Many guides downplay this northern Italy city, but there are so many entertaining things to do in Milan. Visiting Milan can mean anything from luxury shopping at a 158-year-old mall to seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous piece.
Milan was the very first and last city I visited during my Italy solo trip, as I flew out of Malpensa Airport.
It’s possible to squeeze a Milan, Italy visit into just a few days if that’s all you have, but it’s the type of place that will leave you wanting more. When you have limited time in Italy’s fashion district, this is the simple, no-nonsense guide to the top 21 best things to do in Milan.
Table of Contents
- 21 Best Things to Do in Milan
- Duomo Di Milano
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Luini Panzerotti
- Sforzesco Castle
- Sempione Park
- Arco Della Pace
- The Mosaic Turin Bull
- Mercato Centrale Milano
- Monumental Cemetery
- The Ambrosian Library
- Cathedral Square / Piazza Del Duomo
- Pinacoteca di Brera
- La Scala Opera House
- Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Lake Como
- Mercatone dell’Antiquariato
- A’Riccione Terrazza12
- Porta Venezia
- Naviglio Grande
- FAQs About What To Do in Milan
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21 Best Things to Do in Milan
Duomo Di Milano
Head to the roof of the Fashion Capital’s most famous cultural site located right in the heart of the city.
When you start searching for things to do in Milan, the very first activity you’ll get is visiting the Milan Cathedral or Duomo Di Milan. It’s a convenient first stop after reaching Milan’s city center because it really is in the heart of it all, near so many other points of interest.
When I arrived at the Duomo of Milan, I discovered two important things that will help you prepare for your visit. The first is that you can only climb up to the roof of the Duomo (highly recommend) until 7:30 pm. The second is that you should bring along a light jacket or shawl to cover your shoulders if you want to go inside the actual church part of the cathedral.
👉 Need Help Planning Your Milan Trip? Just follow my epic Milan itinerary!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Window shop in one of the world’s oldest malls that hosts the most famous luxury brands.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is another one of the more iconic Milan sites. It’s Italy’s oldest shopping mall and you can feel its extravagance as soon as you step inside.
However, this isn’t your ordinary mall – you need a lot of spending money in your pocket to get a haul from any of the stores in Vittorio Emanuele. There’s Prada, Armani, Louis Vuitton, and more, each holding only a few prized items from that season.
Despite the high price tags, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is still worth a stop when you visit Milan to see the facade of the place alone. The roofs are all made of this curved, glass plating and the paintings around the corridors are like something out of a museum. As long as you don’t go shopping, a visit to this famous attraction in Italy won’t cost you a penny.
👉 Pro Tip: The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located in Piazza del Duomo, right near the Milan Cathedral. The best way to organize your Milan itinerary is by visiting both of these popular attractions in one outing. Try to go in the morning to avoid massive crowds.
An iconic place to order this affordable Italian street food, as it’s only a few blocks from Cathedral Square.
There is so much tempting food to try in Milan, but you don’t want to miss Luini Panzerotti. It’s a reliable classic right near Piazza del Duomo where all the big tourist attractions are huddled around.
Luini Panzerotti gives you the chance to try one of Italy’s most specialty foods. Panzerotti is a type of fried pizza pocket that’s stuffed with all different types of ingredients. I thought they’d be super savory, but the texture of the breading has a bit of a donut texture.
The insides are ridiculously fresh and there is so much variety that you’ll want to give the menu a read-through before diving right in. It’s a great grab-and-go snack on a busy day in Milan. Luini’s is also very affordable, my classic Pomodoro and cheese panzerotti only cost 2.80€.
Take a convenient, free stroll through a fortress that was built in the 1300s.
This 15th-century castle is a grand symbol of the city and you can’t miss it on a stroll through Sempione Park. Plus, Sforzesco Castle is perfect if you’re on a budget in Italy, as wandering the grounds is completely free.
Simply go through the gates to get an inside view of the castle’s courtyard and exterior architecture. For travelers who want a deeper insight into the Milanese landmark, you can buy a ticket inside to see one of its multiple museums.
