Both Milan and Venice are two of Italy’s most interesting cities. They offer different attractions that cater best to certain travelers.
Milan is an economic powerhouse, famed for its world-class fashion scene. But it’s also a city that never sleeps, giving you tons of adventure even when the sun falls.
Meanwhile, Venice is an ethereal wonderland that’s brimming with history. At every abandoned alley lies some hidden gems, making it a fun city to get lost in.
To decide between both, you have to get a better view of what they offer. Below are some of their unique draws that will shed some light on your decision.
The most fashionable city in Italy isn’t only worth visiting for the luxurious shopping experience. Milan has much more to offer, coming in the form of decadent cuisine, historical art, and the best nightlife in the country. In a city so full of life, Milan never lets its visitors get bored.
What Makes Milan Unique?
One of the World’s Fashion Capitals
Milan’s fashion scene started out as a thriving hub of superior fabrics and artisanal workmanship. And throughout centuries, it’s made a name for itself as one of the world’s fashion meccas. It’s the home of some of the most famous luxury brands in the world such as Versace, Armani, and Bottega Veneta.
With the city’s world-renowned fashion scene, shopping is one of its major draws. Milan has everything to please the inner shopaholic in you.
Delighting the trendy fashionistas are independent boutiques offering clothing right off the runway. You’ll find lines and lines of stores offering fine jewelry and antique pieces.
And while Milan oozes with luxury, it also has tons of offers on a budget. If you know where to look, you can bring home some designer wear at discounted prices. Make your way to a flea market for clothes, accessories, and even one-of-a-kind items!
Depending on what you’re looking for, there’s a perfect street for you to shop in Milan.
Head to Via Monte Napoleone to splurge on some of the biggest names in fashion. It’s one of the most luxurious and exclusive streets not only in Italy but also in the world. You’ll spot familiar names here, such as the likes of Armani, Prada, and Gucci.
High-street fashion lovers will find Corso Buenos Aires to be their paradise. This street is one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, fringed with brands such as H&M and Benetton. You can also find the two most famous sportswear brands here, Adidas and Nike.
More affordable shopping options await you at Via Torino. This street puts the spotlight on smaller shops and independent boutiques. And it’s the best one-stop shopping area in Milan.
You can find a ton of footwear, clothes, and accessories here at a bargain. Fashion shops here coexist with furniture, home decor, and cosmetics shops too.
Diverse Architectural Sites
Milan’s design prowess is not only evident in its world-renowned fashion scene. But you can also see it in the city’s gorgeous landscape. From historically important to futuristic buildings, Milan is also an architectural powerhouse.
What makes Milan such an exciting place to wander in is the diverse architecture you’ll find. The city has a collection of buildings covering a thousand years of history. From the period of the Roman Empire to the middle ages to early modernism, they’re all here.
And if you want to see the city’s crowning glory, it’s the Duomo di Milano you should see first.
The Duomo di Milano is one of the largest churches in the world, taking six centuries to complete. This Gothic church has a plethora of pinnacles, hundreds of spires, and thousands of statues, and it is clad in Candoglia marble. The golden Madonnina, on top of the Duomo’s largest spire, represents the city’s heart and soul.
While the Duomo di Milano is Milan’s iconic site, the city has tons of other beautiful buildings.
Although the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest mall, it still has its luster. It’s a Renaissance Revival site, with its defining feature being its two glass barrel vaults framed in cast iron. Inside, stunning mosaic floors represent Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
A unique building in the city is the Bosco Verticale, dubbed “The Vertical Forest”. Inspired by ivy-covered traditional Italian buildings, its facade is full of trees and vegetation. The various flora that covers the building makes the exterior ever-changing.
A Treasure Trove of Timeless Art
Milan may be a forward-thinking city, but you can still see remnants of its illustrious cultural history through art. Backed up by world-class museums, Milan is an underrated paradise for art lovers. And there’s no shortage of great art to marvel at here.
Milan has a star-studded art scene, with a collection of artworks by the greatest artists in history. Some of these are da Vinci, Michelangelo, Hayez, and Caravaggio.
And with so many museums and galleries to explore in Milan for art, here are the best ones you shouldn’t miss—
Easily one of the most recognizable paintings in the world is Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. It’s filled with symbolic references, evident in each of the 12 disciples’ attitudes. And you can only find this in Milan, within the walls of Santa Maria delle Grazie church.
If you want to see artworks of famous painters in one place, head to Pinacoteca di Brera Gallery. It’s the city’s premier fine arts gallery, and there are tons of stunning paintings here. Among those are Francesco Hayez’s most famous painting, The Kiss. A painting renowned for evoking a sense of serenity through the artist’s mastery of color and light.
