Valtellina reds. If you want to book a restaurant, the dialling code is 00 39.

 

Sadler - stylish and contemporary, this two-star Michelin restaurant offers superb modern cooking from Claudio Sadler, one of Milanís top chefs. Not the city's most expensive restaurant but moving in that general direction. Via Ascanio Sforza 77, closed Sunday. Map

 

Boeucc apparently opened its doors in 1696, making it the oldest restaurant in the city. Itís at the expensive end of Milan dining but you get a stylish setting, wonderful Milanese and Italian dishes, and great service. Piazza Belgioioso 2, closed Saturday and Sunday - 02 76020224. Map

 

Don Lisander is few minutes walk from La Scala and a great place for lunch in the summer as you can eat outside in the courtyard. The food and service are excellent and the wine list is massive. Ask for a table overlooking the garden. Expensive to mid-price. Closed Sunday. Map

 

San Fedele church in Piazza Fedele near La Scala

San Fedele church in Piazza Fedele near Teatro alla Scala

 

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Trattoria al Muleto is a mid-price restaurant spread over two levels, the ground floor and a cosy brick-lined cellar. Fish is a speciality in this family-run eatery and there is good selection of wines. Corso XXII Marzo 57, closed Sunday evening - 02 70126814. Map

 

Trattoria Milanese - anywhere that's been cooking for over 70 years from the same spot must be doing something right. In the case of this mid-price, Iím guessing itís the excellent local cuisine, pleasing surroundings and efficient service. Via Santa Marta 11, closed Tuesday - 02 86451991. Map

 

Agnello - a few minutes from the Duomo youíll find this budget to mid-price pizzeria and ristorante. The helpful and friendly staff serve tasty pizzas and classic Italian dishes in relaxed surroundings. Via Agnello 8 - 02 86461654. Map

 

One of the sculptures that adorn Milan's Stazione Centrale

One of the sculptures on Milan's main rail station: Stazione Centrale

Hostaria Borromei - a vine-shaded courtyard makes this a great venue for outside dining in the summer. The speciality is cooking from the Montova area in this budget to mid-price eatery. Via Borromei 4, closed Sunday - 02 86453760. Map

 

Da Giannino L'Angolo d'Abruzzo - this ristorante on the edge of the centre serves excellent food at reasonable prices. Abruzzo regional cuisine and seafood are the house specialities. Via Pilo 20, closed Monday and August - 02 29406526. Map

 

Osteria delle Vigne - a cosy, relaxed and inexpensive osteria by one of the canals in the Navigli district. The varied menu changes monthly and there are around 200 wines to choose from. Ripa di Porta Ticinese 61, closed Sunday and August - 02 8375617. Map

 

Trattoria da Pino - this very budget lunch eatery down a quiet side street is usually packed with locals. It's basic, and you might have to share a table with strangers, but thereís no arguing with the first-rate food. Via Cerva 14, closed Sunday - 02 76000532. Map

 

More Restaurants

 

Tips and service charges

 

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Drinking

 

If your main reason for stopping at a cafť or bar is to spend some time people watching, thereís no better place than area around the duomo.

 

One of the few reminders of Milan's Roman past - a colonnade of 16 Corinthian columns from a 2nd century temple

A reminder of Milan's Roman past: a colonnade of Corinthian columns from a 2nd-century temple

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is also a choice spot and Biffi and Zucca (CaffŤ Miani) on the duomo side of the arcade are the most famous of the Galleriaís dwindling number of cafťs. Zucca, the birthplace of Campari, also gives you a marvellous view of the front of the cathedral.

 

Cova - situated in the cityís main designer shopping street, this wonderful cafť with its elegant tearoom is a Milan institution. Run by the same family since 1817, their superb homemade sandwiches, cakes and chocolates are among the best in town - Via Montenapoleone 8. Map

 

Bar Magenta near Cadorna train station is a charming and popular Art Deco bar thatís handy for a drink or light bite before catching the train back to Malpensa airport - corner of Via Carducci & Via Magenta. Map

 

Pasticceria Marchesi - the sweet toothed will find it hard to resist the pastries in this lovely cafť, also near Cadorna station. If youíve not tried panettone, this is a good place to give it a go; itís their speciality. Closed Monday - Via Santa Maria alla Porta 13. Map

 

Cotti - this wine bar and enoteca on the northern edge of the centre is a must for wine lovers. It has over 1300 different wines in the cellar and a wide selection of gourmet treats to go with them. Closed Sunday and Monday - Via Solferino 42. Map

 

The inside of Milan's magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Part of the stunning interior of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

 

Bar Brera is a stoneís throw from the Pinacoteca di Brera and a great pit-stop, whether you want a bite and a coffee, or something stronger. Outside seating means you can also enjoy the sunshine with your drink. Closed Sunday - Via Brera 23. Map

 

Bacco Bar is a friendly wine bar at Via Marcona 1 on the eastern edge of the centre. It doesnít have the biggest selection of wines on offer in the city, but the 250 or so varieties are carefully chosen - closed Sunday. Map

 

And watch out for the price of beer in Milan, it can be ridiculously expensive (over £10 a pint), even for rubbish beer, out of season and away from the tourist hotspots. Or perhaps weíve just been very unlucky.

