Milan is a great destination for a short trip but it is often overlooked. You won’t find so many landmarks but it’s full of little gems, charm, and history. The north of Italy is starkly different from Rome or Naples. Here you will find better organization without losing the Italian charm.
Beware that the summer is way too hot, so you should aim for a spring or autumn visit. Another city where I fly with frequency, you will find below my advice for arriving and getting around Milan. My focus is on the ways that, over the years, I have tried and tested and can recommend.
Since it’s served by two airports on opposite sides of the city, keep that in mind when you book your hotel, in case you have a late or early flight. I purposely left the Bergamo/BGY airport out, since the distance plus no direct rail connection makes it too time-consuming for a short trip.
ARRIVING in Milan
Milan, as most of the European large cities, is well-connected through flights, trains or buses.
It is served by two airports: Malpensa and Linate. Both receive lots of international flights, however, the from/to between them couldn’t be more different, so keep it in mind when making your plans. Here you can see their locations in relation to the Duomo/city center.
Aeroporto di Milano Malpensa (MXP)
Malpensa is the biggest airport serving Milan. The most convenient way to reach the city center is the Malpensa Express trains. The journey takes around 35 minutes, with various stops, including Centrale, Porta Garibaldi, and Cadorna. The three stations mentioned above offer easy transfers to all subway lines to reach your final destination.
TIP! Purchase the return ticket for €20 instead of €13 each way.
Beyond that, there are also coaches available. I definitely discourage taking a taxi here, it will set you back on a fixed fee of €95!
Aeroporto di Milano-Linate (LIN)
Linate is much closer to the city center than Malpensa but (and a big ‘but’) there are no train connections—as of now. So exceptionally for Linate, I suggest taxis. Pay attention to the rush hour to avoid getting stuck in traffic!
The good news is that Line 4 is going to connect the airport directly to the heart of the city—San Babila, a stone’s throw from Piazza Duomo—without changes. The bad news is that this wasn’t scheduled (before Corona) to happen until the end of December 2022.
The main train station is Milano Centrale and you will likely arrive here if you are coming from abroad. It is directly connected to two subway stations, M2 and M3. Check below the Getting Around section for more info on the subway system.
GETTING AROUND Milan
Click here if you want to read more on the changes to the tariff system effected in July 2019.
The European rule applies: get used to public transport, especially the subway, a.k.a. la metropolitana. In Milan, ATM (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi) runs the system and they also offer a free app (iOS / Android) that includes a route planner that works much better than Google Maps here.
In all subway stations (expect long lines in the main ones), you will find machines for purchasing your ticket. You will have to choose from several options, considering which tariff zones you need to cross:
The most basic ticket covers zones Mi1-Mi3 and the regular tourist will be well served by this one. Further, you need to choose the validity period. The most convenient tickets are the Daily and 3-Day tickets, valid for subway, tram, buses, and local trains.
|€ 2.00||90 minutes, in any direction|
|€ 7.00||24h from first validation|
biglietto 3 giorni
|€ 12.00||3 consecutive days from the day of the first validation|
Considering that the 24h ticket costs the same as 3.5 singles, these are both practical and usually the most cost-efficient. The network is extensive, so no need to rent a car either.
Contactless payments are available on the entire metro network. As long as your journey starts on a metro station and continues within zones Mi1-Mi3 of the surface network, you can travel until the ticket’s expiration.
Attention! Be sure to always check-in and out with the same card or device, even at the few stations where the exit is free. By doing so, the correct journey will be calculated and there’s an automatic cap on the amount of the daily ticket from your 4th journey.
Since your card will be charged a few days after using the transport, it is useful (though not obligatory) to register at the ATM website to verify the amounts charged.
As you can see, the Biglietto 3 Giorni comes quite in handy for weekend visitors. It costs less than twice the daily tariff, so pay attention before mindlessly using the contactless payment option.
Milan: New Transport Tariff System (July 2019)
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