Weekend in Milan
- Cheap Travel
- Family Travel
Where to start?!
A weekend in Milan is the perfect way to break up the working weeks. Located in the north of Italy the city is famous for being one of the worlds four fashion capitals (the others being Paris, London and New York). It houses some of the most important art collections in the world, has some of Europes most successful football teams and is full of beautiful historic landmarks. Milan is the richest city in Italy and its business district hosts Italys stock exchange. As a result it is the wealthiest of all EU non-capital cities. Wondering what to do in Milan? Whether you want to shop, watch a football match or just mooch around eating and enjoying an Aperitivo or two (The Italian tradition of having a pre-meal alcoholic drink to ‘whet’ the appetite) – A weekend in Milan will never disappoint!
Getting to Milan is really easy. Budget airlines offer a cheap and convenient way to get there from many European airports. Milan has three main airports, so pay attention to where your cheap flights are taking you. Sourcing cheap flights is essential for keeping your Weekend in Milan cheap. Use our Start your Journey search to find great flights and hotels. Set the total budget for all travelling (not the per person budget), enter Milan as a specific destination, you can select all the weekends or long weekends in a month using the specific date calendar, choose your duration for the trip and find the best options.
Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
MXP is the largest airport and accepts most long haul international arrivals. It is also the hub for easyJet. It is 52km north west of Milan. You can get a taxi straight to your hotel that will take around 45 minutes (depending on where you are staying) and cost upwards of 70 euros (£60).
The cheapest way to access the city is by train, a ticket will set you back around £12 each way and can easily be purchased through Trainline . The train to Milan Central station takes around 45 minutes. Another option is to use the bus. Terravision run a shuttle service that runs from 5am to midnight and departs every 20 minutes, this takes around 50 minutes.
Milan Linate Airport (LIN)
The closest airport to the city centre, it mainly accepts domestic flights from around Italy. It only has one terminal and doesn’t currently have a direct train link to the centre. A taxi to the centre will take around 20 minutes and cost around 40 euros (£35).
Milan-Bergamo Airport (BGY)
This is the airport we flew into, and very likely the one you will too if you are looking for the cheapest possible flights. Ryanair fly here along with other budget airlines. It is around 50km east of Milan Centre and doesn’t have a train station within the airport. You can get a taxi which will set you back at least 75 euros (£65).
Alternatively, do what we did and use the Terravision bus service. This is a really convenient service that departs from right outside the arrivals area, takes around an hour and drops you off at Milan central station. It is around £16 for the return trip when booked online and your ticket is valid for later buses if your flight is delayed and you arrive late.
Where to Stay
The cheapest and most convenient place to stay for a weekend in Milan is going to be close to Milan central station. It means easy access to and from the airport, you have a convenient way to reach the centre via the metro and if you are planning on getting an early train to visit Lake Como (discussed in this blog post here), being close to the train station means some extra zzz’s in the morning! We actually stayed a short metro ride away from the central station, making our accommodation even cheaper.
For super cheap options you want to look more peripherally. When reviewing a hotel, look at its review score, look on the map to see if there is a metro station within walking distance and of course look for a great price! Our search feature will help you with this. We select a hotel for you, but you can click on alternative accommodation to see and review other options.
What to do with your Weekend in Milan
Depending on your flight times, and whether your Weekend in Milan is 2 or 3 nights, you ideally want to do at least two things: Take a day trip to Lake Como and Explore Milan’s centre. We spent three nights there, so had a full day to do both. With a two night stay you may want to explore Milan centre with a half day (assuming your flights arrive early or depart late) and spend the full day exploring the lake (More info on visiting the lake can be found here)
10 things to do in Milans Centre
Pick out your favourites from the list below and spend a whole day exploring the city. Many people choose to take advantage of the super cheap and regularly departing flights to Milan and simply spend the day there. Arriving early in the morning and departing on a late flight home. If you are spending a Weekend in Milan arriving late on a Friday, and returning home late on the Sunday (Gold standard flights for the weekend if you have work on Friday) then you will be best visiting Como on the Saturday and saving Milan centre for Sunday morning.
1) Start your day at the Duomo.
Get the subway to Duomo station, as you walk up the stairs to the plaza the view greeting you is breathtaking. The cathedral’s intricate Gothic façade is worth stopping and admiring. Incredibly it took nearly SIX CENTURIES to complete. Me and Joao had a bet of how long we thought it took to build… I ridiculously guessed 70 years and laughed when he guessed 300! Construction started in 1386 and it was only completed in 1965. It is the third largest church in the world, beaten only by St Peters Basilica in the Vatican City and Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil. For 15 euros you can visit the cathedral, archaeological area, museum and roof top. The rooftop is spectacular and definitely worth visiting. Check ticket prices here.
