Hiring a car for the duration of your holiday is a wonderful way to give yourself that little bit more freedom and flexibility during your break – after all, that’s really what getaways are all about. But driving overseas can be a somewhat daunting prospect if you have never done it before.
Don’t worry, though, as it’s not as scary as it sounds. To show you what we mean, we’ve put together a short guide to driving when holidaying in or near one of Italy’s most exciting and fashionable cities – Milan.
Hiring a car in Milan
Before we talk to you in more detail about the ins and outs of driving in Milan, we’ll go back to the beginning and take a look at the most fundamental step – hiring a car.
To hire a car in Italy, you need to be at least 18 years old, and to have held your licence for at least a year. To make life nice and simple, it is best to arrange to hire your car from the local airport so you can benefit from having your own wheels as soon as your plane lands.
The nearest airport to the city is the City of Milan Airport, which is also known as Milan Malpensa Airport, and it’s around 25 miles outside of the city centre. So, straight away you should be able to see the benefit of hiring a car. You can hire your wheels through companies like Auto Europe, and then hit foreign roads for the first time!
Getting to the city centre should take around 40 minutes by the A8 – a straightforward route that’ll ease you into Italian driving.
Overall tips for driving in Italy
So, just what can you expect from driving in Italy? Well, Italian drivers do have a reputation for fast, slightly aggressive driving, and there is more than a kernel of truth in this. But, that is just the country’s driving style, and you’ll find their quick reactions make them adept at manning the wheel in this way.
Of course, it can be daunting to follow suit. The best thing to remember is to be decisive – always. Italians won’t be used to dithering on the road, so that’s more likely to cause problems than anything else.
As with more European countries, you drive on the right. Parking can only be done on the right-hand side of the street, while you should expect petrol stations to close for long lunches and on Sundays.
Driving in Milan
No matter what country you’re in, driving in a city can pose challenges, and that’s true of Milan. The first thing to be mindful of is that you’ll face a congestion charge if you drive into the old, walled part of the city, so unless your accommodation lies within those walls, it’s best to avoid driving in here.
In terms of getting between attractions, if your accommodation is outside the city, consider using the park and ride service instead of the car; this means you can avoid trying to park in the city centre.
Parking within the city centre isn’t impossible, but as in any major city, it can be tricky. Your best bet is to research all the car parks near your chosen attractions (so you are aware of the alternatives if you chosen car park is full) and bring plenty of change to pay for them. Another useful thing to remember is that urban traffic in Italy tends to be much calmer in the early afternoon, and parking is generally easier at this time of day too, so if you want to ease yourself into driving in Milan, this could be a good time for your first outing.