Milan - Milan is a city that strides out in style, from its fashion houses to its cultural delights.
Get there before the impeccably dressed crowds arrive for Milan Fashion Week (21-27 September) and you'll find the city much more manageable.
The Malpensa Express train runs every 30 minutes from outside Terminal 1 to several stops in the city centre (€ 12/R120), while bus 73 connects Linate to Piazza San Babila every 10 minutes (€ 1.50). From Bergamo, bus 1 (€ 2) operates every 30 minutes, taking you to the train station in the nearby city of Bergamo, from which you can catch a 50-minute train to Milano Centrale for € 5.50.
Get your bearings
Milan is built in concentric rings starting from the Duomo, the city's Gothic cathedral and focal point.
North-east of its 135 spires and gold-plated La Madonnina statue is the fashion district, close to the cobbled streets of Brera, with its cafés and restaurants.
The steel and glass skyline of the new business district, Porta Nuova, rises further north, before the Art Deco-style Milano Centrale. To the south lies the bohemian neighbourhood of the Navigli with its network of canals.
The main tourist information centre is at Piazza Castello (00 39 02 77 40 43 43; turismo. milano. it).
Open daily 9am-6pm, to 5pm on Sundays.
Milan's bike-sharing scheme, BikeMi (bikemi. com), has hundreds of stations in the city; it's € 4.50 to register for a day, with the first 30 minutes free.
Four metro lines, as well as trams and buses, connect the whole city, and single tickets cost € 1.50 for 90 minutes (atm. it).
The five-star Mandarin Oriental at Via Andegari 9 (00 39 02 8731 88 88; mandarinoriental. com/milan) is luxurious without feeling stuffy. Contemporary rooms feature bespoke furnishings, velvet textiles and marble bathrooms with waterfall showers. Doubles from € 725.50, including breakfast.
A short walk from the Duomo, the Baglioni Hotel Carlton at Via Senato 5 (00 39 06 42 11 11; baglionihotels. com) is classically styled, with 87 rooms and suites decorated with antiques and fine art.
Doubles from € 290, including breakfast. I travelled with Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283; kirkerholidays. com), which offers tailor-made trips to Milan, including a two-night break staying at the Baglioni Hotel Carlton from £ 699 per person, which includes flights, transfers, breakfast and a morning's guiding.
For those on a tighter budget, the Hilton Milan at Via Luigi Galvani 12 (00 39 02 69 831; hilton. com) is a five-minute walk from Centrale train terminal and has doubles from € 129, excluding breakfast.
Cheaper still, Ostello Bello at Via Medici 4 (00 39 02 36 58 27 20; ostellobello. com) is a good value hostel with a fun, communal vibe. Six-bed dorms from € 29; private doubles from € 79, including breakfast.
Take a view
The Duomo at Piazza del Duomo is the best place to get city panoramas. Take the lift for € 13 or climb the stairs for € 9 to access the rooftop terraces where views stretch as far as the Alps. Open daily 9am-7pm; a € 2 ticket includes entrance to the cathedral, Duomo Museum and nearby San Gottardo in Corte church but not the terraces.
Take a hike
Start outside Milan's 18th-century opera house, Teatro alla Scala, at Via Filodrammatici 2 (00 39 02 860775; teatroallascala. org) and cross the elegant piazza with its monument of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived here for 17 years. Wander through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the glass-roofed shopping arcade designed by Mengoni in 1877, pausing to spin three times with your heel on the testicles of the dancing bull on the mosaic floor (said to bring good luck).
Emerging on to Piazza del Duomo, turn right onto Via dei Mercanti, passing the archways of the 13thcentury Palazzo della Ragione on your left, and continue down the pedestrianised Via Dante. Ahead looms the Castello Sforzesco, once home to the Visconti family and now housing the Triennale design and art museum, among others (00 39 02 8846 3700; milanocastello. it, entry € 5).
Cross the castle's walls through a gate and stroll through the park until you reach the Arco della Pace, the Arch of Peace, built in 1807 under Napoleonic rule and mentioned in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Lunch on the run
Rest weary feet at the Ristorante Galleria, inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It serves traditional Milanese fare, such as ossobuco (veal shanks) with saffron risotto for € 26 (00 93 02 86 46 49 12; ristorantegalleria. it). Open 8.30am-12.30am daily.
For something quick and cheap, queue for panzerotti (pizza folded into a half moon shape) at Luini, at Via Santa Radegonda 16, which has been a Milanese institution for three generations. Tomato and mozzarella is priced at € 2.50. Open 10am-3pm Monday; to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday (00 39 02 86 46 19 17; luini. it).
