The city of Milan is known across the globe for its place in the fashion industry. From fashion shows to sample sales, people flock to Milan for its style and fashion opportunities. But there’s so much more to this city as well. Milan is a financial hub, home to lots of delicious high-end restaurants, and its shopping options range from massive historic malls to unique shopping concepts. As far as culture goes in Milan, the city is full of opportunity, from opera houses to museums to churches like Il Duomo, which is an icon in the city, and Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is home to the famous Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
Il Duomo is the grandest cathedral in Milan. Construction on this glorious piece of architecture began in the 14th century, and took approximately six hundred years to complete. Il Duomo’s intricately designed towers and spires are a beautiful sight to behold, and visitors who want to get a closer look can schedule a guided tour to take them through the cathedral, the rooftops, the archeological area, and the Duomo museum as well. There are even tours and activities for children, offering Milan’s youngest visitors a chance to appreciate the culture and history that Il Duomo brings to the city.
Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI, Italy
Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle as it’s called in English, is an iconic symbol of Milan’s metropolis. Originally built during the 15th century (on the ruins and foundations of an existing 14th century structure), Sforza Castle was the longtime home of Milan’s ruling elite. Renovations and additions made to the castle during the 16th and 17th century gave it a place in world architecture as the largest citadel in Europe, though this record has since been defeated. Visitors can explore Castello Sforzesco’s museums and exhibits on their own, or take a guided tour with an experienced guide.
Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
3.Museo del Novecento
Art lovers will have a field day at the Museo del Novecento, which houses over four thousand works of Italian art. The museum first opened in 2010, and it focuses on more contemporary Italian art, rather than the classical and historic pieces that can be found in many other museums. The entire collection at Museo del Novecento focuses on pieces created during the 20th century. The permanent collection, as well as the rotating exhibits and traveling displays, are a great way to get a feel for the development of art in 20th century Italy, and the gift shop and restaurant at the museum are a great place to find a souvenir or discuss the museum’s collection over a delicious meal.
Piazza del Duomo, 8, 20123 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-88-44-40-61
4.Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
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With a high, domed glass ceiling above its elaborately decorated four-story arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall in Italy. It was originally built in 1877, and it is the center of luxury shopping in Milan, a city known for its incredible fashion and shopping opportunities. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is home to world-renowned brands that include Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, as well as some of the oldest restaurants in Milan, like Cafe Biffi, which has been serving customers since 1867. The mall itself is a sight to behold, with amazing mosaics and beautiful buildings, and even an image of a bull on the floor beneath the main dome. Legend states that visitors who step on the bull with their right foot and turn around with their eyes closed will have good luck.
Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
5.Teatro alla Scala
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There’s something so refined and sophisticated about Milan, and what’s more refined and sophisticated than the opera? Teatro alla Scala is a beautiful and historic opera house in Milan which has been putting on world-class productions and thrilling audience members since it first opened in 1778. The beautiful auditorium has orchestra seats as well as six levels of classic box seating options, but in truth there’s not a bad seat in the house when it comes to watching (and listening—the acoustics in Teatro alla Scala are amazing!) an operatic production here. For tickets, and a full calendar of events, visitors can check out Teatro alla Scala’s website.
Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
In a place already known worldwide for its amazing food, it takes a real winner to stand out in the Italian food scene. At Peck, customers can find all the high-end Italian food and wine of their dreams. Peck’s inventory includes an amazing deli with a renowned meat selection, some of the best dairy and cheese products available, fresh hand-made pasta, and other gourmet delicacies. Their patisserie has a wide selection of mouth-watering cakes, pastries, confections, and gelato, and the wine cellar a Peck is stocked with thousands of high-end labels from every corner of Italy, as well as other wines from around the world.
Via Spadari, 9, 20123 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-0-28-02-31-61
7.Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie
Visitors from younger countries may find it sometimes difficult to wrap their heads around the sheer history of everything in Europe. One prime example of this is the Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church and convent in Milan that was first opened in 1497 (only a handful of years after Columbus landed in the Caribbean). The Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is the home of the beautiful and famous mural depicting the Last Supper, as painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. Visitors can tour this beautiful piece of history or attend mass here during their visit.
Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-0-24-67-61-11
8.Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vineyard, or La Vigna di Leonardo as it is called in Italian, is a museum and restored, functioning vineyard located on the site of a vineyard that was given as a gift to Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century. Visitors can take a 30 minute guided tour of the museum, house, and vineyard, but they can also take a piece of the vineyard home with them in the form of a bottle of wine, grown from the original vine stock of Leonardo da Vinci himself. Wine can be enjoyed in the attached bistrot, or purchased to take home as a souvenir.
Corso Magenta, 65, 20123 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-0-24-81-61-50
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When visiting Milan, travelers will need to take a stroll through the historic district of Brera, which is located in the center of the vibrant city, just east of the Parco Sempione. Brera is a district well known for its upscale food and shopping opportunities, and is home to many antique shops, markets, and even high end boutiques like Marc Jacobs and Gucci. Food options are just as plentiful, with everything from cafes to full restaurants dotting the streets, where visitors can sit on a patio and enjoy a cup of espresso or a plate of pasta. Brera is also well known for the massive collection of art that fills the district, as well as the Santa Maria del Carmine church, which was built in the 15th century.
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10.Pinacoteca di Brera
In a city well known for its art, Pinacoteca di Brera stands out from the crowd of galleries and museums, which should say a lot for its collection of Italian paintings. At Pinacoteca di Brera, visitors can view a massive array of historic paintings by Italian artists, including masterpieces by Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, Caravaggio, and many more. The Pinacoteca di Brera is located within the Palazzo Brera, which is also home to a number of other cultural institutions, such as the Botanic Gardens, the Brera Library, and an Astronomic Observatory, so visitors can truly make a day out of their visit.
Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-72-26-32-64
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The largest park in Milan is without a doubt Parco Sempione, located just north of the city center and within easy walking distance to many of Milan’s biggest attractions. This beautiful green space was built in the late 19th century in the style of traditional English gardens, and features a lot of green plants and trees, a large man-made lake, and some wonderful attractions including the Civic Aquarium of Milan, the Arena Civica, which is an amphitheatre which was inaugurated by Napoleon, and the stunning architecture of the Arco della Pace. Parco Sempione is a great place to sit back and relax after a long day of sightseeing, perhaps with a lovely picnic of local Italian food and drinks.
12.Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
Practically every inch of the interior of Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is covered in elaborate murals, frescoes, paintings, mosaics, and architectural details. This beautiful church has been around since the early 1500s, when it opened as part of Monastero Maggiore, a female convent that was one of the largest and most important in the city of Milan. Today, this beautiful space is used as a church, and it also puts its incredible acoustics to good use as a concert hall. Of note among the collection of art and artifacts in this stunning church is the organ, which has been in the hall of Nuns since the year 1554.
Corso Magenta, 15, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
13.Milano Centrale Railway Station
Countries in Europe are so well connected by train, it’s an experience that, for many visitors, is very unique to the continent. The Milano Centrale Railway Station is an excellent example of this; the huge train station is the largest in Europe by volume. Each year, an estimated 120 million passengers pass through Milano Centrale Railway Station, whether they are arriving to Milan for work or pleasure, or departing to some other part of Italy or Europe. The station is packed with shops and amenities, which range from a quick bite to eat before hopping on a train to salons where visitors can get their haircut or beards trimmed.
Piazza Duca d'Aosta, 1, 20124 Milano MI, Italy
14.10 Corso Como
© 10 Corso Como
Italy is well known for its incredible food, history, and culture, and Milan is renowned worldwide for its influence on the world of style and fashion. 10 Corso Como is a unique concept shop that combines these aspects of Milano culture and many more. This incredible shopping opportunity and concept is a perfect place to do some prime people watching, and it’s also an unbelievable spot for souvenirs. At 10 Corso Como, visitors can find delectable food and pastries in the cafe, some incredible fashion steals from niche designers they won’t be able to find anywhere else on the planet, books, art, and even a small hotel.
