Travel Guide Europe Italy Lombardy Milan



The Duomo in Milan

The Duomo in Milan

© djrkidd

Milan is located in Lombardy, in the north of Italy, not far from the border with Switzerland and is mainly known as a major international fashion city. Apart from this, the city has many cultural monuments to visit, like the Duomo, one of the largest gothic churches in the world. The city has almost 4 million inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities in Italy. The canal district is one of the best places for outdoor eats and great Italian cuisine!




The city of Milan has a clear geometrical structure: it is shaped like an onion with several circular layers around the centro storico, the historical centre. The administration of Milan officially recognizes 9 zones or quartieri, one central kernel and 8 sections surrounding it, as can be seen on the picture on the right.

Districts Milan

Districts Milan

© stef7sa

The administrative central part, zone 1, still is quite large (9 square kilometres) in this subdivision, including the historical center and everything within the second ring-road. Probably about 95% of all interesting sights of Milan lies within zone 1. This means that for touristic purposes a subdivision of zone 1 is useful. The most important part of this subdivision is clear: the historical centre.

The actual historical centre of Milan is about 2 kilometres in diameter, has the Duomo as its centre and has everything within reasonable walking distance. This part of the city entirely lies within the first circular street.

Along this ring-road you'll find (in clockwise order):

  • The Castello Sforzesco,
  • The Palazzo di Brera,
  • The Porta Nuova,
  • The Qadrilatero d'Oro northern boundary (Via della Spiga)
  • The San Nazaro Maggiore,
  • The San Lorenzo and
  • The San Ambrogio church.

Still about 90% of all sights of Milan are located within this circle.

The second layer of the onion is defined by the gates of the 16th century Spanish wall, located at the radials that lead to the center of the city from different directions. In clockwise order these gates are or were (some of them no longer exist):

  • Porta Sempione (toll-houses next to the Arco della Pace)
  • Porta Tenaglia
  • Porta Garibaldi,
  • Porta Nuova (the newer one),
  • Porta Venezia,
  • Porta Monforte,
  • Porta Vittoria (now the Cinque Giornate monument),
  • Porta Romana,
  • Porta Vigentina,
  • Porta Lodovica,
  • Porta Ticinese (the newer one),
  • Porta Genova,
  • Porta Magenta

The part of Milan within these gates is the former Roman and medieval Mediolanum.

The resulting sections of the city between the first and second circular, that have the radials through these gates as boundaries, are frequently used for orientation beyond the historical center. For touristic purposes these sections are combined with their hinterland, leading to the districts of:

  • Sempione-San Siro (NW)
  • Brera-Porta Nuova (N)
  • Porta Venezia-Stazione Centrale (NE)
  • Porta Monforte (E)
  • Porta Vittoria-Romana (SE)
  • Porta Vigentina-Lodovica (S)
  • Porta Ticinese-Navigli (SW)
  • Porta Magenta (W)

completing the entire compass-card.

Milan has now been subdivided into 9 districts, almost identical to the administrative subdivision, with the exception of the center district which we have restricted to the historical centre.



Sights and Activities

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a glass covered walking and shopping arcade and is one the northern side of the Piazza Del Duomo. Construction on the arcade was completed in 1877 and it has been a very popular shopping place ever sense. The arcade is home to many high end shops, restaurants and bars. It is also home to the ultra-luxurious Town House Galleria hotel with the most expensive rooms and facilities in all of Milan. The arcade also links several of the main sights in Milan including the Milan Cathedral.

Milan Cathedral

Duomo - The Milan Cathedral, also known in Italian as Milan Duomo, is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan and took a long time to build. Construction began in 1386 and was not officially done until 1965. This cathedral is the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world and can seat up to 40,000 people. This impressive cathedral is well worth a visit and has many interesting tombs.


  • Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio - Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan, being originally built in the late 4th century. After being reconstructed in 1099 the church gained its present day appearance. The church is home to some good mosaics and the tomb of Emperor Louis II.
  • Basilica of Saint Lawrence - Basilica of Saint Lawrence (Chiesa di San Lorenzo Maggiore) was founded in the 4th century and this basilica was designed in a Byzantine style. The interior was redecorated in the 16th century although the outer structure was not changed at all.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie - Santa Maria delle Grazie is a convent and considered one of the most famous churches in Milan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main claim to fame is the church is home to the famous mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Santa Maria presso San Satiro - Santa Maria presso San Satiro was constructed in 1482 and has many great murals and was built in a Romanesque style.
  • Cimitero Monumentale di Milano - Cimitero Monumentale di Milano is a famous cemetery and the final resting place for many well known people in modern history.

Castello Sforzesco

Castle in Milan

Castle in Milan

© foltz.45

Castello Sforzesco is an impressive castle built in the 14th century. In 1450 Francesco Sforza reconstructed the castle and it was also modified by future generations. After Italy was unified in the 19th century the castle started to move from military use to civilian use by the city of Milan. The castle was heavily damaged during World War II and was reconstructed for public use after the war. The castle is currently being used by several museums including:

  • The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco is a museum with Michelangelo's last sculpture.
  • The Museum of Ancient Art
  • The Furniture Museumm
  • The Museum of Musical Instruments and Applied Arts collection
  • The Egyptian and Prehsitoric sections of the Archaeological Musuem
  • The Achille Bertarelli Print Collection

Other Sights and Activities

  • Teatro alla Scala - Teatro alla Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. The seaon usually starts at this amazing opera house on December 7th and tickets can be very hard to get.
  • La Scala Museum - La Scala Museum is a museum that traces the history of the opera houses and holds many good relics. The museum is attached to the opera house.
  • Biblioteca Ambrosiana - Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historical library which houses the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana art gallery, which has many of Leonardo Da Vinci notebooks, manuscripts and drawings. Many consider this place one of the primary repositories of European culture.
  • Pinacoteca di Brera - Pinacoteca di Brera is an amazing art gallery with a stunning collection with a religious focus.
  • Museo Poldi Pezzoli - Museo Poldi Pezzoli is an art museum with a northern Italian focus.
  • Bagatti Valsecchi Museum - Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is a not for profit historic house museum with a nice collection of Italian Renaissance art and decorative arts collections. The collection originally belonged to the barons of Bagatti Valsecchi.



Events and Festivals

  • Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Fair (07 Dec 2013) - The Oh Bej" Oh Bej! Fair, literally translated, "Oh so nice! Oh so nice!", is popular event attended by families and their children around Christmas time. The event is typically very crowded, because along with holiday treats and goodies, many often use this as a place to complete their Christmas shopping. Visitors can expect to see incredibly decorated public squares and opportunities to visit hundreds of stalls displaying a variety of Italian goods. This event begins every year on December 7th.
  • Formula 1 Grand Prix - 10 miles north of Milan, is the Monza race track, which is one of the first ever built. For its sentimental value, the race held at this track is one of the most popular on the Formula 1 calendar. Spectators can expect to see an exhilarating drag race between some of Europe's fastest and most popular race car drivers.
  • Antiques Market - This busy market takes place the last Sunday of every month (except in July), and its held on The Naviglio Grande, the oldest canal in Milan. Visitors can expect to choose from over 400 stalls set up by vendors who hope to sell their prized furniture, clocks, dining ware, jewelry, and other various collector's items.
  • Fashion Week - Held semi-annually in both the Spring and Fall, the fashion week of Milan is internationally recognized as one of 4 cities that hold the biggest fashion events of the year. Top designers from all over the world come to Milan to premiere their latest creations. The spring event is held in February or March, and the Fall event is in September or October.
  • Carnavale Ambrosiano - Carnivale is a lively festival akin to USA's Mardi Gras celebrations. Held just prior to the church's Lenten season, participants dress in colorful costumes and extravagant parties and parades are held throughout the city. Milan's Carnivale event is an exceptionally festive event, and its parties last longer than any other event in the region (going into the weekend past Ash Wednesday).
  • Festa dei Navigli - Held during this first ten days of June, this grand festival features street performers, food stands, parades, live music, and much more. This popular event is held on the banks of the Navigli, where it gets its name. Throughout the year, many other popular events are held at this important canal.
  • Flowers on the Naviglio - For this street market event, flowers, plants, and everything garden is featured on the banks of the Naviglio. Food, wine, and other local cuisine will also be available for visitors to sample.
  • Isola Estiva sui Navigli di Milano - During this Summer event, also known as "Island Summer on the canals of Milan", popular and trendy local restaurants offer specials on appetizers and drinks along with candlelit dinners along the canal.
  • St Ambrogio festival in Milan - Commemorating the patron Saint of Milan, this feast day is held every year on December 7th. To celebrate this holiday, a large market is set up in St. Ambrogio square, where many sweets and local delicacies are served.
  • Milan Jazz Music Festival - The presence of Jazz music has held a special place in the heart of Italy since the first World War. This popular music festival celebrates jazz music's important role in the Italian music community, and it is the centerpiece of this great event held every November. Big-name jazz musicians from across Europe come to Milan to perform for this festival.
  • Milan Film Festival - A great event for documentary filmmakers across Europe. This a great forum for directors to gain initial feedback from audiences about their latest work.
  • Milano Food Week - A taste sensation held in the heart of Milan. Locally acclaimed restaurants and chefs gather to prepare their finest offerings for guests to sample. Although the food will be absolutely scrumptious, it will also be healthy, as this festival also focuses on healthy eating practices.
  • Milano City Marathon - This popular race takes place in the city-center every year in April. Race designers crafted a route that's mainly flat, so it's a great race for runners who are looking to improve their overall time. Both racers and spectators will enjoy this event; a large market with shopping, food, and entertainment will also be available.
  • The Milan Expo 2015 (01 May 2015 - 31 Oct 2015) - The Milan Expo 2015 will bring over 150 countries to Italy for a duration of six months. The expo promises epic experiences for travellers with various activities and events planned to take place. Participating countries are allocated a space to install pavillions to showcase their offerings for visitors. As the commercial city of Italy, the city of Milan is no stranger to welcoming millions visitors from across the globe all around the calender. Countries like China and Switzerland have already confirmed their participation at the 2015 Expo. Address: Milan, Italy, Hours: 9.00am - 1.00am




