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Below are my personal recommendations for things to do if visiting Milan, Italy on a budget! I traveled to Milan on a solo trip and was there for ten days. All in all, I spent around $2000 on my trip (roundtrip airfare included)!
AIRFARE : $640
I purchased a direct, roundtrip flight through Cheaptickets. If you’re on a budget, I have some good news for you; Cheaptickets partnered with Affirm a while back and created a Payment Plan option where upon approval, you can pay off your airfare in monthly installments (book now, pay later basically).
I walked and used the train to get around the city and also to and from Cinque Terre. I used a car service (taxi ride to the airport and roundtrip Uber ride) when I was running desperately late! Beware: a car ride from Milan to Malpensa Airport costs 100 euros! You’re better off taking the train if you don’t have too much luggage with you and have time to spare!
The rail line I used from Milan to Manarola was Trenitalia and was roughly 52 euros or $60 USD. This is only because I missed my original return ride back to Milan. I misread the overhead signs so friends! PLEASE pay attention to the signs. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions of the people around you or an employee if you are lost! The employees had a swarm of angry tourists around them so kindly be patient if they seem a bit shorttempered.
Stay at an Airbnb.
Stay in an Airbnb! I stayed in three different apartments for a few days each. During my first week I stayed in a beautiful one bedroom flat with a balcony in Navigli, a trendy, bustling neighborhood.
Secondly, I stayed at an Airbnb that was more of a hotel room style with a kitchenette area. I immediately wanted to take the art pop-esque piece hanging right above the bed with me.
Finally, I stayed in a beautiful and spacious studio apartment located snugly in Isola, a hipster enclave. Guess what? I had this amazing place to myself for under $77 a night! The fridge was stocked with some bottles of water, milk, yogurt and an adult beverage all courtesy of my gracious Airbnb host Genevieve. What won me over about this apartment was how large the bathroom and the two balcony views (one from the bedroom, the other from the living room). For the amenities, location and stunning views booking an Airbnb versus a hotel room definitely gave me my money’s worth (and more!)
THINGS TO DO AND SIGHTS TO SEE: $400
Grab aperitivo and socialize.
Meet up for the Italian version of happy hour, aperitivo, with your friends or date, there’s bound to be one right around the corner! Aperitivo is a great way to save money on eating out or if you want to enjoy some adult beverages because not only are they discounted but also, Italian aperitivos tend to offer a smorgasbord of appetizers so I highly recommend going on an empty stomach!
Visit the modern day Gardens of Babylon: Bosco Verticale.
This stunning architectural masterpieceis the modern day Gardens of Babylon. It is a pair of twin residential towers located in the richest business district of Europe, Porto Nuova. An architectural masterpiece, it is smack dab in the center of where old meets modern in Milan.
Grab a caffe con panna for a quick energy boost.
Breakfast was by far my favorite meal of the day. Italian pastries are light, delicious and I always looked forward to my morning cafe con panna, which I never had prior to visiting Italy. It is simply a single shot of espresso with cream on top. You mix the two together and sip on your cafe con panna! I also liked to add chocolate to mine.
Opt for the mom and pop shops and restaurants.
Italian pasta in Italy is well, UNBEATABLE. The pasta I had was handmade and the ingredients were so fresh I could almost still taste the morning dew on them.
Don’t forget to grab a gelato at a local deli or ice cream shop!
Window-shop around the bustling and beautiful Piazza del Duomo.
There are so many interesting shops, galleries and restaurants around the plaza, you can easily get lost! Here is where you can truly see for yourself why Milan is called the fashion capital of the world; many designers such as Prada, Versace and Feltrinelli are housed under the majestic roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Visit Brera Gallery.
Take a pasta making course.
Attend mass at Church of Duomo.
Do an Airbnb experience!
This was so much fun! With me being on my own this trip, I decided to get out there and immerse myself in the Italian culture. I was especially excited to take a natural skincare workshop and for less than $75, was able to sign up for one two nights beforehand via Airbnb Experiences.
What did the workshop include?
The price included supplies, materials and a 2 hour workshop where my host, Beatrice, taught me the fundamentals of making my own DIY vegan face cream and face mask at her studio! It was super cool because it was one on one instruction and her studio was quite lovely with an aesthetic that made you feel cozy. I walked away with a 1 oz jar of my face cream and a 50 mL cosmetic jar of my face mask.
Cinque Terre consists of cliffside fishing villages along the stunning Italian Riviera coastline: Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Montereosso, Vernazza and Manarola. I was in Cinque Terre for two nights but was able to fit in some sightseeing whilst my stay. I booked an Airbnb at the very top of Manarola; the sight from my balcony was incredible. For less than $120/night for a one bedroom one bathroom with an oceanside view all to myself, that price is well worth it!
Should I learn some Italian before I go?