Milan is a city in Northern Italy. It is the capital of Lombardy and the second most popular city in Italy after Rome. Milan has the most populated metropolitan area in Italy with over 3.2 million people in the wider area.
It is recognised as one of four fashion capitals and considered one of Italy’s most fashionable cities as it is home to some of the country’s major fashion brands. One of the best places to find them is in the oldest shopping malls the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.Milan is also full of rich history, cuture and art.
Milan has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid Summers with clear skies and cold foggy Winters.
The Milan metropolitan area has 3 airports, Malpensa Airport, Linate Airport and Orio al Serio Airport. Malpensa is Italys second busiest airport. Linate is the oldest while Orio al Serio is located over 30 miles away near the town of Bergamo and Ryanairs main base.
1 – Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Santa Maria delle Grazie translated in English as Holy Mary of Grace is a church and Dominican convent in the heart of Milan that is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The church contains the world famous mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. During World War II on a night in August 1943 the church was hit with aerial bombardment causing much of it to be destroyed and some walls survived including the one that holds Leonardo’s The Last Supper that thankfully had been sand bagged to protect it.
Construction of the church took decades. Architect Guiniforte designed the convent and it was completed in 1469.
2 – Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral called Duomo di Milano in Italian is the cathedral church of Milan. Dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary it is the seat of the archbishop of Milan. The Cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete and it is the largest in Italy, third largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.
The roof is open to tourists where you can experience a close up view of the spectacular sculptures. The roof is also renowned for the forest of pinnacles and spires. You will also enjoy some of the most beautiful views of Milan.
A red bulb above the apse in the church dome marks the spot where one of the nails reputedly from the Crucifixion of Christ is placed. The Holy Nail is exposed to the public every year for one day during the celebration Rite of the Nivola.
Glass caskets are spread throughout the building containing skeletons of Saints dressed in their best attire and large paintings adorn the walls of the church. The crypt is located in the Chapel of Saint Charles Borromeo. This is also where his remains are buried.
3 – Branca Tower
Branca tower is located in Parco Sempione. It is a steel panoramic tower that can be viewed from the top after travelling up by elevator. Here you can admire the panoramic view of the city of Milan.
It was designed by Gio Ponti and opened in 1933. One of the highest structures in Milan standing at 108.60 metres. It opened in 1933 after it was erected in a record time of just over two months.
If you visit the tower on a clear day it is possible to see the Alps and the Apennines from the top. It also encompasses the Milan city skyline.
4 – Castello Sforzesco
Castello Sforzesco also known as Sforza Castle is located in Milan. It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforzo, Duke of Milan. It is now a surprising monument sheltering several homes of the cities museums and art collections.
Today the castle sits in all its glory in the square with its 70 metre tall ‘Torre del Filarete’ and a number of majestic circular keep towers. Inside the complex you can also admire work from Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini and Sala Delle Asse with it amazing vault decorated and designed by Leonardo de Vinci.
With lots to see here you could easily spend hours in Castello Forzesco exploring and seeing the sights it has to offer.
5 – Cimitero Monumentale
At the enormous Monumental Cemetery you will find the graves and tombs of many people that made the city of Milan great. There is also remarkable monuments, statues and chapels that tourists and locals love to walk around visiting the graves.
It is Milan’s second largest cemetery. At the main entrance there is maps available. On the map you will find some of the most impressive tombs marked on it.
You can get a walking tour through the cemetery. It feels like you are walking though a park and not a cemetery. It is one of the most peaceful places in the city, an open air museum.
6 – La Scala Opera House
La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Many famous operas and singers had their first production here, for example, Madame Butterfly by Giacomo.
It is built on the former site of the Church Santa Maria all Scala. Like other theatres of its time it once housed a casino in the early years. During World War II, in 1943 it was badly damaged but was reconstructed three years later.
The theatre contains a large collection of paintings and objects related to the world of opera. In early 2002 it was closed for two years for renovations and reopened in late 2004.
On a tour of La Scala you will see parts of the building that are normally off limits.
7 – Shopping Arcade Milan
Milan Shopping Arcade is an extravagant 19th century glass topped, colourful shopping mall. Filled with many shops with some of the most famous Italian and international designer brands including Versace, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and many more.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an integral part of Milan’s shopping scene. It is one of the best places to shop in the city with plenty photo opportunities of its amazing iron domed roof and marble sculptors.