Another is Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin. It’s considered to be one of the greatest paintings of Italian Renaissance perspective painting.
Pinacoteca di Brera also houses a Caravaggio masterpiece, the Supper at Emmaus. The artist painted this at the height of his fame, showcasing his unique style. This painting shows his skill in lighting and realism to showcase a vast array of human emotions.
The Ultimate Italian Nightlife Experience
Milan is arguably the best nightlife city in Italy. Due to the younger local crowd in the city, there’s always something exciting happening in the party scene. And the locals here don’t wait for the weekend to have some booze-filled fun.
Milan’s nightlife is diverse, catering to everyone’s tastes. Lined with a vast array of bars, lounges, and nightclubs, Milan’s streets have everything you need for the ultimate nightlife in Italy. And it’s Milan that has the most nightclubs that operate long hours throughout the year.
When the sun starts to set in the bustling city of Milan, it’s time to figure out where to go.
At the heart of Milan’s party scene is Navigli, a trendy and quirky spot that’s the go-to of the locals. The choice of the designer-clad fashionistas is the streets of Corso Como and Porta Garibaldi. And for the LGBTQ+ crowd, the Via Lecco is their party paradise.
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, Brera is the top choice. It’s a sophisticated spot filled with wine bars and upscale restaurants. Brera is also the artists’ quarter, so it attracts a crowd of artistic individuals.
Another more refined nightlife option is the famous Piazza del Duomo. You’ll find tons of classy restaurants and bars here to host your nightlife. And you can sip some wine away while enjoying the view of the city’s iconic landmarks!
Delicious Milanese Food
They’re so many tasty foods to eat in Milan, but they’re not the Italian cuisine you may be familiar with. Each region or even city in Italy has a unique twist on its cuisine. And in Milan, you’ll get a taste of the decadent Lombardy region.
Milanese cuisine isn’t most people’s idea of Italian food. It doesn’t have the Mediterranean take putting emphasis on olive oil and tomatoes. Instead, it has influences from its neighbors, such as Switzerland and Germany. Milanese cuisine is delightfully calorific. With premium meat cuts, lavish spices, aged cheeses, and butter on your plate.
The local favorite dishes here are Risotto alla Milanese and Cotoletta alla Milanese. Risotto alla Milanese is a creamy, well-loved rice dish that gets its color from the pricey and delicate saffron. While Cotoletta alla Milanese is a breaded veal cutlet, fried in butter and never in oil.
Antipasto, or appetizer, plays a crucial role in the Milanese food scene. The famous risotto is one of the popular ones, but it’s also served on its own.
Another popular antipasto is mondeghili. Traditionally, it’s made with leftover meat from the previous day. These are then blended with garlic, egg, lemon zest, and milk-soaked bread before getting fried.
Scanning through the menu of any restaurant, you’ll find that cheese is a big part of Milanese cuisine. Most meals in the city have a wide array of locally sourced cheeses. These range from the famous gorgonzola to soft cheeses from the hills that surround Milan.
So most of the time, you’ll get served with cheese on the final course rather than dessert. But you can get some sweet delights, too, to end your meal. Panettone and barabajada are delightful conclusions to any Milanese meal.
Lush Green Pockets
Being the busy economic center of Italy, most people think that Milan is gray and industrial, a city filled with neutral-hued buildings and glassy towers, among others. But this is a misconception, as Milan is also one of Italy’s greenest cities.
Milan is full of emerald-clad spaces where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan. These cover about ten percent of the city’s urban surface area. And with 54 gardens and 21 parks, you have a ton of lush greenery to host your slow day.
The star of Milan’s green spaces sits just behind the Castello Sforzesco. Parco Sempione is Milan’s version of Central Park. This is the largest park in the city, and with a ton of things to see and do here, you can easily spend a full day here.
Within its grounds lie some interesting buildings. This includes the Aquarium, the Civic Arena, and the Triennale Design Museum. On the park’s far side is the Arco della Pace, one of the best spots for an aperitivo.
There’s also a massive lake in the park where you can sit along the banks and admire the sparkling waters. Enjoy a game of frisbee, have a picnic, or simply relax under the shade of a lush tree!
Only a few cities in the world are as celebrated as Venice, and it’s not a surprise. It’s a magical and romantic city that stands on top of glistening waters. But this is only one of the countless attractions that Venice can offer you.
What Makes Venice Unique?
