Great 'MoneySaving city guides, #5: Milan' Hunt

Great 'MoneySaving holiday guides, #5: Milan' Hunt

We're continuing our holiday guides series this week with the romantic Italian city of Milan. Please give us your MoneySaving tips if you live there or have been there before.

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  • jonthedog
    jonthedog Posts: 95
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 11 August 2011 at 12:05PM
    As in most Italian towns, it is much cheaper to drink your coffee standing up at the espresso bar, rather than to get a table. You can get a quick single shot for €0.50 (if you're lucky) or max €1, and most places throw in a little biscuit or chocolate for this price...the ideal way to perk yourself up after a hard morning's sight-seeing.:beer:

    Also, if you intend to see Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper', you had best book this a long time in advance through the official web-site. You can still go with a private tour company, but usually they are more expensive. Sorry, but I can't remember which company we ended up going with.

    A tour of the Cathederal (Duomo) roof is also fantastic, whatever the weather. Make sure you brave the steps instead of the lift for maximum moneysaving!

    For the Gasto moneysavers amongst you, I recommend a trip to the city's famous delicatessen, Peck. This is an Aladdin's cave of wonderful foodstuffs, admittedly mostly quite pricey, but it's nice just looking around. Their truffle oil, however, is an absolute bargain: ~€18 for 250ml...Fortnum and Mason sell the same thing for £100! :)
  • cloughja
    cloughja Posts: 67
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    We just got back from a holiday in Milan and was amazed by how expensive it all was. A can of coke is 3 euros in a cafe for example. We traveled to a number of cities in the region and there seems to be little difference in price.

    Even the supermarkets are twice the price of over here. It's nice but, not being a millionaire, I'll not be going back.
  • cloughja wrote: »
    A can of coke is 3 euros in a cafe for example.

    Sounds like the 'sitting down' price... ;) (see my earlier post)

    Some things are particularly expensive (or seem it with the exchange rate being like it is atm) such as baby bring your own. Other things e.g. Ham, Cheese, etc, are usually good value.
  • alexandragrlimnos
    alexandragrlimnos Posts: 12 Forumite
    edited 11 August 2011 at 12:04PM
    Ok I hope no one gets offended with this...but im being honest!!!!If anyone is offended I truly appoligise!!!

    OK...Tourists...especially uk tourists get ripped offf soooo badly overseas because you are known to be easy gulible targets..

    here are my holiday money saving tips:

    ALWAYS haggle prices of hotels and rooms to let as people charge tourists nearly double the amount they charge locals

    Prefer to have hotels withought food as they feed you most the time RUBBISH! lets be honest...the whole world knows the english cusine is one of the worst so hoteliers take advantage of this and feed tourists the cheapest quality...its better saving your money and going to an authetic resturant down the road.

    Always act as if you are not in the city for the first time when taking taxi's as you are always charged more than you should....especially now with the economic crisis...if there is a police officer close by ask him if he knows roughly the price of the fare you are about to take so that you can know what to expect to pay.

    AND PLEASE try to respect the cities you go to....many 18+ uk tourists have given uk tourists a really bad image...If you respect the locals trust me they will respect you!

    just 2 weeks ago in my hometown two 20 sth year old english tourists were arrested for indicent exposure infront of minors and were arrested...english youth were kicked out from all the clubs and bars for about a week because of this
  • cloughja
    cloughja Posts: 67
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    I take your point alexandragrlimnos but who wants to go to a place where they rip you off just cos they can?

    I think food has improved enormously in the UK in recent years and I was less than impressed with the food in Italy - it was mostly just OK. I can cook as good pizza and pasta myself.
  • jonthedog
    jonthedog Posts: 95
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 11 August 2011 at 12:06PM
    OMG, how could I forget Aperitivo!
    This is a great twist on the 'happy hour' concept, which I believe originated in Milan and has now spread throughout Italy and abroad.
    Loads of bars in Milan will offer 'Aperitivo' between around 7-9, unlike in a normal happy hour the drinks usually stay the same extortionate price, so around €5-7 for a beer (:eek:), BUT the bar will put on an unlimited cornucopia of bar snacks to go with this!
    Bread, olives and crisps are pretty standard fair, but most places really go to town and have fresh pizzas, hot pasta, salads, hams, cheeses, pastries and desserts....AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO EAT!:beer:
    It's usually pretty rammed in these places, so do as the Milanese do and get there early and nurse your one drink for as long as humanly possible.

    I think this is a wonderful concept if you can keep your thirst under'd never work in the UK!

    BTW, I disagree with cloughja; whilst you can get ripped off in the touristy places (I've had awful meals by the Colosseum, for example), pretty much anywhere else you go in Italy you will be able to get a great pasta/pizza dish even from the most unassuming (and cheap) restaurants...Italians do know a thing or two about how to cook it 'justa lika mama usta make'.
  • patm_2
    patm_2 Posts: 9 Forumite
    For a mid price hotel - we stayed at Atahotel Contessa Jolanda, a few metro stops from the centre, it was half the price of a similar hotel in the centre. It was nice enough, the breakfast was ok, and best of all, there was a fully fitted kitchen in the room - but absolutely no crockery, cookware, utensils. So if you can be bothered to take your own, you can save a lot of money on food (not to mention cups of tea) - there was a Lidl just round the corner too.
    We booked direct with the hotel which was slightly cheaper than all the hotel booking sites. It's always worth checking.

