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19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy

19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy, is known as Europe’s fashion capital and one of the chicest cities in the world. Besides the extraordinary fashion, Milan is also known for the stunning Milan cathedral, Duomo di Milano, Sforzesco Castle, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

If this is a new city for you and you’re searching for what to see in Milan besides these top Milan tourist attractions, you’ve come to the right place! The city offers so many fun activities and beautiful places to visit.

Milan was one of the first European cities I’ve ever visited, and it still feels magical every time I return. It’s also a great place to base yourself if you plan to make an extended trip throughout Northern Italy and into bordering countries. But of course, the city has no shortage of amazing things to experience.

There are over 30 daily flights from the United States to Milan, making it one of the most convenient European cities to visit from the states. Check out Skyscanner to find the best daily flight deals to Milan. And without further ado, let’s get into the best things to do in Milan!

Da Vincis Last Supper Tour
1. Da Vinci's Last Supper: Tour Top Recommendation

ake the most of your trip to Milan with a skip-the-line guided tour to see Leonardo da Vinci's iconic Last Supper. You'll visit the refectory of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie with a knowledgeable guide who will share all the interesting stories and details about this world-famous piece of art. Leonardo da Vinci spent seven years in Milan between 1482 and 1499, during which time he painted the Last Supper. This remarkable fresco is a must-see for any art lover, and with this tour you'll be able to appreciate it up close.

From Milan Lake Como Bellagio and Varenna Day Tour
2. From Milan: Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna Day Tour

This full-day tour by luxury bus will give you a chance to admire the lake's three branches, each with its own unique landscapes. Start your day with a walking tour of Como, where you'll see lovely neoclassical villas and gardens. Then take a cruise on the lake by private boat and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Afterward, visit the colorful villages of Bellagio and Varenna. Stroll through narrow cobblestoned streets and take in the charming atmosphere. It's a perfect way to spend a day outside of Milan!

Fast Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour
3. Milan: Fast-Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour

This is a 1.5-hour tour of one of the most famous monuments in the world, led by an expert guide. You'll learn about the history of the cathedral and see some of its most incredible features, including the artworks inside and the views from the rooftop terraces. You'll also have access to the Duomo Museum and San Gottardo Church. This is a great opportunity to skip the ticket lines and explore everything this fascinating complex has to offer. Choose from a shared small-group experience or private tour, depending on your preference.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmarkDuomo di Milano 
  • Best park – Sempione Park
  • Best free activity – Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio 
  • Best activity for kids – Sforzesco Castle 
  • Best activity for adults – Santa Maria delle Grazie (Where you’ll find the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci!)
  • Best food – Maio Restaurant
  • Best nightlifeNavigli District
  • Best all-around accommodationGalleria Vik Milano

Fun & Best Things to do in Milan, Italy

1. Duomo di Milano

 Duomo di Milano

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milan, Italy

The Milan Cathedral, known as the Duomo di Milano in Italian, is the physical and spiritual center of the city. Construction on the duomo cathedral began in 1386 and was not complete until 1965, taking almost six centuries! Yeesh!

The Duomo di Milano is the largest church in Italy and is even larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is still a functioning church today and one of Milan’s most significant architectural treasures.

When visiting Milan, the one thing you must do is tour the duomo cathedral and its rooftop. It is one of the top things to do in Milan. This private tour of the Duomo includes fast-track tickets into the cathedral and onto the rooftops, all led by a licensed tour guide.

You will be mesmerized by the gothic architecture and striking stained glass windows inside the cathedral. Outside, you’ll get a fantastic panoramic view of central Milan. It’s truly a magical atmosphere and still gives me chills every time I visit.

2. Piazza del Duomo

Aerial view of Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza del Duomo

After you tour the Milan Cathedral, head to the Piazza del Duomo. The piazza is the main square that surrounds the famed cathedral.

Around the square, you’ll find many boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants. It’s a great place to chill out and relax after climbing up all the steps to the cathedral’s rooftop. The piazza is in a central location, so it’s easy to access so many Milan attractions.

Maio Restaurant is my favorite place to stop for a quick afternoon snack and drink in the piazza. The restaurant features a stunning rooftop with breathtaking views of the Duomo. I recommend sharing a bunch of small plates with friends to taste the local cuisine, but one thing you must try is the focaccia.

