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Updated: January 31 2022.
Traveling solo to Milan was one of my fondest travel memories, because I fell in love with the Central Station. I had expected a huge bubble of chaos, bustling commuters and bewildered tourists, but instead I smoothly navigated the platforms and then stepped out into a welcoming large city square.
Purple blossoms bloomed around me, since I visited Milan at the height of spring. Easter.
Milan exceeded all my expectations.
Ultimately, I hope that this “Solo Travel Milan Guide” will help everyone planning an independent Italian city break.
I mean, it’s Italy. Who doesn’t love Italy? This country is a dream destination for so many people around the world. The art, food, history, nature, and so much more. Italy literally has it all.
Personally, I know I want to keep returning to Italy in the future. I feel it’s one of those countries I could visit twenty times, and still never feel remotely bored.
And, as a city, Milan is one of the country’s most popular destinations. After all, most people are pretty familiar with the striking beauty of Milan’s gothic Duomo, as well as the epic painting of Leonardo di Vinci’s Last Supper.
So it makes sense that a lot of visitors come to Milan.
Milan As a Solo Traveler
But what about if you’re traveling alone? Is Milan still a good city to come and visit, or are there better places to enjoy a solo trip?
Luckily, I traveled solo to Milan for two days, which was the perfect amount of time to see the highlights.
And, of course, I want to share my own experiences with you.
The Top 7 Reasons to Travel Alone in Milan
So, I have quite a few reasons why you should add Milan to your itinerary of Italy. Time to break any bad preconceived notions you have of this Italian city.
Truthfully, my friends, it would be a mistake to write off Milan. It would be a BIG mistake for solo travelers planning to spend the majority of their time in northern Italy. Milan is a practical starting point.
With that said, let’s talk about why Milan is appealing to solo travelers.
Wonderful Hostels to Meet Other Travelers
Milan is a great city for hostels. Yay, lucky you!
Milan is actually home to the best hostel I personally stayed at, while on my solo adventure around Italy. I highly recommend booking a bed at Ostello Bello Grande near Milan’s Central Train Station.
This hostel is clean, warm, wonderfully located, and a great place for solo travelers to spend a few nights in Milan.
Are you scared you’re too old for hostels? Never fear!
Ostello Bello Grande attracts travelers of all ages, so you will never feel alone on your trip. Although there’s a bar, Ostello Bello Grande isn’t a party hostel, and I slept like a baby both nights I stayed here. And seriously, folks, you can’t beat the price either.
Ready to Book Your Accommodation?
Milan has tons of wonderful hostels for solo travelers. Here are three recommendations to get you started.
- Babila Hostel: This design hostel is quite elegant for the price. You will sleep inside a beautiful neo-Gothic building right in the heart of the fashion district. What more is there to love? See prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
- Ostello Bello Grande: This is where I stayed. I loved their dorms and their breakfast, and being close to a major train station helped me get to other parts of Italy. See prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
- Ostello Bello: This social and highly rated hostel is located right in the heart of Milan, close to the Duomo. This hostel is perfect for travelers who value location, location, location. See prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
Milan is a Great Base for Day Trips
Honestly, you’re able to see most Milan’s big sites in a day or two, but it’s still a smart idea to base yourself in Milan for a longer. Why? All the glorious day trips.
As a major city, Milan has several connections arriving and departing from the Central Station. When you’re a solo traveler, it’s nice to go on day trips that don’t require too many train or bus switches. The simpler, the better. No one wants to get lost on a complicated public transit route.
And Milan’s day trips are pretty spectacular. For example, taking a day trip to Lake Como from Milan is very manageable for a solo traveler. You simply hop on the quick and direct train to Como, and boom, you’ll find yourself in the middle of some of Italy’s greatest nature.
Due to Milan’s ideal location, other cities, such as Turin and Verona, are in easy reach too. Take advantage of the close proximity.
Take Your Time Window Shopping
Milan is one of the greatest fashion capitals of the world. And while you might not have a travel fling with a fashion model, you can see some of cutting edge designs in windows all over the city.
As a solo traveler, it’s fun to take your time looking into the windows of Milan’s best shops. No one is forcing you to hurry, or discouraging you not to spend money. It’s a win/win situation for a solo traveler.
In particular, Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the most gorgeous shopping malls that I have ever visited. The domed ceiling windows make you feel as though you’ve stepped into the most splendid palace that happens to include high-end shopping options.
Milan also has plenty of wonderful boutiques if high-end fashion isn’t your cup of tea. Bring a guidebook to Milan to discover the coolest clothing places and redo your entire wardrobe.
Reflect on Life in the Most Gorgeous Churches
We can’t talk about solo travel in Milan and not mention the Catholic Church.
Without a doubt, Milan has a lot of lovely churches and cathedrals. They are the perfect places to relax and reflect even if you’re not Catholic or even religious.
In particular, solo travelers need to spend some time at the Duomo. One of my coolest experiences in Milan was walking on the roof of the Duomo.
It. Was. So. Cool.
You’ll see incredibly intricate gargoyles, as well as some of the greatest views of Milan. Walking on the Duomo’s roof is especially special on a sunny afternoon. I was so lucky.
You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance to go on the roof. Your tickets are also timed, which is understandable since you don’t want massive crowds on the roof (hello, safety standards), so make sure that you arrive when you’re supposed to. You might get turned away if you miss your time slot.
Having tickets for the Duomo’s Roof will save you piles of time.
