The northern Italian city of Milan is one of the most stylish destinations for a city break. Every year, nearly 7 million people visit the city.
Milan is most famous for its role as one of the world’s fashion capitals — it hosts an annual fashion week attended by models and designers from around the world.
Busy, modern Milan is definitely one of the most stylish cities in the world, with top-notch boutiques, vintage shops, and a thumping modern culture and business scene.
The city also has its fair share of historical landmarks, especially the iconic wedding cake-like Duomo, and cultural landmarks, such as the world-famous La Scala opera house. Milan is a must-visit city, especially if you are into fashion and culture.
However, it is still a big city, and you may run into the same problems you would encounter in any city around the world. Remember that Milan is not just a tourist destination, but a real city where Italian people live.
So, is the city safe to visit, or should you postpone your trip? This guide can help you answer the question. Keep reading to learn more about common safety concerns, how to stay safe, and more in our complete guide. Let’s dive in!
Is Milan Safe to Visit in 2024?
Yes. Milan is definitely safe to visit, otherwise, millions of people wouldn’t visit it each year! However, it does have a problem with crime, like many cities around the world.
The elevated crime rate primarily affects locals, not visitors, but it’s still a good idea to take precautions while you’re in town.
Since Milan is Italy’s second-biggest city with about 1.4 million inhabitants, a lot of the problems that the whole country deals with are present in Milan as well. That’s why a good place to start researching the safety of visiting Milan is travel advisories for Italy.
Most countries advise some caution when visiting Italy. The United States places Italy under a Level Two travel advisory, advising its citizens to exercise increased caution while in Italy.
Most other countries such as the Canadian government place Italy under a Level One travel advisory, but still list potential risks you may run into at the country’s biggest cities and tourist destinations.
Problems that affect Milan and Italy as a whole include:
- Petty theft
- Civil unrest
Protests and strikes happen frequently in Italy. Since Milan is the country’s second-largest city, it makes sense that demonstrations often happen in its streets.
For example, in March 2023, protesters filled the streets against the national government’s crackdown on LGBT rights, overturning progressive measures by the local government in Milan.
Most protests in Milan tend to be peaceful, but it’s still a good idea to avoid large political gatherings, especially if you don’t know the local context enough to know what you might accidentally wind up supporting.
Protests and strikes can be disruptive, blocking central streets and shutting down public transportation. If there is a demonstration announced, make sure it doesn’t affect your travel plans.
Another risk that travel advisories mention for Italy is terrorism. Terrorism is actually the main reason that the United States cites in its travel advisory as justification for placing the country under a Level Two advisory.
As Milan is Italy’s second-biggest city and the center of the country’s banking industry, authorities consider it a likely target for terrorist attacks on Italy.
In 2017, a terrorist stabbed soldiers in Milan’s Centrale train station, but was quickly arrested.
There have been acts of mass violence in Milan more recently, such as the deadly stabbing in a supermarket in October 2022, although the authorities haven’t been able to prove terrorist links.
Although the risk of terrorism is real and present, it isn’t very high in Milan since there haven’t been many recent attacks. You can take some precautions, such as staying alert in crowded places, but you shouldn’t let the fear ruin your trip or even worse, deter you from visiting Milan.
Crime in Milan
When you’re traveling to Milan, crime is definitely the biggest concern that might affect your safety. The city has an elevated crime rate. Even though crime mostly affects locals, not visitors, it is still a source of concern.
In fact, it has the highest crime rate in all of Italy. According to regional breakdowns of the Italian crime rate, Milan comes in at #1. The city has a crime rate of 4,866.3 incidents per 100,000 people.
However, local authorities caution that this doesn’t necessarily mean Milan is the most dangerous place in Italy, just that people are more likely to report crimes here than elsewhere.
More worryingly, crime is increasing. In 2022, mugging reports increased by 18%, and robberies increased by 24% compared to the previous year.
It is true that 2022 saw a worldwide increase in crime due to the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, and this fact probably has a lot to do with Milan’s increase in crimes as well.
It’s also good to remember that although crime increased in 2022 compared to 2021, overall crime has been decreasing over the past several years. Most of the crimes committed are non-violent in nature.
In 2021, there were a whopping 95,300 thefts reported in the city. The luxury travelers that come to shop as well as local fashion doyennes that wear high-end watches and bags are a favorite target.
The other good news is that Milan actually has a fairly low violent crime rate. In terms of homicides, it ranks #37th in Italy, and #39th for attempted homicides. The homicide rate is just 0.6 incidents per 100,000 people.
The most common violent crime is robbery, at a rate of 103.4 incidents per 100,000 people. For some crimes, Milan actually ranks below the Italian national average.
This includes the most dangerous forms of crime, such as homicide, attempted homicide, residential burglary, and mafia-related crimes. Milan certainly has its problems with crime, as you can tell from the elevated crime rate.