The Majestic Labyrinth of Waterways
In Venice, you won’t hear any of the deafening sounds of traffic, as the city is void of cars. Instead, you’ll be hearing gushes and splashes of water as locals and visitors alike go through the city’s waterways.
This is a major part of what makes Venice such a majestic place, earning it the name the “floating city”. Cloudy blue waters run through the city, giving it an ethereal feel. This is a sight that you’ll not likely find anywhere.
Venice has around 150 canals, ranging from smaller and quiet side canals to bigger and busier ones. Two major canals in the city are the Giudecca Canal and the Cannaregio Canal. Connecting both is the world-famous Grand Canal, one of the city’s top attractions.
With Venice’s design, getting around the city is a unique and scenic experience.
Gondola rides are not only a means of transportation. But they’re also a tourist attraction. This is one of the most romantic experiences you can have in Venice. Gondolas take you through beautiful spots in the city, narrow canals, and other tourist spots. But it’s mainly for pleasure and sightseeing, and it comes with a hefty cost.
Taking a traghetto is a more efficient and affordable way to get around the city. They’re like gondolas, but they only cross the Grand Canal at points where you can’t find bridges. Unlike a gondola, this is a less touristy or artistic way to float through Venice.
More convenient options are the water buses, vaporetto and motoscafo. These run continuously daily, and you can always catch one in a few minutes. You can also take a water taxi for a more private experience, but they are pricier.
Throughout Venice are hundreds of bridges that crisscross its waterways. This, along with a lack of cars, is what makes Venice one of the most walkable cities in the world. But other than function, Venetian bridges are also a tourist attraction in itself, adding to the romantic vibe of the city.
Along the Grand Canal are four bridges, and one of them is the world-famous Rialto Bridge. The bride displays a gorgeous arch with intricate stonework. It’s the ultimate landmark in the city, and though it’s one of the oldest, it’s still a breathtaking site.
Connecting the Doge’s Palace to a former prison is the Bridge of Sighs. Although it’s famous for its sad history, it’s also an architectural marvel. You can get a gorgeous view of this white limestone bridge from another bridge, the Ponte della Paglia.
Around the city of Venice, most of the bridges feature a simple design. But you can find an exception in the Ponte delle Guglie bridge. This bridge features spires on every corner, with gargoyles on both sides of the arch.
Another unique bridge in the city is the Ponte dei Tre Archi. Venice used to have other three-arched bridges, but this is the only one that lives on today.
Incredibly Ornate Architecture
Venice has a long, illustrious past as a wealthy city throughout history. There are remnants of this past across the city, immortalized in marvelous historical landmarks. Though not at the level of Rome, Venice is also an architectural powerhouse.
Venice is an architecturally unique city. Dominating the city is the Venetian Gothic style, a subtype of Gothic architecture. Venetian Gothic is a product of the city’s long history, featuring Byzantine and Ottoman influences. So throughout the city, you’ll find buildings with this style’s unifying elements. This includes pinnacles, pointed arches, stained glass, and tracery stonework.
One of the most famous landmarks in Venice is the St. Mark Basilica. It’s a great display of the Byzantine influences on the city’s architecture, evident on its domes. This breathtaking church is lavishly decorated. With precious marbled and complex mosaics on its exterior, it’s Venice’s crowning glory.
Another iconic structure is the skyscraping St. Mark’s Bell Tower. It’s the tallest building in the city, dominating Venice’s skyline. You can climb up the tower to get the best views of the Venetian landscape.
The elegant Doge’s Palace is another must-see landmark in Venice. Its facade is a careful interlace of red Verona marble and white Istrian stone, giving it a salmon-pink color. White stone columns decorate the building on all sides, making it one of the most striking buildings in the city.
Diverse Art Collection
Venice is a city for the aesthete, spoiling you with tons of picturesque spots. Fringing opulent buildings are the sparkling waters of the canals, a sight enough to fill one with awe. Art is everywhere in Venice, but it’s within the buildings that you can get a better appreciation of its artistic side.
Venice has collected a ton of timeless art throughout its history. Housing these are dozens of museums sprinkled across the city. Because of this, Venice is a city that offers endless entertainment for the art lover.
Doge’s Palace is a top tourist attraction for its exterior alone. But enter its marble walls and you’ll find a treasure trove of art. Here, you can find Il Paradiso, one of the world’s biggest oil paintings. But other than this, you can also marvel at an extensive collection of armory and sculptures.
Gallerie dell’Accademia houses more diverse art, dating from the 14th to the 18th centuries. It houses the world’s most famous drawing, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. This is also where you can admire the works of other great artists such as Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, among others.
