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Milan is known as the fashion capital of Italy. It’s home to Italy’s major fashion brands, making it a top shopping destination for many. Walk along Via Montenapoleone in the high-end fashion district of Quadrilatero Della Moda and experience numerous top fashion houses first-hand.
Milano is also known as the most important business center in northern Italy. Here you’ll see buildings in a wide range of architectural styles, from Renaissance to those with modern glass facades.
Being the center of trading and commerce since ancient times generated considerable wealth leaving Milan with many cultural and architectural jewels.
Milan is also a city of art, boasting many museums and galleries. Remarkable churches and castles also contribute to the city’s rich cultural heritage. Sights like the impressive Cathedral Duomo di Milano, La Scala and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, along with fascinating castles and hidden masterpieces of well-known artists, debunks Milan’s business and workaholic reputation.
A visit to Parco Sempione is another must. This large park is in the historic city center near the Arch of Peace (Arco Della Pace) and the Sforza Castle. End the day in one of the lovely Milan restaurants enjoying delicious local food and drinking the finest Italian wines.
When you’ve finished with the sightseeing of Milan’s landmarks, you can go on a day trip to Lake Como and the nearby town, Bellagio. It takes only one hour ride by car or public transportation. Lake Como is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and is situated in a beautiful environment.
Read our Milan travel guide below to learn more about the top 10 things to do in Milan – and then start your adventure. You can plan your trip with help from Rome2rio.
Top 10 Things to Do in Milan
1. Visit the Impressive Duomo
When you come to the central city square, Piazza del Duomo, you will be thrilled by the glorious display of the impressive gothic Cathedral Duomo di Milano. The construction of this cathedral began in the 14th century and lasted the next five centuries. It remains one of the largest churches in the world today.
The Milan Cathedral is a city landmark. It has as many as 135 towers, more than 3,000 sculptures and can hold 40,000 people. Interestingly, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in 1805 in Milan Duomo.
Every year, more than 5 million people from all over the world visit Milan Cathedral. Visitors are allowed to climb to the roof of the Cathedral and enjoy a magnificent view of the city.
2. Explore the Museums in the Sforza Castle
Sforzesco Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is located near the city center and Piazza del Duomo. This medieval fortification was built in the 15th century. It served as the seat of the Milan Duke and later as a fortress of the conquering armies.
After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the Sforza Castle became a place where the cultural heritage of Milan was kept. It also became one of the main tourist attractions in Milan.
Today, there are six museums you can explore in search of outstanding works of art. These works include a collection of Egyptian art, numerous paintings, tapestries and the last sculpture of the famous artist Michelangelo.
3. Experience the Amazing San Siro
San Siro is the famous football stadium where popular Italian clubs AC Milan and FC Inter play their matches. With a capacity of 80,000 people, San Siro is one of the largest football stadiums in Europe.
Two World Cups, in 1934 and 1990, as well as four finals of the Champions Cup and the Champions League, were played at San Siro.
The stadium has a unique design recognizable by the high towers in the corners. You can take a San Siro stadium walking tour to learn more about this football temple.
Guided tours are available in a dozen languages. You will hear fascinating stories about the stadium, visit the locker rooms and even go onto the field. At the San Siro Museum, you can see the collection of jerseys that belonged to legendary players.
4. Enjoy Unique Opera and Ballet Performances
At the Piazza Della Scala Square, you can see the 18th-century building where the world’s most famous Teatro alla Scala opera house is located.
The impressive interior of the La Scala opera house will leave you speechless. All opera singers and ballet dancers dream of getting on stage in front of more than 2,000 people in La Scala’s grandiose main hall.
You can also visit a museum in the same building. Here you can see ballet costumes, musical instruments and scenery elements from the rich history of this theater.
Check the events schedule during your Milan stay, buy a ticket online in advance, and get ready to enjoy a magnificent show.
5. Tour the Oldest Shopping Center in the Fashion Capital of the World
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a 150-year-old shopping mall between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Della Scala. It is known for its beautiful architecture, glass roof and high dome.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is one of the most attractive shopping centers in Europe. You will be impressed with the monumental main entrance with its 38-meter-high arch. Attractively detailed mosaics that display Milan, Rome, Torino and Florence coats of arms adorn the interior floor.
You can find many cafes and restaurants, bookstores, jewelry shops and, of course, luxury boutiques of popular brands like Gucci and Prada. Some establishments, like Caffe Biffi, have been here for more than 100 years.
6. Enjoy the Most Remarkable Paintings by Italian Artists
Pinacoteca di Brera is the art gallery situated in the old baroque palace in the Brera district. It is one of the most famous Italian museums with a rich collection of paintings. In 38 rooms, you can find masterpieces of artists like Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Raphael.
All paintings are organized according to the period of origin and the painting school they are from. One room is dedicated to works of contemporary art and there you can see paintings by Picasso, Boccioni, Morandi and Modigliani. Brera palace is also home to an astronomical observatory, the National Library and the Academy of Fine Arts.
Furthermore, there are good restaurants in the area so don’t miss the Brera district when you visit Milano.
7. Explore Historic Milan
The Navigli is a system of canals in Lombardy, built in the 12th century. Navigli Pavese and Naviglio Grande are canals that pass through the city of Milan.
Locals once used these canals to transport goods, like marble used for Duomo’s construction. Today, Navigli is used for irrigation. But the Navigli district, the part of Milan where these canals are located, is also a popular place to go out, featuring several cafes, bars and restaurants.
You can visit “aperitivo” bars near the Navigli Grande canal and enjoy a specific Milanese pre-meal drink with friends.
8. Visit the Church Dedicated to the Patron of the City
Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is a Romanesque church from the 4th century. St. Ambrose, patron saint of Milan, built it. Catholics celebrate a major city holiday every 7th of December in his honor.
The complex is dominated by red facade bricks and two bell towers, each higher than the other. In the Basilica’s interior, you can see Stilicho’s Sepulchre, a specially decorated sarcophagus.
There is also a crypt with the remains of Saint Ambrose, Saint Protasus, and Saint Gervasus, all dressed in ceremonious attire. Make sure to visit Basilica’s atrium and portico and see the beautiful frescoes.
9. See One of the Most Famous Works of Art in the World
Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie is located just 20 minutes away from Piazza del Duomo. Its construction was ordered by the Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza in the 15th century. Due to great cultural and historical importance, the church was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church is home to the 8-meters-wide mural of “The Last Supper.” The mural is the masterpiece of the famous renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci and we strongly recommend you see this fantastic piece of art.
Parts of the monastery complex and the church were destroyed during the bombing of Milan in World War II. Thankfully, the wall that holds “The Last Supper” survived the bombing and the painting was restored to last for many years to come.
10. Explore Technology Heaven in the Heart of Milan
The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology (Museo Scienza) is a true paradise for all tech lovers. It was opened in 1953 in the ancient monastery of San Vittore al Corpo, just 20 minutes from Piazza del Duomo.
The museum has seven departments with machinery, equipment, artwork and documents representing the technology development in the last 200 years.
You can see the first personal computer in history, an Alfa Romeo retro car and dynamo from the first power plant in Europe. There are also spacesuits and a small rock from the Moon collected during the Apollo 17 mission.
If you like big machines, you can enjoy exhibits of trains from the 19th century, the Toti submarine and military aircraft from WW2.
Read more in our Italy Travel Guide.
Author Bio: Based in Serbia in Europe, Marija Stojanovic Petkovski worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her. She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty home-made lasagne. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.