Where to Stay in Milan: 7 Best Areas [Picked by a Milan Local]

the navigli canals of milan city center

If you’re planning to spend a day, weekend, or more in Milan, one of the first things you’ll need to know is the best place to stay in Milan, close to the main landmarks of the city.

Luckily, nowhere is too far out of reach; the city has a modern tram and metro system, which is quite affordable and allows you to get anywhere in town with just a few euros and a short ride. 

Being aware of the best places to stay in Milan is helpful to make the most of the visit without spending a lot of time commuting.

the backside of the milan duomo building with marble facade, spires, stained glass window, and people walking around behind it
The back of the Duomo is just as beautiful as the front!

And lucky for you, I spent nearly a decade living in Milan, so I’m well-qualified to help you pick the best neighborhood in Milan to stay in!

To help you out, I’ve put together this guide to the best areas to stay in Milan so you can be informed of the pros and cons of each part of the city, before booking your Milan hotel.

Prices of Accommodation in Milan

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

Let’s start with the bad news: Milan isn’t  the cheapest destination in Italy.

You’ll find that a well-situated hotel or apartment rental starts at about €150-180 per night. 

If you can spend a bit more, you’ll find better hotels in more central locations, such as the Duomo area. 

Prices for mid-range accommodation in the center of the city can go from €200 to €300 per night.

And more premium hotels, including boutique hotels, villas, and fully-equipped apartments start at €300 or more per night in the center!

That said, if you’re willing to stay a little further afield and make use of Milan’s excellent public transit network, this is a good way to save!

Best Places to Stay in Milan

#1. Duomo Square: Perfect for First-Time Visitors

beautiful view of the milan duomo from the side a key european landmark

The area near Milan’s Cathedral can be a bit noisy and crowded any time of the day, but it’s a great place to stay for first-timers.

Many of the attractions you’ll want to visit are either immediately in the area or within a really short walking distance.

The area is packed with restaurants, bars and pizza places, but it’s also close to the following attractions:

  • The Duomo, Milan’s famous Gothic cathedral
  • Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, one of the best-known covered passages in the country
  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of the most exclusive shopping districts in town 
  • Teatro alla Scala, a worldwide famous opera house in the center of Mila
  • Piazza del Mercanti, a fantastic medieval square
the interior of the la scala theater in milan with gilded boxes and red seats and beautiful lighting

Within walking distance from Duomo, you can also find the more affordable shops on Dante Street as well as the beautiful Sforza Castle, another must-see place in Milan! 

Along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, you can also visit Milan’s oldest department store, La Rinascente, as well as incredible book stores and music shops.

And for those with a sweet tooth, you can’t miss the traditional coffee shops serving Milanese pastries and treats starting in the early morning hours.

Also close to the Duomo, you can explore the famous Quadrilatero della Moda, home to the most expensive clothing shops in the country.

Here, you’ll see the most important Italian fashion flagship stores featuring exclusive haute couture pieces by designers such as Armani, Versace, Prada, Valentino, and many others.

The area is safe at any hour of the day (though watch for pickpockets in busy areas!) and most metro lines are connected to Line 3, which has a stop right in Duomo.

#2. Navigli: Ideal for Young Travelers

the navigli canals of milan at night with lights

If nightlife, good food, and trendy bars situated in an atmospheric district are your key desires, then when it comes to where to stay in Milan, Navigli is the perfect choice for you.

This ancient system of canals, similar to the ones that you’d find in Venice with its famous gondolas, is home to gorgeous rental apartments with views over the water.

The Navigli area is very much alive at all hours, and it’s just a short metro ride from other tourist areas in Milan, including the Duomo.

To get to Navigli, the best metro Line is Line 2, and the closest stop to the heart of the Navigli canals is Porta Genova.

Staying in the Navigli district will allow you to enjoy:

  • Vicolo dei Lavandai, where you can walk along the street where local women used to wash their clothes in the past
  • San Lorenzo Columns, where you can discover a group of ancient ruins from the Roman times opposite the famous San Lorenzo Basilica
  • Creative street art scattered along the Navigli district
  • Dozens of food tours and great eateries, modern restaurants, trendy cocktail bars and alternative places for aperitivo with stunning views of the district
the red brick building of the church which holds the last supper inside iet

The area is also great for those interested in visiting the Last Supper, in the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church.

It’s just a few minutes from the heart of the Navigli.

There are also many shops, street art performances, concerts, and things to do until late in the evening hours.

#3. Brera District: Unique Destination for Art Lovers

the beautiful residential area of milan's brera district with elegant balconies and greenery

Locals consider Brera the most aristocratic, elegant, and exclusive area to live in Milan.

This neighborhood has a special refined, residential flair that enchants anyone who visits — you can immediately imagine yourself living there while walking through it.

Given its more residential character, there aren’t many hotels in this district.

However, there are several homes to rent, including lofts, flats, and villas that make it a great base for a longer stay in Milan.

This area is perfect for those who want to integrate and live like a local, taking some day trips from Milan and exploring the surroundings, at least for a short while.

Brera is also a vibrantly cultural part of town, hosting not just interesting bookstores, but also delicious restaurants and bars.

the area of brera in milan with beautiful architecture

However, the main reason to book accommodation in Brera is to visit some of the following landmarks:

  • Brera Art Gallery (or Pinacoteca di Brera in Italian), for its  remarkable art exhibition with world-famous masterpieces by local and foreign artists
  • Brera Astronomical Observatory and Museum, perfect for lovers of space and the sciences
  • Brera Botanical Garden and Aquarium, for a little slice of quiet in Milan

This is one of the safest areas to stay in Milan, and home to plenty of green spaces, including parks and small squares. 

However, staying in such a picturesque and tranquil neighborhood comes with a bit of a price, and accommodation is often a bit more expensive than in other neighborhoods. 

To reach this neighborhood, you can use metro Line 2.

#4. Quartiere Cinese, Milan’s Chinatown: Perfect for a Different Milan

chinese style red lanterns hanging against the backdrop of milanese architecture in the city center, one of the best places to stay in milan

While this area of Milan is one that nobody would have recommended ten years ago, Milan’s Chinatown has gone through a deep process of change in recent years.

It’s now become a picturesque district, safe and lively at any time of the day.

If you’re interested in shopping for affordable fashion staples, enjoying some pedestrian roads, and sampling international food from different countries throughout Asia, then this is the right area.

Milan’s Chinatown has a long history, as it was home to the first Chinese immigrants to arrive in the country since the beginning of the past century, most of them originally from the Chinese region of Zhejiang.

Most restaurants serve delicious and incredibly affordable food (including takeout!), often specializing in Zhejiang cuisine, though it’s also been heavily influenced by Italian gastronomy. 

Over the years, the neighborhood also started receiving Chinese immigrants from other areas as well as residents from Vietnam and Thailand.

details of milan chinatown architeecture with red and pastel brown brick and stone

Today, the place is full of shops, eateries, and accommodations, all on the affordable side, making it a great destination for the budget-conscious traveler.

The area is close to the following local landmarks:

  • Via Paolo Sarpi Street, the heart of Milan’s Chinatown and a green, pedestrian boulevard that is home to stores, street food joints, and cheap eateries
  • Fabbrica del Vapore (Steam Factory), a space dedicated to kids and teens offering interesting exhibitions and workshops
  • ADI Design Museum, a museum devoted to graphic design and industrial creations where the works of modern Milan’s designers shine
  • The Oriental Mall, one of the best places to purchase affordable souvenirs and clothes in town

Chinatown is easy to reach from Milano Centrale train station by metro (Line 2).

If you are interested in visiting the Brera district but prices are too high for your budget, the Chinatown district is a good, nearby alternative.

#5. Sempione Park: Ideal for a Quiet Stay

the triumphal arch in milan's sempione park

Another unique area, safe and well connected to the rest of the city, is the area around Parco Sempione, the biggest green space in the city. 

It’s a fairly residential district where you can enjoy pleasant walks that take you to the Sforza Castle, or to Via Dante, an interesting commercial road that ends just steps from the Duomo.

Another advantage of staying in Sempione is that just a few feet from the park, you’ll find Cadorna train station.

From this station, you can take the Malpensa Express train to get to Milan’s most widely-used international airport.

Parco Sempione is perfect to visit:

the front of the sforza castle in milan with a fountain
  • Sempione Park and the Arch of Peace, the most important triumphal arch in the country, where you can spend time exploring the city aquarium
  • Sforza Castle, an important Medieval castle, once the heart of the city, housing some of the most important museums in Milan, the Civic Museums
  • Arena Civica, a gorgeous neoclassical stadium dating back to 1807. The historic track is open daily to the public, and it’s a favorite place, just like Parco Sempione for jogging and exercising.
  • Torre Branca, a simple steel tower that is among the city’s tallest buildings with unique views of Milan’s skyline. The top of the tower can be accessed by elevator and it stays open until midnight, making it perfect for nighttime snapshots of Milan’s city lights.

The best metro lines that connect the area to the center and the Duomo Square are Line 1 (red metro line) and Line 3 (yellow metro line).

#6. Isola: Perfect for an Alternative Stay in Milan

the green vertical towers of milan's isola neighborhood

Another place in the city that, just like Chinatown, has gone through a deep transformation, Isola has become one of the most exclusive places to find accommodation in Milan. 

Isola is now an area where you’ll find plenty of new houses, modern skyscrapers, design schools, several lofts, and aparthotels.

In general, this neighborhood of Milan appeals strongly to the local hipster and artistic community, giving it a lively communal vibe.

This alternative neighborhood is close to the second most important train station in the city, Porta Garibaldi, where you can catch trains to Bergamo, Como, and other important Northern cities in the Lombardy region.

the porta garibaldi area of milan at night

Also near Isola, the places you can visit include:

  • Viale Zara, an important avenue where the locals love to shop, walk, and spend time people-watching
  • Bosco Verticale, the original green towers that have been recently built in Milan, known for the unique quantity of gardens and trees that decorate their facades
  • Cimitero Monumentale, the famous city cemetery home to the most impressive collection of funerary art you could ever imagine
  • Original exhibition spaces such as the Typewriter Museum and the House of Memory (Casa della Memoria),
  • Art galleries and important theaters, including Verdi Theater and Fontana Theater
  • The Church of the Holy Face, a stunning offbeat church.

The Isola area is home to dozens of new restaurants and typical trattorias, bars, pubs, and other meeting spots where locals love to gather for an aperitivo or dinner.

#7. Porta Venezia: A Great Place to Stay for Families

one of the buildings in milans porto venizia area a popular place to stay in milan for families

The area around Porta Venezia metro station and the lively Buenos Aires Avenue (Corso Buenos Aires) is perfect for families traveling with kids. 

This district is home to another magnificent park, Parco Indro Montanelli, where families love to spend time in a peaceful green space.

You can spend some time with your kids walking along the different paths, admiring the swan ponds, having a snack at a bar, or simply sitting on one of the many benches under the shadow of huge plane trees.

The park is also home to the biggest planetarium in the country which organizes weekly exhibitions and shows that attract the whole family.

a milan local park that families like to visit in the autumn or winter

Moms of the families staying near Porta Venezia will enjoy walking along Corso Buenos Aires, one of the best shopping spots in Milan. 

This area is home to exclusive boutiques that have much better price tags than the ones you’ll find in central neighborhoods like the Duomo or the exclusive Via Montenapoleone.

Among the places to visit in Porta Venezia, don’t miss:

  • Indro Montanelli Park and the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium
  • Milan’s Civic Museum of Natural History, also located in the Indro Montanelli Park features five different sections that fascinate adults and kids alike; Mineralogy, Paleontology, Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, and Natural History of Man.
  • The Milanese Pink Flamingos (locally known as the fenicotteri rosa di Milano), a curious park situated inside Villa Invernizzi, an ancient home in the heart of the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, an elegant neighborhood with quite a curious name.
  • The original Cà dell’Oreggia (House of the Ear), an old aristocratic building that is not just a great example of Liberty art, but which also houses an odd detail. There’s a huge bronze ear that used to be the doorbell of the building, but unfortunately, this unique device has been out of order for several years

In addition to these interesting corners in this neighborhood, don’t forget that the whole area is perfect for shopping, hosting the highest number of clothing stores in all of Europe!

However, Porta Venezia is more than just fashion stores. It’s also safe, great for kids, and close to the center, only a few metro stops away (Line 3).

The neighborhoods included in this article are the best-located, safest, and more convenient Milan neighborhoods, making them perfect choices for your Milan accommodations.

They’re quite near Milan’s main attractions and most important train stations to allow not only an entertaining visit but also an easy way to reach other cities in the country!

How to Spend One Day in Milan: From Someone Who Lived There!

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

As Northern Italy’s largest and most important city, the lively metropolis Milan is a fantastic place to spend a weekend (or more!).

However, there may be some valid reasons you only have a day in Milan.

If your Italian itinerary is already looking a bit full, and you’re going to be busy visiting classic destinations such as Rome, Florence, and Venice, Milan may be one of the places that needs to get the cut.

Planning your trip to Milan at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

 Top Milan Experiences:
1. Milan Duomo Cathedral & Terraces (skip the line entry)
2. The Last Supper Tour (must pre-book your time slot!)
3. Milan Aperitivo + Food Tour (best evening activity!)

🏨 Best Hotels:
1. The Carlton (luxury hotel with Grand Canal views)
2. San Marco Boutique Apartments (hip studios in lively Brera neighborhood)
3. La Casa Colorata (lovely apartment-style rooms with two saunas for guests!)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
the facade of the milan duomo during the day time without too much of a crowd in front of it

Or maybe Milan is just your first gateway to a tour of Northern Italy, one that includes iconic destinations like Lake Como, Lake Garda, Verona, or the Dolomites.

Wherever your Italy endpoint, Milan is often a place where international flights land, so it’s hard to avoid.

Plus, it’s also home to some of Italy’s most iconic cultural sites, like the Duomo di Milano and the Last Supper, so a visit to Milan — even for just a day! — is absolutely worth it.

Take it from me: I spent nearly a decade living in Milan and even though I no longer call the city home, I visit it frequently on my return trips to Italy.

This one day in Milan itinerary will give you an overview of the key Milan landmarks that you don’t want to skip, as well as some tips for getting to and around the city.

Enjoy!

How to Get to Milan

the milan train station with a beautiful open-style roof with iron work

Milan is Italy’s most important economic and financial center, as well as a super-developed industrial city in the northern Lombardy region.

For many people, Milan is their first stop in Italy, as the city has two large international airports, Milano Malpensa and Milano Linate. There’s also the nearby Bergamo airport which functions as a budget airline hub.

Milan is also home to an important train hub, Milano Centrale, which not only connects Milan to the rest of Italy, but also to other major European cities in the area.

If you’re flying into Milan with a lot of luggage or you just don’t want to deal with the stress of figuring out a new country’s public transit, you can pre-book a transfer into the city center through Welcome Pickups.

Pre-arranging transit with Welcome Pickups is one of my favorite travel hacks: when you arrive, an English-speaking driver already be at the airport awaiting your arrival (monitoring for any flight delays) and able to help with your baggage, all at the same flat rate as getting a taxi from the airport, all pre-paid and settled.

Moving Around in Milan

woman holding luggage on a street wearing a white shirt and jeans

The city has a very efficient urban transport system that includes metros, buses, trams, and local trains.

