Great Runs in Milan

Milano is the capital of the Lombardy region in Italy. The population of the city proper is 1.3 million, while its urban area (that stretches beyond the boundaries of its metropolitan province) has population estimated to be about 5.5 million. Milan is the main industrial and financial centre of Italy and one of global significance.

Milan is not a great running city — traffic, poor air, some cobblestoned streets, and lots of industrial areas. But there are some great parks near the center that make for some great runs. Our ‘tourist run’ features a nice jaunt around the scenic buildings, bustling plazas and beautiful churches. There are also numerous parks that offer an escape from the busy streets as well as paths along the canals that offer an uniquely Italian running experience. The Duomo is a good place to start for many of Milan’s runs. One treat is Runbase, located in Sempione Park, which offers showers and lockers near some of Milan’s best central running routes. We should point out that the air quality can be a particular issue in Milan because of fine particulate pollution.

Milan has a humid subtropical climate, or a temperate climate. Milan’s climate is similar to much of Northern Italy’s inland plains, with hot, sultry summers and cold, foggy winters. However, the mean number of days with precipitation per year is one of the lowest in Europe. Winter has daily average temperatures falling below freezing 32 °F (0 °C) and some accumulations of snow. Air pollution levels rise significantly in wintertime when cold air clings to the soil. Summer is marked with high humidity levels, clear skies and an average of more than 13 hours of daylight. Average summer high temperatures are in the high 80s (29C) and can peak above 95 °F (35 °C). Spring and autumn are generally pleasant, with higher rainfall and temperatures ranging between 50 and 68 °F (10 and 20 °C)

Milan has excellent public transportation. The Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) operates within the metropolitan area, managing a public transport network consisting of an underground rapid transit network and tram, trolley-bus and bus lines. Milan Metro, consisting of four lines is one of the largest in Europe. The recently opened M5 line is undergoing further expansion and the construction of the M4 line has been approved. Further, Milan has a suburban railway service comprised of 10 lines that connects the metropolitan area with the city centre through the Milan Passerby underground railway. There is also an extensive tram system (along tracks) and an extensive buses. ATM also manages bike sharing and car sharing systems.

The Iconic Routes

  1. Milano’s old town (the Centro Storico)
  2. Sempione Park
  3. Monte Stella
  4. Naviglio Martesana
  5. Naviglio Grande
  6. Idroscalo
  7. Boscoincittà
  8. Parco Forlanini
  9. Parco Lambro

The Routes

Milano’s old town (the Centro Storico)

3.5 mile loop Start: Piazza del Duomo MAP

A great opportunity to get some exercise while seeing Milan’s many sights, and its oldest and most significant park. Starting in front of Duomo, you’ll be stunned by pink-and-grey marble in this cathedral that dates back 1500 years. Continue by heading straight through the impressive arched opening into the Vittorio Emanuele II shopping gallery (named after an earlier Italian king). As you keep running, you will pass la Scala opera house, wind through the fashion district and some scenic alleyways, until you get to the Indro Montanelli Gardens in the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) — Milan’s historic park. Here, you will run around the Planetarium, the Museum of Natural History and through the places that a few decades ago were occupied by a zoo. The final sight along this route is the Sforza Castle (Castle of Milan). Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan it is located on the South side of Sempione Park. Wander back along some pedestrian streets to the Duomo. Sempione Park (below) can be a nice add-on.

Sempione Park

2.5 mile loop Start: Arco Della Pace Light Rail Station MAP

This park is one of the largest in the city. It’s possible to do 2–3 miles in the park, around the perimeter and park trails. Our 2.5 mile route lined with amazing monuments, it is a perfect blend of natural beauty and tourist sites. Beginning from Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), you’ll run past some of the most important Milanese historic buildings including the Civic Aquarium, the Civic Arena and the Castle of Milan (Sforza Castle), with its museums, and the Palazzo dell’Arte (“Palace of Art”). The park is very safe so it is the choice route if you have to run alone. For a good add-on, run the 1 mile along tree-line Corso Sempione to the traffic circle. Another good add-on is to run in the Brera neighborhood, just to the east of the park. Rather than a proscribed run, enjoy some of the smaller streets and lanes.

Notes: One neat option to know about is Runbase, at corso Sempione 10, run by Adidas, which offers free lockers, showers and the chance to try on the latest models of Adidas shoes. Also, Check before you go, the park hours vary depending on the seasons.

Monte Stella

1.7 mile loop Start: QT8 M1 Bus Station. MAP

Monte Stella is better known as the “little mountain of San Siro”. With its height of 164 feet and almost 500 feet of elevation gain it is the right place for those who want to spice up their running with some hills. It is located in the QT8 district in north-west of Milan, about 8km from the center and an easy train ride on the NM1. It is an artificial mountain, built with the rubble of buildings bombed during the Second World War. At its feet there’s the XXV April Field, a historic sports venue where great champions of athletics and triathlon still train themselves. To get a full workout, complete multiple loops.

Naviglio Martesana

23.6 milse one-way Start: Via Melchiorre Gioia MAP

This is a pedestrian path running for almost 24 miles along the Naviglio Maresana (river), connecting Milan with the Adda river). This path is well known among local runners, especially those training for a marathon, as it offers runners an uninterrupted off-road path surrounded by greenery. that There are ancient villas and other unexpected beauties long the route. One can certainly do any portion of the 24 miles, especially since the path starts in central Milan. The path is especially pretty in spring, with lots of blooming flowers and plants. Note that the Naviglio Martesana runs parallel to the M2 line, which makes it easy to run one way and hop the train back.

