The 11 Very Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy

Things to Do in Milan
Things to do in Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy’s fashion and financial capital, is renowned for its heritage and architecture and is a must-visit destination.

The city boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, like the Gothic Milan Cathedral and the grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade.

The city is relatively large, and although you’ll find most of the interesting things to do in Milan pretty central, with one or the two a little out.

This guide should help you plan to maximise your time in Milan.

We’ve visited Milan more than once, and the city has grown on us from the first time we visited, with its gorgeous architecture and atmospheric districts.

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Things to Do in Milan

Milan is a beautiful city located in the northern region of Italy.

It’s the capital of Lombardy and is known for its rich culture, history, and fashion.

Milan is home to some of the world’s most famous fashion brands and is considered one of the world’s fashion capitals.

You’ll find brands like Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Prada, to name a few.

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But beyond fashion, the city is famous for its architecture, including the iconic Duomo Cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade.

The architecture around the city is magnificent and presents some great photo opportunities.

There are too many to put in this post, so we’ve created another one exclusively for pictures of Milan.

Beyond fashion and architecture, you’ll find the classics the Italians are known for, such as their food scene!

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1 | Visit Cimitero Monumentale

Cimitero Monumentale translates as Monumental Cemetery, believe it or not. And who would have thought a cemetery ranks as the number one thing to do in Milan? Not us. But hear us out.

It’s quite a strange place to recommend as somewhere to visit, but it’s a remarkable place and somewhere we can almost guarantee you won’t have been anywhere like before.

You may have heard of Highgate Cemetery in London, but this place is on another level.

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Visit Cimitero Monumentale

Cimitero Monumentale is a beautiful cemetery that dates back to 1866. The cemetery was designed by renowned Italian architect Carlo Maciachini and is known for its impressive architecture and intricate sculptures.

You can stroll through the picturesque grounds and admire the beautiful tombs and monuments of some of Italy’s most famous and influential figures, including musicians, artists, politicians, and scientists.

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The cemetery is also a popular destination for art enthusiasts, as it features a vast collection of sculptures and monuments by some of Italy’s most celebrated artists.

You have to visit for yourself to understand how impressive this place is. You can even walk through what was the crematorium. Strange, but intriguing all the same.

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2 | Mercato Centrale Milano

Mercato Centrale Milano, translated as Milan Central Market, is a food market in Milano Centrale, the central train station of Milan. Mercato Centrale Milano is tucked away on the left side of the station on the ground floor.

If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss it, which you shouldn’t, because it’s great. The atmosphere is relaxed, and you can get your fill of the Italian classics, such as pizza, arancini, and cannoli. You’ll also find counters selling fresh meat, fish, beer and wine.

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Eat at Mercato Centrale Milano

Not only is the Mercato Centrale Milano food market awesome, but it sits within one of the most incredible train stations we’ve ever visited. Although we’re not sure, it must be one of the best train stations in the world. So even if you’re not after food, it’s worth a trip to the station simply to admire it.

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3 | Explore the Brera District

The Brera district is a charming neighbourhood in the centre of Milan. In fact, it’s the most charming neighbourhood in Milan. Brera is known for its picturesque streets, vibrant atmosphere, and artistic heritage. The district is home to a few art galleries, museums, and antique shops, so worth a visit if you’re a bit of an art lover. The Pinacoteca di Brera, one of Italy’s most famous art museums, is located here, showcasing an impressive collection of Renaissance art. The district also boasts a lively nightlife scene, with some cute bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy.

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Explore the Brera District

But the best bit about Brera is just wandering the quaint little streets to admire the beautiful buildings and hidden courtyards. The Brera district is a perfect place to immerse yourself in Milan’s cultural and artistic heart and somewhere you shouldn’t miss.

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4 | Visit Duomo Cathedral

Fourth on our list of things to do in Milan is to visit the city’s Duomo Cathedral. The cathedral is the city’s centrepiece, but it’s not the best thing to do in Milan. We’d go as far as to say the outside of the building is considerably more impressive than the inside. The ticketing system is also more complicated than it should be, with access to the cathedral, museum, and terraces by stairs or lift.

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Visit Duomo Cathedral

But despite all that, it’s worth visiting because it’s a bit of a bargain, plus the museum is quite impressive. It allows you to get close to some of the old sculptures, along with a wooden scale replica, a work of art itself.

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The Duomo Cathedral is a magnificent landmark located in the heart of Milan, Italy. It is one of the most famous buildings in the city and is the largest church in Italy. The cathedral’s construction began in 1386 and took almost six centuries to complete. The building is an excellent example of Gothic architecture, boasting intricate details and stunning sculptures. The cathedral’s interior is equally impressive, with beautiful stained glass windows and a vast nave. Visitors can climb to the top of the cathedral to enjoy breathtaking views of the city. It is a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting Milan.

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5 | Walk Navigli

The Navigli are a system of interconnected canals in and around Milan, but the ones you are looking for on the map are Naviglio Grande and Navigli Milano. They are a short walk from the city centre but worth every step! And although they look interesting in the pictures, what you can’t see is the atmosphere along Navigli Milano.

