If you’re using my How to Spend 2 Weeks in Italy and planned your 4 Days in Florence, now you’re ready to find out how I saw Milan on a budget in 2 days solo, packed with epic architecture and art, and an option for a day trip to Lake Como. Bonus.
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Milan on a Budget (or Not)
Yes, Milan can be seen on a budget as a solo traveler. To help provide more Milan budgeting options, peruse my Guide to Budget European Accommodations for additional accommodation-planning.
Let me state here that when I say “budget”, I mean your daily travel expenses could total €100 or less. It’s up to you on where you wish to budget (accommodations, excursions, etc.), and how far in advance you book. Some attractions can be seen without a tour, which will save you money, of course.
The following Milan travel guide and 2 day itinerary can work for anyone, budget or not. The key factors that can push you out of the “budget” range is your choice in Milan accommodations and the types of attraction tours you choose. Some attractions can be seen without a tour, which will save you money, of course.
Ok, now let’s get you to Milan.
Milan Solo Travel Essentials
Prices in this post reflective at time of writing.
Getting Around Milan
From most Italy locations, it is more than likely you will arrive at the Milano Centrale station. If you fly into the Milan Malpensa Airport, you can also take the train from the airport or catch your hotel shuttle or Malpensa Shuttle to your hotel. From the Milano Centrale station you can take other trains, the metro, or catch a bus for rides within or outside of Milan.
No rental car within Milan is really needed. The Milan historical center can really be done on foot, and if you’re staying within my recommended area (see map below), you can also walk or metro to/from the Milan Centrale station.
ECO TRAVEL PICKS
Where to Stay in Milan
Milan a larger city than Florence, but the historic center is still walkable and easy to navigate. For optimum ease of walking and seeing the sights, it is recommended to stay within it and walking distance to the train station, but not too close to the station or Piazza Duca D’Aosta for safety.
If not walking distance to the train station, use the Milan Metro – it is very easy to navigate. I recommend staying within the circle on the map within the city center:
Milan has many hotel, hostel and other accommodation types across all budget types within the Milan city center map.
Going in the off season, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Milan prices.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or sustainably rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
For price, amenities (including no pre-payment and free-cancellation), and customer reviews and ratings, my Milan budget hotel recommendation for over 50 single travel is Sant’ Amrbroeus Hotel. It is in a good location with a pleasing breakfast and friendly staff that could possibly be booked at €65/night, depending on time of year and how far in advance you book.
Milan Budget Tip
There are Milan hostels that could start from around €25/night, depending on what amenities and location you want. Note, these are usually a bed in a dorm room. Private rooms in hostels can cost the same, if not more, than a budget hotel.
With the same conditions above, plus employing eco-friendly and/or sustainable operations, here are my Milan hotel recommendations for over 50 single travel (i.e., where I would stay), “budget” and higher:
Many accommodations may not let you check in until 3-4pm, but if available, have them store your luggage until your room is ready so you can get out and enjoy Milan.
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Milan Attraction Musts
Milan definitely has some must-see sights. If you have never been to Milan, the following are attractions that would a shame to miss.
The reason why I suggest the following “musts” is that they are not-to-be-missed, amazing attractions. If you were to ask what would be my one day in Milan itinerary, it would be these attractions.
They are historically significant big tourist draws and sure to draw long lines, especially April to October and on the weekends; and, reservations may be required or recommended.
“The Last Supper”
Milan’s top attraction, in my humble opinion, is da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is absolutely incredible this piece of art made it through the bombings of World War II. I had to book my ticket online 3 months in advance.
You cannot see this attraction without a reservation, so as soon as you know you are going to Milan, confirm the date you want to see it and buy your “Last Supper” ticket early.
As always, I recommend getting the first available daily tour of the day, which only takes 30 minutes, so you have the rest of the day to leisurely stroll through Milan.
After the “The Last Supper”, I recommend your first stop on that leisurely stroll be the Milan Cathedral ticket office (to the right of the cathedral) to get your ticket to see the Duomo early the next morning (if you have not already purchased your Milan Cathedral ticket in advance).
If you are going to Milan during high tourist season, definitely buy your ticket online in advance. Ensure the ticket allows you to go up on the roof – it has great views of the city.
The entrance lines for the Cathedral start early, so I suggest getting there by 8am or so in order to easily cruise into the awe-inspiring cathedral and up on the roof in time to be done by 10am and check out of your hotel on time. If you’re going to Milan anytime from April to October, wait until you see how long the lines are by 10am.
