Getting around Milan like a local – A simple guide to Milan’s public transport
About Getting around Milan
Getting around Milan on public transport is cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly, but you may not always need to use it. The main attractions in Milan such as the Duomo, Galleria Vittoria Emanuel II, the Sforzesco Castle are all within walking distance and you can easily cover Milan in One Day through a walkable route. Milan’s public transport is efficient in that it connects all points of interests for a visitor with dedicated tram lines across the city. It is affordable. With a ticket for €2.00 that lasts 90 minutes you can hop and off a subway, bus or a tram to get you to your destination. Moreover, Milan’s public transport is environmentally friendly using less energy, running 80 eco-friendly buses. However, the system may appear daunting to first time visitors because of the many transport links crisscrossing the metropolis. Having said that, it certainly is doable to get around Milan on public transport and to explore this metropolis at your own pace. This simple and comprehensive guide to Milan’s public transport is to assist getting around Milan if you are going to be using the system when you visit this fashion capital of the world.
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Here’s what you need to know about getting around Milan like a local.
Some basic facts to know about getting around Milan
1 | ATM is not a bank/cash machine
Most of us are familiar with the acronyms ATM – in the UK and in most countries, it refers to bank/cash machines but in Milan, ATM is the company that operates the public transportation, so you will see it displayed at ticket offices in stations and on your tickets when you purchase them.
2 | 5 Ways of getting around Milan
There are five ways to get around the City of Milan – Taxi, Bike sharing, Metro, Buses, and Trams.
The Metro, Buses and Trams are managed by ATM – Azienda Trasporti Milanesi
3 | Airports
Milan is served by 3 international airports – Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo. All three airports provide easy access to Milan by train and bus.
Getting around Milan
1 | Taxi
Like in any major cities, taxis are often in high demand. One thing to remember though, is that unlike other cities like London or New York , taxis are not allowed to stop anywhere on the streets of Milan to pick-up passengers. So, even if you see one without passenger driven along your street, and you hail it to stop, taxi drivers are not going to stop to pick you up. Another point to remember is that, there are not many taxis available after peak hours or in quieter part of Milan. Your best bet would be to go to the dedicated taxi ranks where you will find awaiting taxis. Popular taxi ranks are the ones at Milan Centrale Station and the one opposite the Duomo. You could also ask your hotel to call a taxi for you, as there are almost always taxis waiting for a few passengers.
Just so you know, taxis are more expensive in the evenings and at night – that’s just how their tariffs are regulated. When you get into the taxi, you will already see a charge on the meter – the meter starts running when the driver leaves to come get you.
Safety rules of Taxis: As in any other countries or situations when you use taxis, make sure there is a working meter before you get in the car. Also make sure the driver uses it.
Fixed taxi rates: Be aware of fixed taxi rates to the airport and some destinations. You could ask your hotel front-desk to find out for you or ask the taxi company at the time of enquiry or before you book your ride.
2 | Bike Sharing
Bike sharing – The bike sharing program in Milan was introduced in 2008 and is called BikeMi. The program has more than 200 stations throughout the City and is available for both residents and visitors. To join the program, you need to subscribe. Subscriptions can be for daily, weekly, or annual use.
Daily – € 4.50
Weekly – € 9.00
Annual – € 36.00
You can subscribe to the service through your cell/hand/mobile phone on their official website here. Once you have registered and subscribed, you will receive your unique user code that you will need to put into the BikeMi self-service station in order to unlock a bike. You can use the bike for a maximum of 2 hours at any one time.
Your tariffs depend upon the type of bike you subscribe to, either traditional bike or an electric bike. If you select a traditional bike, the first half hour is free, then it is €0.50 for every half hour, up to 2 hours. After that, you will be charged €2 per hour. You can return your bike to any BikeMi station, so it is convenient and easy not to exceed the 2 hour limit.
For tariffs on electric bike, see table below, taken from BikeMi official site.
For up to date information on tariffs and regulations, go to BikeMi
Getting around Milan and how to do it on Milan’s public transport like a local
1 | Metro
The Metro in Milan is simple and easy navigate and is the most popular mode of transport amongst visitors. There are 4 major lines that you need to know.