All of this public transit is perfect for travelers, since it all makes it incredibly easy to move around in town to explore different neighborhoods!

There are daily, weekly, and monthly passes available in the most important train and metro stations — of course, if you’re only visiting Milan for a day, you’ll only need a daily pass.

Helpful Tip: You can also download the official app to purchase tickets from your phone and have a useful city map in your pocket at all times.

Best Time to Visit Milan

view of one of the most famous buildings in milan, a church that houses in the last supper, seen through archways of a courtyard on a sunny day

Even though Milan is not as popular among tourists as Venice, Rome, Naples, or Florence, the city still attracts tourists year-round.

Although winters can be a bit fierce in the northern areas of the country, Milan in winter doesn’t actually have as much snow as you might expect, so winters can be a great time to beat the crowds and find cheaper accommodation.

What you do have to expect in Milan is rain. It’s one of Italy’s rainiest destinations in any season!

Keep this in mind when packing, and remember to toss a high-quality raincoat in your luggage, like this Marmot PreCip or this cute yellow rain jacket (trust me, you’ll be glad you did!).

Summers in Milan are shorter than in the rest of the country, but they can still be quite hot and humid.

If you plan to visit in the summer do some online research before deciding what attractions to visit.

Many exhibitions and museums close for a few weeks or operate with reduced hours in August.

The hard-working Milanese take their summer break (the two central weeks of August) very seriously.

This means it’s the perfect chance to walk around and enjoy the virtually empty streets and free places to sit in the metro and buses.

However, this does also mean that many shops will be closed, so if you’re dying to visit Milan for a chance to go shopping, then spring and fall might be your best bet.

Know Before You Go…

people inside the milan duomo visiting the city's most famous church and landmark, wearing appropriate covered up clothing

Despite not being Italy’s most touristed city, Milan is still rather popular. After all, it’s home to impressive art galleries, significant museums, and one of the most magnificent churches in Italy.

While all of that means you’re in for a great day in Milan, there will be long lines at the most important attractions, no matter the time of the year (yes, even winter).

The best suggestion I can give you is to plan your one day Milan itinerary in advance — that way, you can buy your entrance tickets to the key sights at least a few weeks before the trip and avoid the long lines.

Some landmarks, like time slots to view the the Last Supper, do sell out — so you’ll want to make sure you book anything important ASAP (luckily, buying online means you can take advantage of free cancellation if needed).

Also, if you are planning to stay the night in Milan, book your hotel in Milan in advance (and here’s our guide on where to stay — I suggest the Duomo area for quick visits to the city!)

How to Spend One Day in Milan

Start your day at the Duomo di Milano.

beautiful view of the milan duomo from the side a key european landmark

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the right place to begin your one day in Milan tour is in the heart of the city center.

We’re talking, of course, about the city’s unique white marble cathedral, Milan’s Duomo, as well as the impressive Duomo Square (Piazza del Duomo) that surrounds it.

One of Italy’s most remarkable religious buildings as well as one of the largest churches in the world, the magnificent Cathedral of Milan is a breathtaking example of Gothic style.

The building was conceived from the inspiring ideas, dreams, and nightmares of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, a former Duke of Milan.

Although it was begun back in 1386, the construction of the Duomo took over six centuries to be completed — and the result is why the Duomo is so unique to behold.

stained glass and sculpture at the very front and center of the church, extremely colorful and detailed

This lengthy construction period led to the building also featuring unique examples of other architectural styles that came after the Gothic period, including expressions of Baroque (as you’ll see in the Crypt), as well as Renaissance styles

The Duomo is the most popular attraction in the city and pretty much every visitor wants to at least check out the impressive stained glass windows from inside the church.

Best of all, you can even walk on its white roofs to experience a different perspective and view of the city center and Milan’s skyline.

The terraces of the milan duomo with brilliant blue sky with some patchy clouds

You can do so by booking a Cathedral and Rooftop Terraces guided tour like this one if you want some historical context given to you while you visit the sight.

If you prefer to DIY, you can access the building (and its terraces, which shouldn’t be skipped!) with a skip-the-line ticket without the tour to save some money.

Book a Guided Tour Book Skip-the-Line Entry

Wander through the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

Opposite Piazza del Duomo, head to another famous place you’ll absolutely want to visit during your whirlwind day in Milan: the beloved covered arcade Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II.

This passageway’s appeal isn’t just because of its aristocratic flair and refined architectural style, but also because it’s the best way to get to Milan’s famous opera house, Teatro alla Scala, the next stop on this mini Milan itinerary.

Fun Fact: The construction of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II started back in 1865 and it took twelve years to be completed.

Another Fun Fact: It’s the oldest active covered passage devoted to shopping in the country, housing both important high-end brand boutiques and a few traditional cafés. 

Admire the opulence of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.

the interior of the la scala theater in milan with gilded boxes and red seats and beautiful lighting

As I’ve just mentioned, at one of the ends of the gallery stands the Duomo and its square.

At the opposite side, you’ll find the small but gorgeous Piazza alla Scala and the Scala Theater, the most important opera house in the country… which is saying something, as this is the country that invented opera!

Usually referred to as La Scala, this temple to opera and ballet in Milan first opened its doors to the public in 1778.

While the theater is also home to one of the most prestigious ballet academies in Europe, it also has its own chorus, the famous Filarmonica Della Scala orchestra.

It’s possible to book tickets for the ballet or the opera to experience a wonderful night at La Scala — check the schedule for the theater here.

The 2023-2024 season begins on December 3, right in time for Milan’s winter!

If you don’t have time for a show, or there are just no shows when you are visiting Milan, you can simply visit the theater and its museum by booking a guided visit that includes a skip-the-line ticket!

For those curious about the stories and myths of this legendary venue, this Italy Hidden Experiences tour reveals tons of historic details and curious secrets about the theater.

Although there’s still a lot to see near the Duomo and La Scala, a day would never be enough to explore the medieval squares and other impressive churches in the area. 

If you’re still in the mood to see the best of Milan in a day or less, your next stop will leave you speechless…

Book Your Guided Visit Book Your Hidden Experiences Tour

Visit the Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the Last Supper.

the red brick building of the church which holds the last supper inside iet

In fact, if you can only visit Milan for one day, there’s one more thing that you don’t want to miss in addition to the Duomo, and that is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, the Last Supper. 

This UNESCO World Heritage site includes both the church Santa Maria Delle Grazie and the famed Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. 

The painting is located on a wall of the refectory that was originally part of a large monastic complex, which belonged to the Dominican order.

Considered one of the most important works of art in the city, this Milan landmark attracts hundreds of tourists all year round and at any hour of the day. 

With this popularity in mind, it’s easy to see why booking your entrance ticket in advance and getting to the place at least 30 minutes before the beginning of the tour is crucial for a flawless experience.  

Plan ahead and book an organized visit at least a couple of weeks (better yet, at least a month) before the actual trip! Note that a tour is the only way to visit the famous painting.

the beautiful artwork of the last supper in milan, a famous painting of jesus with his disciples sitting around him

Keep in mind that the guided visit includes a visit to the old refectory where all visitors are allotted a 15-minute time frame to admire the painting. 

The tour also gives you the chance to learn about the incredible history behind the masterpiece as well as the reconstruction works that were necessary inside the building after the bombing of Milan during WWII.

Not far from this church, you can walk to the nearby Basilica of Saint Ambrogio, another important religious building in the city.

The basilica is among the oldest churches in town as well as Milan’s best-preserved example of Lombard Romanesque architecture. 

Fun Fact: Saint Ambrogio is also Milan’s patron saint and is celebrated all over the city with special events in December!

Book your time slot for the Last Supper in advance here!

Step into Sforza Castle and Sempione Park.

the front of the sforza castle in milan with a fountain

Just steps from Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, one of Milan’s most distinctive locations is the medieval Sforza Castle (also known as Sforzesco Castle), a place you shouldn’t pass up the chance to explore.

There are several interesting museums located in the old rooms and different wings of the fortress, most of them related to the medieval history of Milan, including paintings, musical instruments, and other masterpieces.

Since you’re on a tight schedule and you might not have enough time to visit the Duomo, the Scala Opera House, the Last Supper, and the museums, it might be best to save the museums inside the castle for your next trip to Milan!

For this one, you can simply enter the huge building and wander around the different courtyards and incredible corners that remain open to the public. 

Visit the lovely Sempione Park and its key monuments.

the triumphal arch in milan's sempione park

Once you’ve checked out the different open spaces, ancient arches, and wooden bridges part of the castle, it’s a good idea to walk to the back area of the fortification and explore the immense Sempione Park.

This immense green area is Milan’s most important park, a perfect place for a picnic, a walk in nature, or simply for a restful stop after so many hours walking on the (fairly uncomfortable, though rather photogenic) cobblestone streets of Milan.

In the park, don’t forget to pay a visit to the impressive Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace), a triumphal arch also known as Porta della Pace (or Gate of Peace)

The gate dates back to the nineteenth century in its current form, but it has ancient roots.

The gate you see today was built over an ancient gate located on the former Roman Walls that once surrounded, protected, and granted access to the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum, today Milan.

A curious fact about the arch is that it faces the so-called Strada del Sempione, or Sempione Road.

This route is still in use today and connects Milan to Paris through the Sempione Pass in the Alps, something the many locals don’t even know!

End the day the Milanese way with an aperitivo.

two hands clinking together an aperol spritz for aperitivo time at the end of the day in milan

The Milanese society enjoys spending time and chatting with friends every day after work or during the weekend before going to dinner. 

The way they love to do so is by gathering in any of the many bars and aperitivo spots in the city.

Here, for a fixed price it’s possible to enjoy a drink (which can be wine or a cocktail) and nibble on tasty snacks and finger food. 

This is the typical Milanese aperitivo, a ritual that no local misses when the opportunity comes up!

If you’re not sure where to go for the best aperitivo experience, one great option is to book this aperitivo tour with a variety of local street food to sample along the way, and you won’t be sorry, because it packs in a lot! 

In fact, during this guided experience, you’ll discover the different ways of relishing the aperitivo Milanese and taste different versions of the aperitivo including cocktails made with typical Milanese spirits (like Aperol, Cinzano, Amaro).

On top of all this, you’ll get to sample wines from the northern regions of the country, paired with delicious local Italian cheeses, cold cuts, and other snacks. 

What’s more, at the end of the tour you will be given the chance to try an espresso coffee and a piece of patisserie!

Having an aperitivo in Milan is one of the most traditional rituals that you can experience during your trip.

If you ask me, it’s the best way to transition from the afternoon to the evening, and it’ll certainly be one of the things that makes your one day in Milan utterly unforgettable! 

Book your Milan Aperitivo + Food Tour here!

15 Marvelous Things to Do in Milan in Winter

the winter scene in milan in winter

With endless museums, restaurants, and landmarks worth checking off your bucket list, there’s really no bad time of year to go to Milan.

Even if you visit Milan in winter when the weather isn’t its best, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep your trip exciting and cozy.

Most of Milan’s key landmarks are concentrated in the (relatively) small city center — making it easy to move from sight to sight on your Milan itinerary without spending too long out in the cold, damp Milan winter.

The vibrant interior of the Milan Duomo with ornate marble floors, wooden pews, heavy pillars that hold up the golden-hued vaulted ceiling of the cathedral

And if the weather is simply too bad for walking, that’s no problem either — Milan’s wonderful public transportation easily brings you from place to place.

From the stunning fresco of the Last Supper tucked away in a small church to the towering spires of the Duomo and the views of the city from up on its terrace, winter is no reason to postpone a trip to Milan.

Here are our 15 favorite things to do in Milan in winter — whether you have one day, a full weekend, or more time, you won’t get bored!

And if you’re not sure where to stay in Milan, read this guide!

Milan in Winter: 15 Best Things to Do!

Explore the Christmas markets in Piazza Duomo.

The christmas tree draped in gold lights and ornaments in front of the milan duomo and lots of people milling about the facade of the duomo visiting market stalls in milan at christmas

If you’re visiting Milan between late November and early January, it’ll be practically impossible to miss the Christmas markets in the main square, Piazza Duomo

All around the Duomo of Milan, you’ll find dozens of wooden huts selling anything and everything Christmas-related, from tree decorations to nativity cribs and Epiphany stockings for the Befana (celebrated on the 6th of January).  

There will also be plenty of food, drinks, and sweets to enjoy, as well as workshop activities and entertainment for kids and adults. 

Warm up with some vin brulé and eat roasted chestnuts while wandering around the colorful huts and stands, all right under the impressive Milan Cathedral. 

Check out the Christmas lights along the Navigli.

Milan at Christmas with lights on the Naviglio Grande canal waterway at evening: Navigli is a district is famous for its restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightlife. Night sky is pink and purple and lights are golden.

The most beautiful Christmas lights in Milan have to be those along the Navigli canals.

The Navigli neighborhood in the south of Milan is a popular nightlife area that, during the holiday season, becomes the scene of the Darsena Christmas Village

While the Christmas Village is popular for children, the area becomes positively magical with Christmas decorations, and it’s a sight to see no matter how old you are. 

The lights are usually on from early December to the beginning of January.

Stroll along the canal, admire  the lovely lights, and check out the stands selling food, drinks, sweets, and Christmas decorations. 

Don’t worry, even if you don’t manage to visit during the holiday season, the area is still beautiful without the Christmas magic!

Go shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Christmas and New Year decoration of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls, Christmas night illumination.

What better way to escape the rain and cold of Milan in winter than by going shopping? 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is right by the Duomo, and it boasts a great variety of shops, ranging from high-end fashion brands to streetwear stores. 

There are also several cafés and restaurants perfect to take a seat at if you need a break from all the shopping!

Even if you don’t plan on shopping, it’s worth stopping in to visit the beautiful gallery, which also happens to be the oldest active shopping gallery in Italy. 

Take in the whole magnificent building, and don’t forget to look up at the impressive glass dome and down at the beautiful mosaic floor! 

While you’re in the gallery, you can’t pass up the chance to perform a… strange… good luck ritual on the bull portrayed on the mosaic tile floor. 

According to legend, placing your right heel on the bulls’ balls (yes, you read that correctly!) and spinning three times will bring you good luck.

It’s at least worth a try, right? 

Discover the Duomo with fewer crowds.

A rare snowy day in Milan in winter with snow on the ground and a person in snow boots and a winter jacket walking in front of the marble facade of the Milan Duomo

While the winter in Milan has some disadvantages, fewer crowds is not one of them!

In fact, why not take advantage of the winter season to pay a visit to the Duomo — the most visited attraction in Milan will be far emptier during this period.

While it’s impressive from the exterior with its marble facade, Gothic spires, and ornate sculpturework, the interior brings things to new levels of impressiveness.

Inside, you’ll find classic artworks, a crypt with the remains of old Italian saints, and the ruins of a Christian baptistry that dates back more than two millennia!

Note that you have to buy a ticket that includes all of the above, like this one, as some tickets are a la carte.

While the weather may not be the best, you should still buy a ticket that allows you access to the rooftop terrace (so long as it’s open — it does occasionally close for bad weather).

You can walk atop the cathedral between its spires and sculptures, with a 360-degree panoramic view of Milan like no other.

If you want to visit the terrace, you can opt for either the elevator (pricier) or the stairs (cheaper) option.

➜ Book the complete Duomo ticket (interior, all museums & terrace), the terrace-only option, or the interior-only option.