8 – Sempione Park
Sempione Park is a large public city park in Milan covering over 100 acres. It was established in 1888 and has a lot of attractions to offer including a medieval castle, aquarium and sports stadium.
Castello Sforzesco was first built in the 1300’s. But after years of multiple attacks on the city it was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, in the 15th century. The enormous landmark is open for tours and it contains masterpieces like Michelangelo’s unfinished last work and frescoes by Da Vinci.
Also in Sempione Park is the recently renovated Arch of Peace, Arco della Pace. It is one of Milans most beautiful pieces of history. Made of marble and topped with horse drawn carriages. It was built as a tribute to Napolean and his victories.
There is a lot to see in the delightful Sempione Park and with its large green spaces it is the perfect place to rest and relax when it is sunny. There is free wifi all over the park. Its opened daily at 6.30 all year round.
9 – Pinacoteca di Brera
Pinacoteca di Brera is the main public gallery for paintings in Milan. Here you can see some of the worlds most stunning, centuries old religious paintings from Italian masters including Raphael and Caravaggio.
The gallery is housed in a 19th century former church and monastery, with approximately forty rooms displaying the paintings. Ideal gallery to visit for all art lovers. There are benches to sit on to have a rest and there is also lockers available as you go in that need a 1 euro coin that is returned.
One of the highlights of the museum is the palazzo’s striking courtyard. This is free to visit. Entrance fee to the art gallery is approximately 12 euro.
10 – Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo translated in English to ‘Cathedral Square’ is the main city square in Milan. The spacious city square contains many buildings and shops.
The statue of Emmanuel II who was the first king of Italy is an ideal place to sit and watch the city go by. It is traffic free which lets kids play safely.
The Duomo or Cathedral of Milan has been under construction for approximately 500 years. It marks the centre of the city both in a geographic sense and because of its artistic and cultural importance.
11 – Naviglio Grande Canal
Naviglio Grande canal starts in the district of Tornavento and ends in the dock Darsena, di Porta Ticinese in Milan. The canal is approximately 20 metres in width and in parts narrows to 15 metres. It is almost 50 kilometres long.
One of the first and oldest canals that made up the Milan canal system dating back to 1177. It connected Milan with Lake Maggiore and Switzerland and was essential for the inhabitants of the city to transport their essentials and goods.
They transported coal, wood, wine and meat. Also the marble that was used for the construction of the Duomo was brought in through the canal. It was also very useful for carrying out their own goods that they wanted to trade , for example salt, grain, rice linen and iron.
Day Tours From Milan
12 – Serravalle Designer Outlet Shopping Trip
Serravalle Designer Outlet is Europes largest shopping mall and located just one hour from the fashion capital of Milan, in the heart of the Gavi hills. The outlet offers discounts from 30-70 percent on all their major Italian designer brands.
The outlet has over 230 stores of the best international brands, plus big name Italian designer brands. There is also a selection of beauty products, luxury luggage, travel essentials, jewellery, footwear and accessories.
Take a stroll around this unique village style shopping outlet with its winding lanes and experience McArthur Glen Designer Outlet and afterwards enjoy an Italian Gelato or coffee where there is a large playground for kids.
13 – Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna
Enjoy a full day trip by bus to scenic Lake Como which is known for its villas and beautiful gardens. You will also see the colourful villages of Bellagio and Varenna and can be explored or take in the sights on the lake cruise by private boat.
Varenna is a commune on Lake Common the Italian region of Lombardy located approximately 60 kilometres north of Milan. It was founded by local fisherman in 769.
In the medieval town of Como you will discover monuments while walking through some beautiful streets that sell their local traditional goods that are not the typical tourist shops.
14 – Bernina Train & St. Moritz
Experience an amazing excursion through the Swiss Alps on board the panoramic historic Bernina red train and enjoy a trip to the luxury resort of St. Moritz. You will see stunning alpine scenery and glacial lakes along the way.
The route has been listed by UNESCO as a world Heritage status. The Bernina red train was originally designed a century ago to climb the Alps with ease and it still lives up to its name. This is a great way to experience a trip to the alps.
Don’t forget your passport if you are going on the tour as it is required entering Switzerland. Within hours you can enjoy snow and then see palm trees! Also remember to bring a raincoat with you as the weather can be quiet changeable.
15 – Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a string of centuries old romantic seaside villages and towns on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline on the Western coat of Italy. Colourful houses and vineyards and plenty and cling to steep terraces. The harbours are filled with fishing boats.
