things to do in milan

Last Updated on: 7th June 2024, 07:47 am

As a frequent visitor to Milan, I can say with certainty that this city offers some of the best things to do in Italy. Whether you’re looking for cultural attractions, trendy districts, or delicious cuisine, Milan has it all. In this article, I’ll share my personal recommendations for the best things to do in Milan, including some must-visit attractions and hidden gems.

From iconic landmarks to off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, there’s something for every type of traveler in Milan. So, let’s dive into the top Milan attractions and discover why this city is a must-visit destination in Italy!

Things to do in Milan

1. Marvel at the Duomo

When visiting Milan, a visit to the Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, is an absolute must. This iconic landmark in the heart of the city boasts incredible Gothic architecture that will simply take your breath away.

Marvel at the intricate details of the cathedral’s exterior, including the gorgeous stained-glass windows. To truly appreciate the beauty of the Duomo, climb to the rooftop and take in the panoramic views of Milan.

As one of the largest cathedrals in the world, the Milan Cathedral is a true testament to the city’s rich history and culture. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this masterpiece of architecture and engineering for yourself.

2. Explore the trendy Navigli district

If you’re looking for a night out in Milan, the Navigli district is the place to be. Take a stroll along the Navigli canals and breathe in the lively atmosphere of this trendy neighborhood. You’ll find a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and shops lining the streets, meaning that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Stop by the Elita Bar for a cocktail or head to Terre di Milan for a glass of wine and some traditional Italian cheese. For a night of dancing, check out Just Cavalli, a stylish nightclub located in the heart of the district.

Navigli canals

“The Navigli district is where the locals go to have fun, so it’s a great place to visit if you want to experience Milan’s nightlife like a true Milanese.” – Giuseppe, Milan local

3. Visit Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper

As an art enthusiast, visiting Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterful mural, The Last Supper, was an unforgettable highlight of my trip to Milan. The 15th-century Dominican church houses this iconic fresco, which depicts the emotional moment when Jesus reveals to the disciples that one of them will betray him.

What makes The Last Supper so remarkable is the way da Vinci captures the personalities and reactions of each disciple. Their expressions range from shock and disbelief to anger and suspicion, creating a vivid and engrossing scene. The artwork’s lifelike figures and unparalleled technique make it a true masterpiece of the Renaissance era.

Make sure to book your tickets in advance, as visits are limited to 15 minutes to preserve the work’s delicate condition. Also, note that photography is not permitted inside the room to maintain the fresco’s longevity. Don’t miss the chance to see this incredible piece of Milan’s cultural heritage during your visit.

4. Discover the Fashion Capital

As a fashion enthusiast, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to explore Milan’s vibrant fashion scene. With its reputation as the fashion capital of the world, Milan offers a vast array of stylish boutiques and iconic flagship stores to indulge in. One of the best places to start your fashion journey in Milan is the famous Quadrilatero della Moda, also known as the “Rectangle of Gold.” This high-end shopping district is home to some of the world’s most luxurious and exclusive brands, including Prada, Gucci, and Versace.

If you’re looking for a more eclectic shopping experience, head to the trendy Brera district, which is known for its independent boutiques and artisanal shops. Brera is the perfect place to find unique clothing pieces, accessories, and jewelry, all handcrafted by local designers.

And let’s not forget about the Milan Fashion Week, which takes place twice a year in February and September. During this glamorous event, fashion lovers and influencers from all around the world gather to attend runway shows, parties, and exclusive events.

Milan Fashion

5. Wander through Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle, also known as Castello Sforzesco, is one of the most interesting historical landmarks in Milan. This impressive fortress dates back to the 15th century and has been used for various purposes over the centuries, including as a residence for the ruling Visconti and Sforza families, a military fortress, and a cultural center.

Today, Sforza Castle is open to the public, and visitors can take a leisurely stroll through its courtyards and explore the various museums housed within its walls. The Museum of Ancient Art is a must-visit for art lovers, with an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Museum of Musical Instruments is also worth a visit, showcasing a unique collection of instruments from around the world.

