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23 TOP Milan Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

23 TOP Milan Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

Visiting Milan in Italy for the first time and wondering what are the must-see places in the city? In this guide, we share the best things to do in Milan on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, we also include a map and practical tips for the most popular tourist attractions. Find out!

Best known for its impressive Duomo Cathedral and Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, Milan is also one of the major fashion capitals of the world. 

It’s a very special city, not like any other in Italy, with a unique mix of historic sites, but also a very contemporary, cosmopolitan feel. Tradition and the modern world live comfortably side by side here, with soaring skyscrapers sharing the skyline with ancient churches and monuments.

If you’re visiting Milan for the first time, you may not even realize just how much it has to offer! Not even to mention the stunning surroundings for which you should plan a few extra days in the area…

To make sure you don’t miss anything important, in this guide, we share the VERY BEST sights and TOP tourist attractions in Milan that are worth your time the most.

In addition to the ‘must-sees’, we also share a couple of our personal favorite things to do in Milan – experiences that will make your visit so much more memorable.

For all the sights and attractions mentioned in this guide, we also include our experience-based tips for making the most of your visit. At the bottom of this article, you’ll also find an interactive map indicating all the top places in Milan. Take a look!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II - must see in Milano
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.

Good to know: This guide to the best things to do in Milan is structured in such a way that the main sights and must-sees are mentioned first, at the top of our list. If you are short on time, concentrate on the top 5-10 places. The rest is nice to see if you have more time.

For each place/attraction, we indicate whether it’s a MUST-SEE, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, or NICE TO SEE/DO if you have more time. This could help you decide how to best plan your city trip depending on how much time you have. However, don’t forget that those additional, local experiences often make for some of the best memories.

Further below, you will also find a few recommendations for the best excursions to take from Milan. Some of them are worth a visit just as much as the city itself!

These are the best places to see and things to do in Milan:

1. Piazza del Duomo


The Piazza del Duomo is Milan’s main square. It’s the place where locals meet for important events and tourists gather to see the famous Milan Cathedral, buy souvenirs, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere.

The commercial center of the city, Cathedral Square is surrounded by many impressive buildings and monuments.

At its northern and southern limits you can see the two Palazzi dei Portici and in the middle of the square stands the statue of King Victor Emmanuel II on horseback.

Piazza del Duomo is also home to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (below), the Museo del Novecento (Museum of the 20th century), and numerous boutiques, cafes, and eateries.

But the main attraction that everyone comes to see is the Duomo di Milano – Milan’s Cathedral. More info below!

TIP: Be sure to come back to the Piazza del Duomo after dark, when the Cathedral is beautifully illuminated and looks absolutely stunning! One of the best times for photos is early morning when the sun rises behind the cathedral (and the square is usually empty).

Piazza del Duomo - main square in Milan Italy
Piazza del Duomo.

2. Duomo (Milan Cathedral)


Duomo di Milano is one of the most recognizable and most beautiful churches in Italy. If there is just one place that you absolutely have to see in Milan, it’s the Duomo!

This iconic landmark is truly monumental in scale. It’s believed to have more statues than any other building in the world.

Although it was consecrated in 1418, the building actually took hundreds of years to complete. Thousands of sculptors and artists were involved in its construction and canals were dug in the city to deliver marble from Lake Maggiore to the building site.

The result is one of the largest churches in the world and one of the most impressive Gothic buildings you’ll ever see!

The front facade is ornate and beautiful, with numerous towers and elaborate decorations. Step through the massive doors and you’ll see that this attention to detail extends to the interior, where you’ll find incredible works of art and glorious stained glass windows.

Just to the left of the altar stands the statue of Saint Bartholomew Flayed, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ who was said to have been flayed alive… and then beheaded!

There is a sundial on the floor near the entrance that was placed there in 1768 by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera. It is so accurate that it was once used to regulate the clocks throughout Milan!

Something else to look out for is the red light bulb above the apse. This shows the spot where one of the nails said to have been used in Jesus’ crucifixion was placed.

Duomo di Milano cathedral interior
Duomo di Milano is huge inside!

Good to know: One of the most impressive features is the rooftop of the Duomo. It’s so unique that it deserves a separate mention – see further below!

Practical info: The Cathedral and its terraces are open daily and nowadays, you need a ticket to enter both – the building and the rooftop.