Another must-see in Venice is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This is your retreat if you’re overwhelmed by all the historic art in the city. This museum exhibits tons of modern art masterpieces, a stark contrast to the others in the city.
Uniquely Venetian Experiences
In Venice, you have tons more to do than go sightseeing around the picturesque city. Many regard Venice to be a destination that’s good for only a few days. But the city packs a ton of lesser-known attractions that many don’t know about!
These experiences give you a better cultural view of Venice, away from the touristy areas such as the Grand Canal. And for a unique Venetian experience, below are some handpicked activities that you shouldn’t miss.
Join a Murano Glass Workshop
Murano glass is world-renowned for its impeccable craftsmanship. It’s an enduring art, with local artisans still adopting centuries-old techniques.
Head to Murano, an island on the Venetian Lagoon. Here, you go on a glassblowing demonstration, watching experts create high-quality glassware.
And while this is a great cultural experience, a much better way to appreciate this art is to get a hands-on experience. You can join a glassmaking workshop here with one-on-one lessons by a local artisan! Other than getting lessons from Venice’s renowned craftsmen, you can also bring home a unique souvenir.
Take Command of a Venetian Boat
Sure, riding a gondola is an enticing attraction in the city. But learning how to row one is an even more exciting way to spend your day!
Try your hand at Venetian rowing, rowing both standing up and facing forward. This style is unique to Venice and made iconic by the gondoliers. With Row Venice, you can get a hands-on gondola experience right in the famous Grand Canal!
Create a Venetian Mask
Even if your trip doesn’t coincide with the Venice Carnival, you can still get a taste of it throughout the year. You’ll find a plethora of masks featured in shop windows.
A deeper appreciation for this cultural event is a mask-making workshop. Take a pick between decoration class or production class. Or if you have time and money to spare, do both!
Learn how to make masks from scratch with some paper-mâché. And like the glassmaking workshop, you can take your creation home with you as something to remember.
Wander Through the Colorful Buildings of Burano
Situated in the northern part of the Venetian lagoon is the island of Burano. This cheery and colorful island is a striking contrast to the mainland. Buildings here come in all colors of the rainbow, a perfect spot for Instagram-worthy pictures.
Which Is Better – Milan or Venice?
Depending on what you want out of your trip, one of these cities is the perfect host for your Italian escapade. If you’re going on a romantic getaway, Venice is the better destination. But if shopping is your main priority, then head over to Milan. These aren’t the only factors to consider though, as it’s only scratching the surface.
Milan is a business city first and a tourist destination second. So it’s a lesser-known destination for travelers. And while you’re not going to get a touristy vacation here compared to Venice, this also means that Milan is far less crowded than Venice.
Venice edges out Milan when it comes to an exotic experience, though. Venice has a ton of unique experiences you won’t find elsewhere. From the Venetian Gothic buildings to the canals to the stunning views, no other city has its magic.
If you love to take strolls, Venice is the perfect destination for you. Milan is a busy working city, with cars running through the streets nonstop. You won’t have this trouble in the car-free city of Venice though.
If you’re a food lover, Milan has more restaurants to choose from. These range from Michelin-starred to generations-old restaurants.
If you’re a partygoer, there’s no better city for you than Milan. The nightlife in this city is diverse and there’s a spot for almost every preference you can think of. On top of that, Milan bars and nightclubs close as late as 4 AM so there’s plenty of time to have fun.
Meanwhile, Venice seems to be hauntingly quiet at night. It’s a stark contrast to the lively crowds and vibrant vibe of the Milanese night scene. The city’s not renowned for its nightlife, though there are some spots for your late-night entertainment.
Milan to Venice
You have three travel options to choose from to reach Venice from Milan. You can take a train, ride a bus, or ride a plane. Each has its pros and cons, so below is an overview for you to decide on the best option for your trip.
The cheapest way to travel from Milan to Venice is by taking the bus. These buses travel from Milano Lampugnano bus station to Venice Tronchetto bus station daily. Around 10 buses travel this route daily, with the first one leaving at around 7:15 am.
The average bus ticket price for this route is only about 9 USD. The downside is that this is the slowest travel option, with a travel time of around 3 hours and 40 minutes.
A plane ride is the fastest option if you’re in a hurry. A direct flight from Milan to Venice only lasts around 2 hours. The tradeoff is that you’ll be spending more money on your trip. Ticket prices between the two cities can be anywhere from 32 to 126 USD.
How Long From Venice to Milan?
Travel time from Venice to Milan varies depending on your chosen transportation. Direct plane rides are the fastest, with about 2 hours of travel time. The average train time on a bus is 4 hours, while trains only have a duration of about 2 hours and 47 minutes.
