What to do in Milan: art, culture, food and fun

Milan is not only one of the main fashion spots in the world, but also a touristic location to include on your Italian bucket list.

What to do in Milan:  art, culture, food and fun

When you think about Milan, capital of Lombardy region in Italy, you most probably associate business, fashion and the Dome to this city. 


This could be a bit inaccurate, as Milan is also full of beauty and charming for every tourist thanks to its art, food and culture


Is it worth a visit?

Of course! 


The city is not only one of the main fashion spots in the world, but also a touristic location to include on your Italian bucket list.


All the must-sees are close to each other, so one day is enough to visit most of the city


However, to explore the museums and fully enjoy the city flare, a couple of days more would be ideal.


Here is an itinerary of what to do in Milan to admire the most important attractions.


1) The Dome


The Milan Dome is the city symbol, an absolute must-see.


Located in the heart of the city, it took a few centuries to complete this gorgeous building. 


Its facade was finished in 1805, right before Napoleon was declared king of Italy.


It is possible to go on its terrace – by foot or with an elevator – to admire the view on the city


To enter, there is a ticket to buy, and we suggest you to do it in advance, to avoid the huge queues. 


2) Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery


This is a gorgeous shopping gallery made of glass, just next to the Dome


The ceremony for the first stone laying by the king Vittorio Emanuele II was held on the 7 of March 1865.


The two glass open corridors meet in the central octagonal square and on the floor you will find the mosaic representing the bull, Turin emblem, as this Savoy city has been the first capital of Italy.


The legend says that if you turn on yourself three times, with the right foot’s heel on the bull’s genitals, you will have some good luck. 


This superstitious rite, though, usuries the picture, which has to be renewed frequently.


3) Sforzesco Castle


This Castel has been the primary residence of the Visconti family, a noble dynasty who ruled Milan from 1277 to1447


Galeazzo II Visconti, lord of Milan from 1354 to 1378, commissioned the initial building and, back then, the castle was known as Porta Giovia castle.


Later, Fransis I Sforza, who ruled the city as the fourth duke of Milan from 1450 to his death, renamed it with the name of his family. 


Nowadays, the castle hosts several museums and an unfinished Michelangelo sculpture, the Pietà Rondanini, the last piece on which, according to the sources, he worked until a few days before he died, aged 89.


You can visit the museums with a paying ticket, but the castle’s gardens are free and you can take a walk or a break there. 


4) Sempione Park and Arco della Pace (“the peace’s Arc”)


Sempione Park was realised at the end of the eighteenth century, on the Piazza d'Armi’s area.


Its name comes from the Sempione Street, the monumental Napoleonic road axis, created on the historical Seprio Street’s path.


It crosses the beautiful Park and reached the gorgeous Arco della Pace, built in XIX century during the short Napoleon the First’s reign.


5) Leonardo Da Vinci’s “L'ultima Cena”


L'Ultima Cena “(the last dinner”) - formally called ‘Cenacolo Vinciano’ – is a must-see, even if you have only one day in Milan.


This wall fresco, dated 1495-1498, is one of the most famous works by Leonardo da Vinci, kept in the ex Renaissance refectory of the convent placed next to Santa Maria delle Grazie Sanctuary.


To keep this masterpiece untouched, the access is allowed only to small groups of maximum 25 persons, and on a few days per week. 


For this reason, to visit it, early reservation is mandatory and it needs to be done quite in advance, even off-season. 


Tickets are sold 2-3 months in advance and go sold-out rapidly. Each visit can last only 15 minutes. 


6) Sant'Ambrogio Basilica


This Basilica, dedicated to Milan’s patron, is one of the most ancient churches, and considered the second most important in the city.


The original building is dated IV century a.d., while the current roman church is from the XI° century.


In the crypt, it is possible to visit the remains of three saints, still adored today - Ambrogio, Gervaso and Protaso – in glass coffins.


In front of the basilica, from 1866 and each year, the flea market called “la Fiera degli Oh bej! Oh bej!” (the sound of the sellers’ shouts) is held.


The market is in place from the 7 of December, the day of the patron, to the next Sunday. 


7) Villa Invernizzi and the pink flamingos


Villa Invernizzi is the house of the inventor of a famous Italian cheese, “Mio”, and is located in the centre of the city, in the neighbourhood called “the Silence Quadrilateral”


In its big garden, in Cappuccini Street, two pink flamingos’ species live together!


The palace cannot be visited, but from the gate it is possible to admire those beautiful animals


The first specimens arrived in Italy from Chile and Africa around 1980, just before the Agreement on the International Commerce of Endangered Species was signed.


Knight Invernizzi decided to create this oasis for them, and to build it, he bought a palace next to the villa, which was then demolished. 


8) Brera and Marc Jacobs Cafè


One of the most charming squares in Brera area is the one hosting the coffee place/concept store of the designer Marc Jacobs


After Paris and New York, the famous Louis Vuitton creative director opened his first Italian single-brand shop in Milan


The idea behind it is an haute-couture boutique where, while shopping, you can also enjoy a drink.


In the Brera pedestrian section, between the historical houses, you will also see the bar tables


9) Navigli


There is an incredible place where to go at sunset, to enjoy a stroll along the canal: the Navigli area


This is also the place to be for a happy hour. 


To try some delicious dishes and admire the place, book a walking tour at night on the Navigli Canal


10) The Fashion Quadrilateral


This is the luxurious neighbourhood of Milan, in which jewellery shops, boutiques and clothes, design and furniture showrooms are located.


In the heart of the city, this area – called also “the golden fashion quadrilateral” – is named after the four prestigious streets it is surrounded by:

  • Via Monte Napoleone;
  • Via Manzoni;
  • Via della Spiga;
  • Corso Venezia.


The favourite place of all shopaholics, this place attracts tourists from all over the world.


After listing for you the beauties you cannot miss, I hope I have convinced you to visit Milan