This is the most visited tourist attraction in Milan, so be sure to plan your visit ahead! We highly recommend booking your tickets online in advance and visiting early in the morning. That way you can see the rooftops and get some great photos of the Duomo without the crowds.

Milan Cathedral roof terraces
Duomo roof terraces.

3. Duomo Rooftop Terraces


The rooftop of the Duomo, aka Duomo Terraces, is so impressive that it’s a must-see in Milan in its own right! Even if you are not interested in visiting the interior of the Cathedral, you should definitely visit the roof! You can even get a separate ticket just for the rooftops.

With 135 towers and spires and over 2000 decorative marble statues, the Duomo rooftop is absolutely unique. Plus, the views are fantastic. They provide a new perspective on the Duomo itself and give you the chance to get a better look at its many gargoyles and statues. Most famous of all is the Madonnina, a golden statue of Mary that you can see atop the tallest spire.

It’s also fascinating to look down at all the activity in the Piazza del Duomo from above and take in the panoramic views of Milan. You can even see the (snow-capped) Alps far in the distance.

One of the most popular times to visit the rooftop of the cathedral is toward sunset. If you are lucky, you’ll see the city bathing in a pinkish hue. It is, indeed, a beautiful sight, but you will need to be prepared to contend with the crowds. Unless you absolutely want to come here for sunset, we recommend booking one of the earliest time slots and visiting in the morning.

Good to know: The climb to the top involves 251 steps, but you can also opt to take the elevator (don’t forget to choose this option when booking the ticket!). Just be warned that the elevator is for the ride-up only – you’ll still need to use the stairs coming down. Once on the roof, you can explore everything along the well-marked paths.

Practical info: You’ll need a ticket to visit the Duomo Rooftop Terraces, or you can opt for a ticket that includes both – the Cathedral interior and the rooftops (see here for all ticket options). The cost of taking the elevator is slightly more expensive, but it saves you time (and effort).

Duomo rooftop terraces - best things to do in Milan Italy
Duomo rooftop terraces are really not to be missed!

4. Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II


Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II is a beautiful shopping arcade. Dating back to 1865, it is the oldest in Italy. Located just next to the Duomo, this is another absolute must-see in Milan, no matter how much time you have in the city!

Named after the country’s first king, Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II is home to the flagship stores of high-end brands like Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Indeed, a visit here is a real reminder of Milan’s importance in the world of fashion! You’ll also find upscale restaurants and cafes, some – such as Biffi and Ristorante Savini – more than 150 years old!

But most tourists come here simply to admire the beauty of this covered gallery. Topped with a breathtaking iron and glass dome, the building is quite exquisite – more reminiscent of a luxurious palace than a shopping mall!

The arcade was built in a cross shape and each of its glass-paneled arms fills the gallery with light. The floors are decorated with mosaics. The most famous is that of the Turin Bull in the arcade’s octagonal center. The bull was originally designed with oversized genitals. This gave rise to a rather unique good luck ritual, whereby men would spin around three times with their heels placed on the testicles. This tradition eventually caused a hole to develop in that spot!

The remaining three mosaics represent the coats of arms of the other two capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (Rome and Florence) plus the symbol of Milan – a red cross on a white background.

On the shop fronts, you can see elaborate paneling, with each store required to use retro gold lettering on a black background for its signage. This is to keep the premises in line with the original design.

The bull of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II in Milan.
The bull of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.

Practical info: You can visit the gallery 24 hours a day. The opening times of the shops vary, although most are open from around 10 am to 7 or 8 pm. The bars and restaurants stay open later.

TIP: If you want to take some pictures without the crowds, stop by here early in the morning, before going to the Duomo (which is just next door).

Good to know: Here you can also find one of the most popular da Vinci experiences in Milan (there are quite a few!) – Leonardo3 The World of Leonardo Museum. It’s an exhibit of over 200 interactive 3D machines designed by the master himself. Plus, you can see an immersive digital restoration of “The Last Supper” (more about this famous painting further below!)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II - must see in Milano
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.

5. The Last Supper by da Vinci


It would be unthinkable to visit Milan without going to see its most famous work of art – Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. It’s a masterpiece that continues to draw visitors from all over the world.

Painted between 1495 and 1497 on the convent’s refectory wall, the Last Supper depicts the moment when Christ told his followers that one of them would betray him. No matter how many replicas you have seen, you’ll be captivated by the different reactions of each Apostle and the painting’s wonderful use of light. Its angles somehow give you the impression that the hall in which you are standing is even longer than it is.

Last Supper is housed in the 15th-century Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This charming building has seven chapels, beautifully decorated by important artists such as Gaudenzio Ferrari. Both the church and the mural have undergone continuous restoration work in recent years. As part of your visit, you will see an exhibition about some of the techniques used to preserve them.

Although the Last Supper is the main attraction in the refectory, the room houses another magnificent artwork I recommend you see – Crucifixion, painted by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano. It, too, is an amazing painting but sadly overlooked in favor of its far more famous neighbor! There is also a peaceful courtyard below the tower of the church.

Leonardo da Vinci Last Supper painting in Milan Italy
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is one of the must-sees in Milan

Practical info: The Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano (the official name of the site) is open from 8.15 am–7 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. You’ll need to take a government-issued ID matching the name on your ticket, even if you are visiting as part of a tour group. You can’t bring in any food, drink, or large bags, but there are lockers available.

Good to know: To protect the painting, only 35 people may visit at a time and stay for up to 15 minutes. This means that tickets are very much in demand and you will need to book months (!) ahead of your visit. You can book the entry tickets here.

TIP: Don’t worry too much if the tickets are not available (it’s almost impossible to book them anyway unless you think to do that months and months upfront). The best way to see da Vinci’s Last Supper is by booking a guided tour. There are many tours available so usually, you can find a free spot even with just a few days’ notice. That being said, if you want to be sure to visit, book as soon as you know your travel dates!

PRO TIP: We recommend this amazing tour. It includes a skip-the-line guided tour of the Last Supper, but also the Duomo, and several other must-sees in Milan.

Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Italy
The Last Supper is located inside Santa Maria delle Grazie.

6. La Scala Opera


La Scala, Milan’s Opera, is one of the most famous opera theaters in the world. Even if you’re not a fan of opera you simply must go and see this iconic theater when in Milan!

La Scala was where composers like Verdi and Puccini had their very first works performed. Other names associated with this historic venue include Verdi, Rossini, Maria Callas, and the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini.

Teatro all Scala opened in 1778, built on a site previously occupied by the Church of Santa Maria alla Scala. In its early days, it housed a casino and it was later badly damaged during the Second World War. Reconstruction quickly followed and the building was closed completely in 2002 when it underwent massive renovations. The result is stunning!

As you might expect from such a prestigious theater, its auditorium is opulent and richly decorated in red velvet and gold. It’s quite a contrast to the facade, which is actually rather plain and underwhelming.

Undoubtedly the best way to appreciate La Scala is to book tickets for a performance, during which you can also enjoy the fabulous acoustics. If you want to do this, check their calendar here and be sure to book well in advance!

Good to know: If you opt to attend a performance, avoid buying tickets for seats with an ‘obstructed view’. Your view may be far more limited than you might realize. Also, be prepared for the temperature in the auditorium to be very high!

But if you’d rather not devote quite so much time then you can simply visit the museum (Museo Teatrale Alla Scala). Here you can see paintings, costumes, and other opera and theater-related exhibits, plus enjoy a visit to the theater itself. You can even see the red satin-covered box seats, where the cream of Milan society sits to enjoy the shows.

Practical info: The Museum of La Scala is open every day from Monday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. You can buy tickets online. There are various tours available, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the palatial foyer, the stage, or the Ansaldo workshops where the sets are designed.

La Scala Opera - top places to visit in Milan Italy
La Scala Opera – Photo Brescia/Amisano ©Teatro alla Scala.

7. Sforza Castle


Located on the southern edge of Parco Sempione stands the medieval fortification of Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco). It was originally constructed by the Visconti family in the 14th century and was one of the largest citadels in Europe.

Almost totally destroyed in the mid-15th century during the Golden Ambrosian Republic, the castle was later reconstructed by the Sforza family. The result was one of Italy’s most impressive residences.

Although it later became used as a fortification once again, it was restored at the start of the 20th century to look exactly as it did when the Sforza family lived in it.