M1 [RED] – Connects Duomo di Milano with Porta Venezia, the castle, Corso Magenta and the Fiera;
M2 [Green] – Connects Porta Garibaldi with Brera and Navigli;
M3 [Yellow] – Connects Quadrilatero with Porta Romana;
M5 [Lilac] – Connects San Siro with Porta Garibaldi and Isola;
(M4 is under construction)
Services operate between 5.30am and 12.30am (from 6am on Sunday).
A ticket is valid for 90 minutes. It can only be used for one metro ride. [More information on type of tickets and choices are below]
Tickets are sold at electronic ticket machines in the station, or at tobacconists and newsstands.
To view a larger scale of the map, go to ATM Network official website here. If you need a map to use to navigate around Milan, you could pick one up from any of the ATM point offices at the Metro stations.
Metro stops are indicated by a large M signs near staircases leading to underground stations. There are plenty of stops within the historic center as well – at the Duomo, Centrale Station, and Cadorna Station.
2 | Buses
Milan eco bus – Image credit to Pierre Antoine A.
Milan’s buses are eco-friendly and offer 80 routes. It covers areas where the Metro does not. The bus lines have numbers and destination names to indicate which direction the bus is travelling.
Bus stops – The bus stops in Milan are represented by no more than a pole with a small placard showing numbers for buses that stop there. There will also be a list of stops on each line. The stop at which you are at is highlighted. The stops below will be the ones coming up. If your intended destination is above the highlighted stop/name, you will need to cross over to the bus-stop in opposite side of the road and find the corresponding destination.
The buses in Milan will stop only if there are people waiting to board or passengers wanting to get off. So, if you see your bus approaching, step forward and put your hand up, hail the bus to stop. It is important that you hail the bus that you want, as there might be multiple buses using the same stop and the driver would not necessarily know which one you are waiting for. Once on board, look out for your destination stop, indicate you want to get off at the next stop by pushing the stop button near your seat.
Remember to validate your ticket when you board the bus.
Buses run between 05:30 until between 00:30-01:45, depending on the line. On weekends, some routes have night buses, running between 02:00 and 06:00.
The following lines operate night bus services every half-hour between 12.30 a.m. and 05.10 a.m, after the metro has closed.
For up to date information on Night Bus Services in Milan, click here to their official website, ATM Night Service.
Pro tip: Take Bus 94 for an easy ride around town – it circles the city center and popular tourist highlights.
3 | Trams
Image credit to Canva
The Trams in Milan have been in operation since 1881. There are some historic trams and some newer ones. With 17 tram lines, they serve some areas that the buses don’t.
One thing you may wish to experience is to ride one of the the historic trams as they still have the old wooden benches in them. The newer ones are spacious and air-conditioned.
The numbering system for trams are basically the same as for the buses. The trams get the lower numbers and the buses get the higher numbers with the notable exception of Line 18 which is a bus line.
Visitors can treat trams as they would buses in some ways. For example, trams only stop when there’s someone at the station or when someone onboard wants to get off. As with buses, if you want to get on board, you need to be at the stop and raise your hand slightly to indicate your intention to get onboard and for the driver to notice you. Once on board, when you are ready to get off at your destination, indicate your intention by pushing a button or pulling a cord.
Remember to validate your ticket when you board the tram.
Trams 2, 4, 14 and 16 are the most central, all passing by Piazza Duomo.
Pro tip: Tram 1 – Cuts through the historic centre,. It is a retro yellow tram with wooden benches and original fittings.
You could ride this iconic Tram 1 on a 2.5 hour tour with a tour guide. The tour takes you through Milan’s historic city centre with highlights that include Napoleon’s Arch of Peace, the Duomo, La Scala House, Sforza Castle and much more. Take a look here and see if you like it.
Trams 2 and 3 – are popular for sightseeing.
Trams 9 and 10 – loop around the centre via Porta Venezia, Porta Genova and Porta Garibaldi.
Just to be aware that there are sometimes car lanes running alongside, or intertwined with tram lines, so ensure you look both ways before disembarking the tram.
Transit tickets for getting around Milan – Types of tickets, single journeys and multi-journey tickets
As mentioned above, the public transport in Milan is managed by ATM (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi). The public transport options include the subway, buses and trams. There are transit tickets available to suit your journeys. If you are going to be riding Milan’s public transportation, here is what you need to know about the transit tickets, options available and the cost effective ways of managing it.
