Milan is one of the most popular cities in Italy, home to some of the most glamorous fashion brands. It is known for its outstanding collection of art and architecture, showcasing history and culture studied and revered worldwide. You must think you need a lot of cash to experience Milan fully. Well, do not fret. There are a lot of things you can do in Milan on a budget. Read on!
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Top 12 Things to Do in Milan on a Budget
Visit Duomo Di Milano
An architectural masterpiece, the Duomo Di Milano is the largest Gothic church in the world and the fourth largest church overall. Located at the heart of Milan, by reaching it, you will also be able to see other attractions included in this list. The cathedral has more statues than any other building in the world and even more gargoyles than that of Notre Dame in Paris.
You might be wondering how much you will have to spend to enter. It used to be free, but things have changed over the last couple of years. While you won’t need to purchase a ticket to visit the Duomo to pray or attend a mass, it’s entirely different if you’re a tourist who wants to take pictures during your visit.
Book ahead of time if you want to skip the line. The cheapest ticket will be the entrance to the cathedral at €6, but that doesn’t include access to the terraces.
Click here for booking and info.
Window Shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and spin on the bull for good luck
Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of Italy who unified the nation, the area is the oldest active shopping gallery in Italy and one of Milan’s landmarks. Located in Piazza Duomo, hence very convenient to visit the iconic cathedral on the same day.
While shopping there is not free, it’s worth visiting for a window shop as the building itself is an attraction to behold. The internal facades will put you in awe with its Renaissance style.
And, of course, your visit to Milan won’t be complete without the spinning on the bull for good luck. Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni designed four distinct mosaics on the floor of the Galleria representing the coat of arms of the three capitals of Italy – Rome, Florence, and Turin, plus the symbol of Milano. A dancing bull represents Torino and is the center of this Milan tradition (see video here).
Go to La Scala Theatre and Museum
It doesn’t matter if you only have a day or two to spend in Milan, try to make time to visit the legendary La Scala Theatre and museum. Behold one of the most famous opera houses in the world and one of the few where you get to see the most intricate outfits, stage props, and musical instruments, as well as its glorious 18th-century auditorium.
A theatre tour is € 10 – for private visitors and € 8 – per person for a minimum of 15 or more people. The tour at the museum costs € 9 for adult visitors and € 6 for students or children older than 12 and groups of 10 + people.
Discover something new at Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology
View the largest exhibition honoring the engineer, humanist, and naturalist Leonardo da Vinci. The museum covers an area of around 50,000 square meters and is enclosed within the cloisters of a sixteenth-century monastery.
Experience the history of Milan at Castello Sforzesco
Castello Sforzesco, the famous city castle where the rulers lived in the 1400s and 1500s, is very close to the Duomo. You can explore and appreciate the castle courtyards for free. All you need to bring is your camera and enjoy the experience.
Relax at Giardini della Guastalla
Visit one of Milan’s oldest and most beautiful public gardens, the Giardini Della Guastalla. You will see numerous statues and sculptures in the garden that was in the 16th century. On the park’s west side, you can admire a Baroque-style pond, added in the 17th century.
Shopping at Brera District
Brera, the design district of Milan, has long drawn fashion and design enthusiasts looking for concept stores and bohemian boutiques worldwide. Stores here offer cheaper options compared to more prominent brands.
Visit Pinacoteca di Brera
One of the major art galleries in Milan is Pinacoteca di Brera, which Napoleon Bonaparte inaugurated in 1809. It features artwork by masters from the 13th to the 20th centuries, including Raphael, Mantegna, and Rembrandt. Its most well-known piece of art is Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ. With the 15 EUR admission fee, you’ll get three months of unlimited entry to the museum.
Stroll along Corso Magenta and see “The Last Supper” at Santa Maria Delle Grazie convent.
A famous street in Milan where you can stroll and enjoy delicious gelatos, bakeries, and even fashionable shops nestled among museums and churches. This street will lead you to Santa Maria Delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” iconic painting.
I recommend you reserve the tickets in advance, better if purchased online or by phone. The cost is € 6.50 plus a €1.50 service charge.
Visit Cimitero Monumentale
Visiting a cemetery might be the last thing you think of during a vacation. Still, looking at Cimitero Monumentale, you will understand why it’s one of Milan’s most famous tourist destinations. A part of the cemetery was once exclusive to the rich and famous, so instead of plain rows of tombstones, you will see works of art adorning the burial sites.
Here you will see life-like sculptures, ornate obelisks, Greek temples, and even a small version of Trajan’s column. One notable burial site is the bronze recreation of “Last Supper,” belonging to the prominent Campari family.
As part of historic Milan, the Navigli was once linked with canals, similar to Venice’s. While most of the canals are now gone, the Navigli continues to be a canal-based charming, romantic neighborhood where you can enjoy a stroll and some nightlife.
At 5 pm, locals and tourists flock to the area’s many bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy the after-work Italian aperitivo. The complimentary appetizers are usually excellent and substantial enough to fill you up for dinner, so get a drink and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
Flea Market at Fiera di Sinigaglia
Every Saturday, the best thing you can include in your Milan itinerary is to head to Viale D’Annunzio, near Navigli, for the weekly Fiera di Sinigaglia flea market. You’ll find everything from handcrafted jewelry, books, DVDs, and exotic objects to vintage and hipster clothing.
Other Useful Info When visiting Milan on a Budget
Purchase a “ticket carnet”
To move around Milan, purchasing a “ticket carnet” is a smart option if you intend to use the public transportation system frequently. Tram, subway, and bus tickets cost €1.50 each for one ride. Buying the ten-pack carnet costs €13.80 and includes interchangeable tickets that can be used on all modes of transportation.
A 24-hour pass is also available for €4.50. Avoid Taxis as they are expensive with a base fare of €6 and €1.35 for each additional kilometer.
Ride safely with Radiobus at night
On a night out, you can safely ride through Radiobus, an on-request minibus network that operates from 10 pm-2 am. You can use the service through an app or the atm website. Tickets are €3 or less.
Consider pay-what-you-wish walking tours
With pay-what-you-wish walking tours, you get the benefit of a guide but freely decide how much to tip after the tour. The typical tip for guides is between €5 and €15.
Milan is an excellent place for budget travelers if you carefully choose your attractions and book in advance. As you can see, you don’t always need to skip the best Italian destinations to save money. For firsthand info, start your visit at Milan’s tourist office in Piazza Castello or the second branch at Stazione Centrale in the departures area.
Ready to discover Milan’s beauty on a budget? Grab your camera and fully enjoy the city!
Author Bio: Clelia Mattana is passionate about travel and beauty. A former manager at Burberry London, she traveled the world solo for seven years while managing her two websites: keepcalmandtravel.com with a special section on holidays in Sardinia and cleliamattana.com for beauty tips.
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