There are several museums that you can visit within the Castle. These include art, archeological, and history museums, plus one devoted to curious musical instruments from all over the world. But even if you aren’t interested in the museums, we highly recommend visiting the castle just to take a walk around its splendid grounds and enjoy the beautiful architecture.

Practical info: The Castle’s grounds and central courtyard are free to visit but you’ll need a (very reasonably priced) ticket to visit the museums and exhibitions. You can visit the Castle every day from 7 am until 7:30 pm. The museums are open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am until 5:30 pm. For more information, please see the website of the castle.

Castello Sforzesco - one of the must see places in Milan
Castello Sforzesco.
Sforza Castle courtyard (Milan Italy)
The courtyard of Sforza’s Castle (you can visit this part for free).

8. Sempione Park, Arch of Peace & Branca Tower


Sempione Park (Parco Sempione) is the largest urban park in Milan and sits right behind Sforzesco Castle. It’s a beautiful place to explore, with 95 acres of woodland, footpaths, and manicured lawns dotted with pretty fountains and sculptures.

The park is a real oasis of calm in an otherwise busy city, popular with locals who come to relax, socialize, or walk their dogs.

In addition to its natural attractions, there are a few other sights to see.

One is the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), constructed early in the 19th century to commemorate the victories of Napoleon. Be sure to take a look – it very much resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, its walls decorated with historic bas reliefs.

Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) in Sempione Park, Milan Italy
The Arch of Peace at Sempione Park.

Another attraction is the Torre Branca, an observation tower that stands an immense 108.6 meters high.

Constructed in just 2.5 months in 1933 and made from iron, it is not the most attractive of landmarks. But you don’t come to look at it – instead, you can take the 1-minute elevator ride to the observation deck and enjoy the panoramic city views, with the Alps in the distance.

Practical info: Branca Tower is open to visitors at selected times just a few days a week. Only 5 people can use the elevator at one time. So if you want to visit, check if it’s open on the day of your visit, and be sure to book your tickets in advance!

Milan skyline and Sempione Park view from Branca Tower
Milan skyline and Sempione Park as seen from Branca Tower.

9. Navigli Canals


The Navigli Canals come as a surprise to many visitors to Milan who hadn’t realized that Milan has canals. I have to admit that I also didn’t know this the first time we visited. The old guidebooks hardly mention this area, but it’s one of the nicest places to see in Milan and well worth a visit!

Milan canals took hundreds of years to construct from the 12th century onwards, with Leonardo da Vinci involved in their design. Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese are the main two canals still visible. The Naviglio Grande extends all the way from the Porta Ticinese to the Ticino River.

The sections that pass through the city are delightful to visit, surrounded by streets lined with brightly colored art galleries, independent stores, boutiques, and cafes. The atmosphere is incredibly friendly and welcoming, especially in the evening when the restaurants are full of people and the canals look even more picturesque with all the lights.

You can stroll along their banks, enjoy a boat tour, or simply book a table for dinner at one of the area’s many fine restaurants. There are also great local food tours in this area.

If you have some extra time and feel like doing something a little different, hire a bike and ride along the Martesana cycle path, which runs alongside the Naviglio Piccolo. Taking in meadows, parks, and small towns, the route also passes through Gorgonzola, where you can stop to sample some of the famous local cheese.

TIP: This highly-rated e-bike tour visits many of the highlights in Milan, including the Navigli canals. It’s a great way to see a lot of the city in a short time!

Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy
Milan Canals.

10. Brera District


Located in central Milan, Brera is one of the nicest districts to visit in the city. It’s easy to lose yourself in its cobbled streets, admiring everything from the elegant 18th-century buildings to the exclusive fashion houses.

Known as the artist’s quarter because of its many galleries and studios, Brera is a great place to find unique and handmade souvenirs. You can even treat yourself to a new outfit from one of the up-and-coming designer boutiques.

There are also many great places to stop for a coffee or a meal, especially the gourmet restaurant L’Osteria di Brera – famous for its incredible seafood.

TIP: If you would like to experience the local side of Milan a bit deeper, there are various tours that visit this area. From sightseeing to fashion and food – no matter what your interests, you can find some really unique experiences in the city, beyond the most famous landmarks.

Brera District is one of the nicest areas to visit in Milan Italy
The streets of Brera district.

