Located in northern Italy, Milan is the second-largest city in the country and one of the most important global cities for fashion and design.
The city is home to a wealth of iconic architectural sites, including the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, known locally as il Duomo, and Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting of The Last Supper. Visitors can also enjoy a range of excellent museums and art galleries, including the Pinacoteca Brera, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene.
Whether you’re interested in culture, history, or simply want to enjoy some of the best shopping and dining in Europe, Milan is an essential destination.
Not to mention, if you’re traveling around Italy, Milan is only an hour away from Lake Como, two hours by train away from Florence, and three hours by train from Rome or Venice.
So if this magnificent city is one of the first stops of your Italy trip, here is our list of some of the best things to do in Milan, Italy.
1) Milan Cathedral
The Milan Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in Italy. Located in the heart of Milan, it is the largest cathedral in the country and the fifth largest in the world. construction began in 1386, and it was not completed until 1965.
The Gothic style cathedral is built from white marble, and it is adorned with intricate sculptures and detailed mosaics. Inside, there are three main naves, and the ceiling is decorated with beautiful frescoes. The Milan Cathedral is truly a marvel of architecture, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
2) Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a glass-roofed shopping arcade in Milan, Italy. The arcade is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy.
It was opened in 1877 and was the world’s first shopping mall. The arcade consists of four stories and is over one kilometer long. There are over 200 stores in the mall, including high-end retailers such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.
The Grand Galleria also features several restaurants, cafes, and bars. The mall is popular with both locals and tourists, and it is considered one of Milan’s most iconic landmarks.
3) Pinacoteca di Brera
The Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the most important museums in Italy. Housed in the historic Palazzo Brera, the museum contains a world-renowned collection of paintings, sculpture, and prints.
Among the most notable works on display are “The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez, “The Holy Family” by Michelangelo, and “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. The museum also houses an extensive collection of ancient art, including Roman and Etruscan sculptures and Byzantine mosaics.
With its rich history and wide-ranging collections, the Pinacoteca di Brera is a must-see for any art lover visiting Milan.
4) Watch an AC Milan or Inter Milan Match at the San Siro
The San Siro, officially known as the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, is a football stadium located in Milan, Italy. The stadium is the home of both AC Milan and Inter Milan, and is the largest stadium in Italy with a capacity of over 80,000 spectators.
The San Siro has been used as a venue for numerous high-profile events such as the 1984 European Cup Final and the 1990 FIFA World Cup, as well as being the setting for many films and television shows.
The stadium is named after its two former occupants, Giuseppe Meazza, who played for both Milan clubs, and Inter’s first president, Angelo Moratti. The San Siro is one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world, and if your trip lines up with either AC or Inter’s schedule, it’s well worth looking into tickets.
5) Parco Sempione
Parco Sempione is a large city park located in the Isola neighborhood of Milan, Italy. The park is home to a number of notable attractions, including the Sforza Castle, the Arch of Peace, and the Palazzo dell’Arte.
The park also hosts a number of events throughout the year, such as concerts and festivals. In addition to its many cultural offerings, Parco Sempione is also a popular spot for recreation, with a playground, tennis courts, and a large lake. Whether you’re looking to explore Milan’s history or just take a leisurely stroll, Parco Sempione is sure to have something for everyone.
6) Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the most iconic buildings in Milan, Italy. Built in the 15th century, it is best known for its association with the artist Leonardo da Vinci.
In 1495, da Vinci began work on his masterpiece, The Last Supper. The painting was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza and was meant to be displayed on the wall of the refectory in the church.
However, due to da Vinci’s experimental use of tempera and oil paints, the painting began to deteriorate soon after it was completed. In 1652, a restorer attempted to repair the painting, but instead caused further damage.
As a result, only a fraction of the original painting remains today. Despite its fragmentary state, The Last Supper continues to be one of the most celebrated paintings in the world. Every year, millions of people visit Santa Maria delle Grazie to see this remarkable work of art.
7) Piazza dei Mercanti
The Piazza dei Mercanti is one of the oldest and most historic squares in Milan, Italy. Located in the heart of the city’s medieval center, the square was once the site of a bustling market.
Today, the Piazza dei Mercanti is home to a number of important landmarks, including the Palazzo della Ragione, the Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Nascente.
The square is also a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike, and it is often filled with musicians, performers, and street vendors. Whether you’re admiring the architecture or enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, a visit to the Piazza dei Mercanti is sure to be a memorable experience.