Book the Duomo ticket + terraces + guided tour option here.

Watch an opera show at La Scala.

the red velvet boxes and gilded gold decoration of the theater in milan at la scala theater

A show at Milan’s main opera theater is a great way to spend a winter evening. Once the show starts, you’ll forget all about the cold!

The neoclassical Teatro alla Scala was founded at the end of the 18th century and is one of the most famous opera and ballet theaters in the world. Renowned composers such as Verdi and Puccini performed there.     

The theater has over 3,000 seats in a grandiose setting, gilded with the typical balconies and red velvet curtains of the 18th century.

Despite all the glamour and its prestigious reputation, you can catch a show at La Scala at very affordable prices, starting from only 12€! 

While the theater is best known for its opera and ballet performances, they also occasionally have classical musical concerts as well.

If you’re not really in the mood for a show, you can take a one-hour guided tour of the building.

There’s also a theater museum where you can learn about the building’s history as well as seeing temporary exhibits about different artistic themes (such as ballet, opera, etc.).

Book your guided tour of the theater here.

➜ Book tickets to shows on their website here
.

Go for aperitivo, dinner, or cocktails in the hip area around Arco della Pace.

Arco della Pace in the evening, triumphal arch, Milan, Italy, with lights and people walking in the evening lamplight

When in Milan — whether in winter or summer — you simply have to do as the Milanese do and enjoy an aperitivo!

For that, there is no better place than the area near Arco della Pace

Several streets converge into the round Piazza Sempione, famous for the triumphal arch.

On each of these streets, you’ll find many bars and restaurants that fill up with people in the early evening and stay crowded and lively well into the nighttime hours. 

This is one of the trendiest spots in Milan, not just for aperitivo, but also for dinner, late-night drinks, and live music.

Try Deseo or BanghraBar for aperitivo, then discover international cuisines like Indian at Tara or Japanese at Copacabana Temakeria

After dinner, drink a cocktail at Dazi Milano and catch some live music at Jazz Cafè Milano.  

Admire the beautiful art collection of the Pinacoteca di Brera.

facade of Palazzo Brera, house of Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery) on street Via Brera in Milan city, a good place to visit in milan in winter because it's inside

When you’re in Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera is the place to go to admire a world-class beautiful art collection. 

The gallery houses gorgeous paintings by famous artists, including Tintoretto, Rubens, Titian, and Caravaggio.

The most famous one, however, is The Kiss by Francesco Hayez.

On the third Thursday of every month, the art gallery hosts the Brera/Musica project, exploring the relationship between music and the visual arts.

Every month, it features a different concert accompanied by an artwork present in the Pinacoteca, which serves as inspiration for the musicians.

If you happen to be in Milan on the first Sunday of the month, entrance to the art gallery is free!

Book your tickets to the Pinacoteca online here!

Visit Castello Sforzesco without the usual crowds.

Castello Sforzesco in Milan, built in the 15th century, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification, at night with green and red lights lighting it up for Christmas theme

Another great tourist attraction in Milan is Castello Sforzesco.

Gray, rainy winter days are the perfect opportunity to visit everything this place has to offer! 

Even better, the 15th-century castle is right in Milan city center, less than 15 minutes walking from Piazza Duomo, so it’s super accessible. 

The massive castle houses several museums and archives, including the Musical Instruments Museum, the Pinacoteca, the Museum of Ancient Art, and the Archaeological Museum, which includes an Egyptian section. 

You can easily spend an entire day at the castle visiting all the museums.

The best thing is that the entry ticket is valid for all the museums and permanent exhibitions — not a bad deal!

You can spend a little more and get an audio guide ticket — helpful, as the site is so large!

Book your entry ticket + audio guide to the castle here!

Admire The Last Supper at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

the last supper fresco in milan with picture of jesus and the disciples painted on a wall in a church

I’ll be honest: getting to see Leonardo’s masterpiece The Last Supper in person is not that easy, especially if you happen to be in Milan during the peak season.

(That’s why we have a full guide on how to visit the Last Supper!)

However, in winter, you may find it easier to get your hands on a ticket for the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

As well as housing Leonardo’s iconic masterpiece, the Dominican convent is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, so make sure to add it to your list of places to see in Milan. 

While you can enter the church for free, getting into the room with The Last Supper takes a ticket that must be booked online. 

Once you’ve decided to plan a trip to Milan, making a reservation for this place should be the first thing you do.

The tickets become available up to three months in advance, but they typically sell quickly, even during the winter season. 

That said, even if the official tickets are sold out on the church’s website, you can still often snag last-minute tickets by taking a guided tour — there are 1-hour and 3-hour walking tours available.

Plan accordingly, so you don’t miss the chance to see this impressive fresco mural while in Milan!

➜ Book your one-hour guided tour of the Last Supper here!

➜ Book your three-hour guided tour of downtown Milan including the Last Supper here!

Try the traditional ossobuco alla Milanese.

yellow risotto rice on a white plate with veal shank braise with onion, greens, and tomato in the sauce

Nothing says Milanese cuisine like the classic ossobuco alla Milanese (braised veal shanks), made even better with a side of risotto alla Milanese

On a cold winter evening, this heartwarming dish feels even more indulgent and delicious, the perfect way to nourish body and soul after a long day of sightseeing. 

Most Italian restaurants in Milan will serve this traditional dish, from down-to-earth trattorias to fancy restaurants.

While you may notice some differences from place to place, whatever restaurant you choose, you can’t go wrong. 

Some of the most popular places for Ossobuco alla Milanese are Antica Trattoria della Pesa, Trattoria Milanese, Al Matarel, El Barbapedana, and Osteria Del Binari

Relax at the thermal baths QC Terme Milano.

lit up wooden sauna with stone heated rocks and stone wall in an upscale spa in winter

This upscale day spa just outside Milan’s city center is a gorgeous place to relax in the thermal pools or enjoy a massage. 

The thermal baths are built on the spot of an old tram depot, and you’ll get the chance to relax in a charming old tram repurposed into a unique steam room.

Where else can you experience that?

Entry prices vary depending on how much time you want to spend in the spa, but they all include access to all wellness activities, as well as towels, bath robes, and slippers.

If you opt for the evening entrance, you’ll also get an aperitivo!

Several massage options are available, from couples’ to facial to anti-stress back massages.

Book your full-day entry tickets to QC Terme Milano here!

Enjoy the vibes of Milano Fashion Week.

Photo Credit: Art Comments via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Of course, if you’re visiting Milan in the winter, you probably already know that Milano Fashion Week is the most awaited event of the winter, not just in Milan but in all of Italy! 

Although getting a ticket for the high-end fashion shows may be a bit complicated since they are invitation-only, there are plenty of related events happening all around the city that you’ll have a much easier time getting into!

You could watch minor fashion shows from emerging designers, attend temporary exhibitions dedicated to the fashion world, or just bundle up and watch the catwalks on the maxi screens that are usually installed in Piazza San Babila.

If you really want to get your hands on a ticket for a fashion show, do some research in advance, as some charity organizations sell tickets at an auction. 

The exact dates of Milan Fashion Week change every year, but the autumn/winter event is usually at the end of February.

Attend the Sant’Ambrogio Festival.

The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, one of the most ancient churches in Milan, Italy, named for Milan's patron saint

The celebration of the patron saint of Milan, Sant’Ambrogio, is an extremely important festivity in the city. 

On the 7th of December, locals head to the mass at the Church of Sant’Ambrogio, but that’s just the beginning of the celebration.

The patron saint’s festival includes a traditional Christmas market in front of Castello Sforzesco, where you’ll find hundreds of stands selling artisan works, sweets, food, and drinks. 

The market is known as “Fiera degli Oh Bej! Oh Bej!”.

The name dates back to 1510 when an envoy from Rome brought several gifts and sweets to Milan.

According to tradition, when they saw the gifts, the locals shouted “Oh Bej!” to express their surprise and delight.

The Sant’Ambrogio Festival also marks the inauguration of the opera season at La Scala.

Since 1778, every year on the 7th of December, the theater sees the opening of a new show!

Go ice skating in Indro Montanelli Garden.

Red gloved hands tying an ice skate, white jacket and white skates

Although snow in Milan is uncommon, many artificial ice rinks are set up all over the city during the Christmas period. 

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a cold afternoon in Milan, put on your warmest coat and check out the ice rink at Indro Montanelli Garden.

From the end of November to the beginning of December, the park in the center of Milan becomes the setting of the charming Villaggio delle Meraviglie (Village of Maravels). 

The Christmas village offers many activities, shows, and attractions, mainly for kids, but adults will absolutely find more than enough Christmas spirit to enjoy as well!

Learn about the genius of Leonardo at the interactive museum Leonardo3.

Another spot to escape the cold and rain of Milan winters is the recently opened Leonardo3 interactive museum.

Just outside of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Leonardo3 explores the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, focusing on his inventions.

In the museum, you’ll be able to see working models of Leonardo’s machines, as well as digitized restorations of his famous paintings. 

The uniqueness of the museum lies in the hundreds of interactive 3D reconstructions and multimedia elements that bring Leonardo’s genius to life.

Through interacting with these exhibits, you’ll get hands-on insight about just how brilliant and transformative of a thinker da Vinci was.

You can book the tickets for the museum online or buy them directly at the entrance of the museum.

Book your tickets to Leonardo3 online here!

Where & How to See the Last Supper in Milan (+ 7 Key Tips!)

the beautiful artwork of the last supper in milan, a famous painting of jesus with his disciples sitting around him

If you visit Milan, one of the top attractions after the Duomo and the Sforzesco Castle is Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper.

While the mural is famous enough to attract countless visitors yearly, actually getting in to admire the masterpiece is no walk in the park.

As you might expect for a mural painting, The Last Supper couldn’t be moved to some prestigious museum, so it remains in its original place…

And that just so happens to be the dining room of an unassuming church that you would easily walk past without a second glance!

view of the circular side of the santa maria delle grazie convent seen through courtyard archways and the building seen between the arch's negative space

Even so, you can’t just show up at the door and pay to see the artwork.

You need a reservation, which you’ll probably have to make well in advance of your visit.

Read on to learn how to prepare for your visit to this impressive masterpiece, along with a few historical facts and tips to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  

Brief History of the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, with a red brick facade and a rounded building in the other side. This church and the adjacent Dominican convent were built during the 15th century. The back wall of the convent dining hall is covered by "The Last Supper"

You may not know this from the photos, but this is a seriously massive painting!

The church and adjacent convent were built between 1463 and 1469 after Count Gaspare Vimercati (who was a troop commander for the Sforza family) gave the land to the Dominican priests of the Sant’Apollonia convent in Pavia.

The Last Supper covers an entire wall in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. 

Prior to construction of the church and convent, the site was home to a building housing the Vimercati troops, as well as a small chapel displaying a fresco of Our Lady of Graces, the Virgin Mary. 

The fresco led the priests to dedicate the new church and convent to Our Lady of Graces, hence the name Santa Maria delle Grazie.

In 1492, the new Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza (known as Ludovico il Moro), decided to renovate the church and transform it into a family mausoleum.

As a part of the renovation, he commissioned Leonardo Da Vinci to paint The Last Supper in the church refectory.

In 1543, the church’s Chapel of the Holy Crown was adorned with an altarpiece by Titian, The Crowning with Thorns.

the famous painting by titian which once belonged in the building alongside the last supper but now is in the louvre after napoleon stole it
Titian’s work is longer viewable in the original site, but is now in the Louvre

The painting was later taken to France thanks to Napoleon’s infamous practice of looting art during his military conquests, and it is now in the Louvre.  

The church saw significant renovations during the 19th century, which included the reconstruction of the bell tower and the addition of a new cloister.

On the 15th of August, 1943, the church was significantly damaged during bombardment by Allied forces.

Most of the refectory was destroyed, but miraculously, the wall with The Last Supper survived due to prior reinforcement with sandbags.

After the war, the church was only partially rebuilt.

The Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

In 1993, Pope John Paul II elevated the church to the rank of a minor basilica.  

Brief History of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper

the famous mural painting of the last supper as seen in the santa maria delle grazie church, preserved fairly well given its age

As mentioned above, Leonardo’s mural painting of The Last Supper is huge, covering an entire wall inside the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, now one of the biggest landmarks in Milan alongside the Duomo

Following the commission of Ludovico il Moro, then Duke of Milan, Leonardo started working on The Last Supper in 1495 and only finished in 1498, although he did not work continuously.

(I mean, who among us hasn’t procrastinated on a big project?)

Leonardo opted for an experimental technique to create his masterpiece.

Instead of painting on wet plaster, as usual for frescoes at the time, he decided to apply a white preparatory layer to smoothen the wall and then used a dry technique. 

As a result, the colors were not absorbed by the wet plaster. This experimental technique is the reason for the nearly immediate loss of pigment and decay of the fresco.

The reason for this unusual choice was Leonardo’s desire to work slowly and be able to make changes.

He wanted to infuse as many details as possible in his painting, and the classic fresco technique did not allow for many changes. 

While the meticulous approach of the artist led to an undeniable masterpiece, it also came at quite a cost, condemning the artwork to a fast deterioration.

The beauty of the Last Supper quickly faded | Photo Credit: Richard Mortel via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The first testimony of the decay of the painting dates to 1517, not even two decades after Leonardo finished the masterpiece.

Over the following decades, other artists observed that the paint was literally falling off the wall, and the fresco was just a faint shadow of the original work.

Early attempts to restore the fresco consisted of repainting entire portions of the artwork.

While they may have had some effect, the result was that little was left of the original work painted by Leonardo. 

By the 20th century, restoration works had changed to an approach that focused on preserving the art piece and preventing further decay.

Between 1977 and 1999, a massive restoration work concentrated on recovering parts of the original painting by removing subsequent overpainting.

Though what remains is extremely faded and fragile, the fresco as you see it today is as close as possible to Leonardo’s original masterpiece.

detail of three people that has faded over time in the last supper fresco by da vinci
More detail of the Last Supper | Photo Credit: Richard Mortel via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The scene depicts the famous moment from Scripture when Jesus told his Apostles that one of them was about to betray him. 

In designing the work, Leonardo focused on the facial expressions of the Apostles upon receiving the surprising news.

Vivid portrayal of human emotions is one of the most distinctive features of Leonardo’s work, but in this painting, it reaches its absolute pinnacle of impressive representation. 

According to a testimony of artist Giorgio Vasari from 1550, Leonardo “gave to the heads of the apostles great majesty and beauty, but left that of Christ imperfect, not thinking it possible to give that celestial divinity which is required for the representation of Christ.”  

Years of close study of the painting led other artists and critics to identify many symbolic elements, like the spilled salt next to Judas, considered a bad omen, or Judas’ hand holding a purse of money, a reference to the thirty pieces of silver for which he betrays Jesus.

The full view of The Last Supper | Photo Credit: Richard Mortel via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Leonardo’s masterpiece was an immediate inspiration to other artists who made copies of the fresco on various materials, from canvas paintings to mosaics and sculptures.

At first, artists created replicas because they feared for the integrity of the mural, which was already showing signs of decay.

Around the mid-16th century, an unknown artist painted a fresco in the church of Sant’Ambrogio in Ponte Capriasca, Switzerland.

Later, in 1612, The Last Supper was severely damaged, so Cardinal Federico Borromeo had a canvas copy made by Andrea Bianchi, known as Vespino.

