Welcome to this elegant and sophisticated metropolis with its cultural heritage and a true sense of place!
For a taste of Italian culture without the typical feel of being in Italy, the face-paced metropolis of Milan is known for its fashion, thriving business, shopping, and nightlife. Where Rome tends to represent more of the old Italy feel, Milan shines as a newer, more modern Italian city. But don’t worry, those looking to seek out the “old” Italy will still be able to find churches and architecture to suit your ancient history tastes. However, many say that Milan doesn’t feel much like being in Italy at all. With its hustling and bustling way of life, this fashion and business capital keeps the locals busy. And with much of the architecture having the influence of an Austrian/German neoclassical look, you won’t tend to find the more traditional Italian look of red terracotta roofs. Here limestone and other dark stone tend to be used for building. Make no mistake though, Milan has a style all its own and will provide lots to do and see while you visit there.
Best Time to Visit:
Milan is a great place to visit all year round, but it’s important to plan your trip according to the season the best suits you. Winters in Milan are often cold and can sometimes drop below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). If winter is your thing though and you don’t mind the foggy, rainy, and sometimes snowy weather, you may want to look into planning a holiday around Christmas time. The city becomes illuminated with a beautiful display of lights, and in front of the Duomo (the large gothic cathedral) a large Christmas tree is displayed. Of course, the one downside to visiting any large city during the holidays is the large crowds and busy streets due to all of the holiday shopping.
Spring and autumn tend to be the most ideal times to visit if you’re looking for a quieter type of vacation. During these seasons, the locals are in work mode, leaving the streets mostly to the tourists. Autumns in Milan can be pretty rainy and foggy, while in the spring it can be quite pleasant. Spring is a good time to walk along a park and notice the trees blossoming. In the spring, Carnival time is a unique time to visit, as people dress up in costume and celebrate, as well as Easter time if you’d like to experience the services and celebrations held.
Summers in Milan tend to be very hot and humid. Most locals take their summer holidays in the month of August, so you may find certain shops and businesses closed during this month. If you’re looking to have the city all to yourself, August would be the perfect time to visit, especially for those who hate crowds and too many tourists.
Travel Tip: There are two international airports that service Milan: Malpensa (MXP) and Linate (LIN) Linate is a much smaller airport than the busy Malpensa, but it’s very close to the center of the city. Malpensa has two runways and also two terminals. Both airports provide adequate transportation services as well.
Sightseeing in Milan:
Milan offers an impressive variety of sights to see and things to do. From impressive museums and world class opera and theater houses to old churches and palaces, you’re sure to find something that suits your travelling tastes. The lovely street and impressive squares combined with old architectural gems mixed in with the modern, striking buildings makes for a unique Milan experience. You’ll also have the pleasure of seeing the oldest churches in all of Italy. Since Milan was the capital of the Northern Roman Empire, it boasts the most ancient churches of any other city across Europe!
Yes, there are many churches and cathedrals to see in Milan, but the main one, especially for church enthusiasts, is The Duomo. This stunning cathedral is the main one of Milan and is located in Duomo Square. The massive, white marble constructed building was started in 1385, but construction lasted literally for centuries, finally being estimated finished around 1813. There are an impressive 3,159 statues in and around it, as well as beautiful altars and works of art to see inside. The Duomo is a definite must for those who appreciate stunning architecture and the history of churches in Italy.
Duomo Cathedral Satelitte View
Long serving as a status symbol as well as a symbol of power for local and foreign rulers, the impressive Storzesco Castle, in its prime, once housed some of Milan’s most influential leaders. It was saved from demolition in 1861 and renovated until 1905. The castle has four towers and has a courtyard. There’s an eclectic mix of artifacts from Ancient Egyptian to Italian, including an unfinished sculpture by Michelangelo. With its stunning, strong architecture and engaging museums, Sforzesco Castle is a must see for a glimpse of Milan’s magnificent history.
Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera National Art Gallery):
Housed in the Palazzo di Brera, a palace built by Ancient Jesuits, the Pinacoteca di Brera is home to an impressive display of paintings by Italian masters dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. The building itself is also impressive, built in the Baroque style of architecture originally but then remodeled in the Neoclassical style later on. Inside, you’ll find a science academy, an observatory, a library, and art academy, and the art gallery. In the gallery, art enthusiasts will be able to marvel at works by great such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, Jordaens, and Van Dyck.
Built between the years of 1782-1786 by the famed architect Giuseppe Piermarini, the Giardini Pubblici is a welcome park oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Milan.