    General tip if you are a confirmed tea and coffee drinker like me - look for a hotel room with a fridge, take a travel kettle, tea bags and cups. Ignore anyone who says you are a sad freak.

    My daughter worked in Milan for 6 months, she said there was basically no such thing as cheap/discount/cut price shops such as you get everywhere in the UK, for buying household stuff etc. Only IKEA and Lidl.
  • mvteng
    mvteng Posts: 510
    First Post First Anniversary
    Not for everyone, but we went to see Inter play in the Champions League & it was incredibly cheap compared to Uk prices

    Just checked my confirmation e-mail - 69 euros for 4 of us in 2008.
  • ornto
    ornto Posts: 5 Forumite
    cloughja wrote: »

    We just got back from a holiday in Milan and was amazed by how expensive it all was. A can of coke is 3 euros in a cafe for example. We traveled to a number of cities in the region and there seems to be little difference in price.

    Even the supermarkets are twice the price of over here. It's nice but, not being a millionaire, I'll not be going back.

    Sorry to hear about that, actually here in Italy Milan is really regarded as the most expensive city you can find, and local small shops sellers take a pride in ripping off poor tourists. Don't worry it's not race or nationality discrimination, the other day on tv there was an Italian woman interviewed after having just paid like 5eur for a small water bottle (normal price in a groceries shop, 20 to 30 cents). The rule to save is: avoid small shops, avoid shops in the city center and possibly don't sit down in bars. As soon as you sit down anywhere to order, most of the places will charge you with what we call a "coperto", actually being a service charge. They might not charge that in bars in smaller cities, but it's a constant in big cities with lots of tourists. It can go from 50c per person to several euros so beware of that. Most restaurants/bars will have a price list stitched on the outside window, check on that and avoid those which don't. Remember that drinking in a bar = always expensive in Italy. 3 eur for a 50cl glass of coke is normal. Your best trick (if in your hotel you're getting a freezer/fridge) might be bringing an insulated backpack, then at the beginning of your trip going to a big department store (Carrefour, Auchan, etc but plan for that in advance as they usually are placed at the outskirts of the big towns) and stock up on drinks and a couple of ice packs. Also remember that 1,5liter bottles are incredibly better value than 0,5lt ones and cans, you can save huge amounts for the same drink. If bored about their size/weight, buy a pack of small water bottles and refill them!
    If buying sliced salame/ham and similar in shops, check the price per Kg. The prepackaged ones look good but they're often much, much more expensive than the ones the salesman will cut for you at his counter, and he'll cut you more or less the exact amount you want, no waste. And as I said again, try to avoid the smaller shops especially when next to attractions. In small shops the owners often put their own prices, in big ones most prices are fixed by the retail chain.
    In Italy, beware of taxis. They're a plague. I mean, not real ones but you'll find plenty of fake ones who will try to dispatch them as real ones. Don't accept runs from people who follow you inside railway stations or at the exit gates of airports. Try to use taxis as little as possible as they're more expensive than elsewhere in europe (it's not a free job, you must own a license that is limited in number and is often passed from father to son or sold at really high prices). Try to always grab them at a taxi line, they're available in several city center spots and outside all the main railway stations and airports. If in doubt ask the driver about the average fare to reach your destination. Check that the meter in the car is on and working. When you pay, check your rest (this also applies when u pay for tickets at boots or in most other places, most people are honest ones but a few ones might ruin your vacation and if you don't complain about your rest immediately, you can consider your money as good as lost).
    Aside from that, what else... just the usual stuff, check for tourist cards before you leave. They can often be bought online or at the place and often include a flat access to public transports and several attractions/museums, they're usually a good value if you plan to use all what they offer. Also if going with museums, check their website as sometimes some museums/sites are linked together(eg administered by the same people) and offer good value tickets for visiting the whole lot.
    If you're a student, bring with you a proof of that, there are huge savings on tickets for students.
  • Curious_George_2
    Curious_George_2 Posts: 2,501
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 17 August 2011 at 11:14AM
    we were in Milan last month on honeymoon and the best tip i can give you is to stock up on your drinks at the local supermarket,
    when we first arrived we bought some water at the kiosk outside the central train station and it was 3 euros each, we bought a load of the exact same brand & size bottles the next day at the punto supermarket for 18 cents each,

    also... its hot there, VERY hot (when we went in july anyway) take lots of sun cream & a fan, it was even boiling hot in the rain in the middle of a thunderstorm!

    if your the type who gets lost a lot... we stayed at the New York Hotel right across from the central station, and all roads seem to lead there so no matter where we ended up during the day / night we could always find our way home without any worries.

    and... the last thing i can think of is if your sightseeing and want to get into the duomo you need to be covered up, no skirts or shorts above the knee and no strappy tops, they have (armed!!!) guards outside stopping people innapropriatly dressed from getting in!
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