The copy was placed in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, where you can still admire it when visiting today. 

While some artists tried to reproduce Leonardo’s mural painting as faithfully as possible, others were inspired to create original works.

One such work is Andrea del Sarto’s 16th-century fresco inside the refectory of the church of San Salvi in Florence, now a museum.

Ticket Options to See The Last Supper

Detail of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church doors with dark brown wood carvings, inside you'll find the Da Vinci Last Supper Painting in Milan, Italy

The cheapest option to see The Last Supper is to book your visit through the museum website.

Reservations open for every trimester, roughly one month before the start of the booking period.

For example, for the period between November and January, reservations open at the end of September.

If you visit Milan any time between June and September, keep your eyes on the calendar opening, as tickets sell out fast!

In the slow season, such as if visiting Milan in winter, you have a higher chance of finding tickets even just a couple of weeks before. 

Consider yourself officially warned: do not expect to be able to book for the following day or even a few days ahead, regardless of the time of the year.

Such events are rare and purely up to chance. 

If you’re not having any luck booking regular tickets in time, don’t worry! You have a few backup options left to try. 

detail of the figures in the last supper painting in the room of the church where the fresco is painted
The full view of the Last Supper | Photo Credit: Rex Hammock via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Organized guided tours usually have availability even if you book a few days before — great if you have an impromptu day in Milan like a layover that you’re planning last minute.

This Da Vinci’s Last Supper Guided Tour is one of the cheapest options, and it allows you to learn about the fascinating history of the mural painting from an expert guide. The tour lasts roughly an hour.

Book this hour-long Last Supper guided tour here!
beautiful view of the milan duomo from the side a key european landmark

A great alternative that combines the visit to The Last Supper with a walking tour of Milan is this Historical Walking Tour and The Last Supper Ticket.

You’ll learn about Milan’s Renaissance history, pass by the Duomo, Teatro La Scala, and Sforza Castle, stroll through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and check out Piazza dei Mercanti, the heart of Milan’s medieval heritage.

The tour lasts around three hours, including the 15-minute visit to The Last Supper.

Book this 3-hour Milan walking tour + Last Supper guided visit here!

Finally, another great option, though not available year-round, is this Milan In the Footsteps of Da Vinci 3-Hour Art Tour.

The tour explores the works of Leonardo Da Vinci in two locations, Santa Maria delle Grazie for The Last Supper and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana for the Atlantic Codex and Il Musico.

Along the way, your guide will tell you more about the life and genius of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Book this 3-hour Da Vinci-themed art tour of Milan here!

Tips for Planning Your Visit to The Last Supper

Night at the Santa Maria delle Grazie is a Dominican church and convent in Milan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the last supper painting

Currently, you can admire Leonardo’s masterpiece from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:15 AM to 7 PM.

The museum is closed every Monday, as well as for New Year’s and Christmas Day.

Sometimes, you may find some out-of-the-ordinary opening times, so be sure to check the official website.

To be sure you’ll enjoy this world-famous masterpiece as much as possible, here are a few tips to prepare for your visit.

Reserve entry tickets well ahead of time!

a few people in front of the backside of Santa Maria delle Grazie old church with Last Supper Leonardo Da Vinci inside

I can’t emphasize this enough: book well in advance.

Access to The Last Supper is restricted to only a few visitors at a time, in turns of 15 minutes.

This means there is limited availability when it comes to tickets, and the only way to manage the high demand is by only allowing visitors who booked in advance.

If you don’t want to miss out on this attraction, you need to book your tickets ahead of time, and I mean up to three months before your visit, depending on the season.

Once you know your travel dates to Milan and start planning your Milan itinerary, booking a time slot for The Last Supper should be the very first thing you do.

Remember, you can book directly on the official website or get a guided tour. 

the mostly-empty room that houses the last supper in milan with people looking at the painting
The small room which houses the Last Supper | Photo Credit: tomasz przechlewski via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Organized guided tours usually have availability even if you book a few days before.

The cheapest option (and thus the guided tour that sells out the most quickly) is this one: Da Vinci’s Last Supper Guided Tour.

It’s cheaper because it’s only one hour long and is a tour of the church and Last Supper time slot only.

Book this hour-long Last Supper guided tour here!

If that’s sold out, there’s also this Historical Walking Tour and The Last Supper Ticket.

It’s pricier because it also includes a walking tour of Milan, taking a total of 3 hours, only 15 minutes of which are dedicated to viewing The Last Supper.

Book this 3-hour Milan walking tour + Last Supper guided visit here!

Remember to pick up your tickets in person if needed.

View of Santa Maria Novella church in milan from the back view from a street, the church is done in the renaissance style, house of the da vinci's fresco " the last supper"

If you book an entry ticket on the museum’s website, don’t forget to pick up the tickets 30 minutes before your entry time.

You’ll have to go to the museum’s ticket office and show your ID to obtain your tickets.

This step is vital, as you can’t enter the museum just with the booking confirmation.

Furthermore, if you don’t show up roughly 30 minutes before the visit, you may lose your tickets and miss out entirely.

If you go with a guided tour, this step is not necessary as your guide will handle this part for you!

Tip: If you stay close to the area, this is even easier to do — the Navigli area is one of the best places to stay in Milan and is really close to the Last Supper!

Book a guided tour for more context.

dark shot of the interior of the last supper with limited lighting in order to not further deteriorate the painting which is already in disrepair
A small group inside the church refectory | Photo Credit: tomasz przechlewski via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

If you are interested in learning more about Leonardo’s masterpiece and the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, consider getting a guided tour.

To be honest, the tour is one of the best ways to enjoy this classic work!

Even if you think it’s not worth it just for one work of art, you’ll be surprised to learn the many stories and hidden meanings behind the complex mural painting.

The guided tours are in Italian and English, with various time slots available from Tuesday to Sunday.

Be sure to note the schedules for the Italian and English tours to make sure you can book the correct one!

Leave big bags and backpacks in the cloakroom.

a handful of people inside the last supper room of the church, looking at the fresco, with small lights and guard
View of the Last Supper for scale | Photo Credit: Anthony via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Visitors are not allowed to enter the room of The Last Supper with backpacks, suitcases, or any other big bag.

After picking up your tickets, you’ll be asked to leave your belongings in the coat check for the duration of your visit.

If you want to avoid leaving your luggage, leave it in the hotel or store it in one of the many storage places around the city.

Note that you can enter with a small bag or fanny pack.

Be mindful of the time you have for the visit.

the other work that you can see in the church, the crucifixion painting, which is better preserved through the centuries
Don’t miss seeing the famous work The Crucifixion too!

Remember that you only have 15 minutes to admire Leonardo’s impressive artwork.

However, there is only one other painting to distract you from the masterpiece, so you’ve got plenty of time to focus on the multitude of details.

Even so, don’t forget to check out also The Crucifixion by Donato Montorfano on the south wall.

The Crucifixion appears in much better shape than The Last Supper, given that it was painted with the classic fresco technique.

The most damaged parts are the additions that Leonardo made later, painting in Ludovico il Moro with his firstborn, Maximilian, and his wife, Beatrice d’Este, with their other son, Francesco.

After admiring the mural, you can learn more about its creation and many restorations in the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum. In total, the visit won’t take more than an hour.

Be aware of photography rules.

a view of the refectory wall with the last supper painting seen in front of you
No flash allowed | Photo Credit: Joyofmuseums (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can only take photographs of the painting without flash.

Camera flashes can damage the already fragile work of art, so they are strictly forbidden.

Furthermore, you are not allowed to take videos of The Last Supper.

Even if you could, the low light of the room and the feeble lights pointing at the mural make it nearly impossible to take a decent video, and remember: no tripods allowed!

Don’t skip the visit to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Inner yard of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, which is nice to visit after seeing the last supper in the church interior

The room with The Last Supper is separate from the church, so you won’t necessarily have to enter it.

However, entry to the church is free of charge so, while you’re there, why not check it out? 

The church interior is beautifully decorated with frescoes on the ceiling and in the multiple chapels.

One of the most noteworthy frescoes is the Crucifixion by Gaudenzio Ferrari, inside the Santa Corona Chapel.

When planning your trip to the church, you can be a little more flexible with timing, since it’s open to visitors at any time except during mass service.

Visiting the Milan Duomo + Terraces: 7 Tips for the Milan Cathedral

The terraces of the milan duomo with brilliant blue sky with some patchy clouds

No trip to Milan would be complete without paying a visit to the Duomo!

The iconic Gothic cathedral is the city’s symbol, and usually the first landmark in Milan on any tourist’s itinerary.

What you may not know is that there’s way more to see than just the cathedral!

In fact, the Historical Complex of the Milan Duomo also includes a museum, an archaeological area, and the Church of Saint Gotthard (Chiesa di San Gottardo)…. as well as, of course, the iconic cathedral!

The many spires of the Milan Duomo, one of the most famous landmarks of Milan, with an ornate marble facade
The stunning spires of the Milan Duomo are part of its uniqueness

Aside from visiting the inside of the massive cathedral, you can step out on to its terraces to admire the rooftop and spires up close while enjoying the impressive view of Milan’s skyline.

This may be the best view of all of Milan, so definitely don’t miss out on seeing the views from the terrace!

We’ll go into detail about how to incorporate this key Milan attraction into your Milan itinerary — whether you have just a day in Milan, two days, or more.

Keep reading to discover more about Italy’s largest church, and how to visit the Milan Duomo in full, appreciating each part of this vast complex.

A Brief History of the Milan Duomo

The facade and side view of the Milan Duomo
The Duomo di Milan is the largest church in Italy!

The Milan Duomo is technically the largest church in Italy, considering that Saint Peter’s, the largest church in the world, is in Vatican City, which is considered a separate nation.

Construction on the impressive cathedral started in 1386 but took nearly six centuries. The final details of the façade weren’t completed until 1965!

The construction of the Duomo started during the height of the Gothic style, so it’s not surprising that this is the dominant style.

However, the church features a mix of architectural elements, as the lengthy construction ran through multiple architectural movements and styles.

The Duomo site was previously occupied by two ancient basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Tecla. A few ruins of both churches are now visible in the Duomo Archaeological Area!

One interesting historical fact about the construction of the cathedral is that it was a truly international affair, drawing architects, engineers, and sculptors from all over Europe.

In 1387, the Lord of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, founded the Veneranda Fabrica del Duomo (Duomo Factory) and decided that the church had to be built with Candoglia marble rather than brick.

The unique material was a departure from the Gothic style of the time, and it drew specialized stonecutters from different countries to work at the Milan Duomo.

The apse, with its awe-inspiring stained-glass windows, was the first to be built, followed by the naves and transept.

The detail of the stained glass apse in the Milan Duomo, as well as several hung tapestries, creating a rich variety of sights to see in the cathedral

The most difficult part of the cathedral to design and build was the tiburium, the main cathedral tower, topped by the spire that now holds the Madonnina.

Many famous architects of the time contributed to the design of the tiburium, including Leonardo Da Vinci!

A particularly prolific period in the construction of the Milan Duomo took place under the guidance of Carlo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584.

But the Milan Duomo’s signature facade was what took the longest to build: starting at the end of the 16h century and only finishing in 1965. Meanwhile, the interior of the cathedral had already seen many changes!

The 8,600 square meters of the Milan Duomo complex require constant maintenance and restoration to keep the cathedral in good condition.

In recent years, the Veneranda Fabrica del Duomo launched the “Adopt A Spire” initiative (Adotta una guglia), allowing donors to choose their favorite out of the 135 spires to benefit from their donation!

Key Landmarks to Visit in the Milan Duomo Complex

A statue of a man on horseback with a sword, facing the Milan duomo, which is aglow in golden light at either sunrise or sunset

Let’s not beat around the bush: the Duomo complex is massive! Between its cathedral, terrace views, its archaeological site, its museum, and its adjoining church, there’s no pressure to see it all.

Pick and choose the parts you want to see most, depending both on your interest level and how much time you have on your Milan itinerary.

All of the monuments are centralized around Piazza del Duomo, so if you’re up for a sightseeing marathon, you could potentially visit them all in one day.

However, if you’d rather take your time, you can buy a pass, which allows you to split your visit over three consecutive days.

Whether you decide to stay for an afternoon or take a few days to really soak in the Duomo’s history, here’s what you need to know about each landmark.

It may also help to stay close to the Duomo area when you are deciding where to stay in Milan, so you can take your time and see it all at leisure, rather than forcing yourself to visit it all in one go, which can be tiresome.

The Cathedral

Busy day outside the milan cathedral with bright light showing the taupe and greyish brown brick work on the facade of the Milan Duomo on a sunny summer day.

Obviously the Duomo (Cathedral) itself is the main site to see here!

It’s beloved for its iconic marble façade and seemingly innumerable spires, all reaching upwards towards the Milan sky.

Outside, you’ll find a variety of ornate sculptures, stunning bas-reliefs works, opulent windows, and intricate spires.

Be sure to tour the square (Piazza del Duomo) thoroughly to admire the refined details of the massive cathedral.

The detailed marble sculptures on the exterior of the Milan Duomo, several figures creating exquisite detail

While some have criticized the fact that the Milan Duomo “stole” from many styles around the world, the mix of elements is the most distinctive feature of the cathedral, and the result is undoubtedly unique.

While a picture in front of the Milan Duomo is a must for any visitor, you shouldn’t skip a tour of the interior!

The central nave is lined with massive columns typical of the Gothic style, and the stained-glass windows are beautifully decorated with biblical scenes.

Interior of the Milan Duomo, with stained glass, intricate wood carvings, pews, and a marble detailed tile floor

The cathedral houses many artworks, including the famous sculpture of Saint Bartholomew Flayed by Marco d’Agrate.

You’ll also find multiple sarcophagi of key historical personalities in Milan, the altarpiece by Federico Zuccari (Saint Agata Visited in Prison by Saint Peter), and many other monuments, altars, and sculptures.

It’s quite the sight, so be sure to dedicate enough time to truly explore every nook and cranny of the cathedral’s interior.

The Terraces

The rooftop views from the Milan Duomo with stunning blue sky and lots of spires and statues atop the spires, people atop the terraces looking at the views of Milan on a sunny day

Without a doubt, the most exceptional way to experience the Milan Duomo is from its rooftop!

Take an elevator or climb the 200 steps (you’ll probably need to pause to catch your breath!) to reach the vast terrace of the Duomo and get a closer look at the spires, gargoyles, sculptures, and arches.

Looking out from between Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Neoclassical decorative elements, you’ll be able to gaze at Milan’s skyline and admire the striking contrast between the historic cathedral and the modern buildings and towers emerging from the background.

the golden madonnina statuette figure atop the milan duomo, a famous sign of the city

A key element to check out on the rooftop is the Golden Madonnina, Milan’s symbol since 1774 when it was installed on the highest point of the cathedral.

This glorious 4-meter sculpture is covered in nearly seven thousand sheets of pure gold!

The Madonnina is not just a religious symbol but a civic one too.

In 1848, during “The Five Days of Milan” which led to the expulsion of the Austrians from the city, Italy’s flag was raised by the Madonnina.

This became a Milanese tradition, and the flag is now raised on many public holidays!

The Archaeological Area

Archaeological Site (Early Christian Baptistery) in the Milan Duomo site
An early Christian baptistry archaeology site | Photo Credit: Holly Hayes via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Several excavations took place under the Duomo, particularly around the end of 19th century, bringing to light the remains of two previous cathedrals, Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Tecla.