Advanced Reservations / Ticket Required
Advance Ticket Recommended
Other Milan Attractions
For time around the “must” attractions, the below are also noteworthy for your 2 days in Milan. You can easily do 2 to 3 of these attractions leisurely in a day. Some attractions are free.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
- Duomo Museum Church
- Piazza del Duomo
- Sforza Castle
- Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum
- Brera Art Gallery
- Piazza dei Mercanti
- Walk the Via Dante
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Milan Events Calendar
If it helps in planning what you would like to see, here is a list of annual events held in Milan.
- Here is a good overview of traditional Milanese cuisine that will get your mouth watering.
- Eater provides some great Milan recommendations.
- Want to know where the locals eat?
- Here’s a good list of Milan’s cheap eats.
Lake Como Day Trip
I can understand if you are enjoying Milan and want to just sleep in and hang out and have a lazy day your second day – that is up to you.
However, if you would like to get out to see some amazing Italian scenery, I highly recommend seeing Lake Como. Lake Como from Milan is one of the best day trips in Italy to take.
Lake Como is absolutely beautiful, and a day trip should be on the itinerary. Hopefully you’ll have good weather for this day.
If the Lake Como day trip piques your interest, I suggest you catch a one-way train to Varenna by 10:30am at the latest from Milano Centrale Stazione so you may have the day around the lake.
The train will arrive Varenna a little over an hour later, making late morning a perfect time to meander through the town, grab lunch at the local market stands or pop into a terraced restaurant overlooking the lake.
There are walking paths to walk around portions of the lake or you can go into the Hotel Villa Cipressi where, for 3€, you can access their botanic gardens and walking paths along the waterfront for amazing views. You do not need to be a guest of the hotel to do this.
If you wish to stay in Varenna for the day, try the hike up to the Castello di Vezio where you can enjoy 14th century frescoes, a drink at the bar and take in the scenic views. When ready just purchase a train ticket back to Milan.
To see more of the lake, another option after lunch and meandering the Varenna waterfront is to bypass the Castello di Vezio and purchase a Varenna-Bellagio-Lecco ferry ticket for about €10 at the waterfront ferry ticket office in the center of town.
I suggest you leave Varenna by 3pm at the latest for Bellagio so you can have a couple of hours to stroll through Bellagio and grab an early dinner and Aperol spritzes on the waterfront.
Note, the last ferry to Lecco may leave around 5:50pm so you don’t want to miss it, unless you want to try to find last-minute, expensive lodging in Bellagio. I leave that to you.
The ferry ride from Bellagio to Lecco, on the southern end of the lake, will take about an hour and forty minutes, but it is beautiful and worth spending time relaxing while you cruise along the water.
The train station in Lecco is just a 10-minute walk from the ferry launch, and if you catch the 8pm train you’ll be back in Milan by 8:40 pm in time for a late dinner, if you didn’t dine in Bellagio, and see Milan at night lit up in all of its glory.
Things to Do in Milan on a Budget in 2 Days
Depending on how much you want to see (and spend) is completely up to you. Milan has plenty of options, as I have outlined above.
That said, here is my recommended Milan itinerary (with Lake Como) that shows what a single traveler over 50 can see and do in Milan in 2 days, at approximately €100, if you book well in advance, and choose the right tour or entry tickets for the top Milan attractions to meet your tastes and budget.
Day 1 Milan
- “The Last Supper”, Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Sforza Castle tour
- Walk the pedestrianized Via Dante (leads from castle to the duomo)
- Milan Cathedral with rooftop access and Museum
- Piazza del Duomo – Milan’s main square
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Glass-domed shopping arcade
- Piazza dei Mercanti
- Dinner in city center
Day 2 – Day Trip to Lake Como
- Purchase Milano Centrale-Varenna-Esino and Lecco-Milano Centrale train tickets
- Explore Varenna
- Hotel Villa Cipressi gardens
- Varenna – purchase Varenna-Bellagio-Lecco ferry ticket
- Ferry to Bellagio
- Explore Bellagio with lunch
- Ferry to Lecco
- Lecco to Milan train
- Dinner in Milan city center
I highly recommend taking the second day to go to Lake Como.
However, you could stay in Milan, of course. If you do, you may wish to purchase the Milan 48-Hour Pass and use this itinerary for day 2 in Milan:
Day 2 – Milan
- Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio
- Revisit Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- La Scala Opera House tour and museum
- Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum or Brera Art Gallery
- Dinner in Milan city center
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Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this Milan on a budget 2 day itinerary was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!