The museum options are the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Museum of Antique Art, and the Picture Gallery. The tickets are less than 10€ and even offer free entry on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month.
A lush escape from the busy city center that’s perfect for relaxing and visiting some of Milan’s top landmarks.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (028)-846-7383 | Hours: 6:30 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: Free
There are quite a few very recognizable Milan landmarks tucked away in Sempione Park. Here you can stop by the Sforzesco Castle, Arco Della Pace, and Torre Branca. Or, if you’d prefer a relaxing afternoon lounging on the grass, Sempione Park is great for that too.
Travelers who are fans of getting a feel for a new city by strolling around its local park will have endless opportunities at Sempione.
Arco Della Pace
An iconic symbol of Milan, Italy that makes for a fantastic photo spot to show off your time in the city.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24/7 daily | Entrance: Free
Arco Della Pace is one of the most recognizable sites in Milan. The massive landmark has basically become synonymous with the city and seeing it is one of the best things to do in Milan. The monument was constructed over a 30-year span and was meant to commemorate peace in Europe after a prolonged period of instability.
Arco Della Pace is so much bigger than it appears in photos and really makes you stop and stare. It’s the ideal place to grab a quick photograph of yourself to memorialize your time in Milan. Just try to arrive early in the morning or you’ll be competing with a bunch of other visitors.
The Mosaic Turin Bull
Take a spin on the 162-year-old bull artwork for a boost of luck in Milan.
The Mosaic Turin Bull is technically another facet of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, but it’s so iconic that it deserves its own shout-out. When you visit this fancy mall, you’ll see crowds gathered around one spot on the floor all doing something peculiar. They spin around on a mosaic bull built into the floor as it’s said to provide spinners with good luck.
So many people have done it that there is quite literally a deep indent bore into the ground where the bull’s unmentionables are. Before you ask, yes, of course, I spun on the bull. I will always happily accept luck in any form or fashion.
While you might have to wait a couple of minutes to snag your chance, you should take a spin on the bull for a dose of luck.
Mercato Centrale Milano
A bustling food market inside Milan Central Train Station that’s packed with hidden food gems.
Head over to the colorful Mercato Centrale Milano to fully dive into Milan’s food scene. Here, you’ll find everything from salad bowls to homemade pasta, steaks, and bars.
This market takes chefs and restaurants from all around the city and puts them in one convenient location. Mercato Centrale is actually located on the same property as Milan’s Central Train station, so it’s a convenient palace to grab food before heading on a train journey or day trip from Milan.
I opted for the bolognese risotto ball from Il Riso. It had a dash of spicy sauce stuck in a culinary syringe sticking out the top and it was perfect.
Explore the lavish resting places in this sculpture-filled, slightly more macabre Milan attraction.
I don’t usually jot down cemeteries on my travel to-do list, but it’s a sensible addition when you’re visiting Milan because of the Monumental Cemetery. It’s the final resting place of famous Italian poets, artists, politicians, and other influential figures.
This Milanese cemetery is a landmark of historic sites. The tombstones, monuments, and sculptures throughout the Monumental Cemetery are intricate pieces of art, and it’s akin to wandering a museum. Just remember that this is still a real burial site, so be respectful when you’re wandering the grounds.
The Ambrosian Library
Pour through the aisles at one of the oldest public libraries of the modern era.
Book lovers can’t miss the Ambrosian Library in Milan. This respected library was founded over 400 years ago in 1609, making it one of the oldest public libraries on the planet. That is a lot of literary history under one roof.
At the Ambrosian Library, there are more than 800,000 books lining the shelves. Some of the highlights of the collection are writings by artistic masters like Dante and Leonardo Da Vinci. The grounds also include an art museum called the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Here you can see pieces by Caravaggio, Botticelli, and more.
Get a pizza pie in less than 5 minutes at this vibrant, beloved pizzeria right near the city center of Milan.
Pizza is one of the first foods that automatically comes to mind on a trip to Italy. I must’ve eaten 10+ pizza pies when I was traveling in Italy. Yet one of my favorites was actually the very first pizza I ate in Milan at Piz.