8) The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology
The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology is located in Milan, Italy. It is named after the Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci, who was born in the city.
The museum covers a range of topics related to science and technology, including transportation, communication, energy, and manufacturing. It features a number of interactive exhibits, as well as a library and archives. The museum is staffed by experts in various fields, and it offers educational programs for both children and adults.
Visitors can also take advantage of the museum’s facilities to conduct research or participate in workshops. The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology is an important resource for anyone interested in learning more about the history and future of science and technology.
9) La Scala Opera
La Scala is one of the most famous and renowned opera houses in the world. Located in Milan, Italy, it has been a center of opera performance and culture since 1778.
Today, it remains one of the leading opera houses, with a world-renowned orchestra and choir, as well as a stellar roster of soloists. La Scala is also known for its lavish and beautiful productions, which often make use of the latest in stage technology.
If you’re lucky enough to snag a ticket to a performance at La Scala, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
10) Naviglio Grande
The Naviglio Grande is a canal in Milan, Italy that was built in the 12th century. It is one of the city’s most important historical landmarks.
The canal is 8.6 kilometers long and runs from the Darsena, an artificial harbor on the Mediterranean Sea, to the outskirts of Milan. It is used for both transportation and irrigation.
The Naviglio Grande is famous for its many bridges, including the Ponte Vecchio, which is the oldest bridge on the canal. It is also a popular tourist destination, with many restaurants and cafes lining its shores.
11) Castello Sforzesco
The Castello Sforzesco is one of the most famous landmarks in Milan, Italy. It is a massive castle that was built in the 15th century by Duke Francesco Sforza.
The castle has been used as a fortress, a palace, and even a prison. Today, it houses a number of museums and art galleries. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms and courtyards, or enjoy a view of the city from the top of the turrets. The Castello Sforzesco is a must-see for anyone visiting Milan.
12) Basilica of Saint Ambrogio
The Basilica of Saint Ambrogio is one of the oldest and most important churches in Milan, Italy. The basilica was built in the 4th century AD, and it was originally dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Ambrose.
In the 8th century, the basilica was rebuilt in a Romanesque style, and it has been renovated several times since then. Today, the basilica is known for its Gothic facade and its beautiful interior. The basilica houses the relics of Saint Ambrose, as well as a number of other important artworks.
Every year on December 7th, the feast day of Saint Ambrose, a special mass is held in the basilica. Thousands of people come from all over the world to attend this mass and to celebrate the saint’s life.
13) Brera District
The Brera District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Milan, Italy. The district takes its name from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, which has been located there since the 18th century.
Today, the Brera District is home to a number of art galleries, museums, and private residences. Visitors to the district can enjoy lush gardens, cobblestone streets, and beautiful architecture. The district is also home to a lively nightlife scene, with a variety of bars and nightclubs to choose from.
Whether you’re looking to experience the best of Milan’s art and culture or simply want to enjoy a night out on the town, the Brera District is sure to delight.
14) Piazza Gae Aulenti
Piazza Gae Aulenti is a public plaza located in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, Italy. The plaza was designed by Italian architect and designer Gae Aulenti and completed in 1964. It is considered one of the most significant examples of Italian postwar architecture.
The plaza is home to a number of important landmarks, including the Palazzo Lombardia, the tallest building in Italy; the Pirelli Tower, a iconic skyscraper; and the Bosco Verticale, a vertical forest. The plaza also features a number of sculptures and fountain, making it a popular tourist destination.
15) Milan Archeology Museum
The Milan Archeology Museum is one of the most important museums in Italy. It houses an extensive collection of archaeological artifacts from the Roman Empire, as well as a number of important Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities.
The museum is located in the heart of Milan, near the Duomo, and is easily accessible by public transportation. Visitors can explore the museum’s three floors of exhibitions, which chronicle the history of Milan from its founding to the present day.
The museum also offers a number of interactive features, such as touch-screen displays and audio guides, that make it an enjoyable experience for all ages. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a fun place to spend an afternoon, the Milan Archeology Museum is sure to impress.
16) QC Termemilano
QC Termemilano is a world-renowned spa and wellness center in Milan, Italy. The center features a wide range of treatments and services, from traditional massages and facials to more unique offerings such as salt therapy and thalassotherapy.
