The essential site for city travellers
If you arrive at Malpensa airport there is a good bus service to Milan Centrale station, Easyjet flights use Terminal 2 but buses pick up there before the 30 - 40 minute journey to the city. Beware when you arrive at Milan Centrale as with all major cities the station area attracts some undesirable characters. There is a metro station at the station if you are not staying nearby.
It is a big city and although most of the main attractions are close together the metro is great for getting to places like the canal area or the Brera if you happen to be staying near the station where most cheap options are. The metro is excellent, running every 5 minutes during the day and at worst every 10 minutes on Sunday evenings. There are an amazing number of tram and bus routes but it is difficult to get to grips with the routes so perhaps stick to the metro.
Milan hotels are expensive and mainly cater for business travellers and it is difficult to find places reasonably priced in areas where you really want to stay. As usual check the web sites www.booking.com and www.venere.com but one to mention is the Hotel Dei Cavalieri Piazza Missori. It is a four star hotel five minutes from the Duomo and next to Missori Metro. At certain times of the year it is available at a good price for the quality and location.
Another option is an apartment and Friendly Rentals, a tried and tested company have started offering apartments in Milan, check out www.friendlyrentals.com
Anema e Cozze, Via Palermo 15, Metro Moscova, there is another off Piazza Cinque Giornate & another at the corner off Alzaia Naviglo Grande (see canal area below) very modern pizza restaurants also excellent for seafood and fish, They are popular places but seem to get mixed reviews for service, not an issue on our couple of visits.
Brek, at Piazza Cavour, Piazetta Giordano and Corso Italia 3 are an Italian self service chain of restaurants, ideal for lunch, also open at night. Pasta and salads, desserts and fruit, reasonably priced.
Canal Area Navigli, Porta Genova, FS Metro, especially the canal side along Alzaia Naviglio Grande is packed with places to have a drink, enjoy the apperitivo hours, and eat. Sadly most of the places we have tried on our visits seem to have gone, but I am sure there will be lots of good replacements. One word of warning, watch out for mosquitoes and put on some cream beforehand.
The other side of the canal the Ripa di Porta Ticinese 23 also has many recommended restaurants, Al Pont De Ferr, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 55, is an excellent canal side place with a great selection of dishes, good cooking and a cheese board that cannot be beaten.
Convivium, Via Ponte Vetero 21, Brera was visited on a recent one night stop in the city and would certainly return. On a very wet Monday night we were lucky to get a table without a reservation, the setting is lovely, there is an extensive menu and we shared a starter and had two pasta dishes along with a bottle of wine. Excellent service and good value for money in such a cool part of Milan.
Best areas are the Brera, the Navigli Canal Area, and along the Corso Porto Ticinese, leading to the Navigli. There is a wide selection of bars which are fun to visit particularly at apperitivo time when lots have free buffets. Check out what is on offer, some are much better than others. The price of drinks may be high but will include the food.
Some more upmarket bars, although they may seem slightly expensive for say a glass of wine will also include some excellent free snacks at lunchtime
Peck, Via Spadari , Metro Duomo, is a wonderful high class grocers shop with a bar and restaurant upstairs where after you have ordered your glass of wine you receive you own plate of snacks. Stock up on food and wine from the shop as it is a treasure trove of the best Italian produce.
Bar Magenta Via Carducci 13, Metro Cadorna, is in all guide books as a must visit in Milan. The service can reflect this but it is still worth popping in for a drink.
The streets of the Brera area have a lot of smart trendy bars in Via Firo Chiare and Via Brera, Metro Monte Napoleone.
La Rinascente Department Store by the Duomo has a great roof top café with excellent views.
Milan is probably the best place to sample the apperitvio hours, 6pm to 9pm traditionally, although Turin claims to be where this started. Drinks are often cocktails such as Negroni, Americano or a Spritz. Whatever you have, beer, wine or cocktail will probably be the same price as it includes the free buffet. I have mentioned the best areas above but you can always search on line for the current favourite places.
Milan is in Lombardy so you are guaranteed to be able to sample some local wines from the 13 wine growing areas, such as reds using Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes, whites using Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, and sparkling using the Franciacorta grape.
The Duomo, the Galleria Vitorrio Emanuelle II, Castello Sforzesco, Pinacoteca de Brera Gallery and Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper are the must see sites in the city. Entrance tickets for The Last Supper must be booked in advance. Of course the designer shops should also be classed as part of the city’s culture.