At night, the Piazza del Duomo and the surrounding buildings light up, making the city more magical than ever. This two-hour Milan by night walking tour will guide you around the city’s monuments and even some spots that are not as well known. Your local guide can tell you about the city’s history, royal families, and what local life is like today.

See Related: Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Milan

3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milan, Italy

Famous for being Italy’s oldest shopping mall and one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a must-see when visiting Milan. After all, what’s a visit to Europe’s fashion capital without doing a bit of shopping?

The grand galleria is named after Italy’s first king, and in addition to all the luxury shops you can find here, it’s also one of the most stunning architectural displays in the entire city.

The Milan Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are all in the Centro Storico (historical center) and within easy walking distance from one another. It’s super easy to visit all three of these places in under two hours. Many of the public transport lines pass through this area as well, so you can use the metro or bus system to visit other parts of the city.

One of the dreamiest Milan accommodations is the Galleria Vik Milano boutique hotel. The high-end hotel offers rooms with windows that open up into the iconic shopping mall, and the views are just breathtaking.

See Related: Best Museums in Florence to Visit

4. Piazza della Scala

Leonardo da Vinci monument in front of La Scala theater, Milan, Italy

Address: Piazza della Scala, 5, 20121 Milan, Italy

Also located within easy walking distance to Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Scala is another lovely pedestrian square located in the heart of Milan. It’s just on the opposite side of Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II and sits just in front of the famous La Scala theater (Teatro alla Scala).

This is a great option if you’re looking for a quieter area to take a break between all the fun things to do in Milan. There are usually a lot fewer people here than in the Piazza del Duomo, and lots of benches and seating areas are available.

The prominent landmark within the square is the Leonardo da Vinci statue, pictured above. Da Vinci played a significant role in designing the canals that run through the city and is also, of course, known for his stunning works of art, many of which can be found in Milan.

See Related: Things to Do in Italy & Places to Visit

5. Sforzesco Castle

Old medieval Sforza Castle Castello Sforzesco and tower, Milan, Italy

Address: Piazza Castello, 20121 Milan, Italy

Sforzesco Castle (also referred to as Sforza Castle) is a medieval fortress that was built in the 15th Century. The massive structure is one of the main sights of the city and should definitely be added to your list of places to visit in Milan.

Construction on the castle first began back in 1360, but it wasn’t completed until 1499. It features fortified walls, towers, a moat, a museum, and four courtyards. The piazza Castello is an amazing place to walk around and wander while taking in the breathtaking architecture of the castle.

Visiting Sforzesco Castle is one of the best things to do in Milan with kids, and every weekend the museum offers special guided tours for families with kids aged 4 to 12 that include fun workshops and activities for the kiddos.

The castle is open for visits daily from 7:00 am to 7:30 pm with no admission fee, making it one of the absolute best free things to do in Milan. If you’d like to visit the museum inside the castle, there is a small fee, and reduced rates are available for students under 25 and adults over 65.

And if you’re still looking for excellent accommodation in the city, I recommend checking out this highly-rated, elegant apartment that sits right in front of the Sforzesco Castle. You’ll truly feel like you’re part of the city with this classic apartment fitted with modern amenities.

6. Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Address: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milan, Italy

When visiting Milan, an absolute must-see is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. While the church itself is a historic landmark to see, as it was built in the 1400s and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the main attraction here is Leonardo da Vinci’s mural of the Last Supper.

Santa Maria delle Grazie features two murals inside the church on opposite walls: Da Vinci’s Last Supper and the Crucifixion by Donato Montorfano. Both works of art had to be meticulously restored after the church was severely damaged during World War II.

Visiting the church and seeing these amazing murals up close will have you in awe. When I visited, I was surprised at the sheer size of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper; it’s something that pictures on the internet just can’t convey. In order to accommodate as many visitors as possible, each visit is limited to just 15 minutes, but that’s certainly enough time to enjoy both works of art.

Tickets are hard to come by, so make sure to plan this visit far in advance. You must purchase tickets online or by phone; you can find the official ticket purchasing site here. You can reserve your tickets exactly four months in advance. If you can’t find any, keep checking the website for updates, as cancellations are possible. A guided tour can also be added for an extra cost.