 

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Events

 

San Marco church in Via San Marco

Chiesa di San Marco in Via San Marco

As Italyís economic, cultural and fashion powerhouse, Milan is host to plenty of festivals, special events and exhibitions. Here are some of the highlights. 

 

February - Carnevale Ambrosiano - a citywide celebration involving parades, floats and general frivolity that continues until the first Saturday of Lent.

 

AprilBagutta-Pittori - in the third week of the month Via Bagutta in the city centre pays host to an open-air art exhibition. Map

 

MayCortili Aperti - once a year towards the end of the month the public gets the chance to look around the courtyards and gardens of some of Milanís private historic buildings free of charge.

 

JuneFesta dei Navigli - on the first Sunday of the month the Navigli canal district in the south of the town centre marks the beginning of the Summer with a street fair involving market stalls, live music and theatre. Map

 

December - Fiera di SantíAmbrogio or Oh Bej! Oh Bej! - Milanese celebrate their patron saint with a week-long street fair in Piazza SantíAmbrogio that begins December 7. Map

 

And four times a year the city is overrun by the fashion industry for the Milan shows. The menís collections are aired in January and June and the all-important womenswear shows are held in February and September.

 

More events.

 

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Shopping

 

Loggia Degli Osii in Piazza dei Mercanti was commission in 1316 by Matteo Visconti

Loggia Degli Osii in Piazza dei Mercanti was commission by Matteo Visconti in 1316

For serious shoppers, especially those with a passion for designer labels, there can be few cities in Italy or Europe that can compete with Milan. Even if youíre not particularly interested in shopping, this is the kind of place that makes you feel you should be.

 

For the ultimate indoor shopping experience nothing comes close to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Itís not the biggest concentration of shops in town but itís definitely the most beautiful setting. Map

 

For fashion and designer labels your best bets are Via della Spiga - map; Corso Vittorio Emanuele II - map; Via Montenapoleone - map; and Via Manzoni. Map

 

For designer labels at discount prices try Salvegente at Via Fratelli Bronzetti 16 - map; and DMagazine at Via Montenapoleone 26. Map For general shopping head for Corso Buenos Aires. Map

 

Markets

 

Fiera di Senigallia is a big flea market along the Darsena canal on Saturday morning. Map

 

Mercato di Viale Papiniano in the Navigli district is Milanís largest and most famous open air-market. Itís renowned for clothes and shoes but also sells food and housewares and is open Tuesday and Saturday morning. Map

 

Mercatone del Naviglio Grande is an antiques and general bric-a-brac market on the banks of the Naviglio Grande canal. With over 400 stalls itís one of the largest of its kind and is held on the last Sunday of each month between 8.30am and 6.30pm. Map Most city markets are closing up by 1.00pm.

 

The Arco Della Pace in Piazza Sempione at one end of Parco Sempione

Arco Della Pace in Piazza Sempione at one end of Parco Sempione

 

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Practical Info

 

August is not a good time to visit Milan. Apart from the often blistering heat and the mosquitoes around the canal district, much of the city is closed as its citizens head for the lakes and other holiday destinations.

 

If youíre planning on coming to Milan during the fashion shows and youíve got your heart set on a particular restaurant, itís a good idea to book in advance. Be aware that a lot of restaurants, most shops and some bars close on Sunday.

 

Public transport tickets must be validated at the start of your journey by stamping them in the yellow ticket machines. Although a single ticket - valid for 75 minutes - can be used for unlimited travel on buses and trams, it can only be used once on the metro.

 

A corner building in Via De Largo

A corner building in Via de Largo

Italy is a very safe country for tourists, but you need to beware of pickpockets, especially on public transport and in crowded areas. Be particularly careful in Stazione Centrale, the spiritual home of Milanese pickpockets.

 

Never leave bags or valuables unattended, especially in bars, cafťs and restaurants with outside seating areas.

 

All major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the city, and there are plenty of ATMs and places to change money.

 

The currency is the Euro; to find out how many there are to the pound, click here.

 

Tips and service charges - most restaurants include a cover charge on the bill, as well as a service charge of around 15%. But if the service was good itís customary to leave a few euros for the waiter. If service isnít included, a tip of around 10 to 15% is fine.

 

Taxi drivers wonít expect a tip for journeys around the city but people usually round up the bill to the nearest euro.

 

Local time and other useful information.

 

Learning the language - if you'd like to brush up on your Italian, or you'd just like to learn some basic phrases, you might find these sites useful.

 

BBC Languages - multimedia courses for beginners and the more advanced.

 

Fodors - a range of useful phrases with audio and written pronunciation guides.

 

Ielanguages - basic to more advanced Italian with pronunciation guides.

 

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