Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region, a major city in northern Italy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. It is also a global capital of fashion & design, as well as a major financial and business center as it is home to the Italian Stock Exchange.
Some of the best things to do in Milan include historical and cultural attractions such as the iconic Duomo Cathedral, Teatro La Scala, Sforza Castle, the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II luxury shopping arcade.
You can also visit the Brebra neighborhood with its trendy bars and art galleries, as well as stroll along the canals of the Navigli district and enjoy its lively nightlife. There are also delicious traditional Italian dishes at some of the city’s many traditional trattorias and trendy rooftop restaurants.
Milan is the rail hub of northern Italy, you can easily take day trips to Lake Como, Verona, Lake Garda, St. Moritz, Venice, Florence, and Turin.
25 Best things to do in Milan, Italy
1. Il Duomo (Milan Cathedral)
Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo of Milan, is one of the world ‘s largest cathedrals and is famous for its magnificent example of Gothic architecture. It is one of the top attractions that you shouldn’t miss while visiting the fashion capital of the world.
The cathedral took several hundred years to complete, with the construction beginning in 1386 and ending in 1965, built on the former site of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio.
The cathedral is famous for its marble spires, stained glass window, ornate sculptures, and intricate decoration, as well as its impressive size and the Madonnina statue.
The rooftop terrace of the Milan Cathedral offers spectacular views over the city. You can climb 250 steps, or take the elevator, to get to the highest point.
You can also visit the archaeological area, Duomo Museum, Crypt of Saint Charles, and San Gottardo Church.
2. Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the famous 15th century church and a Dominican convent that is also known for being home to Il Cenacolo, The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural.
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was built on the orders of Francesco I Sforza, the Duke of Milan, and it was completed in 1469.
The Last Supper is Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, located on the wall of the church’s dining hall. Leonardo started work on the Last Supper in 1495 and completed it in 1498.
Santa Maria delle Grazie is open from 08:15 am to 7:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday from. Admission is free, but you need to book tickets in advance, if you want to visit Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
The church is conveniently located to the west of the city center, easy access wine by the M1 or M2 metros, or by tram.
3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a famous 19th century shopping arcade in Milan. It is one of the best things to do and see in Milan for window shopping and for shop luxury brands such as the Prada store, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bernasconi Argenteria, and Borsalino.
Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade connects the Duomo to Teatro alla Scala. It is also home to Café Biffi, one of the oldest establishments of Milan, as well as McDonald’s fast-food restaurant.
The gallery is also known for its mosaic flooring, which features the coat of arms of the Italian regions and the city of Milan.
4. Castello Sforzesco
Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle, is one of the must-see attractions in Milan. It was built in the 15th century for Francesco Sforza, Lord of the city at the time and has used as a residence for Milan’s ruling families, including the Sforza, the Visconti, and the Spanish.
The castle has undergone several reconstructions over the centuries, and today it houses 12 different museums, such as the Museum of Ancient Art, Museum of Musical Instruments, Art Gallery, and the Pinacoteca which has works by famous artists like Mantegna, Canaletto, and Tintoretto.
Additionally, starting in 2015, the castle also shows an unfinished sculpture created by Michelangelo, Rondanini Pietà.
5. Pinacoteca di Brera
Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the best things to do and see in Milan for art lovers because it is home to some of the most prestigious paintings and sculptures.
The gallery features a wide range of Italian paintings from the 14th to the 20th century, including works by famous artists such as Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian.
The Pinacoteca di Brera is located in the Palazzo Brera in the Brera district. It is easily reachable by buses and trams.
6. Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is a wonderful example of Lombard Romanesque architecture. It is one of Milan’s oldest churches, located in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio in the historic center of the city.
The Basilica was founded in the 4th century by the Holy Ambrogi, on the former burial site of martyrs of the Roman persecution.
The church has undergone several expansions throughout the centuries, including the addition of a Romanesque bell tower & a Gothic portal.
The church is dedicated to Saint Ambrose, Milan’s patron saint, and a major Catholics’ pilgrimage site.
7. Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology
The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science & Technology is Italy’s largest museum of science and technology.
The museum is home to the permanent exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci’s life and works, as well as interactive displays focused on advancements in areas such as transportation, energy, materials, communication and particle physics.
During your visit, you will have the chance to view a steam train, an ocean liner’s control bridge, a rocket used by the European Space Agency and a genuine piece of the Moon. Additionally, you will have the chance to see the inside of an Italian submarine.
8. Piazza dei Mercanti
Piazza dei Mercanti, also known as the Merchant’s Square, is one of Milan’s most beautiful squares . It was an important commercial and government center of the city for many years.
The square is located within walking distance from the Milan Cathedral and is surrounded by buildings that date back from the buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and the 17th century.
You can see the red-brick Palazzo della Regione, or Ragione Palace, which was used as Milan’s courts of justice, as well as the Palazzo della Scuole Palatine, or Palace of the Palatine School, which was once an important school.
There are also buildings such as Loggia degli Osii, Casa dei Panigarola, and Palazzo dei Giureconsulti.
In addition the historical landmarks, the square is also located within walking distance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Duomo, Teatro alla Scala and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, offering plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops for great dining, shopping, and nightlife.
9. Milan Archaeology Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Milan, also known as Museo Civico Archeologico in Italian, is located in the eighth century convent of the Monastero Maggiore di San Maurizio.
The Archaeological Museum of Milan displays artifacts from ancient and early medieval times. It has three floors with the history of the Middle Ages present in the first floor, while the 2nd floor for Etruscans, and the artifact of Ancient Greek can be found on the 3rd floor.
10. Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square, is Milan’s main square, as well as the meeting point of locals & tourists, and the location for some important events and festivals.
Piazza del Duomo is surrounded by important landmarks such as the Cathedral, Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Arcivescovile, and Galleria di Vittorio Emanuele II. You can find the equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II at the center of the square.
11. Teatro alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala, formerly the Nuovo Regio Ducal Teatro alla Scala, is a well-known opera in Milan, founded in 1778, on the site of the church of Mary of the Staircase, Santa Maria della Scala.
The Teatro alla Scala attracts artists from all over the globe. It is home to the Theater Choir, Theater Ballet and Theater Orchestra.
La Scala Theatre offers education in music, dance, and stage management with its correlated school known as the La Scala Theatre Academy.
12. Cimitero Monumentale
Monumental Cemetery is a veritable open air museum and is the burial place of famous figures such as Alberto Ascari, Antonio Asca, and Gae Aulenti.
Covering an area of 250,000 square meters, it is home to a collection of sculptures, temples, obelisks, and the Hall of Fame.
It’s considered as one of the most important and interesting examples of 19th century funerary architecture in Italy. It is one of the free things to do in Milan. It’s open from 8 to 18 everyday except Monday.
13. AC Milan San Siro Stadium
San Siro is the home of AC Milan and FC Internazionale, as well as the location of important concerts & events. It is located in the San Siro district of Milan.
San Siro Stadium is Italy’s largest stadium and one of Europe’s largest with seating capacity of over 80.000 and striking architecture.
San Siro Stadium has also been the venue of several important matches, including the UEFA Champions League Final in 2001, and UEFA Euro 1980.
14. Parco Sempione
Parco Sempione is a huge green space located in the heart of Milan, close to the Sforza Castle. It covers an area of more than 47 hectares. It is a popular place for both locals and tourists to relax & rest.
The park has gardens, playgrounds, sports fields, and a large pond. It is also home to several notable landmarks such as the La Triennale, Acquario Civico Milano which was constructed for the Expo of 1906; Arena Civica, an impressive amphitheater; and Arco della Pace, triumphal arch, built to celebrate Napoleon’s victories.
15. Brera district
Brera is an upscale neighborhood, located between the Quadrilatero d’Oro and the Sforzesco Castle. The district is known for its cobbled streets, 18th century buildings, trendy bars, and many art galleries.