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Walk Navigli

Naviglio Grande is a beautiful canal located in the southwestern part of Milan. It is famous for its picturesque views, lively atmosphere, and vibrant nightlife. The canal has trendy bars, restaurants, and cafes, making it a popular destination for locals, you, and us, AKA the tourists. You can take a walk along the canal, take a boat tour, or simply sit and admire the scenery. And once you’re done, you can head to the bars and restaurants on Navigli Milano and soak up that electric atmosphere. Having said all that, the canals in Milan don’t quite live up to the ones back in the UK, like the ones around Birmingham.

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6 | Wander Quadrilatero della Moda

You know Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals, right? Well, the Quadrilatero della Moda is the epicentre of fashion in Milan. It’s the most famous fashion district in the city, located in the heart of the historic centre, and is home to the most prestigious and luxurious brands in the world, such as Gucci, Prada, Armani, and Versace.

The streets are lined with elegant boutiques and flagship stores, making it a paradise if you’re big into fashion. Even if you can’t afford to shop here, it’s worth a visit just to see the beautiful storefronts and soak up the glamorous atmosphere. You might even spot the odd Ferrari in a shop as you do. Ha.

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Exploring Quadrilatero della Moda

7 | Explore Sforzesco Castle

Sforzesco Castle is a stunning architectural masterpiece located in the heart of Milan. Built in the 15th century, this historic castle has undergone several renovations, but its beauty and grandeur have remained intact. The castle is pretty imposing with its massive walls and tower, which you can see for miles.

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Explore Sforzesco Castle

The castle boasts a remarkable collection of art and artefacts, including masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and other renowned artists. Inside the castle, you can explore the castle’s rooms and view the historical artefacts and exhibits. The castle’s exterior is equally impressive, with its imposing walls, towers, and moat. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, visiting Sforzesco Castle is a must-see attraction in Milan.

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8 | Admire Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

It’s hard to miss the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II because it’s right next to the Duomo di Milano and rather fancy. However, it doesn’t offer much, so it’s a low ranker on this list of things to do in Milan. That doesn’t mean to say it’s not worth visiting. It is. It’s grand. It’s fancy and an architectural masterpiece, but you probably won’t return once you’ve been through it and got a photo. It reminded us of the Galeries Royals St Hubert in Brussels – it’s just a bit more fancy.

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Admire Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a stunningly beautiful and historic shopping arcade in the heart of Milan. Built in the late 19th century, it’s named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. The arcade is renowned for its stunning architecture, which features a glass roof, intricate mosaics, and ornate ironwork.

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The arcade is home to some of the most prestigious fashion brands in the world, including Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, as well as several high-end restaurants and cafes. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is regarded as a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Milan. But to make it really worthwhile, see the iconic bull mosaic on the arcade floor and spin on its testicles, which is said to bring good luck. Now, give that a go! Ha.

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9 | Find the Flamingos

One of the most unusual things to do in Milan is to find flamingos. In fact, they are a flamboyance of flamingos because, did you know, ‘flamboyance’ is the word for a group of flamingos? Nope, nor us! Anyway, there is a flamboyance of flamingos in the gorgeous Porta Venezia district of Milan we happened to stumble upon while heading for the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, also known as the Quadrangle of Silence. Although not a huge tourist attraction, they are an unusual spot and offer a flash of colour you might easily miss. To help you find them, they are on the map below labelled Fenicotteri Milanesi.

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Find the flamingos

10 | Stroll Parco Sempione

Milan has plenty of lovely parks, but the daddy of them is Parco Sempione. Parco Sempione in Milan is a breathtaking oasis of natural beauty in the city’s heart. The sprawling park spans over 38 hectares and offers an abundance of lush greenery, tranquil lakes, and picturesque landscapes. It is the perfect place to escape the busy streets of Milan for a little while and unwind in nature’s embrace.

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Stroll Parco Sempione

Whether you’re looking to take a stroll, enjoy a spot of lunch, or bask in the beauty of your surroundings, Parco Sempione has something to enjoy. The park also boasts some cultural and historical landmarks, including the stunning Sforza Castle at one end of the park. At the opposite end is the impressive Arco della Pace and its spacious surrounding plaza.

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11 | Tour San Siro Stadium

Despite not being huge football fans, we visited the San Siro Stadium. Famous worldwide in football circles, the San Siro is a 75,000-seat stadium home to two world-famous football clubs—AC Milan and Inter Milan. The self-guided tour takes you through a museum and into the stadium, where you get to enter the changing rooms of these two iconic teams. The San Siro is a little way out of the city but easily accessible via tram and subway, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a football fan.

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Tour the San Siro Stadium

What’s interesting about the stadium is that it was earmarked to be demolished. However, it is to be saved due to its cultural significance, which we can totally appreciate. Even if you weren’t to step inside, you could stand by the tram lines and appreciate the stadium’s beauty. The San Siro was built in 1926 and, in my (Joel) opinion, is a concrete masterpiece.

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Things to do in Milan Map

To help you plan your visit to Milan and navigate around the city, below is a map of the things to do in Milan.

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Things to Do in Milan FAQs

How long should I spend in Milan?

Two full days in Milan will be enough to satisfy most people’s appetite for the city. It’s not like London, with an endless amount of things to do, but there are plenty of things to do to occupy you for a couple of days. If you want anything more, you might find you’ve had enough.

Is Milan worth visiting?

Yes, Milan is worth visiting. It’s a great city, and there are plenty of things to do in Milan to occupy you for a few days.

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