What to see in Milan: the 15 best attractions and things to do

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

It is considered the Italian capital of economy and fashion. It is home to two of the main football clubs in our top league. Milan is not only Duomo and Navigli, it is one among the most famous italian cities in the world which has a lot to offer its tourist: entertainment, history, culture and unbridled shopping.

Today we want to offer you all the main attractions and activities not to be missed in the city of the Madonnina.


  1. Duomo
  2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
  3. Castello Sforzesco
  4. Teatro alla Scala
  5. Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Last Supper
  6. Pinacoteca di Brera
  7. Parco Sempione
  8. Cimitero Monumentale
  9. Royal Palace
  10. Quadrilateral of fashion
  11. ships
  12. San Siro Stadium and Museum
  13. Museo del Novecento
  14. Ambrosiana Picture Gallery
  15. Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
  16. Other attractions to visit
  17. 8 things to do in Milan
  18. User questions and comments

Are you looking for a hotel in Milan? We have selected the best offers on Booking.com for you.

1 - Cathedral

You cannot go to Milan and not visit the symbol par excellence of the city: its imposing Duomo! The construction works of the famous Gothic-style monument, dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, began in 1386 at the behest of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. So ethereal as to seem almost unreal the Duomo, a perfect synthesis between Lombard and Nordic architecture, it houses something like 3.500 statues inside; the rather curious note is that among the statues there are also illustrious but secular characters, such as Dante Alighieri and the boxer Primo Carnera.
Inside, the presence of the relic of the Sacred Nail, placed in the main apse, should be noted. Its spiers are 135: on the largest one, 108,5 meters high, it is placed the famous Madonnina, a gilded copper statue about 4 meters high.

  • Piazza Duomo, historic center. By underground: lines M1 and M3, Duomo stop - about a 15-minute walk from Castello Sforzesco. Get directions
  • for the faithful: Mon-Sun 07:00 - 19:00; for visitors: Mon-Sun 08:00 - 21:00 (except in October, where the time is 08:00 - 20:00). Access to the terrace limited to the disabled on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • € 2,00 for visitors. Ascent to the terrace with lift € 13,00; reduced (children 6 - 12) € 7,00. Ascent on foot € 8,00; reduced (children 6 - 12) € 4,00. Free: children up to 6 years, disabled and military in uniform.

2 - Vittorio Emanuele Gallery

The beating heart of the city, where it is possible to meet students, businessmen, tourists and simple passers-by. Colors, sounds, flavors, everything echoes inside the suggestive Gallery, inside which it is possible to "undergo" the classic ritual of the Milanese city, that is rotate three times on yourself with the right heel pointed on the private parts of the bull which is portrayed on the floor of the Octagon in the mosaic of the coat of arms of the city of Turin: it is a sign of good luck and must be done absolutely if you go to Milan!

Historic cafes, high fashion boutiques, fast food chains, everything here comes together thanks to the project by Giuseppe Mengoni, who won the contract in 1859 but died when the work was completed. You can visit the Gallery at any time, it is located in Piazza Duomo just to the left of the Cathedral (reachable via the M1 metro in - Get directions).

A treat from locals: a few steps from the Gallery there is "Panzerotti Luini", a small place where you can taste the best panzerotti in Milan

3 - sforzesco castle

Other symbol of the city of Milan and emblem of the transformation, from a military stronghold to an important center of culture. The Sforzesco Castle was built between 1358 and 1368 and was the favorite residence, among others, of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d'Este.
The guided tour is highly recommended as it allows you to learn more about the history and curiosities of one of the largest castles in Europe, and of the works of eternal value kept in the museums inside.

Today the former military citadel it hosts numerous museums inside; among the best known, the Pinacoteca, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments.
Inside the castle there are some of the most famous Italian works of art, such as the Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo and works and frescoes by Leonardo da Vinci, Bramante and Mantegna.

Pause outside: right at the entrance of the building, practically every afternoon, real improvised shows of street artists are held who entertain passers-by with dancing or singing. At the end of the visit we advise you to stop for a few minutes and attend one of these shows.

