Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Milan would be anytime from end of March to May and September to October. During the summer months of July and August it gets very hot and crowded and unless you enjoy travelling during summer, this is a time to avoid! Also, most of the places are shut down in the month of August.
Flight tickets from India:
A return ticket from Chennai to Milan in the month of October will cost you roughly around Rs. 28,000. Here is a screenshot of a flight booking page. I got a return ticket to Milan for just Rs. 28,000!
You could get very good places to stay from as low as Rs. 2000 per night if you book via Airbnb. Here is a sample offer I took a screen shot of!
Places to visit:
Milan Cathedral (popularly referred to as the Duomo of Milan): A beautiful and majestic Gothic cathedral church (see cover picture) located on the main square of Milan. It is the third biggest Gothic cathedral in Europe. You also have the option to go to the top of the Duomo and get a nice view of the city.
Santa Maria delle Grazie: One of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. It is a church in Milan that holds the mural of the ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a definite must see. Please book the tickets much much in advance as it sells out really quick! Ticket booking open two months in advance.
Piazza del Duomo: It is the city square or the main ‘Piazza’ as called in Milan. It is similar to the Times square of New York. A busy and happening place in Milan. The Milan cathedral is located here. You have all the high end shopping stores here – Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, etc.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: It is one of Milan’s oldest shopping malls. It is located at walking distance from the Piazza del Duomo. The shopping mall does not look like a mall it all. It looks more like the shops are housed into a huge cathedral. There are beautiful paintings that adorn the ceilings. Along with some of the high end brands, it also houses some of the oldest shops and restaurants of Milan.
The ceiling of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Day trips from Milan:
I’m not sure how many of you will agree with me, but I felt there are not many places to see in Milan (I may be entirely wrong). However, you can use Milan as a base to travel to many beautiful nearby places.
Did you know that Milan is very very close to the southern Swiss border? You can visit Lugano, the Italian speaking southern district in Switzerland, which is just about an hour and a half away from Milan. You can either book your intercity train tickets from raileurope.co.in (It is the fastest way to get there but it may cost you around 2000 Rs. for a one way ticket) or you can book your ticket on one of the regional trains. Regional trains may take you a little longer to reach there but it is much cheaper (around 700 Rs. for a one way ticket)! You can buy your tickets at the station itself. While boarding any train in Italy, please make sure you validate your ticket before getting in. There are small machines placed when you can do this yourself. You can get beautiful views of the lake and also the Alps from here. You can either go for a hike, mountain bike or spend your day doing one of the several water activities. There are also several museums to keep the history buffs busy. You should also check out Gandria, a beautiful lake side village.
Lake Como: It will take you almost an hour to get there by Italy’s regional trains. It is a beautiful lake located roughly 90 kms from the city. You could look around one of the several small towns around the lake – Bellagio, Como, Menaggio, etc. to name a few.
Oltrepo Pavese: If you would like to visit a vineyard and taste some wine, this is the place for you. It is roughly 60 kms from the city and will probably take you around an hour to get there by train. It is not so popular with the tourists and this means you get to experience an unadulterated wine tasting and tour.
Bergamo: Located an hour from the city (around 40 kms). It is a beautiful medieval town located at the foothills of the Alps. You have regular trains and buses from Milan to Bergamo. You have a few medieval churches to see, a cittadella, and the Piazza Vecchia – the centre of the town. You also have a few museums here if you are interested in history.
Cinque Terre: This is definitely NOT a day trip from Milan. It is located around 200 kms from Milan. You could still visit the place but it will take you more than a day (unless you want to go there, spend an hour and return back). It is definitely one of the most popular and beautiful tourist locations in Italy and is a must see but I wouldn’t categorize it under a day trip. It will take you 4 hours to just get there. If you have the time, then this definitely is a place you must not miss out on. You can also visit Florence (2 hours by train) or Venice (3 hours by train) from Milan.
Restaurants to eat:
Govinda – If you crave for some vegetarian Indian food in Milan
Alhambra Risto veg – A vegan restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine
Alhambra café – A vegan cafe for a quick drink or pastries after you lunch/dinner at their restaurant
Mr Panozzo – For some good vegetarian pizzas
Flower Burger – Sounds funny right? But you get some good vegan western take out food here (mostly burgers and drinks)
Food to try:
You may have heard of a majority of the dishes below thanks to the popularization of Italian food in India and all over the world.
Pasta varieties to try: Ravioli, Gnocchi, Cannelloni
Pizzas (not at one of the big fancy restaurants; Try some of the smaller road side ones – You may have heard this a lot, but trust me it’s true)
Also if you are a fan of coffee, please try the Espresso!
Budget for one for a stay of 6 days & 5 nights:
Air ticket: Rs. 28,000
Accommodation: Rs. 2000*5
Food & Beverages: Rs. 10000
Miscellaneous: Rs. 10,000
Total: ~Rs. 58,000 for one person for an amazing holiday in Milan! (This does not include the day trips. The day trips wont cost you much if you use public transport)