By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in Milan?

Do you need a car in Milan > Should you rent a car in Milan Italy > Milan ( MXP ) Do you need a car in Milan? Is it worth hiring a car in Milan? Should you rent a car in Milan?

Milan Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Milan but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Milan during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 1424 - of which 232 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Milan, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Milan public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Milan


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Milan good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Milan because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Milan. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Milan, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Milan Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Milan", "is it worth hiring a car in Milan", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Milan?

Do you need a car in Milan?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Milan " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Milan?

Is it worth hiring a car in Milan?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Milan" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Milan?

Should you rent a car in Milan?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Milan, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Milan compares with other destinations in  Italy or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Milan?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Milan if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Milan for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Milan for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Milan if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Milan if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Milan if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Milan, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Milan if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Milan if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Milan if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Milan, or are there good reasons not to?

Do you need a car in Milan? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Milan?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Milan? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Milan as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Milan?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Milan?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Milan?
  • Europe’s Great Lakes District – especially Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, are all within an easy drive. If you rent a car in Milan (or at any one of the three airports), you have the flexibility to travel at your own pace, rather than being constrained by train timetables.
  • Great northern cities – when you rent a car in Milan, you have the flexibility to explore at your own pace, and northern Italy has many great cities within a short drive of each other. Milan is the natural base from which to explore Turin and Genoa to the west, or Venice and Verona to the east, together with numerous smaller towns and cities that aren’t so easy to explore by train.
  • Driving standards – as a general rule, standards of driving in Northern Italy are much more careful than their southern Italian counterparts, although as with anywhere, the usual precautions should still be taken, especially when driving in and out of airports.
  • Alps – Milan is a great gateway to the southern Alps, both in summer and winter, but train services to many Swiss resorts are much better when approaching from Zurich to the north. This is why a car might well make more sense.

Driving v transit

  • Public transport is disjointed. However good some train routes may be (see below), the rail system in and around Milan is still not well connected.
    Whereas Rome and most other major cities in Italy have one central terminus, Milan has several. Although Centrale is by far and away the biggest, especially for long distance services, the Malpensa Airport shuttle is split between here and Cadorna, and other regional services may also terminate at Garibaldi.
    Meanwhile, suburban trains in Milan are usually routed through the Passante rail tunnel, which avoids Centrale Station completely. To change between the two systems, you will need to take the Milan metro via Repubblica.
  • Slow speed Rail – High speed rail links direct from the Malpensa airport terminal look tempting – for example, services reach Florence is just over 2 1/2 hours. Except that this service only runs twice each day. So the chances are that you will have to change twice in Milan to reach other destinations. Also, if you fly into Terminal 1 with easyJet, you will also have to wait for a transfer shuttle to get to the Malpensa Airport railway station – this is the Italian plod!

Why not? Visiting Milan without a car

What is public transport like in Milan? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 4?

In and around Milan

  • Transport Hub – it might not quite be as efficient as those you will find just above in Switzerland, but public transport in northern Italy is still good by European standards, and the main focus is still on the hugely impressive Milan Centale station, on which Washington D.C.’s Union Station was modelled.
  • Orange Trams – maybe not quite as famous as those in San Francisco, Milan still has a network of famous orange trams, supplemented by one of Europe’s most extensive metro systems outside a capital city.
  • Milan city – of course, the city of Milan itself needs no introduction, and needless to say, there is no need to get a hire car for travelling around within the Milan area.

Other cities

  • Turin by train – why not hop on the fast train to Turin, and you can be there in just over an hour.
  • Other great Italian cities – various options are available, either for extended day trips (Florence is around 2 hours by high speed train), or for multi city touring, with Venice also being within easy reach. Or why not experience Italy’s two largest cities in the same trip – fly into Milan, take the train down to Florence, and then continue down to Rome?

Lakes & Mountains

  • Northern hub – in many respects, Milan is Italy’s most important city anyway, not least because it is a huge centre of fashion and of commerce in general. This is reflected in the high quality of public transport links in and around the city.
  • Lakes by train – many of the scenic areas mentioned above can be visited by train, or better still by a combination of train and ferry. Having a car with you can add greatly to the cost of any ferry journey. On the other hand, going by train can be a much more enjoyable way to appreciate the scenery, and to stroll around the many towns along the way.
  • Ticino – Milan sits right below the two trunk railway routes into Switzerland, and this is where you will find the Italian speaking canton of Ticino. The “Cento Valli” (A Hundred Valleys) route from Locarno is a personal favourite. These lines can easily be enjoyed in a day trip from Milan.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


What is our final score for Milan on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.


Conclusion – Should you rent a car in Milan? A car is great for visiting the scenic lakes to the north and east of Milan, but I think that it is even better to enjoy these by train and ferry. For many of the cities in northern Italy, a hire car can be as much of a hindrance as it is a help, especially as public transport in and around Milan is far superior to what you will find in Rome, or anywhere else in Italy for that matter,even if it is disjointed.

If you rent a car in Milan, it will give you some flexibility to access one or two places that are out of reach of the trains, but it may also be more trouble that it is worth in many more places. Public transport in and around Milan is far from perfect, but there is certainly plenty of it, whether you want to visit great cities, lakes or mountains.

Verdict – no

Would you hire a car in Milan?

Have you driven in Milan? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Milan}? Do you need a car in Milan? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *