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24 Best Things to Do in Milan Italy

The entire world knows how impressive the Italian city of Milan is when it comes to fashion and design. But when planning to visit, I know it can be a challenge to figure out exactly what to see and do in Milan.

Don’t fret! This list is here to help. It’s got 24 of the best things to do in Milan. With everything from the major landmarks (like the Duomo) to the small and quirky (like the Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa), you won’t miss out on a thing. Oh, and of course the list has the best places in Milan to go shopping too.

Now you’ll just need to pick the things that most interest you and enjoy your trip to Milan!

24 Things to Do in Milan

With so many things to do I recommend staying someplace close to the central area around the Duomo so you can walk or take a taxi to attractions. It’s not a bad idea to stay at a hotel in between the Milan Centrale railway station and Cathedral Square so it’s a pleasant walk to either place. This is what I did when I visited Milan in April and May because I enjoy exploring a city by walking. Just remember to bring your waterproof jacket or an umbrella because in Northern Italy rainy weather is common. And read my list of 40 best travel tips for Italy before you make your first trip to Milan.

READ MORE: When is the Best Time to Visit Italy

1.  Duomo di Milano

At the top of this list of what to do in Milan is the one and only Duomo. Don’t spend time second guessing it, just do it.

This amazing structure is an icon of the city. With its intricate facade and many towers, you’ll appreciate its Gothic Italian style and that it took centuries to build. It’s truly impressive on the outside and magnificent inside.

From the vibrant stained glass windows to the striking marble flooring with large floral motif the Duomo interior will wow you with its exquisite design. But also be sure to stop and ponder the statue of Saint Bartholomew. At first glance it looks like an anatomy study of the human body, but no, that’s not it. In fact the statue is titled “St Bartholomew skinned”, and it was created by Marco d’Agrate in 1562.

To understand the history and significance of various aspects of the Duomo you can book this 2-hour guided tour (includes entrance tickets) so you have the best experience possible.


Milan Duomo.

Milan Duomo – take a tour for the full experience


2.  The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie

For many people the must-do attraction in Milan is seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Unlike some of his other works (like the Mona Lisa), you can’t just stroll up to a museum to catch a glimpse. Instead, you’ll need to plan ahead. Like, weeks ahead! Don’t do what I did and assume you’ll get a ticket the week before you arrive in Milan.

Located in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, the preservation of Last Supper is a priority. Which means there’s limited capacity.  Make sure to reserve your tickets several weeks in advance during the peak travel season.

3.  Teatro alla Scala Performance

It’s an experience of a lifetime to see a performance at the Teatro alla Scala. This magnificent opera house was designed with great splendor. The red and gold decor transports you to a magical place where going to the theater is an absolute treat.  

Numerous performances take the stage each week with ballet, operas, concerts and even a selection perfect for kids. Another great idea is taking a tour of the Teatro alla Scala (offered in English) and visiting the museum.

LEARN MORE: 40 Best Italy Travel Tips


La Scala Opera House red and gold interior in Milan.


4.  Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard

Leonardo da Vinci had a vineyard? Yes, and you can visit! Check the website for details and info.

To thank the master artist, Duke Ludovico gifted da Vinci a vineyard in 1498. It’s said that da Vinci loved it so much he mentioned it in his dying words.

Restoration has brought the vineyard back to be exactly as it was in da Vinci’s time. Today, strolling along the vines just as da Vinci did is one of the coolest things to do in Milan.

5.  Sforzesco Castle

To truly feel the historic power of Milan, visit the Sforzesco Castle, one of the impressive places to visit in Milan. It’s clear to see how this large structure helped protect the city all the way back to the 15th century. Its tall brick walls and guard towers are impressive.

Today you can visit the castle and stroll through its lovely gardens or book a museum tour. Sforzesco Castle is also the home to a number of museums including the Museo Archeologico – Sezione Preistoria e Protostoria.


Sforzesco Castle Milan.


6.  Parco Sempione

With 95 acres of green open space, Parco Sempione is one of the places to visit in Milan for anyone looking for nature. Loved by locals and visitors since 1888, you’ll love taking a passeggiata (walk) among the trees and biking the paths.

You’ll find beautiful sculptures and fountains in the park along with an aquarium, sports arena, and is adjacent to the Sforzesco Castle. And don’t miss checking out the Arco della Pace or the view of the city from Torre Branca in the park.


Parco Sempione with view of Sforzesco Castle Milan.


7.  Cathedral Square

Yes, the Duomo itself is on this list of Milan attractions. But the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) is so wonderful it had to be listed on its own too.