See Related: Milan Travel Guide: Visit This City on a Budget

7. Quadrilatero della Moda

Quadrilatero della Moda
Balakate / Shutterstock.com

Translating literally to “Fashion Square,” the Quadrilatero della Moda is a popular high-end shopping and fashion district of Milan. In this neighborhood, you’ll find cute boutiques, luxury brands, vintage shops, chic cafes, and neoclassical buildings.

Here, you will find many of Italy’s top fashion houses, including Armani, Gucci, Versace, and Hugo Boss, each with its own flagship store. If you’re looking to do some luxury shopping in the birthplace of these huge brands, this is the place for you. But if you’re like me, you’ll probably just stick to window shopping and daydreaming.

My favorite time to visit this part of Milan is during the holidays. Many of the stores will have elaborate and fantastical Christmas displays that are sure to delight.

If this trendy and fashionable neighborhood sounds like it was made for you, you may just fall in love with this luxury, modern loft. The loft is found in the heart of Quadrilatero della Moda and is still well-connected to the rest of the city.

8. Pinacoteca di Brera

Courtyard of Pinacoteca di Brera, with the Napolean Statue. Milan, Lombardy, Italy

Address: Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milan, Italy

Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the best things to see in Milan if you’re an art lover. The museum is the city’s main public art gallery, and it features the largest collection of Italian art from the 1200s to the modern day. If you want to spend a day exploring Milan’s many art galleries, you must include this one on your list.

One of the most popular works of art housed in Pinacoteca di Brera is the Brera Madonna painting. It was painted by Italian renaissance painter Piero della Francesca from 1472 to 1474 and depicts the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her lap, surrounded by angels and saints. It’s absolutely breathtaking in person and is certainly worth visiting the museum to see.

Several other popular art galleries surround the museum, including the Galleria Consadori, Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, Poldi Pezzoli Museum, and the Gallerie d’Italia. If you want to live in art, the Bulgari Hotel Milano can be found just across the street from the Pinacoteca di Brera and offers a modern, luxurious design and an amazing spa.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm, with the last entrance time at 6:00 pm. Click here to skip the line and purchase tickets ahead of time.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Italy

9. Teatro alla Scala

Teatro alla Scala
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

Address: Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milan, Italy

The Teatro alla Scala, more commonly referred to as La Scala opera house, is known as the most famous opera house in Italy. It’s famous for being the leading theater for opera and ballet.

The grand auditorium was built in 1778 and features a seating capacity of 2,030 spectators. It is the home theater of two orchestras, a chorus, and a ballet company. The theater is also home to the Accademia Teatro alla Scala, which is a school that specializes in music, dance, stagecraft, and stage management.

Throughout the year, La Scala hosts a multitude of events and live performances that can be enjoyed by all. Tickets for performances can be purchased online or in person at the box office, up to 15 minutes before the performance if there are tickets available.

However, the best way to see the theater in all its glory is to join a guided tour of La Scala and its museum. The tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and includes a licensed tour guide and admission into the theater and museum.

10. Sempione Park

Sempione Park

Address: Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milan, Italy

If you’re looking for somewhere to relax that is surrounded by nature but still located within the historic center of Milan, check out Sempione Park. It also makes a wonderful spot for a romantic picnic in one of its sprawling, grassy areas.

The park spans 95 acres and is filled with walking and jogging paths, beautiful flora, and even includes a lake. Sempione Park is the largest public park in Milan and is not far from the Milan Cathedral and Sforzesco Castle.

Consider this fun segway tour of the city that includes a stop in Sempione Park. A segway tour is a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. The tour lasts approximately three hours and starts off with a short orientation to get you comfortable on this two-wheeled vehicle.

See Related: How Much is a Trip to Italy: Average Cost Per Day

11. Palazzo Reale Milano

Palazzo Reale Milano

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 12, 20122 Milan, Italy

The Palazzo Reale Milano (or Royal Palace of Milan) was once the royal palace of Milan and eventually became the seat of the government of Milan for centuries. Today, the Royal Palace houses art exhibits from around the world.

The art here is featured in temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see and experience when visiting the Royal Palace. Special initiatives, film screenings, and conferences are also held here.

