Milan Travel Guide: 22 Best Things to Do

Milan is the fashion capital of Italy. With an unforgettable blend of historical splendor and contemporary flair, it is definitely worth a visit. The iconic cathedral with its small towers and statues is an architectural eye-catcher. Strolling through the bustling streets, you can feel the energy of the city, fueled by the thriving art scene, chic boutiques and exquisite cuisine. This travel blog tells you the best things to do in Milan.

What are the Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy?

In Milan, you can immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant fashion scene by exploring the numerous boutiques and designer stores. You can also experience the city’s rich architectural and cultural heritage by strolling through neighborhoods that feature a mix of Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary styles. Enjoy the dynamic art scene by visiting various galleries and cultural centers and sample the local cuisine in traditional trattorias or enjoy the city’s lively cafés and gelaterias.

1. Window shopping on Golden Square

Milan’s Golden Square is home to the most beautiful boutiques and designer stores. Window shopping here offers an insight into the epitome of luxury fashion. As you stroll through Via Montenapoleone and the adjacent streets, you can admire timeless elegance. You can also dive into the glamorous world of Italian style.

2. Explore Milan’s Iconic Bazaar Magazine Stand

The Bazaar Magazine stand in Milan is a popular spot for fashion enthusiasts and tourists alike, located in the heart of the city’s shopping district. It features an impressive array of international and Italian fashion magazines, offering the latest trends and industry insights. The stand’s sleek and modern design complements Milan’s chic aesthetic, making it a stylish landmark. Frequented by locals and visitors, it’s a must-visit for anyone looking to stay updated on global fashion scenes.

3. Visit the Duomo

A visit to Milan Cathedral is definitely one of the best things to do in Milan. It is an impressive experience as you stand in front of one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. The thousands of statues and ornate towers in particular make it a real eye-catcher. Climbing to the roof gives you a panoramic view of the city skyline and a closer look at the cathedral’s ornate architecture, including its famous marble façade. The interior of the cathedral features stunning stained-glass windows, impressive columns and the calm atmosphere of centuries of history.

4. Stroll through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an iconic 19th century arcade. With its breathtaking architecture and exclusive boutiques, it is the epitome of Milan’s luxury and elegance.
As you stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you walk under the towering glass roof decorated with ornate ironwork. The arcade is dotted with luxury boutiques, charming cafés and exquisite mosaics, offering you a perfect mix of architectural magnificence and modern enjoyment. Here you can soak up the lively atmosphere and also admire the magnificent architecture. Maybe you even take a spin on the mosaic of the bull for good luck. But be prepared, it’s very crowded.

5. Enjoy an Aperol at the Terrazza Aperol

Time for a little break? Then the Terazza Aperol is the right place for you. It is located to the right above the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. From here you can admire the hustle and bustle on the square in front of the cathedral while enjoying a cold Aperol.

6. Tour Royal Palace

The Royal Palace of Milan is a testament to the city’s royal history and splendor. Once the seat of power of the ruling House of Savoy, it now serves as a cultural center and is home to several museums and art collections.

7. Visit the Santa Maria presso Sa Satiro

Santa Maria presso San Satiro is a hidden gem in Milan. It offers a breathtaking architectural illusion created by the perspective techniques of Bramante. Despite its modest exterior, the interior of the church captivates with its ornate choir and stunning trompe l’oeil paintings, which create a sense of grandeur in the compact space. Its historical significance and artistic mastery make it a must-see for anyone wishing to explore Milan’s rich cultural heritage.

8. Take a tram ride

Milan’s tram system, one of the oldest in the world, dates back to the late 19th century. It features iconic, vintage trams alongside modern ones, offering a charming way to explore the city. The extensive network connects key attractions, making it a convenient and scenic mode of transport for both locals and tourists.

9. Walk along the 16 Roman marble columns of the Colonne di San Lorenzo

The 16 Roman marble columns of the Colonne di San Lorenzo in Milan are ancient sentinels dating back to the 2nd century AD. They are in a busy square near the Basilica of San Lorenzo and offer a captivating insight into Milan’s rich Roman history and architectural heritage. Today they are a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike.

10. Take a look at the Wall of Dolls

The Wall of Dolls consists of many different dolls hung on a metal wire mesh on a wall facing the busy Via Amicis. It is a memorial to female victims of violence and murder.

