If you happened to catch this blog post you’ll have seen that I took an impromptu trip to Milan last week. I’ve always known it as one of the biggest fashion capitals of the world but last week Milan was just that place we have to go to in order to get back to the UK. And I definitely didn’t expect to be writing a Milan travel guide quite like this. I’ll explain. After a whirlwind 48-hour trip to Tuscany to book our wedding venue, Toff suddenly found himself sans passport on the way to the airport. Cue panic and frantically throwing the contents of my overnight bag onto the pavement of Montecatini Terme. A long story short, we had to drive 3.5 hours to Milan to go to the British embassy when it was due to open the following day at 9am. So, we rented our little Fiat 500 (what a cliché I know!) and hot footed it to the city.
Luckily, I have one of my best friends living in Milan so it actually turned out to be a really fun evening and saved us from a god-awful hotel for a few hours. It may not have been planned, my photo’s are less than amazing (to say the least) but I wanted to share a couple of things we did and went to with you because Milan is one of the most magical places I’ve been to this year.
So, if you find yourself with a few spare hours in Italy, here’s a little Milan travel guide to spark some inspiration.
WHERE TO STAY
Admittedly, we didn’t stay in a dreamy Air BnB overlooking the Duomo or a 16th century hotel that Chiara Ferragni would be proud of. We took what we could with an hours notice! But, friends of mine have recommended these city gems.
With sleek wooden floors and a stylish outdoor terrace near Fiera Milano City, this is a really good option if you want something a little more high end without the hefty price tag.
Full of abstract furniture, sleek metal chairs and polished floors, Nu is one of those new age boutique hotels that make you feel like one of the cool kids. And at £55 a night, you can’t really argue with that.
Standing out against the surrounding glass-fronted buildings, this beautiful chateau-style hotel is everything you’d expect from a chic city stay. Atmospheric downlights, manicured lawns and white wash interiors make it a firm favourite with the fashion set. If you want a full run-down of how the fashionista’s spend their weekend in Milan with this great guide by Marie Claire.
I couldn’t do a Milan travel guide without including a hint of fashion and the Armani Hotel has it by the tote-load. Expensive interiors, stylish clientele and staff that would do anything for you, it’s definitely reserved for something a little special.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
With a whistle stop tour of some of the main sights and catching a few on the way to the Embassy (cue eye roll), we saw a tiny bit of Milan but with the possibility of staying longer, I looked in some amazing things to do in the city.
Get On Your Bike
Escape your fellow tourists and join the locals on two wheels by navigating the city by bike. With winding streets and hidden courtyards, you can take in the best sites before following the historic Navigli’s (canals to you and me). Before you know it the city fades away and you find yourself in the beautiful nearby coutnryside.
The Duomo (obviously)
Probably the most breath-taking cathedral I’ve ever seen, the Duomo is the white gothic building you’ve probably seen in all the Instagram blogger posts (including mine!). A firm favourite for fashion shoots and tourists alike, go as the sun rises to avoid the crowds.
Shop, Shop, Shop
Whether you decide to take in the views from the very top or keep your feet on the ground, make sure you visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II opposite. As one of the oldest shopping buildings, it’ll completely distract you from the designer boutiques around you thanks to its stunning architecture.
Get A Tour In
If you’ve ever wondered what your European abode would look like (just me?) it probably looks something like this 1930s villa. With a swimming pool, restaurant and seriously Instagrammable interiors, it’s not to be missed. With a guided tour you can learn all about how it was built for a sewing machine tycoon and even lent itself to the 2009 film I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton.
Do The History Bit
Historic houses might be a common sight in Milan but none quite like this. Timeless in design and full of beautiful mosaics, paintings and sculptures, its perfect for anyone looking for a little culture. Plus, just across the street is a private garden full of a flock of pink flamingo!
WHERE TO HANG OUT
No Milan travel guide would be complete without some serious foodie pitstops and, although we were only there for 24 hours, we crammed in as much food (and drink!) as we could!
When Milan Fashion Week is in full swing, you can find the fash pack setting up camp in Pasticceria Marchesi pastry shop where silk jacquard covers the walls and tables overlook the frescoes outside.
It may not look like much from the pavement but this humble watering hole has housed some of the most inspirational and significant artists and architects in Italian history. MILAN TRAVEL GUIDE TIP: Ask to sit in the back terrace for a more private setting and sample the bar’s famous cocktails. You’ll even get some delicious snacks free of charge with your drinks.
Like all major cities, a rooftop bar is a must for a spot of people watching and cocktails you’ll want to post about. Most of the terraces get booked up with tourists (as you can imagine) but try to find ones further away from the Duomo. You’ll still get fantastic views, with cheaper drinks and a table you can actually sit at.
But if views of the cathedral is what you signed up for this lesser known restaurant and bar is ideal. Try to get there around 4pm to beat the after-work drinkers and it’s open until midnight giving you a chance to see the sunset over the city.
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