A single ticket, which can be used on the Metro, Tram and Buses in Milan costs €2.00 and is valid for 90 minutes from the time of its first stamp. You can ride as many buses and trams, a combination of journeys, all within the 90-minute window. You can change trains on one Metro journey using one ticket. Once you have used a ticket for the Metro, you cannot afterwards use the same ticket for another Metro journey within the 90-minute validity period. You can leave a Metro station, and then ride buses and trams for the remainder of the usefulness of the ticket. This single ticket is valid now also to reach Rho Fieramilano, located outside the inner city area.
You can buy this ticket via SMS, by sending a message to 48444 and typing ATM.
Multi journey tickets
Carnet of 10 standard tickets
A carnet of 10 standard tickets covers 10 journeys of 90 minutes each from the time of its first first stamp. Each ticket is valid for a single journey on the Metro or rail network. If you are going to be riding Milan’s underground and the rail network more than once or twice, then this is a good option at €18.00.
Note that the ticket is non-transferable. Therefore these cannot be used simultaneously by more than one person/passenger. Each person/traveller in your group must have his/her own carnet.
Other multi-journey tickets
If your plans in Milan involve staying longer than 2 days, you can consider the following money-saving passes for public transport:
One day ticket – Valid for 24 hours; €7
Three-day ticket – Valid for 72 hours; €12
Weekly 2 x 6 pass – This covers two journeys of 90 minutes each per day for 6 days of the same week. Each journey within the 90-minute validation period may include one journey on the Metro and rail network. It costs €17. This pass is personal and non transferable.
Children up to 10 years old travel free of charge on all means of public transport in Milan.
Where to buy Milan’s public transport tickets
The single and multi-journey tickets mentioned above can be purchased at Metro Stations, either at automated machines or ticket windows. Additionally, they are also available at tobacco shops, and at ATM Point Service centers located in the Duomo, Centrale Station, Cadorna, Loreto, Romolo and Garibaldi stations.
Alternatively, you can opt for one simple ticket to use the ATM public transport in Milan. A 48-hour City Pass not only is it convenient because you don’t have to purchase multiple tickets but it also gives you the flexibility to explore Milan at your own pace. Some if its benefits besides multi-use of the ATM system, include entrance to museums, including La Scala and the Gallerie d’Italia, discounts at shops, restaurants and shows. You could also take advantage of the discounts and enjoy a day trip out of the city through affiliated tour operators.
However, its worth noting that to take full advantage of the discounts at restaurants and day-trips, you may need to pre-book before your arrival in Milan to ensure your secure place. As always, and as you may already know, planning is important in travel, therefore buy your City Pass at your earliest.
Important points to remember when getting around Milan using public transport
i | Validating your ticket upon first use – this means that on the Metro, inserting the ticket on the barriers in order to get access in to the station. On the buses and trams, finding the validation machine on board the bus and tram and getting a stamp when you get on.
ii | Luggage ticket – A ticket is required for the transport of a single piece of luggage when transiting on Milan’s public transport within the City. The luggage ticket should be validated at the start of your journey alongside with your journey ticket. When required, you should hand over both tickets to ticket inspectors.
iii | Urban Tickets – All of the above prices refer to what is called ” Urban Tickets” which covers the city centre of Milan. Tickets for areas beyond the geographic designation of City of Milan, extra urban areas varies depending on its distance. Likewise, the validity period depends on the zones and semi-zones crossed.
This page shows you the list of stations in the extra urban areas.
iv | Ticket Collectors – Ticket collectors are usually dressed in civilian clothing and are constantly checking. Ensure to always keep your ticket after validating it on the Metro, bus or tram.
v | Useful Apps – Route maps are available from ATM info points. You can also download these via the ATM app. Learn more & download the Metro App
Getting to Milan from the airport
Airports near Milan
Milan is served by three airports – Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo
From Linate Airport to Milan
Milan Linate is the closest airport to Milan, only 8 kilometres away. It is second largest airport in Milan. There are no train stations in Linate but is well connected by shuttle service. You can take an airport bus transfer between Linate Airport and Milan Central Station for about €5.50 one way while enjoying your ride on a comfortable, modern, and air-conditioned bus with Wi-Fi.
