QC Terme Milano is Milan’s most famous thermal bath complex.
So, of course, I had to visit. But should you?
The Facilities at QC Terme Milano
QC Terme Milano is built around the idea of a “Wellness Path”, or a series of different pools, baths, showers and saunas that each offer a unique feature. Unlike the traditional Roman baths at Friedrichsbad in Baden-Baden, guests at QC Terme Milano are free to move around the facility at their leisure, and in any order they want.
Your experience will begin in the change rooms, where you’ll have a private locker (a one-euro coin is needed to lock the locker, but it is returned when you re-open the door).
Slip into your bathing suit, because unlike German saunas, bathing suits are mandatory throughout the complex. Then, put on the provided robe and slipper, which are also required throughout the hallways of the facility.
Before you embark on the Wellness Path, take a quick shower to remove any lotions, oils or dirt from your body. It’s the polite thing to do!
(Note: Although there are signs throughout the facility saying that phones are prohibited, literally everyone is using them. So, I joined the crowds and was obsessively careful not to take any photos showing the other guests.)
The main floor hallway of QC Terme Milano features a number of different relaxation rooms, including the cavernous Theater of Marvels. Here, strange, pod-like beds rise like aliens from the floor, surrounding an open-air gas fireplace. At the back of the room there is a separate relaxation area with individual beds and eerie red lighting.
More than anything, the Theater of Marvels made me wonder how we, as a society, got to the point where people will pay upwards of €50 to nap on a bed in a thermal bath complex…
There was also a water-themed relaxation room, an earth-themed relaxation room, and a salt room for those who believe that a little brine is good for the respiratory system.
Back in the 1800s, the entire QC Terme Milano complex used to be one of Milan’s tram stations. In particular, it was used as the hub for the city’s horse-drawn trams.
Today, the site is probably most famous for it’s Tram Sauna, a bio-sauna built inside an original, historic tram. Normally it is heated to a mild 70° Celsius and 35% humidity, but it was closed for repairs during my visit so I didn’t have the chance to try it out.
Around the tram sauna there are quite a few other exterior features. There is a large, modern pool with underwater lounge chairs and hydrotherapy spouts, as well as a more traditional pool, built around the remains of the original Roman baths, with similar features. You can also find cold showers, a cold plunge pool and dozens of sun loungers outside.
However, my favorite part of my visit to QC Terme Milano was the basement level sauna complex. Inside the main building there is a narrow stairwell that isn’t particularly well-marked (in fact, I read on TripAdvisor that some people miss it entirely!).
This underground oasis is where you’ll find all of the best sauna features:
- A steam room and hammam
- Several dry saunas
- Vichy showers
- Kneipp foot baths (the answer to your prayers if you’ve been walking around Europe for a month!)
- Self-service foot scrubs
- and more, I’m sure…
I probably spent four hours down here, alternating between the hammam, a cold shower and the relaxing pools and showers. Even as the outdoor garden area filled to capacity, it never got particularly busy downstairs and I often had a full sauna to myself. In fact, even during one of the scheduled infusions (of which there aren’t that may, I will admit) there were only five people in the sauna!
Food & Drink at QC Terme Milano
I have to admit that I know very little about the food and drink at QC Terme Milano, because I purposefully scheduled my visit between mealtimes.
The spa does have a small snack area, shown above, where you can help yourself to water and fresh fruit throughout the day at no cost.
My understanding is that they also serve a daily buffet lunch from 12:00 until 3:30, and the cost is €22. I was definitely not €22 hungry during my visit, so I skipped out on the lunch.
QC Terme Milano’s evening aperitivo is actually quite famous. If you’re in the spa between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, you are welcome to serve yourself from the buffet of sparkling wine and bite-sized dishes. I spoke to several locals who told me that the aperitivo can be a little bit hectic and overcrowded, so I chose to leave the sauna at 6:00, fully relaxed, rather than deal with the crowds.
Massage at QC Terme Milano
Unfortunately, I would describe my massage at QC Terme Milano is the low point of my visit, and I can’t recommend that other travelers splurge on this addition.
The best part of my massage was how easy it was to book the appointment online before my visit. Easy as pie.
When I checked in at reception they told me that I should go to the top-floor massage area ten minutes before my appointment was scheduled to begin. I went upstairs promptly at 1:50, and ended up sitting awkwardly, in silence, with about seven other people until 2:05 when a group of massage therapists came out and started calling out our last names.
Fortunately, my massage room was far from the reception area, but I did see that two rooms were separated from the waiting area only by frosted glass doors. It’s hard to relax when you can always hear people coming and going.
My massage therapist seemed like a nice person but the quality of the massage was very low. I opted for their QC Terme Deluxe Massage, which they say uses “cotton oil and Buddleja” (the butterfly bush plant) to “release emotional blockades” (WTF?).
There is zero doubt in my mind that no cotton oil or Buddleja was used during my massage, as I was given the choice of unscented almond oil or scented monoi oil (I chose the latter). The entire massage was very… boring… and I got the impression that the masseuse was just going through the motions. But even worse, on several occasions she blew her nose and then went right back to massaging me! I understand that people get congested, but at every other spa I’ve ever visited, a massage therapist would wash his or her hands after blowing their nose.
So definitely avoid the massages.
Prices & Hours at QC Terme Milano
As prices and opening hours tend to change with the seasons, your best option is to check the QC Terme Milano website for current opening hours and prices.
During my visit in Summer 2018, the thermal baths were open from 9:00 until midnight on weekdays, and 8:30 until midnight on weekends.
A full-day pass is €48, but does not include in and out privileges. If you’d rather sneak in over the lunch break, they offer a short visit from 12:30 until 3:00 for €36, and arriving later in the evening reduces the admission rate to €40 or €44. Should you opt for a massage (which I highly advise against!) you receive a small discount on your admission rate.
So, Should You Visit QC Terme Milano?
Overall, my visit to QC Terme Milano was a positive experience and one that I can recommend for most travelers. I feel that a standard admission is good value at €48, and the shorter visit prices are a steal for those who just need a few hours of rest and relaxation. But please, don’t waste your money on a massage!
(A Few Extra Notes)
QC Terme Milano is located at Porta Romana, an original sixteenth-century gate just southeast of the city center. It is only a minute or two away from the metro station of the same name, and the area is well-signed.
Before you head into the thermal baths, you might want to stop at the Ipersoap store at
Additionally, I want to draw your attention to a cafe just a block away from the thermal baths: Fiordiponti.
If you’re not planning to eat while you’re at the sauna, consider stopping here before or after your visit (or both… I actually went twice!) for a slice of their amazing, typically Ligurian foccaccia. It was easily the best foccaccia I’ve ever had (and I speak as someone who has visited Genova!). You’ll find Fiordiponti at Viale Monte Nero, 5.
Fiordiponti also serves breakfast, lunch and an evening aperitivo, so you can have a more substantial meal if you desire.
Yeah, Milan is cool, but have you ever heard of Turin, Italy? Milan’s neighbor to the west, Turin is the former capital of Italy, so it’s packed with stunning palaces (but remarkably few tourists, making for an authentic Italian getaway!).
Love to visit spas and saunas when you travel? Check out my comparison of the two most famous spas in Baden-Baden, Germany!