Not all travelers will be able to give you a good account of a place you are just planning to go to. Similarly, I’ve got a low-down in Milan from many well-traveled people, where they have described it as an industrial city, too dull and business minded. Milan as a city was in fact founded for people to work in. Naturally, it is quite industrial. People work hard and more importantly appear to be much more materialistic in nature, which is not bad actually.
The problem with many of those traveling to Italy is that they end up visiting multiple cities, like Florence, Venice, Rome, Naples, Pisa, etc. They tend to only look at these Italian cities from the perspective of historical sites. So, when they talk about their experiences, it almost stops at unwanted comparisons of Milan with its more historical colleagues. Some of them even went to the extent of comparing it with the beauty of Florence, calling it the ugly sister. Milan might not be as history or art-oriented as Florence or Rome, but it sure has its fair share of museums and galleries to appease the artistic admirer in everybody. Yet there are many great things to do in Milan Italy. But what else can you see and do in this city? Let’s find out!
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Explore Milan By Indulging In These Best Things To Do In Milan
Spend Time At Duomo, The Magnificent Milan Cathedral
Another highlight of the city of Milan is the spectacular cathedral. This cathedral reflects the scale of Milan’s history of creativity and ambition. Milan Cathedral is adorned with over 135 spires and 3,400 statues. But more emphasis is put on the ornate detailing in the architecture and art found here. The cathedral was maintained by Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomoji, a company created by Giangaleazzo Visconti, which is considered as Italy’s oldest company. Established in 1387, this company has been in operation for 630 years now. It has been ensuring the preservation of the cathedral.
The cathedral itself is host to hundreds of drawings, models, sculptures, famous paintings, and many other varieties of artworks. On the Cathedral’s rooftop, the spectacle will continue to surprise, with a breathtaking view of the city. It will cost about € 12 to use the elevator and gain access to the rooftop. But much less if you use the stairs. No visit to Milan is complete without a visit to the iconic Cathedral.
Admire Fascinating Works Of Leonardo da Vinci
Florence and Venice may have a more significant place in the history of Italy and the Italian Renaissance, but Milan remains the home of one of Italy’s most exceptional and most celebrated talents of all, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was a master of all trades, and his interests ranged from architecture and art to aeronautics, engineering and anatomy. Among the art on display there are fascinating drawings which Leonardo created from the Codex Atlanticus. As well as some of his major paintings, manuscripts, a few working models, sculptures, and so much more. It is also home to St John the Baptist, said to be Da Vinci’s last painting. And finally the showstopper, The Last Supper, displayed on a massive wall in the refectory of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie. It took nearly 20 years to restore the legendary work of the most famous artists throughout history.
Watch A Match At The San Siro
Home to two of Italy’s legendary football clubs, A.C. Milan and F.C. International Milano, the San Siro is one of the few remaining old-school stadiums, and certainly one of the top things to do in Milan. Unlike many other European leagues, tickets are readily available even at the last moment. This is because the stadium has a capacity to accommodate over 80,000 people. San Siro stadium was consistently enlarged from time to time to accommodate more and more fans. Eventually it reached a capacity of around 80k people. This massive football shrine is one of the largest stadiums in Europe. The stadium has iconic circular towers that hold up the colossal tiers, and the huge roof that literally covers parts of the ground. While you are here go watch a game at the San Siro and rejoice in the football on display.
Window Shopping At Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
One of the iconic must visit Milan places to visit is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is right next to the Duomo. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, opened in 1877, is the world’s oldest mall. It also houses one of the only certified 7-star hotels in the world (which of course is way, way out of my league). Built for the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, by Guiseppe Mengoni, the magnificently opulent gallery houses the best brands in the world of fashion. High-end designer shops such as Prada, Versace and Luis Vuitton are lined on either side of the mall. It doesn’t matter if you are just here to shop or just look at things. Milan will instantaneously make you a part of its fashion culture. Window shopping itself will bring joy and wonderment in the kind of fashion that is available here.
