A popular Italian destination that is an easy weekend destination to visit is Milan Italy. Discover the enchanting city of Milan Italy through our latest blog post, sharing many things that you can explore, see and do! This post includes information on the iconic Duomo di Milano, the historic Sforzesco Castle, and the world-renowned La Scala Opera House.
Whether you’re planning your first visit to Milan Italy or looking for inspiration to visit Milan, our blog post is a great starting point for your preparations!
Facts About Milan
Before we start, here are some facts about Milan you may wish to know before you visit!
- Milan is the second-largest city in Italy after Rome
- It is the capital of the Lombardy region.
- Milan is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world, with many famous fashion brands and designers headquartered there, including Versace, Armani, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana.
- The city is also home to many famous landmarks and attractions, including the iconic Gothic cathedral of Milan, known as the Duomo, which is the fifth-largest cathedral in the world.
- The city has a population of over 1.3 million people.
- Milan is a major transportation hub in Italy, with three international airports, high-speed train connections to other major Italian cities, and an easy metro system that makes it easy to get around the city when visiting!
How To Get To Milan Easiest
To get to Milan, there are quite a few ways based on where you are located.
If you are visiting from Switzerland for example, it might be best you take a direct train from many of the cities (Like Zurich, Lucerne or Lugano) straight to Milan Central. They have direct trains daily, with a few options such as the normal regional trains to the faster EC train to choose from.
If you are visiting from another EU location, it’s mostly best to fly either to Milan Malpensa or Milan Bergamo. Both airports have many cheap flights with Ryanair, Easyjet and Wizzair flying. We personally recommend flying to Milan Malpensa as there is a direct train to the city from there. If you fly to Bergamo airport, you will need to take a bus for at least 40 minutes until you reach the city. It’s cheap and easy, but we personally prefer a train to a bus!
Milan Italy Things To Do
Depending on your choice and interests, there are a lot of things you can do in the Italian city of Milan. Contributed by other travellers, see here a list of recommendations for your visit. We have thrown a few tips in from our own visits too!
Join A Pasta Making Class
Eating handmade pasta has to be among the top things to do in Milan. Better still, how about enrolling in a class that will teach you how to make it yourself? There are various possibilities for enrolling in a pasta-making class in Milan for your visit, with costs ranging from about €70 to €100.
A lot of the programs also involve other activities, including going on a market trip to purchase the supplies and learning to prepare other typical Italian foods like tiramisu and various varieties of pasta.
A wonderful way to become immersed in Milanese culture is to learn how to prepare exquisite food from a local instructor. So if you like pasta, a pasta making class is for you!
While Milan’s Gothic Duomo may hold the spot for the city’s most iconic monument, the Castello Sforzesco, a medieval fortress that sits just a short distance from the Duomo firmly holds second place.
Sforzesco Castle was built by Francesco Sforza, a duke of Milan, in the 15th Century. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was expanded upon and served as one of the largest citadels in Europe. Throughout its history the castle also served as a home for royalty, weapons storage, and a military barracks. Today Sforzesco Castle houses museums with work by artists including Leonardo Davinci and Michelangelo. Note that the museums are open Tuesday-Sunday 10.00-17.30.
While the museums cost an admission to enter, it’s free to enter the palace and see it from inside the courtyard. The courtyard is open from 7.00-19.30. Plan to arrive early enough to enjoy the space with few to no people. This will also ensure you’re there right when the museums open so as to avoid the afternoon crowds.
Enjoy your time at Sforzesco Castle!
Contributed by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels.
The Bosco Verticale or Vertical Forest, located on the outskirts of Milan Italy, stands halfway between a natural and man made landmark and has become the symbol of the Isola district.
Since its inauguration in 2014, it has served as a stimulus for the development of the entire area of the Garibaldi Station, which had previously been home to marginalized populations.
Architect Antonio Boeri’s Vertical Forest consists of two residential towers, 80 and 112 meters high, that serve as prototypes of biodiversity in the urban area. This architecture emphasizes the relationship between humans and other living species, with 800 trees, 15,000 perennials, and 5,000 shrubs living on the terraces of Bosco Verticale’s apartments. Bosco Verticale is one of Italy’s natural wonders.
The large balconies of the two towers are wide and staggered from each other, allowing trees to grow even along three floors of the building.
The project has won numerous awards, including the International Highrise Award in 2014 and the Best Tall Building Worldwide Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in 2015.
In addition to its environmental benefits, the Bosco Verticale has also become a popular tourist attraction in Milan. Visitors can take guided tours of the towers and enjoy the stunning views of the city from the top floors. The project has also inspired other cities around the world to explore the possibilities of sustainable urban living.
Contributed by Annalisa from Travel Connect Experience
Stroll In The Cimitero Monumentale
Established in 1866, the Cimitero Monumentale is one of the largest and most impressive cemeteries in Europe. And while you might not be convinced about visiting a cemetery, the Cimitero Monumentale is an extraordinary place that deserves a spot on your Milan itinerary.
