Are you thinking of booking a trip to Milan? Whether you’re into fashion, architecture, Italian culture, food, or even football, then Milan is a city you simply have to visit. Milan is an industrial city in northern Italy and the world’s fashion capital, famous for its high-end shops, bars, restaurants, and art. The city offers a shopping experience like nowhere else. It’s also Italy’s business hub and the countries wealthiest city.
Yes, Milan is expensive, slightly more so than other Italian cities such as Rome and Venice but it’s possible to have a long weekend here without breaking the bank. Cheap flights can be found from many UK airports, and there are some great hotel deals to be found.
Milan is much more of an industrial city than the likes of Rome or Florence, but it still has some of Italy’s most stunning architecture on display. You have the stunning Duomo cathedral in the main square, the museum of Rondanini Pieta, which is home to the famous Michelangelo’s final sculpture, the San Siro (Giuseppe Meazza) stadium, home of world-famous football clubs, Inter, and AC Milan, and possibly the worlds biggest collection of designer shops.
1. Duomo Di Milano
The Duomo cathedral is the biggest church in Italy and the second-largest cathedral in the world. It took nearly 6 centuries to complete. Its beautiful architecture and gothic feel make this a worthwhile visit. The rooftop terrace is nearly as big as the whole cathedral roof and gives tourists a magnificent view of the city.
Entry prices for the cathedral are approximately €16 per adult and it’s €7 for children aged 6-12. People with disabilities and helpers will get in for free. The price includes entrance to the cathedral and the roof terrace. Guided tours are also avaliable. For a full price list visit the official website.
2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II
Whether or not you’re into designer gear and fashion you cannot visit Milan without having a wander around this stunning shopping mall. It’s great to not only shop here but to watch other people shop. It does get very busy here, so if you want to get some photos to get here early before it gets too busy. My favorite time of day here is early in the morning sitting with a cup of Italian coffee and watching the shops start to open. The building itself is stunning so get yourself some photographs to show to everyone when you get home.
3. The Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro) stadium
One of the oldest and biggest stadiums in the world, the San Siro is home to two giants of Italian football, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Even if your not a fan of football, this iconic and historic venue is well worth seeing. It’s easy to get to on the metro, using tram line 5 or metro M5 from Milano centrale station.
Although the stadium is getting old it’s still a beautiful piece of architecture with the concrete spiral columns on each side of the ground. Its also been the venue for some of the biggest acts in music, with both legendary rock band Queen and pop icon Madonna playing gigs here.
Once inside you can take the stadium tour from €18 pp and it lasts around 45 minutes to 1hr. It’s not one of the best stadium tours I have been on but it’s worth a visit. The tour guide we had was very good and spoke very good English. The museum itself it’s not very big but you have the opportunity to take some great photos upon entering the stadium itself. This iconic stadium has also hosted many music concerts, the legendary rock band Queen and the Queen of pop Madonna have played gigs here. But sadly this stadium is rumored to be heading for demolition shortly, so if you want to see it, don’t delay.
4. Shop on the Golden Triangle
As well as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, another of Milan’s most famous shopping districts in the Golden Triangle or Quadrilatero d’Oro (its real name), its a collection of streets with rows of high-end designer shops and if you’re looking for some retail therapy, then the Golden Triangle is for you, or even if you’re not splashing the cash, window shopping is great fun here, with some wonderful window displays. Shops at the highest end of fashion can be found here, in particular along the Via Montenapoleone, (Milans’ most expensive street).
5. The Last Supper
Milan is a city full of fine pieces of art, including one of the world’s most famous ever paintings, The Last Supper. Painted between 1495-1498 by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, it’s themed around the last meal Jesus shared with his followers before his crucifixion. If you love art or you just want to see this famous painting head to the Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a catholic church and Dominican convent where you can find it in its original place, on the wall of the dining room.
For information regarding opening times and prices, check the Milan museums website.
Another of Milan’s most picturesque places and somewhere you will want to visit is the Navigli district and canals. Some of Italy’s most vibrant nightlife and cool bars line the canals and what better way to finish off a busy day in the city than to chill at one of the many bars and restaurants with a cocktail or two. The Navigli was a system of canals that once connected Milan to Switzerland and was a major transport route as well a being one of the main ways to import and export goods. Only 2 of the original canals remain .