Decode di Vinci’s Painting At Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church
Sitting on the Corso Magenta, just opposite to the Duomo is Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church. A visit to Santa Maria Delle Grazie is one of the best things to do in Milan for one big reason – The Last Supper by Leonardo di Vinci. This sublime piece of artwork depicts the scene of the Last Supper with a lot of hidden meanings and content. Throughout the years this piece of artwork has been scrutinized to break the codes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church features a Gothic style using red bricks. Its massive six-sided dome designed by Bramante (one of Italy’s most influential Renaissance architects) is a fine example of early Renaissance style architecture. Generally, tickets get sold out quickly, so book your tickets in advance to marvel at this fantastic work of art by Leonardo di Vinci.
Admire The View Of The City From Branca Tower
If you are looking for some gorgeous views of the city of Milan, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Milan. Located in Sempione Park, the Branca Tower is a large observation tower that stands at a colossal high of 108.6m. This tower constructed in the year 1933 is not some medieval tower but actually a huge tower made of iron. Purchase a ticket for an elevator ride that takes you to the top of this amazing structure from where you can have unparalleled views of the city. Both adults and children can take this thrilling elevator ride that reaches the top in less than a minute. If the weather is favorable, you can see all the way to the Alps and Apennines in the far distance.
Walk With The Dead At Cimitero Monumentale
Although it might seem somewhat weird visiting a cemetery, seeing the Monumental Cemetery is one of the best things to do in Milan. Here you’ll find historic tombs and artistic mausoleums that are beautifully decorated. Milan’s enormous Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) has tombs of the most important families of the region, like; the Campari family, the Morgagni family and the Mausoleum of Antonio Bernocchi. This vast cemetery that’s spread over 250.000 square meters has a large number of tombs with significant artistic merit. With Italian sculptures, Greek temples, obelisks and a small version of Trajan’s Column, it looks more like an open-air museum than a cemetery. It’s a very popular tourist attraction as it houses genuine works of art from the 19th century until the present day.
Watch An Opera At Teatro Alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala, commonly known as La Scala is considered one of the finest opera theaters in the world. Built during the late 18th century this theater has been a venue for performances for more than 200 years. Great composers and singers like Verdi and Bellini have performed live here. When built it had the capacity to accommodate a small audience, but over the years the seating capacity has been increased to almost 2800 people. A visit to this grand auditorium is truly recommended as it’s an experience like no other. The grand interior of the theater has gilded walls, magnificent chandeliers and huge curtains.
The exterior is quite modest which comes alive when illuminated with lights during the night. If you are not the kind who can spend the entire night at the opera, then a visit to the Teatrale alla Scala museum instead is one of the best things to do in Milan. The museum displays the history of the theater through paintings, statues and other historical documents. You will also find a collection of costumes from landmark performances and historical events worth checking out.
Indulge In Art Collection At Pinacoteca Di Brera
The Renaissance Palazzo di Brera which was built between 1651 and 1773 was originally a Jesuit college, but was converted into an Academy of fine arts in 1776. Pinacoteca di Brera, also known as Brera Art Gallery, is located in the Palazzo Brera, inside an 18th century building. This art gallery is home to thousands of collections of Italian arts from the 14th to 20th century.
Various art collections, paintings and sculptures by some of the most renowned artists are displayed here. These artworks are displayed in chronological order in various (about 40) rooms of the gallery. Highlight of this place is the huge bronze statue of Napoleon which stands in the center of the courtyard. Great works such as the Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Christ at the Column by Donato Bramante, Pieta by Bellini, the Last Supper and the Adoration of the Magi by Correggio are displayed here.
Romantic Walk Beside Navigli Canals
A very romantic neighborhood set against the backdrop of sunset lights reflecting in the canals makes for picturesque sights. Navigli canals that stretch from the Porta Ticinese to the Ticino River were originally constructed in 1177. These canals were used to transport goods and supply water to Milan. The marbles used for the construction of the Milan Cathedral were also transported by these canals. Take a romantic walk along the iron pedestrian bridges and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurant terraces. Banks of the canals are lined with funky cafes, art galleries, restaurants, numerous bars and music clubs where one can spend an evening to remember a lifetime. This place is most lively and active at dusk, strolling on the banks is one of the most romantic things to do in Milan.
