How to Explore Milan, Italy like a Local: Locals introduce their city.
MARGHERITA, travel blogger and copywriter!
Please introduce yourself:
Hi! My name is Margherita. I have lived away from Milan for several years but I moved back in 2010. I’m now a digital nomad, but when I’m not travelling you’ll find me in Milan catching up with friends and family!
Here are some of the things I like (in no particular order) – cats, mountains, hiking, street food, sleeping, coffee, climbing, trains and running! Ah, did I say cats?
My favorite place to eat:
Can I mention two places? One is L’Albero Fiorito, a trattoria that looks out of the 1960s, and La Taverna, where they make the best pizza ever! I assume most people who will visit Milan will want to try Italian food, but there are also many wonderful Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Milan.
A typical dish of Milan:
Milan’s signature dish is Risotto alla Milanese with saffron. I can’t recommend anywhere to eat it sadly because I make a really nice one, so I never go out to eat it!
My favorite bar:
I love beer, so my favorite bar would have to be a brewery – and Milan just happens to have the best brewery in the world! Birrificio Lambrate is in two locations, both in the Lambrate neighbourhood, which is also where I live. My favorite brews are Gaina (IPA) and Ghisa (stout).
What about the Nightlife?
The coolest place to go out at night in Milan is the Navigli area. It’s very picturesque – the Navigli are two artificial canals, lined with alfresco bars, restaurants and cute shops. There are also a couple of clubs and many gelati shops – it’s fun to walk around with an icecream in summer or just get a drink and sit by the canal!
Things to do for free:
Not many people know Milan has wonderful parks! One of the best is Parco Sempione, which is also a cool destination for architecture lovers as it houses lots of different buildings from the 20th century.
Keep away of:
The city center on Saturday and Sunday afternoon! There are many people just strolling around and shopping. On the other hand, though, it’s great for people-watching!
Best way to get around:
Public transport in Milan is great! You don’t need to drive or take taxis or UBER – just buy a €1.50 ticket and you’ll be able to move on buses and trams for 90 minutes. Or you can also take the metro, but you’ll miss out on the views!
Best place for first date:
I love a Japanese restaurant called Sol Levante for lunch, followed by a walk around the Porta Venezia Public Gardens.
Best place to meet locals:
Go to a street market! There are markets every day except Sunday all over the city and they’re a great option if you want to go shopping for clothes or food – or both! My favorite is the Viale Papiniano market on Tuesday and Saturday.
Best place to relax:
I love QC Termemilano, a wonderful SPA in the center of the city, inspired by the thermal baths of Ancient Rome. For a quirky Milano touch, there’s even a sauna in a vintage tram!
Best spot to watch people:
Colonne di San Lorenzo in the evening! It’s a popular place for people to meet, share a drink, play music and just watch the world go by, especially in summer!
Where to stay?
Ostello Bello Grande and Babila Hostel are great examples of ‘luxury hostels’, Eco Hotel Residenza and Starhotel e.c.ho are two of my favorite eco-friendly properties, and for a touch of luxury I love the Westin Palace!
Five hot tips for enjoying Milan:
1. Eat street food! Milan restaurants can be expensive but luckily there are many street food options. The Navigli area (especially Via Vigevano) is a great place to begin – and in summer, you’ll find lots of food trucks all over the city!
2. Look for street art! Milan has been a street art hotspot for over 20 years. Some of the best works of art can be found in the Leoncavallo area (around Via Watteau) or near Corso di Porta Ticinese.
3. Milan is also a wonderful place to explore by bike, as the city is almost totally flat. Bike sharing services are available – a nice option for a day out is cycling along Naviglio Grande all the way to nearby Abbiategrasso!
4. One of my favourite Milan sights is Cimitero Monumentale, the city’s cemetery for the most notable citizens. It’s a real open air museum and a wonderful place to get lost!
5. Milan is also near some amazing places so I would recommend dedicating one or two days to day trips around the city. You can’t miss Lake Como, and Bergamo is also worth a visit for its magnificent historic center and medieval walls!
Margherita is a freelance writer from Milan, Italy. She is passionate about wildlife, ecotourism, and outdoor adventure activities. She runs the popular nature and adventure travel blog The Crowded Planet with her husband Nick Burns, an Australian travel and wildlife photographer. You can follow their adventures on Instagram!
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