As probably the most beautiful, not to mention iconic, destinations in Northern Italy, Milan is really a must-see when travelling with the boot-shaped country. Best explored during the period of a few days (or even longer if you have the time), it’s important to note the city is called ‘Milano’ locally. Listed here are the top Milan travel tips you must know before your first visit!
The second-largest city in Italy (second only to Rome) is only a delight to go to! Between the world-famous Duomo (cathedral) and a fantastic foodie scene that’s easily among the best in Europe, you can’t go wrong by booking the time to stay and discover the best things to do in Milan.
Italian may be the local language in Milano
Although lots of people you’ll encounter will speak fantastic English, it’s only polite to learn a few words from the local language. Personally, i recommend beginning with a minimum of the fundamentals, i.e. ‘Please, Hello, Thanks, and Sorry’. Help yourself manage with Italian by buying an easy phrasebook like this one.
You have to book to go to the final Supper in Advance
If you need to see the world-famous Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci then you need to know before you go that you’ll need to book tickets ahead of time. Currently, only a more 1300 people each day are allowed to begin to see the painting, and slots are timed for just fifteen-minutes long.
This is because rather than being a fresco, The Last Supper was really painted onto drywall (frescoes are typically painted onto wet plaster). As such, the paint is deteriorating much faster than if it were painted in another way. To prevent disappointment, make sure to book your Last Supper tickets well ahead of time here.
The Duomo di Milano rooftop is a must-visit
If you’re searching for the best sunset spot in Milan, then you definitely must your search is over: the Duomo di Milano rooftop terrace offers breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Set from the backdrop of 1 of the most impressive examples of Italian Renaissance architecture, the terraced areas would be the perfect place to snap photos from the city and find out another outlook during Milano. Purchase your Duomo & Duomo di Milano rooftop ticket within advance.
You should bring a light rain jacket or umbrella
Due to the position to the North of Italy, Milan is well-known for that sheer amount of rain the town receives on an annual basis when compared with a number of other major Italian destinations. As a result, you’ll wish to pack an umbrella or light rain jackets to carry along with you in your trip!
It couldn’t be easier to visit Milan!
Thanks to many international airports and fantastic train links towards the remainder of Europe, Milano creates an ideal weekend break, or longer stint if you have more time on your hands and would like to make use of the city like a base look around the wider Lombardia region.
Milan hosts an array of hidden gems
Did you will know there’s a secret vineyard in Milan? Or that there’s a chapel constructed from bones? Well, the main city town of Lombardia has all of this to offer and more. Head to Milan’s city centre and simply stroll around, allowing the feet to help you and you’re certain to stumble upon a minimum of a hidden gem or two. Alternatively, for a more comprehensive guide, take a look at my help guide to the best-kept secrets of Milan.
Be sure to visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Aside in the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral), the other must-see major attraction of Milano is that of the ornate and covered Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Constructed in the 19th-century, the shopping arcade is the oldest of its kind in Italy and stands at a staggering four-storeys high.
Local legend has it when you spin three times on the testicles of the bull mosaic then you’ll be blessed with good luck. However, as you might imagine from any such custom, the mosaic has since suffered serious damage due to the amount of holidaymakers and locals alike opting to get this done!
Be sure to bring a universal travel adapter with you
Whether you’re from The united states, the united kingdom, and many other destinations across the world, it’s important to note that you’ll probably require an adapter so that you can keep your electronics charged on the go. Buy a universal travel adapter like this one and you’ll be able to utilize it in multiple destinations, thus helping you save precious suitcase space!
Don’t order a Latte unless you want a glass of hot milk
Yes, you read that correctly! Despite what you may be employed to, a latté in Italy is simply a hot glass of milk. If you’re looking for a mix of coffee and milk, then you’d be better served by ordering a caffé latte because this will actually contain coffee! A simple coffee is simply ‘un caffé’.
Never order a cappuccino after lunchtime
And while we’re on the subject of coffee, make sure to never order a cappuccino after lunch! This is just seen as an morning beverage and isn't typically drunk later on within the day. Instead, simply choose ‘un caffé’. For more information about Italian coffee culture, check out my guide on how to order coffee in Italy.
Watch out for pickpockets
As with any major European city, Milan has its own great amount of pickpockets, particularly in more touristic areas such as close to the Milano Cathedral and around Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. As a result, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings all the time and be sure to bring along a bag that zips up fully. Personally, i own one like this one and love its versatility!
Tipping isn’t essential
If you’re heading out for a meal, or even just an espresso, and are wondering about tipping culture in Italy, then you should realize that gratuities or tips aren't expected.
Sampling an aperitivo is a must!
Of all the Milan travel tips I possibly could provide you with, it’s important to note the Lombardy capital is probably an italian man , capital of the aperitivo and it is even widely regarded to become the birthplace from the heritage. This tradition would be to have a pre-dinner cocktail which is typically served with complimentary nibbles. For the best aperitivo in the city, I highly recommend heading to the über cool Navigli neighbourhood, that is characterised by its twinkling night lights and lots of canals.
Milan is more expensive to go to than other Italian cities
Between accommodation costs, seeing major attractions, and eating out within the city, it’s fair to say that Milano is much more expensive than many other major Italian towns and cities I’ve visited through the years, including Bergamo and Turin. As a result, budget accordingly and be sure to check on restaurant prices before sitting down for just about any meals!
Be sure to book your place to stay well in advance!
Thanks to Milan’s year ’round popularity, there is no lack of places to stay both inside the city confines and merely outside. If you might consider booking a location further from the city centre to minimise costs, think about the period of time you really need to see Milan along with the extra amount of time you’ll end up spending going to find out if it’s well worth the savings. Check the very best accommodation prices in Milan here.
Plan the timing of the trip to Milan
While lots of people would assume that Italy is sunny and warm all year long ’round, it is not the situation when it comes to Northern Italy. Instead, though the summers are hot, the winters can be incredibly cold and you’ll need to summary warm with plenty of layers.
As such, if you’re looking for the best time to visit Italy, then you should consider what you would like to get out of your trip! Typically, I recommend that individuals visit Europe during the shoulder seasons, i.e. fall and spring, and much more specifically the end of spring and the start of fall. By doing this, it’s easy to enjoy the best of the weather with fewer crowds minimizing prices to match!
Visit the top Milan museums for free
Like many major European cities, including Paris, around the first Sunday of each and every month, it can save you several euros by looking into making probably the most of free museum days. Civic museums that are typically free on this day include Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Museo di Storia Naturale, Acquario Civico, Museo del Novecento, Palazzo Morando, as well as The final Supper (though reservations are hard to call and are mandatory).
Milan is a superb base by which to make day trips
For those who are looking to get a little bit more of the sense of Italy than its cosmopolitan vibe, Milano creates a great location by which to take day trips towards the remainder of Italy as well as further afield. In the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps around the Bernina Express towards the medieval towns of Bologna and Pavia, there’s a day trip for even the most discerning of travellers. Fancy more Wanderlust inspiration? Read this help guide to the best day trips from Milan.