Milan is a city with a long and fascinating history. Ruled by the Roman Caesars, Napoleon, the Austro-Hungarians and Mussolini, you can just start to imagine all that happened in this ancient city. Consider that St. Augustine was baptized in basilica that stood at what is now Piazza del Dumbo. Famous artists, composers, musicians and designers such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verdi, Giorgio Armani all lived and worked here; Napoleon has crowned himself inside the Duomo. All this history has left Milan with an abundance of art, cultural and architectural treasures for you to enjoy.
Today, Milan has a workaholic reputation as the money and business centre of Italy. Though Italian design is world renowned, its roots lie in the 1930s Milan. Entire fashion world looks to Milan’s catwalks twice a year for the season’s fashions. It is home to all the major design showrooms and an endless round of trade fairs. It is a city that all fashion enthusiasts must simply not miss.
Located at the heart of Northern Italy, in the wine region of Lombardy, a car hire at Milan Airport is a perfect pick-up location. You can use Milan as a base for day trips to the surrounding mountains, beautiful lakes and historic cities, and see the riches that Italy has to offer.
Basic info and car hire in Milan
- Location: Lombardy region, the North of Italy
- Population: 1,368,590 (as of December 2016)
- Official language: Italian
- Currency: Euro €
- Public holidays in Milan: If you travel to Italy, you must know about Ferragosto, the traditional holyday, that technically runs from Aug. 15 to Sept. 1. While 15th August is a national holyday, the rest of the vacation is up to interpretation. This means that some establishments close as early as mid-July. Others stay open through the entire summer. Some close for a week, other for a month. For other holidays in Italy check this site.
- Weather: Milan has a humid subtropical climate. It has hot, sultry summers and cold foggy winters. However, the average number of days with precipitation per year is one of the lowest in Europe.
- Internet coverage: Milan offers an ‘Open Wi-Fi Milan’, which is a free wireless hotspot. The service allows to use internet in all the covered areas. You can find more about this service at this site.
- Car hire in Milan: The most common collection spot for car hire pick-up in Milan is at the Milan Airport. To ensure you get the best deal for you hire, book it 3 to 8 weeks in advance. It is also possible to get a great last minute car hire deal. Find the offer that will best suit your needs in Milan.
Driving in Milan
If you rent a car In Italy, there are some things you need to know. One of the most heard of tips is ‘don’t drive in cities’. Many big cities are implementing a ‘Zone of Limited Traffic’, which makes driving into the historic centre rather impossible or expensive. That being said, car hire is still a great option if you plan to take day trips. When driving outside the cities follow all driving rules and regulations. You might be surprised that Italian drivers don’t follow the rules and drive aggressively, but this doesn’t mean that you should. Another thing worth knowing is that you should obey all no-parking signs. Italian cops have gotten brutal about ticketing illegally parked cars. Any unpaid parking ticket will find their way to the car hire agency, which will result in a fee for their troubles, along with the probable late penalties on the ticket itself.
- General speed limits: All Italian roads have speed limits, usually indicated by a white and red circle with the number (by km, not miles) written in the centre. There aren’t many police officers patrolling the roads, but there are stationary radars which automatically issue a ticked. Be sure to follow the speed limits, since there are many of them, especially on the highway.
- Age limits: The minimum age for driving in Italy is 18 years old and to hire a car you must have held your license for 1 year.
- Driving side of the road: Right.
- Children in the car: Children under the age of 12 aren’t allowed to ride in the front seat of the car, and children up to the age of 4 have to be in the appropriate child safety seat.
- Additional requirements: Highlights must be turned on all the time, during the day as well as night. All cars have to be equipped with the reflective safety vests. Check with your car hire company about the location of safety vest at the time of the pick-up.
- International driving permit: Technically you need it. This mean that when you hire a car, you will probably won’t be asked for it, but you might if you get stopped. To be on the safe side, have it on your hand.
What to see in Milan
Milan is well known as the capital of the fashion world, but there are many more amazing things to do in Milan other that shopping. There are numerous historic sites, beautiful architecture and glorious art to see when visiting the city.
Our favourite spots
The Duomo (Milan Cathedral)
The Duomo is the most famous of Milan’s tourist attractions and there are plenty of reasons why. It took centuries to build and after the latest restauration it looks as impressive as ever. It is the largest church in Italy, even larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in the State of Vatican City, and the fifth largest in the world.
