Updated: Feb 21, 2019
We love doing day trips from our local airport to a city in the USA, but when overseas you can do day trips too! It’s super easy when in Europe! So when we were in Barcelona, we knew we had to go somewhere else for a day. The flights are very inexpensive, especially if you get on a European budget airline like Ryanair. We got a $90 roundtrip ticket (it could have been cheaper but we bought it last minute) to Milan, Italy! The city is known for its fashion and design.
Milan has three major airports: Linate, Malpensa, and Orio Al Serio. We flew into Orio Al Serio because it was less expensive. Before you exit the airport, there are booths to purchase a bus ticket into the city. The ride into the city was about an hour. We got in some traffic. Unfortunately the bus was packed and didn’t have the necessary AC, so we felt like we were going to pass out. The bus brought us to Milan’s Central Station. There we hopped on the metro to take us where we needed to go.
A tip for the metro: you can swipe your iPhone, if you have a debit or credit card set up on Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. This was a lifesaver for us, because our credit cards wouldn’t work on the ticket ATMs. We weren’t sure why, but our iPhones worked well. It keeps track of how many times you go through a day and only charges you the day rate. So just use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay for your metro tickets. A good reference is here.
For lunch we hiked to Madegra for a quick pizza, because you must get Italian in Italy. It was a small place to get authentic food without spending a lot of money or time.
Near Madegra, was Castello Sforzesco! You can’t miss it; standing out in the city. It came up from the ground starting in 1360 and construction was completed in 1499. The castle offers guided tours or access to the castle museums at just €5 a day. Since we had limited time in the city that day, we just walked around the castle and took advantage of their facilities. The castle is truly stunning. We don’t have stuff like this in the US.
From there, we took the metro to Naviglio Grande, which is a canal through the city. It reminded me of Venice: cute walking bridges over the little river that skirts through the city. There are lovely places for food and drink along the canal.
One thing you HAVE TO SEE in Milan is the II Duomo Cathedral (Milan Cathedral)! It is hands down the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen. A ticket to the museum, archaeological area, cathedral terraces, and San Gottardo church is €16.50. While you’re at the cathedral, you have to check out the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II right next door. It’s an indoor/outdoor luxurious mall. Also right around the corner is Teatro Alla Scala, which is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. We just viewed it from the outside since we couldn’t catch a show. We grabbed smoothies at Juice Bar. They were rather excellent.
Lastly our favorite part of the day: Da Vinci’s Last Supper. We arrived at Santa Maria delle Grazie early and sat at the courtyard and watched all the little kids play football (soccer) for hours. They were relentless and so talented. We met a couple that had traveled the globe and had many stories. We met a man with an expensive Leica Camera who let us hold it! Finally we got to go inside the church to see the painting. Tickets are around €10 for 20 minutes viewing the painting. There is another painting on the other wall and some showcased drawings from Da Vinci. Book tickets a few months in advance because they sell out quickly. It's totally worth it.
We finished up by finding our bus at the Central Station and making our way back. We were running late and it was very difficult finding our bus, because buses leave from every side of the giant building. As we found it, it was pulling away and wouldn’t stop. Thankfully we could buy tickets there for another bus but we lost out on the money we had already spent. I would recommend getting there very early to find your bus and maybe not purchasing a round ticket at the airport.
We made it to the airport, flew back to Barcelona, and made it to our Airbnb about 24 hours after we left. That's a full day trip.