  • Piazza Castello, underground MM1 - Cadorna and Cairoli stops, MM2 - Cadorna and Lanza stops, buses 43, 50, 57, 58, 61, 70, 94 and trams 1, 3, 4, 12, 14, 20, 27; you can reach it in 15 minutes on foot from Piazza Duomo - Get directions
  • Mon-Sun 07:00 - 18:00 in winter; at 07:00 - 19:00 in summer
  • € 5,00 adult, € 3,00 reduced

4 - Teatro alla Scala

One of the temples of Italian opera it is undoubtedly the famous Teatro alla Scala, built by Giuseppe Piermarini at the behest of Maria Theresa of Austria. The theater, which kicked off its still prolific musical season in 1778 with the music of Antonio Salieri, was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt in record time.

There were numerous well-known names of Italian opera and not only to tread the stage of La Scala, also home to a very important and listed Academy which aims to train complete artists in the fields of dance, music and theater.

  • metro M1 from Cadorna, reachable in 1 minute walk from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - Get directions
  • during guided and organized visits (duration 45 minutes), it is possible to access the Scala from 09:00; there are also the times of theatrical, dance and musical performances
  • full € 25,00; reduced (for under 26 and over 65) € 15,00 for the guided tour, including admission to the Scala Museum

5 - Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Last Supper

In the heart of the Milanese metropolis there is an authentic, and almost unexpected, jewel erected starting from 1460, when Gaspare Vimercati gave the Dominicans a chapel with a frescoed image of the Madonna, called "of the graces"; a church and a convent were then built, later enriched by Ludovico il Moro with a splendid mausoleum for his family and by Bramante. But the Dominican convent is considered a must. The reason? Inside the former refectory next to the monument, the Unesco Heritage is jealously preserved The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece also known as the "Last Supper".

The painting, 9 meters long and 4 meters high, is located on the north wall of the great hall. Made between 1494 and 1498, it is known not only for its strong religious theme (the last supper held between Jesus and his apostles, before the dramatic betrayal of Judas) but also for the innovative "dry" technique preferred from the artist to the usual fresco technique.
Its severe deterioration has made it the subject of an impressive restoration campaign, which has restored colors and details, albeit partially.

Book your visit: if you plan to visit it, booking at least 1 month before the visit is strongly recommended: the Last Supper is known all over the world and if you decide to buy the ticket only on the day of the visit, you risk not being able to and be disappointed .

  • Metro 1 Cadorna or Conciliazione or line 2 Cadorna or Sant'Ambrogio; on foot it is about 11 minutes from Castello Sforzesco - Get directions
  • Church: 1 March - 31 October 10: 30-18: 00; 1 November - 28 February 10: 30-17: 00, Tuesday closed.
    Cenacolo: Tue-Sat 09:00 - 19:00, Sunday 09:00 - 13:45 by reservation at 02-92800360. Last admission at 18pm. Maximum 45 people every 25 minutes
  • Church: full € 7,00; reduced € 5,00 (EU and EEA citizens between 18 and 25 years); free for visitors under the age of 18; Last Supper: € 15,00; reduced € 2,00 (young people aged 18 to 25)

6 - Brera Art Gallery

Founded in 1776, the Pinacoteca di Brera is a real museum born from the collection of works by the state and politicians. It was Napoleon who, when I proclaimed Milan the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, used this former Jesuit college as a deposit for the expropriated paintings from churches and aristocrats.
The art gallery houses some of the most important Italian and international works, such as Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin, Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus, Mantegna's Dead Christ. But the symbolic painting of the entire structure is The Kiss by Hayez.

The Pinacoteca also boasts a vast collection of works of art, which extends up to the twentieth century, with Picasso, Modigliani, Braque, De Chirico, Morandi and many others.

Visit time: reserve half a day free to visit it, it is huge and if you do not want to lose any works or collections you will need at least 4-5 hours.

  • metro line 2 Lanza stop, line 3 Montenapoleone stop. By tram: 1-4-8-12-14-27. By bus: 61, 97; on foot it is about 10 minutes walk from the Teatro alla Scala - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 09:30 - 18:30
  • € 12,00 full; € 7,50 reduced

7 - Sempione Park

Just behind the Castle is the Sempione Park, a real green lung of the city with an area of ​​386.000 square meters, where Milanese families and sportsmen go to relax in the shade of majestic centenary trees, or stroll among the artificial lakes.

