Taking the train from Milan to Florence, Rome, or Venice? Heading to Malpensa airport on the Malpensa Express train? Interested in 20th century Italian architecture?
You’ll need to head to Milan’s most important train station: Milano Centrale.
Here is my guide to Milan’s Central Station. I lived near the station as a student, and have taken the train in and out of Milano Centrale countless times: most recently with my husband and two children.
Find out about:
- The station and why it’s worth visiting
- Milan’s Shoah Memorial in the station
- Amenities at Milan Central station, like bathrooms, luggage storage and shopping
- Ground transportation to the airport and around Milan
- Taking a train from Milan Central station
- Where to buy tickets
- How to find your train
- Helpful Italian words and phrases to know when you’re traveling by train
Tutti a bordo? Andiamo! All aboard? Let’s go!
Table of Contents
ABOUT MILAN’S CENTRAL TRAIN STATION
Milan’s main train station is called Milano Centrale.
The pronunciation of Milano Centrale is: mee-LAH-noh chehn-TRAH-leh
Listen to how to pronounce Milano Centrale here:
Entering Milano Centrale is quite an experience: it’s a large, imposing, ornate behemoth.
The building as it stands today was inaugurated in 1931. Even if you don’t have a train to catch, it is worth a visit in its own right as an unfortunate example of Fascist architecture.
Be prepared for the station’s hustle and bustle: Centrale is Italy’s second largest and busiest train station. It has several levels.
If you’re trying to make a train I recommend getting there with at least 20 minutes to spare, so you have time to navigate through the station and get to your track on time.
The train tracks and main hall are on their own level above the street. There are escalators as well as stairs to get up there (there is an elevator but good luck finding it).
Milano Centrale station has 24 tracks. With the trains in front of you, they’re numbered from left to right.
The station is closed from 1 to 4 am.
Is Milan’s Central Station safe? Generally yes. I lived two blocks from the station as a student: use the main entrances and exits. Stay alert and aware– keep your head out of your phone. And I wouldn’t hang out around the station at night time.
SHOAH MEMORIAL OF MILAN
Milan’s Shoah Memorial is located inside Central Station and bears witness to the station’s tragic role in the deportation of Jews during WWII.
Between 1943 and 1945, Jews were loaded like animals onto cattle cars in the basement of the station. The cars were lifted up to track level and sent out on Track 21 to concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau.
It is the only deportation site in Europe still in tact. Enter the memorial at Piazza Edmund Jacob Safra 1, on the southeast side of station (to your right as you face the station). It’s open Saturday–Thursday, and the last Friday of every month.
AMENITIES AT MILAN CENTRAL STATION
Finding bathrooms inside the station is quite the adventure. They are next to track 22, and on the mezzanine level, but be warned: you must pay to enter the bathroom.
It took us so long to find the bathrooms and we were so annoyed when we found out there was a fee that we decided to hold it and look for a coffee bar outside the station.
FOOD AND SHOPPING
Milano Centrale is part train station, part mall (galleria commerciale). You have a variety of places to choose from if you’re hungry or thirsty, from high quality chocolates and gelato to American fast food.
Food lovers should check out Mercato Centrale, which is like a gourmet Italian food court. It’s located on the northwest side of the station (with the tracks at your back it’s to the right) and has 2 floors!
There’s a supermarket in the basement level called Conad Sapori & Dintorni. It’s open from 7 am to 8 pm and is a good place to pick up snacks for your trip.
The station even has clothing and makeup stores if you’re early for a train and want to do some shopping.
Here is a complete list of the stores at Milano Centrale station.
If you want to leave your luggage at the station while you go explore Milan, there is a Kibag luggage storage facility: follow the signs to Deposito bagagli (Left luggage).
LOUNGES AND WHERE TO WAIT FOR YOUR TRAIN
Luckily, there are benches out in the main hall on track level where you can get off your feet and wait for your train.
You can also sit down at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Milano Centrale has 2 private lounges:
- The Freccia Lounge is on track level in front of tracks 20-21. Only Executive and Business Salottino ticket holders are allowed admittance (and members of Trenitalia loyalty programs). Sometimes during promotions, other passengers can purchase a single entrance to the lounge.
Open 8 am to 9 pm
- The Italo Club Lounge is located on track level in front of tracks 17-18. Only Club Executive ticket holders and members of Italo loyalty programs can enter, but Smart and Prima ticket holders can buy an entrance ticket to the lounge.
Open 8 am to 9 pm
TRANSPORTATION TO MILAN’S AIRPORTS
From Milan Central Station you can connect to all of the Milan area’s 3 international airports.
MILAN MALPENSA AIRPORT (MXP)
- The Malpensa Express train leaves Milan Centrale station every 30 minutes (approximately 1 hr ride).
- Four bus companies run service to MXP from Milan’s Central train station, leaving every 20 minutes. (approximately 1 hr ride, subject to traffic)
MILAN BERGAMO AIRPORT (BGY)
- Terravision bus runs about every 30 minutes (50 minute ride)
- Orio shuttle bus runs every 30 minutes (50 minute ride, subject to traffic)
MILAN LINATE AIRPORT (LIN)
- Linate Shuttle runs every hour (25 minute ride, subject to traffic)
The Centrale metro station sits below the station.
