Last night I returned from a fabulous weekend trip to Milan. Having never been before, we had to research a fair bit to decide what we wanted to see. After narrowing it down, the following is my experience of Milan and Lake Como in a weekend.
On Saturday we opted for the open top bus tour, it costs €22 and there are 3 different routes you can choose from. Each bus is clearly marked A, B or C and you can hop on or off any of them, or take each route separately. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it. The audio guide continuously cut out and there are cheaper ways to travel around the city – i’ll cover this further down.
Take the Metro red line to Cairoli Castello for the visitor centre and start of the bus tour.
The Duomo Di Milano (Milan Cathedral) was incredible, the sheer size and architecture is not to be missed! The queues can be quite long, you need to queue at the museum entrance for a ticket, and then join the cathedral queue to gain entry. If you opt for the above bus tour, then buy your Duomo ticket from the bus, as your ticket allows you to skip the queue at the cathedral. Another thing worth noting, is your bus ticket can get you discounts on other tours. The list of discounts/perks will be at the bottom of your ticket.
Take the Metro red or yellow line to Duomo for the cathedral.
We spent Monday morning visiting Castello Sforzesco. An impressive castle in the middle of the city. There was no entrance fee though it hosts a Michelangelo museum inside, which costs around €5 for entry. From there, we spent a few hours walking around the nearby Parco Sempione. A beautiful park, with much to see and do. We were lucky enough to stumble across a jazz band practising, and a model in the middle of a photoshoot!
Take the Metro red or green line to Cadorna for Castello Sforzesco.
After missing the last subway back to the hotel on Saturday night, we discovered our tickets were valid for the subway, tram and bus routes. ATM allows you to buy travel cards for a single journey, or 24 – 48 hour passes. For a weekend I would recommend a 48 hour pass at €8.25, this allows unlimited trips within the 48 hours. There is also a night time tram route which follows the subway line. My advice would be to study the map at the bus stop, and check where is closest to your destination. If you do take the tram late at night, it can get very busy. So be sure to sit on the side with the doors so you can clearly see the stops, as they are not announced on the tram.
Lake Como was a ‘must see’ after travelling to Milan. On Sunday we took the metro to Centrale (Milano Centrale) which is the interchange station for the overground train. The train station alone is unbelievable, it’s huge, and absolutely stunning – covered with carvings and beautiful high ceilings. We decided after much reading, to spend the day in Bellagio rather than Como. So we bought return train tickets to Varenna-Esino for around €14 return, and planned to take the ferry from Varenna to Bellagio.
On arriving in Varenna, you follow the signs for the ferry which will take you to the shore, and tickets can be purchased there. I found it very difficult to get any reliable information online about the ferries, as so many companies operate on the lake. If you turn up to the port and buy a ticket at the office, it is approx €9 return and there is an easy to read timetable available. The ferry only takes 15 minutes and the views of Lake Como are beautiful. More importantly, Bellagio did not disappoint!
Bellagio is gorgeous; from the old cobble streets to the beautiful flowers, I fell in love as soon as I stepped off the ferry. We spent several hours walking around the narrow streets, peering into quaint little shops and stopping for drinks in the many cafes and bars. The locals are so helpful and friendly, it’s impossible not to feel right at home – a very different feel from Milan.
Having a fellow traveller who is gluten and dairy free, I must recommend the restaurant where we ate dinner. La Fontana is signposted from the bottom of the hilly streets, and has gluten free pasta, beer and pizza. The staff spoke excellent English and were the perfect combination of laid back but with top notch service. At one point my mum was behind the bar choosing her whisky!
Milan Night Life
There were two areas we visited at night which had busy bars and restaurants. The first was Porta Genova, which is situated near the Navigli canals. We didn’t go far due to being starving and eating at the first place we seen, but along the canal there are many bars to visit and a lovely view.
The second was Garibaldi, an up and coming area for Milan night life. This was probably the busiest with the best atmosphere. It had a more modern set up, and several pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Take the Metro green line to Porta Genova, or Metro green or purple line to Garibaldi.
That’s All Folks!
Milan is too big to do in a weekend. We made the most of it, and could probably have seen more if we hadn’t gone to Lake Como. However, to go that far and not go a little further was not an option! My favourite part of the trip was – without question – Bellagio and Lake Como. I’ve even managed to convince the other half that a tour around Italy next year MUST be arranged. There is so much more to see and do, and I would be delighted at the opportunity to spend a few days on Lake Como and hire a boat next time.
I hope this gives you some ideas of what to do and see in Milan or Lake Como. Any questions at all, please contact me and i’ll help if I can.