DO & SEE
Milan is a mix of design and high fashion, historical architecture and modern skyscrapers. The gothic Duomo lives together with the beautiful contemporary art museum Museo del Novecento. The da Vinci’s Last Supper lives together with one of the best fashion streets in the world. All in Milan is about modernity and contemporaneousness.
Milan is also the best Italian city to explore the gay nightlife: tons of bar, parties and events take place here every year. But let’s start walking through the city starting with the most famous attraction of the city.
A WALK IN MILAN
Start your visit emerging by the subway station Duomo and prepare to be impressed by the white marble façade of Milan’s cathedral. Walk around the Duomo to look at the enormous building and to understand why Milan’s Duomo is the most loved thing in Milan by local people.
Its sublime architecture took over 600 years to be completed, from 1386 until its official opening in 1965. Don’t miss to visit the rooftop. You can take the elevator or make the 251 stairs. Once up there, the panoramic view of the city is amazing, but if you are a romantic soul, you have to go there on the sunset and enjoy the view with the light of the setting sun.
Continue your visit of the city walking in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. As you enter the Grand Gallery, you might think you are inside an opulent palace. This is the most extravagant and chic shopping area in Milan and its building, started in 1877, makes the gallery one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. The wall decorated with stucco and mosaic artwork frame all the high-end designer shops like Prada, Versace and Louis Vuitton. Here is where starts the fashion district (Quadrilatero della Moda) with the near famous streets Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Before leaving the Grand Gallery, don’t miss to step on bull’s balls and turn on himself three times to bring with you good luck.
Just outside the Grand Gallery, you can find Teatro La Scala. The Milan’s Opera House is the best place to go if you are a lyric lover. Consider purchasing tickets to see a show or take part in a guided tour of the theater La Scala to see the marvelous costumes and original sheets music.
For those who love the Bohemian atmosphere, Brera comes with all its fascinating mood. In Brera district, you can enjoy fine meal, real Italian aperitivo and drink some good cocktails in one of the most fashionable cafes of the city. Take a walk in the many cobbled streets admiring the colorful houses of the city. Make sure to visit the Pinacoteca in Palazzo Brera. This is a fine Art Gallery and you will find works such as the Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Pietà by Bellini, the Last Supper by Rubens and The Kiss by Hayez.
The Sforzesco Castle is the place to go to take a rest with a view! This castle was created in 1370 and is set in extensive grounds and gardens. As you walk through the central courtyard, you will be shocked by the beauty of this building. Here, you can also find some museums and collections and the famous Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo.
You cannot have a proper visit of Milan without seeing the famous Last Supper by Leo da Vinci. Near the castle (walking for about 15 minutes), you can find Santa Maria delle Grazie church on the Corso Magenta. You will recognize it for its typical red bricks facade.
Come in and see this fantastic work of art and take a look at all the details of the most famous masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci.
For those who love contemporary buildings, a visit to Porta Nuova district is mandatory. Piazza Gae Aulenti is the architectural revival of the city. The square and the Unicredit Tower was built on a project of César Pelli. Walking in Piazza Gae Aulenti, you can find shops and places to have a proper dinner.
Museo del Novecento
The Museo del Novecento is inside the Palazzo dell’Arengario in Piazza del Duomo. The museum hosts a collection of four thousand works from the best contemporary artists including Picasso, Georges Braque, Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and Modigliani.
ADDRESS: Piazza del Duomo, 12.
The Royal Palace has ancient origins and its appearance was changed over the centuries, until it became the best-known location for major art exhibitions in Milan. This ancient building in Piazza del Duomo today hosts temporary exhibitions and is Milan’s central exhibition hub.
ADDRESS: Piazza del Duomo, 12.
MUDEC Museum – Forum of Cultures is the newest museum in the city. It is in Via Tortona, the design district and hosts the permanent collection and temporary exhibition.
ADDRESS: Via Tortona, 56
Near Cadorna railway station, La Triennale is the Design Museum of Milan. It hosts the permanent collection about history of design and temporary exhibition.
ADDRESS: Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6,
PAC Museum is the exhibition space for contemporary art in Milan. Here, you can find national and international artists. Over the years, it has hosted key names such as Laurie Anderson, Lucio Fontana, Vanessa Beecroft, Marina Abramovic and Yayoi Kusama.
ADDRESS: Via Palestro, 14
Pirelli HangarBicocca was established in 2004 and it presents major solo shows by Italian and international artists. This is also the permanent house of one of Anselm Kiefer’s most important site-specific works, The Seven Heavenly Palaces.