Milan has warm summers, averaging between 25 and 30 °C from June to September, nights are around or slightly below 20 °C during this time. Winters are mostly between zero and 8 °C though temperatures can drop to -10 °C sometimes. Summer and autumn are the wettest times of the year, though rain (and sometimes snow in winter) is possible in every month.



Getting There

By Plane

1. Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) is the main airport servicing Milan and is 45 kilometres way. The airport has connections to all the major cities in Europe. There are also several flights to the Middle East, North America and North Africa every day. These include destinations like Baku, Marrakech and New York to name a few.

To/from the airport

  • Rail: The airport is linked to Milan by a regional rail service that departs from Terminal 1 every half hour and takes about 40 minutes to reach downtown. The train travels to Milan Cadorna Station (connection with Milan's subway's Line M2 (Green) and Line M1 (Red), and the Suburban and the Regional Railway Service) by the Malpensa Express, with intermediate stops at Busto Arsizio FNM, Saronno Centrale (connection with regional trains bound for Varese and Como) and Milano Bovisa (connection with the Passante track of the suburban railways). Additional connections include a shuttle connection between Malpensa Airport railway station and Busto Arsizio FS. and two daily connections between the airport, Gallarate and Bellinzona (Switzerland).
  • Bus: Malpensa Shuttle and Malpensa Bus Express connect the airport to Milan Central Station and the metro system. Stops at the Milan Fair are provided on request. Travel time is about an hour under normal circumstances.
  • Taxis and rental cars are widely available on the airport as well.
  • Car: the airport is connected by a four-lane highway to the A8 motorway (connecting Switzerland to Milan) and by a four-lane highway to the A4 motorway linking Milan to Turin and to the Strada Statale 11.

2. Milan Linate Airport (LIN), about 8 kilometres from downtown Milan, is the main commuter and domestic airport in the Milan area. There are limited flights to cities in western and northern Europe. The Malpensa and Linate airports are linked by a bus system and it takes 40 minutes to get between them.