However, its rate of violent crime is actually fairly low, and most of the crimes committed in the city are property crimes (it has a much lower rate of violent crime than many U.S. cities, for comparison).
The most common form of crime in Milan is theft, with nearly 100,000 incidents reported annually. Theft is a broad category that encompasses many different crimes, from shoplifting to theft of unattended items.
Street theft is the one that is most likely to affect you as a visitor to Milan. It occurs in many different forms, including theft of unattended items, pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft through deception (scams).
In fact, the Canadian government warns its citizens about the risk of theft at popular tourist attractions in Italy in its travel advisory for the country.
In Milan, pay particular care to your possessions at popular tourist attractions such as the Duomo or Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. There are lots of pickpockets around the Milano Centrale train station and on public transportation, especially the metro lines when they are most crowded.
Pickpockets also target transportation to and from the airport because they know tourists will be hindered by their luggage and stressed out.
Another place where you need to be careful is when dining out. Dining al fresco is the thing to do in Italy, but thieves often target people sitting at outdoor terraces in restaurants and cafes because they tend to let their guard down.
Never let your bag hang off the back of your chair or put valuables such as your phone on the table. Put all items in your bag or pocket and hold your bag on your lap.
Beware of common distraction tactics because thieves tend to work in groups. One person will cause a distraction at the train doors or on an escalator, blocking the crowd, while others relieve tourists of their valuables.
Also be careful of strangers approaching you, whether to ask for money or to offer you help. Be polite but aware.
Basic precautions can usually deter Milan’s thieves. Don’t put valuables where a thief can easily get them, such as a back pocket. Always make sure you hold on tight to your bags, and that your bag is fully zipped.
Although Milan’s violent crime rate is mostly below the Italian national average, the exception is robbery. Robbery rates in the city are fairly high, and it’s good to take precautions to protect yourself.
Robberies can occur anywhere, even in the center of town. Although they increase at night, they happen during the day as well.
There has been a string of robbers targeting people wearing Rolexes and other luxury watches, high-end jewelry, and designer bags. Milan’s status as a luxury fashion capital is known not just to fashionistas, but to criminals as well.
If you decide to purchase or wear luxury goods while in the city, make sure you stick to well-lit areas with lots of other people around at night and avoid public transportation.
If you do get robbed, hand over your valuables and focus on getting away. Robbers and muggers are often armed and they have assaulted victims for resisting before.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Milan has areas in the city that have higher crime rates and tourists should avoid, especially at night. Some dangerous neighborhoods include:
- Quarto Oggiaro
- Via Padova
- Corvetto-Corso Lodi
Most of these neighborhoods are out of the center, but there are dangerous parts of the center as well. There has been an uptick in robberies in the central Navigli district, a popular stylish nightlife area.
Be careful around Stazione Centrale, especially at night. The area around the central train station is sketchy and robbers often lurk because they know there are plenty of tourists around the area.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other tips that may help your trip to Milan go smoothly:
- Prepare change ahead of time when buying Metro tickets. Pickpockets often target people at the ticket machines in the Milan metro. You don’t want to have your whole wallet out and fumbling to put it back in your bag, so prepare some change in another pocket.
- Choose your accommodation carefully. Make sure that your hotel has good security as some travelers have had their luggage robbed in their hotels before. Even a great hotel can’t fully control what happens in public parts of the hotel such as the lobby, so don’t leave your valuables unattended.
- Leave your valuables in your hotel room safe. Only take what you need for the day with you when you go outside. If you don’t have it with you, then it can’t get stolen.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car. Theft from vehicles is a fairly common crime. Milan has great public transportation, so you don’t have to rent a car in the city anyway.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions people have asked about Milan:
Is it safe to walk in Milan at night?
As in any other city, Milan is more dangerous at night than during the day. However, as long as you stick to safer areas such as the area around the Duomo you can walk around safely after dark.
Is Milan safe for female travelers?
Milan is generally safe for female travelers, but as anywhere, women are exposed to additional risks that male travelers don’t have to worry about. Make sure that you aren’t walking in deserted areas alone at night and that you never tell anyone where you are staying.
Is Milan or Rome safer?
Milan has a higher crime rate than Rome, even though most of the crimes are incidents of petty theft. Rome is a bit safer than Milan.
Is Milan an expensive city?
Yes, Milan is an expensive city to visit. Keep in mind that this is a capital of global fashion and business, and that reputation comes with a price.
What should I be careful of in Milan?
In Milan, be careful of pickpockets as they are frequent. Be careful of areas that are a bit sketchier, such as the area around Milano Centrale.
So, Is Milan Safe to Visit?
Milan has a bit of an elevated crime rate, but you can avoid most bad incidents with basic precautions. Just keep a close eye on your valuables and you should be safe in the city.
So, with so much to see and do, and an overall safe environment in the city, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Milan today and experience for yourself all that this fabled city has to offer. Happy travels!