- For parking spots and fees near the Duomo of Milan click here.
Sforzesco Castle is within the walking distance from the Duomo. This impressive castle was once the residence of the Renaissance Sforzesco family who once ruled Milan. It was built in the 15th century, on the remains of a 14th-century fortification. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was renovated and enlarged. At that time, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Today it is home to several city’s museums and art collections.
- To find the best parking spot for you hire car check this site.
Leonardo’s Last Supper
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Il Cenacolo, is the ultimate attraction to see in Milan. This iconic fresco is located in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting was commissioned as part of a plan of renovations to the church in the late 15th century. It represents the scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John.
- There are several parking spots near the Convent of Santa Maria delle Garzie to park your hired car.
Take a stroll around the Quadrilatero d'Oro, the world’s most famous shopping district. This high-end shopping district is characterised by the presence of numerous boutiques and related retail outlets which represent most of the world’s major fashion houses. Even if you are not planning on spending the money, window-shopping is pricless.
- Parking spots nearest to the Quadrilatero d'Oro.
Hotels in Milan
Hotel Principe di Savoia
This historic hotel in Porta Garibaldi is part of the Dorchester group, and offers a top floor spa and spacious rooms with luxury furniture and classic design. This luxury hotel will cover all your needs and more.
Hotel Gran Duca di York
This artistic hotel is located in the heart of Milan, within a walking distance of the Dumo Cathedral, in an 18th century historic palace, which was one a residence for scholars working in the nearby Ambrosiana library.
Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti
Located right in the historic centre of Milan, this boutique B&B offers rooms that come with modern facilities such as LCD television, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi internet access.
Milan’s Palazzo Segreti is located in the Via Dante. It has a modern interior with raw concrete finishes, rough antique wooden floorboards, which will appeal to those in favour of minimal furnishing.
Drive your rental car around Milan
When visiting Milan, you should hire a car at the Milan Airport. This will enable you to take day trips to the surrounding areas and visit nearby towns and therefore see more of the spectacular sights Italy has to offer.
The Roman town of Como, on the lake with the same name, is just an hour drive away with your rented car. It is one of the most visited cities in Lombardy due to the numerous works of art, churches, gardens, museums, theatres, parks and palaces. Como was the birthplace of many historical figures such as scientist Alessandro Volta, the creator of the electrical battery.
You can go to Switzerland! Milan is just an hour away from the pretty lakeside town of Lugano, this Italian speaking city surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Be sure to first check with your car hire company if you are allowed to drive your hire car across the border.
Another destination worth a visit that is just over an hour drive away with your rental is the atmospheric university city of Bologna. It is home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088. Bologna’s historical centre is well preserved and worth visiting. Stroll down the main street, take a seat at one of the cafés, grab a cup of coffee and relax.
Where to eat, drink and party in Milan
For the Milanese, food should be like clothing: excellent, imaginative, seasonal and suitable for all occasions. This means that there are plenty of excellent restaurants in Milan to choose from. If you decide to dine out in Milan, and you should, order some wine with your meal, as wines produced in Lombardy are famous since the ancient Roman times and are still known for their quality today. You can take a drive with your hired car around the Lombardy wine region for wine tasting tours at the local vineyards, or just eat at some local restaurants since most of them offer local wines.
Major events and festivals in Milan
Before visiting Milan, it’s worth finding out what is going on in the city. With so many international festivals and events, the city is packed full. While it may be exciting to see all the buzz, it is harder to book a hotel or find a taxi. Driving your hired car during that time, is more likely to get you stuck in the traffic jams which can eat away both your nerves and time. But even with that in mind, you should not miss at least some of the numerous festivals Milan has to offer.
La Notte Bianca is Italian for a ‘white night’. One night a year, in June, bars, restaurants, shops, cinemas are open form early evening to 6am. People stay out all night and enjoy art and culture.
One of the Europe’s biggest contemporary and modern art shows is located at Fieramilano city. Critics, artists, collectors and dealers all attend this festival.
Milano d’EstateJune – Aug
This music festival offers open-air concerts that take place in and around the grounds of the Castello Sforzesco. There are many famous performers such as REM and Radiohead.
This flower fair takes place along the Naviglio Grande and creates a wonderful splash of colours along the canal. Over 200 horticultural schools from all around Italy take part.