Another day, another city.
Just kidding, I really don’t travel that much, at least not as much as I would like to.
I am someone who is very much preoccupied with the thought of traveling. I spend many of my days searching Skyscanner for cheap flights from Bordeaux (this is actually a nightly ritual), hoping that maybe I’ll stumble upon an offer too good to pass up.
On a day like any other, I was scrolling through the Ryanair FareFinder when I found some roundtrip tickets from Bordeaux to Milan for under €30 each. The dates for the tickets were on my birthday (a Tuesday night) to a Thursday afternoon.
I was able to extend my TAPIF contract through May so I’ve still been working at the high school this month– but during the entire week of my birthday, the school didn’t need me because students were taking their bac (end of the year exam), so I had the week off.
I just discovered DamonAndJo these travel bloggers/vloggers who I’m obsessed with and their motto when it comes to traveling is “shut up and go.” As in stop thinking about the what if’s or it can wait until later and JUST DO IT.
Feeling inspired, I bought the tickets while on break at the lycée and got home to inform JP we were going on a trip.
I’ve never really shared a full price breakdown of my trips before, but I think this is helpful information to know. It’s the kind of thing I always try to look up before going somewhere and I feel like I do a good job when traveling of still experiencing the city but also not going too overboard (at least, I don’t think I do…my dad would probably beg to differ…hi Dad if you’re reading this!) when it comes to spending.
When I do travel, I really only like spending money on experiences…or food, which in my opinion counts as an experience. So much of a culture is about its local cuisine. I think one of the best ways to immerse yourself in somewhere new is to try the local food, and high quality food at that.
My favorite thing to do with JP is going out to dinner. We easily end up staying at a restaurant for three hours (in Europe, at least, I don’t think that would fly in the US). It’s such a nice feeling to spend that uninterrupted time with your person, eating, drinking, talking and enjoying each other’s company. No phones, no outside distractions, just you, your person and some great food.
While on vacation, I don’t buy any clothes or souvenirs (I used to do this to a cringe-worthy level back in high school) and when you really just focus on spending on experiences I think you’ll find your money goes a lot further.
So, for this post, I’m going to share a price breakdown of our Milan trip. Let me know in the comments below if you like this kind of style or if you prefer for me to leave this info out for the next travel post.
Of course, JP and I are married so we don’t split every single thing down the middle (that would drive me crazy) but for the purpose of this post I decided to break things down a bit for those of you who may be traveling with friends and want an idea of how much costs would add up to for just one person (pp) traveling.
Also, keep in mind we were only in Milan for about 36 hours. A very easy way to make this trip cheaper would have been to utilize our Airbnb‘s kitchen, but because our time there was so short, we wanted to make sure we experienced as much of Milan’s restaurant scene as possible.
Flight: €30 pp (pp = per person) no frills or €48 pp if you add in some extras…
Like I said, our roundtrip flights were just under €30 each. With Ryanair, you can bring a small carry-on with you and this bag will be checked in once you get through the gate for free. If you want to actually bring your carry-on on board with you, you must pay extra (5 euros each way per person) you also have to pay extra if you want to sit next to the person you bought your ticket with. I thought it would be nice to have our bags with us on the flight because the Milan airport that Ryanair flies into is quite far from the city (BGY)–I wanted to be able to grab our bags and get off the plane right away. So, we paid to be able to bring the bags onboard which meant JP and I each were able to bring on a personal size item and carry-on, in total this added €10 pp. I also wanted us to be able to sit next to each other, at least on the way over which meant we paid extra again…€8 per seat.
Getting these extra perks really wasn’t necessary, so if you’re trying to do a trip on a budget, I would forgo these options. But I will say I do prefer EasyJet to Ryanair when it comes to budget airlines. With Easyjet, you can bring your carry-on on board and you don’t have to pay extra to sit next to whoever you’re traveling with.
Transportation from Airport to the Airbnb – €11.5 pp
Getting from the airport to our Airbnb was relatively simple, it just took a long time. As soon as we got off the plane, we headed out and passed a window to buy tickets for the Orio Shuttle, which would take us from the airport to Milan Central Station. Tickets are €5 one way and the shuttle ride takes about an hour.
Our Airbnb was definitely reachable by public transportation, but it was already 9 o’clock by the time we got into town that I wanted to get checked-in as soon as possible. So we grabbed an Uber (€13 for a 10-minute drive) and got there in less than 10 minutes.
Lodging: €43/night pp (including Airbnb fees)
I stumbled upon this Airbnb and fell in love. I thought it looked so cute and the reviews were stellar. My mom was very sweet and covered the costs as my birthday present. I didn’t have to pay for lodging this trip, but I’ll still include the prices for those of you planning a Milan getaway.