Fashion is the city's biggest draw, and the likes of Prada, Gucci and Valentino are found in the Quadrilatero d'Oro, a “golden rectangle” of streets centred around Via Montenapoleone.
Fashionistas on a budget should head to 10 Corso Como Outlet at Via Tazzoli 3, a slightly shabbier, cheaper version of Carla Sozzani's original store, 10 Corso Como (10corsocomo. com) - the name is also the address.
Once lined with craftsmen's workshops, Via Torino is now one of the main areas of Milanese shopping to suit all tastes and budgets.
Aperitivo is a sacred rite in Milan, and the Navigli area is one of the best places to get stuck in. Mingle with the after-work crowd at El Brellin at Alzaia Naviglio Grande 14 (00 39 02 5810 1351; brellin. com) , where you can order an Aperol spritz for €8 and fill your plate with pasta, cheese and meat for free at the bar. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm and 6.30pm-1am.
Diagonally opposite, Mag Cafe is edgy and cool, with tattooed bar staff serving creative cocktails from €8, which also arrive with a plate of snacks (00 39 02 3956 2875). Open 7.30am-1.30am daily.
Dine with the locals
Run by the same family since 1938, Alla Collina Pistoiese (26) at Via Amedei 1 (00 39 02 8645 1085; allacollinapistoiese. it) serves high-quality Tuscan cuisine beneath an impressive carved ceiling. Try the fresh pappardelle with mushrooms for €16 and homemade tiramisu for € 8. Open Sunday to Friday 12.30pm-2.30pm and 7.30pm-10.30pm; Saturday 7.30pm-10.30pm.
Locals head to Dry at Via Solferino 33 (00 39 02 63 79 34 14; drymilano. it) for its excellent pizzas and cocktails. Calzones filled with smoked provolone, olives and onion cost €12 and French 75s (a gin and champagne concoction) are €10. Open 7pm-12am daily.
Sunday morning: go to church
Hidden amid Via Torino's high-street shops is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro, an architectural gem (chiesadimilano. it). Inside, marvel at Donato Bramante's illusory apse, a magnificent example of trompe-l'oeil. Sunday mass is at 11am and 6pm.
Out to brunch
Founded in 1817, Cova at Viale Monza, 91 (00 39 02 76 00 55 99; pasticceriacova. it) is one of Italy's oldest coffee houses and has an ornate interior with chandeliers and gilded curtains. There are 13 types of tea (from €7 per person) and pastries from €2. Try the Coppa Cova (a custard, forest fruit and whipped cream delight) for €12. Open 7.45am-8.30pm Monday-Saturday; 9am-7pm Sunday.
A walk in the park
Parco Sempione is a vast, green expanse with numerous recreational areas such as jogging tracks and a duck pond, and the Arena Civica, Arco della Pace, Napoleon's triumphal Arch of Peace and the Triennale design museum (00 39 02 72 43 41; triennale. it), stand along its perimeter.
Sempione may be Milan's biggest park, but the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanell is its oldest, established in 1784. It has a running track around its edge, and houses the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium and Natural History Museum (00 39 02 88 46 33 37; comune. milano. it/museostorianaturale).
The Pinacoteca di Brera at Via Brera 28 (00 39 02 722 63 264; pinacotecabrera. org) is home to an important collection of Italian paintings, including works by Bellini, Caravaggio and Mantegna. Open 8.30am-7.15pm daily but closed Monday; Thursday open until 10.15pm; entry €10.
Santa Maria della Grazie, located on the piazza of the same name, contains one of Italy's most famous masterpieces, Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. You can spend 15 minutes gazing at it - but advance booking is essential (cenacolovinciano. net). Open 8.15am-7pm Tuesday to Sunday; entry €10.
The icing on the cake
For a quirky evening, take in the sights while you eat a four-course dinner on board a vintage tram with Atmosfera Milan. Set menus cost €70 (atmosfera. atm. it), with journeys departing daily at 8pm from Piazza Castello, corner of Via Beltrami.
Designed by Wes Anderson, Bar Luce (fondazioneprada. org/barluce) is a coffee shop-cocktail bar in the Fondazione Prada, an arts space owned by the fashion brand that opened at Largo Isarco 2 in 2015.
Exhibition tickets cost €10, but an espresso costs just €1.50. Open 9am-9pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; to 10pm Friday to Sunday; closed Tuesday.