Milan can be way cheaper than a number of European cities…only if you know some local tips and tricks. Here are some worthy ones that I learned during the past four months of stay:
- Ride public transport
This is the first and most important thing you need to learn when touching down in Milan. Look for buses right outside the airport instead of waving a cab. Why paying at least 100 bucks to go from Malpensa airport to the city center while a bus ride only costs you €8?
Another option is train. Trenitalia, the biggest train operator in Italy, charges you only €13 from Malpensa Aeroporto to Milano Centrale. You can also check the price and book tickets in advance on their 4-language website.
To get around the city, there are a plenty of cheap options including bus, metro and tram. If your stay in Milan is limited in only one day, the best way is to get a day ticket of €4.5 for unlimited trips in the urban area (applicable for buses, metro lines and tram within 24 hours). By urban area I mean you can use this ticket for any destinations within the grey area in the city’s network map. Don’t worry if you get lost or take the wrong metro lines a few times, remember that it will cost you no more than € 4.5 a day!
In case you plan to stay here longer, it’s 8.25 euros for a two-day ticket and 13.80 euros for 10 trips which’s still a great deal. More details on Milan’s public transport here! Tickets can be bought at automatic machines at any metro stations, tabacchi (tobacco shops) and newspaper stalls around Milan.
Download the free ATM Milano app to your smart phone for real-time navigation and network map. It may look complex at first glance but all you need to do is entering your destinations on “Journey planner”and doing exactly what the app tells you.
2. Go to museums for FREE
Most of the public museums are free on the first Sunday of the month including top-notch ones like the Last Supper, Pinacoteca di Brera and Sforza Castle Museums. No need reservation, just sign yourself up at the entrance though expect to wait in the line for one or two hours. (This is why slow travel is always cheaper.)
The list of free museums is announced by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism every month and only available in Italian. This is how you can check which museums have free admissions at the time of your travel: google “muse gratis”+ “month (in Italian)”+ “year”, then put to google translate. Trust me, it’s worth the effort. 🙂
Should you miss this awesome offer, note that all of Sforza Castle Museums are FREE on Tuesday after 2pm. There are several of them but the Museum of Ancient Art (housing one of DaVinci’s frescoes), Pieta Rondanini (housing Michelangelo’s unfinished last work) and the Pinacoteca are among the best.The good news is you won’t need to queue up. Not many people know about this including the locals!
3. Make use of public wifi
Milan has a pretty decent OpenWifiMilano network which can be accessed almost everywhere in the urban area for free! Each day users can surf the net for 300 MB of data in high-speed broadband, following that the browsing speed will be reduced to 192kb/s.
Click here for instructions on how to register for Milan’s public wifi service.
4. Try aperitivo – (almost) free dinner
Basically aperitivo is a Northern Italian tradition of pre-dinner drinks accompanied by complimentary appetizers, which has a long history dated back in the 18th century. Nowadays it’s a fun, AND low-cost way of enjoying local food while catching up with friends. And as budget traveller, you can not miss this!
Go to any aperitivo spots downtown Milan between 6 and 10 pm, you will enjoy a plethora of food from pasta, vegetables to finger sandwiches, salads and light snacks for FREE. All you need to pay is your drinks (€8 -15 depending on where you go). Ok, it sounds expensive for a glass of wine or cocktail, but not bad if you consider the combination of Italian freshly made food, well-mixed drinks and good vibe.
Most aperitivo spots are lively places where you can mingle and have fun with your friends from early evening till mid night. The most popular areas include Navigli (the district of canals, clubs and restaurants) and Brera (the artsy, bohemian district).
5. Plan your trips early
Milan is a very well connected city where you can easily travel to other famous tourist attractions across Italy as well as Europe. Sign up for news alerts and frequently check the websites of Trenitalia, Flixbus, Italo, Ryan Air and Easy Jet to make sure you won’t miss any opportunity to get incredibly cheap fares. There are also automatic ticket machines of Trenitalia and Italo at Milan’s central station and Cardona railway station where you scan fare prices quickly. Avoid traveling in summer if you can, and book tickets early. Tickets can be 2-3 times cheaper if you book them 1-3 months in advance. I got an one-way Italo train ticket from Milan to Turin for €9.9 and Ryan air ticket from Bacelona to Brussels for €10.
That’s it for now. Will try to update once I learn more. Milan is a vibrant city that has so much to offer and it’s not that expensive if you travel like a local!
Want more Italy? Read my posts here.