“Sforza Castle is a fascinating landmark that showcases Milan’s rich history.”

6. Experience the Milanese Cuisine

As a food lover, Milanese cuisine is one thing that you shouldn’t miss. With influences from Northern Italy and its own unique twists, Milanese cuisine is a must-try for all travelers. Risotto alla Milanese is a popular dish that you won’t regret sampling; it’s made using saffron rice, giving it a delightful yellow hue. Another popular dish is ossobuco, which is a veal shank cooked slowly to perfection. Finish off your meal with panettone, a sweet bread loaf that originated in Milan. Don’t forget to pair these dishes with some fine Italian wine for the perfect experience.

Milanese Cuisine

If you’re unsure where to start your culinary journey, visit one of Milan’s traditional restaurants such as Trattoria Milanese or Osteria della Conchetta where you can sample authentic Milanese dishes.

7. Discover the Serene Beauty of Brera District

After exploring the lively Navigli district, the next stop on my Milan itinerary was the Brera district. This charming neighborhood is known for its quiet streets and picturesque alleyways that are perfect for a leisurely stroll. It’s a neighborhood that really breathes art, and I was especially impressed by the numerous art galleries that are scattered throughout the streets. I spent hours browsing the collections and was in awe of the beautiful works of art.

But even if you’re not necessarily an art-lover, the Brera district is still a must-visit. Take a break from the bustling center and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cute cafes. The neighborhood has a true bohemian vibe, and I immediately felt relaxed upon arriving.

One of the things that I loved most about the Brera district was how it provides a stark contrast to the busy, touristy areas of Milan. Instead of crowds and noise, I was surrounded by tranquil streets and peaceful squares. It was an excellent opportunity to slow down and savor the authentic Milanese atmosphere.

What to do in Brera district Address
Browse art galleries Via Brera, 28 – 20121 Milan
Visit the Pinacoteca di Brera (art museum) Via Brera, 28 – 20121 Milan
Relax in the Botanical Garden Via Fratelli Gabba, 10 – 20121 Milan
Enjoy a coffee or meal at a quaint cafe Piazza del Carmine, 6 – 20121 Milan

The Brera district is also home to many local boutiques and artisan shops that sell unique products. I especially recommend visiting the Botanical Garden, which is a hidden gem with a serene atmosphere. Additionally, the Pinacoteca di Brera is an art museum that is not to be missed. It’s home to many Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Raphael and Caravaggio.

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of Milan, the Brera district is the perfect destination. With its serene ambiance, beautiful art galleries, and charming cafes, it really feels like a hidden gem in the city.

8. Explore the historical district of Navigli

If you are a history enthusiast like me, a visit to the Navigli district is a must when you are in Milan. The district is home to many historical landmarks, including the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio, which dates back to the 4th century.

At the basilica, you can admire magnificent frescoes and see the tomb of one of the three Magi, which was brought here from Constantinople in the 4th century. The church also contains a small museum where you can learn about the history of the basilica and the Christian story.

historical landmarks Navigli

The Navigli district is also home to stunning old bridges such as the Ponte delle Sirenette and the Ponte di Via Valenza, which date back to the 16th century. These bridges offer a glimpse into Milan’s architectural past, and you can take a leisurely stroll across them while enjoying the picturesque views of the Naviglio Grande canal.

When exploring the Navigli district, you will encounter numerous other historical buildings, such as Casa degli Omenoni, which features eight imposing atlases as pillars, and the Palazzo Morando, which now houses the Museum of Costume and Fashion.

Historical district Milan offers plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s rich past. From exploring its Renaissance-era architecture to digging deeper into its religious sites and museums, there is something here for everyone.

9. Take a trip to Lake Como

If you want to escape the city and immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of Milan, taking a day trip to Lake Como is a must-do. Lake Como is located just a short train ride away and offers a peaceful oasis with breathtaking views, charming villages, and luxurious villas.

As soon as I arrived, I was captivated by the serene atmosphere of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The natural beauty of the area is truly stunning and makes for the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day trip.

