Milan might be seen as the expensive and extravagant fashion capital of the world, and its true, if you want it to be you can spend a fortune here on luxury accommodation, fine dining and custom made Italian clothing. But with our backpacks in tow we are most definitely in the budget basement camp…but fear not, Milan can be explored by all!
Milan is quite a bit city and can be quite overwhelming at first. Each district has its own characteristics and charms and features. Luckily the public transport in Milan is excellent and pretty much every corner of the city is covered by either the underground or the trams. There are even buses too but we didn’t really need to use them as the others were easier and more convenient.
A day ticket that covers all methods of transport throughout the whole urban area network (metro/ bus/ tram) costs
This works for 24hrs after you first use it on the turn styles so you can often get what feels like more than a day out of your ticket. There are also discounted rates for buying more than one day at a time.
Transport from Bergamo airport takes around about an hour and costs 5 EUR to the main train station which is connected to the trams and metro.
The Duomo and Piazza
The stunning centre of the city and not to be missed, the cathedral that took 600 years to build it an absolute must see. The surrounding Piazza is awash with visitors from every corner of the globe, some coming to take the opportunity to prey in this sacred building and others just to marvel at its wonderful details. To visit the rooftop is to take in the most amazing view of the city and to get up close to the amazing statues of this unforgettable Italian icon!
Here you have several choices for different budgets:
Wonder around the wonderful piazza and sit in awe: FREE!
Visit the inside of the church: 2 Euros
Head on to the rooftops via the stairs: 8 Euros
Read more about this amazing building here:
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
One of the worlds oldest shopping malls, this 4 storey arcade might be free to swan around but the people buying from here are most definitely not short on cash! Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the kingdom of Italy, it was constructed between 1865 and 1877. The stunning walkway now houses the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton and Versace alongside some of the cities best restaurants and even more haute couture! An icon in its own right and an important piece of Milanese culture, standing under the domed centre piece is awe inspiring…even if you can’t afford a button!!
Parrocchia di San satiro
Another and often over looked cathedral just around the corner from the Duomo, this renaissance structure dates back to its completion in 1482. If the Duomo is heaving with tourists you can guarantee this church will be a serine corner of the city to take a break and reflect in stunning surroundings. The adjoining bell tower might look slightly out of place, that is because it is the original Romanesque, pre 1480’s construction.
A wonderfully large and green urban park in the centre of Milan, it contains the Arch of peace and is next to the Sforza Castle (see below). This rolling park was established back in 1888 as a place for the Milanese to relax and take a break from the busy city. That is exactly what we did, on a warm spring day the park was just lovely, with grass to sunbathe on and a pond full of turtles to gaze at. We took the time to wander around the 386,000 m² grounds at a leisurely pace which was a lovely way to recharge the batteries.
This amazingly preserved 15th century fortification stands proud at the entrance to the park. The impressive structure was built by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan and now houses many of the cities museums and art collections. Most of the complex and grounds are free to visit and stroll around. The different sections contain large moats, courtyards, impressive floral displays and preserved frescos.Although much of the complex has succumbed to the years, what remains is still a large and impressive fortification that is well worth taking some time over.
The Brera district of Milan is a quartiere of the city that is unlike main of the other neighbourhoods. Here the narrow cobbled streets retain a traditional feel where the rest of the city has wider or somewhat more modern layouts and architecture. Here there is a really hip and trendy vibe with many galleries, small independent shops, cafes lining the alley ways and a youthful and creative vibe. When we visited the Milan Design festival was also in full flow and the streets were alive with colour, noise and excitement.
For the best and most reasonably priced pizza head to Mr Panozzo. Here in this easy going pizzeria you will find exceptional and friendly service. The own even enquired as to where we are from and let us try a slice of the Margarita for free whilst we decided what we wanted!
Also, like many cities, don’t be afraid to take the metro out of the main city centre and even just out a few stops to sample some authentic but much cheaper Italian food!
Day out in Como
Como might again seem like the stylish hang out for the rich and famous but it can easily be experienced on the cheap. A train from Milan only costs just over 6 Euros each way and takes you on an hour long journey through some amazing countryside. Once in Varenna you can take a ferry across the the classy town of Bellagio in the centre of this stunning lake surrounded by mountains. The ferry only costs around 9 Euros return and is another wonderful way to see the lake. Renting a bike out here is a great way to then spend the day exploring the cobbled streets and stunningly lush lakeside surroundings for only 12 Euros each for the full day. There are so many things to do in Milan, but don’t forget that surrounding the city there are plenty more amazing budget adventures to be had!
Read more about our Lake Como adventure here: