Milan: The Complete Guide

Milan holds the distinction of being either Italy’s second or, according to some, its primary city, depending on who you ask. Although Rome serves as the administrative capital, Milan stands as the nation’s financial epicentre, housing Italy’s stock exchange and positioned in the prosperous and industrious northern region.

In several aspects, Milan bears a stronger resemblance to cities like Paris or London than to other Italian counterparts. It’s a city with a business-like demeanour, embodying a work-hard, play-hard ethos. While Rome takes on the role of the political capital and the seat of government, Milan is the driving force behind Italy’s commerce, where critical deals are brokered.

Milan has always held significant importance, having been occupied by successive powers. Like many pivotal cities, it has undergone numerous reconstructions. Consequently, it may lack the medieval, informal charm characteristic of other Italian towns, causing it to be occasionally overlooked as a tourist destination.

However, in reality, Milan has much to offer to visitors. The city is vibrant and teems with attractions, making it an excellent springboard for exploring other destinations in northern Italy, such as Lake Como and the Alps. It’s an ideal location for a short city break or an extended weekend getaway, as well as a starting point for a dual-centre vacation.

Milan’s allure extends beyond designer fashion and furnishings, although these are significant draws for fashion-conscious tourists. Many of Milan’s pleasures are accessible without breaking the bank. You can sit at a café outside the magnificent Duomo and observe the well-dressed crowd, engage in some enjoyable window shopping, or explore the city’s museums and galleries housing remarkable works of art. For a simpler pleasure, ascend to the rooftop of the Duomo and relish the serenity and the panoramic view spanning from the city to the mountains. Additionally, the Brera and Navigli (canal) districts offer inviting settings for evening strolls.

This complete guide to Milan will lead you to some of the finest spots in the city, covering not only the prominent landmarks but also exploring modern and trendy districts along with some charming hidden gems. Keep in mind that completing the entire itinerary in a single day will make for a packed and bustling schedule, but it’s certainly achievable.

Top Tip for Visiting Milan: If you have a single day to spend in Milan and aim to maximize your experience, opting for a walking tour led by a local guide could be an excellent choice. This great Milan city tour, lasting approximately 3 hours, provides a comprehensive guide to the must-visit attractions!

Visiting Milan for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Milan on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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20 Best places to See in Milan

This complete guide to Milan not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Milan and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Il Duomo (Milan Cathedral)

Milan Cathedral
Pixabay / eric delgrange
The imposing Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, more commonly known as “Il Duomo” to the people of Milan, stands as one of the world’s largest houses of worship, accommodating up to 40,000 individuals. It is an exemplar of Flamboyant Gothic architecture at its zenith. Construction began in the 14th century, but the completion of its […]
Location: Milan Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: 9am-7pm | Price: From €16 to €33 | Website | Skip the Line Tickets Available! | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Il Duomo (Milan Cathedral)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

1024px-Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Romain.pontida
The grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which forms one side of Piazza del Duomo and opens onto Piazza della Scala on the other side, was conceived by Giuseppe Mengoni and constructed between 1865 and 1877. It held the distinction of being the largest shopping arcade in Europe at the time, boasting a magnificent dome that […]
Location: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Palazzo Reale di Milano

Milano - Palazzo Reale Di Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauraderiu
The Palazzo Reale di Milano or the Royal Palace of Milan, located in the Piazza del Duomo, was historically the main centre of power in the region and, at times, for the entire Italy. Today, it houses an extensive art museum with over 1,500 works from prestigious institutions around the world. It also provides glimpses […]
Location: Palazzo Reale di Milano, Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Monday: from 2.30 p.m. onwards. Tuesday to Friday: from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. Saturdays: from 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. Sunday: from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. | Price: €17.00 | Website | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Palazzo Reale di Milano

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana - Sala Dell’Esedra
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Riccardo Ortelli
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, founded in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, is one of Milan’s finest art galleries. The gallery was created with the purpose of inspiring and supporting future fine art students through its collection of artworks. Cardinal Borromeo also established the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Accademia del Disegno, providing opportunities for young Counter-Reformation artists […]
Location: Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Piazza Pio XI, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Pinacoteca: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am until 6 pm. Library: Monday to Friday from 9 am until 5 pm. | Price: Adults: € 15 | Website | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

Teatro alla Scala

Teatro Alla Scala Milan
CC BY-SA 3.0 / BackFire
Teatro alla Scala, often regarded as the most esteemed opera house in the world, has resonated with the music of numerous renowned operatic composers and singers throughout its history. Its discerning audiences, comprising 2,800 individuals, are renowned for their high expectations and demanding standards. The opera season at Teatro alla Scala commences in early December […]
Location: Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Teatro alla Scala

Museo Poldi Pezzoli

Armature Nella Sala D’armi Del Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Paolobon140
The Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan is an art museum situated in an elegant 19th-century mansion, originally serving as the private residence of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli. This museum was created from Poldi Pezzoli’s personal art collection. Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, a young aristocrat with a passion for art, significantly expanded his family’s art collection. […]
Location: Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Wednesday to Monday: 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm Tuesday: closed | Price: Adults: € 14 | Website | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Museo Poldi Pezzoli

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

Museo Bagatti-Valsecchi, La Galleria Delle Armi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Paolobon140
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, originally a mansion, is a unique museum in Milan that houses an impressive collection of Renaissance artifacts. It was founded by two brothers, Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi. Despite their differences in personality, they shared a passion for the medieval knights’ era and embarked on a project to turn their ancestral […]
Location: Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, Via Gesù, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Wednesday: 1.00pm until 8.00pm Thursday - Sunday: 10.00am until 5.45pm Monday and Tuesday closed. | Price: €12.00 | Website | Distance: 0.70km
Visiting Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

Pinacoteca di Brera

Pinacoteca Di Brera
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Danielle Jansen
The Renaissance Palazzo di Brera, erected between 1651 and 1773, originally served as a Jesuit college. However, since 1776, it has housed the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts). In addition to a library and observatory, the palace is home to the Pinacoteca di Brera, renowned as one of Italy’s most outstanding art […]
Location: Pinacoteca di Brera, Via Brera, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8.30am-7.15pm (last entrance at 6pm) Closed: every Monday | Price: € 16 Adult | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Pinacoteca di Brera

Civico Museo Archeologico, Milan

Museo Archeologico Milan
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Stefano Stabile
The 8th-century Monastero Maggiore, which was once the most significant Benedictine convent in Milan, now houses the city’s archaeological museum. Visitors can access the museum via a cloister, where fragments of Milan’s Roman walls are on display. On the ground floor, rooms showcase important artifacts from Roman Mediolanum, while the upper floors offer well-curated collections […]
Location: Civico Museo Archeologico, Corso Magenta, Milano, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 to 17.30 | Price: Adult: €5.00 | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Civico Museo Archeologico, Milan

San Lorenzo Basilica

Milano - Basilica San Lorenzo
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Blackcat
The Basilica of San Lorenzo, established during the fourth century, holds the distinction of being the oldest church in Milan. Dedicated to San Lorenzo, the church is constructed using enormous blocks that were sourced from other Roman sites. Inside, the church is adorned with marble and features remarkable mosaics. One of the standout attractions within […]
Location: San Lorenzo, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Milano, Corso di Porta Ticinese, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Monday to Saturday: 8 am until 6:30 pm. Sunday: from 9 am until 7 pm. | Price: Free entry, Capella di Sant'Aquilino: € 2 | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting San Lorenzo Basilica

