View of the intricate exterior of Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Milan vs Florence

Milan vs Florence – Which is Best? (Honest Pros & Cons)

It’s the ultimate decision to make when traveling to Italy: Milan vs Florence? When you only have time for one of these iconic Italian cities, it can be difficult to choose which one to visit. After all, both Florence and Milan offer visitors an array of iconic sites, food, and activities. 

Yet, the things to do in Florence are dramatically different from those in Milan, Italy. In this article, I’ll break down the key features of each Italian city and help you figure out which one is more your speed. Let’s get into it!

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Which is Better: Milan or Florence? 

Exterior view of the Milan Cathedral in Italy
The Milan Cathedral

Milan is better for people who want a luxurious vacation in a busy, big city with lots of historic attractions, shopping, and nightlife. Meanwhile, Florence is ideal for travelers who prefer a romantic atmosphere with art museums, local wines, and delectable restaurants. 

Advantages of Milan

  • Great shopping opportunities for unique & luxury products
  • Major finance center of Italy 
  • Gorgeous historic attractions  
  • Many convenient day trip options such as Lake Como

Advantages of Florence

  • World famous museums
  • Renaissance art 
  • Historic buildings and architecture 
  • Big wine culture in the Tuscan region 
  • Small, walkable city 
View of the art pieces displayed inside the Uffizi Gallery of Florence
Art in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence

Milan is Best For

  • Shopping
  • Trying regional dishes 
  • History buffs 
  • Luxury travelers 
  • Day trips 
  • Flying from the USA 

Florence is Best For

  • Museum and art lovers  
  • Romantic getaways
  • Families 
  • Wine aficionados 
  • Getting to know local life in Italy

Florence vs Milan – Detailed Comparison 

View of the intricate ceiling seen from the hallway of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Looking down the hallway of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

There are many attractive reasons to visit both Florence and Milan, but you need to get down to the details when you can only pick one. This is the basic summary of the differences between Milan and Florence: 

Feature/CategoryMilanFlorence 🏆 Winner
Historic and cultural attractionsPiazza del Duomo , Duomo di Milano,Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro alla Scala, Sforzesco Castle, Monumental Cemetery, Santa Maria delle GrazieUNESCO World Heritage Site historic center and sites like Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella Tie
FoodLots of regional Milanese delicacies to try Many amazing, high-quality restaurants with affordable pricesTie
Cost & BudgetAverage cost is around $200 per day Average cost is around $150 per dayFlorence
Walkability It’s possible to see most things on foot, but its a larger city and might require taxisSmaller city and easy to see everything on footFlorence
SafetyThere are around 4,866 crimes for every 100,000 inhabitants in Milan. 
Milan has one of the highest theft rates in the whole country and pickpocketing is fairly common. 
There are around 4,277 crimes for every 100,000 inhabitants in Florence. 
It is also possible for crime to happen in Florence, but violent crime is extremely rare. 
Public Transportation Milan has a terrific subway and bus system that can get you anywhere you need to go in the city. There is public transportation in Florence, but it’s not very efficient. It’s way easier to get around the city on foot. Milan
Accommodations Both extreme luxury and nice affordable hotels are available A variety of mid-range hotels are available, but not many cheap or luxury stays Milan
Nearby Day TripsLake Como, Bologna, Parma, Camogli, Lake Garda, Turin, Genoa, Venice, Varese, Swiss Alps, Bergamo, etc. San Gimignano, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Chianti, Rome, Cinque Terre, Arezzo, Monteriggioni  etc.  Tie
ShoppingMany shopping opportunities from vintage markets to famous luxury mallsLots of leather products and art for sale, thrift stores, and outdoor markets Milan
NightlifeMore cocktail bars and a variety of nightclubsMore pubs and upscale bars than clubs Milan
Museums Several interesting museums like Pinacoteca di Brera,  Museo del Novecento, and the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and TechnologyWorld-class museums with famous pieces like the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery and smaller museums like Palatine Gallery and Museo Salvatore FerragamoFlorence
Flights From USADirect flights are available and slightly cheaper, 8-hr flight from NY. Milan Malpensa Airport is 1 hour from the city center. Must have a layover, 11 hr flight from NY.Amerigo Vespucci  Airport is 30 mins from the city center. Milan
Closeup view of the intricate details at the top of Duomo di Milano in Milan
The top of the Duomo di Milano in Milan

Which City Has The Best Attractions, Milan or Florence?