3. Orio al Serio Airport (BGY) near Bergamo serves a large number of European cities, mainly with lowcoast airlines and therefore is a convenient way of flying to Milan as well, just 40 kilometres away, with hourly buses and trains going there.
Especially Ryanair has quite a few flights throughout Europe. Cities with connections to and from Bergamo include Alghero, Alicante, Bari, Berlin, Bratislava, Bremen, Brindisi, Bristol, Brussels, Cagliari, Dublin, Eindhoven, Fez, Frankfurt, Girona, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Granada, Ibiza, Krakow, Liverpool, London, Lublin, Lübeck, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester, Nantes, Oslo, Palermo, Paris, Pescara, Porto, Riga, Rome, Santander, Seville, Stockholm, Tangier, Tampere, Valencia, Valladolid, and Zaragoza. Several more budget airlines serve Bergamo including SkyEurope (Prague, Wizzair (mainly Poland) and a few more mainly to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and destinations in eastern Europe, like Tirana, Timisoara and Bratislava.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: Terravision and Autostradale run a service between the airport and the central station in Milan city centre. ATM runs a bus service between the airport and the railway station.
  • Rail: There is a direct Airport Bus from Bergamo railway station to the airport provided by the local transport company of Bergamo, the trip costs €1.70 and takes 15 minutes. From Bergamo railway station there are trains to Milan, Brescia and Lecco.

By Train

Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), the national railway carrier, has trains to and from many destinations throughout Italy including Rome and Bari. International tickets can be booked through Trenitalia or several other national railway carriers, or travel agencies. The Regional Railway Service links Milan with the rest of Lombardy and the national railway system. Since December 13, 2009 two high-speed train lines link Milan to Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Salerno in one direction, and to Turin in another.

By Bus

Buses go regularly to Bergamo, 40 kilometres north of the city.



Getting Around

By Public Transport

Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) operates public transport in the metropolitan area, with a network consisting of three metropolitan railway lines and tram, trolley-bus and bus lines.
Milan has three subway lines: the red line which runs northeast and west, the green line running northeast and southwest, and the yellow line running north and south.
The Suburban Railway Service Lines, composed of ten suburban lines connects the Milan agglomeration to the metropolitan area. The Regional Railway Service links Milan with the rest of Lombardy and the national railway system.





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Keep Connected


Almost all towns and cities in Italy have internet cafes. A growing number of budget hostels and nicer hotels have free Wifi. By law all public-access internet points must keep records of web sites viewed by customers, and even the customer's ID: expect to be refused access if you don't provide identification. Hotels providing Internet access are not required to record IDs if the connection is provided in the guest's room, although if the connection is offered in the main public hall then IDs are required. Publicly available wireless access without user identification is illegal, so open Wi-Fi hotspots (like the ones you might expect to find in a mall or cafée) all have some form of (generally one-time) registration.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The main networks are TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile, part of Telecom Italia, formerly state controlled), Vodafone, Wind, and 3 (only UMTS cellphones). Best advice is to buy a prepaid SIM card (from € 10 upwards) and a cheap mobile phone (€ 19 upwards) to put it in (if you don't have a cellphone already that you can use). It will be much more practical. All land line numbers start with 0. Mobile numbers start with 3. Numbers starting with 89 are high-fee services. In case of emergency call the appropriate number from the list below. Such calls are usually free and calls to 112, 113 (police), 115 (fire), 118 (health) can be made from payphones for free without the need of inserting coins. 112 (standard emergency number in GSM specification) can be dialed in any case for free from any mobile phone.


Post Italiane is the national postal services of Italy and has quite an efficient network of postal offices and reliable postal services. Standard letters and postcards (up to 20 grams) cost €0.39 to send within Europe and the Mediterranean countries outside Europe and €0.41 to all other destinations throughout the country. Up to 50 grams, prices start at €0.52 for Europe, €0.62 for other areas. Packages start at €1.55 within Europe, and around €2.50 for other countries. Post office business hours in Italy are from 8:30am to 2:00pm from Monday to Friday, with closing times at Saturday and the last day of the month at 12 noon. In general, larger post offices in bigger cities and in tourist areas keep longer hours than those in local towns. Also note that business hours in the south might be different than the north, with longer hours at night, especially in summer! If you want to send packages you might try faster and more reliable/efficient private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 45.463671
  • Longitude: 9.188126

Accommodation in Milan

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