Besides that, they also found the remnants of two ancient baptisteries, Santo Stefano alle Fonti and San Giovanni alle Fonti.

Unfortunately, the archaeological area today only holds a fraction of the buildings retrieved over the years.

A large portion of the find is now in the Duomo Museum, including remains of the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore Church.

Although many parts of the ancient buildings have been lost over time, you can still witness impressive ruins under the Duomo.

The oldest building known on the site is the 4th-century baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti, discovered during the excavations of 1961-63.

Construction of this baptistery was ordered by Ambrose of Milan, now one of Milan’s patron saints.

The architectural remnants of the Santa Tecla Cathedral also date to the 4th century CE.

Finally, the few ruins of the baptistery of Santo Stefano alle Fonti now lie below Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, not far from the Duomo underground.

The Duomo Museum

Several statues mounted on a wall inside a museum where you can see some of the more iconic parts of the Duomo's architecture and art over the years
Marble statues in the Duomo Museum | Image Credit: Dimitris Kamaras

Although the Duomo Museum is a relatively recent addition, only opening as recently as 1953, it quickly became an important place to discover more about the history of the Duomo.

The museum houses remarkable original artworks retrieved from the cathedral over the centuries.

Its collection includes everything from original stained-glass windows and sculptures to paintings, tapestries, and other decorative elements.

The museum is the perfect place to visit if you’re curious about the history of the Duomo construction, spanning nearly 600 years!

Plan your museum visit before heading inside to check out the cathedral interior so you’ll have an idea of its history beforehand: it makes seeing the cathedral all the more enriching!

Church of Saint Gotthard

Belltower in famous chiesa di san gottardo in corte church on a sunny day in Milan with the duomo spires visible behind it.

Chiesa di San Gottardo in Corte (Church of Saint Gotthard) is a small church next to the Duomo Museum that was made a part of the Duomo Complex in 2015 following significant renovation work.

The church was built between 1330 and 1336 on the commission of the lord of Milan, Azzone Visconti, later buried here.

The tomb of the former lord of Milan is one of the main sights inside the church.

The church bell tower is famous for housing the first public clock in the city! The bell chimed every hour, beginning with the first hour after sunset.

While you can’t climb to the top of the bell tower to look around, be sure to admire its elaborate Gothic design.

Duomo Ticket Options and Guided Tours of the Milan Duomo

The statue of a lion and the facade of the Milan Duomo church, with the golden madonnina sculpture perched high on one of the spires.

So, now that you’ve booked your trip to Milan, it’s time to buy tickets to visit the Duomo.

The options are countless, so it’s easy to be confused about which to get, but this guide should help! 

First things first: you need to decide whether you want to buy a simple entry ticket to visit the Duomo landmarks on your own, or if you’d prefer to take a guided tour.

These passes give you access to specific landmarks of the Duomo Complex, and you can explore at your own pace.

Note: None of these options include a visit to the Last Supper, which is another church entirely!

Option 1: Milan Cathedral + All Sites + Rooftop Ticket

the backside of the milan duomo building with marble facade, spires, stained glass window, and people walking around behind it
The back of the Duomo is just as beautiful as the front!

This Milan Cathedral and Rooftop Ticket gives you access to all the landmarks of the Duomo Complex for three consecutive days!

It also includes the option of an audio guide available in multiple languages to enrich the experience.

You’ll be able to see not only the cathedral’s interior and its rooftop terraces, but also the Duomo Museum, the Chiesa di San Gottardo in Corte, and the archaeological site.

Check availability of Milan Duomo + Rooftop Terrace tickets here!

Option 2: Duomo Rooftop Terraces Only

The view from the terraces of Milan Duomo
You can also just get tickets to the rooftop views from the Duomo!

Not so into seeing churches and just want that stunning view over Milan?

If you’re just interested in visiting the terraces, you can check out this Milan Cathedral Rooftop Terraces Ticket, a skip-the-line ticket valid for a single day.

You can choose whether you access the terrace by stairs or elevator. The ticket also includes a 10% discount at the Duomo Shop, but it does not include entrance to the cathedral itself or any of the other sights.

Check availability for the Cathedral Rooftop Terraces ticket here!

Option 3: Cathedral + Optional Duomo Museum (Terraces Excluded)

The vibrant interior of the Milan Duomo with ornate marble floors, wooden pews, heavy pillars that hold up the golden-hued vaulted ceiling of the cathedral
The interior of the Milan Duomo really shouldn’t be missed!

If, on the other hand, you want to visit only the cathedral and, optionally, the Duomo Museum, you can get this Milan Cathedral Direct Entrance – Terrace Excluded.

The skip-the-line ticket is perfect if you don’t have much time and want to make the most of your trip to Milan. 

Choose carefully, though! The ticket for the cathedral alone is only valid for one day, while if you add entrance to the museum, the ticket is valid for three.

Check availability of skip-the-line Cathedral + Optional Museum access!

Option 4: All Sites + Skip the Line + Guided Tour

another view of the interior of the milan duomo, the nave, with arches, ornate detailing on the pillars and cupola, and stained glass elements
The detailed apse of the Duomo is extremely beautiful!

Last of all, this Fast-Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour includes entrance to all the landmarks plus a guided tour of the cathedral, terraces, and archaeological area.

At the end of the guided tour, stick around to visit the Duomo Museum and San Gottardo Church on your own. 

This is your best option if you want to see everything and learn more about the landmarks from an expert guide.

The icing on the cake is a sweet 20% discount on any and all souvenirs from the official Duomo shop if you’re looking for a sweet Milan souvenir!

Check availability of the all-access guided tour and skip-the-line tickets!

Things to Know Before Visiting the Milan Duomo

Interior of the pillars of the Duomo looking up to the vaulted ceiling of the inside
The pillars of the interior of the Duomo are striking

So far, we’ve covered all the basics about the five key Milan Duomo landmarks and all the practical information to plan your visit.

Now, it’s time to cover a few tips to ensure you have the best experience possible and don’t run into any issues.

Buy tickets ahead of time

The terrace of the Duomo with lots of people enjoying the stunning views over the city

Especially if you visit Milan during high season, you likely ought to reserve tickets in advance.

While you may have no problem finding last-minute tickets during, say winter in Milan, you should be sure to book your visit a few days before during the peak of tourist season.

Buying your ticket online in advance will also allow you to save time when in Milan and do more sightseeing. 

Recap of Duomo Ticket Options:

For All Sites + Tour: Check availability here
For Cathedral Only (+ Optional Museum): Check availability here

For Cathedral + Terraces: Check availability here
For Terraces Only: Check availability here

Choose the right ticket type 

stained glass and sculpture at the very front and center of the church, extremely colorful and detailed
Not all tours are created equal – make sure you book the right one!

You can choose between many ticket types, each including different landmarks and types of access to the cathedral and other sites. Make sure to check that you selected the right one.

If you have trouble finding your preferred ticket, don’t forget to check other options and guided tours that may be available, even on short notice.

The last thing you want is to miss out on any parts of the wonderful complex because you got the wrong ticket!

Dress appropriately

Of course, when visiting, remember that the Duomo is a church, and as such, it has a dress code that you’ll need to respect. 

Avoid wearing transparent clothes, sleeveless shirts, and shorts or miniskirts.

Even if you visit during the hot summer months, wear pants or skirts over the knees and bring a scarf to cover your shoulders.

If you wear a hat, remember to remove it before entering the cathedral. The dress code applies to everyone, with no exceptions!

Don’t bring prohibited items

As is the case with many museums in Italy, you’ll have to go through airport-like security to enter most landmarks of the Duomo Complex.

Remember to leave any sharp objects, drones, and glass objects in your hotel room.

It’s also prohibited to use a tripod or selfie stick in most areas, so you may as well leave that behind as well.

Check the weather before planning your visit

A view from the duomo terrace on a sunny day in the city of Milan, views over the square, spires, and the rest of the milan cityscape
Booking a three-day ticket with terrace access allows you to pick the best weather day for your terrace visit!

A part of the visit you shouldn’t skip is the access to the terraces.

As you can probably imagine, these are all out in the open, so rain is the last thing you’ll want for your visit. 

Check the weather forecast before booking your tickets to ensure you’ll get the best view of the impressive cathedral and skyline.

If you get a pass, remember you get three days to visit all the monuments, so you can plan your visit to the terraces when the weather is nicer.

Store your luggage somewhere

Womans hand holding luggage
Find places to store your luggage if needed!

You won’t be allowed to access the areas of the Duomo Complex with big backpacks or rolling luggage.

Apart from the museum, the other landmarks don’t have any storage space, so you won’t be able to leave your luggage anywhere before your visit. 

If you plan your visit before you check in or after you check out from your hotel, remember to find storage somewhere else before heading to the Duomo.

Visit in November to see the “Quadroni” of Saint Charles Borromeo

Last, but certainly not least, November is a special month to visit the Milan Duomo.

While the weather outside may not be great to enjoy the city, you can admire the famous “Quadroni di San Carlo” exhibited inside the cathedral.

San Carlo Borromeo is the patron saint of the Lombardy region, celebrated on November 4th.

During the entire month of November, the nave of the Milan Duomo gets adorned with two series of paintings depicting the life and miracles of the saint. 

The cathedral is particularly beautiful during this time of year, so if you’re around, be sure to visit and admire the festivities.

Where to Stay in Milan

Downtown Milan

A great option in downtown Milan is Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, a quaint guest house located in an elegant 18th-century building with a terrace offering great views of downtown.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Brera

For a more quiet part of Milan than the center, San Marco Boutique Apartments features spacious studios in the Brera district with modern kitchenettes and A/C.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Porta Romana

For a slice of local life in Milan, La Casa Colorata features beautiful modern units — with access to two saunas in the common relaxing area!

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

2 Days in Milan: Itinerary for the Perfect Weekend in Milan City Break

the milan cathedral and its fancy facade and spires on a sunny day in milan italy

Are you planning to visit Milan for 2 days, maybe a weekend, and want to make the most of it? Then this is the guide that you need!

Unlike other Italian cities that pack so many things to do that it feels like you need a whole month to see them, Milan is quite easy to visit in a couple of days.

This is not because there is little to do, but because all of Milan’s landmarks are concentrated in quite a small area!

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

Besides, the city has a super-efficient transport system that makes it simple to reach those few attractions off the beaten track.

If Milan is a city you plan to include in your Italy itinerary (and trust me, you should), then read on and to know more about those things you should do in Milan in two days.

If you have more than 2 days in Milan, that’s a perfect excuse to start exploring some of the epic day trips around Milan — like Lake Como and its lakeside towns, Lake Garda, and more.

And if you have less, well, I have a one-day Milan itinerary for you!

Before we get started on our Milan itinerary, here are a few things you need to know!

What to Know Before You Visit Milan

As a major force in global economy, Milan is both the economic capital of Italy and also the second-most populated city in the country after Rome.

It’s also considered the Fashion Capital of Italy — something to say about an already quite fashionable country!

This Milan itinerary doess’t cover it specifically, but if you’re a big fashionista, you’ll want to check out the trendy Fashion District.

Whether you’re window-shopping or maxing out your card at the flagship Prada, you’re sure to enjoy it.

A few of the best shopping streets are Via Montenapoleone, Corso Garibaldi, and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which you shouldn’t miss if you like fashion. You can also take a guided fashion tour.

In Milan’s Business District (Porta Nuova) you will find Italy’s Stock Exchange (locally known as Borsa Italiana) as well as the headquarters of most national and international banks.

Milan is also one of the top European places to visit for those interested in fashion and design!

It is home to the world’s oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as well as important schools for industrial design, high-end fashion, and modern art.

Often described as the least traditionally Italian city in the country, Milan has more of an international atmosphere, appealing to international students who choose to live, study, and work in the city.

When it comes to history and culture, Milan may not be as popular as Florence or Venice.

However, don’t overlook all of Milan’s incredible museums, churches, and other historic buildings that reflect its incredible past as one of Italy’s most important centers for the arts.

Getting to Milan, Italy

Milan is Italy’s one of Italy’s most important cities and thus it is well-connected by all forms of transit.

Milan is located in the northern region of Lombardy, making it easily accessible by plane, but also by car from the rest of Italy and by train from other European countries.

The city of Milan has two international airports, Milano Malpensa and Milano Linate, as well as an efficient urban transport system.

It can be quite affordable to get to Milan from other European cities if you choose one of the several low-cost carriers that operate in Milan. 

All RyanAir flights, for instance, are operated at the Milano Orio Al Serio Airport, located in the nearby town of Bergamo, only an hour from the center of Milan.

Other low-cost air companies, such as EasyJet and Vueling operate both at the Milano Malpensa Airport and Milano Linate Airport.

If you are coming to Milan from a country outside Europe, then Milano Malpensa will be your airport of arrival.

Alternately, you could also land in Rome or Venice and easily reach Milan by train, especially if you are doing a longer Italian itinerary that also includes places like the Cinque Terre, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast.

The Best Time to Visit Milan

two glasses of cocktails cheersing in front of the milan duomo

Milan attracts tourists all year round!

In general, the best seasons to visit are (of course) spring and autumn, when temperatures are neither very high nor very low.

Winter in Milan can get pretty cold and rainy, and on a few rare occasions, the city can also see snow. 

Summers are shorter in Milan than in the southern area of the country, but they can be really hot and many attractions can be closed or operate with reduced hours, especially in August.

The hard-working population in Milan takes their summer break very seriously, so the city is often empty in August.

This can be perfect to walk around and enjoy the lack of traffic and its beautiful parks in complete solitude, but many shops will be closed too.

Where to Stay in Milan

Cathedral spires of Milan's Duomo - this area is a great place to base yourself on a Milan itinerary

The best way to make the most of your 2 day itinerary in Milan is to stay in a central location that makes it easy to move around on foot or with minimal use of public transport.

Areas such as near the Duomo or Castello Sforzesco are central and perfect to visit the most important landmarks in town. 

Those who prefer more of a laid-back vibe should check places to stay in areas such as the Navigli or Brera.

Both neighborhoods offer enough to do and discover, while the atmosphere is a bit less noisy and chaotic than what you will find in more central districts.

Alternatively, you can stay in the areas of Porta Romana or Corso Buenos Aires.

These are tranquil and residential areas, perfect to blend in, feel like a local, and soak in the unique Milanese environment. 

If this is your first time in town and you are not sure where to book your place to stay, keep in mind that the city is fairly safe.

However, it is always a good idea to avoid the areas immediate to the main train station (Milano Centrale) which, as in any important tourist town, attract massive crowds making it easier for the occasional pickpocketer to target distracted travelers.

the neighborhood of brera in milan with plant life and balconies and old buildings, very charming and bohemian

Downtown Milan

One of the best options in downtown Milan is Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, a gorgeous guest house located in an elegant 18th-century building with a beautiful terrace.

It’s within walking distance from Castello Sforzesco, the Duomo, and many shops as well as also offering easy access to the metro.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Brera

For a convenient place to stay in a quieter part of Milan, San Marco Boutique Apartments features comfy spacious studios in the Brera district with nice amenities like modern kitchens and A/C.

The location is perfect, too: just minutes from landmarks such as the Last Supper and the Brera Art Gallery

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Porta Romana

If you want to stay somewhere a little off the beaten path of the main tourist circuit in Milan, La Casa Colorata features beautiful modern units — with access to two saunas in the common relaxing area!

