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The best things to do in
Milan

Language:   Italian

Currency: EUR

Sales Tax: 22%

Milan is one of the top tourist destinations in Italy. It may not have Rome’s ancient sites or the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, but Milan offers visitors its own exceptional attractions. The Duomo di Milano is one of the city’s most visited sites, but Milan has more than just the cathedral to offer. Its location in northern Italy provides travelers with easy routes to Lake Como, the Alps or the Italian Riviera. Being the fashion capital of Europe, fashionable tourists will find plenty to like on a getaway to Milan.

Even with a relatively small metropolitan area, there’s an extensive list of things to do in Milan. If you’re looking to get the most out of your trip to the city, here are some of the best things to do in Milan:

Some of the best things to do in Milan

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

Locals often say you haven’t been to Milan until you’ve visited Duomo di Milano. Also known as Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Nativity of Saint Mary, or simply called Duomo, the cathedral towers above the city center. The Duomo has a pull that draws people into the heart of the city. Visitors are often seen exploring the piazza at the base of the Duomo or enjoying the seemingly endless designer stores around it.

The Duomo is one of the world’s largest cathedrals. With a size of about 109,641 square feet, it can host about 40,000 people. The cathedral has been called an example of flamboyant Gothic architecture. One look at its exterior makes it easy to see why. Strolling through the Duomo yields views of breathtaking stained-glass windows and ornate artwork. This exploration may just be the highlight of your trip to Milan.

A visit to Duomo di Milano is one thing you shouldn't leave out of your list of things to do in Milan. It is the top attraction in this city of haute couture.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Ferrari Store

Ferrari Store

Milan may not be the home of Ferrari, but the city does have a store dedicated to the carmaker. Located very close to the Duomo, the store is an immersive Ferrari experience. Naturally; visitors will find the latest Ferrari merchandise here to fulfill the desires of their inner Tifosi. In addition, authentic Ferrari racecars are on display. Customers can climb into the available Formula One simulators and experience what a Formula One car’s cockpit feels like and enjoy a simulated drive on five different racing circuits including Monza, Imola, and the notorious Nürburgring. It is a great picture opportunity and will likely fill friends with envy when they view the photographs on Instagram.

Quadrilatero della Moda

Quadrilatero della Moda

If you’d rather avoid the large crowd at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you’ll be happy to know you have options. Situated in the city center a few blocks north of Duomo di Milano, Quadrilatero della Moda (fashion quadrangle) is the main shopping district in Milan for luxury items. This part of town, which comprises streets including Via Sant’Andrea, Via Monte Napoleone, Via Pietro, and Via Gesu, offers the top brands in fashion, jewelry, and fine timepieces. Fashion brands present here include Stefano Ricci, Versace, Louis Vuitton, and a host of global jewelry brands like Cartier, Bulgari, and Sabbadini. It’s not unreasonable to claim there’s no global fashion brand that isn’t represented here.

If shopping is the main goal of your Milan visit, staying at the Four Seasons Hotel on Via Gesu is a good choice as it will give you the freedom to shop as often as your budget allows.

Milano Centrale

Milano Centrale

Milan has a great underground rail network, so getting around should be easy. But when it comes to trains, the Milano Centrale train station steals the show. With its imposing archways and vaulted ceilings, Milano Centrale (also known as Stazione Centrale) isn't just any station. It seems to transform into another of Italy's grand baroque cathedrals, except the station is not even 100 years old. Fans of the Netflix movie Murder Mystery may also find additional motivation to visit this station, knowing that it was the location where the couple boarded the Orient Express train close to the end of the film.

In addition to providing transportation to different parts of Italy, Milano Centrale also houses a good number of high-end retailers and various eateries, from snack shops to fine dining restaurants. You should plan for some time to look around before embarking on a trip out of Milan.

Arco della Pace

Arco della Pace

Located along Corso Sempione, on the north-west side of Parco Sempione (one of Milan's largest public parks), Arco della Pace was built to complement Arc du Triomphe under Napoleon’s short-lived rule from 1802 to 1805. The arch is a fine example of Milan’s neoclassical architecture.

Originally constructed to celebrate Napoleon’s victories, the arch was modified before it was completed long after Napoleon’s defeat. Today, it’s a symbol of peace, where you can enjoy the soothing sound of trams going by. There are also plenty of restaurants along Corso Sempione where you can indulge in delectable Italian cuisine. If you elect to eat outside (and you should), look out for the pigeons. They’re not afraid to snatch your pizza right out of your hand.

Piazza della Scala

Piazza della Scala

Walking through the main walkway in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from Piazza del Duomo di Milano will take you to Piazza della Scala, a smaller square named after the Teatro alla Scala Opera House which is north of the square. Locals and tourists alike enjoy visiting the square to relax and admire the Leonardo Davinci statue in the middle.

There are a few tourist attractions located around this square. The most interesting one is the opera house, which began operating in 1778. The first performance there was Antonio Slieri's Europa Riconosciuta. Teatro alla Scala also houses Museo Teatrale alla Scala, a theater museum with collections of paintings, statues, costumes, and other related exhibits which chronicle the rich history of the opera house.