In addition to its extensive spa menu, QC Termemilano also features a state-of-the-art fitness center, a rooftop pool, and a restaurant serving healthy, seasonal cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a way to boost your fitness routine, QC Termemilano is the perfect destination.
17) Piazza del Duomo
The Piazza del Duomo is the largest and most prominent square in Milan. It is home to the city’s cathedral, as well as a number of other notable buildings.
The Duomo itself is a massive Gothic cathedral with intricate spires and an impressive façade. Adjacent to the cathedral is the Palazzo Reale, the former seat of government for the city.
The Palazzo has a grandiose baroque exterior and a lavish interior, with several massive frescoed ceilings. Also located in the Piazza del Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant glass-roofed shopping arcade.
The gallery is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike, and its many boutique shops and cafes make it the perfect place to while away an afternoon. With its mix of historic and modern architecture, the Piazza del Duomo is truly a sight to behold.
18) Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo in Milan, Italy is a church that was constructed in the 4th century. It is one of the largest churches in Milan, and it is notable for its striking facade and marble interior.
The church contains a number of important works of art, including a fresco by Leonardo da Vinci. It is also the burial place of a number of notable Italian figures, including the composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is an important example of early Christian architecture, and it remains an active church to this day.
19) Torre Branca
Torre Branca is a 107-meter tall steel lattice tower in Milan, Italy. It is located in the Parco Sempione. The tower was built in 1932 for the Expo Internazionale Combattimento, an international fair dedicated to promoting peace through technology and industry.
It was designed by engineer Francesco Ringhini and architect Guido Cirilli. The tower is composed of eight steel frames that are interconnected by diagonal bracing. There are three observation decks located at different heights, providing panoramic views of Milan and the surrounding countryside. The tower is accessible by elevator or stairway, and it is lit up at night, making it a popular landmark in Milan.
20) Navigli District
The Navigli district in Milan is a series of man-made canals that were built during the 12th century. The canals were used for transport and irrigation, and they helped to boost the city’s economy by making trade easier.
Today, the Navigli district is a popular tourist destination, and it is known for its lively atmosphere and its array of bars and restaurants. The canals are also a popular spot for locals, who come to enjoy the sun and the water. If you’re looking for a slice of Italian life, the Navigli district is the perfect place to start.
21) Il Cenacolo (The Last Supper)
Il Cenacolo, or The Last Supper, is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that has been on display in Milan, Italy since 1497. The painting depicts the final meal shared by Jesus and his disciples before Jesus was crucified.
The work is one of the most famous and well-known paintings in the world, and it continues to be a popular tourist attraction in Milan. In addition to its artistic merits, the painting also has great historical and religious significance.
For centuries, Christians have looked to The Last Supper for guidance and inspiration, and the painting remains an important part of the Christian faith today.
22) Monumental Cemetery
The monumental cemetery in Milan, Italy is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. With hundreds of thousands of graves, it is the final resting place for many of the city’s residents.
The cemetery is designed like a small city, with streets, squares, and gardens. There are also several chapels and a mausoleum. The cemetery is open to visitors all year round, and it is a popular tourist destination.
Many famous Italians are buried here, including writer Alessandro Manzoni and musician Giuseppe Verdi. The cemetery is also home to several events and concerts throughout the year.
23) Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is a prime shopping district in Milan, Italy. It is named for the triangular shape formed by the three streets that converge there: Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, and Via Manzoni.
These streets are home to some of the most prestigious fashion houses and shops in the city, making the Golden Triangle a mecca for stylish shoppers from all over the world. In addition to high-end boutiques, the Golden Triangle also features several luxury hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
Visitors to the area can enjoy a bit of window-shopping or treat themselves to a day of pampering and indulgence. Whether you’re looking for haute couture or simply want to enjoy some of the best shopping in Milan, a visit to the Golden Triangle is sure to please.
Recap of Best things to do in Milan, Italy
- Milan Cathedral
- Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Pinacoteca di Brera
- Football match at the San Siro
- Parco Sempione
- Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Piazza Dei Mercanti
- The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology
- La Scala Opera
- Naviglio Grande
- Castello Sforzesco
- Basilica of Saint Ambrogio
- Brera District
- Piazza Gae Aulenti
- Milan Archeology Museum
- QC Termemilano
- Piazza del Duomo
- Basilica di San Lorenzo
- Torre Branca
- Navigli District
- Il Cenacolo
- Monumental Cemetery
- Golden Triangle
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