It is located in the heart of the Porta Romana neighborhood which great for getting the idea of the local side of life in Milan, and guests raved about their enthusiastic and wonderful host, Cinzia.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Getting Around Milan

milan metro sign in front of the duomo architecture in the background

While staying in a central area and navigating by foot is the easiest way to get around Milan, the city also has a fantastic public transportation network.

That means that staying in more residential areas can still be a good choice if you want to experience a quieter, more local side to the city.

You can buy metro tickets for 12 euros for a 3-day ticket that would cover your entire weekend in Milan, or buy tickets individually at 2 euros per ride at the metro station.

You can also book this Milan City Pass that is valid for 48 hours and allows you to move around for an affordable fee. It also includes a lot of attractions, including the following:

  • The Duomo Cathedral & its rooftop terraces
  • La Scala Museum & Theatre
  • The World of Leonardo Museum
  • Triennale Design Museum
  • Navigli Canal Cruise (spring/summer only)
  • … and several more Milan attractions and discounts, totaling up to a potential value of 300 euros

Save money and book your Milan City Pass online here!

Milan Itinerary: Day One

the skyline of milan including the milan cathedral on a sunny day with few clouds in the sky

Whether you love art and entertainment, visiting churches or castles, shopping or tasting the local cuisine, Milan is an excellent destination, offering all of that and more!

For that reason, in this 2 day Milan itinerary, I’ve included several opportunities in this to explore all of those possibilities and much more!

Let’s get started with the first day your itinerary for Milan — the true Italian way, with coffee!

Have breakfast like a local.

a cornetto (italian version of a croissant) served with espresso and water

Start your day by experiencing the local Italian breakfast culture!

A typical Italian breakfast consists of a quick cup of espresso or cappuccino and a cornetto, a delicious pastry that is part of the Milanese tradition, which can be plain or filled with custard, chocolate, or jam. 

Italians tend to have a heavy lunch, so starting with a light breakfast is key to enjoying a larger lunch later on.

The best places to fully savor this tradition are the historic bars and coffee shops located along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the most important pedestrian street in town, just a few steps from the Duomo, Milan’s historic cathedral and the next stop on our Milan itinerary.

A few of the places where I suggest you go for a Milanese breakfast are Motta Milano 1928 or Il Bar at La Rinascente Mall food court.

Local’s Tip: Try to finish your coffee before 9 AM, to get to the next stop while it is still not so crowded.

Admire the spectacular Duomo di Milano.

the duomo di milano in milan italy a must visit on a weekend in milan itinerary. church with spires on a sunny day.

The imposing white Milan Cathedral, more popularly known as il Duomo, is a must-see example of Gothic architecture.

You simply can’t miss it when exploring the city center — it’s the #1 Milan landmark!

Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Nativity of Saint Mary, this impressive building is one of the most intricate examples of Perpendicular Gothic and Flamboyant Gothic styles.

It took almost six centuries to be finished — due to the length of its construction, it encompasses the work of over 75 different architects!

The construction of the Duomo began in 1386, and the final details were completed in 1965. No wonder it’s so impressive!

It’s also quite large: in fact, the Duomo is Italy’s largest church, but also third-largest church in the world!

Planning a visit to Duomo di Milano can a bit overwhelming, as there are several ticket options that all offer different price points and sights included. We’ve written a full guide to visiting the Milan Duomo here.

Undoubtedly the most visited landmark in Milan, it is always a good idea to book a small group guided tour to avoid the long waiting lines.

As a bonus, a tour also helps if you’re interested in learning about the secrets of the building, the construction process, and visiting the less accessible areas.

A tour like this will also give you access to such sights as the roof and terraces (with spectacular views of Milan) as well as the archeological area underneath.

This tour in particular also allows you to visit the Duomo Museum and San Gottardo Church, making it a great value.

Book your skip-the-line tickets and tour of the Milan Duomo and terraces!

Wander through the magical Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

wandering through the covered passageway in milan's central area, the famous galleria vittorio emanuele

Right opposite the Cathedral, you cannot miss spending some time at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

This is probably the most beloved place in town and is a popular meeting place for locals in addition to being a favorite photo spot for tourists.

Built between 1865 and 1877, the galleria is the oldest active shopping gallery in Italy and it was named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.

The shopping arcade connects the Duomo Square (Piazza del Duomo) and Piazza Della Scala, right opposite the famous Opera House, Scala di Milano.

Once inside, do not miss the architectural gems it features, including the central octagonal space with a magnificent glass dome.

It’s reminiscent of the beautiful covered passageways in Paris and is simply a must-see.

Pass through the galleria to visit La Scala Opera House.

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Moroder (CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Among the most prestigious opera houses in the world, Teatro Alla Scala, or La Scala, as locals refer to it, is another can’t-miss on this Milan itinerary.

Located right on the opposite side of the Galleria that faces the Duomo, La Scala is a remarkable opera and ballet theater.

Since its opening back in 1778, the venue has hosted Italy’s greatest opera artists as well as singers and ballet dancers from around the world.

La Scala is also home to its chorus, prestigious ballet school, and the famous Filarmonica Della Scala orchestra.

Visitors can head to the official website to book a tour of the La Scala Theater Museum which features a collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other objects related to the theater itself and the history of opera.

It is also possible to join a guided tour like this one which will reveal tons of historic details and curious secrets about the theater!

Book your guided tour online here!

Local’s Tip: Keep in mind that the theater’s opera season often starts on December 7, the day when locals celebrate their patron saint, Sant’Ambrogio.

The opening performance is a popular event in Milan, so make all the arrangements beforehand if you’d like to attend as this performance, in particular, sells fast!

Tickets can only be booked on the official website.

Have a delicious lunch in downtown Milan.

the famous dish panzerotti from puglia on a cutting board

There are tons of great places where to grab a quick bite and then continue touring the city!

One of the best of them is Panzerotti Luini, located within walking distance from both La Scala and the Duomo.

It is a very popular bakery among locals, which has been selling panzerotti turnovers with savory fillings for decades. 

A panzerotto resembles a small calzone: it’s made with pizza dough, filled with a variety of different ingredients, especially mozzarella cheese, and deep-fried.

It’s absolutely delicious — though maybe not the healthiest choice — and will certainly keep you fueled while you tackle the rest of this day’s Milan itinerary.

You can learn more about this place and its unique Pugliese-style dish on their website.

Still hungry? Grab a gelato before continuing on. You only have two days in Milan after all… might as well make the most of it!

Explore the Piazza Mercanti.

Once you’ve had your delicious lunch, next walk along Via dei Mercanti to get to the magnificent Piazza Mercanti.

This spectacular open area used to host Milan’s public market in the past as well as some notable buildings which still stand today, including the Palazzo Delle Scuole Palatine, an important school during the medieval times.

In the area, there is another important building; don’t miss the Palazzo Della Regione, which has housed the Justice Courts of Milan for centuries.

Marvel at Sforzas Castle.

the courtyard of sforza castle in milan, grass and fortress on a clear day

At the very end of Via dei Mercanti, you can easily spot the uncanny shape of the Sforza’s Castle, the Castello Sforzesco, the most impressive fortress in the Lombardy region.

This is a typical medieval fortification that stands on top of an older fortress. It was built back in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, one of the best-known Dukes of Milan. 

Considered one of the largest citadels in Europe during its years of splendor (between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), today it is possible to access the different courtyards and open areas for free!

However, to visit the various art exhibitions and collections that are hosted in the many rooms of the castle, you need to purchase an entry ticket.

This ticket will give you access to all of the exhibitions, something worth considering as the different rooms not only host important collections but also frescos and other works by Renaissance-era important artists including Bramante, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci!

Since the castle is a great place to walk on your own while enjoying the nearby green landscapes as well as the open courtyards it can be a good idea to book a self-guided audio tour like this one to visit every corner of the impressive building without any rush and at your own pace.

The museum hosts also different specialized museums, such as an art collection, a museum of ancient art, a museum of musical instruments, an Egyptian museum, the Archaeological Museum of Milan, and many more.

Relax and unwind in Parco Sempione.

green grass, tv tower, and people in the park at parco sempione, a must visit on any milan itinerary

Once you’ve checked out the castle, you can spend some relaxing time at the Parco Sempione, which can be accessed from the Sforza’s Castle back gate.

The park offers a huge green area with fountains and landscaped gardens.

It also has lots of benches and spots where locals love to go for a quick picnic during their lunch break or any time in the afternoon!

The Sempione Park features dedicated paths for joggers and walkers, as well as bike lanes, so it’s a great place for people-watching and getting a sense of the pace of Milanese life.

Enjoy a Milanese aperitivo.

an aperitivo spread at a milan aperitivo bar

After all this Milan sightseeing, you can finally call it a day and head to experience one of the most authentic traditions in the city, the aperitivo hour!

Locals love to meet at around 7 PM, right before dinner, at one of the many bars in town to chat and share this unique tradition!

For the price of a drink — often a Negroni, a Campari-based cocktail, or a glass of Italian wine — you can access the aperitivo buffet!

Here, you can enjoy as many servings as you want of tasty Italian nibbles, including cheeses and cold cuts, but also different types of bread, olives and even tiny portions of pizza.

Some aperitivi can so abundant that skipping dinner is not rare!

Some of the best places in town for your aperitivo are Camparino in Galleria, adjacent to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Terrazza Duomo 21, in Duomo Square, and Terrazza Aperol in the same area.

Milan Itinerary: Day Two

Admire the Last Supper and Santa Maria delle Grazie Church.

the famous painting of the last supper with jesus and his disciples around him

It is impossible to visit Milan and skip one of the greatest art masterpieces of all time, the Last Supper!

It is a great idea to leave the experience for the early morning of the second day, as it is often crowded. Even if you book an organized tour (which is strongly recommended), there is some waiting time to complete the visit.

This UNESCO World Heritage, the church Santa Maria Delle Grazie is home to the famousLast Supper painting by the remarkable Leonardo Da Vinci.

Since it is a hot tourist spot in the city, booking your visit in advance is something that I highly suggest.

And I do not mean the day before, but at least a couple of weeks or even months before the actual trip! 

This small group tour that I recommend offers a great value-for-money experience.

The guided visit includes a visit to the old refectory where all visitors are allotted a 15-minute time frame to admire the painting.

By joining this tour you will also have the opportunity of learning about the incredible history behind the masterpiece as well as dedicated time to view the painting in an organized fashion.

Don’t miss out — book your tickets to the Last Supper in advance here!

 If you’re interested in further exploring the city’s art scene, then take advantage of the area!

Not far from this church, you can also check out the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana as well as the SantAmbrogio Basilica.

The latter is an important church dedicated to Milan’s patron saint — and it’s also one of the best best-preserved examples of Lombard Romanesque architecture! 

Check out the works at the Brera Art Gallery.

Photo Credit: Danielle Jansen (CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Have a quick panini for lunch and head to the Pinacoteca di Brera for a quiet afternoon discovering some of the most remarkable Italian (and some European) works of art.

These paintings are hosted in the magnificent Palazzo Brera, in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in town, a vibrant bohemian-feeling district also known as Brera (one of our recommended neighborhoods to stay in Milan).

In the same building, there is also an ancient astronomical observatory and a botanical garden.

A tour of the most important parts of the gallery can take you anything between two to four hours, depending on your interests!

Wander around the Navigli and its canals.

the canals of milan in the neighborhood called navigli with beautiful afternoon sunlight

Head to the Navigli district next to explore its canals, and then go for a proper Italian dinner and to enjoy the best of the local nightlife.

The legendary canals of Milan are located in the southern part of the city. This area is a unique spot where you can find dozens of shops, bars, and cafés that are open every day of the week!

However, the area is really popular during the weekends, as it is one of the places that Milanese residents choose to gather and spend a good time with friends.

I cannot think of any better way to end your Milan experience than a sunset walking tour of the Navigli!

The Navigli are a system of interconnected canals that have been around for a long time they date back to the Middle Ages, but they have turned into a popular spot only in the last 15 years or so.

These five canals were used in the past to connect the commercial ports in the Adriatic to Milan.

Today, the canals are mostly used for irrigation and tourist cruises, especially in the biggest canal of the five, Canal Grande also known as Naviglio Grande.

Have a final dinner in the Navigli.

evening in the navigli area with sun already set and lights on

After checking out the canals, it’s time to have a final Italian dinner in Milan.

Is there any better way to end your 2 days in Milan than enjoying a traditional pizza? I don’t think you can beat the experience.

Although there are different restaurants and trattorias where to eat at the Navigli, no other pizza house beats the delicious toppings that you can find in Pizzium.

There are many Pizzium restaurants in town, but the one at the Navigli is probably the most popular.

It is located on Vigevano Street in the Navigli district, and booking ahead is suggested.

Not in the mood for pizza? Enjoy a few Italian dishes in one of the many trattorias, and then go for a late drink by the romantic canal setting!

If You Have More Than 2 Days in Milan…

the cinque terre area of italy not too far from milan - a good addition to a milan itinerary. colorful houses perched on a seaside cliff with flowers and harbor.

Milan makes a great base for different day trips from the city.

Milan is located at quite a strategic point in the north of Italy and is home to one of Italy’s most important train hubs (Stazione Centrale di Milano or Milan Central Train Station). 

This allows travelers not only to reach any other Italian (and European) city, often with a direct train!

But it also means that train travel from Milan is also a great and cost-efficient way to reach small, lesser-known towns in Northern Italy that are definitely worth a day trip!

You can also visit places in southern Switzerland such as St. Moritz and Lugano.

Interesting places to visit from the center of Milan by train include cities such as Bergamo, Brescia, Vicenza, Verona, and Padua. 

From Milan, it is also easy to discover other gems such as Lake Como & Bellagio, the Cinque Terre, Venice (and Venice’s wine country), Bologna, and Florence (and Tuscany’s wine country).

And if you take advantage of fast trains, such as Frecciarossa, you can even get to Rome and Naples in a few hours too. 

If you prefer the guidance of a tour, here are a few suggested organized day tours from Milan.

17 Marvelous Day Trips from Milan: Epic Excursions from Lombardy’s Capital City

If you’re visiting Milan and have extra time to explore the surroundings, you won’t be short on options!

Once you’ve seen Milan’s key sights — the Duomo di Milano, the Last Supper, etc. — you may want to check out some of the region surrounding Milan.

All around Milan, you can find beautiful cities filled with historical landmarks and museums, charming small towns, and stunning natural landscapes.

The rooftop views from the Milan Duomo with stunning blue sky and lots of spires and statues atop the spires, people atop the terraces looking at the views of Milan on a sunny day

After you’ve spent a day or two in Milan, why not explore a little more?

After all, there’s so much to discover within less than two hours from the center of Milan.

Most of these are easily accessible by train, though in some instances, renting a car will save you time and hassle.

Whether you prefer visiting big cities or you’d rather escape the chaos of Milan and wander around in nature, there’s something for every taste.

Hop on a train at Milano Centrale (or one of Milan’s other train stations, near some of the other neighborhoods of Milan) and discover a few of these gorgeous destinations across four different Italian regions: Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, and Liguria.

The Best Day Trips from Milan

Lake Garda

Brilliant turquoise lake on a clear day with a charming Italian lakeside town which is a good day trip from Milan

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, located east of Milan, close to Brescia.