Another interesting building close to the square is Palazzo Marino, a grand 16th-century palace designed by architect Galeazzo Alessi. The building, which currently functions as Milan's city hall is named after Genoan merchant Tommaso Marino, who commissioned the building as his private residence. Following restoration efforts after the Napoleonic wars, the building became public property. It is now open for tours so visitors can see the impressive designs of the rooms of what was once a lavish mansion.

Puresport Driving Experience

Puresport Driving Experience

For a racing fan, nothing could be better than driving a Formula 1 car at the ‘Temple of Speed’, as the Monza circuit is known. It’s easy to picture yourself as a professional racing driver. Puresport provides all the safety gear, helmets, racing suits, boots, etc. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm.

Navigli District

Navigli District

The Navigli district is home to the city's canals. The five canals here were originally built to connect Milan to nearby lakes for irrigation and navigation. Today, you can book a guided tour, which includes a boat ride on one of the canals. The tours help you learn about the district's rich history while exploring famous landmarks such as the former city gate of Milan, Arco di Porta Ticinese, and the historic public laundry, Vicolo Dei Lavandai.

The best time to visit the Navigli District is after dark. The district comes alive at dusk, and the lights add a nice touch to the neighborhood. But if the canal tours are important to you, you may have to visit during the day and at night. Most of the boat tours are operated before dark.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco

While it operated as a medieval fortress, it saw multiple updates in the 16th and 17th centuries and became one of the largest citadels in Europe. Situated east of Arco della Pace, Castello Sforzesco is one of Milan's most imposing landmarks. It's in the middle of an arc of buildings constructed around it as if to secure it further. It also has a beautiful fountain, Fontana di Piazza Castello, right by the east gate below the central tower named Torre del Filarette.

Walking from the Parco Sempione, a public park that sits between Arco della Pace and the castle, a bridge over the now dry moat welcomes you onto the grounds. The imposing building, along with its massive corner towers, gives the impression that it's still guarding something of immense value between its walls. In fairness, considering the art collections and the museums it hosts, an argument can be made that it is doing just that.

Pinacoteca di Brera

Pinacoteca di Brera

Housed on the first floor of the building, some of the masterpieces in the Brera Collection include Andrea Mantegna’s ‘The Dead Christ and Three Mourners’, Francesco Hayez’s ‘The Kiss’ and ‘The Finding of the Body of Saint Mark’ by Jacopo Robusti. The gallery is also actively involved in multiple well-documented restoration projects funded by different donors.

Furthermore, the art gallery has a photography library showing off reproductions of Italian and foreign works of art and monuments. The photographs can only be viewed by appointment, so plan accordingly before your visit.

Santa Maria Delle Grazie

Santa Maria Delle Grazie

Another church popular with visitors to Milan is Santa Maria Della Grazie. This church and Dominican Order convent was completed in 1469. Compared to the Duomo di Milano, the church may not look like much from the outside. However, it has something special within its walls that attracts tourists. The church is home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous work,'The Last Supper'. The painting draws a large crowd of tourists, so don’t be surprised if you see long lines during your visit.

You shouldn't take seeing the painting on the day you visit for granted though. Tickets for viewing it often sell out, so if you're hoping to get a glimpse of the painting, you should consider making your purchase in advance.

San Siro Stadium

San Siro Stadium

Soccer fans can take advantage of the available guided tour and museum to learn more about this storied stadium that has hosted soccer matches in multiple FIFA World Cup tournaments and UEFA Nations League finals. Private tours are also available if you need to soak in the atmosphere in private.

The stadium was completed in 1926, so as you can imagine, there’s a desire to build a new one despite the renovations that have kept the place relatively fresh. It is scheduled to be replaced soon after the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Lake Como

Lake Como

A popular activity with visitors is short visits to some of the old towns around the lake. With a surface area of 56 square miles, travelers can take their time exploring the region's natural beauty. Popular towns in the region include Bellagio, Como, and Brunate.

Bernina Express Train Tour

The Bernina Express Train Tour takes visitors into the Alps and away from the busy city of Milan in just a few hours. The train is the perfect way for travelers to see a different side of Italy. It travels through the countryside and exposes passengers to mountains, glaciers, valleys, and forests. The journey ends in the gorgeous winter resort town of St. Moritz. This destination is a perfect Alpine spot to spend a day or two before heading back to Milan.

Milan may not be the first destination travelers consider when booking a trip to Italy. However, as shown above, numerous places to visit and things to do in Milan make it the perfect holiday hot spot.

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Risotto alla Milanese

Local Favorite: Risotto alla Milanese

Northern Italian cuisine is different from its neighbors to the south, and Milan's most famous dish is an example of those differences. Risotto alla Milanese is a specialty dish of the region as the Po Valley in Italy's north is one of Europe's leading rice producers. Rice, of course, is a key ingredient in any risotto and Milan's dish is no exception. The Milanese chef, Felice Luraschi, gave the dish its official name in 1929, but the dish originally appeared in cookbooks as far back as 1809 under the name 'riso giallo in padella.' Luraschi changed a few details of the recipe with the current Risotto alla Milanese dish containing rice, fat, beef marrow, saffron, nutmeg, and stock. Grated cheese is added to the dish for additional flavor.

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