- This Milan city break post is sponsored by Voyage Privé
Milan was never a place I had thought of visiting, but I’m so glad I found cheap flights for my birthday because I can’t imagine having spent it anywhere else. A city of culture, art and food – it’s the perfect place to spend a girly weekend with your friends, or a romantic weekend with your loved one. With all of the authentic Italian charm and quaint backstreets, plus the modern and fashionable style that sets it apart from other cities, it’s sure to win your heart.
From the moment I flew in over Bergamo Airport and spotted the red tiled roofs, I knew I was in for a treat. And the rest of the weekend definitely didn’t disappoint. I had a fabulous three days and nights in the city, which was a perfect amount of time to explore. I’m so excited to share this amazing place with you all now – I hope this post inspires you to take a Milan city break and explore the city on your next trip.
Where to stay during your Milan city break
Where you stay could have a big impact on the focus of your trip, so choose wisely. We stayed in the Brera neighbourhood which is one of the more popular areas and a perfect location for first-time visitors to the city. It’s walking distance, or a short metro ride away, from the main train station which is perfect for those who have arrived by train or airport transfer. It’s also a great area for restaurants, bars, arts and shopping so you’ll find plenty to do right on your doorstep.
We stayed in the lovely Brera Charming Loft which was a great little find, right in the middle of the city centre and walking distance from the centre of Brera, art galleries and the Duomo. The maisonette-style loft had a real authentic feel and was set back from the road in a gorgeous little courtyard with a terrace overlooking it. Inside, it slept four comfortably and even came with a kitchen. Even better, it was one of the cheapest places I found across the city, which still had a level of luxury and the independence of staying in an apartment instead of a hotel.
Getting to the city from the airport
One important thing to stress is that there are two airports in Milan – so when booking your flights, be sure to fly in and out of the same airport to avoid any stress. I flew in and out of Bergamo which was perfect as the flight times were much better from London Stansted. On arrival at Bergamo Airport, all you have to do is walk outside to where the buses are, and there will be transfer buses waiting. They charge €7 return for the 40 minute journey into the centre of the city, and they drop off at the side of the central train station. If you do get a return ticket, you will need to travel back to the airport with the same bus company, which worked fine for me and the buses go from the same point as they drop off.
Sightseeing on your Milan city break
Duomo di Milano
The gothic cathedral in the centre of Milan is by far its most famous landmark and it’s certainly hard to miss even with the huge crowds that collect outside it daily. Milano Duomo is incredibly beautiful and apparently, it took a whopping five centuries to complete! However the masses of tourists do take the shine off just a little. I highly recommend going early in the morning if you wish to escape the crowds and enjoy a bit of peace during your visit. Luckily when we arrived there it was seconds before a huge thunderstorm, so as everyone else was racing away from the building, we headed straight up to the roof and had the whole place to ourselves!
The rooftop terrace is by far the highlight, visitors can walk over pretty much the entire roof enjoying panoramic views across the city. You can also walk around the crypt, visit the treasure, and you can even go under the Duomo to find the Basilica di Santa Tecla and the ruins of a Christian baptistery from the fourth century. There are a range of tickets available starting from €3.50-7.50 for the inside of the cathedral and museums. Or to head to the rooftop, tickets range €12.50-16.50 for adults, children are half price and those under 6 go free.
Santa Maria delle Grazie convent
Nearby, you can also visit Leonardo da Vinci’s mural “The Last Supper” which is housed in the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent – be sure to book in advance for this one as it was fully booked during our visit.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Whether you have the money or not, this one is worth a visit. The high-end luxury shopping arcade is a stunning and ornate building dating back to the 1800’s. The mall now features designer clothing brands and upscale dining, all housed in a glass-covered 19th century arcade. It gets super busy, so be sure to get there early to beat the crowds and if you can spare the cash, it’s a great place to stop for a coffee and brioche while you watch the world go by.
Pinacoteca di Brera
Brera’s spectacular art gallery, which is believed to be one of the best art collections in the whole of Italy, was by far my favourite part of the weekend. While I’m not an art expert by a long shot, there’s something special about being surrounded by incredible Romantic paintings dating back centuries. The building itself is spectacular, and when you go inside, you’ll see incredibly detailed paintings detailing the stories from the bible, famous faces from the past and even some abstract work including a real Pablo Picasso. Highly recommend a visit. Entrance €12 per person, with a reduced rate for locals and children, pick up tickets here.
Dining out and drinks
During the three days/nights of my Milan city break, we mostly stayed around the Brera and city centre areas because they were close by where we were staying. If you’re looking for great places to eat and drink out, I highly recommend Brera which has lots of gorgeous winding streets filled with amazing restaurants and bars. Eating and drinking out will be your biggest expense while in the city, but if you’re smart about it, things don’t have to be as costly as you might expect. If you’re travelling on a budget, look for happy hour deals and remember you often get aperitivo treats along with your drinks. Also, remember that often it’s much cheaper to get a pizza to split than to get several snack dishes.
Other great areas include Navigli which I’m really sad I didn’t get time to visit – it’s supposed to be full of aperitivo bars, vintage shops and more art galleries. Porta Ticinese is also supposed to be lovely and more laid-back as the student district full of chilled bars and cafes, plus more vintage shops. And finally, for the fashionistas among us, Corso Como is the place to be seen and also the location of many big clubs. If you want more information about different neighbourhoods in Milan, check out this great website for full details.
Day trips from Milan
The beautiful thing about visiting Milan is that it is so close to so many other amazing places and it is so easy to organise a day trip to another location. Whether you fancy a day out at Lake Como, or an overnight stay in Venice or Zurich, it’s easy to quickly, and cheaply organise trips. While there are many expensive organised trips you can book, it is also really easy to go independently and save a lot of money. During our visit to Milan, we took a day trip to Lake Como and found it really easy to organise on the spot with just a 40 minute train ride.
If you have a bit longer than a weekend and fancy extending your Milan city break into a longer holiday, you could easily go and spend a few days in Venice or Zurich either side of your trip. The beauty of Europe is that everything is so close, and the train/bus travel is fantastic value and extremely good service. If you’re interested in Lake Como, watch out for an upcoming blog post on planning a day trip there from Milan. Or, if you would like to plan a Europe road trip – check out this post for route ideas.
If you don’t fancy Milan, my next choices for this trip were Barcelona and Rome, which both had cheap flights available from London. There are so many amazing places to choose from within Europe, but Italy will always have a piece of my heart. Why not travel Rome with Voyage Privé and find city break offers at up to 70% off for the full Italian experience. As long as there’s gelato and pizza, I’m there!
Have you been to Milan – what did you think of the city? What’s your favourite Italian food?