Where to stay: I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of the hostel options in Milan, so I opted to go with Airbnb instead. I found this apartment, which was a short walk away from the city center, and the hosts were really great! The listed host wasn’t there when we were, but his roommate was still really cool to hang out with, and even invited us out with his friend one of the nights we were there. Staying directly in the historic city center can be very pricey, and I truly didn’t think it was necessary since Milan is so walkable and well-connected with public transportation. This Airbnb was located in the Chinatown area of Milan, which was actually a great neighborhood to explore as well. There are many fantastic restaurants in this area that are cheaper and significantly less touristy than almost anything you’ll find in the historic center, so staying out a bit may actually work to your advantage.
Where to eat: I spent a lot of my time in Milan eating excellent food and drinking wine, and I can’t say that I was disappointed with my decision. I found that it was difficult to run into bad cuisine, even in the touristy areas. The only problem with those touristy restaurants is that they’re significantly more expensive for the same food, so it’s definitely best to stay away from them. I found a restaurant called La Crota Pimunteisa which was AMAZING. It was one of those meals that truly changes your life, and the atmosphere of the restaurant itself made me feel like I was truly eating somewhere special. We entered the restaurant, and the waitress asked if we needed the menus in English, and when we said that we did, she said, “Well, I’m the English menu!” and then spent the next 10 minutes sitting with us and going through each and every dish to explain what they had. It was such a warm and comfortable place, I would highly recommend a visit. Beyond that, I just recommend that you start walking down side streets either in the historic center, or surrounding it, and you’re bound to run into something delicious!
What to do: There aren’t a ton of “sites” to see in Milan, although there are a couple that you won’t want to miss. The first that I definitely recommend is the Terrace of the Duomo. You can buy tickets in advance, which I highly recommend, in order to skip the typically long line. Being on top of that cathedral on a nice day is unlike anything else, it’s absolutely gorgeous and the views are wonderful! If you want to visit the inside of the cathedral, be sure that you’re dressed appropriately; sleeveless shirts and non-floor length skirts/dresses (even when you’re wearing tights) are not allowed, and you will not be granted access- so choose something a bit more conservative that day. If you want to visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, make a reservation for tickets as far in advance as possible. You have to purchase tickets to see the refectory where the fresco is along with tickets to an art museum, it’s not possible to just visit the fresco, and the tickets are on the pricey side. These reservations all book up very quickly, so if you don’t book ahead it’s likely that you won’t be able to go. Aside from that, I highly recommend walking through the streets with the designer fashion labels just to see how beautiful the stores are! There are also beautiful historic side-streets in Milan just waiting to be discovered, and there surprisingly aren’t a ton of tourists because they’re not super centrally located. Walk around the small streets that surround the historic center, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Overall Opinion: I was honestly not expecting a whole lot from Milan, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I guess it isn’t fair to say that I wasn’t expecting anything, but it certainly wasn’t high on my Italy list- and I am SO glad that I spent a weekend there. Milan is a great city to visit for a spring weekend when you just want to have delicious pasta and wine, and relax surrounded by beautiful architecture. I had always heard that Milan was such an industrial city that it isn’t very pretty, but this is so far from the truth! The historic center is gorgeous, and just as you would expect from many other Italian historic centers, but even outside of the center the city is beautiful with lush parks and landscapes. The shopping in the city is also on point if you’re into that sort of thing. I found that even the chain fashion stores like Zara and H&M had better stock than they do in other European cities, and it’s obviously more feasible to shop there than at Versace. No one needs to know where in Milan you got that outfit! I would definitely recommend giving Milan it’s fair chance over a weekend, it was just a lovely place to be.