Milan Travel Guide

Home > Italy > Milan Travel Guide
Updated: September 17, 2020

View of the Duomo di Milano from the center of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan

Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, with the Duomo di Milano in the center, flanked by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center to the left and the Royal Palace to the right.

Milan combines the old world charm of a traditional Italian town with the new-fashioned buzz of a modern industrial city. Compact and easily walkable, Milan is home to great works of art, award-winning cuisine, high-class fashion boutiques, a world-famous opera house, and two prominent football clubs. Da Vinci’s masterpiece Last Supper painting and Italy’s tallest skyscraper can both be found here. Well worth a visit in its own right, Milan also makes a great jumping-off point for trips to northern Italy’s beautiful Lake District.

The 2021 Milan Travel Guide

Milan Basics

Milan Hotels

Milan Activities

Milan Trip Planning

Latest Articles & My Travel Newsletter

Frequently Asked Questions about Milan

Where is Milan?

Milan is Italy’s northernmost large city and the capital of the Lombardy region. It is located approximately 280 km west of Venice, 300 km northwest of Florence, and 570 km northwest of Rome, sitting closer to Switzerland (80 km away) than to the nearest major Italian city. The picturesque Lake District of Italy is about 50 km away, making day trips easy. With over 3 million living in its metropolitan area, Milan is Italy’s second-most populous city after Rome. Milan’s overall land area is a whopping 181 sq km, but central Milan is compact and easily-navigable; most major sights and attractions sit within a few walkable kilometers of the Piazza del Duomo.

Map showing the city of Milan's location within Italy

What is Milan famous for?

Milan is perhaps best known for being a major European fashion capital. Most major Italian fashion houses (including Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Bottega Veneta) are headquartered in Milan, which hosts four annual world-class fashion weeks; some of the most exclusive luxury brands in the world can be found in Milan’s Quadrilatero della Moda shopping district (AKA the Quad). Milan is also famous for being home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting, the Gothic-spired Duomo di Milano cathedral, and the magnificent Teatro della Scala opera house. Milan’s two prominent football clubs, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan, both play in San Siro Stadium, one of the biggest in Europe.

A front view of la Scala opera house

La Scala opera house is one of the world’s most famous.

What cities have direct flights to Milan?

Milan’s Malpensa Airport (MXP) is the second largest in Italy, serving direct flights from 180 cities in 75 countries, including New York (JFK), New Jersey (EWR), Miami (MIA), in the United States. Within Europe, there are regular non-stop flights to Milan from most major cities, and Malpensa also serves direct flights from Singapore, Bangkok, New Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul. There are no direct flights to Milan’s Malpensa Airport from Australia or the western United States.

Terminal 1 of Milan's Malpensa Airport

Malpensa Airport in Milan serves non-stop flights from most major European cities.

When are the best months to visit Milan?

Although the peak of tourist season in Milan is in the summer months, the best times to visit are in late spring and early fall, when the weather is warm but not hot and the tourist crowds are a bit thinner – especially with kids, who can be especially sensitive to high heat and chaotic crowds. Shopping in Milan is great all year, but the best bargains can be found during Italy’s twice-annual sales season (soldi), which occur during winter and late summer. Milan’s famous fashion weeks regularly take place in January and June (Men’s), and February and September (Women’s); these great times to visit for fashionistas, but less so for those seeking to avoid large crowds and high prices. The best months for museum visits are June and December, when the best and most impressive exhibits are installed. Avoid visiting in August, when many Milanese take vacation and local businesses will be closed.
Graphic showing the best months to visit Milan for a variety of factors.

How long should I spend in Milan?

Two to three full days is an ideal length of time to spend in Milan. This gives adequate time to see the highlights, like the Duomo, the Last Supper, and the Galleria, as well as some leeway for sightseeing that is more particular to your interests, like visiting a great museum, strolling through the beautiful Cimitero Monumentale, or checking out San Siro football stadium. However long you stay, taking a guided tour is an excellent way to maximize your time.

Interior shot of The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

It’s easy to see many of Milan’s best attractions within a few days. The Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center (seen here) are located on the same piazza.

What is the best area to stay in Milan?

The best area to stay for first-time visitors is around the Piazza del Duomo, the beating heart of Milan. This area features some of Milan’s best hotels, and is chock-full of historical treasures, incredible museums, great restaurants, and luxury shopping. Brera is another wonderful sightseeing neighborhood, boasting the world-class Brera Gallery and historic Sforza Castle. Visitors looking for nightlife should consider the canals of the hip Navigli district, and those hoping to stay in a centrally-located neighborhood with a local vibe would do well to check out posh San Babila.

Map of Milan, showing and describing the best areas for tourists.

What are the best day trips from Milan

Milan sits only 50 km from the beautiful northern Italian Lake District, making it ideal for day trips. There are five beautiful Alpine lakes within the region: Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo and Garda – each has its own character, but all feature charming towns and breathtaking views. Traveling to the Lake Region from Milan takes about an hour by car. It’s easy to get there on your own, but there are also plenty of guided tours for those who would prefer to leave the driving to someone else.

Lakeside Italian village with the Alps in the background

Charming Bellagio village on Lake Como is only 90 minutes from Milan by car.

What currency is used in Milan?

Italy is part of the European Union, so the currency used in Milan is the euro (€). ATMs in Milan are plentiful and easy to find. Most restaurants, museums, and attractions in Milan accept credit cards, although it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases and short taxi trips.

Diners sit around a table in a candle-lit restaurant

Most of Milan’s best restaurants, like Filippo La Mantia, accept credit cards.

Is Milan Safe?

Some parts of Milan used to be somewhat risky in terms of pickpockets and property theft, but the city has come a long way over the last several years and is now the city center is very safe, with good lighting at night, many pedestrian-only areas, and plenty of people out and about. Still, it’s a always a good idea to be a little extra vigilant at Milano Centrale train station; it’s been cleaned up quite a bit over the last decade, but it’s still a hotbed for pick-pocketers and scam artists looking to offer you “help” while buying train tickets, and unregulated “taxi drivers” who will fleece you on your ride to the hotel.

Canal in Milan's Navigli District at night

Milan’s Navigli district. Most areas of Milan are well-lit at night, with plenty of people around.

Read More

Get All New Content To Your Inbox