Milan or Paris: Which should you visit?
| |

Milan or Paris: Which One Should You Visit?

As an art historian who studies the Renaissance, I’m very fortunate to spend a lot of time in France and Italy. I’ve been to France too many times to count at this point, and I spent five weeks in Italy in 2022, so both cities are ones that I know well. The two offer similar, but different vibes.

I’m going to answer some of your most popular questions in this article about the two cities, the differences between them, and how to decide which is better for you to visit.

Can you see the Eiffel Tower from any Paris Airports?

Milan Or Paris: Answering Your Top Questions

Should I go to Paris or Milan for a short trip?

Absolutely Milan. It’s possible to see Milan as a tourist in 72 hours, but you won’t make a dent in 72 hours in Paris, even if you really rush around from attraction to attraction. I’ll talk about this more later on when I go into whether Paris and Milan are worth it.

Should I visit Italy or Paris for 10 days?

It depends on the kind of traveller you are. If you don’t mind moving around a lot from place to place and packing and unpacking in a few different hotels, then I think you’ll generally find Italy to be the more amazing trip. It’s hard to deny the architecture, food, kindness of the people, etc. But if you want to be in one place and have a lot of things to do, then you’ll want to set your flag down in Paris. You can stay there for 10 days and still have not seen everything.

Italy doesn’t really have a city that can sustain that length all on its own. You need to spend about half your trip at a minimum taking trains to other places. That can get very draining very quickly. Most things in Paris, except Versailles (I have an article about whether Versailles is worth it) are nearby and you can get there within 10-15 minutes by any measure of transport.

Is Paris cheaper than Milan?

Milan is significantly less expensive than Paris for tourists. I took a luxury trip to Paris for just one week for the same price I spent five weeks in luxury stays in Italy. There really is no contest. I was floored at how cheap food is in Italy for the quality. Everything I ate was prepared fresh for me, and it’s easy to have a meal for under 20 Euros. You can find some budget meals in Paris, but good luck, honestly. And accommodations are a lot more expensive in Paris than in Milan.

If you’re American, Milan is not a “budget” destination but it’s certainly a lot more affordable.

Which is colder, Milan or Paris?

It depends on the time of year. In the summer, both get quite hot — I have sweat and gotten a sunburn in both cities so bring your sunscreen and deodorant! In the autumn and winter, Milan will be a little cooler than Paris, but it won’t be a big difference. I’ve gone to Paris in winter and as a Canadian, I wish we had Parisian winters because they’re much more mild.

Is Paris better or Italy?

Italy has to take the cake on this one, sorry Paris! I love Paris, it’s my favorite city in the world. But if you want truly beautiful, stunning, showstopping architecture, art, food, water and mountain views, etc. then Italy is really unparalleled. The people are also going to be friendlier and more warm and kind in Italy as a whole. Not in Milan, though. Paris gets a bad wrap as a rude city, but I thought people in Milan were much colder and ruder.

One thing to note is that if you don’t speak any languages other than English, I recommend Paris over Italy. Parisians speak English more readily than Milanese people and French and English are closer linguistically so if you have to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the language, you’ll have a much easier time overall.

Is Milan or Paris nicer?

Paris is a lot nicer, in my opinion. Everywhere you turn you’ve got something to see. Milan feels like a much more modern, sleek city. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like a really clean, modern feeling. But if you’re someone who wants to feel steeped in history, overall I’ve got to give it to Paris. Every single street, you feel transported to elsewhere. In Milan, it’s very easy to feel like you’re in your local big city. Don’t get me wrong, Milan is still very nice and you won’t be disappointed as there’s still a lot of old buildings. But it feels a lot more modernized than Paris.

As a person who wants to be steeped in history when I travel, then Paris takes the cake, hands down.

Advice for a first-time Milan and Paris trip

If you’re going to Milan and Paris for the first time, the most valuable information I can give you is to get very familiar with the transit maps and what you want to do before you book your hotels. Both are fairly big cities, and while they’re well connected by transit, you want to stay sort of at the center of everything you want to do. Depending on the type of traveller you are, there’s going to be a lot of areas that don’t make sense for you to stay in.

For instance, when I was in Milan, I stayed near the train station and that was perfect for me because there were a lot of busses and trains (duh) to other destinations nearby. That was great because I wasn’t actually spending a lot of time in Milan and instead using it as my Northern Italy stomping grounds as I went to a bunch of different places. Rather than going to each town and staying for a day or two, I stayed at the same hotel in Milan and took the train to and from my destination every day.

But if you want to do a lot of shopping or you want to see more of the museums and historic sites in Milan itself, that isn’t where I would stay. The same principle applies for Paris. Every arrondissement feels like its own mini-city, so you have to make sure to plan carefully. They’re not cities where I would wing it and just book the cheapest accommodations because the amount you’ll spend on cabs and sunk time can end up being pretty significant in the end.

What is the best time of year to travel to Paris and Italy?

You’ll want to go in the off-season. In Paris, this is November through end of March. Seasonal attractions like Versailles tend to price hike on April 1st, so it’ll be more expensive to visit in the high season. I’ve been to Paris during high season and it is just packed wall to wall with tourists, so going in the off-season will also help you feel like you have more room to “breathe.” Especially in places like the Impressionist museum Musée D’Orsay,  even in off season people will be crammed in trying to look at works by Van Gogh.

The same can be said for Italy. I was there in May and June before the majority of tourists piled in when I went and still it felt very packed.

Milan or Paris: The Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the things to add to your Milano list!

Is Paris Worth It?

