Flight Time From UK: 1hrs 55mins
Best Time to Visit: All year round but winter and spring for less tourists.
I went to Milan with a friend for a much needed catch up and break from life. We took 5 days for our little city adventure, which was ideal for Milan as we were able to discover the city and sight see at a much slower pace than I would usually take.
How long do you need?
You could definitely do Milan in a weekend and I would go back and know that I could see everything I wanted to see in that time, however having the extra days meant that we could make the most of the parks and open spaces along with the landmarks and basilicas that we wanted to visit with a lot of time for conversations about our moons signs and other uninteresting subjects (to everyone else – this is my JAM).
Where to stay?
As always I booked an Airbnb (the only way to travel as far as I’m concerned), which was right next to Milano Centrale train station. Being close to the train station was ideal as we could get to pretty much anywhere we wanted inside and outside of Milan but to be honest, Milan really isn’t that big and I think we only took the metro once to experience the metro here rather than out of necessity. You can definitely get by on foot, although if we did go for a shorter amount of time the metro would be useful for speeding up sightseeing.
We had a few supermarkets close by so we could stock up on snacks and food pretty much as soon as we got there. This is the main reason I love Airbnb – you save so much money being able to have breakfast at home and sometimes dinner too. We mostly made lunches to take with us during the day and had dinner before going out for drinks or coffee in the evening. My friend is vegan and I (unfortunately), have to be annoyingly fussy when it comes to food so I find this not only cost effective, but super easy.
My top 10 places to visit in Milan
Here are the top ten places I’d recommend going if you’re heading off to Milan. We didn’t venture too much into museums or do too much sightseeing as we wanted to relax and spent a lot of time sitting in bars and cafès, but these places I’d definitely go back to and were the highlights of our trip.
Obviously this is the most iconic building in Milan and probably the reason a lot of people visit here. The Duomo is built using marble, which was probably my favourite thing about it. You can climb to the roof and wander around up here and it’s magical. The views are amazing and when the sun’s shining the cathedral sparkles. The intricate gothic design is stunning and the inside of the cathedral is also pretty impressive, particularly the floor tiles. I would 100% recommend going up to the top and walking around the rooftop during your visit.
This rooftop bar is the perfect place to spend an afternoon people watching and relaxing. The bar is situated to the side of the Cathedral or Duomo, so you have an epic view from your seat on the balcony away from the buzz below. There is a queue here and only certain numbers of people are allowed in at any one time, but this makes the experience when you’re in so much better. It wasn’t crowded and you can have a comfy seat outside in the sunshine.
This rooftop bar was the other side of the Duomo and was a completely different vibe. It’s actually a restaurant and the reason we liked this place was the quirky decor inside. It was much quieter than the Aperol bar, but didn’t have the same bar atmosphere. What’s nice about this though is you get a completely different view of the Cathedral and a more chilled place to sit. We had a coffee here and sat people watching after climbing the Duomo, making it the perfect place to chill after walking around.
Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Shopping Centre
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is oldest shopping centre in Italy! I didn’t spend a huge amount of time here, but it’s situated right next to the cathedral and is well worth a walk through if you are passing. You can also find some amazing gelato here and the entrance to the metro station so I recommend checking it out if you can, purely for the incredible architecture.
The castle and surrounding areas show a different side of Milan from an architectural perspective and in terms of scenery and atmosphere. The castle itself is built using red brick and houses different museums about the history of Milan and the families that lived in the castle. If you’re not interested in going into the museums, you can wander around the grounds and explore the courtyards and plazas within the walls.
Behind the castle is Parco Sempione which we spent a lot of time in. It reminds me of Hyde Park with lots of families and groups of friends. There’s music, people singing and dancing and every dog in the whole of Milan seems to be walking through the park. The vibe is social and lively, but relaxing at the same time. This is the place to go if you’re wanting to sit and chat with friends, or stop for a picnic and drink.
I love European cemeteries. In fact I love most cemeteries but there aren’t that many in the UK that are as impressive as those in places like France and Spain and this cemetery was by far the most impressive I have ever seen. The tombs are the sizes of office buildings and until you see it for yourself it’s hard to explain and difficult to believe. Most families have bought tombs to house their families for generations so are enormous. You can see a huge difference between the traditional, very old tombs and the glass fronted, modern newer tombs. Walking through the graveyard is like walking through a city. The sheer scale is quite unbelievable.
There are typical gravestones too and some beautiful sculptures which are interesting to read and admire, along with a large building full of plaques for those who have been cremated. Even if this isn’t you idea of a holiday trip out – you must go if you’re in Milan.
I know a lot of people hate on Starbucks, but if you’re in Milan you have to check out the Starbucks Roastery. At first I just thought it was a normal Starbucks and was slightly confused that there were bouncers on the door. As soon as we walked in it was like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The entire space is filled with machines, copper pipes, coffee and people.
There is a unique coffee bar with a menu like nothing I’ve ever seen. You can get sparkling coffees, every alternative milk you can think of, every size, shape, strength of coffee you want. It really is a coffee lovers candy store.
There’s a few different seating areas, cakes and snacks and people explaining the roasting and grinding process. Even the toilets are worth a visit!
I do love a sightseeing bus. Most places I visit I take a sightseeing bus because I think it’s a great way to get to know your way around a new place quickly and you can see some of the places that you aren’t too fussed about actually visiting. Usually the tickets last 24 hours or so, so you can use them across two days if you time it well. This is useful when you want to jump on the bus to take you to a certain landmark, or even just over to another part of the city without having to walk or take the metro.
It also means you can put your feet up for an hour without missing out on seeing the city and I usually end up spotting places that look cool to go back to later. This is actually how we found the Starbucks Roastery!
Mint Garden Cafè
This cafè was where we ended up spending most evenings. After walking around all day long and having dinner or drinks, we just wanted to have a coffee and endless chats. The Mint Garden Cafè offers alternative milks and vegan options so this was the perfect spot. We had all the almond milk lattes and snacks and people watched everyone with their dogs. For us it was great because it was only about a ten minute walk from our Air bnb which meant we didn’t have to walk back too far late at night and it was convenient. If you are vegan then it’s worth a visit. The decor is amazing, there are plants everywhere and the atmosphere is chilled but sophisticated.
One thing to consider when going to Milan is that this is one of the fashion capitals of the world and you can certainly tell when you’re here. Most places are filled with tourists and everyday city-goers, however other districts, particularly the shopping district, is pretty much a constant fashion show. It’s a great opportunity to get dressed up or you might feel a little out of place! There are obviously lots of places where this isn’t the case at all, especially if you’re venturing down towards the student areas where there is a much cooler, relaxed vibe.
Planning a trip to Faro?