Corso Como, 10, 20154 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-29-01-35-81
The thing about having as much history as Italy does is that there’s a lot of people who have come and gone in that time. Cimitero Monumentale is one of the largest cemeteries in Milan, and its rows and rows of graves and tombs are filled with some of the most elaborate statues, memorials, mausoleums, and tombs you’ve ever seen. Taking a stroll through Cimitero Monumentale feels more like walking through an open air museum exhibit or sculpture garden than it does walking through a cemetery; the place is well known for having an abundance of artistic buildings and memorials.
Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale, 20154 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-88-46-56-00
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Milan is a diverse city with many distinct neighborhoods and districts that each possess their own unique flavor. One of the most famous districts in Milan is the Navigli district, an area originally named for and formed by a system of canals, which brought goods into the city, like the marble used to build Il Duomo. These canals stretched for over 150 km and were an integral part of the city for seven centuries. Today, only a few of those canals have survived, but Navigli lives on in the sunsets that reflect across the waters of the canals, and the restaurants that line the streets of the district.
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The name Prada is widely revered in the fashion industry, and even among the uninitiated has a reputation for creating high quality products with an emphasis on quality design and style. So it should come as no surprise that the Fondazione Prada in Milan is an institution devoted to art and culture. This art institute focuses on contemporary artists, who are featured in this illustrious gallery space. The Fondazione Prada is open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays) for visitors who wish to come view the permanent and temporary displays and collections, and tickets can be discounted for groups, students, and young or elderly guests.
Largo Isarco, 2, 20139 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-56-66-26-12
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Due to space constraints and sheer amount of history, there are a lot of small cities throughout Europe that do not have large skyscrapers or tall buildings as part of their skylines. Torre Velasca is a unique building, a 26-story skyscraper with a distinct shape that billows out at the top. The tower was built in Milan during the 1950s, and it towers over the rest of the city as a symbol of modern Milan and the reconstruction efforts that were made after the devastation of World War II. The building is full of apartments, condos, and office space, but lucky visitors can make their way to the top of the building for an unbeatable view of the city of Milan.
Piazza Velasca, 3/5, 20122 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-02-02
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19.The Milan Tram
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Milan is a very walkable city, but for those who wish to relax and watch the world go by, or for those who simply need a break from all the walking, the Milan Tram is a great way to get around the city. When the tram system was first introduced in Milan during the 19th century, the tram cars were pulled by horses, but these days the Milan Tram runs on 18 lines through the city. Some of the tram cars are old and historic, with the oldest being over 80 years old. Tickets for the trams, buses, and other Milan public transportation can be purchased at the kiosks at any metro station. There are one way tickets, day passes, and 2-day passes available.
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20.San Siro Football Stadium
Football, or soccer as we call it here in the United States, is a cultural institution in Europe, and Italy is no exception. San Siro Football Stadium has a staggering capacity of over eighty thousand people, which gives it a place of honor as one of the largest football stadiums in all of Europe, and the largest in all of Italy. San Siro is the home field of AC Milan and Internazionale, and it’s a great place to catch a match and do some peak people watching. The stadium has a store full of merchandise as well as a museum which tells the stories of some of the illustrious players and teams which have played there.
Piazzale Angelo Moratti, 20151 Milano MI, Italy
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21.L’Osteria del Treno
© L’Osteria del Treno
It’s so easy to rush through a meal these days, looking at food as fuel and sustenance and not an experience to be enjoyed, but at L’Osteria del Treno, mealtime is sacred, and patrons at this restaurants should be prepared to enjoy every last bite of their food. The large space has lofted ceilings rimmed by second floor balconies and a small stage at the front of the dining room with a baby grand piano. Throughout the course of the meal, the white-clothed tables are slowly laden first with wine and beverages, then with course after course of delicious Italian food, until patrons are stuffed and happy when they finally leave.
Via S. Gregorio, 46, 20124 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-0-26-70-04-79
© Essenza Ristorante
Under the watchful and expert eye of master chef Eugenio Boer, Essenza Ristorante delivers high quality and impeccable taste with every item on their extensive menu. The atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy and pleasant, and the space is perfect for a romantic couple’s evening, a sophisticated celebration, or a lovely night out on the town. At Essenza, guests will start their evening with a massive list of wines, all of which have been impeccably curated and are top of the line. The gourmet food, with its elegant plating, is as delicious as it is beautiful, and guests will leave Essenza Ristorante wishing they had room to eat more.
