Though Milan doesn’t have as much of the tourist draw that Italian cities like Rome and Venice do, it has its fair share of unmissable things to see and do. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Tour the Duomo di Milano
The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo di Milano, is one of the world’s largest Gothic churches and the largest in Italy (not including St. Peter’s Basilica, which is technically not in Italy). Its impressive white marble facade is probably the city’s most iconic attraction. There are various tickets to see it ranging in price from 3 euro to 16 euro, depending on which areas of the Duomo you want to visit. The Duomo pass includes entrance to the archeological area under the Duomo as well as the Duomo Museum across the street, which is surprisingly large. I suggest not missing the cathedral’s upper terraces. They provide a birds’ eye view of Milan among the cathedral’s detailed columns and archways.
See the Last Supper at Santa Maria Della Grazia
Aside from the cathedral, Milan has the distinction of housing Leonardo da Vinci’s original mural of the Last Supper. It’s a nightmare to get tickets, and you should do that way in advance online or by phone. But it’s an important work that you shouldn’t miss if you’re in Milan. You can learn everything you need to know about booking tickets here.
Visit the Armani-Silos Museum
I was looking back through my blog in disbelief that I didn’t write about the Armani-Silos museum the last time I went to Milan. My Project Runway-loving ass was in heaven there, and it’s absolutely one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It’s full of amazing Armani fashion dating back to the 80s including everything from daywear to gowns worthy of the red carpet. Some of the clothes have been famously worn in movies or to events by stars like Sharon Stone and Richard Gere. The building itself is gorgeous in a muted way, which really allows the clothes shine.
Treat yourself at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This semi-outdoor mall near Duomo di Milano is simply stunning. It’s made up of intersecting glass domed hallways. The Galleria is expensive, housing brands like Versace and Prada, so if you really wanna treat yourself, do some shopping. Otherwise, it makes for a nice walk and a place to get a drink or a nice dessert at a pastry shop like Marchesi. Beware, all the restaurants have a cover and the food is mediocre.
Take a pasta-making class
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular around the world, and you can learn how to make it yourself from a chef or an Italian grandma in Milan. There are several cooking courses available in the city, but pasta-making is especially popular. Traditional cooking courses are pretty expensive, but through websites like Get Your Guide and Airbnb Experiences, you can get a good deal on a highly rated class where you can make different kinds of pasta and tiramisu from scratch. Though I have been consistently disappointed by pasta dishes in Italy, the ravioli I made myself with the instruction of our guide was out. of. this. world.
Enjoy the art at Fondazione Prada
If you prefer your art museums on the modern side, the Fondazione Prada in the south of Milan has a nice collection of modern art with rotating exhibits. Though the buildings themselves seem to overshadow some of the art, a couple of permanent installations were quite memorable. This museum is also home to Bar Luce. You know how people describe anything that’s pastel and vintage as looking like Wes Anderson? Well, Bar Luce looks like Wes Anderson because he designed it himself.
Step into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci
At the Leonardo3 Museum, you can see some of da Vinci’s harebrained contraptions come to life. Though he never made any of the crazy things he drew, the museum shows you what his drawings and ideas would look like if he had built them. The museum has some interactive VR elements for you to immerse yourself in.
Sforzesco Castle doesn’t look as much like a castle as it does a fort. It houses a few museums and galleries containing works from greats like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Tourists and locals alike treat the place like a recreation area. The grounds inside and around it are great for walking around, as there’s the tranquil Sempione Park, leading up to the Arco Della Pace, which is also worth seeing. In the spring and summer, this area is nice to take a breather from sightseeing and just enjoy a little bit of nature.
Check out the nightlife at Navigli
The area around the Navigli canals is saturated with interesting bars and lounges. Though it’s a madhouse on any given weekend and during Happy Hour, it’s a good place to see when it’s not too busy. Most of the places surrounding the area are fairly unique combining cuisines and styles. You might have a hipster pub next to a classy restaurant, all serving up some fire 10 euro cocktails. I especially loved the atmosphere at Mag Cafe, the gin cocktails at Ego, and the cozy bar of El Brellin.
Get the GPS-guided version of this and other Milan guides on GPSmyCity here.