Milan, the fashion capital in Italy, is known for its architecture and design. Even if you’re not usually into architecture like I was at first, you will still fall in love with it during your trip! I studied in Milan for 4 months and still feel like I haven’t seen everything this beautiful city has to offer. In this article I want to share with you some of the main must see touristy spots as well as a few hidden gems.
What not to miss in Milan, Italy
The Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. This is the main attraction of Milan and the view while walking up this gothic style cathedral is stunning and offers an amazing panoramic view over the city which is not to be missed. If you don’t feel like walking up too much, there is also an option to take an elevator to the roof and have less steps to climb to the highest point.
2. Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle
This is a luxury and world famous shopping center located next to the Duomo. It is the world’s oldest active shopping mall and a major landmark of Milan. With its iron and glass ceiling and central dome it’s an impressive building with plenty of restaurants and shops to explore.
3. Castello Sforzesco
Castellor Sforzesco or Sforzesco Castle was built in the 15th century on the remnants of a 14th-
4. Parco Sempione
A large city park established in 1888, located behind the Castle which then leads to the Arco della Pace.
5. Arco della Pace – The Arch of Peace
The Arco della Pace, made of marble and topped with horse drawn statues, is an impressive arch that’s part of Porta Sempione, one of Milan’s old city gates. The arch was built under Napoleon’s rule to echo the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
6. The Last Supper portrait
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is one of the most famous works of art and most reproduced paintings in the world. You can find it on the wall of the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. But if you want to see it you will need to book well in advance as there are always long waiting lists.
7. Navigli District
The Navigli District is definitely something not to miss in Milan. It’s a neighborhood known for its canals and aperitivos near Porta Genova station. There are two canals here: Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese. Both of them are surrounded by different types of cafés, restaurants, design shops, art galleries, etc. You can go on a boat tour along the canals (the Naviglio Grande being the most scenic), or just walk around and explore the small shops, cafes, restaurants and the many art studios and galleries that fill the cobblestone streets.
It is a charming district where you can go for a nice peaceful walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. And it’s a lovely place to watch the sunset from too. Every last Sunday of the month they have a market here that’s worth checking out.
8. Teatro alla Scala
Teatro all Scala is one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world, which was inaugurated on August 3rd, 1778.
9. Cimitero Monumentale
Cimitero Monumentale is one of the largest monumental cemeteries. It is located near Garibaldi station, just a short distance from the center of the city. The grave tombs at this burial show a glimpse of, and is known for, its Italian artistic styles. This cemetery is huge and it’s is like an open-air museum. People usually spend about an hour here and it is free of charge to enter.
10. Casa Galimberti
Beautiful Art Nouveau style architectural buildings decorated with colorful paintings and iron balconies. This palace was designed and created by Giovanni Battista Bossi between 1903-1905. You might not find this in every travel guide about Milan, but it is a must see if you are near Porta Venezia station.
11. Bosco Verticale
Known as the vertical forest, these unique tree lined residential towers are award winning buildings located in the Porto Nuova district near Garibaldi station.
12. Spontini Pizza for some incredible pizza
Located on Via Santa Radegonda, this is the best pizza I’ve had in Milan in the city center. It’s perfect to take away and eat at the steps outside the Duomo watching the hustle and bustle of the city.
How to explore Milan – Public transport in Milan
I suggest using Milans public transportation as it is easier to get around and so much quicker and cheaper than taxis especially as you can avoid all the traffic. Prices for the 1 or 3 day passes are reasonable and are valid for all busses, trams and subways. Just remember to validate your ticket in the machine as soon as you step on the bus or tram.
Also, tickets cannot be purchased on trams or busses and have to be brought from a newsagent shop. I learned this the hard way as I couldn’t understand what the tram driver was saying to me when I asked him for a ticket but he told me to come on anyway and shortly after I received a fine from the ticket inspectors due to the language barriers.
Enjoy traveling to Milan and exploring this stylish city!
Map of What Not to Miss in Milan, Italy
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