11. Pinacoteca di Brera & Braidense National Library


If you are an art lover, then you cannot miss the Pinacoteca di Brera located in the Palazzo Brera. It contains some of the most important Italian masterpieces from the Renaissance to modern times, including works by the likes of the Bellini brothers, Raphael, and Caravaggio.

The gallery is housed in Palazzo Brera, a Baroque palace constructed over the remains of a Jesuit monastery. It was opened in 1809 under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte and you can actually see a bronze statue of Bonaparte in the museum’s courtyard! The lighting and signage in the museum are excellent, so you can truly appreciate many magnificent pieces of art here.

Sharing Palazzo Brera with the Pinacoteca is the wonderful Braidense National Library, opened to the public in 1786. It is exceptionally beautiful and is one of the unique places to see in Milan.

As a visitor, you can only see the main room and will not have access to the reference books. But we recommend visiting purely to admire the exquisite decor and to see the thousands of ancient tomes lining the shelves.

Practical info: The Pinacoteca di Brera is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30 am to 7.15 pm. In order to visit you will need the BreraCARD, which you can get here. This highly-rated Brera district guided tour also includes a visit here.

Braidense National Library is open from 8.30 am to 6.15 pm Monday to Friday and from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm on Saturdays. It is free to enter. More info here.

Braidense National Library in Milano Italy
Braidense National Library.

12. National Museum of Science & Technology – Leonardo da Vinci


Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci is a huge science museum, considered one of the most important of its kind in Europe.

This museum was named after Leonardo da Vinci, who was not just known for his art, but also for his scientific work. It displays a range of technological exhibits, many of which were based on or inspired by his work.

Here you can see reconstructions of flying machines designed by da Vinci, along with models of cars based on his drawings. The displays make it very clear that he was a man way ahead of his time!

There are lots of other interesting exhibits, too, including steam trains, the Enrico Toti submarine, and even a piece of the moon. As an added bonus, the museum is housed in the beautiful cloisters of a Renaissance monastery.

Practical information: The museum is open every day except Monday (unless it falls on some public holidays in which case it’s open on Mondays too). You can find more information and book timed-entry tickets here. Alternatively, you can also opt for this digital Milan City Card which includes entry to this and some of the top sights in Milan and will save you time and money if you visit these sights anyway.

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci - best places to see in Milan
Da Vinci’s Flying Machine at the National Museum of Science & Technology in Milan.

13. Bike Tours


Milan is a big city, with so much to offer! But if you only visit the main areas around the Duomo, you will never realize how incredibly diverse it is and how much there is to discover if you take more time!

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to experience the best of Milan is by taking a bike tour with a local guide. Whether you are mostly interested in the main sights, hidden gems, or a mix of the two, you can find some amazing bike tours, both with regular as well as e-bikes.

It’s a wonderful way to explore Milan since it allows you to see a lot in a short time!

Here are some of our hand-picked recommendations:

Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) apartment buildings in Milan Italy
Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) in Porta Nuova district (easy to visit by bike).

14. Dining, Food Tours & Cooking Classes


What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Italy? To me, it’s Italian food (and I’m sure I am not alone :)). No matter where you go in Italy, local food should always be part of the experience!

Milan is no exception, with lots of traditional dishes and regional specialties that you could try. Some of the famous dishes in the Lombardy region include Cotoletta alla Milanese, Ossobuco, and of course the famous Risotto alla Milanese.

And while you can try a few local dishes in restaurants, we find that the best way to discover a local cuisine on a short visit is by taking a food tour. We’ve done so many food tours and cooking classes all over Italy and the whole family is hooked!

Here are some of the best food tours and cooking classes in Milan:

You can find many more options here.

Risotto alla Milanese at a restaurant in Milan, Italy
Risotto alla Milanese.

15. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana


Created to support and inspire future students of fine art, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is the most famous gallery in Milan. It is also considered to be one of the leading art museums in Europe. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is part of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and is housed in the beautiful building of the Ambrosiana Palace in the center of Milan.

It was founded in 1618 when Cardinal Federico Borromeo donated his collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures to the Ambrosian Library.

Now, it contains some of the world’s most famous masterpieces from the 14th to the 20th century, including works by the likes of Caravaggio, Botticelli, Titian, and Leonardo da Vinci. Its 25 rooms are beautifully laid out in chronological order, making it easy to navigate the truly exceptional artworks on display.

