What to do in Milan – The Best Milan Attractions
When you hear ‘Milan’ you may imagine models on catwalks or maybe tenors singing in La Scala Opera House or AC Milan playing in the San Siro. If there is one image that the city of Milan portrays it is style. Milan has a lot to boast about, they set the trends in fashion, they are the powerhouse of the Italian economy and the powerhouse of Italian football, they have some of the most famous paintings in the world and have an array of fabulous famous buildings. Situated in the north east of Italy, Milan is the home of Italy’s fashion (with Gucci, Armani, D&G, Versace all headquartered here), banking and car industry and if it was a country it would be the world’s 28th biggest economy! It is up there with the great European cities of London, Madrid, Munich and Paris. This means that as there is so much money it is an expensive city to look around for a few days but with great cafe’s, great historical buildings and great history around every corner it is a small price to pay.
To see all of these attractions would take approximately 1 day if planned well but 2 days if you want to stroll around. From my time there here is my list of what to do in Milan.
1) What to do in Milan – El Duomo and the Piazza
El Duomo is one of the most spectacular attractions in Europe and is the world’s third largest church. It is the centre piece of Milan and the piazza (square) in front only adds to the grandeur. This huge cathedral is full of spires as if trying to puncture the sky, 135 of them to be exact! The 14th century cathedral took over 500years to complete and with over 3,500 statues it is no wonder. Every nook and cranny has some strange looking gargoyle or saint looking back at you. As impressive as it is from the piazza out front, it is even more impressive when you take a walk up to the roof and see the spires, gargoyles and even the Alps on a clear day. To access the cathedral is free but to walk on the roof costs €10. Open Mon-Sat 08:30-18:00, Sun 13:30-17:00
2) What to do in Milan – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and La Scala Opera
One of the oldest shopping malls in the world is located beside one of the oldest operas. This is only a stone’s throw from El Duomo and is why the centre of Milan one of the most pleasant cities to walk around. The Gallery was opened in 1867 and is a beautiful mixture of glass and metal and today houses some of the world’s most exclusive stores. Unless you own your own boat you probably won’t be able to afford to buy anything in the shops or a ridiculously priced coffee but it is still worth a browse through to see how the other half live. Just out one of the exits of La Galleria is Piazza della Scala which has a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci and of course Teatro La Scala. This famous theatre is over 200years old and still is one of the world’s premier theatres.
3) What to do in Milan – The Last Supper
You more than likely know the painting of Jesus with his twelve disciples at his last supper when he reveals that one of them will betray him? Well this iconic painting by Leonardo da Vinci is in Milan in the Santa Maria della Grazie church. Arguably the greatest painting of the Renaissance is a huge piece of work measuring 4.6mt x 8.8mt (15ft x 29ft) and has survived being used as target practice, being part of a military barracks and World War II (where the other half of the church got blown up). How it is still around is a miracle in itself. To see the painting you need to book one of the 15minute viewing times at the church which is easiest when incorporated into a city tour. The church is open from Tues-Sun, 08:15-19:00. Closed on Monday’s.
4) What to do in Milan – Castello Sforzesco
This behemoth of a 14th century castle is another architectural wonder. This red bricked citadel today houses 8 different museums including Michelangelo’s last sculpture and Da Vinci’s ‘Codex Trivulzianus’ manuscript. The scale of the castle is breathtaking with a now dry moat, 70mtr high towers and walls that are nearly 3km long, 31mtrs high and 4mtrs thick. Even if you don’t head into Piazza d’Armi then you can enjoy the surrounding park of Parco Sempione. The castle and museums are open from Tues-Sun, 09:30-17:30. The castle itself opens are 07:00. Admission is €3 and is free on Tues-Fri in the evenings.
5) What to do in Milan – The San Siro
As mentioned above, Milan is the powerhouse of Italian industry and football. As heading to a factory might not be that interesting, heading to a football match most certainly is. Italy is one of the world’s best soccer nations and in the 85,000 seater stadium of the San Siro they have the home of both AC-Milan and Inter Milan (Internazionale) which are some of Italy’s and Europe’s top clubs. They have both won the European Cup (Europe’s best club competition) multiple times. The season runs from September to May each year and with both of them playing at home on alternate weekends there is always a game to go to. If you can get your hands on tickets to the Milan derby between the two you are in for one rousing evening. It is one of the most coveted of rivalries where the noise, hatred and chanting nearly brings the house down. On non match days it is possible to get a tour of the stadium and learn some of the insights behind the teams.
Practicalities – About Milan Attractions
€1 = US $1.33
- Language – Italian. Broken English is spoken by the general public and spoken well by anybody involved with the tourist industry. ie. hotels, tour operators, restaurants etc.
- Metro – There are 4 Metro lines, M1, M2, M3, M4 with the red M1 and green M2 the longest. All metro lines go through various parts of the city centre but only 2 lines ever intersect with no central station where all lines meet. The price of a single journey is €1.50 with one day tickets costing €4.50 and 10 journey tickets costing €13.80. www.atm.it/en/
- Suburban (Extra Urban) Railway Milan – This is a rail system that provides access to the great metropolitan Milan area that isn’t served by the Metro. They interlink at various points. They are signified by signs with a yellow ‘S’ on a blue background. Prices cost €1.30 for a single journey or you can buy Metro and Suburban tickets combined for a variable fee (depending on how far). For example the Metro plus 1 zone is €2.55 with the most expensive being €4.70
- Train – Milan has the second busiest station in Italy in Milan Central Station and is an important hub for local and high speed trains. Many international trains go through Milan on their way to/from France, Austria etc. www.italiarail.com/. Italy is also part of the Interrail in Europe where you can buy tickets that span countries or sets of countries. www.interrail.eu/
- Bus – Milan has over 50 bus routes and also electric trolleybus routes but in general are a poorer option than the metro. There are the same Urban and Suburban separation for buses as there are for trains. Interurban tickets for travel between both are available. For longer bus journeys the main bus station in Milan is Lumpugnano (see map below). The biggest bus company is Autostradale, www.orariautobus.it or Eurolines (which hire out several companies) www.eurolines.com/en/
- Flights- Milan Malpensa Airport is 48km north west of the city centre and is one of the main international airports in Italy. www.alitalia.com is the main carrier with all major airlines flying here including low cost carriers such as Easyjet (Ryanair fly to Bergamo).
- There is a shuttle bus (Malpensa Shuttle) that operates every 20-30minutes from Malpensa Airport to Milan, a one way ticket costs €10
- There is an express rail service (Malpensa Express) that operates every 30min and costs €10 one way to Milano Centrale (Milan Central Station)
- Accommodation – €50 per night for an average double room
- Beer – 1 pint of beer costs between €3-€4
- Visa: No EU member requires a visa to enter Italy. If you are from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc you also do not require a visa. If you are from other countries then check out the official website where you can enter your nationality and it will let you know. www.esteri.it/visti/home_eng.asp
- Population of Milan: 1.3million
Map of Milan Attractions
Duomo of Milan, Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Italy
|Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II |
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy
|La Scala Opera|
Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici, Milan, Italy
|The Last Supper Painting - Santa Maria della Grazie Church|
Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy
Castello Sforzesco, Piazza Castello, Milan, Italy
|San Siro Stadium|
San Siro, Milan, Italy
|Milan Central Rail Station (Milano Centrale)|
Milano Centrale, Milan, Italy
|Lampugnano Bus station |
Lampugnano, Milan, Italy
What to do in Milan – My pictures