Prices for Airbnbs in Milan really depend on the time of year. I think €65/night was fair for the place we were staying at though we could have gotten something more central but smaller (and a bit more basic) for the same price. In total for two nights, this lovely abode was €175 or €87.5/night including Airbnb’s service charges. So, just over €43/night pp and €86 pp for the entire stay.
This Airbnb was spotless and a 20-minute walk to the Duomo. We were in a super secure building and the neighborhood has a bunch of great restaurants. But, considering we were there to really see the center, getting back at night took a little bit longer than desired. It’s good to know for the future though, for our next city trip (wherever that may be), I want to get a place that’s right in the center of town so we don’t waste any time.
Sidenote–I will say Airbnb has gotten so cool with all of their “Experience” options. There were opportunities to take cooking classes with locals and had we been there for longer that’s definitely something I would have loved to try.
Dinner at Marghe – €20 pp
To be totally honest I was feeling really nauseous throughout most of our Milan trip which was a huge bummer because I had been dreaming about pizza and tiramisu ever since I bought our tickets. This could be because JP, our friend, Molly and I finished two bottles of sparkling wine the night before my birthday, but who’s to say.
Nonetheless, I powered through and ate the pizza and tiramisu (and drank that glass of wine) I had been fantasizing about because MAMA DIDN’T RAISE NO QUITTER. Was it the best idea for my stomach? Probably not. But I had to profiter.
It felt like we were charged for just about everything while dining out in Milan! In Italy, most restaurants charge a cover fee (1-3 euros minimum per person) which includes table settings, forks, etc. And while it is possible to get tap water, most Italians usually drink bottled water. You can try to insist on tap water, but at some restaurants, it can be difficult to get it brought to your table and you’ll just end up having to pay for the bottled water.
On the bright side, pizzas are very cheap, at least compared to pizza prices in Bordeaux. We were able to get two pizzas, a beer for JP, a glass of wine for me, and a tiramisu for a total of €40 at Marghe.
I’m so glad we got an Airbnb with really sweet hosts because otherwise, we would have never discovered this place. I generally rely on Tripadvisor and YouTube videos for restaurant recommendations, so I had made a reservation at a little pizzeria close to our Airbnb with really great reviews. When I told our host which place we were going to she started giggling and explained the pizzeria was really tiny and while they had good pizzas, it was more of a place to get things to-go. I told her it was my birthday (because when it’s my birthday I literally tell anyone I see. JP thought this was hilarious made so much fun of me for this, but it’s just how I am! I did the same thing when we were engaged. I JUST GET EXCITED).
Luckily, she redirected us to Marghe. This restaurant was really cute with brick walls and vines hanging from the ceiling. The food was great and servers were really nice.
Breakfast at Bar Andrews – €7 pp or €13 if you’re Jean Philippe
OUR BIGGEST REGRET FROM THIS TRIP WAS GOING HERE FOR BREAKFAST. Our idea was to wake up and get out of the door as early as possible so we could make the most of the day. We walked towards the Duomo and stumbled upon this cafe. The servers were nice but the prices here were way too high. We ordered by looking at food in the window displays, JP got two sandwiches and I chose a brioche. When we received the bill my brioche (which really looked like a glorified croissant) was €6, the same price as each of his sandwiches. Plus €2 for a glass of water for each of us which meant we ended up spending €20 before it was even 9 o’clock. We would have been much better off grabbing breakfast somewhere near our Airbnb or making something at the apartment. At least I was caffeinated enough from our Airbnb’s espresso machine so I was able to pass on coffee here.
Duomo – €12/ticket for cathedral and terraces — €5/audioguide
All we really cared about seeing in Milan was the Duomo. This cathedral is breathtaking. When we walked towards it we had to just stop for a moment to take it in.
Construction of the Duomo began in the late 1300s and wasn’t finished until the early 1800s, at the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte who was about to be crowned King of Italy.
I don’t always rent audioguides when touring places, but as soon as JP and I walked in we had to know the history behind everything. An audio guide was €5 each and totally worth it. Had we not rented one, I would have never noticed the Duomo’s most prized position hanging near the ceiling, one of the nails used during the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Tickets to explore the cathedral and its rooftops are €12 (whereas if you just want to visit inside the cathedral it’s €3.50) if you take the stairs and €16 if you opt for the elevator. Save yourself some money and just take the stairs–though, do be warned they can feel a bit claustrophobic depending on the number of visitors.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – free
Just next to the Duomo lies the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s oldest active shopping mall that’s open 24/7–the actual galleria at least, not the stores.