Take the yellow M3 line four stops towards S. Donato and you’ll be at the Duomo!
Centrale also serves the green M2 metro line.
The Centrale metro station has a lot of people going through it, and there are long lines at the metro ticket machines. To avoid waiting and chaos, buy tickets on the app of ATM, Milan’s public transport company. Even better, go contactless by using your credit card to pay as you go directly at the turnstiles.
Read my guide to Using the Milan Metro System.
TRAMS AND BUSES
If you’re like me and prefer to watch the city go by at street level, try Milan’s trams and buses. The routes spread out over the city like veins and arteries, and many pass right by Milano Centrale station.
The ATM app will come in handy to check routes and buy tickets, or you can go contactless, just check here for details about where and when you need to tap out.
There are taxi stands outside of both sides of the station. Milan taxis are white.
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 it makes sense to do like the locals and use one of the local taxi options above.
Learn more about transport options in How to Get Around Milan.
HOW TO TAKE A TRAIN FROM MILAN’S CENTRAL STATION
ITALIAN TRAIN OPERATORS
In Italy there are two railway operators to choose from:
- Trenitalia is the Italian state train company. It is part public and part private-owned, and runs throughout Italy. It has both regular regional trains, and high speed service– called Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca.
- Italo is a private railway company that has been operating since 2012. It has high speed service to select major and strategic cities only.
Regional Trenitalia trains will take you to Italy’s smaller towns and cities, whereas Trenitalia high speed trains and Italo are best for traveling to major cities like Florence and Rome.
Full disclosure: After riding Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa for years to go between major cities like Florence, Rome and Milan, I’ve converted to Italo. I’ve found their prices to be consistently better. Look out for promo codes on their home page.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS
Milano Centrale station has ticket offices but I recommend buying your tickets online or at the ticket machines.
The most convenient way to buy tickets for both Trenitalia and Italo is online. On the internet you’ll find many sites selling train tickets: I’m a fan of using the official Trenitalia and Italo websites.
You don’t need to print your tickets out. Simply show the conductor the ticket on your phone when you get on board, and they’ll scan the QR code.
Since high speed tickets at both companies include a reservation, specific train and seat number, it is not necessary to validate or stamp your ticket before you get on the train (like you used to!).
AT TICKET MACHINES
If you don’t have time to buy a ticket online in advance, it’s ok. You can buy a ticket at one of the station’s many ticket machines. They’re scattered all over the station.
Don’t worry if you don’t speak Italian– you can choose English on the opening menu.
I’ve found that for short trips, riding the basic class level (Standard on Trenitalia, Smart on Italo), is perfectly comfortable.
However, you may want to spring for more privacy, a quiet section, more space and other perks.
On Trenitalia the travel classes are (from basic to most luxurious):
- Quiet Business (Business Area Silenzio)
- Business Salottino
On Italo they are (from basic to most luxurious):
- Club Executive
Keep in mind: If you want to take advantage of Trenitalia or Italo’s private station lounges free of charge, you need to purchase a Business Salottino or Executive ticket (on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa), or a Club Executive ticket (on Italo).
FINDING YOUR TRAIN
To find the track where your train will be departing from, look for the big black and orange digital boards labeled Partenze (Departures). There are also monitors throughout the station.
Usually your track will only be posted about 10 minutes before departure.
Your train will be labeled according to its final stop. This may be Firenze Santa Maria Novella, but it more likely will be Roma Termini or Napoli Centrale.
Any delays are posted on these boards, with approximately how many minutes the train is running late.
Listen as well for announcements about your destination.
Remember, the station has 24 tracks numbered from left to right (as you look towards the tracks).
GETTING ON THE TRAIN
Once you know what track to head to, check your ticket for your carrozza (carriage) and posto (seat number).
On the side of each train car, the carrozza (carriage) number is labeled by the door at both the front and back. Some Frecciarossa cars also tell you which seat numbers are closest to that door.
If your train hasn’t arrived yet, look up. Some platforms have signs posted above you lined up to where each car will be.
HELPFUL WORDS AND PHRASES
Keep your ears open: you’ll hear these words and phrases all around you when you’re at Milan Central station.
|The train||Il treno|
|The station||La stazione|
|The track/platform||Il binario|
|The train car||La carrozza|
|First class||Prima classe|
|The bathroom||Il bagno|
|The suitcase||La valigia|
|The stop||La fermata|
|High speed||Alta velocità|
|Where is the station?||Dov’è la stazione?|
|Where is the bathroom?||Dov’è il bagno?|
|Where is track 5?||Dov’è il binario cinque?|
|Where are the taxis?||Dove sono i taxi?|
Heading to Milano? Read my guides to One Day in Milan and Two Days in Milan. If you’ve got the little ones with you, check out Milan with Kids and if you’re a foodie, be sure to read What to Eat in Milan.