The top thing I recommend doing at the Royal Palace is to take a guided tour of the restoration efforts that are happening here. Restorations take years to complete, and the palace will allow visitors to visit parts of the palace that are being restored as it’s happening!

Public visits to the restoration sites happen only on certain dates, so make sure to check with the palace before you go. The Royal Palace is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, with the last admission at 6:30 pm.

12. Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

Church Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in the center of Milan

Address: Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, 15, 20123 Milan, Italy

The centuries-old Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is one of the best things to see in Milan if you’re looking for some wildly ancient architecture. The land was actually consecrated in 387 by Saint Ambrose, but the Romanesque church we see today was built in the 1100s, during the Middle Ages.

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio was the first church ever built in the Romanesque style and became a model for many churches that came after it. The basilica consists of two brick bell towers, an open-air atrium, a sarcophagus from the 4th Century, a crypt, and a chapel.

It is truly one of the most interesting churches to visit in Milan, and if you’re thinking of what to do in Milan when it’s raining, this is a great option. The basilica is free to visit and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and reopens from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm and on Sundays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Nearby, you’ll find the lovely Hotel Regina, which features elegant rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a lounge bar. It’s also just a five-minute walk from the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio and only ten minutes to the Milan Cathedral.

See Related: Best Travel Books for Italy

13. Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa

Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa

Address: Piazza Santo Stefano, 20122 Milan, Italy

Looking to explore something a little bit more macabre? Check out the Santurio di San Bernardino alle Ossa. This Catholic church is most well-known for its smaller side chapel, which was decorated using real human bones.

The smaller church was originally a structure built in 1210 to house bones when the nearby cemetery ran out of space. When it was restored in 1679 by Italian sculptor and artist Giovanni Andrea Biff, he decided to modify the facade by using human skulls and tibiae.

The main church was destroyed in 1712 and was redesigned and completed in 1776. It features an octagonal shape and Baroque design features. Many of the chapels have frescoes dating back to the 18th Century.

The church is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, on Saturdays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, and on Sundays from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. Since this is still a functioning place of worship, be mindful and respectful when visiting.

14. Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore

San Lorenzo Maggiore Basilica, Milan

Address: Corso di Porta Ticinese, 35, 20123 Milan, Italy

If it’s not already apparent, Milan is full of beautiful churches and cathedrals that are just waiting to be admired by visitors. The Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore is no different. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years, but it was originally consecrated in the year 402, making it one of the oldest churches in Milan.

At the center of the basilica, you will find the oldest remaining part of the church, an early-Christian era structure with three adjoining octagonal shapes, which dates back to the 4th Century.

The entire basilica is quite massive and is an impressive sight to see. I also recommend stopping by the adjoining museum, which features frescoes from the church that have been beautifully preserved.

Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore is free to enter and is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, and Sundays from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. It’s located in an area called Basilicas Park, so there are several other basilicas that you can visit nearby.

See Related: Best Car Museums in Italy

15. Navigli District

Naviglio Grande canal in Milan city, Italy, a popular tourist area, on dramatic sunset

If you’re looking to visit one of the most vibrant and lively neighborhoods in Milan, check out the Navigli District. The district is centered around Naviglio Grande, the oldest and most significant canal in Milan. The canal was first built in 1177 and was completed in 1272.

Today, the neighborhood is known for its fabulous bars, restaurants, and boutiques. If you’re looking to experience Milan nightlife like a local, the Navigli district has a bunch of boho and hipster bars along the canal that are sure to satisfy you.

I recommend stopping in Navigli for pre-dinner drinks. One of my favorite bars in the area is Rita. They’re known for their unique cocktails and chic ambiance that feels like a mix of Paris and Milan (I mean, it’s impossible to escape the latter when you’re visiting it – and why would you?). Let me just say, you can’t go wrong with the Barbarita, which features lime, passionfruit, tequila, and a beetroot coulis.

If you want to learn more about the history of this old neighborhood, check out this Navilgli district walking tour. The guided tour will give you the history of Milan’s canal system, including how Leonardo da Vinci played a role in designing some of the canals.

16. Corso Buenos Aires

Shop on the Corso Buenos Aires, Milan, Italy. It's one of the most popular shopping streets in Europe

With the highest concentration of stores in Europe (over 350!), Corso Buenos Aires is one of the premier places to shop in Milan and on the whole continent. The road begins at the Indro Montanelli Garden and extends up towards the Piazzale Loreto.