The architecture and design of this place are insanely beautiful. I would definitely recommend coming either early in the morning or later at night if you don’t want to deal with a lot of people. We came back later that night and it was a lot calmer, though full of guys trying to sell us roses and asking if I was from China…
Inside of the Galleria lies the tiled mosaic depicting the famous bull. Tradition has it that if a person puts their right heel on the bull’s…balls and turns around three times, it will bring good luck. Tourists gather around the bull taking turns swooping in for their spinning moment. Though be warned, turning back on your heel three times in a row is a lot harder than it looks! Especially when there are a bunch of people staring at you waiting for their turn. Do you see the couple throwing shade at JP’s form? And his turns were way cleaner than mine. I’m not even going to insert the pictures of what I looked like. They include a lot of double chins and scared expressions on my part.
Cafe Lavazza – €4
Milan is an expensive city and prices around the Duomo and Galleria are much higher than surrounding neighborhoods. But, alas, we stopped off at a café just around the corner. My cappuccino was €4 while JP’s espresso lungo was €3.5
I didn’t think much of the price of the cappuccino as that’s pretty much the norm for Bordeaux (an espresso lungo is more like €1.5-2 in Bordeaux). But, the next morning I passed some cafes near our Airbnb that had cappuccino and brioche deals for just €1.5!
So, cappuccinos in non-touristy areas will be more like €1.5 in Milan.
L.O.V.E. – free
L.O.V.E., the statue which stands for Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità (freedom, hate, vengeance, eternity) was created in 2010 by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The statue was supposed to stay up for only a couple of weeks, but the city government decided to keep it up indefinitely.
The statue is located at the very center of Piazza Affari, where the Italian stock exchange headquarters are. If you look closely, the statue shows the other fingers have been cut off. If it weren’t for the severed fingers, the statue would show the fascist salute, so while the Italian artist, Maurizio Cattelan never gave an explanation, some take it to be a political statement and many believe it’s in reference to Europe’s economic crisis from 2008 onwards.
Castello Sforzesco – free
Parco Sempione – free
I didn’t get pictures from these two places because JP and I didn’t pull our phones out and just wandered around! Anyway, highly recommend. If we had more time, I would have checked out the museum inside of Castello Sforzesco. Walking around Parco Sempione was so serene and a break from the city.
Arco della Pace – free
Drink at a Café – €5
(Sorry, I didn’t catch the name of the cafe we went to. But it had a great view of Arco della Pace–at least for me, JP not so much.)
I had seen loads of Campari bottles with their distinct “Milano” logo in all of the cafes we had passed. I figured it had to be a traditional Milan drink and wanted to try it.
Turns out Campari was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in Novara, Italy and in 1904 Campari’s first production plant opened in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan.
I tried a sip and this apéritif was just too bitter and strong for me. I got JP to trade drinks with me and he enjoyed the drink…until I told him the reason I didn’t like it was because it tasted what I imagined nail polish remover as a cocktail would be. He just gave me a look like “WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SHARE THAT” and could then taste what I was talking about. Sorry JP.
The cool thing about Milan (or maybe this is an Italy thing? Let me know) is that while it is quite expensive you get a lot of little free snacks with your drinks. The olives and chips were complimentary.
24-hour ATM Pass – €4.50
Transportation in Milan is super affordable. Our Airbnb host recommended we get a 24-hour ATM pass which covers Milan’s metro, tram, and bus.
There aren’t any ticket stations near most tram or bus stops though, so you have to stop by a Tabacchi (tobacco store) to pick them up or go to a metro station. We found one not too far away from the cafe. JP first tried to ask for the tickets in Italian (…he doesn’t speak Italian, but showed a valiant effort) and the woman had no idea what he was saying. He then showed her what he had typed on Google Translate and another employee working went “Brava!”
He was so touched that JP was using Google Translate rather than asking for something immediately in English. “You still tried!” He said, “When people visit here, no one tries.”
The guy did have a point. I’ve seen in all the time in Bordeaux too, especially with American tourists (sorry fam). A “Bonjour” or (“Bounjournio” in Italy’s case) goes a long way.
Our ATM pass worked for 24 hours starting from the moment we first used it. We were able to use it the entire day to explore the rest of Milan and the following morning until we went back to Central Station.
Exploring Navigli – free…Getting a cocktail €8
To be honest, I’m kind of cringing as I write this and realize how much we drank while in Milan. But, what’s done is done.
Navigli is a cute little canal area with loads of bars and restaurants. The best time to get here is around 6 pm (apero time). Bars will serve lots of small plates with your drinks for great prices.
We, however, got here a bit earlier and I got a Moscow Mule for €8.
Apero at Pasticceria Romeo – €4/Martini Rosso
We ended up getting to the restaurant we had reservations for a bit too early, so we decided to have (another) drink at a patisserie just next door. We were really only in the area to try the restaurant and at first, I wasn’t sure if I had made a good decision, the neighborhood over here is not exactly tourist friendly. But the patisserie we stopped off at was fine. We sat down for a Martini Rosso which was €4 each and included all of these little snacks.