ADDRESS: Via Chiese, 2
Fondazione Prada Milan is a new exhibition space in Milan dedicated to contemporary art and culture. The museum in Milan is an addition to the Fondazione in Venice, the Ca’ Corner della Regina.
ADDRESS: Largo Isarco 2, Milan, Italy
Milan is the place where wall has ears, flamingo lives in the city center and unicorns can be found in the church. Here, you can find 3 of the best hidden spots in Milan.
Near Palestro subway station, there is a real liberty style area full of extravagant and opulent houses. Take a walk through Via Cappuccini to see Villa Invernizzi and spy inside the garden to see the pink flamingos living there. In this area, you can also see the Ca’ dell’Oreggia (Ear House) with its giant ear-like interphone, Villa Necchi Campiglio and the gothic house Casa Berri Merenghelli.
The Sistine Chapel of Milan
San Maurizio al Monastero is a church with a giant cycle of frescoes covering the walls and this is the reason why art critics call it the Sistine Chapel of Milan. The interior is stunning and it has a divisor wall that was used to divide public from the nuns who lived here. Take your time to look every single detail including the two unicorns in the Noah’s Ark painting.
Gardens of Milan
Milan is not a very green city, but around the city, you can find secret places where you can enjoy the silence far away from the crowd. Giardino della Guastalla is a good pit stop if you’re tired of traffic and noise. Orto Botanico di Brera and the garden of Villa Reale near Modern Art Museum are really enjoyable places where you can get your strength back.
The city is the best place and a perfect base for day trips around the North of Italy. Trains are the best way to discover nearby destinations. Here are the 5 best destinations for an interesting day out.
Como Lake is one of the of the largest bodies of water in Italy. Luxuriant vegetation, opulent villas and extremely beautiful villages. Como is the best place to mix art, history and nature. Make sure to take a Lake Como cruise to see Bellagio, the mountains and the old villas from the water.
Brescia and Franciacorta region
Brescia and the Franciacorta region is the perfect place to drink the best sparkling white wine in Italy. With Lake Garda only 24 kilometers away, Brescia is the best place to discover a hidden secret of the north of Italy.
Parma is known to the world for its food. This is the land of parmesan cheese and prosciutto ham. The city has existed since the Roman times and this makes Parma a very good place for a day trip from Milan.
The ancient town of Bergamo is under an hour away from Milan. Take the funicular from the lower town to reach the upper town. Here, you can find an incredible view from Bergamo Alta, the picturesque hilltop dating back to Medieval times and surrounded by the impressive defensive walls.
Monza is synonymous for Italy’s most important auto race, the Monza Formula One. Make sure to visit the cathedrals Cappella di Teodolinda, the Museo Serpero and the late 18th-century Villa Reale and its garden.
Nightlife starts early in Milan. When the sun goes down, the city starts its best ritual. It’s time to start drinking aperitivo like a local. Happy hour kicks off officially at six and by seven and lasts until about 9.30pm.
Drinks of choice? Prosecco (Italian fizz) is always a good option, but you should try the negroni sbagliato or the Spritz to taste a real Italian drink.
In Milan, every district has its own style to have fun and there are many options to choose from. Porta Venezia is the place where the gay life starts and Via Lecco is its beating heart. Here, you can find info about event and parties around the city. Corso Como is the perfect street to find fashion lovers, bars and clubs to dance all night long. Navigli canals is where you can take part in the youngest nightlife of the city. Tons of bars and pubs follow each other in the two canals of Milan.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Milan has three main airports: Linate, Orio al Serio (known as Milano Bergamo) and Milano Malpensa. Linate airport is the closest to the city and it is served by the main airlines. Getting around the city is extremely easy. Milan has a very efficient public transport system serving all destinations throughout the city.
Festivals and main events in Milan
There are several festivals, holidays and events celebrated in Milan each year. Here are the main ones:
- January: Men’s Milan Fashion Week
- February: Women’s Milan Fashion Week
- April Design Week Salone del Mobile, BIT (Tourism fair)
- May Milano Film Festival, Orticola ai Giardini Pubblici
- June Pride Week and Parade, LGBT Movie Mix Festival
- July Festival Latinoamericando
- September Festival MITOpresents a wide range of musical genres concerts, Micam shoes fair
- October Smau (Technological Fair)
- November Milano city marathon
- December Artigiano in Fiera (Craftsmen’s Fair), the street Christmas market Oh Bej! Oh Bej!, La Scala opening night
You can get in touch with local tourism professionals to help organize your stay in the city.
This is the main tourist office in Milan. Here, you can find practical information and useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).
Address: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (corner Piazza della Scala).