Milan has two airports - Malpensa and Linate - with Malpensa being the most likely hub for travelers flying in/out of the United States. It is a good 30 miles out of central Milan and transport options to/from the city include express trains, shuttles and taxis: see my “To/From Malpensa” tip under Transportation.
It’s easily navigated and has two terminals with most U.S. flights arriving/departing from Terminal 1. Amenities include ATMs, luggage storage, pharmacies, tourism desks, infant care/feeding stations, wifi (fee), bars, restaurants and shopping for burning through the last of your euros before heading home. We didn’t see terminal 2 but it’s said to be a lot smaller and with fewer amenities so travelers with long layovers may want to take a shuttle to terminal 1 to kill pre-flight time.
Complaints I’ve read range from untidy bathrooms to very long check-in queues during peak hours - not our experience due to an early morning plane - so you may want to plan on being there the recommended 3 hours in advance if catching a midday international flight.
Information on both airports may be found here:
Some travelers may arrive at Orio in Bergamo - about the same distance from central Milan as Malpensa - which is serviced mainly by Ryanair. Information on this airport may be found here:
There were two economical options for getting to Malpensa airport from Milan Centrale for our morning flight to the U.S.: express train or shuttle bus. We opted for the bus because it started running earlier and more frequently than the train at the hour we needed, and cost/time was the same: 10,00 €/ about 50 minutes. We’re fans of shuttle buses to/from Italian airports anyway as tickets are easily purchased from kiosks or the driver, and our luggage is stowed safely underneath: no need to watch it. They’ve been clean and comfortable with nice big windows for enjoying the scenery as well. Malpensa Shuttle buses also serve both terminals where the train only goes to terminal 1: you need to take a bus to/from terminal 2 if your flights arrive/depart from there.
Buses run from Centrale every 1/2 hour to 20 minutes depending on the time of day, and we purchased our tickets the night before from a kiosk (photo 2) just outside the train station.
A couple of caveats: while bus schedules show 50-minute travel duration, traffic backups in the city could cause some delays so plan accordingly. Trains also take slightly less time during peak hours. Neither option operates 24/7 so see the websites for schedules.
Malpensa is about 30 miles from central Milan and taxis into the city are very expensive (around €80 - €90) so not a great choice if you’re traveling on a budget.
Both Malpensa Express and Malpensa Shuttle have websites with tabs in English and are very easy to navigate:
Ca. 45-min-comfortable ride on autostradale bus to Milan. Bought the ticket online via Ryanair.com link to the bus company. Paid 5 euros one way. 9 euros return ticket. Under Contact; Other I attached timetable for the bus. It was convenient in the morning - every 15 minutes.
Going back to the airport in the end of our trip, we decided to take the train (after arrival, we had taken the bus). Malpensa Express leaves Milano Centrale every thirty minutes and a ticket costs 10€, the journey takes about fifty minutes. We bought our tickets at an automatic ticket machine in the airport in the morning after we had brought our luggage to the storage.
When we wanted to take the train in the late afternoon and had a look at the huge electronic information board, we were confused because there was no platform announced, it just said "16.25 Malpensa Express", and the spot where the platform should be was blank. As far as I understood when we asked staff at the train station, the train always leaves from platform 2. This platform is located on the left hand side when you arrive and it is a bit further away, so you should go there a little earlier if you have lots of luggage.
Contrary to the bus, the train has a lot of other stops in-between Milano Centrale and Malpensa Airport. Please don't be confused by reviews telling you that the train only goes to Milano Cadorna and not to Centrale - these reviews are a little older, the service has been extended in the meantime.
The train was very comfortable, there is plenty of dedicated space for all the luggage, and it was very clean and pleasant. The train arrives at terminal 1, but if you need to go to terminal 2, there is a free shuttle bus.
We flew from Cologne to Milan Malpensa with germanwings airlines. They have daily flights every evening in both directions, the duration of the flight is about one hour and sixty minutes.
I like germanwings very much, their staff is usually very friendly. There are different tariffs you can choose depending on how much luggage you take. Some tariffs include a drink and snack on board, others don't. Of course there is the usual selection of overpriced snacks that you can buy.
From Malpensa, it is easy to get to the city by train and by bus (see my other tips).
There are two more airports in the area, Linate and Orio al Serio which is closer to Bergamo.
Main photo: My first view of Italy upon arrival
Picture 2: Milan from the plane during take off to Cologne
We arrived at Malpensa Airport very late in the evening and were very tired. I knew that we could either get a train or a bus to the city, and when we walked into the entrance hall, we saw a ticket booth selling bus tickets. I did not feel at all like looking further for the train, searching for the platform etc., so we just bought a bus ticket. It was 10€ per person, and the bus was waiting right outside, we jumped on and it left straight away.
The bus journey takes about an hour and it goes straight through to Milano Centrale, the main train station. The journey was very comfortable, and after our flight I was just happy that we didn't need to worry about anything. The only thing we didn't like was that the air condition was very strong, we were sitting in a strong draught until the driver finally turned it down. Apart from this, it was a comfortable journey!
