11 Best Things To Do in Milan

A monumental, cosmopolitan city, economic and industrial center and fashion capital, take note of its must-see places!

Vicky Del Moral

Vicky Del Moral

7 min read

11 Best Things To Do in Milan

Vittorio Emmanuele Gallery | ©Daryan Shamkhali

Milan combines all the advantages of a big city with the comfort of a small historic center. The Duomo, La Scala, the Castle and Leonardo Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' are some of its great attractions. I tell you what to do in Milan below:

1. Admire the Duomo, the Milan Cathedral

The Duomo of Milan| ©John Seb Barber
The Duomo of Milan| ©John Seb Barber

It is the must-see in this city. Without the Duomo, Milan would not be Milan. This impressive Gothic cathedral, the fifth largest in the world, is located in the square of the same name, the Piazza del Duomo, in the heart of the city.

It took almost six centuries to build and stands out for the beauty of its pinkish-white marble facade, its pinnacles and towers crowned by statues, a splendid rooftop that offers the best views of the city and a Renaissance-style altar that apparently houses one of the nails of Christ's Cross.

The Duomo is the most visited place in Milan. Getting a fast-track ticket to avoid long lines or booking a guided tour of Milan's Duomo to enrich your visit is a great way to get to know it. Opening hours are from 8.00 to 19.00 (the terrace opens at 9.00) every day.

Book your tickets for the Duomo of Milan

2. Contemplate Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'

Leonardo Da Vinci's
Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper".| ©Dimitris Kamaras

On the wall of the dining room of a former Dominican convent, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you can admire up close a masterpiece: 'The Last Supper' by Leonardo Da Vinci.

This fresco, which has stood for centuries after defying bombardments and inclement weather, is key in the history of art for its mastery and original representation of one of the most dramatic moments of the New Testament.

To visit the work it is necessary to book a ticket well in advance or hire a guided tour of 'The Last Supper'. Santa Maria delle Grazie is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15 am to 6:45 pm.

Book your tickets to see 'The Last Supper'

3. Get lost in the Sforzesco Castle

Detail of the Sforzesco Castle| ©Herbert Frank
Detail of the Sforzesco Castle| ©Herbert Frank

This is another of Milan's major points of interest. In 1801 it was demolished by Napoleon, but it was rebuilt a century later with the appearance it had during the time of the Sforza, the family that had long ago fought to make it one of the most majestic courts in Italy and to whom it owes its name.

You can visit it on your own and book tickets to the Sforza Castle, go aboard a tourist bus or on one of the tours that run through the city. Today, the Sforzesco Castle houses dozens of museums, some of them very interesting such as:

  • The Pinacoteca di Milano, with more than 1,500 works.
  • The Egyptian Museum.
  • The Museum of Furniture.

Book tickets for the Sforzesco Castle

4. Walk through the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery

Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery| ©Bernt Rostad
Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery| ©Bernt Rostad

It is the first shopping mall in Italy and one of the first in the world. Built in the nineteenth century, it stands out for the mosaics that decorate its floors and walls and for a large glass dome that connects Piazza La Scala with Piazza del Duomo.

Today it remains a commercial passage where some of the most luxurious boutiques of the city, historic cafes, such as the Biffi, and restaurants with lively terraces are concentrated. It is free to enter, but you can visit it by booking a guided tour of Milan.

This gallery is illuminated in a special way for Christmas, so it is one of the essential plans if you visit Milan at Christmas time. Although the illumination is maintained during the months of December or January.

Book a guided tour of Milan

5. Dream at the Teatro alla Scala

Inside the Teatro alla Scala| ©Anna & Michal
Inside the Teatro alla Scala| ©Anna & Michal

The Teatro al la Scala is one of the most famous and oldest opera houses in the world, a must-see whether or not you are an enthusiast of the genre. Its interiors date back to the 18th century and have an antique beauty that permeates its foyer, its auditorium and its interesting museum.

I recommend you to book a visit to the Teatro alla Scala in Milan to see the props and instruments of composers such as Chopin, Verdi, Puccini or Mozart. But also because it is the most complete way to learn about its rich history and anecdotes.

Some of the greatest works in history have passed through its boards, such as Otello or Madame Butterfly, and singers like Maria Callas, Pavarotti or Placido Domingo.