The lake is a popular holiday destination, especially during summer when you can take boat tours and try water sports.

It can get a little busy here as this is also a common day trip from Venice since it’s in between the two cities.

Visit some of the picturesque little towns around the lake, each offering gorgeous views of the lake and mountains around it.

The closest towns to Milan along Lake Garda are Desenzano del Garda, Peschiera del Garda, and the charming little town of Sirmione.

Further north, Salò is another charming town, though slightly farther from Milan.

The best way to explore Lake Garda is by taking a boat trip.

Sirmione is a popular departing spot for lake tours like this Lake Garda: Historic Castle Cruise with Wine Tasting.

You can combine a trip to Lake Garda with the charming city of Verona (the setting of Romeo and Juliet) on a guided tour like this one.

Alternately, if you’re looking for a fun day out with kids, visit the Gardaland Resort, the largest amusement park in Italy, just outside Peschiera del Garda.

Book a guided day trip to Lake Garda and Verona here!

Lake Maggiore

boats on the water with houses along the lakeshore in a lakeside town in italy

Lago Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy after Lake Garda.

Located in the north of Italy, nestled along the Swiss border, the lake extends into Switzerland and is home to many picturesque towns all along its shores.

The easiest towns to reach from Milan are Luino and Angera, both less than two hours by train from Milan.

In Angera, wander around the little town and visit the medieval castle Rocca di Angera with its beautiful gardens and the Museum of Dolls and Toys.

In Luino, check out the alleys of the historical center with colorful houses and head to Terrazza Belvedere Pasqué for a panoramic view of the lake.

Another great way to explore Lago Maggiore is by taking a boat tour. Most tours depart from Stresa, another picturesque town on the Piedmont side of the lake.

Alternatively, join a half-day tour directly from Milan, like this Stresa, Alps, & Lake Maggiore Half Day Tour.  

Book your tour here!

Lake Como

Lake with colorful painted buildings alongside it and mountains in the distance

A beloved destination close to Milan and frequented by locals, tourists, and celebrities, Lake Como is lined with charming little villages and luxurious villas.

If you could only choose one day trip from Milan, this may be one of your best bets!

While Lake Como is worthy of a 2 or even 3 day itinerary, you can still do quite a lot in a day trip, especially if you take a guided tour that organizes everything for you.

Lake Como boasts a variety of charming little towns like Lugano (on the Swiss side), Bellagio, and Varenna and gorgeous villas like Villa Balbianello, Villa Melzi d’Eril, and Villa Monastero.

The main city of Como is less than one hour by train from Milan and features a toweringly beautiful Gothic cathedral, a lovely lakeside promenade, and a charming historic center.

If you’d rather join an organized tour directly from Milan that includes a boat cruise on the lake, try this Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna Day Tour.

The tour includes a visit to the city of Como, Villa Olmo, and the charming towns of Bellagio and Varenna.

Book your day tour and boat cruise here!

Bergamo

the town of Bergamo italy with towers, churches, and buildings and trees

It’s easy to overlook Bergamo in favor of larger and more renowned cities, but this smaller city in Lombardy has a lot to offer!

The old town of Bergamo, also known as Città Alta, is surrounded by beautiful 16th-century Venetian walls that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

The Upper Town is connected to the Lower Town via funicular, offering beautiful city views.

Walk along the walls, explore the historical center with the beautiful Piazza Vecchia, and climb to the top of the 12th-century Campanone for panoramic views.

For more stunning views, catch another funicular and check out Torre Castello San Vigilio.

You can easily reach Bergamo from Milan in just one hour. Trains depart regularly from Porta Garibaldi.

Brescia

green lawn with yellow and red flowers, with colorful pastel buildings around the grasss, in a plaza in Brescia

A small city not far from Milan, Brescia boasts beautiful medieval buildings, ancient Roman ruins, and many interesting museums.

The highlights of the city are the medieval Castle of Brescia, with views of the city, and the Brescia Museums Foundation.

Brescia’s complex of museums includes the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Santa Giulia Museum, housed in a monastic complex, and the Brixia Roman archeological area featuring well-preserved Roman ruins.

Another part of the complex is the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, which houses masterpieces by Raphael, Hayez, and Canova, to mention a few.

For a day trip to Brescia from Milan, catch a train in the direction of Venice, and you’ll be there in less than one hour.

Varese

the town of varies with many buildings with red roofs surrounded by green trees and mountains

Best known for its Art Nouveau villas, Varese is a city northwest of Milan, only one hour away by train.

The most important villas worth visiting are Villa Panza, housing a modern and contemporary art collection, the historic Villa Toeplitz, with its beautiful gardens, and Villa Mirabello, which houses the Archaeologic and Civic Museum.

Just outside of Varese, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sacro Monte di Varese to explore the picturesque little village and admire the panoramic view of Varese and its surroundings.

From the Sacro Monte village, you can descend into the Vellone Valley via funicular to explore the hiking area.  

Asti

red tower of Asti and other religious buildings in a small Piedmont town in italy near Milan

In less than two hours by train from Milan Central Station, you can reach the town of Asti, better known for the sparkling wine of the same name!

An Asti wine tasting is a must-do while in town, but it’s not the only reason to visit!

Cripta e Museo di Sant’Anastasio is an 11th-century crypt housing remains of a Romanesque church, which later became the location of a female monastery, and the ruins of an ancient Roman forum.

The nearby 15th-century Palazzo Mazzetti is a baroque palace housing a rich collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures and hosting temporary exhibitions.

To complete your visit, explore the gothic Asti Cathedral and climb to the top of Torre Troyana to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

Piacenza

marble and stonework archway with red brick on top in a building in the center of a piazza in placenta italy

In less than one hour from Milan, you can reach Piacenza, a small city known for its well-preserved Romanesque architecture.

One of the best examples of Romanesque architecture is the Piacenza Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta e Santa Giustina, built between the 12th and 13th centuries.

Piazza dei Cavalli is the central square of Piacenza, known for the equestrian statue of Alessandro Farnese, a member of the influential Farnese family that ruled the duchy of Parma and Piacenza between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The city is also home to Palazzo Farnese, which houses an important collection of medieval paintings and frescoes, including works by Botticelli and Boccaccino.

Genoa

fountain with

Less than two hours by train from Milan, Genoa is a beautiful port city and once an important maritime republic before Italy was unified into one nation.

The port is still one of the most important in Italy, and the area of the old port is a lively tourist spot.

Near the port, visit the maritime museum Galata Museo del Mare, the huge Aquarium of Genova, and the 17th-century Royal Palace Museum housing beautiful frescoes.

For the best restaurants to sample delicious pesto Genovese, head to the Caruggi di Genova, a cobweb of picturesque narrow alleys in the historical center.

The main square in the city is Piazza de Ferrari, with an impressive bronze fountain in the middle.

Other important attractions in Genova are the Doge’s Palace, Christopher Columbus’ House, and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Lawrence.

For a gorgeous panoramic view of the city and bay, climb to the top of the Lighthouse of Genova.

You can also combine a trip to Genova with a trip to the colorful seaside town of Portofino on this guided day trip.

Book your day trip to Genova and Portofino here!

Rapallo

yellow and white umbrellas on the scenic shoreline of the Italian riviera with buildings on the land and sailboats in the water

Just south of Genoa and two hours by train from Milan, Rapallo is a town on the Italian Riviera known for the hilltop Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro and the picturesque seaside Rapallo Castle.

To reach the sanctuary, catch the Rapallo to Montallegro cable car and admire the wonderful views of the Riviera!

Explore the quaint historical center with its churches, squares, and elegant seaside promenade lined with restaurants and bars, then head to the nearby Santa Margherita Ligure to visit the sumptuous 17th-century Villa Durazzo.

If you have extra time, head to the picturesque village of Portofino to admire the charming little bay with its colorful houses and visit the beautiful Castello Brown, once the property of the British consul in Genoa Montague Yeats Brown.

Torino

river with bridge and church and trees and sky

Only one hour by train from Milan, Turin (Torino in Italian) is the capital of Piedmont and a refined city filled with museums and beautiful buildings.

Home to great cafes, delicious chocolate, baroque architecture, and wide squares, Turin makes for a great day trip from Milan.

Discover one of the world’s largest collections of Egyptian antiquities at the Egyptian Museum, visit the 18th-century Basilica of Superga, and admire the former royal residence La Venaria Reale.

One of the main squares in Turin is the baroque Piazza San Carlo, not far from other important landmarks like the Royal Palace of Turin and the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.

Other unique museums in Turin are the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, dedicated to the history of automobiles, and the National Museum of Cinema, housed in the iconic Mole Antonelliana towering over the rooftops of Turin and offering sweeping views of the city.

Novara

The second largest city in the Piedmont region after Turin, Novara is most known for the 13th-century Visconti-Sforza Castle that reopened to visitors only a few years ago after massive renovations.

The city is also home to several other beautiful historical buildings and churches worth a visit!

The Basilica of San Gaudenzio is the largest church in Novara, and its cupola is the highest point in the city.

Climb to the top for the best panoramic views of Novara and its surroundings!

The main church of the city is, however, the Romanesque Novara Cathedral (Duomo di Novara), built on the site of an ancient basilica from the 4th century.

Novara is very close to Milan, which makes it a perfect destination for a day trip. Trains depart regularly from Milano Porta Garibaldi and take roughly 40 minutes to get to Novara.

Parma

blue hour in parma cathedral with lighting

For a day trip in a lovely small city in the Emilia Romagna region, catch a train from Milano Centrale and head to Parma in just over one hour.

While it may be better known as the home of Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma), the city has much more to offer.

Wander around Parma’s historical center to discover landmarks such as the imposing Romanesque Parma Cathedral and the pink marble Baptistery with its beautiful frescoes.

If you’re looking for beautiful museums, visit the Pinacoteca Stuard for paintings and sculptures from the 14th to the 20th centuries or the Fondazione Museo Glauco Lombardi for art and artifacts that belonged to royal families.

Another must-see is the beautifully decorated Camera di San Paolo e Cella di Santa Caterina housed in a 16th-century Benedictine convent.

Parma is also home to the stunning Palazzo della Pilotta, a former residence of the Farnese noble family, now housing a theater (Teatro Farnese).

Other interesting sights to see on a day trip from Milan include the Galleria Nazionale di Parma with art from the 12th to the 18th centuries, the Archaeological Museum, and the Palatine Library.

Bologna

view of the streets in bologna with the portico arches

The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is mainly known for being the home of the oldest university in the world and the world-famous Bolognese sauce!

The Bologna University dates to the late 11th century and has been in continuous operation ever since — the longest-running ongoing university in the world!

The university draws many students from all over Italy to the city, making Bologna the main university city in the country.

Bologna is also known for the many towers offering sweeping views of the city, like the iconic Two Towers and Torre dei Prendiparte.

The central square of Bologna is Piazza Maggiore, while the adjacent Piazza del Nettuno houses the iconic Fountain of Neptune.

When in Bologna, you must indulge in the delicious local cuisine. There’s a reason why the city is also known as La Grassa (the Fat One)!

Try the local Green Lasagna or Tagliatelle al Ragù, or have a simple but delicious sandwich with Mortadella Bologna.

Bologna is very easy to reach from Milan. Trains depart regularly from Milano Centrale and only take one hour and a half to get to the center of Bologna.

Reggio Emilia

lion statue in front of plaza with orange and yellow buildings

Much smaller than Bologna, Reggio Emilia is another lovely city in the Emilia Romagna region known for its great cuisine.

Home of the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano (along with Parma, Modena, and other nearby provinces), Reggio Emilia is a perfect destination if you want to taste delicious dishes and discover more underrated museums!

Admire Renaissance art at Galleria Parmeggiani, discover contemporary art at Collezione Maramotti, and learn about the evolution of psychiatry at the Museum of History of Psychiatry.

Don’t miss the chance to try local parmesan with a glass of red wine and taste traditional dishes like the Erbazzone (puff pastry with spinach), focaccia, and cappelletti (fresh pasta filled with meat).

Reggio Emilia is north of Bologna, so it’s even closer to Milan for a day trip. You can reach the city in just over one hour by train from Milano Centrale.

Modena

arches and fancy buildings on a piazza at twilight with people walking about

The birthplace of balsamic vinegar, Modena is yet another destination where you can sample tasty Italian cuisine!

The city just south of Reggio Emilia (1.5 hours from Milan) is also known for being the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, founder of the Ferrari cars brand.

The main landmark in Modena is the Enzo Ferrari Museum, housing historic and modern sports cars.

If you’d rather visit an art museum, Galleria Estense houses paintings and sculptures from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including masterpieces by Velázquez, Bernini, El Greco, and Cima da Conegliano.

The traditional cuisine of Modena includes heartwarming dishes like tortellini (fresh pasta stuffed with meat) in a meat broth and Zampone di Modena, a pig trotter filled with ground pork and usually served with lentils.

Where to Stay in Milan

Downtown Milan

A great option in downtown Milan is Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, a quaint guest house located in an elegant 18th-century building with a terrace offering great views of downtown.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Brera

For a more quiet part of Milan than the center, San Marco Boutique Apartments features spacious studios in the Brera district with modern kitchenettes and A/C.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Porta Romana

For a slice of local life in Milan, La Casa Colorata features beautiful modern units — with access to two saunas in the common relaxing area!

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

25 Essential Milan Landmarks (+ Map to Find Them All!)

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

The most modern city in Italy, Milan is considered one of the world’s leading cities for fashion and design, full of boutiques and designer flagship stores like Prada and Gucci.

This northern city is also Italy’s financial center, the capital of Lombardy, and one of Italy’s great cultural hubs, home to a wide variety of must-see Milan landmarks.

Despite being mostly modern, Milan boasts quite a few amazing historical landmarks, beautiful churches, and cool museums.

glasses cheersing at aperitivo time

From the symbol of the city, the Milan Duomo, to the lesser-known museums, churches, and modern landmarks, there is much to discover when you’re exploring all the best landmarks Milan.

Whether you are planning your first trip (for one day, a weekend, or more!) or have already visited the city, there’s always something new to discover.

Here are the landmarks and attractions you should not miss in Milan!

Milan Attraction Map

25 Can’t-Miss Milan Landmarks

Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

The Milan Cathedral as seen at night or early morning with no one in the plaza, clear and empty piazza with street lamps lit, blue sky.

The symbol of Milan, the Duomo di Milano is an imposing Gothic church in the heart of the city.

Not only is the Duomo a significant landmark in Milan, but it is also the largest Gothic cathedral in the world!

While the cathedral is beautiful from the outside, with its beautiful spires and dramatic facade, the most epic views are on the inside and its rooftop.

To visit the Duomo, you can choose between different entry tickets, each giving you access to different areas.

It can be a little hard to puzzle out what’s what, so we’ve written a full guide to the Duomo and its terraces here.

The most complete visit includes the cathedral, the archaeological area under the cathedral, the rooftops (which you can reach by elevator or by stairs), the Duomo Museum, the Church of San Gottardo, and any ongoing exhibitions.

Book your complete entry ticket and skip the line here! You can also opt to take a guided tour of the Cathedral and Terraces.

Castello Sforzesco

The fountain in front of Sforza Castle with brick building behind it with a tower in front and sculptures on it in a park with lots of trees.

Castello Sforzesco (also known as Sforza Castle) is a 15th-century castle in the center of Milan.