Particularly interesting are the original sketches of several important paintings, including The School of Athens by Raphael.

You can also see a rather bizarre exhibit – a lock of blonde hair that belonged to Lucrezia Borgia! It is kept in an ornate display case made by one of Milan’s finest goldsmiths and became something of a cult object for the Romantic movement in the 1800s!

Possibly the most popular attraction, however, is the ‘Codex Atlanticus’ (aka da Vinci Codex) exhibition. It comprises a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific drawings and writings.

Good to know: Despite the incredible treasures it contains, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is relatively quiet in terms of tourists, even at the height of the season.

Practical info: The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. You can simply get an entry ticket for it, but there are also good ticket combinations with other popular attractions in Milan. The best use of your time would be to combine your visit here with that of San Sepolcro Crypt located just next door (see below).

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan.
Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

16. San Sepolcro Crypt


Located at the back of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is the San Sepolcro Crypt. It was built in 1030 beneath the Church of San Sepolcro on the site of the forum of the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum.

It is one of the oldest underground churches in Milan and has only recently reopened after a closure of 50 years. It marks the original center of the city, where the Decumanus (the east-west road) crossed the Cardo (the main north-south street).

The white stone floor you see now dates back to Roman times and the walls bear wonderfully restored frescoes dating back to the 11th century. You can also see a 14th-century sarcophagus painted with scenes depicting the resurrection.

Practical info: You can find the entrance to the Crypt in Piazza San Sepolcro, to the right-hand side of the Church. You can get skip-the-line ticket just for the Crypt, or you can opt for this 2-in-1 ticket that also includes Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

San Sepolcro Crypt in Milano Italy
San Sepolcro Crypt.

17. Piazza Gae Aulenti & Porta Nuova District


Nothing can quite prepare you for the contrast between Piazza Gae Aulenti, the modern Porta Nuova district, and the old town of Milan!

This modern part of town is filled with skyscrapers and examples of cutting-edge architecture. Its main square dedicated to the female architect Gae Aulenti was inaugurated in December 2012 and quickly became a hotspot in Milan!

Here, you can see the awesome Unicredit Tower (the highest skyscraper in Italy). You can also ascend 6 meters above street level to visit the shops and cafes that surround the piazza and get a great view of the infinity fountain at the center.

Just a short walk from there is the Porta Nuova district, once an industrial area and now known as the most futuristic part of the city. One of the most famous highlights in this neighborhood is the Vertical Forest (Bosco Verticale) – two residential towers covered in plants.

It is connected via a walkway to the trendy Corso Como – well known for its nightlife – and also to the Isola district, where you can often hear new bands performing live music. The entire area has an exciting atmosphere and is a great place to experience a very different side of Milan.

Good to know: This area is located right next to two major railway stations in Milan. From the old town, you can easily get here by metro or even walk. There are also several nice tours that visit this part of the city.

Piazza Gae Aulenti and Unicredit Tower in Milan Porta Nuova district
Piazza Gae Aulenti and Unicredit Tower.

18. Basilica Sant’Ambrogio


The beautiful Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio dates back to the 4th century and is one of Milan’s oldest churches! It was built by Saint Ambrogio and later reconstructed in the Lombard Romanesque style you can see today.

It is a very important site, being both the point around which the city developed as well as containing the remains of three saints. Here you can see the fabulous Golden Altar, which was created in 835 AD and depicts scenes from the lives of Christ and Saint Ambrogio. Also worth visiting are the pretty chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro and the huge mosaic in the apse.

TIP: Be sure to check out the pillar outside the basilica and its two distinct holes. It is known as Devil’s Column’, the holes said to have been caused by the devil’s horns during a fight with Saint Ambrogio!

Practical info: The basilica is free to enter and open daily. You can see the opening times here.

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan Italy
Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio.

19. Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard


In 1498 – as he was working on the painting of the Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci was gifted a vineyard of about 16 rows by Ludovico Sforza. When the French invaded Milan during the Italian Wars, Sforza was forced to flee the city and da Vinci left too. But before doing so, he rented out his vineyard.

Although the French government went on to seize it, da Vinci managed to claim it back. He attached so much importance to it that it was mentioned in his will when he divided it into two and left half to his faithful servant and the other to his favorite student.

