Milan is the second largest city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy. The city’s urban area is the 5th most populous in Europe, with approximately 5.2 million people. Milan is considered the world fashion & design capital and is home to important museums and landmarks including the Milan Cathedral and Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Attracting over two million visitors per year, Milan is famous for several international events, including the Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair. The city is also home to two of the world’s famous football teams, A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano.
For gay rights in Italy, please see our Essential Guide to Gay Rome page.
The gay scene in Milan may not be as open as in other large European cities, but it is more visible than elsewhere in Italy.
Milan is a global fashion hub and the financial capital of Italy. These industries have acted as a gay magnet for gorgeous Italians, and a new generation of men now live their lives proudly out in the open. Signs of affection such as holding hands, hugging in the street and kissing cheek to cheek are perfectly acceptable. Touching someone below the waist in public is considered inappropriate.
Milan has what is considered by many to be Italy’s gayest street, Via Sammartini. In reality, it has only a few of gay venues. The gay scene is scattered all over the Milan, although several gay bars can be found in the Porta Venezia area, particularly on Via Lecco street (LeccoMilano, MONO Bar), and are within easy walking distance of each other.
To enter many adult gay venues (cruise clubs, saunas, etc.) in Italy, you will need a members club card such as ANDDOS. You can purchase this card from any participating venue. You will need photographic ID that shows your date of birth (passport/driving licence) to purchase a card. It is valid for three months.
Milan has two international airports – Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate. Milan Malpensa is located 50 km from the city centre but is the main airport with reasonably efficient public transport links.
The Malpensa Express leaves Malpensa every 30 minutes for the Central Station in Milan. The price is 11€ one way. The trains depart from Malpensa Terminal 1 from 06:53 between 21:23. If you arrive at Terminal 2 first, take a shuttle bus to Terminal 1. Outside of these hours there is a limited, and not particularly reliable, bus service.
The Malpensa Shuttle Bus runs every 20 minutes from 07:00–21:00 and approximately hourly throughout the night. It costs 14€ and drops you outside Central Station in Milan (unlimited return date). There’s open-air zone and movies.
Another bus company, Autostradale, leaves Malpensa from 6:00–00:30 and Milan from 04:35–23:00 every 20 to 30 minutes. If you travel by taxi, expect to pay around 90€ each way.
Milan Linate is much closer to the city centre (7 km) but is only served only by domestic and a few European carriers. A taxi from Linate airport will not cost more than 20€.
Public transport around Milan is inexpensive but if you do more than one journey, buy a daily combined bus, tram and metro train ticket for about 3€ from one of the tobacconist shops that are located on almost every street corner.
Taxis in Milan are reliable and easy to find, but the average short journey will cost around 10€. Head for a taxi rank in the centre or outside Central Station as hailing a taxi (unless you jump out in front of it) won’t get you very far.
There are 50+ city bus routes, but most aren’t as useful or reliable as the metro or tram. Night buses run along the red and yellow metro routes every 30 minutes after midnight.
A radiobus can be booked in advance that will pick you up from an arranged spot and drop you at your destination. They are available 20:00–02:00 and must be booked in advance on 02 48934 803.
The tram is a reliable service that crisscrosses and circles Milan. Tickets must be pre-purchased and validated once on board. Just watch what every one else does and copy them.
The metro consists of three lines identified by colours; “red”, “green and yellow” and the “blue” suburban line. A ticket costs 1.50€ and is valid for 90 minutes after purchase. Tickets must be validated when you enter the metro station.
Milan is compact and most of the sights, restaurants, shopping centres and gay venues are within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to take in the energy of such a cosmopolitan city, but watch out for vespa mopeds, and at night drunk misbehaving models!
Quadrilatero D’oro – No trip to Milan would be complete without a strut along the world’s finest fashion block.
Duomo – You may have seen it on the TV, but your first glimpse at the Milan Cathedral will leave you gasping in awe. The sheer size and piercing spires are magnificent.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11 – The iron and glass neoclassical shopping arcade links the Duomo with the La Scala Opera House. Prada and Gucci are found here.
Appertivi – Many bars offer food in the evening to compliment your drink. Italians eat late and appertivi is extremely popular to keep you going until dinner time.
A Night at La Scala – Opera lovers will be spoilt here in the world’s most legendary Opera House.
Navigli – Wander along Navigli’s canal side bars and restaurants, some of the liveliest in Milan.
Il Cenacolo – A must see is Leonardo da Vinci ‘Last Supper.’ All you get is 15 minutes to gasp and glare so make the most of it.
Milan has a warm to hot climate in the summer but winter can be quite cool. If you don’t like the rain, then avoid spring when the weather is similar to that experienced in London.
Milan may be the financial heart of Italy but it is equally, if not more famous, for its fashion industry and luxury designer shops.
The focal point is this industry is Quadrilatero della Moda (the ‘fashion quadrilateral’) comprising of Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, Via Sant’Andrea & Corso Venezia.
This part of the city has dominated the world’s most famous luxury brands including Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Versace, Chopard, Moschino, Bvlgari, Cavalli, Armani and so on. Dress to impress and make sure your plastic can handle the damage!
Italy is a member of the euro zone. ATMs (bancomat) are widely available Milan. Shops love cash. You will not be refused a discount in many independent stores if you pay cash. Most shops will ask for ID if you pay with a credit card.
Foreign exchange offices (cambio) are located close to all main tourist areas but generally offer poor rates of exchange.
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