Milan is one of my favourite cities in the world boasting an infamous selection of fashion, art, food, culture, architecture and amazing Italian coffee! It’s an eclectic combination of the modern Italian business world mixed with old Italian heritage. Its got old cobbled streets alongside glass-fronted skyscrapers, trendy bars neighbouring traditional trattorias and chic fashion boutiques next to quirky art galleries. There is something to see in Milan for every type of traveller whether you’re a foodie, fashion girl, culture addict or love seeing what’s new in the underground art scene.
Read on to discover our 15 Unmissable Things to See in Milan…
1. Visit the Duomo.
The Duomo Cathedral is the main icon of Milan. Being one of the largest churches in Italy and taking over 600 years to build it’s a magical site to take it. Visit in the morning before the square gets too crowdy and enjoy an espresso in one of the bars lining the piazza before taking the stairs up to the Duomo’s rooftop where you can enjoy panoramic views of Milan.
2. Eat a Gelato.
The best gelato in the world is found in Italy and Milan is no exception to this rule. You can find gelato stalls on pretty much every street corner all selling an amazing variety of flavours and blends. Top gelato stalls to try are Grom, BiancoLatte & Cioccolati Italiani.
3. Window shop in the Quadrilatero della Moda.
If you want to take in some of Milan’s famous style the best place to visit is the ‘Quadrilatero della Moda’ Fashion District. Comprising of Milan’s four most stylish streets: Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia, you can window shop or shop (depending on your budget!) between the Italian greats Gucci, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Versace.
4. Walk Through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Just to the side of the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the luxurous shopping arcade originally built for the Italian royal family in the 19th century. Its a must see in Milan for its grandeur & architectural beauty. For an extra experience make sure you find the bull mosaic on the floor of the Galleria and spin around on its balls while making a wish – the Milanese believe it brings you good luck!
5. See a show at La Scala (or take a theater tour).
Even if you are not a huge fan of opera, catching a show at the beautiful La Scala is one of the most magical things you can do in Milan. The theatre interior is a site to see, with ornate red velvet & gold decor. For a totally luxurious night, you can combine an evening at the theatre with a drink at the chic Trussardi bar next door. If you don’t manage to see a show, or that doesn’t sound like your vibe, you can still take in the beauty of the theatre by visiting the La Scala Museum during the day and taking a guided theatre tour.
6. Soak up the Modern Art at Foundazione Prada.
If you want to see the latest of what’s going on in the Modern Art scene make sure to visit the Foundazione Prada, set up by Miuccia Prada. The gallery is a little out of the city but worth the trip to explore the series of metallic warehouses filled with interesting exhibitions and installations. If you go in the evening you can combine your visit with aperitivo at Bar Luce or dinner at the newly opened Prada Torre Restaurant.
7. Have Aperitivo on the Navigli.
Aperitivo is Milan’s answer to happy hour with a cocktail of your choice (traditionally Spritz or Negroni) served with a selection of snacks at bars all around the city. But the best place to try an Aperitivo is in Milan’s Navigli district. This area in the south of the city has two long canals lined with bars, cafes & restaurants and is the place to be in Milan come sundown.
8. Drink a Negroni at Bar Basso.
If you are going to try a Negroni at Apertivo time the best place to enjoy one is Bar Basso – the place where the Negroni was invented. You can find Bar Basso in the ‘Citta Studi’ area and it’s a hot spot for traditional Milanese residents and chic fashionistas.
9. Walk through the Castello Sforzesco.
The Sforzesco Castle can be found in the centre of Milan and is the grand entrance to the cities pretty Parco Sempione. The Castle was built in the 15th century and has been home to many famous Milanese aristocracies including the Sforzesco family and even Leonardo da Vinci himself. It’s nice to explore the museums now housed inside the castles old buildings before taking a walk through the park.
10. Stroll through the Artsy Brera District.
If you want more of an artsy, bohemian vibe a stroll through the Brera District is a must. A hot spot for the Milanese locals, here you can find cobbled lanes lined with street side cafes, vintage shops, quirky galleries and stylish boutiques.
11. See The Last Supper.
An absolute must not miss for art & history lovers! Leonardo da Vinci’s infamous ‘The Last Supper’ can be seen hanging inside the Santa Maria della Grazie monastery. This masterpiece is one of the most popular things to see in Milan and ticket bookings fill up months in advance so get your tickets early to make sure you don’t miss out!
12. Feel like you are in a Wes Anderson dream at Marchesi 1824.
Speaking of Milanese pastries, if you have a sweet touch make sure to stop by Marchesi 1824. Marchesi is a Milanese institution and is a Wes Anderson style, pastel coloured cafe. It’s pretty views overlooking the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele make it the perfect spot to enjoy a cake and coffee.
13. Browse in trendy 10 Corso Como.
Named after its location on Milan’s famous fashion street, 10 Corso Como is the place to shop for alternative fashion brands and limited edition designer collaborations. The collections they stock are quirky, colourful and out of the box so if you are looking for something a little different this is the place to shop. They also have an amazing arty bookshop upstairs and a beautiful roof terrace which opens in summer.
14. Drink an expresso.
Just like the Gelaterias, you can find coffee shops all over the city. While in Milan drink at expresso the Italian way – order an expresso to drink at the bar and fight your way through the crowds of businessman all chatting in Italian and drinking their coffee together before heading to the office. How those baristas remember everyone’s order and serve the coffees so fast always amazes me!
Which leads me onto…
15. See the best Starbucks in the World.
For the longest time you couldn’t find a Starbucks in the whole of Italy, but as of 2018 Starbucks have broken into the Italian coffee scene. I’m normally not a Starbucks fan while travelling but this Starbucks is an exception to the rule. Housed inside the old Post Office building with the grandest facade this Starbucks is complete with in-house roastery, a cocktail bar and luxury food from Princi (a Milan favourite for pastries and bread.
Have you visited Milan? Let us know your favourite places in the comment below…
P.S. If you liked this post and what more insider tips about Milan – make sure to check out The 4 Best Places to Shop in Milan.
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