It’s a great place for a stroll when you want to take a break from the busy tourist spots in the actual city. Here you’ll find trees, springs, a lake, and many beautiful statues. After your stroll, if you’re up for more exploring, you can visit the Natural History Museum and Planetarium on the park’s eastern edge along Corso Venezia.
What’s a trip to Milan without visiting the famous Fashion District?
In a city known for being the capital of all things fashion, here you’ll find some of the best shopping opportunities in all of Europe. It’s here where you’re likely to find many upscale choices like Versace, Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana, just to name a few. For those who don’t have a designer clothing budget, more affordable shopping options are offered as well. There’s also some beautiful architecture to admire along the streets of the Fashion District, including majestic mansions from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. A few of these mansions also house museums for those who are tired of shopping and would like to take in a bit of culture.
Travel Tip: If the idea of trying to figure out what all to see while you’re staying in Milan seems a little too daunting, there are some great guided tour options, including walking tours that will give you exclusive access to da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting without having to wait in the long line. Private and group walking tours (click) are available that take you throughout the city and can be a great way to see the key attractions of Milan.
Travel Tip:Keep in mind that most museums in Milan are closed on Mondays, so it’s a good idea to plan your itinerary accordingly.
Where to Eat in Milan:
Milan is rich with delicious cuisine and the locals are pretty traditional when it comes to authentic Italian cooking. There are an abundance of restaurants, trattorias, and enoteche (wine bars) to cater to whatever delectable cuisine you may be craving. The city’s tastes tend to lend towards more filling, heavy meals that will satisfy even the most famished traveler.
Travel Tip: Dining times in Milan tend to be a bit earlier than say those in Florence or Rome. The typical time for lunch tends to be between the hours of 12:30PM to 2:30 PM, while dinner tends to be from 7:30PM until 9:30PM.
When it comes to dining out in Milan, a great rule of thumb to follow is to dine where the locals are dining. For those who regularly show up for Happy Hour at restaurants and bars in their own country, you’ll be thrilled to know that Milan has recently established its own version of Happy Hour or Aperitivo. There are a wide variety of eating establishments to choose from, including traditional Italian eateries, cafes, cheese and wine tasting bars, and upscale restaurants. And although the claim of being the birthplace of pizza belongs to Naples in the south of Italy, Milan still boasts some tasty pizza places as well.
Travel Tip: It’s best to avoid eating at restaurants situated around The Duomo, as these tend to be over-priced tourist traps with low quality food. Instead, try asking a local for a recommendation and stick with the advice of dining where the locals eat.
Nightlife in Milan:
For those looking for a night out on the town, Milan offers some great choices when it comes to having a good time. Check out Como Avenue, which is close to Garibaldi Station. It’s lined with bars a clubs that tend to cater more towards the younger crowd. For a more sophisticated time, there a plenty of small pubs, bars, and cafes that are open late for your nighttime enjoyment. If you’re looking for a bit more culture, Milan is home to some beautiful opera houses and theaters for taking in a night of opera or a play.
Best Tours in Milan:
Where to Stay in Milan:
There are plenty of choices that will meet any sort of budget when it comes to finding accommodations in Milan. If camping is your thing, there’s the Citta di Milano, a campsite located on the outskirts of the city. It has a restaurant, bar, and shower facilities, perfect for those looking to spend little on where they’re staying so they can spend more for their travels around Milan. Hostels are also available and are often times very affordable. The Piero Rotta Youth Hostel and Ostello Olinda are two hostels that offer cheap rates and the Ostello Olinda also includes free Wi-Fi.
Hotels in Milan:
Like any large metropolitan city, hotel choices can range from very cheap to very expensive as well as reasonable rates somewhere in between. Some trustworthy budget hotels in Milan include the Boston Hotel, Dover Hotel, Hotel De Albertis, and the Hotel Garda. In the mid-range price, check out Ariston Hotel, Admiral Hotel, Hotel Cristallo, and Hotel Casa Mia. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in all the luxury Milan has to offer, then you can look into the many upscale hotels such as Hotel Ascot, Hotel Lloyd, Hotel Pierre Milano, and Hotel De la Ville.
More Helpful Travel Tips:
- Avoid areas around Loreto, Central Station, and Porto di Mare (Southern end of the yellow metro line) at night, as these can be unsafe once it gets dark.
- Avoid migrant vendors in the streets selling “luxury” items as these are mostly fakes or imitations of the more expensive counterparts found in the Fashion District.
- Be wary of stranger trying to approach you to buy something. It’s best to ignore the street peddlers and just keep walking.
- Enjoy all of the sights, sounds, tastes, and history Milan has to offer!