2) Enjoy breakfast, the Italian way
Breakfast in Italy is quick and efficient. Different to the traditional English breakfast of bacon and sausage, Italians opt to start their day with the lighter option of a milky coffee and pastry. Aimed to provide a quick burst of energy to get them going for the day. We found a great little cafe a short walk from Duomo called “Princi“. Breakfast is served until 11am each day, they have a huge variety of cakes and pastries, fruit with granola and greek yoghurt and croissant sandwiches with a variety of fillings. We got two coffees and four pastries (We couldn’t choose!) and it came to around £15, which we thought was reasonable given the location.
3) Explore The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Italys oldest active shopping gallery can be accessed from the plaza in front of the Cathedral. It is one of Milans most famous landmarks. It connects two other famous landmarks – the Cathedral and Teatro Alla Scala (a famous opera house). Spend a while walking around and admiring the glass ceilings and window shop at some of Italys most luxurious high end boutiques. The floor in the central area is made up of four distinct intricate mosaics, representing the coat of arms of the three capitals of the kingdom of Italy (Roma, Florence, Turin) plus the symbol of Milan. Rome shows Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf, Florence shows a lily flower and Milan is a red cross. Turin, possibly the most interesting of the four, has a bull or in Italian, “Torino”. Legend says if you spin on the bulls testicles, 360 degrees with your eyes closed, you will receive good luck. So many people have spun there, the balls are completely worn out!
4) Admire Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.
This famous mural painting represents the Last supper of Jesus with the twelve apostles. It is housed in the dining room of the church Santa Maria delle Grazie which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Entry to the church is free but you must pre book tickets for viewings of The Last Supper as they are limited and sell out well in advance.
5) Take a walk to Castello Sforzesco
A medieval fortification built in the 15th Century. There is a huge water fountain located at the entrance making a nice place to sit and have a break from all the walking you will be doing. The castle houses a variety of museums including the museum of ancient art, an Egyptian museum and Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco containing artwork from the 15th Century.
6) Escape the bustling city in Sempione Park
This is a great thing to do especially if you have kids. Children can quickly get bored during city breaks, so having somewhere to go for an hour where they can play and burn off some energy is essential. Sempione park is located just behind Castello Sforzesco. It is a huge 95 acre park with Porta Sempione (a large 19th century city gate) located at the back. It has a decent sized playground with climbing frames, swings, a roundabout and a few little rides. There is a small aquarium within the park. The Aquarium has an impressive statue of Neptune, Roman god of water, outside of the building. The tanks contain over 100 types of sealife with particular attention on species that can be found in the Italian seas, rivers and lakes. It is small but for five euros per adult, it is money well spent to cheer up a bored child.
7) Get lunch at Salsamenteria di Parma
We found this place as it was close to the park (where we were when we decided we wanted lunch) and was recommended by Lonely Planet. We went to the branch in the Brera district and had a fantastic lunch. They specialise in cold cuts of meat to eat with bread. We had a large plate of meats and cheese to start, then pasta and polenta with pork cheeks – the food was delicious and the outdoor seating right in the street added to the authentic experience. We also had two alcoholic drinks each and it came to around 70 euros (£60). Not the most budget friendly lunch, but this was going to be the only restaurant meal we enjoyed in Milan.
8) Visit one of the most important art galleries in the world – Pinacoteca di Brera
This beautiful building hosts the main gallery for paintings in Milan. It contains one of the most important collections of Italian paintings from the 13th – 20th paintings. There is a beautiful central courtyard with a huge statue of Napoleon. Tickets online were 15 euros but we turned up and bought them at the ticket screens in the courtyard – bizarrely this worked out cheaper as we only paid 10 euros. To make art galleries fun for Leo we usually do a treasure hunt (eg “Find two men riding horses”). This usually keeps his interest throughout. We found a little drawing station where he got to make some art of his own!
9) Watch a football match or do a tour of San Siro
This stadium is home to two of Europes most successful football teams, AC Milan and Inter Milan. It has a capacity of 80,018 making it the biggest stadium in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. Between 10am – 6pm you can take a tour of the stadium and visit the museum. The tour takes you to the locker rooms, down the players tunnel and on to view the pitch. A perfect addition to the day for any football fan.
10) Enjoy Sunset drinks at La Rinascente Rooftop
Accessed via the Rinascente shopping mall which is right by the Duomo. Take the lift to the 7th floor and walk towards the dining area. There is a bar out there as well as some restaurants. The view of Duomo from the terrace is fantastic, a great place to finish off your day. Drinks are pricey, around 16 euros (£14) for a cocktail, but worth it for an unforgettable end to your Weekend in Milan.
Visiting Lake Como during your weekend in Milan
You are going to need a full day for this day trip. If your Weekend in Milan is Friday – Sunday, you will need to do this day trip on the Saturday. Try and get a night time flight home on the final day so you can spend that final day exploring Milan using the tips above.
I have written a whole blog post on how you can visit Lake Como from Milan here.
A Weekend in Milan is the perfect choice for a budget friendly city break. With cheap flights, good value accommodation, tons of history to explore and amazing food, whether you are a family, solo traveller, couple or group of friends, Milan should never disappoint!