Via Marghera, 34, 20149 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-0-24-98-68-65
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23.Antica Osteria il Ronchettino
© Antica Osteria il Ronchettino
From the outside, this beautiful little restaurant, with its street lamps and climbing ivy on its walls, looks charming and picturesque. The interior is no disappointment either; inside Antica Osteria il Ronchettino, dining rooms feel like a mix between a quaint cafe, a formal dining experience, and a visit to a friend’s house. From wine to breadsticks to salads, pastas, and entrees, Antica Osteria il Ronchettino has it all covered, and everything on their menu is delicious. Guests can choose to sit in one of the cozy, intimate dining rooms or out on the covered terrace.
Via Lelio Basso, 9, 20142 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-34-25-64-39-55
24.Osteria La Voliera
© Osteria La Voliera
Located in the Porta Romana district of Milan, Osteria La Voliera is a romantic and intimate dining option that is perfect for special occasions and celebrations, and is especially popular among couples. The menu at Osteria La Voliera focuses on Mediterranean-style dishes, with an emphasis on appealing to contemporary styles and palates. Dishes are simple and filling and lovingly created by the excellent culinary staff, and the selection of wine bottles which lines the shelves along the walls sets the mood and makes guests’ mouths water for some delicious vino.
Via Crema, 17, 20135 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-58-30-09-37
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25.Fioraio Bianchi Caffe
© Fioraio Bianchi Caffè
Fioraio Bianchi Caffe serves Italian fare, like so many other great restaurants in Milan, but from the moment guests enter their doors and see the trendy, rustic-chic atmosphere of the dining room, it becomes clear that Fioraio Bianchi Caffe is not like the stuffy white table clothed restaurants that can be found elsewhere. This beautiful space features high ceilings, exposed stone and brick walls and ceilings, and is offset by delicate floral arrangements and antique furniture, for a fun and sophisticated vibe. The menu at Fioraio Bianchi Cafe features great wine and great, modern Italian food that can please even the pickiest eaters.
Via Montebello, 7, 20121 Milano MI, Italy, Phone: +39-02-29-01-43-90
25 Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy
- Il Duomo, Photo: Aliaksandr/stock.adobe.com
- Castello Sforzesco, Photo: Zigres/stock.adobe.com
- Museo del Novecento, Photo: frenk58/stock.adobe.com
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Photo: Minerva Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Teatro alla Scala, Photo: Art Media Factory/stock.adobe.com
- Peck, Photo: Peck
- Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie, Photo: teptong/stock.adobe.com
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard, Photo: AlexBr/stock.adobe.com
- Brera, Photo: Alexandre Rotenberg/stock.adobe.com
- Pinacoteca di Brera, Photo: picture10/stock.adobe.com
- Parco Sempione, Photo: olga demchishina/stock.adobe.com
- Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, Photo: Naeblys/stock.adobe.com
- Milano Centrale Railway Station, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- 10 Corso Como, Photo: 10 Corso Como
- Cimitero Monumentale, Photo: picture10/stock.adobe.com
- Navigli, Photo: Jan Cattaneo/stock.adobe.com
- Fondazione Prada, Photo: Claudio Colombo/stock.adobe.com
- Torre Velasca, Photo: Elisa Locci/stock.adobe.com
- The Milan Tram, Photo: Zakhar Marunov/stock.adobe.com
- San Siro Football Stadium, Photo: oneinchpunch/stock.adobe.com
- L’Osteria del Treno, Photo: L’Osteria del Treno
- Essenza Ristorante, Photo: Essenza Ristorante
- Antica Osteria il Ronchettino, Photo: Antica Osteria il Ronchettino
- Osteria La Voliera, Photo: Osteria La Voliera
- Fioraio Bianchi Caffe, Photo: Fioraio Bianchi Caffè
- Cover Photo: faber121/stock.adobe.com