Planning a trip to Milan – the place in Italy for fashion and design? Wondering how to navigate Italy’s largest metropolitan area?
Milan is a bustling city with a walkable center, good public transportation, and fun vintage trams. I lived in Milan for a year in my early 20s, and have been back countless times since. My most recent visit was with my husband and two children.
I’ll give you my tips on:
- Driving (that is: not driving)
- Taking the metro
- Using trams and buses
- Taking taxis
- Uber in Italy
- Helpful Italian words and phrases for getting around Milan
Andiamo a fare un giro per Milano! Let’s get out and about in Milan!
Here’s a map with my top sights for one day in Milan so you can get a feel for how the city is laid out.
Table of Contents
Even though Milan is a huge city, most of the city’s main sights– like the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the fashion district– are within walking distance from each other. In fact, all of the important attractions are concentrated in the center, within a 10-20 minute walk from the Duomo.
Some important exceptions are The Last Supper (a 25-minute walk from the Duomo), the Navigli (a 30-minute walk from the Duomo), and San Siro stadium (take the metro for this one).
If your feet start to protest and you want to take public transportation or a cab, there’s information below to help you.
Please just don’t.
I don’t recommend driving in Milan. Milan has a great public transportation system: I say take advantage of it!
Parking is expensive and a pain. Driving means negotiating traffic, trying to stay out of ZTL zones (areas closed to general traffic), dealing with one way streets, and sharing the road with trams.
Taxis have access to areas of the city center where general traffic isn’t allowed. So if you’re tired of walking and don’t like public transportation, I recommend taking a cab– you’ll find more information below.
Milan’s metro (subway) system is extensive. Even though it only has 4 lines and 1 more under construction (as of 2023), it will take you close to most of the places you want to go.
That said, usually it’s easier and more direct just to walk when you’re getting around near the Duomo. And you get to see more of the city too. I like using the Milan metro for going long distances, for example from the Milan Central station to San Siro stadium.
The large metro stations at major train stations– like Centrale, Garibaldi and Cadorna– have masses of people going through them, especially at rush hour. This can translate into long lines at the metro ticket machines, which do accept credit cards (when they’re in service).
It is also possible to buy metro tickets at tabaccherie (tobacco shops) and edicole (newsagents) in and near the station.
My recommendation: so you don’t have to waste time buying tickets every time you ride, buy a bunch of tickets at once. Or, to avoid waiting and chaos, buy tickets on the app of ATM, Milan’s public transport company. Children under 14 years old ride for free.
A single ticket costs € 2.20 (in 2023) and is valid for 90 minutes after you first use it to go through the turnstile. Within those 90 minutes you can use it on ATM’s trams and buses too.
Depending on how much you’ll be riding, you may want to consider buying a day ticket instead of multiple single tickets. A day ticket is € 7.60 (in 2023), or if you’ll be in Milan for longer, there’s a three-day ticket with unlimited rides for € 13 (in 2023).
Even better, go contactless by using your credit card to pay as you go directly at the turnstiles!
Metro lines M1 (red), M2 (green) and M3 (yellow) are open from 5:30 am until 12:30 at night. Line M5 (light purple) is open from 5:30 am until midnight.
On Christmas and May 1 hours are reduced. For special events like concerts at San Siro, the metro has additional service and slightly extended hours.
GOOD TO KNOW
- To figure out which train to get on, follow signs for the train heading towards the last stop in the direction you need to go.
- If you’re arriving by train at Milan Central station and want to go right to the Duomo, catch the yellow M3 metro line (the metro is right below the train station). It’s just 4 stops to the Duomo.
Find out more about How to Use the Milan Metro.
TRAMS AND BUSES
I am a huge fan of Milan’s trams and buses. They’re a great way to get around Milan above ground if you’re not in a rush.
Back when I lived in Milan, I used trams and buses to learn the lay of the land and understand the city’s layout. The routes spread out over the city like veins and arteries, and there’s almost always a bus or tram to hop on within a block or two.
MILAN’S SPECIAL TRAMS
Take a step back in time and ride one of the city’s trademark trams from the early 1900s which are still in use on tram lines 1, 5 and 10.
Tram Line 1 winds its way along many of Milan’s most important tourist areas, including Sempione Park, Sforza Castle, Teatro alla Scala and Piazza Duomo (and near Central Station). You can either ride the tram for the fun of riding it, or use Line 1 strategically to get from Sempione Park to Piazza del Duomo, for example.
TRAM AND BUS TICKETS
Tickets are the same as metro tickets: one single adult ticket is valid for 90 minutes from when you stamp it, and costs € 2.20 euros (in 2023). Children under 14 years old ride for free. You can transfer between trams and buses, and take a metro ride during those 90 minutes.
You can buy tickets at tabaccherie (tobacco shops) and edicole (newsagents) in and near the tram and bus lines, or in metro stations. But it’s probably just quicker to use the app of the Milan public transport company (ATM).
Even simpler, you can go contactless by using your credit card to pay when you get on board, just check here for details about where and when you need to tap out.
If you use a paper ticket, make sure to stamp it in the machine as soon as you get on the bus or tram. I once got caught without a stamped ticket and had to pay a € 50 fine.
TRAM AND BUS HOURS
Depending on the line, trams run approximately from 4:30 am until 2:30 at night, and buses run from about 5:30 am to 1:45 at night. Check the ATM website or app for the specifics on the line you’re taking.
Milan’s night buses replace metro service late at night.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Get on the bus or tram via the front or back door, and exit from the middle door.
- Trams and buses have their line number and final destination posted on their front: use it to figure out which direction the bus or tram is going in.
There are plenty of taxis in Milan, but you can’t hail one on the street. Either:
- Go to a taxi stand. Here’s a map of Milan’s taxi stands: they’re located outside of train stations and near major attractions
- Call for a taxi:, (+39) 026969, (+39) 028585, (+39) 5353 and (+39) 024040 are just a few of the local cab companies
- Order a cab an app like Apptaxi or Intaxi
Taxis are white, and there is a minimum fare price. If you call for a taxi, just be aware that the meter starts running once it’s on its way to you (not when you get in).
Taxis can enter restricted traffic areas, so they have access to more of the city and can get closer to important sights than you could if you were driving a car.
The Uber app works in Italy but not the same way that it does in the US. It connects you to licensed local taxis and NCC (a car with a driver, or noleggio con conducente), and is also very controversial. In my opinion, if you need a taxi it makes sense to do like the locals and use one of the local taxi options above.
HELPFUL ITALIAN WORDS FOR GETTING AROUND MILAN
Here are some words and phrases that will come and handy when you’re moving around the city:
|i mezzi pubblici||public transportation|
|il treno||the train|
|la metropolitana||the subway|
|la metro||the subway (nickname)|
|il binario||the track|
|la direzione||the direction|
|la fermata||the stop|
|il biglietto||the ticket|
|timbrare (il biglietto)||to stamp (the ticket)|
|Vorrei due/tre/quattro/cinque biglietti.||I would like two/three/four/five tickets.|
|Andiamo a piedi!||Let’s walk!|
|Dov’è il posteggio taxi?||Where is the taxi stand?|