At the heart of the city, it’s an impressively open space surrounded by so much to do and see. In the piazza you’ll find the Duomo, public sculptures, restaurants, shops, and even the Royal Palace.

Just like the Italians, you’ll find yourself enjoying being in the piazza enjoying life and everything Milan has to offer.


Tourists in Cathedral Square near the Duomo in Milan.


8.  Pinacoteca di Brera

One of the best places to visit in Milan for incredible Italian art is Pinacoteca di Brera. You’ll see work by master artists including Raphael, Bellini, and Caravaggio

Don’t miss masterpieces (that make any art historian’s heart skip a beat) like Mantegna’s The Dead Christ, Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, or Piero della Francesca’s Virgin with Child.

Pinacoteca di Brera is open daily except Mondays. Required reservations can be made on the museum’s website.

9.  Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Picture yourself shopping in the most gorgeous mall imaginable. That’s what you’ll find at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Designed in the late 1870s this indoor shopping center has the most ornate decoration, including a huge skylight over the entire mall.

Everyone knows the best shopping is found in Italy, but this is the best of the best. You’ll love strolling through the high-end stores like Prada and Versace. Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, the experience is priceless. Be sure to go up to the second floor for a great view of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.


Inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.


10.  Museo Nazionale della Scienza e Tecnologia di Leonardo da Vinci

One of the most fascinating things to do in Milan is visiting the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e Tecnologia. You may also hear it referred to as Museo Scienza Milano.

It’s an awesome place for anyone who is interested in the sciences, innovation, or just looking for something cool to explore.

Exhibitions at the museum range from transportation to astronomy. Don’t miss seeing Italy’s first submarine or the amazing inventions and writings of genius Leonardo da Vinci (the museum’s namesake).

Open Tuesday until Sunday, it’s best to buy tickets in advance.

11.  Take a Food Tour

Everyone knows the best part of visiting Italy is the insanely good food like pasta, pizza, and mouth-watering gelato. It’s no surprise that Milan is a foodie’s paradise. This fabulous city is filled to the brim with places to dine and marvelous dessert options too.

But what if you’re not exactly sure where to go for the best of the best? An easy solution: Hop on a food tour. It’s the foolproof way to taste it all without having to do all the planning. This Milan Food Lovers’ Tour offers a lunch or dinner option to sample up to six sweet and savory local delicacies, all in an unrushed expertly guided tour by a local.

Of course you can always sample the foods of Milan on your own if you can’t do the food tour. Milan is especially known for its risotto and minestrone but there’s lots of other options.

READ MORE: Learn About the Best Foods of Italy by Region

12.  Arco della Pace

Don’t miss the wonderful Arco della Pace in the Parco Sempione. It’s an impressive piece of architecture with an intriguing history and one of the best free things to do in Milan.

Although this triumphal arch was initiated by Napoleon, it was finished after his fall from power. So instead of showing his victories, it depicts images of his defeat. Interestingly, the arch marks the start of the road that connects Milan to Paris.


Arco della Pace in Milan.


13.  Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa

Let’s begin by translating the title of this fascinating place: Shrine to Saint Bernard of the bone. Bone? Yes, bone.

Uniquely, the interior of Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa is decorated using human skulls and bones. Now, this might not be something that interests everyone, but if you are, it’s really one of the cool places to visit in Milan.

As a place of worship, visiting the shrine is free but limited to specific times so check the website for the latest info.

14.  Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

From the outside of the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, it’s impossible to imagine the beauty within. Nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of Milan, the church is decorated with beautiful frescos on the walls and ceiling. You’ll love gazing at all of the beautiful images throughout the church.

Conveniently the church is open daily except for Mondays. No reservations or tickets are required, just remember it’s a place of worship.

15.  Indro Montanelli Gardens

Impressively, the Indro Montanelli Gardens was the very first public garden in Milan. Opened in 1786 it’s a favorite place for local Milanese to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s also one of the best outdoor things to do in Milan.

Only slightly smaller than Sempione Park, Indro Montanelli has tons of green space with areas to stroll, bike, jog and enjoy nature.

I stayed at a hotel near the Milan Centrale train station and I happened upon this park while walking to the Duomo. I made it a point to meander through the park on my walks to and from the central Milan area.

You’ll also find public sculptures, ponds, playgrounds for kids, and lots of benches to sit and relax.


Lake and large tree at Indro Montanelli Gardens in Milan.


16.  Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

The history of Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is just about the longest on this list of places to see in Milan. In fact, St. Ambrose, patron saint of Milan, founded it in 387.

