Travel Guide: Milan
From gelato to the Duomo, here's how to get the most from Milan
- By Hannah Summers -
San Siro Stadium
Join the crowd: Witness the passion of Italian fans at one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. Home to AC and Inter Milan, a match here guarantees an evening of unadulterated fun. If athletic sweaty men aren’t your thing, get your thrills at a concert instead.
Big acts often include the venue on their touring schedule due to the sound quality and the response of the fans (Bruce Springsteen has even said they are the best in the world). If you’re used to seeing your favourite band in London, they’ll sound a whole lot better here. Promise. sansiro.net
Dinner on the move
Ride and dine: What is it about public transport that becomes appealing when you throw food into the mix? Milan’s tram system is a handy way to get about (go for Line 1 for the original varnished-wood seats), but this is about more than getting from A to B.
Use it as your transport method, but book a meal on the bottle-green ATMosfera trams, which have been remodeled to seat 24 diners at four silky-tablecloth adorned tables. Expect several courses of delicious Italian food paired with local wines. That’s our kind of sightseeing. atm.it
Sightsee in style: Leonardo da Vinci's ‘The Last Supper’ may be the city’s most famous sight, but you'll need to book tickets well in advance. If you miss the boat, head to the Duomo. Yes, you've seen cathedrals before, but this one's special.
Go for the tickets that give you access to the underground passageways. Sure, the frescoes and pews are nice, but the subterranean stuff’s cooler. Then, admire its glory with a spritz in your hand at Giacomo Arengario (a swanky bar on the square) and you’ll virtually be sitting on the Duomo. Which beats sitting in it. giacomoarengario.com
Brilliant bakes: Do not leave Milan without visiting Luini’s. In fact, make it a priority, as this bakery has been bashing out panzerotti – that’s doughy, fried mozzarella and tomato parcels – since 1888.
Go early to avoid the queues and buy a bagful of the moreish, molten snacks – one will not be enough, and there are different varieties to try (salami, anchovy, even sweet chocolate versions). Eat them standing on the street or dine with the pigeons on the steps of the Duomo, which is 30 seconds away.
Trattoria Massuelli S.Marco
Go for gold: Think you know risotto? The gooey rice dish is famous throughout Italy, but in Milan it takes on a yellow tinge, thanks to one key ingredient: saffron. The origins of the rice staple aren’t set in stone, but it’s thought the saffron was added to give it a special golden hue for a wedding event.
Try it yourself at Trattoria Massueli S.Marco on Viale Umbria, a fuss-free restaurant established in 1921. For real gold – a sliver of gold leaf on top, in fact – Il Marchesino, in La Scala opera house, does a fancier version. masuellitrattoria.com; marchesi.it
Gelato Corso Garibaldi 55
Get the scoop: Good gelato isn’t hard to come by in Milan – and you’ll want to try it all, right? Well, make sure this small shop at number 55 Corso Garibaldi is on your list. It’s not the interiors that make it special – it's just a counter chock-full of flavours and no sitting room – but you’ll want to eat your cone strolling the streets anyway.
We went mad for the nuts, with pistachio, hazelnut and a generous scoop of a fresh batch of coconut. Deliciously creamy and delicately flavoured, it's perfect in the city heat – or at any time of year for that matter.
Bar crawl: OK, so recommending a whole district in Milan may seem a bit vague, but we're going bar hopping. The streets of Navigli, southwest of the centre, are lined with canals and socialising Italians; this is tiny, lively bar territory.
Try Viola Enoteca, which specialises in Italian wines; or for beer head to BQ, where you’ll find 100 artisan beers, plus another ten on tap and ten from the keg. Start in the early evening and grab a table for aperitivo – essentially drinks which come with snacks. Ours is an Aperol Spritz, or a hugo – prosecco with elderflower.
Four Seasons Milan
Sip in style: If plush carpets, padded arm chairs and guys in white suits are just your style, then settle in for a drink at the Four Seasons Milan. The luxe hotel started life as a convent in the 15th century, and nods to its rich history are still present – from renaissance columns to faded frescoes.
Nowadays, the famous foyer bar is a place for plinky plonky piano tunes and some of the best martinis in the city. Great for a sophisticated nightcap if the bars of Navigli get a little bit too rowdy. fourseasons.com/milan
Small and mighty: You’ll need espressos to fuel your Milan sightseeing. Yes, espressos. No cappuccinos, and definitely no lattes. The rich shots of coffee are served in hundreds of bars about town, and cost just a euro. You’ll most likely be handed the tiny cup within 20 seconds by an old fella kitted out in a shirt and tie.
Wander the backstreets and find your own place that’s likely to have been pulling espressos for decades, or for something a bit less traditional check out the cold-brew concoctions at Taglio. taglio.me
Park Hyatt Milan
Stay in style: Milan’s a swanky place, with some luxed-up hotels to boot. If your wallet can handle the strain, the Park Hyatt Milan is located seconds from the Duomo and its prime positioning has you within short strolling distance of the designer shops and Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade.
Not into shopping? Just spend your stay soaking in your marble bathtub, sudding yourself with bubble bath from Turin-based fragrance house Laura Tonatto and turning your hand-blown Murano lamp on and off. Nightly rates from £416. milan.park.hyatt.com
Keep it real: For local Milan vibes, get yourself an Airbnb close to the Navigli canal district, where the pavements are lined with cool bars and even cooler city residents. Here you’ll find whole apartments sleeping four people for around £100 a night – many of which are housed in old buildings with airy terraces and rooftop views.
Get your breakfast supplies in, or pop down to the many old-school cafés and grab an espresso and pastry while standing at the bar – it’s the local way to do it, don’t you know. Nightly rates from £80 for an entire flat. airbnb.com
The Yard Milano
Go boutique: Quirkiness and swankiness go hand in hand at the Yard Milano. The moodily lit boutique hotel’s interiors are crammed with knick knacks that the owner has collected from flea markets – think globes, vintage skis and bowling balls, which give each room its own sporting theme.
The Doping Club lounge bar appeals to a hip crowd schmoozing over creative cocktails. You’re encouraged to socialise over an Italian breakfast the next morning, so careful who you prop up the bar with. Nightly rates from £145. theyardmilano.com
Easyjet flies to Milan Malpensa from London Luton and London Gatwick (plus other UK airports) from £18.99pp one-way, including taxes, see easyjet.com.
Access to the city centre is simple – coach is the most cost effective (a range of companies are parked outside the airport), or take the train from the airport. Both arrive at Milan Central Train Station.