It was built between 1890 and 1893 and inside you will find some interesting buildings such as the Palazzo dell'Arte de La Triennale, theCivic Aquarium that has 36 tanks where more than 100 species of fish live, theCivic Arena inaugurated in 1806 under Napoleon el'Arch of Peace built in 1807 to commemorate Napoleon's victories.
La Branca Tower it is another remarkable building inside, from whose terrace it is possible to admire one of the most beautiful views in all of Milan (about € 6,00 per person).

Activities and Entertainment: In addition to being able to do all kinds of outdoor activities, you may also come across real shows! Few people know that every afternoon, more or less shortly before sunset, many artists and amateurs gather to play excellent Jamaican or African music.

  • Piazza Sempione, near the Sforzesco Castle. Closest metro stops Cadorna and Cairoli. 1 minute walk from Castello Sforzesco - Get directions
  • every day from 06: 30 to 21: 00
  • Free

8 - Monumental Cemetery

A place of meditation, within which some of the most important names in Milanese history rest, well-known personalities of entertainment, art, culture, politics and civil life who have made the capital great: Alessandro Manzoni, Giuseppe Verdi, Salvatore Quasimodo, Giuseppe Meazza ...

The Monumental Cemetery, extending over about 250 thousand square meters, was built by Carlo Maciachini and built following the canons of the Neoclassical style, with a nod to the Byzantine, Lombard and Gothic styles.

  • metro M2 from Cadorna FN or line M5 from Garibaldi FS - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 08:00 - 18:00 (call 02-88441274 on holidays, the timetable may vary). Closed on Mondays
  • free, free visit

9 - Royal Palace

It is the masterpiece of neoclassical architecture that was born in the twelfth century as the seat of the municipal administration in the period in which Milan became the political center and managed by noble families of Torriani, Visconti and Sforza. It underwent the Spanish domination, becoming the residence of the governor Ferrante Gonzaga; Royal Palace under the Spanish governor Antonio de Guzman, it was enriched with the Sala delle Cariatidi under the Austrian domination.

Finally, it was enriched with showy decorations and frescoes by Hayez and Appiani during the reign of Napoleon. Today it is the exhibition hub of the city of Milan, in fact it hosts all the great traveling and non-traveling exhibitions, if you go to Milan, don't forget to always consult the official website to find out which exhibition will be set up during your visit to the city.

  • Duomo stop, about 100 meters from the Duomo building - Get directions
  • open Tuesday to Sunday from 09:30 to 19:30, closed on Mondays
  • Full € 14,00, Reduced € 12,00, Families 1 or 2 adults Reduced (€ 10,00); children from 6 to 14 years Special reduced (€ 6,00); up to 5 years free

10 - Fashion district

From the sacred to the profane, it is appropriate to say. The "followers" of the latest trends in terms of style cannot fail to take a leap into the famous Quadrilatero della Moda! Via Montenapoleone, via Manzoni, via della Spiga and Corso Venezia these are the four Milanese streets that form an ideal "polygon" of good taste, unfortunately not always within reach of all budgets. But watching (and daydreaming), as is well known, costs nothing.

Many people, Milanese and not, even if they do not intend to go shopping come here for two reasons: the high chance to catch some VIPs, famous character of entertainment and sport, e see in advance what fashion trends will be. In these streets, in fact, brands such as Versace, Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Cavalli and so on, not only present their collections, but in practice it is here, in the Milanese quadrilateral, that what will be the fashions and trends! You can reach the Quadrilatero via the M1 metro from Cadorna to San Babila (Get directions).

Events and anniversaries: events and temporary exhibitions are periodically proposed in the streets and boutiques of the Quadrilatero. Among the most famous exhibitions we remember the "Vendemmia di Via Montenapoleone", an event held in the first weeks of October and celebrating the Italian wine and fashion excellence by offering tastings in the most luxurious shops.

11 - Navigli

The ancient Navigli of Milan today are the most "romantic and traditional" part of the city, the best known canal is the Naviglio Grande, a destination every day for tourists ready to immortalize themselves in photos in this romantic postcard setting and where the Milanese go for their daily aperitif.

