Things to Know Before You Go to Milan

With food, fashion, and fine art as the tip of the iceberg, there’s a gamut of fine things to know before you go to Milan. This City Knows has compiled a quick guide for those making their way to this chic corner of Italy.

Milan Cathedral spires against the sky

Before you pack your bags and set your sights on the fashion capital of the world, there’s one thing to know before you go to Milan: patience is a virtue, especially when you’re marveling at the grandeur of the Milan Cathedral, or Duomo di Milano. These colossal edifices are a testament to centuries of art and architecture, with the latter taking almost six centuries to complete

Generations of Milanese lived their lives under its ever-ascending spires, each day adding a stone, sculpture, or story to its height. But make no mistake about it. It’s more than just a visit; it’s a passage through epochs, where each corner tells a tale of ambition and meticulous craftsmanship. 

So, as you prepare to tread the stylish streets of Milan, let this be your first glimpse into the city’s majestic history and a prelude to the marvels that await.

Planning Your Visit to Milan

As you chart your course to Milan, knowing the most essential things to know before you go to Milan will transform a good trip into a great and memorable one. From the timing of your visit to choosing your temporary home away from home— a bit of foresight can ensure your adventure is as smooth as the silk Milan is known for.

When to Go and How to Budget

Milan is charming year-round, but the best time to visit would be during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the city isn’t overcrowded with tourists. These seasons also host vibrant festivals such as the Milan Design Week in April and the oh-so-lively Milan Fashion Week in September. 

Budget-wise, plan for a mix of splurges and savings— dining at a high-end restaurant one day and enjoying street food the next. Remember, experiencing Milan to the fullest doesn’t have to break the bank, but allocating funds for unexpected finds and experiences can enrich your journey.

Where to Stay

Choosing where to stay in Milan depends on your preferences for convenience, attractions, and, of course, your budget. 

For a blend of comfort and local flair, consider staying in one of these unique accommodations:

Historic tram on the streets of Milan

How to Get Around

Navigating Milan is always a breeze with its efficient public transportation system, including the Metro, trams, and buses. But for the most authentic Milanese experience, renting a bike or walking through its historic streets allows you to discover hidden gems. Apps like Moovit or the official ATM Milano app can guide you through routes and schedules, making it easier to plan your daily adventures.

Culture and Interaction in Milan

Immersing yourself in Milan’s rich cultural tapestry requires a better understanding of the things to know before you go to Milan— from local customs to linguistic nuances.

Local Customs and Etiquette

In Milan, appearances always matter; hence, dressing smartly can often open doors. Always greet with a polite buongiorno (good morning) or buonasera (Good evening) depending on the time of day. And Italians are high on courtesy and formality in initial encounters. When visiting sacred sites, ensure you dress modestly out of respect. Tipping is also appreciated but not obligatory; of course, rounding up the bill or leaving an extra 5-10% at restaurants is always a nice gesture.

Language Tips

While many Milanese speak English, especially in the hospitality industry, learning a few phrases in Italian can go a long way in endearing yourself to the locals. Phrases like per favore (please) and grazie (thank you) are your basic essentials. But don’t shy away from using a reliable translation app; it can be your best friend in deciphering menus and signs, ensuring you don’t miss out on Milan’s many incredible offerings.

Shoppers inside Milan’s historic shopping mall

Exploring & Experiencing Milan

Discovering Milan opens up an opportunity to embrace both the iconic and the obscure. It always ensures your visit is brimming with authenticity and wonder. 

Here’s how to ensure you make the most of things to know before you go to Milan:

Must-Visit Attractions

No trip to Milan is complete without visiting the awe-inspiring Duomo di Milano, not just for its architectural marvel but for the panoramic views from its rooftop. Venture beyond to the Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last Supper.” For a taste of local culture, explore the Brera District, rich in art and history, yet less tourist-y compared to other sites in the city.

Additionally, delve into the heart of Milan’s vibrant life at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, boasting a stunning 19th-century glass and iron roof. Wander through its opulent interior to witness the blend of luxury, fashion, and history

For those seeking tranquility within the bustling city, the Sforza Castle offers a glimpse into Milan’s Renaissance past, surrounded by the lush Sempione Park, which serves as the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon stroll. 

Each of these destinations encapsulates a different facet of Milan, from its grandiose past to its luxurious present, making them indispensable to the Milanese experience.

Food and Drink

Milanese cuisine is a delightful journey through Lombardy’s culinary traditions. Risotto alla Milanese and Cotoletta alla Milanese are must-try dishes. But for a more authentic dining experience, visit the bustling Navigli district, where eateries range from quaint cafés to gourmet restaurants. Vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions will also find Milan very accommodating, with a growing number of places offering international and specialized menus.

Canal-side dining at twilight in Milan

Local Experiences

Immerse yourself in Milanese culture by attending an opera at the world-renowned Teatro alla Scala. For fashion enthusiasts, a guided tour through the country’s Fashion District is a must. Book these experiences in advance to ensure availability. Costs may vary, with opera tickets starting from €50, while fashion tours ranging around €100, while still offering insights into Milan’s illustrious fashion scene.

Staying Safe & Healthy

In Milan, as in any major city, it’s wise to stay vigilant, especially in crowded tourist spots and public transport. One way to avoid becoming the victim of pickpockets is to use a bag that is small, secure, and lies close to your body. Always keep your bag in front of you as well, or at least within the scope of your peripheral vision.

Certain areas may be less inviting at night, so it’s best to stay within well-lit, populated paths especially when traveling solo. Health-wise, no specific vaccinations are required, but travelers should always have their routine shots updated. Lastly, tap water in Milan is considered safe to drink by many, and the city is well-equipped with public health facilities should you need medical attention.

Learn all the Things to Know Before You Go to Milan with This City Knows

As we wrap up the things to know before you go to Milan, remember that this city offers a blend of historical magnificence with the pulsing beat of modernity. From its architectural wonders to the sublime culinary delights, every corner of Milan is a discovery waiting to happen.

Ready to explore Milan beyond the surface? Let This City Knows be your guide to uncovering the hidden gems and celebrated treasures of this vibrant city. 

Plan your journey with us and embrace the adventure of a lifetime in Milan’s enchanting streets.

Patty O.
Author: Patty O.

A city girl through and through, Patty has always planned her adventures in and around urban areas. Through her travel writing, she aims to make a compelling case for the global city as a place of endless discovery and satisfaction. Her goal is to detail how urban exploration can fulfill the desires of anyone and everyone, from cultural and culinary adventurers to historical and supernatural enthusiasts.

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