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A cultural hub of Italy, Milan is famed throughout the world as a global glamour capital. Italy’s second largest city sits in the Lombardy region in the country’s north. With a history that dates back to 400 BC and a rich culture that includes Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage site that houses Leonardo da Vinci paintings, the thriving metropolitan centre that is Milan certainly has a life of its own. With one of the best road and transport systems in the country, Milan offers easy independent exploration, as does the Lombardy region at large.
Who to Book With
Milan is a huge city of 5.2 million and resultantly has hundreds of options for vehicles. Among these choices you will find top brands Avis, Budget and Hertz, although the market is competitive and you will also find several other companies all over the city. To secure the best deal and select from the widest choice of vehicles, it is recommended that you book online in advance.
Best Time to Go
Milan is a bustling urban centre and as such, it is a year-round destination. Many of the city’s cultural attractions are open daily, so visiting at any time of the year is possible. Italy boasts a fine Mediterranean climate, although naturally you should expect the warmest weather during the summer. Accommodation can hike in price during public holidays and city hosted events, so always check the annual festival calendar when planning a getaway to Milan.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- A current EU driving licence or a valid International Driving Permit
- Secondary picture ID alongside your licence
- Details of the credit card you made the booking with
- A record of booking, such as a reference number
Due to heavy traffic in Milan, it is recommended that when driving to the city you leave your car in one of the commuter car parks next to the exits of Milan’s orbital motorway. From these ring road car parks, you can easily connect with a metro station and ride into the city centre in about 10 minutes.
Another reason to leave your car on the outskirts is that Milan operates a congestion charge fee. All vehicles entering the city area designated within the former walls of the city (known as Cerchia dei Navigli) need to pay between £1.70 and £8.70 or a £65 fine is incurred.
Milan has an extremely useful public transport system consisting of metro and suburban rail services, trams around the city centre and buses that go to just about everywhere else. Considering the city centre now operates a congestion charge for private vehicles, public transport becomes even more helpful.
Milan has an integrated ticket system that covers the metro, tram, suburban rail and bus network operated by ATM. An urban ticket lasts 1 hour, 30 minutes from when you start your journey and is interchangeable on any mode of transport within the zone. It costs £1.30, or you can purchase an all-day ticket for £3.90.
Trains and Metro
Milan has an adequate underground metro system operated by ATM. There are currently three lines, with an additional two lines due to be completed by 2015. The network consists of 72 stations and covers most of the city districts. You can check the route maps here.
Milan is famous for its trams, which run on overground tracks which share the streets with other vehicles. Many trams are traditional carriages with wooden panelling and glass chandeliers, providing a unique way of getting around Milan. Check the tram network map here.
There is also a suburban rail network, known as the S-line. Trains usually run four times an hour, although during peak times services can increase to 10 times every hour. Metro trains usually run every one to three minutes. S-line is denoted blue on the Metro map.
Taxis are common, although expensive, in Milan. All run on a meter and during evenings a £5.20 surcharge applies. Taxis are authorised to pick up passengers who hail them from anywhere in the city or at cab ranks, or you can call 02 40 40 to order a cab.
Once you have taken in the famous sights of Milan – and there are many, so that’ll take you a while – you’ll probably be keen to venture out to explore more of Italy. The good news is that Milan is close to some truly beautiful scenery, such as Lake Garda at the foot of the Alps, and getting here by car is made extremely easy using the well-developed motorways of northern Italy.
Lake Garda - This is a visually magnificent water body at the foot of the great Alps and is the largest lake in Italy. There are several stop-off points around the lake to sit back and relax, and admire the view. From Milan, the lake is just 1 hour, 40 minutes by car using the A4 motorway.
Monza - This is a beautiful old pedestrianised town that is home to the crown jewels of the medieval Lombary kings, and you can also stroll around the peaceful enclosed park here. The town is also famous for hosting the Italian round of the F1 Grand Prix, which racing fanatics can visit. Monza is just 30 minutes north of Milan and well worth a visit.
Oltrepo Pavese - This is just an hour south from Milan and a famous wine growing region of Italy. As the terrain begins to starkly rise again after dropping from the Alps to the north, it creates perfect growing conditions for the Pinot Nero grape. Visiting the region is a wonderful day out.