11. Have lunch by the water in the Navigli District

The Navigli District in Milan is another best thing to do in Milan. It is a culinary paradise with charming restaurants and cafés along the picturesque canal banks. The flair of the district is reminiscent of the Italian city of Venice. Here you can enjoy Italian cuisine, from traditional trattorias serving hearty pasta dishes to trendy bistros offering innovative interpretations of Milanese classics. Whether it’s a meal by the water or an espresso in a picturesque café, the lively ambience of the Naviglio Grande adds an extra touch to any dining experience.

12. Go on a boat tour on the Naviglio Grande

A boat tour along the Naviglio Grande in Milan offers a unique perspective of the city’s charming canals and historic architecture. Glide past picturesque bridges, colorful buildings and lively cafés and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this beautiful district. As you cruise through the tranquil waters, a knowledgeable guide will give you fascinating insights into the rich history and cultural heritage of Milan’s famous waterways.

13. Visit Basilica di Sant’Abrogio

The Basilica di Sant’Abrogio in Milan is an impressive work of Romanesque architecture from the 9th century. Its imposing façade and intricate interior, adorned with beautiful frescoes and sculptures, offers you a captivating insight into Milan’s rich religious heritage. The beautiful inner courtyard in particular offers enchanting motifs.

14. Admire the painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is an iconic masterpiece known for its innovative technique and profound symbolism. The painting is in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan and offers a unique opportunity to experience one of the most famous works of art in history in person. A visit gives you the feeling of being very close to the genius of da Vinci. Let yourself be enchanted by the fine details of the composition and impressed by the lasting significance of this iconic depiction of one of the most important moments in Christianity. If you have a lot of passion for da Vinci or religion, the “Last Supper” is an absolute must.

15. Circle the Acro della Pace

You haven’t been to Milan if you haven’t taken a photo in front of the Arco della Pace. The Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) is a majestic neoclassical monument in Milan. It stands as a symbol of the city’s triumphs and aspirations for peace and was built at the beginning of the 19th century to remember the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Today, it attracts visitors from all over the world with its majesty and elegance. Surrounded by lush greenery in Parco Sempione, the Acro della Pace is a tranquil refuge from the busy city streets. It is definitely another highlight of Milan. The arch can be easily reached from Parco Sempione or is also an ideal starting point for a walk in the park.

16. Hang out in the Parco Sempione

Parco Sempione is a sprawling urban oasis that offers a relaxed ambience in the heart of Milan. You can take leisurely strolls along the tree-lined paths, chill out in the green gardens or even spot little turtles. You can also cross the Little Mermaids Bridge here. With landmarks such as the Sforza Castle and the Arco della Pace, the park is the perfect place to take a break between the surrounding sights. Do as the locals do and enjoy the peace and beauty of Parco Sempione while lying on the green lawn.

17. Get an overview of the city from the Torre Branca

While you are walking through the Parco Sempione, you will notice the Torre Branca. It is a steel tower designed by architect Gio Ponti and completed in 1933. Standing at 108.6 meters, it offers panoramic views of the city and is one of Milan’s iconic landmarks.

18. Visit the Castello Sforzesco

The Castello Sforzesco in Milan is a historic fortress built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remains of a 14th century castle. It has been extensively restored and now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections, including Michelangelo’s last sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà. The castle’s extensive grounds and imposing architecture make it a central cultural and historical center of Milan. It is another highlight that borders the Parco Sempione.

19. Let yourself drift along the Corso Buenos Aires

Corso Buenos Aires in Milan is one of the busiest and longest shopping streets in the city, stretching over 1.2 kilometers. Known for its high concentration of stores, it cannot be missing from the list of the best things to do in Milan. Here you will find everything from international brands to local boutiques.

20. Visit the Chiesa del Carmine

The Chiesa del Carmine, officially known as Santa Maria del Carmine, is a historic church in Milan’s Brera district that was originally built in the 15th century. Known for its Gothic façade and richly decorated interior, it is an iconic landmark and place of worship in the city.

21. Take a breath in the Brera Botanical Garden

The Brera Botanical Garden in Milan, established in 1774, is a serene green space located within the historic Brera district. Managed by the University of Milan, it features a diverse collection of plants, including rare and exotic species, spread across its beautifully landscaped grounds. The garden serves as both a research facility and a peaceful retreat for visitors, blending natural beauty with educational value. Entrance to the Brera Botanical Garden is free.

22. Linger in Piazza Gae Aulenti

The last best thing to do in Milan is linger in Piazza Gae Aulenti. Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan is a modern, elevated square located in the Porta Nuova district, designed by Argentine architect César Pelli. Known for its contemporary architecture and striking features like the UniCredit Tower and interactive fountains, it has become a symbol of Milan’s urban renewal and innovation.

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