Both Florence and Milan are impressive Italian destinations for historical and cultural attractions. There is a long list of things to do in Milan or Florence when you visit. 

Most of the major Milan attractions are cheap or free to visit, and there is a big variation of the types of attractions. A Milan itinerary includes renowned sites like:

  • The Milan Duomo
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II
  • Sforzesco Castle
  • The Monumental Cemetery

Florence is the capital city of the Tuscan region. Its historic center has so much history that it is ranked a UNESCO site in and of itself. Inside the city, you’ll find places such as:

  • Palazzo Vecchio
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Santa Maria del Fiore. 

Since both cities offer such iconic attractions, Florence and Milan tie for the best attractions. 

🏆 Winner: Tie

Which City Has The Best Food, Florence or Milan?

Both Milan and Florence offer visitors delicious restaurants and incredible food to try.

In Milan, you can taste a bunch of regional culinary specialties. Dishes like risotto alla Milanese, minestrone Milanese, and Mondeghili give you a taste of the local culture at the same time. 

In Florence, there are a bunch of restaurants with mind-blowingly high-quality food for a very reasonable price. Plus, it’s in the Tuscan region, so there is always plenty of local wine to accompany dinner. 

Florence is better for foodies who want decadent dinners at charming restaurants every night. Milan is great for trying authentic food from northern Italy. Since Milan and Florence both offer something equally as tempting in the food department, it’s a tie for this category. 

🏆 Winner: Tie

Which City Is Cheaper, Milan or Florence?

Florence and Milan cost a similar amount of money to visit. 

In Milan, you can expect to spend around $200 per day including your accommodations, food, entertainment, and transportation. In Florence, you’ll spend around $150 per day on average. 

The prices in Milan and Florence can greatly fluctuate between seasons and during specific events as well. For example, during Milan’s fashion weeks in September and February, the prices in the fashion capital go through the roof. 

Alternatively, the busy summer months in Florence are wildly more expensive than staying in the city the rest of the year. 

Milan is known as a luxurious, indulgent city with prices to match and Florence is a little more laidback and affordable. While the prices in both cities fluctuate throughout the year, Florence is usually a bit cheaper than Milan. 

🏆 Winner: Florence

Which City Is More Walkable?

Milan is 70 square miles and Florence is approximately 39 square miles. Neither of them are very large cities and both can be extremely walkable.

You’ll likely need to grab taxis to reach all the places you want to go in Milan. It takes over an hour to walk to Milan Central Station from many places in the city. You can easily request cabs with apps like FreeNow in Milan.

Visitors to Florence can easily get around anywhere in the city center on foot. Walking from Piazzale Michelangelo all the way across the city to Porta al Prato would only take 40 minutes walking. 

Florence is about half the size of Milan, which makes it a lot easier to walk around to all the big attractions. Florence wins the walkability category. 

🏆 Winner: Florence

Which City Is Safer?

Rest assured, you’ll be safe traveling in Milan or Florence. However, like anywhere else in the world, crime can happen in either Italian city. 

Milan has a crime rate of 4,866 crimes for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is one of the highest crime rates in the country. The main crime in Milan is theft and pickpocketing because it’s such a major tourist hotspot and a fairly large metropolitan city. 

In Florence, there are around 4,277 crimes for every 100,000 inhabitants, a slightly lower crime rate than in Milan. Theft and pickpocketing can also happen in Florence, but it’s a little less common. Violent crime is very rare in Florence. 

With the proper precautions and awareness, Milan or Florence can be safe to visit. Florence is a little bit safer because it’s a smaller area with slightly lower rates of crime. 

👉 Pro Tip: In either city, you should protect yourself with comprehensive travel insurance just in case. My go-to is World Nomads because it helps me feel way more at ease to know I’m covered.

🏆 Winner: Florence

Which City Has Better Public Transportation?

Florence is a much more compact city than Milan and has a slightly different public transportation system. 

Milan has a very comprehensive transportation system that will get you anywhere you need to go in the city and beyond. The metro system in Milan is affordable and very far-reaching. There are buses, trams, and plenty of taxis. 

Since it’s easier to walk around in Florence, there is no metro available but you can find plenty of buses and a tram system in the city. Walking is the best transportation, though. 

It’s still very easy to get around Florence, but Milan definitely has better public transportation between the two cities. 

🏆 Winner: Milan

Which City Has Better Accommodations?

There are a variety of comfortable accommodation options at a range of prices in both Milan and Florence.

Milan is made to treat yourself and the luxury places to stay in Milan definitely help maintain that indulgent reputation. There are tons of luxury hotels to choose from in Milan, such as Milano Verticale. There are a variety of very nice Milan hotels for budget travelers as well, like 43 Station Hotel

Florence offers visitors hotels that can accommodate mid-range budgets, but there are limited very cheap or very luxurious hotels that are as upscale as Milan. 

While there are lots of hotel options in both Florence and Milan, Florence is a way smaller city. Therefore, there are simply fewer choices for accommodations. Plus, Milan’s luxury hotels are epic. 

🏆 Winner: Milan

Which City Has Better Nearby Day Trips?

There are so many interesting, easily accessible day trips from both Milan and Florence. Italy has fantastic public transportation at affordable costs and there are tons of places to venture off to.  

You can reach magical places in less than a couple hours on the train from Milan, such as:

  • Lake Como
  • Parma
  • Bologna
  • Venice
  • Swiss Alps (reachable by car)

Florence is located in the Tuscan region of Italy. There are a lot of day trips to help you discover the area and its wine, such as:

  • San Gimignano
  • Pisa
  • Siena
  • Arezzo
  • Rome
  • Cinque Terre

Since there is a range of amazing day trips from both of these popular cities, Florence and Milan tie in the day trips category. 

🏆 Winner: Tie

Which City Has Better Shopping?

Milan might seem like it has better shopping than Florence off the bat, but these cities both have something to offer in this department. 

Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and is well-known for its luxury shopping scene. After all, one of the most popular attractions to visit in Milan is its luxury mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. 

You can find any luxury brand for sale in Milan. There are also tons of adorable, one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques and even extensive flea markets. 

While Florence doesn’t have a big luxury shopping scene, you’ll find a variety of handmade leather goods at outdoor markets throughout the city. There are also cute thrift stores around. 

While there is fun shopping in Florence, Milan definitely has a better shopping scene overall. Milan probably has some of the best clothing shopping in all of Italy. 

🏆 Winner: Milan

Which City Has The Best Nightlife?

There are opportunities to party all night long in Florence and Milan, but these cities’ nightlife scenes are very different. 

Milan is a big, stylish city with a variety of nightlife options to explore. There are a range of fantastic nightclubs in Milan, such as Alcatraz. Milan also has lovely cocktail bars including Wave Cocktail Bar, Nottingham Forest, and Rita. 

There is a big pub culture in Florence, such as the Joshua Tree Pub and Public House 27. There are also a couple of upscale cocktail and rooftop bars, such as SE·STO on Arno Rooftop Bar. However, there are fewer good nightclubs around this Italian city.  

People who prefer a less hectic or lavish bar experience may prefer the nightlife in Florence. However, Milan still has the best nightlife between the two because it’s a bigger city with a more diverse array of nightlife options to explore. 

🏆 Winner: Milan

Which City Has Better Museums?

