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20 Best Things To Do In Milan 

From museums to neighborhoods, basilicas to parks. 

One of the “Four Motors of Europe” Milan is an economic powerhouse with many leading industries, not least among them fashion and tourism. With thousands of years of culture and a prominent place in history, Milan is among Italy’s great cities and, as such, is filled with art, architecture, and monuments of note at almost every juncture. The Milan Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, dominates the city center as does the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II next door. The nearby Sforza Castle is an impressively daunting size, and of course no trip to Milan would be complete without seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Although most canals are now covered, the canal in Navigli is uncovered and a sumptuous spot to spend the day and evening popping into bars, cafés, and restaurants while perusing through market stands.

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in Milan is a great place to start.

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete not only with activities, but also restaurants, cafés, bars, transportation, and accommodation.

1See The Duomo di Milano 


Piazza del Duomo 18
One simply cannot visit Milan without seeing The Duomo—it's the third largest cathedral in the world and the most recognizable landmark in the city. This stunning cathedral was commissioned in 1385 by Bishop Antonio de Saluzzo and the first duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Construction took place until 1813, with finishing touches applied as recently as 1965. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity, is open daily from 8am to 7pm. You can also purchase a ticket to visit the crypt of St. Charles, located inside the cathedral. Be sure to visit the rooftop as well via the staircase (€6) or elevator (€10). On a clear day, you can see as far as the Alps and Apennines. 

2Explore The Neighborhood Of Brera


Brera, 20121 Milano, Italy
Formerly a working-class neighborhood, Brera has transformed into a hub for artists and bohemians—it’s a must-see if you’re visiting Milan. Located between the Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Duomo, its narrow streets are packed with restaurants, cafes, and boutiques selling ladies clothing, bric-a-brac, and antiques. Don’t forget to look up as you stroll around—people who live in the buildings above the shops adorn their balconies with flowers. You’ll also find what is arguably Milan’s best art museum here: the Pinacoteca Brera.
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3Visit One Of Italy's Most Important Art Collections At Pinacoteca di Brera


Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano, Italy
Pinacoteca Brera is the finest art collection in all of Lombardy, with work from iconic Italian artists that spans from the 13th to the 20th centuries. The paintings, which were recovered from churches and monasteries once suppressed by the Napoleonic regime, include Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ, Giovanni Bellini's Pietà, Piero della Francesca's Virgin and Child with Saints, Donato Bramante's Christ at the Column, and Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus. There's also well-known works on display from the likes of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. The museum is housed in an historic palazzo that was built atop the remains of a 14th-century monastery, which was subsequently gifted to the Jesuits for their college, astronomical observatory, and botanical garden in 1651. 

4See The Monuments At Sempione Park


Piazza Castello 1
Opened after the unification of Italy more than 100 years ago, Parco Sempione has a 3.5 km route dotted with stunning monuments, from the Castle of Milan to the Arch of Peace—it's also adjacent to the Sforza Castle gardens. It’s the largest park in the city and, while fairly touristy, is worth a visit, especially if you're a runner (there are some great laps for a casual jog or long run). 

5Visit Sforzesco Castle


Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
This 15th century castle was built by Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, and was later renovated and enlarged in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of the largest citadels in Europe, complete with round battlements, defensive walls (designed by Leonardo da Vinci), a central courtyard, and expansive gardens. Today, it houses museums and galleries with sculptures by Michelangelo and paintings by Titian and Bellini. Open daily, except for Mondays. 

6Visit Milan's Famous Opera House, Teatro Alla Scala


The likes of Pavarotti have performed at the Scala, Milan's iconic Opera House and one of the most famous theaters in the world. It's also home to La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet, and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. Either purchase an entrance ticket during the day (there's an attached museum) or splurge on an evening performance, where you’ll experience the opera house in all its luminous glory.