Incredibly, this ancient vineyard was resurrected at the start of the 21st century, when an expert in vineyard genetics excavated residues of the original grapevine. This made it possible to replant the vine – and in 2018 the grapes of  Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard were harvested for the first time!

Now it is possible to visit this special place, known as La Vigna di Leonardo. You’ll find it in the garden of the Casa degli Atellani, a beautiful 16th-century palace that has been converted into apartments for visitors to the city.

Good to know: During the winter months, the vines are bare and the garden is rather unimpressive.

Practical information: You can just get tickets to visit the vineyard, or you can get a 2-in-1 ticket for the Vineyard as well as Sforza Castle.

La Vigna di Leonardo (Da Vinci vineyard) in Milan, Italy
Da Vinci Vineyard

20. Fondazione Prada


Established in 1993 by Miuccia Prada – part of the famous Prada family – Fondazione Prada is an exhibition space housed in a former distillery outside of the city center.

It features a fully equipped movie theater with a permanent program, along with displays of contemporary art that change all the time.

It’s impossible to predict just what you’ll see, but it’s an interesting place to visit if you love modern art, or just want to admire the venue’s quirky design!

Practical information: Prada Foundation in Milan is open daily except on Tuesdays. You can find more information and tickets here.

Fondazione Prada - a modern art museum to see in Milano Italy
Fondazione Prada always surprises with something new.

21. San Siro Stadium


Even if you’re not a football fan, you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the San Siro – one of the largest stadiums in Europe!

Home to two iconic European football clubs – AC Milan and Inter Milan – the stadium is a leading sporting venue on the world stage and played a key part in two World Cups.

You can take the stadium tour where you can get a backstage look at the players’ facilities, including the locker rooms, the tunnel, and even the jerseys worn by some of the players! Concluding with an exhibition devoted to the Italian Football Team, a visit here is a great experience for adults and kids alike.

Practical info: The stadium tours run daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm. This is a very popular attraction in Milan, so also here, you should reserve a time slot in advance!

San Siro Stadium in Milan
San Siro Stadium.

22. Shopping


No guide to the best of Milan would be complete without mentioning fashion and shopping! The city is the Fashion Capital of Italy after all!

You will find many (luxury) fashion boutiques in the center of Milan, but you can probably guess that the prices here can be really high. You’ll pay even more at the premium locations in the heart of the city!

TIP: If you are interested in doing some serious shopping, consider visiting Serravalle Design Outlet, about 1-hour drive south of Milan. It’s one of the best places for a more affordable shopping experience in Milan! If you don’t have a car, you can simply take a round-trip shuttle bus transfer.

Luxury fashion stores in Porta Nuova district in Milan Italy
Luxury fashion stores in the Porta Nuova district.

23. Take a Day Trip near Milan


In addition to all the amazing sights in Milan, you should plan some time for at least one excursion outside the city!

One of the most beautiful places to visit is, of course, Lake Como – one of the most famous lakes in Northern Italy. With stunning scenery, charming little towns, and luxury villas dotting its shores, it’s a place that looks like a real-life postcard! You probably have seen it in many movies before!

There is so much to see here that you could easily spend a few days exploring the Lake Como area (and we have tons of articles to guide you to all the nicest places in Lake Como in case you decide to do that!). But you can see quite a lot on a day trip from Milan too! You can either take a train + boat and visit a few of the best towns of Lake Como on your own, or you can leave all the practical arrangements to someone else and simply come here with an organized tour.

Other popular day trip destinations from Milan include Lugano, St. Moritz, and the famous Bernina Express train ride in Switzerland. There are lots of organized day tours to all these places; some tours combine several of them in just a day. Here you can see tours that include St.Moritz & Bernina train, and here – the ones that visit Lugano.

A day tour to Cinque Terre is also possible from Milan.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Lake Como


Where to Stay for Sightseeing in Milan

Milan is a big city, but most of the main sights are located quite close to each other. So if you stay in a central location, you can walk to most places.

On the other hand, accommodation in the city center of Milan is among the most expensive we’ve seen in Italy. So you can also opt to stay further away and simply use public transport which is very efficient and affordable.

Here are some of the most popular hotels in the center for different budgets:

Map of Milan’s Top Attractions

To help you get a better idea of where all the main Milan attractions are located, we created a map indicating all the points of interest and sights mentioned in this article. This should help you plan your time in the city and decide which places to visit depending on how much time you have.

