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Updated: May 1, 2022
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Malpensa, Milan’s main airport, is not particularly close to Milan (47 miles, or almost 51 km), but getting to and from is generally easy to accomplish.
Aside from Malpensa, there are two other airports that serve Milan: Linate Airport and Milan Bergamo Il Caravaggio International Airport (also known as Orio al Serio International Airport). Buses and taxis are available at both locations (Linate is closer to town, and will thus be cheaper), with buses generally dropping off at the Centrale train station. If you are traveling via one of these airports, refer to their respective websites for more information. The information below only pertains to Malpensa, which is by far your most likely point of arrival and departure.
Getting from Milan Airport to City Center
The Malpensa Express train shuttles passengers from the airport to all three of Milan’s central train stations – Cadorna, on the west side of town, Garibaldi, which is north, and Centrale, which is on the northeast edge. The train also makes six stops in smaller towns between Milan and the airport, but the Express is still your fastest, easiest transportation option into the city.
The train leaves roughly every 30 minutes, and the station is located right in the airport. Consult the Express website for specifics on timing, but the train generally runs between 5am and midnight and will cost €13.
Be aware there are actually two Express train routes; one goes to Cadorna, and the other makes stops at both Garibaldi and Centrale (the airport station has them clearly marked). Have a look at a map and see which station is nearest to your final destination, then choose accordingly.
Tickets for the train can be purchased from the airport, any of the three train stations, or via the website. Both the airport and train terminals have ticket counters with actual humans as well as self-serve ticketing kiosks.
Inside both of the terminals at Malpensa you will find signs in English leading you to curbside taxi queues, located at exit gate 6 of Terminal 1 and at exit gate 4 of Terminal 2, outside of the arrivals hall. Taxis charge a fixed fee of €90 for transportation to the city center from the airport. Official cabs should be white, and will have a sticker that says “Taxi autorizzato per il servizio aeroportuale Lombardo.”
Be aware that many taxi drivers speak very little English, so be sure to have an address (it’s helpful to have it written down so you can show it to the driver) or the name of your destination (drivers will recognize major landmarks) ready to go.
The easiest way to get between the Malpensa airport and Milan city center is to pre-book transfer through Welcome Pickups car service. English speaking drivers monitor your flight and meet you at arrivals, eliminating the need to navigate the airport on your own. Price is similar to that of a pre-booked taxi (around €115), and child car seats are available by request. The trip to central Milan will take about 50 minutes, traffic-depending.
The bus is the most economical option for transport between Malpensa and central Milan. There are several buses available to take you into the city, including a shuttle that leaves every 20 minutes and drops off in central Milan for a mere €8. The trip between the airport and central Milan takes about 50 minutes. You can either buy a ticket in advance online, or do so on the bus (be sure to have euro coins to pay the fare). There are also several kiosks in the airport.
Bus service runs a little longer than the train, but there is still no service between 1:30am and 3:30am, so travelers looking to get to the city during these hours will either have to wait a bit for service to start, take a taxi, or rent a car.
Note that, unlike the Malpensa Express, which visits all three of Milan’s train stations, the shuttle only drops and picks up at two: Centrale and Cadorna. So unless you are staying near one of those stations, you will likely have to find (and pay for) another mode of transport from Centrale to your hotel. Be sure to note which station you want to go to when you buy your ticket, so you can make sure you get one with the correct destination.
Shuttle stops are located at exit gate 3 of Terminal 1 and exit gate 7 of Terminal 2, just outside the arrivals hall. There are clearly marked signs in English spread throughout the airport leading you to the bus pickup zones outside both of the terminals at Malpensa.
Picking Up a Rental Car at Milan Airport
Rental cars are available at both terminals at Malpensa, with clearly marked signs leading to the pickup areas and rental desks. We recommend securing a car in advance through RentalCars.com. They offer reputable international brands and their easy-to-use website makes it simple to find the best deal. Be sure to reserve ahead if you require an automatic transmission. Also, remember that an International Driving Permit is required by law if you plan to drive in Italy.
Getting from Central Milan to the Airport
The Malpensa Express train leaves every 30 minutes or so from each of Milan’s central train stations – Cadorna, on the west side of town, Garibaldi, which is north, and Centrale, which is on the northeast edge. Check the online site for specific information on departure times from each station to see which one lines up best with your timetable and location in the city.
You can also visit any of the stations and buy your ticket in advance at a manned ticket window or a ticket kiosk, or purchase your ticket online. Note that the train does not run between midnight and 5am, so if you have a very early (or very late) flight, you may need to entertain other options to get to the airport on time.
There are designated taxi ranks spread throughout the city, where cabs are usually waiting and plentiful. A hotel doorman or concierge will be happy to call you one, or you can use the Free Now app to call one yourself – without having to know Italian. Hailing a taxi from the street has become easier in recent years, as Milan seems to have relaxed – or at least rarely enforces – the city law that forbids it. Having said that, you may find many taxis passing you by if you are hailing from a busy area where it’s difficult to stop. Try to find a location that offers a convenient place for them to pull over, and you’ll have more luck.
Standard fee to the airport from Milan is €90. Be sure to tell the driver you are going to Malpensa (assuming that’s your departure airport), just in case he has one of Milan’s other two airports in mind.
The Malpensa shuttle picks up at Centrale Station and Cadorna railway stations, and tickets are available for advance purchase online. A quick Google search on something like “bus Milan to Malpensa” will pull up departure times and locations for all buses heading to the airport, as well as bus numbers and airport arrival times, but the shuttle is usually the easiest and most frequent option. The trip will take about 50 minutes.
Dropping Off a Rental Car at Milan Airport
The rental car drop off area is a short walk from the airport, and is clearly marked as you approach. However, be sure to give yourself a little extra time if you need to drop a car, as you may miss a sign and have to drive around a second time to find the entrance. There may also be a delay in dealing with any paperwork (the amount of which may vary depending on what company you rented from and the specifics of your agreement).
How far in advance should I get to the Milan airport?
Malpensa is a small-to-average size airport with only two terminals – if you’re on an international flight, it’s most likely that you will arrive/depart at terminal 1, as Terminal 2 is currently only served by EasyJet and mostly serves domestic and short flights.
The airport is mostly very efficient, and you should not need to get there more than two hours in advance of your flight. Note that if you are turning in a rental car, you may want to get there a little earlier. If you aren’t turning in a car and you have your boarding pass ready to go, you can probably get away with arriving a little less than two hours in advance, if necessary.
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