Dinner at Sapori Solari – €33.5 pp
I discovered Sapori Solari on Tripadvisor, all of the reviews are amazing for this place. I made a reservation a while in advance with The Fork application and even though the restaurant was out of the way, I had to see what all of the fuss was about.
I love a place with tasting menus because I feel like I can never go wrong. Sapori Solari had three tasting menu options and we went with the light menu which was €21 and included two meat courses and one cheese course (plus little plates in between).
We also got a bottle of wine (because who really just drinks one glass of wine with dinner??) for €25.
The servers here were fantastic. They explained that the restaurant team travels all over Italy in search of the finest meats.
To be honest, though, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the experience. I’m not someone who exactly has the palette for refined cold cuts–I can’t really tell the difference between a €4 pack of charcuterie from Auchan versus artisanal level meats.
JP, on the other hand, was over the moon, but he’s French and has been consuming fine charcuterie, cheese and wine since birth (well, maybe not birth but you get it, he’s French and has a superior palette blah blah blah).
Palettes definitely have a way of maturing though, before I got to Bordeaux the only wine I would drink was port! Now, I would 100% consider myself a wine snob and refuse to drink bad wine. Not sure if that will happen to me with charcuterie though because I really cannot distinguish a noticeable difference. I can tell you though, the meal was good (I know I’m so descriptive, should I be a food critic or what?). And the cheese course was to die for. Yeah, sorry, I’m a foodie but I don’t know what undertones and what not were, so that’s about all I have to describe this dinner!
Duomo at Night – free…but of course we got more drinks so €5 pp
We decided to get one last look at the Duomo on our way back from the restaurant. First, we stood in the rain under our umbrella just staring at the cathedral. A sweet lady asked if we wanted a photo and snapped this for us!
We then stopped off at a cafe with a clear view of the Duomo. I got a Coca-Cola because I was alcohol-ed out but it was €5, the same price for JP’s small beer.
After gazing at the Duomo for as long as we could (the server was hurrying us away as they were getting ready to close) we walked back through the Galleria and then headed to our Airbnb.
Breakfast at Bar Luce – €7.50 pp
Because if you can’t eat cake for breakfast while on vacation, when can you?
Anderson’s idea was to create a bar that he would want to spend his own “non-fictional afternoons in.” He said that while the cafe would make a great movie set, it would be an even better place to write a movie.
I would have to concur. BUT TO BE TOTALLY HONEST, I know nothing about Wes Anderson I just googled those quotes of his…The only movie I’ve seen of his has been “The Grand Budapest Hotel” when it was in theaters. I remember really enjoying it, but I really only like watching movies in the theaters. I don’t have the patience to sit through one at home.
I thought Bar Luce would be JP’s scene though and I was really happy we went. The cafe was super cute and cappuccinos were only €1.50. Plus the menu prices included their service fees and taxes, so the prices that you saw on the menu were the ones you got on your bill. My pink slice of cake was DELICIOUS. It reminded me of a princess style cake with its marzipan frosting. I wish I could have brought an entire cake home.
Price Breakdown Per Person
Transportation Total (flight, uber, metro pass and airport shuttles) – €74
Lodging – €86
Restaurants – €68
Cafés & Bars – €26
Duomo – €17
TOTAL – €271 per person but €185 for me thanks to mama getting my Airbnb 😉
or €245 if you don’t make all the café and bar stops we made!
I feel like for all that we did €185 isn’t bad…but it’s also not an itinerary I’m bragging to my parents about. Let me know what you think. When I watch travel shows that break down the prices I’m always screaming at the TV “WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU FOOLS.” They spend so much money on travel shows! But, I really have no idea what is a normal amount to spend on trips. It depends of course on where you’re going and what kind of experiences you’re looking for. For being in the beautiful but expensive city of Milan and making the most of our time there, I think in the end we did okay with our cost to experience ratio.
Milan is a gorgeous city, but I do feel like our time there was too short. Because of our flight times, we really only got to explore Milan for one full day. Unfortunately, there were a lot of museums we missed out on but I’m glad we didn’t try to squeeze them in because I think we would have just felt too rushed.
I’ve gotten so used to the size of Bordeaux and the few amounts of cars that are allowed in the historic center, that all of the busy streets in Milan overwhelmed me a bit. There were a few areas that were car-free, they were pretty spread out from one another. Can you tell I’ve been spoiled by Bordeaux? Milan was very easy to get around with their public transportation, it just felt like it took a while to get from one place to another, so for a super short getaway, it wasn’t the best location. I would recommend staying here for at least three nights or two full days. But seeing the Duomo alone is worth the trip! The detail and grandness of it all were so mindblowing.
What about the rest of you? Have you seen Milan? Which city do you think I should try next?