The popularity of this fun, boisterous pizza joint near the city center oozes from the place. You can hear the laughter from happy patrons from way down the block. There are only a couple of classic pizza options on the menu and frankly, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
The service is outstanding and friendly, they even provide a complimentary glass of prosecco or limoncello with your meal.
Cathedral Square / Piazza Del Duomo
Start your day in Milan by people-watching in this plaza surrounded by the city’s top attractions.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24/7 daily | Entrance: Free
When you get to Milan, a good starting point for your first full day is Cathedral Square, also known as Piazza Del Duomo. Many of Milan’s top attractions and places to eat are located within walking distance from this central point.
Duomo Di Milano borders the square on one side and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is conveniently on the other. Luini’s Panzerotti is less than 5 minutes away on foot and Ciacco is only a mere 3 minutes.
Palazzo Reale di Milano is right around the corner from Cathedral Square and the Ambrosian Library is also only a 4-minute walk. Plus, there is public transportation right in Piazza Del Duomo to take you anywhere else you want to go.
Pinacoteca di Brera
Get access to hundreds of pieces from some of the most famous Italian art masters.
There are lots of fine art museums to see when you’re visiting Italy, but one of the more hidden gems for international travelers in Milan is Pinacoteca di Brera. This art gallery contains more than 400 stunning masterpieces from some of the most renowned Italian artists on the scene. Inside there are pieces by Raphael and Caravaggio.
The art inside Pinacoteca is the main highlight of this museum, but the structure of the palace they’re all housed in is equally as interesting. Hot tip – visitors who happen to be visiting Milan on the first Sunday of the month can enter the museum free of charge.
La Scala Opera House
Catch a show or just grab some incredible photos at the proverbial ‘best’ opera house on the planet.
The 245-year-old La Scala Opera House is probably the most well-known opera venue in the entire world and is located right in Milan. For hundreds of years, top musicians have vied for the opportunity to perform here at this famous opera house.
Once you get a glimpse of the immaculate interior with your own eyes, you’ll understand why it’s such a special space. Even if opera isn’t really your thing, you’ll still probably want to add La Scala to your to-do list for its prestigious reputation and beauty.
Grab a cone of creamy gelato perfection less than a five-minute walk from the Duomo Cathedral.
There is nothing better than a cool cone of creamy gelato on a hot summer’s day in Milan. There are quite a few options for spots to grab gelato in Milan and beyond, but one of the best is Ciacco.
There is a wide array of delicious flavors to choose from including quasi-cheesecake, matcha, cioccolato, lemon basil, and more. They even offer vegan/lactose-free gelato options, so all types of visitors can enjoy the sweet goodness of Ciacco. Plus Ciacco is super close to the Milan Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
The church that’s famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous ‘Last Supper’.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (024)-676-111 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 12:20 pm & 3 pm – 5:50 pm daily | Entrance: Free general admission, 15€ for Last Supper w/ advanced reservation | 👉 Browse Tours to Santa Maria delle Grazie & The Last Supper on Viator
Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan is the sanctuary for one of the most famous pieces of art in human history, “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci. However, as you can imagine, lots of people want the opportunity to stand in the same room as “The Last Supper”.
While general admission to Santa Maria delle Grazie is free, that’s not the case for seeing the actual painting. The tickets are only €15, but they sell out in the blink of an eye the moment they’re released every quarter. Your best shot at actually getting your hands on tickets to view the artwork is paying for an inclusive tour.
For example, this Skip the Line Guided Tour provides access to “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci and takes you to Milan’s other big attractions such as the Duomo and La Scala Theater.
Take a quick day trip to a picturesque lakeside paradise with delicious food and gorgeous scenery less than an hour from Milan.
There are a ton of fun things to do in Milan, but this northern Italian city is also surrounded by easily accessible, breathtaking day trips. One of the top day trips from Milan is Lake Como.
This charming escape is located less than an hour away from Milan on the train. When you book your ticket, you’ll likely arrive in the town of Varenna, although you can walk down to the dock and grab a ferry to any of the surrounding towns, like Bellagio or Menaggio.