From Malpensa Airport to Milan
Malpensa Airport (MXP) is the main airport in Milan and is the second busiest in Italy. It is the largest international airport in the Milan area. Located 49 kilometres northwest of the city, it is easily connected to Milan by train and bus. The best option is to take the Malpensa Express that runs every 20 – 40 minutes to Cadorna FN, Stazione Centrale and Porta Garibaldi stops. Takes 50 minutes to reach Stazione Centrale. Learn more about Malpensa Express, their routes and ticket prices from their official website here.
From Bergamo to Milan
Bergamo Airport (BGY) also known by its official name Orio al Serio is the third busiest airport in Milan. Located 45 kilometres northeast of Milan, near the city of Bergamo. There are no direct trains from Bergamo Airport to Milan but the train station in Bergamo is within easy reach of the airport. It can be reached in 10 – 15 minutes by Bergamo Bus which runs every 30 minutes from 06:00 in the morning to midnight. The number of the Bergamo bus is Number 1. Passengers are dropped off outside the train station to continue their journey and awaiting passengers at the train station collected to be taken to the airport. You need a ticket for this journey. This page gives you all the up to date information on fares and schedule.
Trains depart Bergamo Station every 30 minutes to Milano Centrale.
Milano Centrale Station
From Milano Centrale Station:
To get to the Cathedral, you will need the Piazza del Duomo. The distance between Milan’s Central Station and Piazza del Duomo is 2 miles / 3.2 km. There are Three ways to get to Milan Cathedral from Central Station. I took a taxi and it was 10 Euros. Have a look at the following and you can decide what suits you.
If you are looking for the quickest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo is to take a taxi. It takes 7 to 10 minutes depending on traffic. It costs around 10 Euros.
If you are considering the cheapest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo, then it is the line 3 subway which costs 3 Euros and takes 15 min. It is located right in the Piazza del Duomo.
You can take a direct bus departing from Central Station m2 m3 and arrives at via larga. It is about 7 to 9 minutes walk to Piazza del Duomo, The bus services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 13 min. Costs 3 Euros.
Don’t just visit Milan! – explore other cities in the Lombardy region through Train travel.
Don’t just visit Milan! Explore other cities in the Lombardy region which is relatively a short train ride from Milan. Train travel in Italy is convenient, inexpensive and straight-forward. You can explore so much more of Italy by doing one of these day trips by train. Most visitors to Milan spend each train travel day on the Milan-Venice- Florence - Rome circuit but I would highly recommend a Milan-Verona-Venice route. Although I stayed a few days in Verona and was not strictly a day-trip, you will find the Milan-Verona-Venice route to be really convenient and good value for money.
It is worth noting that for these day-trips, Milan to Verona or Milan to Venice, that it is better to buy point-to-point tickets than to buy a rail pass. I had a seamless train journey by pre-booking my tickets in very comfortable, clean carriages.
You can reach Verona in a little over an hour. The average travel time between Verona and Milan is 1 hour 23 minutes. The quickest route takes 1 hour 15 minutes. There are about 23 trains a day between Milan and Verona, leaving approximately every hour.
Alternatively, you could book a tour on-board a luxury coach to Verona and Lake Garda – an excellent value for money experience.
You can reach Venice in a little over two hours. The average travel time between Venice and Milan is 2 hours 32 minutes. The quickest route is 2 hours 10 minutes. There are about 22 trains a day between Milan and Venice, leaving approximately every hour.
Alternatively, you could book a tour on-board a luxury coach to Venice. This trip includes a 2-hour guided tour of Venice and a boat trip on Venice lagoon (NOT a gondola ride)
You can reach Lake Como in under an hour. The average travel time between Milan and Como is 48 minutes. The quickest route is 37 minutes. There are about 58 direct trains connecting Milan to Como every day.
Alternatively, you could book a luxury coach tour day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio – another excellent value for money experience.
Are you ready to book your trip?
What do you think? Is this article valuable to you in planning your visit to Milan and help you navigate the city using public transport? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
Have a splendid time exploring Milan and its surrounds.
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