On this popular shopping street, you’ll find a mix of big names like MUJI, Zara, and Mango, smaller local boutiques, jewelry shops, makeup and beauty stores, and even a few restaurants. I like to plan out when I’m shopping, usually at the end of the day or before lunch, if I plan to head back to my hotel for a break so that I’m not lugging around my loot throughout the city all day.

The best time for shopping in Milan is during the saldi (sales) periods. These sale periods typically begin in the first week of January and July and last for several weeks until most of the sale stock is sold out.

Be right in the middle of the action by staying at this light and modern apartment right on Corso Buenos Aires. The apartment is in the heart of Milan and is just a short walk away from the major bus, tram, and metro lines.

See Related: Italy vs Greece: What’s the Difference?

17. San Siro Stadium

San Siro arena,Milan

Address: Piazzale Angelo Moratti, 20151 Milan, Italy

Traveling with a big soccer fan? Then it might be worth the visit to San Siro Stadium! The stadium has a seating capacity of 80,018, making it the largest stadium in Italy and one of the largest stadiums in all of Europe. It’s the home field for AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The stadium itself is an icon in the soccer world – one look at it will tell you why. This place is a modern Colosseum! In addition to sports games, San Siro has hosted concerts by some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Elton John and The Rolling Stones.

When there aren’t games or events happening, the stadium hosts guided tours of the stadium and its facilities. You’ll be able to walk through the locker rooms and players’ tunnels. The stadium also features a museum that houses artifacts, including jerseys worn by famous players, that tell the legend of San Siro.

18. Day Trip: Lake Como

Lake Como
Source: Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Due to its convenient location in the north of Italy, Milan makes a great place to base yourself if you want to visit surrounding cities and attractions. If you’re running out of Milan things to do, visiting a surrounding town for a day is a great option. One of my favorite day trips to take from Milan is to Lake Como.

Enjoying relatively modest tourism, Lake Como really blew up in popularity after George Clooney bought his Italian villa that overlooks the lake. Como is the largest town on the lake, but I prefer the smaller towns of Bellagio and Varenna. Each of these towns is easily accessible by car or by ferry from Como.

Both of these smaller lakeside towns feature adorable cobblestone walkways and colorful buildings. It really feels like you’re in a fairytale when you visit these towns. Each village has countless spots that are perfect for taking photos or relaxing with an Aperol Spritz.

If you don’t feel like driving 1.5 hours outside of the city, I recommend this Milan to Lake Como day trip tour. The tour includes stops in both Bellagio and Varenna and lasts approximately 11 hours.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy (Ranked!)

19. Day Trip: Lugano, Switzerland

Panorama view of the lake Lugano, mountains and city Lugano, Ticino canton, Switzerland. Scenic beautiful Swiss town with luxury villas.

Can you tell I love being out on a lake? One of my other favorite day trips from Milan is another lakeside town, this time in Switzerland! The beautiful town of Lugano is the perfect blend of Swiss charm and Italian architecture and cuisine.

Surrounded by the Swiss Alps, this lakeside town is full of art museums, fancy restaurants, high-end shopping, and water sports. I visited in the winter, and it was still pretty lively, but I think the best time to enjoy this town would be late spring when the weather is a bit warmer, and you can enjoy being on the lake.

Lugano is accessible from Milan by car and by train, both taking around 1 hour and 15 minutes each way. Make sure you have your passport on you since you are visiting a different country. That goes for EU passport holders too, as Switzerland is not part of the EU.

FAQ

What is Milan known for?

Milan is known as the fashion capital of Europe. The big city is also known for its large central cathedral, intricate architecture, and delicious cuisine. Additionally, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works of art, the Last Supper, can be found in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan.

Is Milan worth visiting?

If you love delicious Italian food, amazing culture and history, long-standing, intricate architecture, and a busy city, I would say Milan is totally worth visiting. The history is absolutely mind-blowing, and the delicious food made with simple ingredients always has me coming back to this beautiful city.

How many days is enough to see Milan?

While the main tourist attractions in Milan will probably take you 2-3 days to see, I highly recommend spending one week in Milan. This way, you can explore the busy city at a slower pace and even enjoy a day trip or two.

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