As a global fashion Mecca and the most cosmopolitan of all Italy's cities, Milan has an energetic, creative buzz and an appetite for aperitivos that's second to none. When it's your turn to visit this compelling, this fast-paced city, getting a cheap car rental from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) will maximize your fun.
Milan Malpensa Airport Car Rental Agencies
With 11 car rental firms offering great rental car deals at Milan Malpensa Airport, you won't have any trouble finding a two-seat economy car, practical multi-passenger van, stare-worthy sports car or ultra-luxury transportation that's perfect for your stay in the Milan area:
- Auto Europa
- Avis Autonolegio
- Maggiore National
Unless you're flying EasyJet, your plane will land at Terminal 1, where all the rental car desks are located in the 1st-floor Arrivals Hall. EasyJet flies into Terminal 2, where shuttle buses depart for Terminal 1 about every 7 minutes between 5:46 a. m. and 11:34 p.m. and every 30 Minutes between 11:07 p.m. and 5:37 a.m.
Getting Your Bearings
Before heading out, take the time to familiarize yourself with your discount car rental from Milan Malpensa Airport. Being comfortable with its features means a much less stressful encounter with Italy's often hectic traffic.
The airport sits about 31 miles and 50 minutes northwest of Milan. Getting there will give you your first taste of driving on A8, one of Italy's high-speed toll roads:
- From your Terminal 1 rental car lot, turn left, or north, on Aeroporto Malpensa 2000.
- Follow the signs to the Milano-Varese ramp and then merge onto SS336.
- Stay on this 3-lane, divided highway for just under 9 miles, to Exit A8/E62 for Milano.
Continue on A8 -- the 4-lane, partial- toll motorway -- about 15 miles into the city, where it becomes Autostrada dei Laghi.
If your final destination lies to Milan's west or east, you need the A4. To reach it, leave the airport just as if you were driving to the city. To travel west, follow SS336 1.4 miles south to exit Mesero Sud, and pick up A4 going toward Turin. To reach Trieste and points east, take SS336 to A8 and continue to the Venezia/Milano exit. Keep to the left .4 miles and merge onto A4.
Italy's Toll Roads
Like the A4 and A8, all Italian roads designated Autostrada are toll roads. You're required to take a ticket before entering one and to pay your toll before exiting. As a visitor, you should stick to the exit lanes with the white signs for cash or blue signs for debit, credit and pre-paid Viacards. The ones with the yellow Telepass signs are reserved for drivers with the Telepass device.
Returning Your Rental Car
The discount car rental firms at Milan Malpensa Airport typically require you to return your vehicle with a full tank of gas. When you're heading back to the airport on SS336:
- Continue on SS336 to the Somma Lombardo/Casa Nuove exit.
- Go right onto the exit and then veer left.
- Look for the Shell station on your left, about 6/10 mile past the exit.
- After filling up, turn left out of the gas station and follow the Via per Tornavento about 1.2 miles to the parking signs. Turn right.
- Take the overpass and turn right again. Watch for signs directing you to the airport.
Driving in Milan
Navigating Milan in your rental car has other challenges besides dealing with sometimes frenzied drivers. First, there's the city's congestion charge, established in 2012 to lessen its chronic traffic jams.
Between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Friday, and between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, you have to pay to drive in Milan's video-monitored city center. Known as Area C, it's restricted to drivers with a $5.60 entrance ticket. Not having one results in a congestion charge from $2.25 to $11.20 per day. Buy your ticket at newsstand, parking meter, Milan Transit Authority or the Area C website and activate it via SMS
Milan, however still ranks as the world's 10th most traffic-congested city. If you can, avoid driving in the city during the 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. rush hours.
Finding a Parking Space
As a visitor unfamiliar with Milan's expensive and complicated curbside parking system, your best bet is to leave your vehicle in one of the nearly 20 downtown parking garages. Those closest to the city's central Duomo district include Garages Diaz, Augusto, Velasca and Rinascente. If you're passionate about art, the Castello district's Garage Meravigli is just an 8-minute walk from the Castello Sforzesco and Michelangelo's Ronadini Pieta.
Garage fees are as follows:
- 1 hour: $5.60
- 2 hours: $11.20
- 3 hours: $15.68
- 4 hours: $20.16
- For 6 or more hours, add $3.36 per hour.
Como -- also known as the gateway to Lake Como and the Italian Alps -- is a magical mix of ancient churches, medieval cobblestone streets and the spectacular lakeside villas of the rich and famous. To reach Como in your rental car from Malpensa Airport, follow the A9 to the A36 exit, then continue into the town. It's a 45-minute, 30-mile toll road journey all the way. Street parking is widely available.
One stroll along the lakefront promenade in Stresa is enough to make you fall in love with this small, charming town on Lake Maggiore. Follow it up with a glass of wine at the Hotel la Palma's rooftop Sky Bar, where 36-degree views of the Lake and Alps make the experience even more intoxicating. Street and lot parking are available; blue-lined spaces require a parking fee while white-lined ones are free.
To reach Stresa, stay right when leaving the airport and follow the signs to the A8 and Milan/Varese. Stay right again, and follow the Varese/Gravellona sign. Keep going on A26 and exit at the Gravellona/Arona sign. Continue on A26 to the Carpugnino exit. After the first big curve in the road, Stresa and Lake Maggiore appear on your right. The 27-mile drive takes about 45 minutes, with stops at three toll plazas.
Tucked at the foot of the Campo dei Fiore hills between Lake Como and Lake Maggiore lies Varese, a 27-minute and 20-mile drive from Malpensa Airport. Use it as a jumping off point to explore both Como and Stresa, or simply spend your time enjoying its charms. Varese is small enough to leave your car at the hotel and explore on foot; don't-miss attractions include the Castello di Masnago e Parco Mantegazza's art museum and the gardens at the Palazzo e Giardini Estensi.
To reach Varese, Follow the SS336 east from the Airport to A8 going north. At Azzate, exit onto SS707 and continue to Via Carlo Giuseppe Veratti in Varese.