There are impressive museums in both Milan and Florence. Yet, the answer to which city has the best museums is fairly obvious – it’s Florence. 

There are a handful of intriguing museums to see if you’re visiting Milan. Check out the Museo del Novecento, Pinacoteca di Brera, and the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology. However, museums aren’t the main to do and see in Milan. 

Florence is recognized for its world-renowned art museums, housing some of the most famous artwork on the planet. For example, you can view Michelangelo’s David statue at the Accademia Gallery, and there are hundreds of thousands of pieces at the Uffizi Gallery. Plus there are lots of lesser-known museums in Florence, like the Palatine Gallery.

Part of the whole experience of visiting Florence is wandering through its prestigious museums and famous art galleries. It’s clear to see that Florence wins on the museum’s front by a landslide. 

🏆 Winner: Florence 

Which City Is Easier To Fly Into From the USA?

Milan and Florence both have international airports – Milan Malpensa Airport and Amerigo Vespucci Airport, respectively. You can fly into either of these Italian airports from the USA, but the journeys aren’t created equal. 

To get to Milan, direct flights from New York to Milan Malpensa Airport take around 8 hours. Milan Malpensa Airport is located about an hour away from the city center of Milan. It costs around $100/95€ for a taxi into the city center, but it’s way easier to just take the train into Milan for around $13/12.

To get to Florence, flights from New York to Amerigo Vespucci Airport take around 11 hours and require at least one layover stop. Amerigo Vespucci Airport is located about 30 minutes away from the city center of Florence. It costs around $27/25€ to get a taxi into the city center or you can take the tram for around $1.65/1.50€ and it runs every 5 to 10 minutes. 

Milan is easier to fly into from the USA than Florence. There are direct flights available that only take 8 hours and it’s very simple to reach the city center on the train. The flights from the USA to Milan are usually cheaper as well. 

🏆 Winner: Milan

Final Verdict – Florence vs Milan

View of the people looking at the artworks inside the museum in Italy

Milan and Florence are both equally fantastic cities in Italy that each bring their own flare to the table, but they’re quite different. 

Florence is a beautiful city that’s better suited for travelers who like museums, authentic eateries, and a quieter, romantic atmosphere. Milan in north Italy is better for visitors who enjoy a big city vibe with top-notch nightlife, luxury shopping, and gorgeous architecture. 

FAQs About Milan vs Florence

Is Milan or Florence nicer?

Florence and Milan are both very nice cities in Italy, but you will likely prefer one of them depending on your travel preferences. Milan is nicer for people who like the convenience and energy of a big city. Florence will likely feel nicer for people who want a more cultural and calmer experience. 

Should I shop in Milan or Florence?

As the fashion capital of Italy, Milan is better for luxury and clothing shopping. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Milan is its luxury mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Florence has a big leather goods market and you’ll find lots of quirky outdoor markets. Florence is also better for thrift and vintage shopping. 

Is Milan worth a day trip from Florence?

Milan is worth a day trip from Florence for its architectural beauty and shopping. Milan easily fits into a limited Florence itinerary, too. You can see a lot of Milan in just a day and the public transportation is great. It takes a little under two hours to reach Milan from Florence on the train and it costs $35-$60. 

Is Milan or Florence cheaper?

While both cities cost a similar amount of money, Florence is a little bit cheaper than Milan. It costs an average of $200 per day with hotels to visit Milan, while it costs approximately $150 per day to visit Florence. However, the prices in both of these cities fluctuate depending on the season. 

Is Milan or Florence better for a family vacation?

Florence is better than Milan for a family vacation. Florence is a little bit smaller, calmer, and easier to navigate than Milan, which is busy and has a big nightlife scene. There are kid-friendly museums and historic attractions to visit in Florence, like Ponte Vecchio and the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum. There is also a slightly lower crime rate in Florence. 


You now have the answer to the big Milan vs Florence question. Final answer: are you going to visit Milan or Florence? Whichever city you choose, don’t forget to read my guide to solo travel in Italy before your trip.  

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