7Explore Navigli's Beautiful Canal & Bars 


Piazza XXIV Maggio, 20123 Milano, Italy
Taking its name from the neighboring Naviglio Grande canal, Navigli/Darsena is a young, trendy neighborhood where fashionistas rub elbows with bohemians at the casual-chic shops, street markets, hip bars, and flower-filled courtyards. This is a fabulous place for aperitivi and cocktails, especially at Bar da Rita, which is tucked away on Via Angelo Fumagalli around the corner from the canal.

8Visit Milan's Second Oldest Church, Parrocchia di San Satiro


Via Torino, 17/19, 20123 Milano, Italy
Tucked between the chain stores on via Torino, the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro is home to a must-visit sight: a brilliant trompe-l’oeil by master architect Donato Bramante. When you enter the church, you might assume the gilded apse at the end of the barrel-vaulted nave stretches back for at least two or three meters. But when you get up close, you'll see that it's just 97 centimeters deep. It’s a striking example of the magic of illusion and the visionary discoveries of the Renaissance period.

9Visit Milan's Design Museum, La Triennale di Milano


Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6, 20121 Milano, Italy
La Triennale, the museum of design and art that opened in 1923, might just be Milan's best kept secret. Its exhibitions are dedicated to contemporary art and social issues, such as the 2019 XXII Triennale, which focused on design approaches that explore relations between humans, nature, and other species (titled "Broken Nature"). Back in 2015, to coincide with the Expo Milano, La Triennale developed an exhibit centered around food through the lens of art and design that toed the line between playful and provocative. 

10Shop Along Via Fiori Chiari


Via Fiori Chiari, 20121 Milano, Italy
For boutique antique shops, there's no better spot than Via Fiori Chiari, a pedestrian street lined with colorful flower displays, street markets, galleries, cafés, and live music bars. If you can make it there on the third Saturday of the month, keep an eye out for the antiques fair. 

11See Renaissance Masterpieces At The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana 


Piazza Pio XI, 2, 20123 Milano, Italy
Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is home to an incredible collection of Renaissance masterpieces donated by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1618 (shortly after he founded the Biblioteca Abrosiana in 1607). Here, you’ll find art such as The Adoration of the Magi by Titian, The Musician by Leonardo, and Vases of Flowers by Jan Brueghel. Though much of the collection focuses on Renaissance paintings, there are works from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries on display. Located in old, Central Milan, this collection is a must-visit for art history lovers. Closed Mondays.

12Visit The Brera Botanical Gardens


Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano, Italy
Part of the large cultural complex at Brera Palace, the Brera Botanical Garden is a lush, 5,000-square-meter oasis that boasts over 300 plant species. Originally conceived by the Jesuits as an orchard and a medicinal garden, it's divided into three sections of narrow flower beds, elliptical ponds, and a lawn surrounded by trees (including one of the oldest Ginkgo biloba trees in Europe). On the northern side of the garden is the gorgeous greenhouse that dates back to the 19th century. Admission is free.

13Explore Vicolo Privato Lavandai


Vicolo Privato Lavandai, 20144 Milano, Italy
This tucked-away, historical corner of Milan on the banks of the Naviglio was a former laundry service, used by washerwomen until the 1950s to clean sheets and clothing—hence the name Vicolo dei Lavandai (street of the washers). To this day, you can still see the wooden seats and cement washing slabs, along with original fireplaces and wood-paneled ceilings. What most people don't realize, however, is that when the washers guild was first established in 1700, it was a guild for men, not women. There was even a male patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. It wasn't until later that women took over washing duties. 

If you have time, stop by Ristorante El Brellin for dinner or a drink—this building used to house the grocery shop that sold cleaning supplies to the women. The name, Brellin, references the wooden platform that the women would kneel on while washing.

14Visit The 4th Century Church Dedicated To The Patron Saint Of Milan, Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio


Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, 15, 20123 Milano, Italy
Built in honor of Milan’s patron saint, Sant'Ambrogio Basilica—which dates back to the 4th century—is an archetype of Lombard Romanesque architecture. The unusual exterior features an enormous atrium almost as large as the church itself, while the interior houses an overwhelming collection of art from the Middle Ages, including a silver altar from the 9th century and a 10th century mosaic in the apse depicting San’tAmbrogio’s connection to the city of Milan.