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Marilena Mastino
The Castello Sforzesco, which was held by the Visconti and Sforza families, the rulers of Milan from 1277 to 1447 and from 1450 to 1535, was initially constructed in 1368 and subsequently rebuilt in 1450. The Torre de Filarete, a 70-meter tower, is a reproduction from 1905, replacing the original gate tower. Within the Castello […]
Location: Castello Sforzesco, Piazza Castello, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Website | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Castello Sforzesco

Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan

Galleria D’arte Moderna Di Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / manuel pagani - Mm4mm
The Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Modern Art Gallery) of Milan is housed in a beautiful villa from the eighteenth century and contains a collection of paintings and sculptures dating from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The artworks are displayed throughout the Villa Reale, which still retains some of its original decoration. This gallery holds many […]
Location: Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Via Palestro, Milano, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 am until 5:30 pm. Monday: closed | Price: Adults: € 5 | Website | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan

Parco Sempione, Milan

Parco Sempione Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Alessandro Perazzoli
The Parco Sempione is a large green-space close to the Castello Sforzesco. It was built between 1890 and 1893 imitating a typical English garden. The English landscape park was established between 1890 and 1893. The park has an overall area of over 47 hectares. It has trees, bushes and flowers dispersed among its many vivid green […]
Location: Parco Sempione, Piazza Sempione, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting Parco Sempione, Milan

Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli

Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli - Palazzo Dugnani - Milano
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Stefano Stabile
The Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli is a spacious city park covering an area of 160,000 square meters, making it the second largest park in the city after Parco Sempione. This park is characterized by its abundant greenery, trees, fountains, and open spaces, making it a popular destination for picnics and relaxation, particularly during the summer months. […]
Location: Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, Via Palestro, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper

Santa Maria Delle Grazie Milan
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Marcin Białek
The Gothic brick church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, located on Corso Magenta, saw its construction commence around 1465. It features a substantial six-sided dome, designed in the exquisite Early Renaissance style by Bramante, one of Italy’s most influential Renaissance architects. The church, along with its adjacent refectory housing Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper, […]
Location: Santa Maria delle Grazie, Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Price: From €21.00 | Website | Distance: 1.50km
Visiting Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper

Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci"

Museo Nazionale Della Scienza E Della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jakub Hałun
The Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci” in Milan is the largest museum of science and technology in Italy, but it may be of particular interest to specialists and those working in the field. The museum, founded in 1953, aims to showcase the most significant developments that have shaped the world […]
Location: Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Via San Vittore, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Friday: from 10 am until 6 pm. Saturday and public holidays: from 10 am until 7 pm. Closed: Every Monday, 24 and 25 December, 1 January | Price: Adults: € 10 | Distance: 1.50km
Visiting Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci"

Cimitero Monumentale

Cimitero Monumentale Dall’interno
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Debora Maurelli
Amidst Italy’s wealth of magnificent architecture and art spanning Ancient Greek and Roman, medieval, and Renaissance eras, it’s important not to overlook the outstanding examples from the Art Nouveau period, known as Stile Liberty in Italy. One such place to explore Art Nouveau treasures is the Cimitero Monumentale, located near the Stazione Porta Garibaldi rail […]
Location: Cimitero Monumentale, Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Distance: 2.70km
Visiting Cimitero Monumentale

Sant'Ambrogio

Milano Basilica Di Sant’Ambrogio
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon
The church of Sant’Ambrogio has its origins dating back to 386 when it was founded by St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, who was born in the city. The existing church stands as a Romanesque architectural masterpiece, constructed in the 12th century around the choir of a previous ninth-century church. The church offers a […]
Location: Sant'Ambrogio, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: 10.00-12.00 / 14.30-18.00 | Website | Distance: 4.10km
Visiting Sant'Ambrogio

Chiaravalle Abbey

Milano - Abbazia Di Chiaravalle
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bramfab
Chiaravalle Abbey, situated on the outskirts of Milan, is a captivating structure that forms part of the Cistercian monastic complex. The abbey’s history dates back to the early 12th century when it was built, combining elements of both French Gothic and Lombard Romanesque architectural styles. In 1221, the abbey was consecrated to the Virgin Mary. […]
Location: Chiaravalle Abbey, Via Sant'Arialdo, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: from 9 am until 12 pm (noon) and from 3 pm until 5 pm Sunday: from 3 pm until 5 pm. | Price: Free | Distance: 6.50km
Visiting Chiaravalle Abbey