Each of Lake Como’s tiny towns contains boutique shops, gorgeous gardens, and villas. The only danger on a day trip to Lake Como is that you may be very tempted to stay longer than planned.
Browse through one-of-a-kind antiques from furniture to collectibles at this summer flea market.
While Milan is well-known for its luxury shopping, there are also a lot of bargains to be found. Many of them are concealed at Mercatone dell’Antiquariato.
This antique market along Naviglio Grande is a treasure trove of fascinating and odd items. You could find anything from jewelry, watches, and dolls to paintings and furniture depending on the day.
Throughout most of the year, Mercatone dell’Antiquariato is a one-day-only event happening on the last Sunday of the month. However, in the summer months, the market is open much more frequently and you can visit any weekday.
Dine on seafood or sip on an aperitivo with epic views over the city.
Visitors who want epic seafood with equally tantalizing views over the city should reserve a table at A’Riccione Terrazza12.
The restaurant and bar has one of the best aperitivo menus in town. Make sure you scurry up to the lounge bar as the evening rolls in because it provides an incredible vantage point for watching the sunset.
Roam one of Milan’s most historic neighborhoods to see its distinctive buildings.
While it’s simple to get around, Milan is a fairly big city with lots of neighborhoods to dive into. While you’re dipping a toe into the districts of Milan, make sure you check out Porta Venezia just outside of the main city center.
Porta Venezia is on the edge of Centro Storico and offers visitors a look at some of Milan’s prettiest architecture. There are even a few cool museums around the area, like the Milan Natural History Museum and Galleria d’Arte Moderna.
Porta Venezia is an excellent spot for travelers who are looking for a chill place to stay without being right in the middle of the busiest part of Milan.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? There are quite a few hotel options around the area, but I’d go for Montenapoleone Suites. Its location near the edge of Porta Venezia offers more peacefulness, while still only being 10 minutes walking from the Duomo. For more advice, see my guide to the best places to stay in Milan.
Grab a sit-down meal or late-night drinks along this 30-mile-long romantic Milanese canal.
Having dinner along the Naviglio Grande is one of the best things to do in Milan whether you’re in town for a night or a week. This 30-mile-long canal runs through Milan and it’s one of the nicest places to take in the nightlife without getting overwhelmed. As the sun sets, the streets on either side of the canal begin to come alive with lights from the local establishments.
You can’t really go wrong with any of the restaurants and bars along Naviglio Grande. However, Belé Ristorante and Osteria del Gnocco Fritto are highly recommended. For bars, try UGO Cocktail Bar and Banco. Naviglio Grande is one of the most fun places to spend an evening in Milan.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy
FAQs About What To Do in Milan
What are the best things to do in Milan for kids?
The best things to do in Milan for kids are visiting Cathedral Square to see the city’s main sites, wandering Sempione Park, and strolling along the Naviglio Grande canal. Milan also offers a ton of museums that are good for kids such as the MUBA Children’s Museum and the Milan Natural History Museum. Each of these activities highlights the most famous things to do in the city while also being flexible enough to suit a family with children.
Visiting Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the best fashion-related thing to do in Milan. It is the oldest mall in Italy and contains shops for the world’s top luxury brands with their latest items. Additionally, Corso Venezia is an excellent street for shopping in Milan.
How can I spend 3 days in Milan?
On a 3-day trip to Milan, spend the first day by visiting Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Arco Della Pace, and getting dinner at Piz pizzeria. On the second day, visit La Scala Theater, Mercatone dell’Antiquariato, Pinacoteca di Brera, and see the “Last Supper” at Santa Maria delle Grazie. On day 3, go on a day trip to Lake Como before returning for dinner by the Naviglio Grande.
What is Milan best known for?
Milan is best known as the fashion capital of Italy. You can find any of the major Italian luxury fashion brands around the city. Milan is also known for housing the fifth-largest cathedral in the world, Duomo Di Milano.
Thanks for reading all about the best things to do in Milan. Was there anything on the list that especially caught your eye? Leave me a comment below! In the meantime, check out my guide to the best places to stay in Milan.
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