I visited Milan for a weekend (literally two days!) in early October with a friend. In the 36 hours we spent in the city, we managed to cram in an impressive amount of sightseeing, and even more impressive amounts of wine and pasta!
- Currency: Euro
- Local time: GMT +1
- Language: Italian
Stay: The Westin Palace
My trip to Milan was booked on a bit of a whim, with only a few weeks until departure, so we managed to get an amazing deal on lastminute.com. We booked one of their ‘Top Secret Hotels’ (for those who haven’t done this before, it’s where they list hotels and show you a rough location of each, along with a generic description of the hotel and a star rating. Thats all you get until you confirm your booking and pay. A gamble? Yes. One worth taking? In this case, definitely. Once I’d paid (£91, absolute bargain!) they emailed confirmation to say our accommodation would be at The Westin Palace, and upon googling, we were suitably impressed.
Upon actually arriving at the hotel, our impression levels were kicked up a notch. A doorman greeted us and took our luggage inside for us. In reception, there were chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. And a harp player. Check in was a breeze, our room was ready and waiting for us (despite an early 11am arrival) and we were quickly escorted upstairs.
Although compact, the room was everything we needed and came with an impossibly comfortable bed and a seriously powerful shower. We couldn’t fault the service at the hotel, and the location was great too. It was within easy reach of several Metro stations, or simply a 20 minute stroll to the Duomo in the centre of town.
Do: Milano Navigli, Duomo Di Milano, Sephora
Without a doubt our favourite area of Milan was the Navigli area. It offered canal side eating and drinking as well as quirky market stalls and a very picturesque area to wander in the fading afternoon sun. (Tip: We tried to walk there from the Duomo and after getting ever so slightly lost, decided to purchase a Metro card and hop on. We never looked back!)
No trip to Milan is complete without visiting the Duomo! There are several options for exploring this incredible cathedral, but because the weather was so lovely, we opted to take the lift up to the terraces and take in the amazing views over the city. It cost €13 to go up, and while there was a bit of a queue for the lift, it was 100% worth it when we got to the top and had unlimited time to explore at our leisure.
Being British, we sadly do not have Sephora shops in the UK, so you can imagine my excitement when I realised they had them in Milan! Although not all of the brands I was used to from the American stores were available, I was still like a child in a sweet shop and had to be dragged out in the end in order not to miss our flight! It’s definitely worth adding to the list of many shops you will surely visit on your stay in the city of fashion but if like us, you’re travelling hand luggage only, don’t forget that you can’t buy anything over 100ml – sob!
Eat: Pavé, El Cicinin
For a fabulous breakfast/brunch in a place packed with locals (always tells me I’m onto a winner) head to Pavé. A neighbourhood favourite for very good reason; it comes complete with an incredible selection of cakes and pastries, as well as a main brunch menu and excellent coffee. If you only have time for one brunch out, Pavé is the place to head!
When it came to dinner in Milan, we found the best place to head was down to the Navigili area mentioned above. Restaurants and bars line the canal on both sides, and we were tempted by the aromas coming from most of them! After stopping for a glass of wine at an outdoor bar (the sun was setting and we were super lucky to get a table!) we wandered around the area in search of authentic Italian food. And wow did we find it! On a side road off from the main Navigili canal strip, El Cicinin offers cozy candlelit tables indoors and heated al fresco dining outside. The menu offered your typical Italian dishes; olives, bread baskets and charcuterie boards followed by pastas, pizzas and an excellent specials board. It was very reasonably priced, the food was divine and to top it all off, they served wine on tap by the litre. What more do you want for an evening in Italy?