The Navigli are the result of a project by the famous Leonardo da Vinci and became a fundamental hub of Milanese trade from the 500s on; over the centuries the project has gradually expanded and the Navigli network extends beyond the border of the metropolitan city. Also on the Naviglio Grande there is the House of Arts - Spazio Alda Merini, the Armani Silos and the MUDEC. This and much more is the favorite place of the Milanese for their happy hour! You can reach them by metro M2 up to Porta Genova, Porta Romolo (Get directions).

When to go: we recommend a walk at dusk, to enjoy a typical aperitif and above all to see the lights of the premises reflected on the watercourse. If you visit Milan at the end of the month, take a daytime tour of the counters of the "Mercatone dell'Antiquariato", which is held every last Sunday of the month along the canals.

12 - San Siro Stadium and Museum

Stadio San Siro: the football ladder "it is the home of Milan and Inter and today it can accommodate over 80 thousand people. Inside there is also a museum, a favorite destination for fans or simple enthusiasts of the most beautiful sport in the world; inside there is a selection of the jerseys of some of the most important players who over the years have played at San Siro. You can also visit the "behind the scenes" of the stadium: you will enter the changing rooms of Milan and Inter, reaching through the access tunnel, the field from which you can then access the view over the whole of San Siro.

One of the symbols of "sporting" Milan boasts remote roots, in fact in 1925 the President of Milan, Piero Pirelli decides to solicit the construction of a football stadium; this was the input for the following year, in which on 19 September 1926 the stadium was officially inaugurated with the Milan-Inter derby. From that moment on, the stadium went through a continuous process of expansion and growth until it took the form we know today.

Attend a game: obviously the best way to enjoy the magic of La Scala del Calcio is by watching a match inside it. tickets start at € 15,00.

  • metro M5 from Garibaldi to San Siro - Get directions
  • stadium tour schedule SUMMER 9:30 - 18:00, WINTER 9:30 - 17:00
  • stadium tour € 18,00 full price, reduced € 12,00.

13 - Museum of the Twentieth Century

Just to the right of the majestic Duomo stands the particular building used as the Museo del Novecento: it stands inside the Palazzo dell'Arengario and it houses some 4000 emblematic works of art from the entire th century. There are several to mention, but the most famous are for example the "Quarto Stato" by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, the "Composition" by Vasilij Kandinskij, "Béatrice Hastings" by Amedeo Modigliani, "La Signora Virginia" by Boccioni etc.

This large museum is divided into several floors, each of which is emblematic of a specific artistic period: on the first floor you will find the works of the Jucker collection and the futurists, on the second you will find the classicists of the twentieth century and the abstractionists, the third floor is dedicated to conceptual art, finally the tour ends with arte povera.

  • metro M1 / ​​M3 Duomo stop - Get directions
  • Friday - Wednesday from 09:30 to 18:30, Monday closed, Thursday from 09:30 to 20:30
  • full € 10,00, reduced € 8,00

14 - Ambrosiana Art Gallery

A visit to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is a must if you are in Milan: you will dedicate part of your time to visiting a museum whose exhibition itinerary includes, for example, the "Madonna del Padiglione" by Botticelli, the "Basket of fruit" by Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci's "Portrait of a musician" or Titian's "Adoration of the Magi". It really made the history of Milan, it was founded in 1607 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, then starting from 1618 it began to enrich itself with works of great value; it was the Cardinal who decided to donate his collection of statues, drawings and paintings to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

Today it is divided into 24 rooms where, in addition to one huge collection of Renaissance works, there are important collections of authors of the Lombard seventeenth century, of the eighteenth century, and finally numerous works by nineteenth and early twentieth century authors.

  • M1 Cordusio or Duomo stop, M3 Duomo stop - Get directions
  • Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00, closed on Mondays
  • full € 15,00, reduced € 10,00

15 - Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio

Great example of Lombard Romanesque architecture, it is considered the second most important church in Milan after the Duomo. It was consecrated in 387 to the saint from which it takes its name; it is a sacred place that today can boast an important reputation: it is a basilica that perfectly preserves its original appearance, despite being severely damaged by war in the past.

