Milan is the style capital of Italy and is famous across the world for its designer shops and glamour nightlife. With its reputation for high fashion, Milan may appear expensive at first, but many of the city’s best shops, bars and hostels can be enjoyed on a backpackers’ budget.

Visiting Italy’s ‘capital of cool’ and the birthplace of Prada, Armani and home of Donatella Versace is a glamour statement for travellers. It’s an incredibly striking city, with the gothic façade of the Duomo, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II the heritage jewels in the city’s crown.

Milan love

Image by 西文 Simon (Flickr/Creative Commons)

You don’t have to spend a weekend in Milan forking out euros though. There are plenty of ways to save money on bars, food and hostels in the city. Here are a few budget tips for making Milan a backpackers’ best friend.

Eat free food in bars 

Stuzzichini

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The greatest money-saving tip in Milan is to exploit the Italian aperitivo tradition. Every evening around 6pm-7pm, Milan's bars attract customers by offering free food (stuzzichini) when you buy a drink. 

Tapas-style dishes are available along the bar, where you can eat cheese, salads, olives, bowls of pasta, and salamis for the price of one drink. Milan’s canal-side district of Navigli is best place to go for aperitivos, where dozens of chic bars serve delicious free snacks.  

Go budget shopping in flea markets

Milan flea market

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If you want more bang for your buck, euro or pound, then head to Milan’s flea markets when you go shopping. There are many cheap markets in the city.

The best known is Viale G. d'Annunzio in Milan's wharf district, where you can buy designer wares, jewellery, books and leather goods to your heart’s content. If you want more information about other flea markets, then Milan’s tourist information will be able to help you. 

Travel cheap with a ‘blochetto’

Milan transport

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A tram, metro or bus single journey costs €1.50 and is valid for 90 minutes. A ten pack (blochetto) card costs €13.80 and you can use it on all forms of transport making it far more economical than repeat single journeys. You can also get a 24-hour transport pass for €4.50.

See free exhibitions at Carla Sozzani Gallery

Carla sozzani galleria

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Situated in a historic courtyard in 10 Corso Como, the gallery is popular with locals for its rotating exhibitions. Set aside some time and take in some world-class photography exhibitions during your time in Milan. The gallery is open daily from 10:30 am–7:30 pm, but later on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Visit Sforza Castle for free

Sforza Castle

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The 14th-century castle is home to historic museums and a medieval garden. Admission to the castle grounds is free.

Stay in a budget hostel in Milan

Milan is an expensive city, but if you know where to book, then it has plenty of cheap hostels available. We have excellent availability in Milan and you stay in the city centre for only €19 per night. Book your holiday today and what you save on accommodation can be re-invested in Versace and Armani!

*Header image by Pablo Fernández (Flickr/Creative Commons)