This art quarter is home to the Pinacoteca di Brera where you can find works of Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens. It is also home to the Braidense National Library, one of Italy’s oldest library.
You can also find the Brera Botanical Garden, an oasis in the heart of the city that is packed with plants and medicinal herbs that priests and Jesuits used in the 14th century.
Both Braidense National Library and Pinacoteca di Brera are located in the Palazzo Brera, which is also home to the courtyard and Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker statue.
There are numerous museums in Brebre district such as the The Brera Astronomy Museum, which is a part of Brera Observatory; and the Museo del Risorgimento to learn history of Italy.
The Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine is also located in the Brera neighborhood, as well as the Parco Sempione, a huge park to take a break from the summer heat.
Brera is centrally located within walking distance from Milan cathedral, the alla Scala Opera, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
16. Naviglio Grande
Naviglio Grande along with Naviglio Pavese in the Navigli district is a romantic and beautiful canal that is packed with restaurants, bars and vintage shops.
The Naviglio Grande is located only a short ride by public transport and a 40 minutes walk from the center of Milan. It has a vibrant nightlife, so it is best to visit from afternoon onward.
In addition to the eating and drinking, the banks of the canal also hosts the Sunday Mercatone dell’Antiquariato with more than 350 stalls selling all kinds of goods.
You can also find the 17th century historic Milan docks, La Darsena, which is the venue for the weekly La Fiera di Sinigaglia market.
17. Basilica di San Lorenzo
Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the oldest churches in Milan, founded in the 4th century. The church has beautiful architecture, with the interiors decorated with marble and mosaics.
The church is home to the Chapel of Saint Aquilino, where you can see original materials and a crypt. There are also Columns of St. Lawrenco and the sculpture of Constantine the Great.
18. Torre Branca
The Branca Tower is one of the highest structures in Milan, located in Parco Sempione, close to Triennale – Palazzo dell’Arte.
You can use the elevator to reach the highest point of the tower, which offers sweeping views over the city and its surroundings.
Torre Branca was built in 1933, designed by Gio Ponti, and it has been through several renovations and restorations throughout the years.
19. Poldi-Pezzoli Museum
Poldi-Pezzoli Museum is one of Milan’s most important art museums, located in the heart of the city, next to the Scala Opera.
Poldi-Pezzoli Museum is located in the 19th century maison of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, noble art collector. It shows his collection of arms and armor from the 14th to the 17th century and Renaissance Italian paintings.
20. Museo Bagatti Valsecchi
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is one of the best things to do in Milan for history buffs and art lovers. It has a collection of Italian Renaissance artworks and furnishings.
The museum was the former palatial mansion of Barons Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti, famous collectors from the 19th century.
Visitors can explore the museum’s various rooms and admire the intricate details and craftsmanship of the period.
21. Triennale di Milano
The Triennale di Milano is an art and design museum, located in the Palazzo dell’Arte, in the Parco Sempione.
The Triennale is dedicated to promoting and showcasing the best in contemporary design and architecture. It is also home to a large collection of objects and artifacts related to design & architecture.
There are a variety of exhibitions, events, and educational programs throughout the year.
22. Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio
The Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio is one of Milan’s most famous churches that is known for its association with Epiphany and the story of the three Wise Men.
It was founded in the 4th century, making it one of the city’s oldest churches. It houses the relics of the Three Kings. The procession of the Three Kings on the Feast of the Epiphany starts from Piazza del Duomo and ends at Sant’Eustorgio.
The Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio is also home to the Portinari Chapel, the late-Gothic tomb, Diocesan Museum.
23. Pirelli Hangar Bicocca
Pirelli Hangar Bicocca is one of the free things to do in Milan. It is a contemporary art museum and cultural center, as well as a venue for events, and conferences.
It was opened to the public in 2004, located in a former industrial warehouse. It has exhibitions, events, and educational programs. The space is dedicated to promoting contemporary art & culture and artworks by some of the planet’s most renowned artists.
24. Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Modern Art Gallery)
The Modern Art Gallery has a collection of 18th century and 20th century paintings and sculptures. It is located in an 18th century villa in the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli.