San Maurizio

Milano - Chiesa Di San Maurizio Al Monastero Maggiore
CC BY-SA 4.0 / 01albertop
The church of San Maurizio, for many, boasts the most stunning interior in Milan. Constructed in the early 1500s to serve as the church for a convent of Benedictine nuns, the entire interior is adorned with frescoes depicting biblical scenes. These frescoes, created by some of the finest Lombard artists of the 16th century, primarily […]
Location: San Maurizio al Lambro, Cologno Monzese, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | Hours: Thursday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Price: Free | Distance: 11.00km
Visiting San Maurizio

Best Time to Visit Milan

The best times to explore Milan are from April through May and September to October. Spring offers the opportunity to relish thinner crowds, blooming trees, and stylish events like Milan Design Week. In the moderately warm yet occasionally rainy autumn, you’ll find a multitude of flea markets and the Milano Film Festival to enjoy. Be sure to secure accommodations well in advance in September, as it’s when women’s fashion week takes place. From June to August, the city experiences sweltering heat and hordes of tourists. However, it’s worth noting that during this time, the magnificent Lake Como and Lake Garda are at their best. If you plan to visit Milan between November and March, be prepared for varying weather conditions, requiring layered clothing and umbrellas. Don’t miss the Christmas Market in December and the Ambrosian Carnival in February.

Average Temperatures in Milan

  • January 10°C 7
  • February 13°C 10
  • March 18°C 10
  • April 22°C 14
  • May 26°C 17
  • June 32°C 15
  • July 35°C 15
  • August 32°C 17
  • September 27°C 15
  • October 23°C 16
  • November 15°C 22
  • December 9°C 9

How to get to Milan

Flying to Milan

Milan boasts several airports to choose from. If you’re arriving via an international flight, you’ll likely land at Milano-Malpensa, situated approximately 50 km away from the city centre. Just outside Milan, you’ll find Milan-Linate, and around 40 km away is Il Caravaggio Orio al Serio, more commonly known as Milano-Bergamo Airport, which is a common choice for travellers flying with low-cost airlines. To reach the city centre from these airports, you have various transportation options available, including trains, buses, and taxis. For detailed information on how to get from the airports to Milan’s city centre, you can refer to the article mentioned.

Travelling to Milan via Train

If you’re interested in visiting other cities from Milan, you can easily do so by taking advantage of the high-speed train lines departing from the city’s train station. These trains can transport you to cities like Florence, Venice, or the capital of Italy, Rome.

Getting Around Milan

Milan Subway

The subway stands out as one of the swiftest and most convenient modes of public transportation, not exclusive to Milan but widely applicable in very large cities. There are currently 5 metro lines in Milan which operate daily from 5:40 am to 00:30 am. Look for the illuminated red and white “M” lampposts, which signify where there’s a metro stop.

– M1 (red metro): connects the town of Sesto San Giovanni to Bisceglie and Rho;
– M2 (green metro): connects Gessate and Cologno Nord (northeast of Milan) to Abbiategrasso and Assago (southwest area);
– M3 (yellow line): connects San Donato to Comasina;
– M5 (lilla line): connects San Siro (west of Milan) to Bignami (north of Milan);
– M4 (under construction): will connect Milan Linate airport (east) to San Cristoforo (west).

Milan Bus Network

The bus network in Milan is more than 80 lines strong, and it covers ground that the Metro does not. The bus lines have both numbers and names, with the names indicating which direction the bus is traveling (akin to the Metro lines). Remember to validate your ticket upon boarding the bus.

 

Tours and Activities from Milan