Here’s 10 Things to Do in Milan From Someone Obsessed With Italy
Milan, the capital of Lombardy, is a must for any lover of Italy. The metropolis, in the north of the country, is the second largest city in Italy and its economic center. it is one of the most important cities in Europe and easily accessible by plane, train and car.
There Are Things to Do in Milan for Everyone
Milan is not only an important economic and fashion hub, but also a treasure trove full of history and culture. Visitors can admire the majestic cathedrals and churches such as Milan Cathedral and the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, or experience opera at the world-famous Scala di Milano.
Art lovers are also in for a treat, with museums such as the Pinacoteca di Brera, which houses works by Raphael, Caravaggio and many other famous artists. The city is also a shopper’s paradise, with stores and boutiques from some of the world’s most famous fashion brands.
From Italian cuisine and nightlife to architecture and gardens, Milan has something for everyone and is an unforgettable destination to visit, any time of the year.
10 Must-Do Things to Do in Milan
With so many things to do in Milan, you will most certainly have to prioritize if it is your first trip. The city can be overwhelming, loud and full and the decision what to do first or next are not easily made. In order not to miss the most important sights, you will find here the top 10 things you should experience and visit within that fantastic city.
1. Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece, landmark of the city and a must-see for anyone visiting the city. The beautiful Gothic cathedral is 157 meters long, 92 meters wide and the highest point of the cathedral reaches a height of 108.5 meters.
The impressive and beautiful building is decorated with 3400 statues and 135 lancet windows, one of which is the famous “Golden Rose Window,” a large round window from the 16th century with biblical scenes.
Another highlight and one of the top things to do in Milan is a visit to the cathedral is the roof terrace, from which you have a breathtaking view of the city. On the way up, you can see the cathedral’s intricate spires, statues and ornaments up close. The view from the roof terrace is simply spectacular, offering breathtaking views of Milan and, in good weather, even as far as the Alps.
There is also the possibility to visit the underground areas of the cathedral, where you can discover the remains of the ancient church and even a Roman baptistery.
Tip: You will need to pay to see the terrasse as well as the inside of that breathtaking monument. To avoid long queues, you should book your ticket in advance and / or visit the Cathedral early in the morning.
2. Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo is the central square in Milan and the heart of the city. The square is surrounded by important buildings such as, of course, the unmissable cathedral, Palazzo Reale from the 18th century, Museo del Novecento and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Piazza del Duomo is a popular meeting place and an important venue for public events and celebrations.
The square was completely redesigned in the 19th century and is now an impressive example of neoclassical architecture. Beware of the many tourists who throw breadcrumbs in the air. They attract the pigeons for their Instagram photo of the Duomo and it’s birds en masse.
3. Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located between Milan Cathedral and La Scala and is one of the most famous shopping galleries in the world. It was built in the 19th century and named after the first king of united Italy. It houses some of the most famous luxury brands in the world, as well as cafes and restaurants.
The Galleria itself is an architectural masterpiece with an impressive glass-roofed entrance hall, marble floors and a stunning dome. In the center, on the floor, is the mosaic of the bull. It is said to bring good fortune to turn on its manhood three times around its axis.
4. La Scala
Milan’s La Scala is one of the most famous and prestigious opera houses in the world and a cultural jewel of the city of Milan. It was built in the 18th century and since then has had a rich history of opera premieres and famous performances.
La Scala has over 2,000 seats, a magnificent interior and excellent acoustics. Visitors can attend a performance, if you buy a ticket long in advance or take a guided tour of the building to experience the beauty and cultural richness of it.
5. Sforza Castle and Simplon Park
The Sforza Castle and the Simplon Park are two of the most famous sights of Milan. The castle was built in the 15th century by order of the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, and served as a residence for the Sforza family. Today, the castle is a museum that houses a variety of artworks and historical artifacts. You can admire works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and other important artists.
Simplon Park, which extends behind the castle, is a large public park which offers some quite in the buzzling city. Here stands the Torre Branca, built in 1933, an iron observation tower, 109 meters high with a panoramic view of the city.
6. Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Church of Santa Maria della Grazie is, after the cathedral, the most famous church in the city. It is world-wide known for its masterpiece of Renaissance art: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The mural, depicting the scene of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, was painted in the 15th century and is one of the most famous works of art in the world.
The church itself was built as well in the 15th century and is an impressive example of Renaissance architecture. Just like for the cathedral, it is recommended to book tickets online and in advance to avoid the long waiting times.
7. Navigli District
Located southwest of the city center, the popular Navigli district is known for its canals and is a vibrant center for art, culture and nightlife. The area should be on your things to do in Milan list for a late afternoon or early evening.
The history of the nightlife district dates back to the 12th century, when the waterways were built to facilitate the transport of goods into the city. Over the years, they became increasingly neglected and fell into disrepair. In the 1970s, however, the canals were restored and today they are an important part of the neighborhood’s charm.
One of the main attractions of the Navigli district is the fantastic Mercato Metropolitano, a huge market where you can buy fresh food and local specialties. The Navigli district is also known for its many art galleries, boutiques and antique stores. Here you can find a variety of artwork and antique items that you won’t find anywhere else.
In the evening, the area turns into a vibrant nightlife. There are many bars, pubs and clubs open until late at night and early morning. Here you can enjoy an aperitif or a glass of wine along the waterfront and experience the buzzling nightlife of Milan. Especially recommended is a walk along the illuminated canals at night to experience the city’s special flair.
8. Brera District
The Brera district in Milan is known for its charming alleys, historic buildings and exclusive boutiques. Fashion addicts will feel right at home as you can find the latest Milanese fashion in these lively streets. Also, hiding here are several art galleries, among them, the Pinacoteca di Brera.
The gallery is one of the most important art museums in Italy and houses an impressive collection of works from the 14th to 20th centuries, including masterpieces by artists such as Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and many others.
9. Piazza Gae Aulenti
Piazza Gae Aulenti is a modern central square in the northern part of the city center, named after the famous Italian architect Gae Aulenti. It was opened in 2012 and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The square is surrounded by ultra-modern skyscrapers, including the UniCredit Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Italy, and offers impressive views of the Milan skyline. The square is also known for its eye-catching water feature, which is a great event especially at night.
10. Consider a Nearby Daytrip
Milan is beautiful and unique, but it can also be loud and overwhelming. If you are spending more time than just a weekend in Milan, you should make at least one day trip to the beautiful surroundings of the fashion metropolis. One of the absolute highlights is Lake Como, which is only an hour away.
The beautiful lake offers breathtaking views of the clear water and picturesque villages. Turin, the capital, of the rather unknown but absolutely worth seeing region of Piedmont, is also just an hour’s drive away. Switzerland is also within easy reach, and cities like Lugano and Locarno offer a nice combination of Swiss culture and Italian lifestyle. Whether you want to enjoy nature or explore new cities, there are so many great options for day trips from Milan.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.