The bus leaves every twenty minutes right outside the airport. There are also busses to other destinations, for example Linate Airport or Bergamo.
Malpensa is the larger of Milan's two airports, the other being Linate. The airport is located about 40 km from the city centre and has two terminals - both international with Terminal 2 being a dedicated EasyJet one. The terminals are connected by a regular free shuttle bus which takes about five minutes.
I personally used Terminal 2, the EasyJet one, flying back to Luton, and found the terminal easy to navigate, I enjoyed a panino and beer lunch at the Air Cafe and subsequent security and arriving at my gate were swift and hassle-free.
Getting to the airport by public transport you have the choice of regular bus or train services. I personally used the train, the Malpensa Express, which leaves roughly hourly from Milano Centrale with a journey time of just over 40 minutes. This arrives at Termnal 1 from where you can pick up the shuttle bus and so it's best to allow an extra 20 minutes for this - though when I used it there was one just about to depart. The train costs 10 Euros, one-way, has plenty of luggage capacity and tickets can be bought from the easy-to-use machines - remember to validate the ticket before boarding.
Even though I was headed for Bergamo which has its own airport, Caravaggio Airport Bergamo Orio al Serio, I refuse to fly Ryan O'Crapo Air and so opted to fly into Milan instead with EasyJet from London Gatwick. I booked well in advance, taking advantage of a spring sales promotion, and so got a relatively cheap flight which was hassle-free and almost pleasant.
Linate is the smaller of Milan's airports, the other being Malpensa (which I flew out of), and with an early afternoon arrival I got through immigration and customs in about ten minutes from deplaneing.
Getting into the city I used the 5 Euro "Starfly" Airport Express coach simply because the bus stop was immediately across from my arrival exit and the bus was just about to depart. This was a comfortable ride into Milano Centrale (about 25 minutes) despite the heavy traffic and the fact that the route passes through some of the more down-at-heeel areas of the city. This service runs every thirty mnutes with prompt departure times and tickets are sold at the bus stop.
A slightly cheaper alternative is to use the public bus service, the #73, which also runs regularly and connects with the M1 Metro at San Babila. Tickets for this are available from the machines beside the bus stop.
The quickest way to reach Milan train station(S) from airport is by train.
Unfortunately the Baggage Service in Malpensa is among the slowest of the planet, so expect at least 30 minutes before seeing your suitcase to appear again :(((
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The quickest way to reach Firenze/Roma/Napoli from Milano is again by train.
There are two options:
Using the national service: http://www.trenitalia.com/
Or using a new private service which runs along the main routes (Milano-Firenze-Roma-Napoli is the main route):
The journeys takes about 2 hours (with fast and direct trains). Price is a bit more of 50€
Pay attention to the NAME of the train stations of arrival/departure .
Malpensa Express arrives both to Milano Cadorna and Milano Centrale.
Trains to Firenze operated by Trenitalia start from Milano Centrale.
Trains to Firenze operated by Italo start from Milano P.G. (Porta Garibaldi) which is connected to Milano Cadorna and Milano Centrale by the subway (the green line).
It's very easy to reach Milan from any part of the Europe. It is placed in North Italy and has lots of railways, highways and planes.
Now it's popular to use cheap flights companies, such as Wizzair, Ryanair. Ryanair goes to Bergamo, town 50 km away from Milano.
No problem, because just after landing - go outside. In the yard of airport there are many busses to Milano and it takes aroun 15 euros. It's cheapier to buy two ways ticket, than two singles.
With a buss it takes around hour. But the view around Bergamo is so amazing, that time goes really fast :)
The easiest and the quickiest way to get to Malpensa airport, and vice versa, is by the city train express. This is Stazione Cadorna, the train station from where the train starts to Malpensa and vice versa, where the train is coming from the airport. The station is situated on Piazza Cadorna, you can't miss it coz there is a giant needle and thread monument coloured in various bright colours.
For people who leave Italy from Airport Malpensa and have to get tax refund from your handed-luggage, you'd better watch out the police cause he lied to us about getting the tax refund in Zurich. If you transfer in Swiss which is not member of EU, make sure that you can only get tax-refund in area B but the boarding gate is in area A. It's really unbelievable that the POLICE told us Swiss is one of EU!!!!!
When you fly to Milano, most probably you'll land to the biggest airport - Malpensa, cca. 35 km away from Milan. Do not miss the spectacular view of the Alps stemming from the clouds! If you're lucky, you'll be landing at sunset/dusk, and the images you'll see are simply surreal... The chains of Alps covered in snow rising up from the clouds, embracing the sky and the crimson layer of the setting sun...
Malpensa is not exactly the best airport I've seen. The modern structure is quite impressive, but it's about 1h from downtown and the airport suffers from chronic air traffic control problems. They even lost my luggage once without a connection (evidently an hour wasn't enough for the bags to reach the plane from check-in...)
I recommend the flights to Bergamo with Ryanair for trips to Milan.
It will often be the cheapest alternative for you and Milan central train station is only a short and inexpensive expressbus ride away.