The Cimitero Monumentale is not only a final resting place but also a masterpiece of architecture and urban planning serving as an open-air museum showcasing works of art, sculptures, temples, and obelisks.
Initially, the idea of establishing a large cemetery in Milan was to replace the numerous and unhealthy graveyards scattered within the city, and was intended to serve all Milanese residents without any discrimination.
In addition to the chapels of prominent Milanese families, the cemetery houses the final resting places of many distinguished figures of the political and civil history of Milan and Italy. But it really isn’t as much about who is buried here and more about the graves themselves. Think of this cemetery as of an Open Air Museum that showcases the works of Italy’s greatest artists.
The opulent sculptures and impressive structures found within the Monumental Cemetery tell the story of the city and its artistic heritage, ranging from the realism and eclecticism of the late 1800s to the liberty and symbolism of the early 1900s, and all the way to the present day.
It was the municipality’s vision to make it a “Monument” to Milanese culture and history right from the start, not just a place for mourning. The architectural design reflects the eclectic tastes of the time, combining Gothic styles with Romanesque elements, along with Byzantine influences.
Contributed by Zi from We Are Craving Adventure
get Lost In The Museum of Science and Technology
The Museum of Science and Technology in Milan is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, science, and technology. Founded in 1953, the museum is one of Europe’s largest science and technology museums.
Visitors can explore 24 exhibits on everything from Space, which showcases real-life spacecraft and satellites, to telecommunications exhibiting a collection of radios and television throughout history, and the Transportation section, which features a collection of vintage trains, airplanes, and so much more.
The Leonardo da Vinci Gallery is one of the most popular and largest exhibits in the museum. The exhibit showcases some of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works, including his sketches and inventions like the full-scale flying machine, providing visitors with a glimpse into the mind of one of history’s greatest geniuses. This is a truly one-of-a-kind exhibition that should not be missed by anyone. You can also visit with a local tour!
In addition to its exhibits, the museum also offers a wide range of interactive laboratory exhibits designed to be fun and educational. One of these hands-on learning labs allows visitors to extract DNA from fruit, giving them a glimpse into genetics.
The Museum of Science and Technology in Milan Italy truly offers a unique experience that blends history, culture, and technology.
Contributed by Bridget from Bridget Gutierrez Travels
Visit The Duomo Museum
It’s no secret that Milan Italy is known for its plethora of high-end shopping opportunities and unbelievably delicious Italian food. But, the true centrepiece of the city is the Duomo di Milano, which stands as a reminder of Milan’s rich history and is easily the most popular attraction in the city.
However, what many people don’t know is that right next to the Gothic cathedral sits the Duomo Museum. This museum is filled to the brim with all kinds of art pieces that tell the story of the cathedral’s origin, construction, and history.
Some of the artworks you can expect to see are an array of sculptures, paintings, and gold relics. And at the end, you’ll find a rather large wooden replica of the Duomo, which allows you to appreciate the scale and masterful work of the actual cathedral.
For those interested in visiting, most entrance tickets for the Duomo Cathedral include a complimentary ticket for the museum. Thus, walking through the museum is the perfect activity to do as you wait for your time slot to enter the cathedral.
So, if you’re looking to observe the stunning architecture of the cathedral up close and learn more about its impact on the city, be sure to check out the Duomo Museum.
Contributed by Kristin of Global Travel Escapades
Together In Switzerland Tip: When visiting the museum, combine it also on the same day as visiting the rooftop of the Duomo Milan. There’s a lift else you can take the stairs. It’s an great experience and view of Milan. Check this recommended tour that we’ve also enjoyed!
Eat Fresh Pasta
Fabulous cuisine is one of the top reasons to visit Italy, and you really can’t beat a plate of fresh pasta while you’re in Milan. You’ll find many traditional pasta dishes on restaurant menus throughout Milan, including spaghetti al pomodoro (spaghetti with tomato sauce), tortellini, and lasagne. Raviolis with meat sauce are also very popular, as is pasta served with seafood.
Many restaurants will serve pasta that has been freshly made with care, and you can often taste the difference immediately. Great Milanese restaurants will serve you a plate of pasta that is cooked to the perfect level of al dente and then topped with a sauce that is appropriate for both the type of noodle and the accompanying protein (if applicable).
To find a great pasta restaurant in Milan, you can’t beat a recommendation from a local. If you have any friends from Milan, or if you meet any friendly locals while you’re there, be sure to ask for a restaurant recommendation and ask them what to order. They might tell you that “everything is good” in which case you can choose from the entire menu, but if they recommend a specific dish you’ll want to at least seriously consider ordering it.
If you’re short on recommendations, try to look for a restaurant that seems busy. Choose a spot where nearly everyone inside is speaking in Italian, and avoid restaurants with menus in multiple languages. Use the photo function of Google Translate if you need to translate a menu.