The Modern Art Gallery has a permanent exhibit with masterpieces of famous local and international artists such as Francesco Hayez, Andrea Appian, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.
Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea nearby shows the modern artworks from the 20th century to present days. If you are an art lover, you must visit this art gallery, it is free to enter.
25. Local Cuisine
Italy is famous for its food, and Milan local cuisine is known for its hearty, rustic dishes that are heavily influenced by the region’s history and geography.
While in Milan, you should try traditional dishes such as:
- Costoletta alla Milanese, a breaded and fried veal cutlet that is typically served with lemon wedges
- Risotto alla Milanese, a saffron-infused risotto dish that is often served as a side dish or as a base for other dishes such as ossobuco
- Panettone,a traditional sweet bread made with raisins, candied fruits and nuts, typical for Christmas and New Years Eve.
- Ossobuco, a braised veal shank dish that is traditionally served with gremolata and risotto alla Milanese
- Cassöeula, a traditional Milanese stew made with pork ribs, sausage, and savoy cabbage
- Minestrone alla milanese
- Rostin nega’a
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I not miss in Milan?
You shouldn’t miss the Cathedral of Milan, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Sforza Castle, Parco Sempione, and Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery. Take a stroll through the trendy Brera district, visit the Navigli neighborhood with its canals, and indulge in some traditional Italian dishes at a traditional trattoria.
What is Milan best known for?
Milan is best known for its thriving fashion industry, as well as its historical & cultural attractions such as the Milan Cathedral (Duomo), Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro Alla Scala, and the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It is also known for its vibrant food and nightlife scenes.
Is 2 days enough in Milan?
2 days is enough time to see some of the major attractions, such as the Cathedral of Milan and the Last Supper painting. However, if you would like to see more of the city and experience the culture, 2 days might not be enough. It’s always best to plan ahead and prioritize which sights and activities are most important to you to make the most of your time.
Is 3 days in Milan too much?
Three days is a reasonable amount of time to see many of the main sights such as the Cathedral of Milan, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and Sforza Castle. However, if you would like to take day trips outside of Milan or explore more in-depth, three days may not be enough time. It ultimately depends on your interests and priorities during your trip.
What are the best things to do in Milan for young adults?
Visiting the Duomo, shopping on Via Montenapoleone, exploring the Navigli district, visiting the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery, experiencing the nightlife in clubs, trying traditional Milanese dishes, visiting the Teatro alla Scala and Sforza Castle, taking a stroll in Sempione Park and taking a day trip to nearby Lake Como for scenic views and outdoor activities.
What are the best things to do in Milan at night?
Some popular activities at night include taking an evening tour of the Duomo & Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, viewing the Castello Sforzesco illuminated at night, exploring the Navigli district with its canals & vibrant nightlife, as well as the Brera district with its trendy bars & art galleries.
What to do in Milan for 3 days?
Visit the iconic Cathedral of Milan, see famous artwork at the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, stroll around the trendy Navigli district, shop at luxury boutiques at Quadrilatero d’Oro, indulge in delicious Italian cuisine, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
What are the free things to do in Milan?
There are many free things to do in Milan including visiting the Duomo, Monumental Cemetery, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Parco Sempione, Castello Sforzesco, Navigli canals, or taking street art tours.
What are the best things to do in Milan for young couples?
Some of the best things to do in Milan for young couples include visiting the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Cathedral of Milan, the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci, strolling along the Navigli canals, enjoying dinner at a traditional trattoria or a trendy rooftop restaurant, and taking a day trip to Lake Como.
What are the best things to do in Milan in a day?
If you only have one day to explore Milan, make sure to visit the Cathedral of Milan, shop at Via Montenapoleone, check out the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery, see the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and visit the historic Sforza Castle. End the day with an aperitivo at a trendy rooftop bar for an unforgettable view of the city.
See more: Where to Stay in Milan
So there you have it, the best things to do in Milan, Italy for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.