The five villages of Cinque Terre give a feeling of real authenticity with few busy roads. It is considered every travellers dream while in Italy due to its location . The best views of Vernazza is from the nearby mountains whereas the best view of Manarola is from the walkway down by the seafront.
It is easy to get to Cinque Terre from Milan by train. It won’t take all of your trip see the five towns, a weekend break would be perfect too.
16 – Verona and Lake Garda
A day trip to Verona and Lake Garda from Milan is perfect to get swept up in the romance and scenery of this beautiful part of Italy. Verona is one of Italy’s loveliest towns and you can explore the nearby lakes and landscapes of Lake Garda.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the North of Italy. It is a lively destination packed with both Italian and foreign tourists. There are many little villages here to see. There is also the most visited amusement park in Italy located here called Gardaland.
It is also possible to get to Lake Garda and Verona by train. It is often more comfortable by bus or car as it can sometimes be very busy. Booking a guided tour here is fascinating and informative thus helping you get the most from your trip.
17 – Venice Guided City Tour
Venice guided city tour offers many wonderful ways to see and explore the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region. It has no roads just canals and is built on over 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. The islands are linked by over 400 bridges.
Venice has been described as one of the most beautiful cities built by man and is also classed as one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
It has a humid subtropical climate with cool winters and warm summers. The 24 hour average temperature in January is 3.3 degrees celsius but in July the average is 23 degrees celsius. Rain is spread evenly throughout the year averaging 29.4 inches.
Another very famous and popular area in Venice is Piazza San Marco, the central square. Here you will find a range of mosaics, the Campanile bell and the stunning St. Mark’s Basilica.
18 – Tour From Milan To The Capital Of Italian Food – Bologna
Bologna is one of the liveliest cities in Italy, where you will discover great art and food during your trip. It is the food capital of the country. There is an ample selection of local delicacies to choose from. In fact there is even food tours available.
The medieval Asinelli and Garisenda towers that are a commonly recognised symbol of Bologna, stand in the heart of the city at Piazza di Ravegnana. You can’t climb Garisenda but for 3 euro you can climb its sister tower Asinelli to get a beautiful view of the city.
Basilica di San Petronio is the most important church in Bologna. Standing at 132 metres long and 47 metres high its construction started in 1390. The city centre itself boasts many churches. The Chiesa della Santa has the mummified remains of St. Catherine of Bologna. While San Domenico Bascilla has a Michelangelo statue and a piano used by Mozart while he was studying in Italy.
19 – Barolo Wine Tour & Tasting
Explore a beautiful area of Piedmont that is rich in tradition culture and wine where the famous Barolo is produced. Visit the vineyards and taste the selection of wines with delicious local food products.
It takes approximately 2 hours by private car transfer to arrive in Piedmont with the tour lasting 5 and a half hours. Here you will learn the history and traditions as well as the cultivation techniques for the Barolo grapes.
Finally you will be guided inside the wine cellar learning its history, with a guided wine tasting to follow. An unmissable experience for any wine lovers.
20 – Genova & Portofino
Portofino is a fishing village on the Italian Riviera coast southeast of Genoa city. Its beautiful pastel coloured houses, seafood restaurants and boutiques fringe the small cobbled square that is overlooking the harbour, known as the Piazzetta.
The Piazzetta has a path that leads to a 16th century fortress and museum known as Castello Brown. Here you will see panoramic views of the Ligurian sea and the town.
Genova is approximately 38 kilometres from Portofino. On the guided tour escaping the hustle and bustle of Milan you will see the 3 hidden gems of the Ligurian Coast.
One of the towns nicknamed ‘La Superba’ meaning the superb one due to its massive landmarks was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. The birthplace of Christopher Columbus its role in maritime history is beyond compare.
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Things To Do In Milan Image Sources:
- Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie – getyourguide
- Milan Cathedral – flickr
- Branca Tower – getyourguide
- Castello Sforzesco – flickr
- Cimitero Monumentale – getyourguide
- La Scala Opera House – getyourguide
- Sempione Park – flickr
- Pinacoteca di Brera – flickr
- Piazza del Duomo – flickr
- Naviglio Grande – flickr
- Serravalle Designer Outlet – getyourguide
- Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna – getyourguide
- Bernina Train & St. Moritz – getyoutguide
- Cinque Terre – getyourguide
- Verona and Lake Garda – getyourguide
- Venice – getyourguide
- Bologna – getyourguide
- Barolo Wine Tour & Tasting – getyourguide
- Genova & Portofino – getyourguide