Contributed by Amber from Amber Everywhere
Teatro alla Scala
The Teatro alla Scala is one of the premier opera houses in the world, and it is an absolute must-visit for any traveler to Milan during a Northern Italy and Croatia trip. Located within the Centro Storico neighborhood, this incredible theater has more than 250 years of history behind it. Although the exterior of the building is far from impressive, its majestic grandeur on the inside will leave you breathless.
What makes this theater even more special is that it is a living cultural landmark filled with experiences tailored to both opera amateurs and aficionados alike. Visitors can take guided tours of the building and witness where the magic of the costumes and scenery come to life. There is also a museum located inside the opera house where visitors have the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the rich history behind this iconic landmark.
Of course, the best way to experience Teatro alla Scala is by purchasing tickets to one of its world-class performances. Shows often sell out months in advance, so it is best to plan ahead and secure your ticket as early as possible. If attending a performance, you will want to ensure you dress up to fit in with the fashionable crowd in Milan.
Contributed by Olivia from inspiredbycroatia.com
Watch a game at the San Siro
Football fans will be in their element watching a match at the San Siro. This is the home of both Inter Milan and AC Milan, and one of the biggest football stadiums in the world with a seating capacity of over 80,000. The atmosphere is electrifying!
Watching a football match is very much a family event in Italy, so if you are visiting Milan with kids, you will find it a welcoming (and extremely exciting) environment.
Most matches are generally at weekends, although sometimes midweek (so check fixtures before you book your Milan trip). Be sure to arrive a good hour before kick-off to get through all the security checks, and do note that some matches start as late as 8:45pm and it will be past 11pm by the time you’re out of the stadium; something to bear in mind with regards to your accommodation location. There are two metro stations for the San Siro stadium (check your seating zone to work out which station is closest).
If there isn’t a match on during your visit, the next best thing is to do the San Siro Stadium Tour. Tours run from 10am to 6pm, and depend on game or event days. English speaking tours are available on request.
Contributed by Jenny from TraveLynn Family
Spa Day At QC Termemilano
If you’re looking for something unique and relaxing to enjoy while visiting Milano, the QC Termemilano is where you go.
A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the QC Termemilano is a feast for the senses. The modern spa complex in the heart of Milan features saunas, indoor and outdoor jacuzzi pools, and sensorial bath areas. Steps from the city’s imperial entrance of Porta Romana, this peaceful urban oasis with surrounding Spanish City Walls stretches more than 3,000 square meters.
The property features a multi-sensory pathway with more than 30 wellness practices including a bio-sauna inside of an old tram, an Underwater Museum built around archeological remains, and the ancient Darsena Garden. Perhaps the most popular feature at QC Termemilano is the Thunderstorm Room, a themed spa room with sensory thunder, lightning, and rain simulations.
You can also choose to enjoy a relaxing massage, silent relaxation rooms, or the music therapy pools. These pools are amazing after dark for a quieter experience under the stars.
Snacks and beverages are available throughout the day, and the spa offers an Aperitivo session in the evening with free-flowing prosecco. Another reason to visit during the evening hours: fewer crowds and more zen!
The price of admission to the spa includes slippers, a robe, and a towel with a five-hour or unlimited hour package.
Contributed by Alexandra from East Coast Contessa
Explore the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Visiting Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan Italy is located in the heart of the city, and next to the landmark Milano Duomo.
This iconic shopping mall was built in 1877 and features stunning architecture and a vast array of luxury stores from some of the world’s most renowned brands. As you make your way through the mall, you’ll be able to admire some of the finest works of art and architecture in Italy. The glass-domed roof with its intricate mosaics is especially breathtaking.
The stores at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II offer a wide range of fashion and luxury items from brands such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Versace. Whether you’re looking for designer clothes or accessories, you’ll have no shortage of choices as you wander through the galleries.
And after a day of shopping and sightseeing, you can relax with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at any of the numerous bars and restaurants located in the area. Keep in mind these might be a little pricy based on the location.
There’s also a selection of fine dining and casual restaurants where you can enjoy a nice meal with views of the Milan Cathedral. For those who are looking to indulge their sweet tooth, there are plenty of options in the Galleria. From chocolate shops to gelato stands and cafés, you’ll find something for everyone.
Whether you’re a fashion lover or a curious sightseer, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a must see for its architecture and beautiful interiors!
Contributed by Stephanie from Bey Of Travel
Together In Switzerland Tip: It’s touristic for sure, but we suggest visiting the delicious ice cream store Amorino in the Galleria. They have some very delicious choices available, perfect for those hot days in Italy.
Day Trips From Milan City
For those staying longer in Milan and want to enjoy a day trip within 2 hours away, consider these possible locations:
- Lugano, Switerland
- Lake Como, Italy
- Ascona, Switzerland
- Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy
- Bolzano, Italy
- Brescia, Italy
- Turin, Italy
- Florence, Italy
More day trips from Milan in more detail, can be found here!
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