Naviglio Grande

4.9 mile loop Start: Missori Subway Stop MAP

This is another opportunity for combining a waterside run with some city sites. Begin near the centrally located Missori Subway Stop, where you can compare the 17th-century Baroque architecture of the Palazzo Annoni to the modern Italian architecture of the Velasca Tower. Head South along Via Chiaravalle, where you’ll see Ca Granda, the ancient university building used as a hospital for the poor in the middle ages. Turn to run along the amazingly detailed facade then head towards Parco delle Basiliche (basilica park). As the route continues, run through the Piazza 24 Maggio with its giant grey gateway and arrive at the Naviglio Grande canal. This canal is more than 700 years old, connecting Milan with the Ticino river. Run along the canal until you can cross over the pedestrian bridge towards San Cristoforo sul Naviglio church then head North back towards the start. After you pass back through the Piazza 24 Maggio, you’ll come to the old Porta Ticinese, where the medieval city walls once encircled the south end of the city. The route along the water is there and back but the first and last sections form a small loop.

Idroscalo

3.7 mile loop MAP

Idroscalo, known as the “sea of Milan”, is one of the most beautiful places for a run near Milan. This artificial lake, opened in 1930 during the height of seaplanes, is about 10km east of central Milan, and near the airport. The 3.7 mile loop is easy to follow so you can enjoy your lush green surroundings while you exercise. While jogging, watch the canoes moving onto the water and get away from the craziness of the city. For a longer run, combine with the trails in Parco Forlanini, about 1km to the west.

Parco Forlanini

3.4 mile loop Start: Centro Sportivo Saini MAP

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Forlanini Park is another pleasant park not far from Linate Airport and worth a quick run before boarding a plane. The park, opened in 1970, is crossed by the Lambro River and consists of tree-lined avenues. Inside the park, there are two noteworthy farmsteads of historical interest, the Pond Salesina, a good habitat for fish and birds, and a forest of beech trees dedicated to the victims of the Linate air disaster of 2001. It’s possible to put together about 3.5 miles of running on all the trails in the park. For a longer run, combine with the 3.7 mile loop in the Idroscalo, about 1km to the east.

Boscoincittà

5.9 mile loop. Start: Bonola Metro Stop MAP

For the ultimate escape from the busy city, you must visit Boscoincitta (Woods in the City), which is located nearly 10km west of the city center. Created as part of Milan’s green initiative over 30 years ago, this park grants Milan’s residents agriculture, animals, and wide-open spaces right in their back yard. You could spend hours running the paths surrounding the city-manned vegetable gardens and lakes. Adjacent to Boscoincitta is Parco Trenno. Also known as Aldo ANIASA Park, it is famous for its vast meadows and its long boulevards. It’s a great spot for a flat run. The best part is that these parks are easily accessible from the city. The metro runs just North of the parks, offering many access options. There are many paths and trails in these parks. Put all together, it can be as much as 5 miles east-west or north- south.

Parco Lambro

2.3 mile loop Start: Via Orbetello MAP

The Lambro Park, the largest of Milan, is a favorite of the Milanese. Located in the Rubattino district (about 30 minutes Northwest of Milan), it was created in the ’40s as a green lung on the landscape typical of the Lombardy countryside model. It extends between Rottole neighborhoods, Cimiano and Feltre, coming to border Vimodrone Segrate. The official route (outlined above) is 3.7km, but there are opportunities to explore and create your own route on the miles of trails. There are five farms, botanical trails, and walking paths in this lovely park. A run around the perimeter is about 4k.

Stay

There are hotels in every neighborhood of Milan but City Center is the most popular spot. When staying in the city center, Old Town, Sempione Park, Naviglio Grande, and Naviglio Martesana routes are easily accessible. Utilizing public transportation, it is also easy to get to Parco Lambro, Monte Stella and Boscoincitta. The Parco Forlanini and Idroscalo routes require a longer trip on public transportation or a drive.

Stores and Group Runs

Runner Store Running specific store.

Koala Sport Store focused on road running and run by athletes.

Born to Run A shop specializing in products for runners as well as a meeting point for those who love running.

Oops, gotta RUN Performs gait analysis for superior show fitting.

Run and Bike Como. Founded by a triathlete as a specialist running shop and accessories for triathlon.

Punto Running. Cantù. Operated by runners who provide guidance in finding the best shoe.

Events

Milan has numerous running events.
Events Calendar, from Lazy Runner.

Some of the major events are:

Cinque Milini. January. The name means 5 mills. Runners take on 5 X 2000 metre laps through fields and roads. The male race distance is 9.8km and the female is 5.5km.

StraMilano Half Marathon. March. Known to be the best and fastest half marathon in Italy. This race attracts over 50,000 competitors and attracts elite runners from all over the world. There are also 10km and 5km events. 10k course MAP

Milano City Marathon April. Marathon with relay options.

Lake Maggiore Marathon June. Known as the most panoramic course in Italy. Distance options include, 10K, 21K, 33K, and 42K.

Salomon Running Milan September. 25K competitive and non-competitive 15K and 9K.

Half of Monza (Monza Half Marathon) September. 30K, 21K, 10K and 5K. This race is run the week after the Grand Prix motor race. The circuit still smells and gives the race a unique ambience.

Avon Running September. A race for women to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. Non-competitive 5K and 10K and competitive 10K.

Ekirun October. A relay marathon (42K) to be run by 6 people.

Trofeo Montestella. October. Popular 10k race.

Deejay Ten October. Two routes: the 10K and 5K. Starting from Piazza Duomo.