15See The Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore & Attached Roman Ruins


Corso Magenta, 13, 20123 Milano, Italy
Originally attached to the most important Benedictine convent in the city, the church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore now doubles as an archaeological museum. Dating back to the 1500s, the church itself has a humble façade that masks its ornate interior, where you’ll find spectacular frescoes by some of the most important Lombard artists of the 16th century, including Paolo Lomazzo and Ottavio Semino. On the archaeological side, you’ll notice ruins of the Roman circus on the monastery grounds; the old Roman walls form an important part of the Civic Archaeological Museum, whose entrance is next door. Entrance to the church is free, while entrance to the museum will run you €5. 

16Browse The High-Fashion Area Of Quadrilatero della Moda


Quadrilatero della Moda, 20121 Milano, Italy
The Quadrilatero della Moda is the fashion capital within the fashion capital: a shopper’s paradise comprising the long parallel streets of Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, bordered by Corso Venezia to the south and Via Manzoni to the north. Via Montenapoleone (Montenapo for short), which runs along the western edge of the rectangle, is often considered the key street in the Quadrilatero, and it’s here where you’ll find the flagship outlets of most big designers, including Gucci, Prada, Versace, Chanel, and Valentino.

17Visit The Piazza dei Mercanti


Piazza dei Mercanti, Milano, Italy
Piazza Mercanti is one of Milan’s oldest and most iconic central meeting areas. It's located in the heart of the ancient city between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Cordusio. The square is an architectural treasure trove, with four distinct buildings that constitute its boundaries: the 13th-century Broletto Nuovo, the Gothic Palazzo dei Notai (“Notary’s Palace”), the Baroque, 17th-century Palazzo delle Scuole Palantine, and the 14th-century Logio degli Osii, where city officials used to address the public. Don't miss the statues by by Giovan Pietro Lasagna and Luigi Scorzini.

18Stroll The Gardens & Admire The Architecture At Villa Necchi Campiglio


Via Mozart, 14, 20122 Milano, Italy
Designed by Piero Portaluppi, Necchi Campiglio is a gorgeous villa in the heart of Milan. A magnificent artistic and architectural treasure, it’s home to a classic collection of antique furniture, as well as Vase by Fausto Melotti and a large Felice Casorati painting, “Monument to the Fallen Racers.” There are a variety of ways to experience the villa: take a tour of the house museums, stroll through the lush gardens, relax at the elegant café, and/or shop for literature, design, and food souvenirs at the stylish gift shop. The entrance fee is €15, but wandering the gardens is free.

19Explore The Trendy Isola Neighborhood 


Isola, Milano MI, Italy
Isola has transformed over the years from a working class district secluded from the heart of Milan, into a vibrant, diverse area that exudes a neighborhood vibe. Here you'll find endless boutiques and speciality stores, along with colorful street art and markets. When you work up an appetite, make a beeline straight for Ratanà, one of the best restaurants in Milan that happens to be nearby. Helmed by Milan-born chef Cesare Battisti and his partner/sommelier Federica Fabi, the restaurant epitomizes modern Milanese cuisine. Not hungry for a full meal? Make a pit-stop at Artico Gelateria for a scoop of artisanal, handmade gelato. 

20See Da Vinci's Masterpiece, The Last Supper, At Santa Maria delle Grazie


Corso Magenta
Included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list, the Santa Maria delle Grazie is a church and Dominican convent in Milan. Don't be fooled by its modest exterior—it houses one of the world's most famous paintings: Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Note that this can only be viewed with a booking made at least two weeks in advance (sometimes two months in advance in the busier months). If you arrive at the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan expecting to see the painting without a reservation, you will not be able to. Journy can help you make the proper arrangements ahead of time.

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