Milan has a highly developed transport infrastructure with an integrated ticketing system for public transport. Tickets are relatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe, and it’s possible to get discount rates for bulk purchases. Options include the metro, trains, buses and trams, while taxis, walking and cycling are also feasible. The system allows passengers to carry their own bicycle or electric scooter free of charge on the metro and some tramway lines.
Public transport in Milan
Milanese public transport has an integrated ticketing system, meaning that tickets are universal and can be used on the metro, train, tram or bus regardless of where they were purchased. The tickets are valid across all modes of transport, including buses, trams, underground lines, and the urban tracks of the suburban trains.
Tickets can’t be bought on board, so expats should purchase tickets before embarking on a journey at stations or from newsstands, boutiques, convenience stores and various other places around the city. These tickets can be bought from automatic machines located in all metro stations or at authorized resellers such as bars, newspaper stands, and tobacco shops.
For more information on getting tickets for the metro, trams or buses, visit the official website of Azienda Trasporti Milanesi.
The metro in Milan is quick and efficient, and at 59 miles (96km), it’s the longest metro network in Italy. It serves over 100 stations throughout the city and is a great way to get around the city at a low cost. While it is safe, we advise that expats travel in groups and take necessary precautions at nighttime. The new metro line M4 connects the city centre with Linate airport.
Milan’s tram network mainly operates within the city centre, with main-route trams arriving at various intervals during peak (every three to nine minutes) and off-peak hours (every five to 11 minutes). The tramway network is one of the largest in Europe, providing a unique and charming way to explore the city.
Bus services cover more than 80 lines across Milan, offering coverage in areas not served by the metro. The night bus service is a useful option for travelling after hours. Expats should take necessary precautions when travelling at night. Although Milan is fairly safe, taking the bus alone at night is not recommended.
The suburban train, known as the S Lines, is not as popular as the metro but isn’t much slower and has the added benefit of being less crowded. The Passante railway route connects Milan to the rest of the Lombardy region. The S Lines comprise 12 lines with 124 stations, covering a total length of 250 miles (403km).
For more information on the suburban train system, visit Trenord.
Taxis in Milan
Taxis are available throughout the city and are often the most convenient way to get around. They can be expensive but have fixed rates and are metered. Most expats will find taxis best for travelling short distances or returning home late at night. Taxis in Milan are white, and one can hail them at taxi ranks or by calling a taxi service at a dedicated phone number.
It’s important to note that taxis cannot be flagged down, and it’s best to call for one or find a taxi at a taxi stand. Taxi drivers in Milan may not speak fluent English, so learning a few words in Italian could be beneficial. Most taxi drivers accept credit cards, but it’s advisable to confirm before getting in the car.
For those seeking more convenience, services like Welcome Pickups offer pre-booked taxis. Ride-hailing options like SIXT Ride and taxi apps such as ‘it Taxi’ and’mytaxi’ provide an easy way to locate, call, and pay for a taxi using a smartphone. Car-sharing apps like Car2Go and Enjoy offer an alternative for navigating the city.
Driving in Milan
Besides the fact that it isn’t necessary to drive in Milan, it can be a harrowing experience that is not recommended. The local driving culture can be aggressive, the city’s old roads are often congested, and parking is expensive and hard to come by. If expats wish to drive, they must be aware of the rules of the road and the congestion charge for driving in the city centre.
If choosing to drive, it’s important to note that Milan has specific rules and regulations. Restricted zones are a particular challenge, and newcomers may find these areas difficult to navigate. Speed limits in the city are typically set at 31 miles per hour (50km/h), and having a GPS is advised for easier navigation. Additionally, parking regulations are strict, with white, blue, and yellow lines indicating different parking rules. White areas are free, blue areas must be paid for, and yellow areas are reserved for residents.
Milan’s traffic situation has improved thanks to investments in public transport and the popularity of car sharing. However, driving in Milan’s city centre is still not recommended due to the Congestion Charge area (Area C) restrictions. Drivers must purchase a ticket in advance to enter this zone during designated times on weekdays.
For more information on driving regulations and congestion charges in Milan, visit the city’s official transport website.
Cycling in Milan
Milan is an exceptionally cycle-friendly city, and many locals get around solely on two wheels. The city has been investing in infrastructure and promoting bike-friendly initiatives, resulting in a growing network of bike paths and routes. Popular biking trails in Milan include Pista Ciclabile del Naviglio della Martesana and Boscoincitta.
Additionally, Milan has recently confirmed the construction of a new cycling network, linking 80 percent of the city to bike paths. There is also a popular bicycle-sharing scheme with rental stations dotted throughout the city centre and tourist areas. While there are more dedicated lanes for cyclists now, it’s still advisable for expats to exercise caution on public roads.
Cycling in Milan has become safer in recent years, with the city significantly increasing the number of cycle paths, now boasting more than 112 miles (180km) of bike lanes. Safety measures include separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, traffic signals and signs. Despite these improvements, cyclists should still be aware of potential hazards, such as interactions with motor vehicles and parked cars on cycle lanes.
For those interested in e-bikes and e-scooters, these are becoming increasingly popular in Milan. Bike-sharing initiatives like BikeMi offer an efficient way to explore the city, providing a geocoded map with available bicycle stations. Milan’s commitment to sustainable urban transportation also includes shared e-scooter services.
Walking in Milan
Parts of the city lend themselves well to walking, while others make this an impractical scenario. Milan is a walkable city, with numerous self-guided and guided walking tours available, allowing visitors to explore its attractions conveniently. Popular walking tours and areas include the Milan Cathedral, the historic centre, the best shopping streets, historical churches, and scenic areas like I Navigli and Corso Magenta. It’s generally safe to walk around, although, as in any other big city, expats should be vigilant to avoid becoming victims of opportunistic crime.
Guided walking tours in Milan provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn about the city’s landmarks and attractions with knowledgeable guides. For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, there are several self-guided walking tour apps that offer maps and audio guides to enhance the experience.
When walking in Milan, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and be aware of one’s surroundings. Always follow traffic rules and use designated crosswalks for safety. While Milan is a safe city, taking precautions against pickpocketing and other petty crimes is advisable.
How do expats find getting around in Milan?
"I have a car, as I live on the outskirts of Milan and find it more liberating." Read what Tim has to say on the metro, buses and driving in Milan in his interview.
"Milan recently launched a car-sharing service that is very efficient. Also getting around by bike is a good option in warmer months, even if there aren’t many bike lanes." Read about alternative options to getting around in Milan from Alice’s expat interview.
►Read Lifestyle in Milan for an idea about life in the city
►For more on getting around in the country, read Transport and Driving in Italy
Image credits: Cathedral Metro by Andrey Andreev, Milanese Tram by Bill Eccles, Traffic in Milan by Babak Habibi, Parked Bicycles by Joshi Milestoner, Navigli Pedestrians by Fabio Oppini, all on Unsplash
Are you an expat living in Milan?
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