Is Milan Worth Visiting?
Oh, Milano! I’ve been to Italy three times but never to Milan. Milan is known as the fashion capital of Italy and being from the fashion capital of the U.S. (NYC), I’ve never had an interest to visit (sorry, I can’t help it I’m a bit of a travel snob!). Once in a while I do like going to different cities to escape mine and this year for Memorial Day weekend I was in the mood to do just that. A few friends had been before and thought Milan was underwhelming though, with not much to do. After spending four days here, I disagree! I loved Milan and totally think it’s worth visiting if you’re in the mood to go somewhere culturally different than the U.S., easy to get around, and okay with exploring art/design culture and great Italian food.
Granted, Milanese Italian food is not as good as other areas of Italy but still better than the U.S.! Of all the countries I’ve been to around the world (40+), Italy is my favorite country to go back to. There is so much concentration of things to see, do and eat in this country and every time I come I fall more in love with Italian food.
From NYC, Milan is an easy trip to plan as well, where the flight times are pretty good and direct that you can spend a full four days here. I flew with Emirates Airlines (first time ever), leaving Wednesday night at 10:30 pm and arriving in Milan by Thursday, noon. Returning, my flight back to NYC from Milan was at 4 pm and I got back into JFK by 7 pm.
For those who fly with Emirates to Italy from NYC: definitely plan to arrive to the airport early to check in!!! I got to the airport by 8 pm and I barely had enough time to check in and grab some dinner before boarding the flight. Check in took FOREVER as everyone has to check in the front desk and I think a lot of people take this flight with a layover in Milan and then onwards to their flying destination in the UAE. It was probably the longest check in wait I’ve had in a long time when traveling. Flying back from Milan, I also arrived to the airport 3 hours early and I’m glad I did since I also needed to go to the tax-refund area as well (Note: As of May 2019, if you’re bringing your tax-free goods with you on the carry-on, they make you get the tax-free refund AFTER check-in security. If you have it in your checked luggage, you’re allowed to process it in an area BEFORE security. Sounds like these new rules were effective in the last year or so; definitely research for your travels!).
Why I Loved Visiting Milan
Milan is so much different than Rome, Florence, and Venice. I found it out be more classy, laid back, less touristy, and relaxing. Granted, maybe I was there during a good time of the year (late May) but I felt so safe walking around the streets of Milan. Sometimes when you visit other European cities, you need to be cautious of ‘bad’ or degenerate neighborhoods but I didn’t come across any sketchy streets. Of course that’s not to say there’s no crime but I felt safe and was never harassed or asked for money like I am in most other places. I also thought Milan moved at a relaxing pace and was less overwhelming with people than other Italian cities. I stayed in the ‘up and coming’ area of Tortona, which is near the southern end of the city and close to the Navigli area (which has a few canals and is very hip/more young and artsy. The Air BnB I stayed in was very nice and centrally located close to the Porta Genova Metro Station. The Duomo, which is in city center, was within a 20-25 minute walk. It was very easy to get around on the metro, trams, or with your own legs.
Milan is also great as it’s a jumping point for Lake Como and other surrounding areas. I wish I had more time to do day trips to the lake regions but I didn’t have time since it was a long weekend trip.
The highlight of my entire weekend was spending a day at QC Terme Milano. OMG this was one of the best day spa experiences I’ve ever had! I would pass through Milan just to enjoy this pleasurable day of bliss and relaxation. Unlike my other trips, I didn’t really spend too much time pre-planning as I plan so much for work and my personal life that I was ok just winging this weekend. However, anytime I travel solo, I always look up spa places in case I get bored or don’t have much else to do. I am SO glad I came across this little slice of heaven on Earth. I’ve been to a ton of spas around the world and in NYC and for the level of amenities and price, this may be my favorite one. I literally have nothing bad to say or to criticize this place.
Why I loved QC Terme Milano:
The design of this place was so gorgeous. From the two outdoor hot tubs basking within the Romanesque stone walls to the bird-cage nap room and the underground jacuzzis, everything was so nicely designed and CLEAN. I also loved the tram sitting in the garden which is a dry sauna.
