Milan Travel Guide
It's one of the world's fashion capitals, of course, and Milan certainly does style like few other places. Locals walk around impeccably dressed; visitors prance between the shops in the Quadrilatero d'Oro, or 'Golden Rectangle' – the streets around Via Montenapoleone which are home to all the best known brands.
Sometimes, this feels like the most modern city in Italy. The fashion houses are responsible for a new crop of contemporary art galleries in repurposed industrial spaces: the Fondazione Prada, Armani Silos and Pirelli Hangarbicocca for starters. Then there's the design scene – the Triennale hosts a permanent exhibition on Italian design, and every April, the Salone del Mobile, or Milan Design Week, fills the city with pop-up boutiques and galleries. Even the nightlife is forward-looking – some of the most inventive cocktail bars in Europe are located here.Of course, Milan has history, too. The Duomo – the vast wedding cake of a building that is Europe's second largest church – was started in 1386 (but only completed in 1965, so intricate was the design). The Brera is one of Italy's finest art galleries, showing works from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. And of course, this is the city of Leonardo da Vinci, who worked in the Castello Sforzesco and painted his famous "Last Supper" in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Past, present, and – over in the Porta Garibaldi neighborhood – the future. Few cities are as energizing as Milan.
Central European Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Milan is led less by seasons, more by events. Fashion Week and the Salone del Mobile send prices rocketing, but go right after the events — MFW is usually in late February to early March, and again in September, while the Salone del Mobile is in April — and you'll find the city still buzzing, with special events and exhibits, although hotel prices are down and restaurants are taking reservations again.
Things to Know
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I don't speak Italian: Non parlo italiano
I'm lost: Mi sono perso/a
How much is…: Quanto costa...
I would like…: Vorrei…
How do I get to…: Per andare a...
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Calling Code: +39
Capital City: Rome
How to Get Around
Trains: Along with Rome's Termini, Milano Centrale is the country's main railway station. From here, high-speed trains will whisk you across northern Italy to places like Venice, Turin and Genoa, and take you down through Bologna and Florence to Rome.
Buses: Milan does have buses, but the quintessential method of public transport is the tram, some of which date back to the 1920s. It also has an excellent metro system.
Taxis: Taxis are plentiful, with stands at major sites — though you can also use the MiT hailing app. There's a fixed rate from Malpensa airport but fares are metered from closer Linate.
Car service: Most hotels can arrange transfers to and from the airports and out to the lakes.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Brera: The cobbled streets of Brera have always had a boho feel, thanks to its most famous resident, the Brera art gallery. Things are rather less louche and rather more chic these days, but it's still a languid, almost Parisian area, with tables lined up outside bistros, little boutiques, and the city's botanical gardens.
Quadrilatero d'Oro: The 'Golden Rectangle' – also known as the Fashion Rectangle – is one of the world's greatest style districts. Via Montenapoleone is its spine; the roads fanning off it, such as Via della Spiga, Via Borgospesso, and Via Gesù are equally glam. If the most you can stretch to is a coffee, settle down to people-watch at Pasticceria Cova.
Porta Garibaldi: This jagged, gem-shaped area north of Brera, looks firmly to the future – its glass-fronted skyscrapers jostle with the famous Duomo to dominate the city skyline. This is a big shopping area, taking in upmarket high street labels, plus niche brands such as influencer Chiara Ferragni's store, and fashion hub 10 Corso Como. Past the famous Bosco Verticale is Isola, once a quiet working class district known for its jazz clubs, now getting ever trendier.
Porta Genova: The area behind the Porta Genova station is Milan's classic nightlife zone. Young people crowd the waterfront bars of the Navigli canals; beyond that, and a little hipper and quieter, is the Via Tortona neighborhood, whose former factories now hold bars and boutiques catering to the design-led offices in the area.
Milan springs start crisp and end warm, with May temperatures nudging up to the 70s. Summers are sweltering – although temperatures in the mid 80s don't sound much, add in the humidity and closeness of the Po Valley, and you'll be suffering. Fall is still warm, but temperatures drop sharply in November, with temperatures above freezing in winter, though feeling colder thanks to the humidity.