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.


So, this is our guide to some of the best places to see and things to do in Milan.

If you have 2-3 days in the city (and prebook timed tickets), you should be able to cover most of them. However, as already said, there are some amazing places to see nearby, so try to do at least one day trip outside Milan as well!

Have a great time in Milan!

READ ALSO: How to See the Best of Milan in 1 Day

More travel guides to some of the best cities in Italy:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best places to see and things to do in Milan, Italy
Milan bucket list - top sights and things to do in Milano Italy

Photos: personal collection and Additional credits: posztos/ Gladkov/ CaptureLight/

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Jordan B.

Saturday 14th of October 2023

This is a very good website and we used it to plan our upcoming trip to Italy. I have a question about the cathedral in Milan. If you don't go on the roof, do you need a ticket to go inside the church or is it free? I read somewhere that it is free but you say that you need a ticket. Can you please clarify? Thank you. Jordan


Sunday 15th of October 2023

Hi Jordan, the entry to Milan Cathedral used to be free of charge in the past and you only had to pay to visit the rooftop. However, it's no longer the case and you need a ticket for everything (just like at e.g. San Marco in Venice and several other churches that are no longer free to visit). If you ONLY want to visit the Cathedral, you can get this ticket. However, the rooftop terraces are absolutely worth a visit and so if you have some time to spare, I highly recommend that you do both. In fact, if you only have the time for one, I'd skip the church and go to the terraces. In that case, you can get this ticket - just for the terraces. But the combination ticket offers a very good value, so if you can, do both. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!


Wednesday 13th of September 2023

Hi Jurga, is it possible to take a day trip to lake Maggiore and the town of Stresa in late November? Are the boat rides still available to visit the palaces? Thanks!


Wednesday 13th of September 2023

Hi Risa, people live there year-round, so yes, it's possible to visit Stresa at any time of the year. The train ride from Milan is just 1 hour. As for the boats, likely there are some, but I'm not 100% sure if and how often. You would have to look for the schedules online. Whether it's worth it, that's another question, and could highly depend on the weather that you get.

Barbara Walton

Saturday 6th of May 2023

Hi Jurga, we love reading your travel articles. My husband and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in 2024. I always wanted to visit Milan and he always wanted to stay a while in Lake Como at Bellagio. We can spend up to 7 days for the complete trip. Also, our two granddaughters that we raised and always vacationed with us want to come along too. How would you set this trip up for us as we will be 80 and 81 years old in pretty good health as for as where to stay in both places and how long to stay in each city?


Monday 8th of May 2023

Hi Barbara, with a week in the Milan area, I would probably spend 2 days in the city and the rest of the time in Lake Como. In the warm season, there is plenty to see/do around Lake Como to fill 3-5 days. If you would like to add one more area to the mix, you could do 2 days in Milan, 2-3 days in Lake Como, and 2-3 days in Lake Garda. Yet another option is to spend 3-4 days in Milan and take a few day trips, e.g. to Lugano or Bernina Express in Switzerland; and then the rest of the time in Bellagio. There is really not one 'best' way to do it. A lot depends on your interests and the season when you travel. Hope this helps.


Friday 14th of April 2023

Hi Jurga, thanks for all your useful articles. We're going to Milan for 3 days and want to take a day trip. Which one do you recommend if we can only do one, Lake Como or Lugano or Bernina train? This is our first time in Italy.


Friday 14th of April 2023

Hi Terry, that's a really tough choice indeed, as each of these places/activities is special and unique in its own way. A lot also depends on the season when you visit. Bernina Express is something you could do in any season; Lake Como and Lugano too, but they'll be more enjoyable when everything is green, so spring, summer, and autumn. On the other hand, Bernina Express is also nicer when it's sunny, and you can never predict the weather in the mountains in advance... If you really can't choose and want to get a glimpse of Lake Como as well as the Swiss Alps, you could opt for a day tour like this one that combines several destinations. You won't have much time to explore deeper, but you'll see a lot in a day. And otherwise - if you want to spend more time in one region - just visit Lake Como. Even that will be rushed, but you can see 2-3 towns and it's such a beautiful destination; I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Good luck with your choice and have a great trip!

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