Yes—one of the easiest yeses of my life! As I mentioned, it’s my favorite city in the world because there’s so much to do for every type of traveler. I’ve been back so many times and yet, I’m still not through everything because there are so many things to see and do.

Overall, it’s a phenomenal place to visit, especially if you’re a couple or family with very divergent interests because you can cater to kids at Disneyland Paris, you can satisfy the art and architecture lover, you can let your fashionistas stroll along the Champs Elysées, and it’s a very accessible city).

If you are going to Paris, you need a minimum of five days (ideally 7 to 10). I’ve always managed to squeeze in 7-10 days when I’ve visited Paris and it still isn’t enough. There’s truly always more to see. So if you go for less than five days, I don’t think you’ll get the feeling that you really saw Paris. It’s not worth it if you’re going to go for less than that as a North American traveler. If you’re in the UK then yes, knock yourself out on a short weekend trip because it’s a lot easier to go back. It’s a hop and a skip away by train instead of a whole ocean away.

Milan or Paris: Which should you visit?

Is Milan Worth It?

This one really depends. If you want to “experience Italy” meaning the best of its culture, food, art, history, etc. then I would say no, you’re better served by going to Florence, Rome, or Venice. You’ll get a lot more out of those trips and they feel a lot more like the Italy that you see on television. Milan doesn’t quite have that same vibe and I think you’ll find yourself pretty disappointed by it.

But if you’re someone who enjoys fashion, modern art, and modern architecture, then yes, you’ll love Milan. Milan is a good blend between “old Italy” with its culture and history. It’s a more modern, progressive European hub. It’s got other demand drivers beyond tourism (which cannot be said for a lot of the other major Italian cities) so you’ll also find a more diverse mix of travelers. Especially if you travel in the off-season.

I think Milan is also worth it if you make it a goal to get out of Milan and use it as more of a travel stomping ground like I did. If you’re willing to take a 45 to 90 minute train ride out of the city, you’ll be seeing some of the best views of the European countryside. But you’ll also be in towns that feel completely different to Milan and seem to be out of a period piece.

It was always such a fun and stark contrast to spend the day somewhere where the majority of the population doesn’t speak English (even in museums and restaurants). Then go back to Milan, where you can at least expect hospitality and tourism workers to be able to talk to you in English. Not necessarily great English, but at the very least broken English that’s good enough for you to get a general vibe of what someone is saying.

Getting from Paris to Milan

Should I fly into Paris or Milan if I’m an American flying to Europe?

If you’re seeing both Paris and Milan on the same trip, I would fly into Milan and fly out of Paris. There are far fewer direct flights to the US from Milan as it’s not the main airport in Europe. That would be Fiumicino in Rome, which you’d probably have to connect to in order to go home. But it’s easy to get home from Paris to most major US and Canadian cities direct as it’s one of the major European destination hub airports.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m dead tired when I reach the end of my vacation. So I want the easiest path possible. It’s also close enough that if you don’t have a lot of time, you can visit the Eiffel Tower on your way to the airport, spend an hour or two, and head to your flight.

What’s the best way to travel from Paris to Milan?

The fastest way is by plane if you value speed. If you value scenery and ease of trip, then I’d say go by train. It takes a lot longer, but considering that at airports you have to clear security, wait around, the plane’s often delayed, etc. wait for your bags at the tarmac, etc. it’s not that big of a difference and experientially, the train is way nicer.

How long does the high-speed train take from Paris to Milan?

Around 6.5 hours from station to station.

How much is a train from Paris to Milan?

Travelling in Europe is incredibly cheap, so you can get from Paris to Milan for $50 per person.

Is the train ride from Paris to Milan scenic?

Yes, incredibly so. The French and Italian countryside are some of the best landscapes to pass by in Europe. So you’ll see a lot of quaint-looking farms, lots of animals, mountain ranges, etc. It’ll give you a completely different understanding of these places.

Traveling by train is also such an easy, stress-free journey. Passengers are less stressed, there’s good wifi (unless you’re in one of the tunnel sections but it’s only for a few minutes). And if you upgrade to one of the more expensive classes my goodness is the food good.

Milan vs. Paris shopping

Which is better for shopping, Paris or Milan?

It really depends on the brands you like. I would think carefully about the brands you’re hoping to shop. Answer that question based on whether there are more French or Italian brands on it. I tend to split evenly down the middle — I’m a YSL and Versace girlie, so I could shop in either and be totally content. But experientially, I think Paris is hard to beat because there’s nothing quite like the Champs Elysées.

Are luxury brands cheaper in Paris or Milan?

Overall, they’ll be pretty comparably priced because they’re neighboring countries. However, some French and Italian brands may be slightly cheaper in their country of origin. But with VAT discounts and other rebates, you should be well served with both.

Is Louis Vuitton cheaper in Milan?

Nope! It’s the same price and in the same currency.

Is Milan cheap for designer clothes?

Because there’s no import taxes, Italian designer (and European designer more broadly) goods will be less expensive. Where this starts to make a difference is in fine jewelry and bags. These can be quite a bit cheaper in Milan than in the US.

Milan or Paris: Which should you visit?

Both are iconic destinations with a lot of history and charm. I find Paris to be the warmer, more historically-entrenched city. So that would be my pick. But if you’re taking a quick trip, or you don’t mind taking a train ride to different locations, then you’ll be very happy in Milan. The information contained in this post will give you a guideline for choosing the best one for you. But really, they’re both incredible cities and either way you’ll have made the right choice and you won’t be disappointed.

Similar Posts