Other reasons the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is one of the best places to visit in Milan are its unique layout and how many saints are laid to rest here. You’ll love strolling the large open courtyard with its surrounding columns. The basilica also houses the remains of three saints including Saint Ambrose.

17.  Bagatti Valsecchi Museum

The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is a story of preservation and innovation. At this unique home, you’ll learn about the pursuit of two brothers to restore it to the glory of the 16th century. Simultaneously they worked to modernize it by adding central heating, electricity and hot and cold running water–all new for the 1880s. A visit to the museum is one of the most interesting things to do in Milan.

The docents will answer any questions you may have about the items you see in the museum. For instance I was curious about one of the paintings (the one with the dog) and they explained to me the significance of the symbolism used in the work.


Bedroom at Bagatti Valsecchi Museum Milan.


18.  Monumental Cemetery

So, visiting a cemetery may not be the first thing on many itineraries. But definitely consider Monumental Cemetery, it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Milan.

Since its founding in 1866 the cemetery has continued to have the most incredible sculptures that mark the final resting place of some of Italy’s most well-known figures. You’ll find elaborate sculptures including Greek temples, obelisks, and even a replica of the Column of Trajan.

This tour of Monumental Cemetery offers a 90 minute guided info tour of the most significant buildings and tells the history behind the cemetery.

19.  Quadrilatero d’Oro

If you’re headed to Milan to partake in the high-end shopping, then head to Quadrilatero d’Oro. This area of the city has the best of Italian high fashion. You’ll find Versace, Prada, Gucci, and Armani. There are also non-Italian stores definitely worth a look like Hugo Boss and Chanel.

Even if you’re like me and not looking to spend your hard-earned cash on the latest fashion, window shopping is still really fun in Milan. The shop window displays are creative and the fashion designs are gorgeous (although sometimes bizarre) but I enjoyed window shopping in Milan a lot even though I’m not into shopping.

20.  Navigli District

When you’ve had your fill of the historic sites and tourist traps, set your sights on the Navigli District. It’s what to do in Milan if you’re looking for something authentic, quirky, romantic, and fun.

Set along the canal, you’ll find some of the best, small restaurants serving mouth-watering food. Better yet, head out for an aperitivo (happy hour drink and bites) before dinner.

Navigli District also has fabulous boutiques, vintage shopping and art galleries.


Boat in the canal alongside cafes and shops in Navigli district Milan.


21.  Piazza Mercanti

Step back in time simply by going to the Piazza Mercanti, one of the coolest things to see in Milan for free. Back in the medieval ages, the Piazza Mercanti was the heart of the city. The Piazza Mercanti is in central Milan, located between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Cordusio.

It’s where both the government and main market took place. Many of the buildings that line the square also date back to that time. So, when you stand in the square it’s easy to imagine the energy and excitement that was happening hundreds of years ago.

22.  Archaeological Museum of Milan

To fully appreciate the history of Milan, make a visit to the Archaeological Museum. Here you’ll see objects from Roman, Greek, and Etruscans.

The museum is located in the former convent of Monastero Maggiore di San Maurizio (right next to the Chiesa di San Maurizio) which itself is an archeological object. Built in the 8th century the building even incorporated an ancient Roman wall.

23.  Ambrosian Library

When in Milan, take the opportunity to visit one of the oldest public libraries in the world, the Ambrosian Library. Dating back to 1607 it remarkably granted access to anyone who could read and write.

The Ambrosian Library has the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings and writings in his Codex Atlanticus.

You’ll also find many masterpieces by artists like Raphael, Botticelli and Caravaggio. The main reading room is one of the coolest places to visit in Milan.

24.  Museo del Novecento

When considering what to do in Milan, get out of the past and into the now at the Museo del Novecento. This magnificent museum is devoted to Italian art of the 20th century.

You’ll see masterworks by artists such as Modigliani, Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, and Mondrian to name a few. It’s best to book tickets to the Museo del Novecento in advance. Discounts are available for seniors and youth.


Museo del Novecento Milan.


Final Thoughts on What to Do in Milan

There you have it: 24 of the best things to do in the magnificent city of Milan. Known as the center of the fashion world, this city has so much more to offer. This list will help you fill your itinerary with historic sites, museums, cool neighborhoods, and delicious food. If you don’t want to decide what to see and when to see it then it’s a great idea to book this tour of the Best of Milan (including Da Vinci’s Last Supper) that way you get to visit the top attractions during a fun walking tour.

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25 Best things to do in Milan including Duomo and Navigli district.