Book a visit to the Teatro alla Scala of Milan

6. Discover the bohemian district of Brera

Brera neighborhood| ©Cristiano Gelato
Brera neighborhood| ©Cristiano Gelato

To get to know a city you should not only visit its monuments. A walk through some of its most characteristic neighborhoods is the best way to discover its culture and way of life.

In Milan, one of these neighborhoods is Brera. Brera is in the historic center, on cobblestone streets and between cafes and original stores that live with buildings of the eighteenth century, as the Pinacoteca de Brera, one of the most renowned museums in the world and I recommend you book a guided tour.

There you will also see up to 4 important churches: the Basilica San Simpliciano, the Chiesa di San Marco, the Chiesa di Sant'Angelo and the Chiesa Santa Maria del Carmine. But also the Botanical Garden and the Astronomical Observatory.

Reservation at the Pinacoteca di Brera

7. Explore the surroundings of Milan

The Grand Canal of Venice| ©JAYAKODY ANTHANAS
The Grand Canal of Venice| ©JAYAKODY ANTHANAS

Milan's location makes it a perfect starting point to explore other nearby areas that are really worthwhile, such as:

  • Venice and Verona: two of Italy's most famous cities. Excursions are usually day trips and you will be accompanied by a guide.
  • Cinque Terre: declared a World Heritage Site, it is a beautiful coastal area composed of the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
  • Lago di Como: known for its incredible alpine scenery.
  • Lago di Garda: it is the largest lake in Italy and its beauty will leave you open-mouthed.
  • City of St. Mortiz: it is at the foot of the Swiss Alps and can be reached by a historic train that crosses the Bernina Strait.

If you have two days or even three days in your trip to Milan do not think about it. You can organize your own visits or get to know these places in a very practical and comfortable way, making the most of your time with one of the many excursions organized from Milan.

Book an excursion to Lago di Como

8. Tour the city by tourist bus

Tourists on top of a tourist bus in Milan| ©David Davies
Tourists on top of a tourist bus in Milan| ©David Davies

Milan is one of those cities that you feel like walking and touring without haste to discover each of its corners. But the tourist bus is undoubtedly a great option to move comfortably between the main points of interest.

It allows you to get on and off the bus whenever you want to walk around a particular area. Also, it is perfect if you travel to the Italian city in winter, as the cold temperatures can make you have a hard time.

By booking a seat on the Milan tourist bus you can travel three different routes and make sure you don't miss anything. And while you move around the city, you will not have to give up the wonderful views offered by its streets.

Book the Milan sightseeing bus

9. Stroll around Piazza Mercanti

Piazza Mercanti| ©pedrik
Piazza Mercanti| ©pedrik

Piazza Mercanti is a medieval corner in the center of Milan and one of the most beautiful squares in the city. During the Middle Ages it was the commercial and governmental center of Milan, so it preserves some of its most remarkable and curious buildings. There you will be able to see:

  • The Palazzo della Ragione, dating from 1233 and housing the Courts of Justice.
  • The Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine, the most prestigious high school in Milan during the Middle Ages.
  • The beautiful Casa dei Panigarola, in Gothic style.
  • The Loggia degli Osii, decorated with statues and coats of arms and which housed the offices of the judges.

I recommend you to book a bike tour in Milan because many of them stop in this piazza or pass through it.

Book a bike tour in Milan

10. Visit the Monumental Cemetery of Milan

Tomb of the Monumental Cemetery of Milan| ©Shadowgate
Tomb of the Monumental Cemetery of Milan| ©Shadowgate

The Cemetery of Milan is one of the most recommended and surprising visits of the city. Far from being gloomy, this 19th century cemetery is a real open-air museum of 250,000 square meters dotted with tombs of great artistic value, sculptures, Greek temples and even a pyramid.

It also has the so-called 'Hall of Fame', which concentrates the tombs of some of the most important personalities of the country. In order not to miss anything in the Monumental Cemetery, purchase a guided tour of this and other major points of interest in Milan.

  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. with free admission.

11. Relax in Sempione Park

Sempione Park| ©Alejandro
Sempione Park| ©Alejandro

As a big city that Milan is, with so much to see and do, you may need a break to relax during your discovery.

That place is Sempione Park, where you can stroll around a spectacular English-style garden, among nature, an artificial lake and monuments such as the Arco della Pace, commemorating Napoleon's victories. Undoubtedly, one of the essential plans if you travel to Milan with children.

  • Visitinghours: daily from 6:30 am to 9 pm.