Venice to Milan Bergamo Airport
The best way to travel from Venice to Milan Bergamo Airport is to take the train. Though keep in mind that the Milan Bergamo Airport doesn’t have a train station. So you need to combine this travel with a bus.
From Venice, you can take a train to Bergamo train station, the nearest one to the airport. This covers a distance of 129 miles (208 kilometers) with an average travel time of 3 hours and 36 minutes. Train tickets cost around 20 USD on average.
Keep in mind that there are no direct trains on this route. So you need to make at least one change along the way.
Once you arrive at the Bergamo train station, you can take a bus to the Milan Bergamo Airport. There’s a bus service ATB here that can take you to your destination in only around 10 minutes.
Milan Malpensa to Venice
Thankfully, Milan Malpensa Airport has its dedicated train station located at Malpensa Terminal 1. There are around 28 trains running from the airport to Venice daily. The first train leaves at 12:26 AM while the last one leaves at 9:26 PM.
This journey covers a distance of 176 miles (283 kilometers). And its travel time averages 4 hours and 30 minutes. Although the fastest trains can complete this journey in only 3 hours and 12 minutes.
There are no direct services on this line though, so you must make at least one train change along the way.
Train tickets on this route start at around 35 USD.
Train From Milan to Venice
Around 43 trains travel from Milan to Venice daily. This journey has a distance of 152 miles (245 kilometers) and lasts 3 hours and 10 minutes on average. But some faster services can cut this down to only 2 hours and 12 minutes.
The first train leaving for Venice from Milan departs at 12:22 AM. While the last one leaves at 11:03 PM.
The price range for train tickets is around 2 to 28 USD, with the average being only 19 USD.
Is There a Direct Train From Milan to Venice?
Direct trains from Milan to Venice are available with train companies like Italo and Trenitalia.
Train From Venice to Milan Airport
You can take a train ride from Venice to Milan Malpensa Airport as there’s a train station on the airport grounds. And there are about 15 trains that travel this route per day. But there are no direct lines on this journey, so you have to make a change on your trip.
This journey covers a distance of 174 miles (281 kilometers). The average travel time is around 4 hours and 36 minutes.
A train ticket on this route costs about 37 USD on average.
Milan Centrale to Venice
There are direct lines from Milan Central Station to Venice, so you don’t have to switch trains along the way. This journey has a distance of 152 miles (244 kilometers) that takes around 3 hours and 6 minutes to complete. But if you take the fastest trains, you can reach Venice in only 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Around 46 trains frequent this route daily, with the first one leaving at 12:15 AM and the last one at 10:55 PM.
The average train ticket price on this journey is around 23 USD.
Milan to Venice Train Tickets
The average train ticket price from Milan to Venice is around 23 USD. But ticket prices change frequently, so it’s best to check online for a more accurate price.
How Far Is Venice From Milan by Train?
Venice is 174 miles (281 kilometers) away from Milan by train.
Milan to Venice Train Time
On average, the train time from Milan to Venice is around 3 hours and 10 minutes. But if you’re in a hurry, high-speed trains can make the journey only 2 hours and 12 minutes short.
Milan to Venice Drive
Since the two cities are close, driving a car from Milan to Venice is an option many tourists take. The travel distances and times vary on the route you take.
The shortest route is via A4. This covers a distance of 168 miles (270 kilometers) with a travel duration of 3 hours and 8 minutes.
Another route is via A4 and SS434. This route is 199 miles (320 kilometers) long, taking around 3 hours and 50 minutes to complete.
The longest route is via A1 and A13, with a distance of 244 miles (361 kilometers). You can expect your travel time to be around 4 hours if you choose this route.
Keep in mind, these travel durations estimates do not consider traffic. So traveling by car may take you much longer to reach Venice.
Milan to Venice Day Trip
Taking a day trip from Milan is very doable as long as you leave Milan early. And as long as you have a good plan in place, you can see the best of Venice with a half-day trip. So make sure to come with an itinerary in hand!
Milan to Venice Day Trip by Train
With trains connecting you from Milan to Venice in only 2 to 3 hours, taking a day trip to the floating city is a great way to spend your day. Since Venice is a small city, you can explore popular attractions within a day. Ride a gondola, visit St. Mark’s Basilica, visit museums, and more!
Milan to Venice the Cheapest Way
The most affordable option to travel from Milan to Venice is to take a bus. Although this option has a long travel time, around 3 hours and 40 minutes, it’s quite cheap at an average of 9 USD per ticket.