One of the best ways to experience the lake is to take a boat tour, which allows you to see the region from a unique perspective. You can also visit one of the many charming villages dotted around the lake, such as Bellagio or Varenna.

Additionally, Lake Como is known for its luxurious villas, many of which are open to the public. One of the most famous is Villa Carlotta, which boasts stunning gardens and a fine art collection.

If you’re looking to add a touch of glamour to your day trip, consider dining at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants located in the area. The local cuisine, which features fresh seafood and local produce, is sure to please even the most discerning palate.

Overall, a day trip to Lake Como is a must-do for anyone visiting Milan. The scenic beauty of the area is unparalleled, and the peaceful atmosphere is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Conclusion

As a seasoned traveler and Milan enthusiast, I can confidently say that this city has something for everyone, like other cities in Italy such as Rome city. From the iconic Duomo cathedral to the serene Brera district, Milan offers a wide range of attractions and experiences that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Make sure to explore the trendy Navigli district and discover Milan’s vibrant nightlife scene. And don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine, with must-try dishes like risotto alla Milanese and ossobuco. For art lovers, the city offers world-class museums and galleries, including Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper.

If you have the time, take a day trip to the scenic beauty of Lake Como. This peaceful oasis is just a short train ride away and offers breathtaking views and charming villages.

As you can see, Milan truly has it all – history, art, fashion, and culinary delights. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip to this magnificent Italian city.

FAQ

What are the best things to do in Milan, Italy?

The best things to do in Milan, Italy include marveling at the iconic Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), exploring the trendy Navigli district with its picturesque canals, visiting Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, discovering Milan’s fashion capital status by shopping in the Quadrilatero della Moda, wandering through the historical Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco), experiencing Milanese cuisine with dishes like risotto alla Milanese and ossobuco, discovering the serene beauty of the Brera district, exploring the historical district of Navigli, taking a day trip to the scenic Lake Como, and immersing yourself in Milan’s rich history and art scene.

What is the Milan Cathedral?

The Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, is a stunning architectural masterpiece and one of the must-see attractions in Milan. It features intricate details and offers panoramic views of the city from its rooftop.

What can I do in the trendy Navigli district?

In the trendy Navigli district, you can explore picturesque canals, visit trendy bars, restaurants, and shops, and enjoy a vibrant nightlife atmosphere. It’s a great place to take a leisurely stroll and soak up the lively ambiance.

Where can I see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper?

Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural, The Last Supper, can be seen in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts and a true highlight of Milan’s cultural heritage.

Why is Milan known as the fashion capital of the world?

Milan is renowned as the fashion capital of the world because it is home to a vibrant fashion industry, stylish boutiques, and flagship stores of renowned fashion brands. The Quadrilatero della Moda is a popular area for fashion enthusiasts to explore the latest trends and designs.

What can I expect to see in Sforza Castle?

Sforza Castle, also known as Castello Sforzesco, is a historical landmark in Milan. It offers a fascinating glimpse into Milan’s rich history, with its courtyards, museums, and exhibitions. The castle is home to the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Musical Instruments.

What are some must-try dishes in Milan?

Some must-try dishes in Milan include risotto alla Milanese, ossobuco (braised veal shanks), and panettone (a traditional Italian sweet bread). These dishes are representative of the Milanese cuisine and can be paired with a glass of fine Italian wine for a complete culinary experience.

What is the Brera district known for?

The Brera district is known for its serene beauty, charming cafes, and art galleries. It’s a quiet neighborhood away from the bustling city center, offering a peaceful atmosphere where visitors can appreciate art and relax.

What can I explore in the historical district of Navigli?

In the historical district of Navigli, you can explore ancient architecture, visit the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio, and learn about the history of Milan. It’s a fascinating part of the city where you can delve into Milan’s past.

Can I take a day trip from Milan to Lake Como?

Yes, you can take a day trip from Milan to the scenic Lake Como. It is just a short train ride away and offers breathtaking views, charming villages, and luxurious villas. It’s a perfect escape from the city for a day of relaxation and natural beauty.