Go On A Wine Tasting Tour
Located just outside Milan is the Franciacorta vineyard region, the best in Lombardia for a variety of wine. Go on a guided wine tasting tour which will take you through the winemaking process and the different types of grapes that go into making them. Savor some fine white and red wines, discover new flavors while enjoying the beauty of the charming villages in the countryside. After the tour you will have all knowledge of wine tasting, wine pairing and good ideas about which wines go well with meat, bread, cheese or any other food. After the tour indulge in some sparkling whites or red wine over a lunch in the open fresh air of the hillside, overlooking the expanse of vineyards. Finally purchase a couple of best wine bottles to take back home.
Hop-On And Hop-Off A Vintage Tram
Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) Vintage trams are here to cruise through Milan in style. Running non-stop since 1920, these trams have stops at Milan’s most symbolic monuments. Visiting Milan’s top attractions in a charming vintage tram is one of the best things to do in Milan. You can hop on and hop off at popular spots at your leisure. There are day tours as well as evening tours to choose from. Don’t miss out on the evening tours as you get a chance to dine in style aboard the vintage tram that is decorated with iconic fluted glass lamp shades. Kids are going to love this mode of transport, a must try as it is one of the great ways to discover the beautiful Milan.
Check Out Leonardo da Vinci National Museum Of Science And Technology
Milan has dedicated this museum to Leonardo da Vinci’s great works. This museum illustrates the history of science and technology from earlier times to modern times. Apart from works by the man himself, there is also a collection of important scientific inventions that changed the world. More than 15,000 technical and scientific objects from aviation, rail transport, automobile, naval transport, space, communications and many others are displayed over several floors. It is one of the most important museums in the world as da Vinci drawings, blueprints and sketches are kept safe here. He was indeed a true genius and much more than an artist. It’s one of Milan’s best tourist attractions, hence book your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long queues.
Challenge Your Mind At Museo Delle Illusioni
Here nothing looks like what it seems to be. This fantastic world of illusions will make you think and challenge your senses and your perception of reality. Every installation and puzzles will amuse you and at the same time help you understand something new about the mind. This interactive museum in Milan is the perfect place for people of all age groups. It is a great place to have new experiences and have fun not just for kids but for older ones too. From exploring the fascinating world of optical illusions to immersing yourself in the world of science and technology, from strolling through amazing museums and exhibitions to challenging your mind with some creative concepts, this place provides an interactive & unique experience to its visitors. Book this amazing package and gear up to spend a fun-filled and memorable time with your family and friends.
Visit The Castello Sforzesco
Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) which was built as a fortress and residence during the fourteenth century and is one of the most famous landmarks in Milan. Now it has been converted into a campus for some of the city’s best cultural institutions and museums focusing on art and history. Located just a mile northwest of the Duomo, Castello Sforzesco is one of the best things to do in Milan. The castle’s hot spots include Pinacoteca, the Raccolta di Mobili, furniture collection, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museo Egizio, Egyptian Museum and so much more. It also houses one of the largest collections of musical instruments in Europe. The castle is free to visit but if you want to visit any of the museums one needs to purchase an admission ticket, do come in early to avoid crowds and long queues.
Spend A fun Filled Night On The Streets Of Milan
Not just the day, Milan is great at night too. There are tons of things to do in Milan at night. You can spend a glorious music-filled night watching Ballet and Opera performances at the Opera house. If Opera is not your thing try the night walking tour. Milan has some of the safest and the best walking tracks for its people. Through this tour you will be able to see the ancient monuments, cathedrals, clubs and other famous places in its full glory during the night. A visit to the underrated town of Brera is not a bad idea at all. Night stroll along the streets filled with food joints and shopping stalls is a great way to spend an evening in Milan. If you are visiting Milan in December, hit the Christmas market where you will find stuff not only related to Christmas, but many other things too.