It is particular and original compared to the others built in the same style, because it presents an external aspect in which two brick towers predominate of different heights and then a large atrium where some archaeological remains are preserved. In this basilica the skeletons of Sant'Ambrogio, San Gervasio and San Protasio are also kept inside the crypt, while under the pulpit is the Sarcophagus of Stilicone, a work dating back to the th century in which religious scenes sculpted in relief are portrayed. Another peculiarity is certainly the chapel located at the bottom of the southern nave, added only later, and dedicated to San Vittore.

Curiosities and legends: do not forget to admire the "column of the devil" on the left of the portico; so called due to the presence of two holes caused by the devil's horns, during a clash with Sant'Ambrogio. Skeptics will tell you they are nothing more than the signs of the removal of a large gate ... but we like to believe in legends; P

  • Subway MM2 S. Ambrogio stop - Get directions
  • From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 18:00; Sunday from 15:00 to 17:00
  • free, free visit

Other attractions to visit

If you have several days to visit it, there are other interesting attractions! For example the National Museum of Science and Technology is a must for families, exhibits approx 30 models of the formidable inventions of the genius Leonardo da Vinci, as well as other areas dedicated to aviation, railways, cars and space.

Then there is the Church of San Maurizio and the Monastero Maggiore, a fairly simple exterior that hides what is called the Sistine Chapel of Milan. You can go to Merchants Square: during the Middle Ages it was the commercial and administrative center of Milan, today it is an enchanting medieval corner where you can see the Palazzo della Ragione or the Loggia degli Osii.

The perfect place to fully experience Milanese shopping is Corso Buenos Aires. Then there is Chinatown: a real neighborhood, between Moscova and the Monumental Cemetery, rich in characteristic features of Chinese culture; its centerpiece is via Paolo Sarpi and in February it is decorated for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Finally you can explore the surroundings with comfortable day tours, for example in Franciacorta, Lake Como or the famous Serravalle Outlet Village.

8 things to do in Milan

  1. Relaxing walk to City Life: it is a huge innovative residential complex with a park full of benches, lawns and paths, perfect for your photo with the Hadid Tower or the Isozaki Tower behind you.
  2. Aperitif at the Aperol Terrace: enjoy a relaxing aperitif while admiring the imposing majesty of the Duomo.
  3. Evening in Corso Como: if you want to experience the real Milanese nightlife, you cannot fail to drink a cocktail at one of the numerous and very expensive trendy clubs in Milan
  4. Admire the view from Palazzo Lombardia: if you want to admire Milan from above, go up to the 39th floor of this building for a breathtaking and original photo!
  5. Visiting Milan during Milan Fashion Week: the famous fashion week held twice a year (in February / March and September / October). Do not miss the famous Via dei Fiori Chiari on this occasion!
  6. Participate in the Prima della Scala: it is one of the most important events in the Milanese city and the debut of the theater season is held every 7 December; if you manage to grab a ticket (usually very expensive) do not forget to respect the dress code!
  7. Attending the Milan Derby at San Siro: also known as the "Derby della Madonnina" which sees the Nerazzurri of Inter and the Rossoneri of Milan opposing each other.
  8. Tour to Casa Milan: Are you Milan fans or big football fans in general? Then don't miss the Casa Milan tour, where you can admire historical relics of the most successful Italian club in Europe. Online ticket from € 15,00 per person

Plan your stay in Milan: flights and hotels

Milan is easily connected to its own 3 airports of reference (Orio al Serio, Malpensa and Linate) and served by numerous companies. Like any self-respecting metropolis, it offers numerous accommodation options that are truly affordable for all budgets, the neighborhoods to be preferred are Brera and Moscova for luxury hotels; Porta Romana, Loreto and Navigli for B&B and apartments; Navigli and Corso Como for the Milanese nightlife!

You will move easily by subway from one end of the city to the other, but prefer a nice walk to the attractions of the historic center. The perfect period is between April and May and September and October: climate not too cold, prices in the norm and lots of activities to do. Between activities to do for free in Milan you can: stroll through the very modern City Life, visit the affiliated museums every first Sunday of the month, admire the elegant Milan of Via dei Fiori Chiari, stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, visit the Braidense Library and the less known Humanistic Library of Incoronata or the Monumental Cemetery.

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