Milano offers various alternatives to move around. The city’s surface is not very vast, it is a plain area and this makes it easy to travel, by foot as well as by other means of transportation.
Milan’s subway, bus and tram system makes getting around Milan very easy and inexpensive. A single journey urban ticket, which covers travel in urban Milan is 2 euros. Ticket prices are the same on the subway, bus and tram and are only valid for 90 minutes after purchase. The subway is open all night but for tickets to be valid during that time they must be purchased after midnight. There are also a series of night buses that run Friday and Saturdays as well as Sundays during midweek holidays.
The Milan Metro can’t be compared to those of the biggest European cities like London, Paris, Berlin or Madrid. Nonetheless, it is the most efficient one in Italy. The Milan Metro is opened every day from 6.00 am till 00:30 am. Since 2011 Milan has been served by a night bus network which is active from 0:30 am to 6 am. Many other bus lines allow passengers to move around the city when the regular daily transport is closed.
In addition to the metro, Milan has a good bus & tram network system serving both the urban and suburban areas. The metro is the fastest and usually the best option, but surface transport is comfortable and efficient especially for short distances.
Many people prefer it also because it allows them to enjoy many of the city sights.
Trams are truly iconic and part of the city culture and they have been running since 1876. For Milanese and for those who love Milan, trams are a true institution. A mean of transport that has been crucial for many years and which today also unites the whole city, from its suburbs to its centre. It is one of the many contrasts that Milan offers, a city that combines technology, fashion, art and tradition.
Tramcars have been replaced and modernized over the years, being careful, however, not to completely modify their layout, at least for a number of cars. Eleven models followed each other until today over the years.
In the city there are still 150 cars of the 1500-series, also known as “Ventotto”, which were built between 1928 and 1932, becoming very successful even outside the city: in 1983 San Francisco Chamber of Commerce organized an exhibition of tramcars coming from all over the world.
The Milanese ones were particularly appreciated and, from that moment on, an export of such cars began. Nowadays they still run on the Castro-Fisherman’s Wharf line in San Francisco.
Taxis and Car Services
The first thing to know about taking taxis in Milan is that you can’t hail one the way you would in New York City. Taxis aren’t allowed to stop for passengers just anywhere – there are specific taxi stands all over Milan, and you have to go there to get a cab. What’s more, in not-so-busy areas or off-hours, there won’t be a queue of taxis waiting at the stand – there will just be a phone that connects directly to a taxi dispatch service.
For non-Italian speakers, that can be a little intimidating, as can calling a taxi service on your own even if you’re in the comfort of your hotel room. I’d suggest either asking someone at your hotel to arrange a taxi for you, or going to places that are almost always going to have a few taxis waiting for passengers – train stations (Centrale and Cadorna are good options in the city center) or major attractions (such as the Duomo).
Note that taxi fares jump in the evenings and at night – that’s not a driver cheating you, that’s the law. Also note that if you call for a taxi, the meter starts running when the driver leaves to come get you, so you’ll see a charge on the meter even before you get in the car.
Uber is a famous American drivers service but in Milan is not a common service. Due to the fact that only NCC (Noleggio Con Conducente) drivers are able to enlist as Uber drivers, there aren’t nearly as many of them around as you might have expected to be.
Milan by Car
As Milan is one of the busiest cities in Italy, it should be no surprise that its traffic can be terrible to navigate. It bustles from early morning to late at night — and that’s without mentioning the lack of parking or the many areas where there is limited traffic allowed. Milano is an increasingly environment-friendly city, more and more careful to policies of sustainability and environmental quality. On this purpose, those who are traveling by car have to respect some restrictions and traffic rules: electric vehicles may take advantage of some facilitations whereas the most polluting vehicles can circulate only on weekends and holidays.
An alternative to both bringing your own means of transportation and “traditional” public transport is a sharing service, whether it’s a car (Milan actually has the most extensive car sharing service in the whole of Italy), a bike or a scooter. While some are cheaper than others, they all follow the same principle — you pick up your car, bike or scooter at the location closest to you and drop it off at your destination, paying for the time you have used it and avoiding the hassle of finding a parking spot.
Walking is a great way of exploring the city and catching those little corners and quirky sights you might otherwise miss by just sticking to the most famous landmarks. While it is entirely possible to stick to walking if you feel like your legs are up for it, one good solution is moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood with public transport and then letting your feet take you on an adventure. The city center is very walkable, and with the help of a good map and a basic sense of the city’s layout, traveling on foot is often your best option. You will get the best feel for the city this way, and because the layout of the town is completely flat, you’ll be able to go long distances without too much trouble. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes (but also reasonably stylish…you are in Milan, after all.)