All the saunas were clean and had really relaxing music piping through speakers.
The steam rooms were also very nice and filled of nice aromas. There was one steam room where you can also scrub down your skin with salt and while you sit in the steam room, it melts into your skin.
There are also face lotions/creams to use and plentiful naps rooms (including a room with infrared bed lighting).
Complimentary tea and fruit was also provided. For a full meal you need to pay a la carte, UNLESS you stay til the evening hours (7 pm) when they serve you apertivo (drinks and Italian charcuterie/snacks/food) which is INCLUDED in the admission price.
Value: For a day pass, if you arrive in the morning, it’s just 48 euros!!! You can add on services like massages, etc. but I read reviews online that the massages are terrible. If you come later in the day, the admission price is less but it’s also more people.
Very close to a metro station so it’s easy to get to. I took a tram from Tortona and it only took me 15 minutes to get to. I didn’t have a rsvp and I don’t think you really need one unless you come at a busy time.
Do not come on a weekend. I came on a Friday morning, at around 10:30 am. Check in was easy (the front desk speaks minimal English but enough to get in). It was pretty empty but got a little bit more busy as the day went on. However by 1-2 pm, it died out again.
Definitely come in the morning to enjoy this place in peace and cleanliness. I could totally understand that later in the day and on weekends, it gets busier and not as well-kept.
I stayed from 10:30-4 pm, and around then, a lot more people were arriving, probably to take advantage of the apertivo hour which is included in the admission price no matter what time you arrive. So I didn’t experience it but I was okay with that since i really enjoyed lounging around!
Bring sunscreen for the hot outdoor pools!
Walk around the facility to get a sense of where everything is before enjoying it. I did a quick walk through when I arrived, but realized I truly didn’t discover everything until after being there for about three hours. Then I went back and re-visited all my favorite spots.
The locker area—they give you a card as part of locker security. I didn’t know what to do with it until someone else showed me. You need to insert this card to a slot behind the locker door, then take the key with you. I felt that my things were secure.
Be sure to explore all the rooms in the underground baths!
I am so excited this brand is planning to launch a spa here in NYC as well in a couple of years on Governor’s Island!
Other things I did in Milan was mainly shop, visit the Duomo, and eat! The Galleria next to the Duomo is gorgeous and there is a dept. store nearby where you can head to the rooftop for a view of the Duomo and the city.
I was very lucky to get a private tour of the Duomo. A colleague of mine has a connection to the Duomo and I really enjoyed visiting it. The highlight is visiting the rooftop and the interior of the Duomo (can skip the museum, though it really does have cool artifacts). I am pretty surprised the Duomo is not talked about as much as other churches in Europe. I found it to be more beautiful than Notre Dame or La Sagrada Familia. It was so clean/well-preserved and all the intricate details and statues on the exterior are amazing to look at.
For food/drinks, it was a hit/miss. This cute little cafe below (Bar Luce) is near the Prada Foundation and was designed by Wes Anderson, an artsy American film director. The food and coffee here was very good (and at great price points for the quality!).
Another highlight was this wonderful restaurant with freshly slice prosciutto di parma and the most creamiest burrata cheese I ever had! My mouth is salivating just thinking of it. Salsamenteria di Parma has several locations throughout Milan and the milky white cream oozing out of this cheese is seared into my memory. The pasta here was nice as well but I loved my cured meats and cheese! I ended up buying some prosciutto to go to snack on the plane ride home (BEST DECISION EVER).
I also had a tasting menu meal at Langosteria, a highly rated seafood restaurant in Milan (and close to Tortona area). The food was light and delicious but pretty pricey. I did savor every bite though and langoustines are one of favorite things to eat!
Overall a wonderful short trip to Milan.
Off to another adventure today which I will try to be good about posting so I don’t fall behind on my trip reporting! :) Follow me on Instagram at thegirlwhotraveled for more photos and info!