When somebody talks about Milan, you might think of fashion brands, big cars, expensive food and 5 star hotels. Well, this is absolutely true; Milan offers everything rich people are looking for. But for a backpacker on a budget, Milan has a lot to offer. Don’t skip Milan because it wont fit your budget, we found a way to do it as paupers.
First of all, we booked a hostel outside of the city centre. It is called Hostel Colours, and it is about 4.2 km walking to the city centre. For what you get , this is feasible. You get breakfast for free every morning; there is a kitchen where you can cook your dinner if you want to. The big common area has a good atmosphere. We paid 24 euros a night, which is (for Milan) cheap.
Italy is famous of its delicious food. Pizzas, pasta’s, and croissants, we had it all. To eat on a budget you have got a few options. First of all it is the best (of course) to not skip breakfast in the hostel (it is a proper breakfast for what you pay). I would recommend cooking your dinner at the hostel as well. But I can also imagine that you don’t want to walk all the way back to the hostel, or you want to experience the real Italian food, or you just can’t cook. Whatever reason it may be, don’t worry. There are cheap options in the city centre as well. We discovered by accident a shop & eat place (Supermercato di per di). I became really excited about it, I always become excited about hipster places, but this was the hipster place of all hipster places. It was the most random food place I have ever seen. Imagine a normal super market, but with tables and chairs in the aisles. You could sit in the whole market, wherever you want, and you could eat whatever you could buy in this super market. You could eat a piece of mozzarella pizza, pasta Bolognese or just a chocolate croissant but as well gluten free pancake, a vegetarian burger or cereals and milk. Left from the entrance there is a salad bar. At this bar you could choose between pasta, sushi or salad and a lot of local desserts. It is hard to choose for an average of 3 euro a meal.
You can buy a bottle of wine in the super market for, lets say, three euro’s, while you pay at least 4.80 for a glass on the terrace. The wine you buy in the super markets is also made in Italy. Of course it is the cheap version of wine from what they sell at restaurants, but hey, you are a backpacker and in Milan!
We put a bottle of wine in an empty plastic bottle and went to Parco Sempione. You don’t need a terrace when you can have this park for free. It is beautiful and the atmosphere is wonderful. Every body in this park is in their own little world, but still together. People are reading, playing a game, having a picnic, playing sports (we discovered an outside gym in this park), playing with the dog, or having a family time. We had a lovely time at this place, caught some sun and sat there for at least three hours, while playing chess and having an Italian wine. And we spend only 3 euros. What else do you want?
Durable bars in the city centre of Milan
Of course, there is nothing cheap in the city centre. But we found two doable restaurants. One café was settled in the shopping street. We can not find the name of this cafe anymore, but it was in the ‘Corso Buenos Aires street’ just after the MCDonalds. The terrace is on the sidewalk (you can’t miss it). We only had a drink here. Inside was not that much, but the atmosphere outside was great. You sit next to the cars, which are driving like crazy through the street, on the other side there are shops and people are walking. It was, as well, a random bar, with a great atmosphere.
The second bar we went to was the oldest bar from Milan. It was direct in the city centre. It is called bar Magenta. This bar did not look that old from the inside and outside and if we did not know, we would never say this was the oldest bar. But I definitely would recommend this place. You could tell it is a popular place, because all the seats outside where reserved. We sat inside and there where a lot of people as well. Especially party dinners we guess. If you are looking for a quiet place, don’t go here.
The bar I liked the most is the Heminway Cafe. It is just around the corner of the hostel. Most of the time there are only local people. It is not that busy here and there are not that many seats. For dinner you pay 10 euro, and you can get all little Italian dishes from a table. It is like a student bar, since the university is close, but not like party-students. In this bar, I discovered, Italian people are really keen on their Aperol Spritz, and I can tell you, they should. The best Aperol I had in Milan was in this local bar.
Don’t skip Milan for a money reason
Milan is famous for his expensive shops, restaurants and hotels but we think Milan is a city for everyone. If you want to do posh, you can go all the way. But as a budget traveller, you can find your way here as well. Just look for small places just outside of the city centre. When locals are eating there, most of the time it is not that expensive. Sleep in hostels instead of hotels, and well outside of the city centre. Don’t miss breakfast in the hostel and don’t forget to refill your empty water bottle with local wine from the super market.
Don’t skip Milan for a money reason; experience the feeling of walking in second hand clothes in the streets where The Four Seasons, a Louis Vuiton shop and an Armani restaurant come together. It is worth it.