The castle was built by Francesco Sforza in 1450 on the remains of the 14th-century fortification, once the residence of the Visconti noble family.

Nowadays, Castello Sforzesco is one of the most important museum complexes in Milan.

Inside, you can visit the Pinacoteca with important paintings by Italian artists, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Egyptian Museum, and the Museum of Musical Instruments, to mention a few.

The best thing is that one entry ticket (you can book online here) will give you access to all the museums, so you can easily spend a day here!

Pinacoteca di Brera

The interior courtyard of the Pinacoteca di Brera, with a patinated green statue of a man holding a spear, with white archways and porticoes around the courtyard of this Milan landmark.

If there is only one art gallery you can visit in Milan, it should be Pinacoteca di Brera!

This stunning gallery houses a vast art collection from all over the world, with a focus on Northern Italian painters.

Among the masterpieces you can admire in the Pinacoteca, there’s The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, and The Pietà by Giovanni Bellini.

You’ll also see works by Caravaggio, Modigliani, and Leonardo da Vinci, to mention a few other artists you may have heard of!

No wonder this is one of the top Milan attractions to visit on your next Milan itinerary.

Santa Maria delle Grazie & The Last Supper

The brick facade of Santa Maria delle Grazie with a rounded area with lots of pillars and architectural detailing and styling behind it on a clear sunny day.

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is better known for housing one of the most famous paintings ever created, Leonardo da Vinci’s the Last Supper.

The church is a great example of Renaissance art and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you can visit for free (though to see The Last Supper, you must pay an additional fee).

However, the building is often overlooked in favor of the museum that houses the famous painting.

To admire The Last Supper, you must book a tour ticket online in advance.

Even during the low season, tickets sell fast, so booking online should be the first thing on your list.

Also, make sure to follow all instructions — time slots are booked and limited, so come accordingly!

Book your Last Supper tour here!

Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House)

Three arches in front of the Milan Opera house, with an Italian flag in front, and beige building where the operas and ballets take place at this famous landmark in Milan, Italy.

Teatro alla Scala is one of the most important opera houses in Italy and among the most prestigious in the world.

The theater dates to the late 18th century and saw the debut of several important composers, including Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.

The theater is open for visits and offers guided tours as well, including tours of the museum.

Book your La Scala tour tickets here!

However, the best way to experience this amazing place is to attend a ballet or opera show!

Don’t worry if you don’t have deep pockets — culture in Milan can be quite cheap! Tickets start as low as 10€ for a show.

Museo del Novecento

Modern-styled building with five windows on top, four windows and a doorway on bottom, and stairway leading up to the museums entrance

Located in a corner of Piazza del Duomo, Museo del Novecento houses a 20th-century art collection of international works.

Their collection includes important works by Kandinskij, Modigliani, de Chirico, Picasso, and Mondrian. Overall, the museum boasts a collection of over 300 artworks!

Given its location, the museum also offers stunning views of the Milan Duomo!

You may also find temporary exhibitions here, as well as special events such as concerts, talks, and screenings.

You can visit the museum on your own or book a guided visit.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Lit up sconces leading the way to the main archway in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with a beautiful glass and iron ceiling, that leads out onto a beautiful piazza in Milan.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele may be a shopping gallery, but it’s like no shopping mall you’ve ever seen. While it has some great shops, that is not the only reason to visit it!

The magnificent gallery built in the 19th century boasts an impressive glass dome and beautiful mosaics on the floor.

If you come across people spinning on their heels in the gallery, it’s all part of a good luck ritual!

There’s a bull depicted on the floor, recognizable from the hole where his testicles are supposed to be.

That’s where you should place your right heel to spin three times — a strange but true fact of this Milan landmark!

Aside from window shopping and performing the good luck ritual, you can also have lunch at one of the restaurants in the gallery or have a coffee break.

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

Old brick basilica with symmetrical arches, a gross, one taller tower and one shorter tower, as seen on a cloudy day in Milan.

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan, built at the end of the 4th century by St. Ambrose.

Initially called Basilica Martyrum, the church underwent many restorations before its completion at the end of the 11th century in the Romanesque style. The crypt under the basilica houses the tomb of St. Ambrose.

One of the highlights inside the church is the ceiling of the Oratory of San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro, with a portrait of St. Ambrose on the gilded dome.

Outside the church, you can see a column with two small holes in it, known as the Devil’s Column.

According to the legend, the holes were made by the devil when he hit the column after not managing to induce St. Ambrose into temptation.

Arco della Pace

A classic European-style triumphal arch with four pillars, three archways (one larger and taller in the middle) and figures sculpture on the top of the arch.

The imposing triumphal arch at the beginning of Corso Sempione is one of the most salient Neoclassical landmarks in Milan.

The Arch of Peace wanted by Napoleon was built at the beginning of the 19th century in the place of an ancient Roman city gate called Jupiter’s Gate.

The gate is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting key moments in Italy’s and Europe’s history, including the founding of the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom and the Congress of Vienna.

The arch also contains references to classical mythology subjects, including the sculpture of Minerva driving the horse-pulled chariot on its top.

Branca Tower

large steel-looking tower with a hexagon-shaped observation deck area on the top on a sunny day in Milan in a park with trees surrounding it.

If you want to enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Milan, climb to the top of Branca Tower.

The iron tower was built during the fascist period in 1933 and was originally named Torre Littoria.

The name was later changed to Torre del Parco, given its location in Parco Sempione.

The current name of the tower comes from the liquor company Branca, which restored it in 2002.

While it may not be a particularly beautiful sight, the tower is one of the tallest structures in Milan and allows you to see the entire city and even the Alps and Apennines on clear days!

Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery)

One of the buildings in the Monumental Cemetery of Milan, featuring a striped building with archways similar to monastery style

The Monumental Cemetery in Milan is famous for the beautifully decorated tombs and the many monuments in different styles, including classical and contemporary sculptures, Greek temples, obelisks, and more.

Many notable personalities rest in this cemetery, including artists, politicians, and scientists.

A few of the most notable figures are painter Francesco Hayez, drink maker Gaspare Campari, writers Alessandro Manzoni, Alda Merini, and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and fashion designer Franco Moschino.

Some of the most beautiful monuments are The Last Supper sculpture on the Campari family tomb, the mausoleum of Antonio Bernocchi, and the Morgagni family monument.

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci

interior of the da Vinci science museum in italy, showing a flying machine prototype

Housed in a former monastery, this science museum is a great place to visit if you’re interested in science.

The museum houses an impressive collection of 18,000 objects, including ships and submarines, airplanes, early computers, inventions and creations by Leonardo da Vinci, and even a moon rock.

You can visit the museum any day except for Mondays.

You can buy your tickets online but, unlike other more famous museums, you’ll have no trouble finding available spots for the following day.

Book your tickets here!

Royal Palace

view of the Milan royal palace as seen from up in the duomo terrace area with view of aerial Milan

The Royal Palace of Milan used to be the seat of the government in the city. Nowadays, this imposing palace is an art museum housing a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.

The Neoclassical palace is located in Piazza del Duomo and was originally built during the Middle Ages, then was renovated during the 16th century.

Milan’s Royal Palace was heavily damaged in 1943 when British forces bombarded the city. After the shelling, a fire destroyed many areas of the palace, including the famous Hall of Caryatids.

In 1953, the palace hosted an exhibition by Picasso, with the masterpiece Guernica — now back in the Reina Sofia, a famous Madrid landmark — being the main feature.

Only at the beginning of the 2000s did the Royal Palace become a museum!

Recently, it hosted many exhibitions dedicated to Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and other prominent artists.

Check what’s on during your visit and book your ticket online.

Palazzo Morando

A dress inside of a palace room in a converted palace turned into a fashion museum in Milan Italy
Photo Credit: Terry Clinton via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

When in the capital of fashion, you should visit a museum dedicated to fashion, of course!

Palazzo Morando is a Neoclassical building in the historical center of Milan that once belonged to a noble Milanese family.

The building houses a permanent exhibition that includes antique furniture and costumes from the 17th to the 20th centuries and a collection of paintings and sculptures from the same period.

The museum also organizes temporary exhibitions, often dedicated to fashion, but not exclusively!

Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore

Basilica in Milan with garden, rounded building and ornate architecture, trees and terra cotta planters in the courtyard

Of the many churches in Milan, Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore is one of the oldest and most impressive.

Initially built at the end of the 4th century CE, the basilica was the largest one at the time. In 590, the basilica was dedicated to St. Lawrence.

The church was renovated many times due to the several disasters that damaged it, including fires and earthquakes.

Nevertheless, the basilica maintains parts of the original building, including the mosaic of Christ the Lawgiver in the Chapel of St. Aquilino.

You can visit the basilica for free, but you must pay a small fee to enter the Chapel of St. Aquilino — worth it if you want to see the mosaics!

Columns of St. Lawrence

Pillars that are nearly 2000 years old standing tall but with some damage in the city of Milan as a popular landmark near the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore

Outside the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore, the columns dedicated to the saint are even more ancient than the church itself!

It is believed that the columns were part of a 2nd-century pagan temple or a public bath and were moved to their current location in the 4th century. The 16 columns are among the few surviving remains of the Imperial era in Milan.

The columns of St. Lawrence are right in front of the basilica, creating a vast square in the middle. However, this was not always the case!

The space between the columns and the church was once filled with houses, which were removed in 1935.

Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

Structure of Church of St Maurice in a traditional Renaissance style with baroque details

The Church of Saint Maurice is another important church in Milan, originally attached to a convent of the Benedictines called Monastero Maggiore.

The church was built at the beginning of the 16th century and combines Renaissance and Baroque styles.

The main features of the church are the frescoes on the walls, depicting various scenes, including the Life of Saint Maurice and Adoration of the Magi.

The Hall of the Nuns is also entirely decorated with images of various saints and Christ carrying the cross.

The church is not such a popular landmark in Milan, so you can admire the beautiful works of art without crowds. Plus, entrance is free!

Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa

Details of skulls and bones in an ossuary in Milan with ornate detailing and careful placement of the bones to make a carefully constructed scene

The church of San Bernardino is mainly famous for housing an impressive ossuary, hence the name of San Bernardino alle Ossa.

On the site of the current church, there used to be a cemetery, back in the 12th century. When the space in the cemetery proved insufficient, a room aboveground was built to hold the exhumed bones.

The first church was built in the 13th century but only lasted until the 17th century, when it was destroyed and replaced by the current church. The ossuary was rebuilt and decorated in 1695.

The small chapel covered in skulls and bones is an impressive sight you shouldn’t miss in Milan!

There is no charge to visit the church and ossuary, but you can leave a donation.

Piazza Mercanti

Empty square with no people in it, medieval buildings around the square, called Piazza Mercanti which means Merchants Plaza, with several distinct buildings that look quite different from other architecture in Milan.

As the name suggests, Piazza Mercanti (translated as The Merchants’ Square) was the city’s commercial center during the Middle Ages.

The square is one of the few areas in Milan that still maintains the charming Medieval look, making it a unique Milan landmark.

Around the square, you can see several important Medieval buildings, including the Palazzo della Ragione with its beautiful arcades, the Loggia degli Osii, the Gothic-style Casa dei Panigarola, and Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine, once the main higher-education school in Milan.

Navigli

Boat in an artificial canal in the heart of Milan, with people walking along the sides of the canal with umbrellas out, colorful buildings around the canal on a sunny day in Milan.

Though not exactly a landmark in the traditional sense, the Navigli area in Milan is a popular spot for nightlife and one of the most picturesque areas in Milan!

It’s also a popular area to stay in Milan for young people, as the vibe at night is excellent.

Navigli means canals, and the name comes from the two artificial canals flowing here, Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese.

The canals are lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs. The area livens up from the late afternoon when locals head to the Navigli for their daily aperitivo!

The streets between the canals house artisan shops, art galleries, and local markets, including a monthly antique market.

During the Christmas holidays, the area lights up with Christmas lights and decorations, making it a great place to visit if you’re coming to Milan in winter.

Mudec

Jade green glass windows in an undulating shape, a modern building housing art in Milan, surrounded by gray building on an overcast day.
Image Credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Museo delle Culture, or Mudec, is an impressive new museum dedicated to art and culture housed in a former factory.

The museum only opened in 2015 and is one of the most recent additions to Milan’s cultural life, but already an important one.

The museum hosted remarkable exhibitions dedicated to some of the greatest artists, including Gauguin, Joan Miró, Kandinskij, Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Modigliani, Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, and David Lachapelle.

Exhibitions can last between two and five months, so make sure you check what’s on before your trip.

Piazza degli Affari & L.O.V.E Sculpture

The facade of the Italian Stock Exchange, with four pillars and geometrical shapes on the windows that are replicated throughout

At the heart of the financial district of Milan, Piazza Affari is the location of the Italian Stock Exchange.

However, the most captivating feature is not the square itself nor the impressive 20th-century building of the Stock Exchange, but the sculpture right in front of it.

In 2010, artist Maurizio Cattelan placed a gigantic middle finger in the square. The provocative sculpture in Carrara marble is called L.O.V.E.

The acronym stands for “libertà, odio, vendetta, eternità”, which translates to “freedom, hate, revenge, eternity”.

According to the artist, the sculpture represents a hand engaged in the Fascist salute with all fingers except the middle one eroded by time.

Triennale di Milano

Beige archways in the front with banners hanging down and brick colored building behind the arch facade
Photo Credit: Fred Romero via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Located in Parco Sempione, the Triennale di Milano is an exhibition center dedicated to architecture, design, visual arts, and performing arts.

The space houses a variety of cultural and artistic events, from shorter events dedicated to anything from TV shows to photography, to longer art exhibitions.

If you’re looking for unique and unusual events while in Milan, check what’s on at the Triennale!

You may find cool festivals, DJ sets, fascinating exhibitions, performances, dance shows, concerts, and more.

Piazza Gae Aulenti

Lit up sculpture in a fountain surrounded by modern buildings in a famous square in Italy

Located in the most modern area of Milan, close to Porta Garibaldi, Piazza Gae Aulenti is a square surrounded by tall skyscrapers and featuring beautiful modern fountains that light up at night.

The square is dedicated to female architect Gae Aulenti, better known for designing the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and was inaugurated in 2012 shortly after her death.

The square is often the location of events and local fairs, especially during the Christmas holidays and Milan Fashion Week.

Bosco Verticale

two residential apartment buildings covered in different foliage, looking like vertical forests, with square geometrical balconies and glass windows, a feat of modern design

At the edge of the Parco Biblioteca degli Alberi with its beautiful landscape design, Bosco Verticale is a set of two residential towers covered in trees and shrubs.

The name of the buildings, which became a symbol of green urban design, translates to The Vertical Forest.

If you’re looking to see a more futuristic side of Milan, go for a walk in the nearby park and admire this interesting architectural feat designed by Stefano Boeri.

Where to Stay in Milan

Downtown Milan

A great option in downtown Milan is Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, a quaint guest house located in an elegant 18th-century building with a terrace offering great views of downtown.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Brera

For a more quiet part of Milan than the center, San Marco Boutique Apartments features spacious studios in the Brera district with modern kitchenettes and A/C.

Check availability, photos, and prices here!

Porta Romana

For a slice of local life in Milan, La Casa Colorata features beautiful modern units — with access to two saunas in the common relaxing area!

Check availability, photos, and prices here!