Come and take a wander around the cobbled streets of the Navigli district, where you will find art galleries, some of the cities best cafes, and some wonderful restaurants to whet any appetite, and not to mention some of the best nightlife can be found here too. If you’re looking for a great neighborhood to hang out in for a few hours, then head to Navigli.
7. Sforza Castle
Just a 10-minute stroll from the city center is the Sforza castle or its real name Castello Sforzesco is a beautiful looking medieval castle built in the 15th century to protect the city and is one of Milan’s most iconic monuments. The castle has been destroyed and restored several times, and is now used to house museums and libraries such as the
- Egyptian museum
- The museum of ancient art
- The museum of musical instruments from around the world
Entrance to the castle and courtyard are free, but entrance to the museums will cost approximately €10 per adult.
8. QC TermeMilano
If you’re looking for somewhere to really kick back and relax for a few hours away from all the tourist hotspots, then book into the QC Terme wellness center. This is a totally unique spa experience, a spa with a difference, not just the fact that it’s housed in an old tram depot, but some of the experiences available here too. There is a range of treatments available as well as saunas, warm and cold baths, rain baths, 3 warm pools, a tea room, and many more, including the unique steam tram outside which is a steam/sauna room in an old tram, a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.
The QC Termemilano is set in beautiful surroundings of Roman ruins, so lay back and relax in the warm pools while admiring the stunning architecture. It has been said to be the most relaxing spot in Milan. The QC TermeMilano also serves up a delicious lunch, or go between the hours of 7-9 pm when they host a two-hour Aperitivo session, where there are lots of snacks including meats and fruits, and what seems like an endless supply of Prosseco (the Italians are known for their love of prosecco).
Check the website for any details regarding booking, opening times, whats on offer and prices.
Here are a few other things to do during your short stay here in Milan.
– Open-top bus tours
– Walking tours
– Have coffee and pastries in one of Milan’s 19th-century coffee shops
How to get around in Milan
Milan is a busy city but getting around is easy enough. There is a great bus service around the city that seems to run like clockwork and you can buy a ticket for approximately a couple of euros and the ticket will last an hour and a half, this can be used on the buses, trams and metro systems. There is a night bus on a Friday and Saturday which runs until 5am, so handy if you like a night out.
My favorite way to get around the city was to use the metro and tram systems. The metro has 3 main lines and when the line ends there is always a tram to jump on.
If you like walking it’s possible to cover all the main sights on foot as they are all fairly close to the city center. So on a nice day, this is a great way to see the city.
By bike. Getting around most big European cities by bike is a great way to see the sights and it’s great fun too, and Milan is no different.
BikeMI is a bicycle sharing service for the public. There are many places around the city where you can rent these bikes from, e.g train stations, shopping malls, tourist attractions and many more. Just choose whether you want a daily, monthly or annual subscription, then register through the app, and you will receive a code via email to enter at the point where you hire the bike.
We like to avoid using taxis and they can be much more expensive.
Eating and drinking in Milan.
If somebody said to me what I like best about Italy I would say the food, although I love pretty much everything Italian. Milan is one of Italy’s most diverse cities when it comes to food, and its street food can be just as delicious as the restaurants, so you are spoilt for choice with places to eat here. If you have a smaller budget avoid eating around the Duomo area though as this tends to be the most expensive place in the city to eat, although there are fast-food joints around the area.
It is no more expensive to eat and drink in Milan than any other Italian city.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a nice meal on the hot summer evenings, check out the Navigli river area, Milan’s historic canal famous for its nightlife where you can enjoy amazing food, drinks, and cocktails in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Milan is also full of street food and cheap eateries so don’t think that you have to break the bank to eat here, you can certainly fill your belly on a budget. The most popular dish in Milan seems to be the Risotto Alla Milanese, a creamy rich dish, very simple but very tasty. There are many other cuisines to choose from including Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, and Greek.
If you like Chinese food then head down to Milans Famous Chinatown, there are lots of restaurants here to choose from.
A Mini Break to Milan will not disappoint, but again I would advise planning your trip out before you go, plan the places you want to visit, and what sort of budget you have as to save time when you’re here.
The best time of year to visit Milan is in the springtime, April to June, or the months September and October, when the weather will be warm but avoiding the sweltering temperatures of the mid-summer months.
I would recommend a 3 day break in Milan, this should give you plenty of time to see the sights and sample some fine Italian culture and cuisine on offer.