Chill in Milan’s Innovative Green Spaces
Green and Milan in the same sentence? Absolutely!
I was surprised at how much of a “green” city Milan was. You’ll want to enjoy Milan’s parks on your solo travels.
For example, one of my favorite places in all of Milan was Bosco Verticale or the Vertical Forest. Near this building, was a beautiful park where I saw a few yoga classes in action.
So, if you’re alone and want to meet people, I think it would be a lot of fun to join one of these yoga classes. You’ll take care of yourself physically and spiritually, along with having an opportunity to make pals with Milan’s locals.
Milan’s parks are also wonderful places to enjoy an outdoor picnic, which is especially useful for solo travelers who might not feel comfortable eating alone in Milan’s restaurants.
Milan is Very Safe
All solo travelers want to know about safety, and I have some good news to share with you. All in all, I felt very relaxed and safe in Milan compared to some other big European cities.
Even near Milan’s Central Station, I wasn’t hassled for money nor was I the victim of any potential scams. Except for a few minor hoots and whistles from cars, no one bothered me as a woman traveling alone either.
Like most of Italy, your biggest concern in Milan will be avoiding any petty theft and pickpocketing. I’d recommend leaving your passport in your hostel’s safe and instead, bringing a copy with you.
If you’re really concerned about pickpocketing, then invest in a Pacsafe Crossbody Bag for your solo trip to Milan.
Another safety tip would be to learn some Italian phrases for your solo trip to Milan. Plenty of locals speak great English, of course, but knowing some Italian shows respect and will help a lot.
Milan is Easy to Get Around
Last but not least, navigating Milan alone is a piece of cake.
A lot of the major tourist spots, such as The Last Supper, the Galleria, Duomo, and Sforzesco Castle, are within walking distance of one another. You don’t need to do long treks from one side of the city to another to see what Milan has to offer.
As much as I love big cities, like New York and Paris, you need to split those destinations in neighborhood itineraries to effectively see them. You don’t need to worry about covering long distances in Milan. It’s very, very walkable.
Furthermore, Milan has a clean and fast metro system that solo travelers will find easy to use. Just make sure to always validate your subway tickets.
Solo Travel Milan: Other Tips for the Fashion Capital
Whew! Milan has a lot of good things to offer, doesn’t it? Haha.
Anyway, I wanted to include some final tips for this Solo Travel Milan Guide.
Although, I hope you’re already convinced to add Milan to your solo travel bucket list, haha! I know I’d already be booking my ticket. Then again it’s me and I don’t need much convincing to hop on Google flights, alas.
Have High Quality Travel Insurance
Although Milan is safe, travel insurance is always an excellent idea for solo travelers.
I wouldn’t go on an international trip without travel insurance. For instance, if you’re from the United States, your health insurance policy won’t cover you overseas, which means insanely high bills for a hospital visit. Yikes.
And sure, while no one intends to get insanely sick or injured traveling, we all know random misfortunes can and do happen.
Hence, the importance of travel insurance. I always buy World Nomads for my solo trips, and I haven’t had any troubles yet!
Ignore Flirtatious and Random Men
Like I said above, you might encounter some “over the top” catcalls or other forms of street harassment as a women traveling alone in Milan.
I will say that Milan wasn’t nearly as bad for me as other Italian cities. I think this change has to do with me being older and savvier, as well as changing attitudes toward women.
With the #MeToo Movement and other forms of awareness, it’s less acceptable to randomly call at women in the streets anymore. Thank goodness.
If you do encounter street harassment, ignore it as much as possible. Duck into a shop if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
As always, no one has the right to make you feel unsafe for walking outside simply because you’re a woman. You do owe strangers anything.
Don’t Expect Rome, Florence, or Venice
Yup, we’re talking about the comparison game again. I want to reiterate how important it is to manage your expectations in Milan.
Let’s be real. Milan isn’t as spectacular as Rome, Florence, or Venice. I think one of the reasons Milan’s seen as “overrated” is because tourists have unreasonable standards from the very beginning.
Instead, just enjoy a show at Milan’s beautiful opera house, eat in the trendiest neighborhoods, book yourself on a walking tour, ogle at the Last Supper, and more.
Don’t build Milan up to be this insanely epic destination, and I promise you’ll have a fun time.
Solo Travel Milan: Is It Worth Visiting?
Some of you might be nervous about traveling Milan, because you’re scared you’ll be disappointed in the city. And I don’t blame you for feeling a bit of apprehension either.
You don’t always read the best things about Milan on the most popular travel forums and subreddits.
So, in order to provide another perspective on this blog, I’ve already written about whether Milan is worth visiting since as a city, Milan isn’t considered as exciting as Rome and Venice.
My biggest suggestion is to ask that you manage your exceptions at the beginning of your trip.
While I agree that Rome has more to see and do, you shouldn’t completely write off Milan if you’re visiting northern Italy. It’s still a special city in its own right.
To tell you the truth? I thought Milan was surprisingly charming.
I had expected an industrial wasteland based on information I read online. I found the opposite.
Ultimately, I think Milan is worth visiting with some caveats. Avoid Milan if it’s your first trip to Italy and instead opt to visit the “big three:” Rome, Florence, and Venice. Furthermore, if your travels focus on southern Italy, don’t bother making the long trek to see Milan.
But if you’re coming to northern Italy? Then go to Milan.
I hope you had a great time reading my “Solo Travel Milan Guide!” You’ll have a great time. As for those of you who have visited Milan, what would you recommend for solo travelers to see and do? All thoughts are appreciated.