Shop Till You Drop At Italian Fashion Capital
As similar conversations rumble on, let’s not forget Milan is the fashion capital of the world. Though not everybody likes fashion, Milan will make everybody a part of its fashionable nature, and it’s kind of cool like that. From looking at the best collections from each of the high profile brands to some local (not street) shopping, fashionistas have tons of things to do in Milan. Everybody in Milan is fashionable and loves modernity beyond any reader’s imagination. While fashion is one part of Milan, keep your pockets filled, because when you see what’s on display, you’re sure to want to shop till you drop.
Savior On Some Milanese Food
No matter what you perceive, Milan is an upmarket city. People are materialistically conscious about their lives and give a lot of importance to their food. Milan is one of the top Fusion Cuisine destinations of the world, and it is not only traditional varieties of food that are savored here. The Milanese are used to spending a lot of money on food. Travelers coming here have to be prepared to spend at least € 25-30 on each meal.
One could also resort to small sized cafes and local restaurants for cheaper meals. The region has a gastronomical ethos, and the best way to explore is by eating like a local. Milan has some classic dishes like ‘Risotto’ made of Italian rice mixed with a type of cheese calls “Parmigiana”. You are sure to fall in love with it! Wherever you go, the standard Cappuccino and Croissant remains a local breakfast staple.
20 Interesting Facts About Milan
- The city of Milan was founded in 600 BC which is more than 2,500 years ago.
- The original name of the city was Mediolanon, which means Mediterranean in Latin.
- After Rome, Milan is the second largest city in Italy.
- National Milan’s Day is celebrated on the 7th of December.
- Milan is home to two Italian football League clubs, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
- Milan is one of the four world’s fashion capitals, the other three are Paris, New York, and London.
- The construction of the Milan Cathedral took 579 years to complete.
- Duomo di Milano has more than 3400 statues.
- You can adopt a gargoyle from the Milan Cathedral and donate to help their preservation.
- Italy is the country with the highest number of Filipinos, an estimated 41,000 Filipinos live in Milan.
- A snake/dragon eating a man is the symbol of Milan and it is also the symbol of the Inter football team.
- Many tall buildings make Milan a city of skyscrapers with the tallest one being 231 meters-high.
- Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region in Northern Italy, is the wealthiest city in Italy.
- The canals meant to transport marbles for the construction of the Duomo Cathedral were designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
- With more than 6 million visitors per year, Milan is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in Europe.
- Don’t be surprised to spot some pink flamingos in the garden of Villa Invernizzi.
- Milan is home to the oldest and largest Chinatown in Italy. They have about 14.000 citizens.
- Leonardo’s masterpiece ‘The Last Supper’ is included in the World Heritage List.
- Every night, from 7:00PM to 9:00PM is time for ‘aperitivo’. The bars and cafes offer huge spreads of food, which is for free after buying a drink.
- With 17 tram lines spread over 181 km, Milan has the 6th largest tram network in the entire world.
If it’s a solo trip you’re after, plan your stay, transit, and things to do in Milan well in advance. And most importantly, have a sizable budget in mind, so you can enjoy this city to the maximum. For a contemporary art experience, Milan may not suit the artistic soul, but sure has its share of history, especially some of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous works. Food is not cheap, but it’s amazing, wherever you eat it. So when are you going to visit Milan and experience all these things to see in Milan? Please share your experience with us in the comment box below.
Italy’s second-largest city, Milan, is definitely worth the visit.
Milan is best known for its majestic architectural landmarks, extraordinary fashion and culinary scenes. Its historical and cultural landmarks have also made Milan world-famous.
Two days are enough to see all the main attractions. If you want to spend a relaxing time without being rushed, then 3 days is required.
The best time to visit Milan is during the months of April, May and then in September, October as the weather during this time is very comfortable.
Unfortunately there are no beaches in the city of Milan, however, there are plenty of beaches located within a short distance from the city.
With full of opportunities, Milan is regarded as having one of Europe’s best nightlife scenes. From the best clubs to great bars and discos, this city takes partying seriously.