You’re new to the city and want to see all the best tourist attractions as you settle in to your daily life. Or you’ve already been in Milan for a few weeks but you need a little help navigating your new city. Or you’ve been here months but you want to take advantage of the many events happening around town. Or you’re practically a local but you have friends or family coming to visit, ready to see all the sights.
You could surf the web for all this info, sometimes running into roadblocks if you don’t speak Italian. And right here on MilanoZine, we have a quick guide to sightseeing in Milan, which we highly recommend!
But now there’s a one-stop solution to all these scenarios: VisitMilano. It’s the official tourism app that was recently released by the city of Milan.
The VisitMilano app is available for Android and iPhone – we reviewed the Android version. The main screen has several of the main features you can scroll through, with the @turismomilano Twitter feed at the bottom (with tweets in both English and Italian). You can access the menu (as seen in the screenshot) from the upper left-hand corner.
The app’s most important functions include:
- Events: Info on events in the city
- Attractions: Top tourist spots
- Itineraries: Several different topic-based itineraries
- Getting Around: Information on public transport and purchasing tickets
The other sections on the app’s main menu don’t seem to be very helpful: The “Favorites” section is simply a questionnaire, in Italian, about who you are; “Creative Milan” had just 5 design-related events and exhibits; “Chosen for you” only listed one random exhibit on my phone (even after I updated the info in the “Favorites” section); the “Milan for you” section allows you answer a questionnaire about the app and send pictures and information to Turismo Milano; and of course the Credits provides info on who developed the app.
Events and Attractions
These two sections are the backbone of the app, with lots of useful info for both tourists and longer-term residents. Events and attractions are available both as a list and on a handy map of the city, so you can get an idea of where they’re located. There are descriptions of each item, but, in our opinion, the English text could be improved upon. However, descriptions are good enough for users to understand and learn more about the city.
Both sections are divided into various categories based on your interests. Events can be searched by date and can also be saved to your phone’s calendar. Another cool feature is that some events and attractions are located outside the city, in case you’re interested in taking a day trip.
One area with room for improvement is there is no location-based list functions: that is, events and attractions can’t be listed based on your location, as is available in other apps (e.g. TripAdvisor and Swarm).
The app has a good selection of itineraries for various kinds of tourists. Whatever your interests, from fashion and design, to history and art to food and sports, there’s a cool itinerary for you. And, again, locations outside the city center are often included.
Getting Around Features
In the Getting Around section, you can purchase tickets for public transport, find out the best way to get from point A to point B (Trip planner), get info on bike sharing and parking. The “Public transport” section is supposed to give you info on the closest stop to a certain location, but it wasn’t working when I tried it (it kept pointing me to Piazza Fontana regardless of what address I inserted).
The purchase tickets functions seems to work. If you want to buy tickets, you’ll be charged using mobile phone credit (tickets can be scanned directly from your phone). Your phone can then be scanned as you go through the turnstiles to get on the subway.
Trip planner can be pretty helpful to someone who’s not familiar with the city. However, it’s not very user-friendly because it just shows you a map, with no written instructions on what tram or subway to take and which direction (as you can see in the screenshot). And it can be confusing because you need to use a specific address (i.e. Piazza del Duomo, Milan) instead of a landmark like “Duomo” when you search.
The Bike sharing function works well: you’ll see where the bike stands are located and how many bikes are available at each location. It will also show you how to get to a specific bike stand, if necessary.
If you’re worried about international roaming charges, no need for concern: this app is not a data hog (though we always suggest using local WiFi whenever possible when traveling abroad!). And on our Android phone, it only takes up about 34MB of memory.
Lots of info on events, attractions and several good itineraries for travelers. The bike sharing and purchasing tickets for public transport sections can be handy.
The English used in descriptions for events and attractions is not the best. Some functions, like the Trip Planner and Chosen for You sections, need improvement.
A good app for newcomers to Milan, but let’s hope for updates soon to fix the various problems we found!